AL West Notes: Kobayashi, Rangers, Trout, Wells

The Rangers and Nationals are waiting to hear if Nelson Cruz or Gio Gonzalez could face disciplinary action from Major League Baseball due to their possible connection to a clinic that sold performance-enhancing drugs, but though both teams are in limbo with these key players, ESPN's Jim Bowden doesn't think either team will jump quickly to find replacements until more facts are known.  As it happens, Bowden says both clubs were already looking to improve in those areas before the news of this PED scandal broke — the Nats were known to want pitching depth and the Rangers were in need of another power hitter.  Bowden suspects the Rangers will make a move for a big bat closer to the trade deadline.

Here are some more items from around the AL West…

  • The Angels are close to signing right-hander Hiroyuki Kobayashi to a minor league deal, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter link).  Kobayashi, 34, has pitched out of the bullpen for Chiba Lotte and Hanshin for the last three seasons.  He last explored a move to MLB when he became a free agent following the 2010 season, when he was linked to the Pirates and Diamondbacks in rumors.
  • It wouldn't make sense for the Rangers to sign Michael Bourn to replace Cruz, argues MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, since "a five-year contract to cover a two-month need seems a bit extreme."  The Rangers didn't make a big push for a center fielder this winter since they like Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin as CF options.
  • The Angels haven't talked to Mike Trout's representatives about an extension for the young star, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports.  Trout is under team control through the 2017 season and is still two seasons away from arbitration eligibility.  Those arb years will get expensive if Trout continues his superb play but, as Gonzalez notes, big-market clubs like the Angels can afford pricey arbitration payouts and thus don't quite feel the pressure that smaller-market clubs have to lock up their young stars early.
  • Casper Wells has turned into something of an afterthought on the Mariners roster and could become trade bait if the M's were to add another outfielder like Bourn, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  Wells struggled when given regular at-bats last season and Baker wonders if the club has given up on the player who was "possibly the front-liner" of the trade package the Mariners received in the Doug Fister deal.

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