Roundup: Rangers not backing down from Lee chase

News of the Rangers’ visit to Arkansas to meet with Cliff Lee and his agent Darek Braunecker highlighted Wednesday’s Hot Stove action. With the Winter Meetings fast approaching, talks are seemingly heating up for the jewel of the free agent market.
General manager Jon Daniels declined to say if the Rangers made Lee an offer, during the visit.
“It’s a process with only one point that’s really worthy of talking about, and that’s when there’s a decision made,” Daniels told ESPN.com . “No sense in trying to dissect and analyze everything else, but I realize that’s what goes on this time of year.”
 
Earlier, the New York Post reported the Rangers were preparing a five-year deal to offer the left-hander. A baseball source told ESPNNew York.com that the Yankees hadn’t made an offer yet to Lee, believing that Braunecker didn’t want them before the Winter Meetings.
“Nothing’s happening there yet,” the source told ESPN.com.
Aside from the Lee sweepstakes, here’s a look around the rest of the league:
-The Astros inked right-hander Nelson Figueroa to a one-year deal worth $900,000 plus incentives on Wednesday. Figueroa won a career-high seven games last year between the Astros and Phillies. The deal saves the Astros from having to take Figueroa to arbitration or potentially face a tough non-tender decision.
-The Pirates signed three players to Minor League free agent contracts on Wednesday, right-hander Fernando Nieve, infielder Andy Marte and catcher Dusty Brown. All three received Spring Training invites as part of their deals.
-Nats shortstop Ian Desmond is drawing serious trade interest, according to a Fox Sports report on Wednesday. While the Nationals aren’t expected to be overly anxious to part with the 25-year-old, they could use him as a bargaining chip if they were to receive a quality starting pitcher in return, the report suggested.
-The Padres reached a one-year deal with outfielder Chris Denorfia on Wednesday, worth $800,000. The 30-year-old earned the deal by hitting .271 with nine homers in 2010. Again in 2011, Denorfia should provide a strong veteran presence off the bench for the Friars.  
-The Orioles have made a significant offer to free agent first baseman Paul Konerko, Jim Bowden of XM Radio tweeted on Wednesday. With Victor Martinez off the market, Konerko represents one of the O’s best options, but the question remains: Is Konerko interested in Baltimore? He’s turned them down before and sources tell MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli that he’d rather play for a club that trains in Arizona, so he can live at home part of the year.
-Boston’s desire for a big free agent bat is no secret and as has been suspected for some time, free agent outfielder Carl Crawford is among the top targets. A baseball source told Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown that the Red Sox are serious about Carl Crawford, reporting that the club has met with Crawford’s camp in Houston.
The news comes as no surprise as Crawford, Jayson Werth, and Adrian Beltre have all been mentioned as potential fits to supply some power to the Red Sox lineup. Crawford is said to be seeking at least an eight-year deal, while Werth is seeking six-years, according to a Boston Herald report on Wednesday.
–Bailey Stephens

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