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Marlins and Rangers set a deadline to get the deal done


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MIAMI -- Eager to acquire Josh Beckett, the Texas Rangers are aggressively trying to complete a trade with the Marlins for the hard-throwing right-hander.


A source familiar with the negotiations says Rangers executives worked diligently on Sunday, trying to agree on a key Minor League prospect believed to be the holdup in getting the trade completed.


The Rangers are shopping All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock and Minor League pitchers John Danks or Thomas Diamond for Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell.


The two clubs set a 48-hour deadline Sunday to work out a deal before Tuesday. It's unclear if that deadline is set in stone. One reason for the delay on Sunday was that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who is in Europe, was not easily accessible. This is a unique trade because it is being negotiated by the owners of both clubs.


Texas owner Tom Hicks has had numerous discussions with Loria. The Rangers are eager to get the deal done because other teams have shown interest in Beckett. The source said the Rangers want to secure Beckett before the Red Sox get deeply involved.


Initially, the Rangers were reluctant to deal either Danks or Diamond. The Marlins are believed to be more interested in Danks.


The Marlins are significantly reducing payroll, perhaps in the $40 million range. The franchise's stability is in question because of stalled stadium talks.


Beckett, the 2003 World Series MVP, is expected to earn between $4.2 million and $4.7 million in 2006 through arbitration. The right-hander from Spring, Texas, is not eligible for free agency until after the 2007 season. Should Beckett post numbers similar to his 15-8 record and 3.37 ERA in 2005, he would be in line to make about $7.5 million in 2007.


The reason the Marlins are shopping Beckett is to avoid paying the $18 million still owed to Lowell, a three-time All-Star coming off his worst big-league season. Lowell, who won his first Gold Glove Award, hit .236 with eight home runs and 58 RBIs.


By dealing both Beckett and Lowell, the Marlins would rid themselves of roughly $13.2 million in player contracts in 2006.


Blalock, a power-hitting third baseman, is under contract for three more seasons. He is signed for $3 million in 2006.



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Deal Lowell for mid level prospect...eat half his salary...keep Beckett. You will thank yourself in the morning Mr. Loria. And, honestly, if by "in Europe" they mean in Amsterdam, these possible wacky decisions would make alot more sense. Stay away from those dutch bakeries and their brownies Jeff!

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