Rangers trade Teixeira to Braves

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FORT WORTH-- The Atlanta Braves apparently have won the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes.

According to a report Monday from the Fort Wort Star-Telegram, the Braves acquired the slugging first baseman and lefthander Ron Mahay from the Texas Rangers for catcher-first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia, minor league shortstop Elvis Andrus, minor league righthander Neftali Perez and a player to be named.

The Braves are in a three-way battle in the National League East Division with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta (55-51) currently is in third place, 4 1/2 games behind the Mets and a game back of the Phillies. They are 2 1/2 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the crowded wild card chase.

Rumors surrounding Teixeira, who is arbitration eligible after this season and a free agent after 2008, have been surfacing for months.

Mahay helps fill the void left by Mike Gonzalez, who is out for the remainder of the season after undergoing elbow surgery.

Mahay is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in 28 relief appearances. Atlanta hoped lefthander Wil Ledezma, whom it acquired from the Detroit Tigers in June, would be the answer but he was designated for assignment Sunday.

The 27-year-old switch-hitting Teixeira has recovered from a slow start and is batting .297 with 13 homers and 49 RBI in 78 games this season.

Teixeira did not get his average over .250 to stay until May 4 and was out from June 9-July 8 with a strained left quadriceps muscle. That ended a streak of 507 consecutive games played.

In his fifth major league season after being selected in the first round of the 2001 draft out of Georgia Tech, Teixeira is a two-time Gold Glove winner who has a career average of .283 with 153 homers and 499 RBI in 693 games.

Teixeira, who has averaged 35 homers in his first four years, will fill a big void in Atlanta's offense. So far this season, Braves first basemen rank last in the National League with a .211 average and .815 on-base-slugging percentage.

Using mostly Scott Thorman, Craig Wilson and Saltalamacchia, Atlanta's first basemen have combined for 12 homers and 41 RBI.

Saltalamacchia and Andrus are the key players in the deal for the Rangers.

The 22-year-old Saltalamacchia was hitting .284 with four homers and 12 RBI in 47 games in his rookie season with Atlanta. The switch-hitter started the season at Class AA Mississippi, batting .309 with six homers and 13 RBI in 22 games.

A catcher by trade, Saltalamacchia has split time between catcher and first base. He is a player projected to hit .300 with 30 homers at the major league level.

Andrus is a smooth-fielding defender with speed and hitting potential. Only 19 and already playing at high Class A Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League, the righthanded hitter is batting .244 with three homers, 37 RBI with 25 stolen bases.

Feliz, also 19, is 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in seven games - six starts - with Danville at rookie level Appalachian League.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that minor league lefthander Matt Harrison also is included in the deal. Harrison is 5-7 with a 3.39 ERA in 20 starts at Mississippi.