Texas also sent minor league pitcher Justin Echols to the Expos
for switch-hitting catcher Josh McKinley, Montreal's top draft pick
in 1998, and right-hander Chris Young, a Dallas native.
Texas will pay $2 million of Diaz's $2.5 million salary under
the terms of Saturday's deal.
Diaz, who took over last year from 10-time All-Star Ivan
Rodriguez, started 95 games last year. He hit .257 and threw out 31
percent (22 of 71) of runners attempting to steal.
The 24-year-old Laird, who hit .273 in his only 19 major league
games last season, batted .407 this spring. Laird and Rod Barajas,
who played for Texas manager Buck Showalter in Arizona, will split
time to start the season.
With outfielder Brian Jordan starting the season on the disabled
list because of a sprained left knee, the Rangers recalled Ramon
Nivar from Triple-A Oklahoma.
To get down to the active limit of 25, the Rangers optioned
right-handers Ryan Drese and Ricardo Rodriguez to Oklahoma, and
reassigned right-hander Doug Brocail, catcher Ken Huckaby,
infielder Manny Alexander and outfielders Jason Conti and Chad
Allen to Oklahoma.