Neftali Feliz Rumors
The Rangers are looking at available left-handed starting pitchers to replace the possibly-departing C.J. Wilson, reports Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. It isn't a foregone conclusion that Wilson will sign elsewhere this winter, but the Rangers are preparing themselves just in case.
White Sox left-hander John Danks is "high on their list," confirming a report yesterday from Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman. Danks was originally drafted ninth overall by Texas in the 2003 draft before being traded to Chicago in 2006 as part of the Brandon McCarthy deal.
If the Rangers chose to replace Wilson with another free agent, the club has been connected to Mark Buehrle (the next best available free agent southpaw), as well as right-handers Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt. Texas could also look internally, as Rosenthal/Morosi report that the Rangers "are leaning toward" moving closer Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation.
As for Wilson, his agent Bob Garber told Rosenthal/Morosi that potentially switching from the AL to the NL wouldn't be the major factor in determining where Wilson signs, though Garber said his client would "love to play in the National League" since Wilson enjoys hitting.
With tonight's victory, the Rangers became the first AL West team to win consecutive pennants since the A's won three straight American League titles between 1988 and 1990. Here are a few news items from around the division....
- Despite recent rumors, the Rangers say there's "no way" they'll throw money at CC Sabathia this offseason, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). If Texas does decide to go after a starter from outside the organization, it would probably be Yu Darvish.
- "[C.J. Wilson] wants $100MM, and he's not getting that from us," a Rangers source tells Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. The source says that if Wilson leaves Texas for free agency, Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz would both be converted into starting pitchers next season.
- The Angels may be close to a new television contract with FOX Sports, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. A filing from Major League Baseball (in the ongoing legal case with Frank McCourt) stated that the Halos are "expected to close a new transaction" in regards to a new TV deal. Shaikin hears from sources that "no deal is imminent" but FOX and the Angels have been in negotiations. Shaikin speculates that the contract could exceed the Rangers' recent 20-year, $1.6BB TV contract with FOX.
- The Athletics were denied permission to interview Reds pitching coach Bryan Price, reports ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link). Price's contract in Cincinnati expires after next season.
- Athletics scouts were against the December 2005 trade of then-prospect Andre Ethier to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley, tweets Tom Krasovic of West Coast Bias.
The Rangers' search for pitching help has led them to make "low-level inquiries" on Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. According to Rosenthal, if the Pirates decided to part with the right-hander, it would be for "a significant price."
While Neftali Feliz is one of the game's top closers, Texas doesn't have a clear ninth inning alternative should the 23-year-old miss any more time. The Rangers also may be more inclined to eventually move Feliz into the rotation if they have another viable closing option. As Rosenthal notes, Hanrahan, who is under team control through 2013, would be a perfect fit as a pitcher who could set up for Feliz this season and take over as the closer in 2012.
In recent years, the Pirates have frequently played the role of sellers as the trade deadline approaches. However, they currently sit only one game below .500 and four games out of first place, so it's likely too early to tell whether Hanrahan or other players will be available this summer. Last week, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined what we can expect if the Pirates become sellers.
SI's Jon Heyman leads his latest column with a discussion of Albert Pujols' impending free agency. Three GMs Heyman spoke to speculate that Pujols will re-sign with the Cardinals after the season. One significant factor could be the lack of involvement from the Yankees and Red Sox, big spenders who already have long-term solutions at first base. A Yankees person told Heyman there was "no chance" of a pursuit, while a Red Sox person agreed that his club is unlikely to get involved. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak didn't have much to say on the topic, other than, "Nothing's changed." On to Heyman's other notes...
- Mozeliak told Heyman the Cardinals "have a pretty good idea" of what they'll do when Adam Wainwright's two-year, $21MM club option comes up after the season. Heyman takes that to mean that the Cardinals will pick up the option, the expected course of action.
- Heyman feels that the Cubs and Orioles could be possibilities for free agent Kevin Millwood, though I heard yesterday that it's doubtful the Cubs get involved.
- One Giants person said, "There's nothing to it," regarding the recent Jose Reyes speculation. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News explained today that "If any conversations have happened at all, it’s nothing more than tire kicking." That makes sense, since trading season begins about two months from now. For a look at who the Giants might have to give up to get Reyes at that point, click here.
- Heyman finds the Rangers likely to move Neftali Feliz into the rotation next year, despite the righty's recent comments. Heyman feels that a strong free agent closer market is a factor.
- The Tigers have decided this will be Joel Zumaya's last year in Detroit, according to Heyman. That was written prior to today's report that Zumaya will have exploratory elbow surgery.
A few items to close out this weekend..
- Given his recent mind-changing history, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter) suggests not reading too much into Neftali Feliz's thoughts on starting next season. Earlier today, Feliz said that he wants to continue finishing games for the rest of his career, before backtracking later on.
- Buster Olney of ESPN tweets that of all the players he has ever written about, he would say that Roy Oswalt is among those most likely to leave baseball whenever he felt it necessary.
- Tom Schieffer is a good pick to oversee the Dodgers, writes Olney. Olney writes that Schieffer is, by all accounts, a tough negotiator and someone who will make budgetary decisions and stick to them.
Earlier today, Rangers closer Neftali Feliz said that he wants to continue finishing games for the rest of his career in an interview with USA Today's Jorge L. Ortiz. After Texas faced the Athletics today, Feliz backtracked from that statement, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
"Right now, I'm focused on being healthy and getting back to being the closer," said Feliz, who will turn 23 years old tomorrow.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told USA Today that the team intends to keep Feliz as its closer for the rest of the season, then consider his role for 2012 in the offseason. If Feliz does stick to his guns and decide that he wants to continue to close, Daniels says that they'll weigh that in their decision.
"We'll take his feelings, as well as team need and other factors, into consideration over the winter,'' Daniels wrote via e-mail. "He actually makes a pretty good case for starting by suggesting relieving is more physically demanding. We'll look at that in the offseason.''
Before the start of the season, the Rangers considered moving Feliz into the 2011 rotation. Recently, Daniels said that the organization definitely believes that the youngster has the stuff to start. A March MLBTR poll showed that readers were pretty evenly split on whether or not Feliz should start.
Reds slugger Joey Votto could be on his way to a second-straight MVP award, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney. Pitchers now work around Votto with extreme wariness and the 27-year-old can no longer predict what's coming. Because of that, the first baseman has adapted and learned to work with what he's given. Here's more from Olney..
- The Rangers bullpen has taken a major blow after losing closer Neftali Feliz to the disabled list. This is a difficult time to land a reliever, especially a closer, because other teams will have a skyhigh asking price. For example, Olney writes that if Texas were to call the Padres about Heath Bell, the Padres would ask for a great deal in return, even though Bell is likely to be dealt this season.
- In the highest offices of a handful of other teams, there is heavy speculation that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio would be the most likely candidate to move from one team to the Dodgers. This can only happen, of course, if Major League Baseball maintains their hold on the club and if they decides to have an established owner take over the Dodgers. Such a scenario, Olney writes, would take months to play out.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern that he expects the development of the Rangers’ young starters to have a major say in the organization’s 2011 success. Here are the other highlights from Daniels’ conversation on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM:
- The Rangers definitely believe Neftali Feliz, the team’s current closer, has the stuff to start in the Major Leagues. Daniels points out that the industry values starters more than relievers, since starters log more innings and can shut down the opposition for an entire game. The Rangers remain open to inserting Feliz into the rotation in 2012.
- Alexi Ogando “really wanted” to start and the Rangers are happy to have a free look at him in the rotation while other, more experienced starters like Tommy Hunter, Scott Feldman and Brandon Webb recover from injuries.
- The Rangers aren't discussing Michael Young trades and don't have any plans to reignite talks. “It’s really not even a topic of conversation as far as we’re concerned right now,” Daniels said. “We have no conversations going about trading any of our players right now, Michael included, and I don't see any coming up.”
Here's the latest from the reigning American League champions and their divisional rivals...
- After the news broke earlier today that Neftali Feliz would remain the Rangers' closer this season, Nolan Ryan said the team is aiming to have Feliz join the rotation for the 2012 season. "I think if we weren't in such a need for him as a closer, he would be starting for us this year," Ryan said in a radio interview on ESPN 103.3 FM's Galloway and Company (and reported on by Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com). "I think what it means is that we have a year to find somebody within our system or through trade or a free agent acquisition to come in and take that role [as closer]."
- Jon Daniels and Michael Young have met twice this spring to "clear the air," tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Daniels expressed regret over not communicating better with Young, and also regretted that the veteran infielder received "undeserved criticism" for his trade request, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Daniels doesn't think Young will be dealt before Opening Day but "he hasn't ruled out anything."
- The Angels fired scouting director Eddie Bane last fall, a decision that ESPN's Keith Law criticized in an e-mail to Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Law thought Bane's firing "smacked of internal politics, and furthered Tony Reagins' reputation in the game as a difficult person to work for and someone who only values opinions that match his own."
- The Mariners have been adamant that they have no intention of trading Felix Hernandez, and Scott Miller of CBSSports.com commends the M's for their stance.
The Rangers will open the season with a rotation of C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz will return to the bullpen after an extended spring stint as a starter, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan (on Twitter). The decision provides manager Ron Washington with the proven closer he sought and lessens the chances that the Rangers have to look outside of the organization for relief help.
The Rangers considered moving Feliz to the rotation because of his potential to be a shutdown starter. He won last year's AL Rookie of the Year as the Rangers' closer, saving 40 games and posting a 2.73 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 69 1/3 innings. Last week, 55% of 6,681 MLBTR readers said they would return the 22-year-old to the bullpen.