Switch-hitter latest to join Texas INF fray

Updated: March 27, 2010, 6:07 PM ET
By Jim Reeves | ESPNDallas.com

The Texas Rangers have acquired shortstop/second baseman Andres Blanco from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named or cash considerations.

Blanco, a switch-hitter from Venezuela, played 40 games at second base and 15 at shortstop for the Cubs in 2009. The switch-hitter batted .252 with one home run and 12 RBIs.

Blanco is the third middle infielder the Rangers have traded for this spring, joining Hernan Irribarren, who has since been optioned to Oklahoma City, and Gregorio Petit, brought in from Oakland a couple of days ago. Blanco, however, may be the most serious contender yet with the best chance of unseating Joaquin Arias as the current backup middle infielder.

There's also a chance the Rangers will need two extra middle infielders at the beginning of the season if Ian Kinsler's injury lingers longer than expected.

"[Blanco] gives us another option at utility infielder," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "He's a gifted defensive shortstop and now we have seven or eight days to evaluate him. His [best] tool is his glove."

Blanco's acquisition, however, doesn't mean that the Rangers won't continue to upgrade at the utility infield position.

"It's one area we're trying to address," Levine said. "It's an area where we're still looking."

The Rangers are particularly interested in Arizona's Augie Ojeda but so far have not been able to work out a deal with the Diamondbacks.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said there were a number of reasons for trading Blanco.

"He was out of options; he couldn't go back to the minor leagues," Hendry said. "We felt like he wouldn't have gone through waivers and cleared, and even if he did, he would have been able to elect free agency, since he's been outrighted before. At least this way, we can get a player to be named later or cash considerations."

Earlier Saturday, the Rangers optioned pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Derek Holland and outfielder Craig Gentry to Oklahoma City, while pitcher Alexi Ogando was optioned to Frisco.

Also, catcher Kevin Richardson was assigned to minor league camp.

Jim Reeves, a former columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is a regular contributor to ESPNDallas.com. Information from ESPNChicago's Bruce Levine contributed to this report.

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