ATLANTA (AP) – Power-hitting Mark Teixeira was on the brink of being traded from the Texas Rangers to Atlanta, giving the Braves the big bat they want for their pennant push.
Talks between the teams were nearing completion Monday, a day before baseball’s deadline for trades without waivers. The negotiations were confirmed by a person familiar with the deal who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it wasn’t finalized.
The Braves, who have struggled at first base all season, were set to send rookie catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and three prospects to Texas for Teixeira and reliever Ron Mahay.
The pending trade had been widely reported throughout the media.
The Red Sox had also been rumored to be interested in a deal for Teixeira.
Third-place Atlanta trails the New York Mets by 4½ games in the NL East and is in the thick of the wild-card race. The Mets ended the Braves’ streak of 14 straight division titles last year.
The 27-year-old Teixeira would join a lineup that includes Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur and All-Star Brian McCann, but he won’t come cheaply.
Teixeira, making $9 million this year, is eligible for salary arbitration after this season and can become a free agent after the 2008 season. He is certainly familiar with the Atlanta area, having starred at Georgia Tech.
The Braves were ready to send two of their top prospects – Saltalamacchia and minor league shortstop Elvis Andrus – to Texas in the deal.
Saltalamacchia, who like Teixeira is a switch-hitter with power, has spent time at first base this season as the Braves tried to find a way to utilize his bat. Saltalamacchia’s path at catcher was blocked by McCann, who this year signed a six-year, $26.8 million deal.
Mahay, 36, is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA and one save in 28 games this season.
Final details of the trade may hinge on two other minor leaguers coming to the Rangers.
Teixeira, hitting .297 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs, gives the Braves a home-run threat at first base they lacked after trading Adam LaRoche to Pittsburgh in the offseason. Teixeira, a two-time Gold Glove winner, also should be a defensive upgrade.
Teixeira missed 27 games this season with a left quadriceps injury.
The Braves opened the season with Craig Wilson and Scott Thorman splitting time at first base. Wilson was released after hitting only .172. Thorman is hitting .220 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs.
Saltalamacchia has struggled defensively at times when tried at first base. The Braves signed 48-year-old Julio Franco on July 18 after Franco was released by the Mets.
Teixeira has hit 153 homers in five seasons. He set career highs with 43 homers and 144 RBIs in 2005.
Saltalamacchia, 22, is hitting .284 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 141 at-bats.
Andrus, 19, is best known for his strong defense at shortstop, but he plays a position of great depth in the Braves’ organization. Rookie Yunel Escobar is hitting .317 in 43 games this season while playing shortstop, third base and second base. Starter Edgar Renteria, hitting .333, is signed through the 2008 season.