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Rangers aren't top contender to land Beckett


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Contrary to numerous reports, the Texas Rangers aren't the leading contender to land Marlins starter Josh Beckett in a package deal with third baseman Mike Lowell.


According to baseball officials who have been in contact with Florida, the Marlins have two other potential deals -- with Boston and an unnamed "mystery" team -- that team officials find more appealing than Texas' offer of third baseman Hank Blalock and one of the Rangers' two top pitching prospects, either Thomas Diamond or John Danks.


The Red Sox, according to sources, have offered Florida highly coveted shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez, who would become the immediate starter in Miami, plus a choice of two Grade A pitching prospects -- left-hander Jon Lester or right-hander Anibel Sanchez.


No officials involved in the talks would confirm the identity of the mystery team. But an executive of another club said Monday he believes that other team to be the Dodgers.


The Marlins, the executive said, extensively scouted the Dodgers' double-A team in Jacksonville -- and Florida is said to like a number of that team's best pitchers. That group of pitchers includes former No. 1 picks Chad Billingsley and Justin Orenduff, as well as 240-pound smokeballer Jonathon Broxton. Because of their vacancy at shortstop, the Marlins also would be likely to have interest in the Dodgers' much-hyped double-A shortstop, Joel Guzman.


However, none of this means the potential deal with Texas is dead. It's now believed, though, that Florida has asked the Rangers to expand their deal even further, to include hot shortstop prospect Joaquin Arias, along with Blalock and a pitcher. In return, the Rangers would want a second pitcher back -- possibly setup man Guillermo Mota.


The Marlins, if that deal were completed, then would turn around and trade Blalock, who would block Miguel Cabrera's return to third base if Florida kept him. Teams known to be interested in Blalock include the Twins, Phillies and Devil Rays.


The Angels at one point were involved in the bidding on Beckett, but since have dropped out, according to one source. Still alive, but running behind the other bidders, is Detroit.


According to an official of one club involved in this derby, "nothing is close -- not to the point where someone could say, 'If you put this guy in, it's a done deal.' The names are still being exchanged."


Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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