Rangers acquire All-Star Lee from Brewers

Updated: July 28, 2006, 11:35 PM ET
Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Wanting the big bat now and hoping to keep him longer, the Texas Rangers acquired All-Star slugger Carlos Lee from the Milwaukee Brewers in a six-player deal Friday.

Milwaukee traded Lee after it became apparent that the outfielder wasn't interested in staying there after this season when he can become a free agent.

"Carlos is an impact bat that we need right now," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's a middle-of-the-order hitter, a run producer, big makeup, leader, just entering his prime. We feel strongly he can be a big piece for us as we make a run at the pennant."

The Brewers got reliever Francisco Cordero and outfielders Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix, and minor league left-hander Julian Cordero -- no relation to Francisco. Minor league outfielder Nelson Cruz also went to the Rangers, and was added to their major league roster.

Lee arrived about 35 minutes before Friday night's 11-3 loss to Kansas City and went 2-for-4, batting fourth as the designated hitter behind Michael Young and Mark Teixeira. Manager Buck Showalter plans to use Lee primarily as an outfielder.

Cruz was a pinch-hitter in the ninth, and struck out on three pitches.

It was the first major deal completed in the days leading up to Monday's non-waiver trade deadline. Because of his potential to become a free agent, Lee was considered one of the biggest trade targets.

Brewers GM Doug Melvin started entertaining offers after Lee and his agent, Adam Katz, on Thursday turned down a four-year extension reportedly worth $48 million.

"Because they never countered to us and said there was a large gap, we don't know what it was they were looking for," Melvin said. "It was probably the years, because the dollars we offered were very significant to any deal we've ever offered before."

Melvin said he talked to six teams about Lee, but settled on the Rangers because of the "major league-ready" players involved and his familiarity with them. Melvin acquired Mench, Nix and Francisco Cordero in Texas when he was the GM there.

Lee hit .286 with 28 home runs and 81 RBIss in 102 games for Milwaukee, already his fifth straight season with at least 25 homers. He is a .284 career hitter over eight seasons with the Chicago White Sox (1999-04) and Milwaukee (2005-06).

Before Lee's addition, Brad Wilkerson led the Rangers with 15 homers, one more than Teixeira, and Young had a team-high 67 RBIss.

"It was a little shocking," said Young, a three-time All-Star. "It's really the first time since I've been here ... the first (deal) that opens your eyes and says this team is changing course."

After completing the trade, Daniels told Lee and Katz of the team's desire for a deal past this season.

"I hope he comes in here and is comfortable, and we're comfortable with him. We'll explore a contract down the line," Daniels said. "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves right now. We've got games to win."

Texas (51-52) is in third place in the AL West, but only 2½ games behind division-leading Oakland after its fifth straight loss. The Rangers haven't been to the playoffs since 1999.

The Rangers recalled right-hander Josh Rupe from Triple-A Oklahoma to solidify the bullpen after Francisco Cordero's departure, and optioned outfielder Freddy Guzman to Oklahoma. Rupe was 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA in 18 minor league appearances.

Cordero, an All-Star two years ago when he set a team record with 49 saves, was the Texas closer until he set a major league record with five blown saves in April. Akinori Otsuka took over that role. In his last appearance for Texas, Cordero allowed four runs in the eighth inning against the New York Yankees on Wednesday night. The right-hander was 7-4 with six saves and a 4.81 ERA in 49 appearances.

Brewers manager Ned Yost said Cordero gives him a choice late in games. Embattled closer Derrick Turnbow, an All-Star this year, is 0-4 and allowed 14 earned runs over 4 2-3 innings his last nine appearances.

"Production will decide who closes ballgames," Yost said.

Cordero pitched a scoreless inning in the Brewers' 4-3 loss to Cincinnati.

Mench hit .284 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIss in 87 games, going 16-for-36 (.444) his last 10 games in Texas. Earlier this season, Mench set a club record with home runs in seven straight games, one short of the major league record but the most by a right-handed hitter.

Nix, who has played 240 major league games for Texas over the past four seasons, has been in the minor leagues since batting .094 (3-for-32) in nine games in April.

Trading Lee made sense for the budget-conscious Brewers because they have several highly regarded young outfield prospects -- although Cruz was considered the most promising.

Cruz was the Brewers' minor league player of the year last season. He hit .302 with 22 doubles, 20 home runs, 73 RBIss and 17 stolen bases in 104 games at Triple-A Nashville this year. Showalter said Cruz would start in right field Saturday night.<


AP Sports Writers Colin Fly in Milwaukee and Chris Jenkins in Green Bay contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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