Texas Rangers Rumors

Texas Rangers trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

AL Notes: Hamilton, Cabrera, Toritani

The Angels have discussed potential trades involving Josh Hamilton with the Rangers and Padres this offseason, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. That might not mean much right now — MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets that the conversation between the Angels and Rangers lasted two minutes, and today’s Wil Myers deal would seem to rule out the possibility of a trade sending Hamilton to San Diego. Rosenthal himself describes recent Hamilton trade talks as merely “exploratory,” and quotes Angels GM Jerry Dipoto asserting his faith in Hamilton. “We do believe in Josh,” says Dipoto. “We’ve seen him hit balls that humans shouldn’t hit. What he does, 99 percent of the players can’t do.” There’s also, obviously, the problem of Hamilton’s trade value being down significantly right now after a mediocre 2014 season. But the possibility of the Angels trading Hamilton (who has a full no-trade clause and is owed $83MM over the next three years) could be worth keeping an eye on in the coming years. Here are more notes from the American League.

  • The White Sox are “comfortable” with Melky Cabrera‘s past troubles with PEDs, J.J. Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com writes. “Obviously we’re aware of what happened in the past and no one condones what he did,” says GM Rick Hahn. “But we are talking about an instance where there was a mistake he made and took ownership for and showed honest remorse.” Another PED suspension would cost the White Sox an entire year of Cabrera’s three-year deal, but the White Sox are confident that Cabrera’s PED issues are in the past.
  • GM Alex Anthopoulos confirms that the Blue Jays have interest in Japanese infielder Takashi Toritani, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. “We’ve scouted him quite a bit,” Anthopoulos said to Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. “We have some scouts that like him and he’s someone that we’ve certainly talked about internally. Beyond that I probably wouldn’t get into anything else, but certainly a guy like that would fit.” The 33-year-old Toritani, who hit .303/.406/.415 for Hanshin in 2014, could be an option at second base for the Jays.

AL Notes: Harrison, Headley, Lowrie, Floyd, Tigers

The Rangers and pitcher Matt Harrison seemingly received positive news yesterday, as the righty, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that an X-ray of Harrison’s back came back clean. He will undergo a CT scan on Wednesday in hopes of being cleared to throw in January.

More from the American League:

Heyman On McCarthy, Morales, Fujikawa, Morgan

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com ran through some final details on several transactions this morning. Rather than bumping all of those posts to the top of the page at once, I have added the new information and will round up the changes here. (All links to Twitter.)

  • Brandon McCarthy‘s four-year contract with the Dodgers includes a conditional club option that reflects, but is not entirely synonymous with, the one that led to John Lackey playing the upcoming season at league minimum. As Heyman tweets, the Dodgers would hold a 2019 option for $5MM if McCarthy has spent more than 179 days on the DL due to a specific injury, or an $8MM option if he has missed between 119-179 days.
  • In his new deal with the Royals, Kendrys Morales will earn $6.5MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016, says Heyman. He also has a $1.5MM buyout on a $11MM option for 2017.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa will actually receive a $1.1MM total guarantee from the Rangers, Heyman tweets. His deal comes with a $2MM club option and $100K buyout, and that option could rise to as much as $3.5MM if Fujikawa meets certain games-finished thresholds.
  • Outfielder Nyjer Morgan received a $700K deal with the KBO’s Hanwha Eagles, Heyman tweets. That includes a $150K signing bonus and $550K salary.

Rangers Designate Scott Barnes, Ben Rowen For Assignment

The Rangers have designated left-hander Scott Barnes and right-hander Ben Rowen for assignment in order to clear room on the 40-man roster for Kyuji Fujikawa and Colby Lewis, tweets team executive VP of communications John Blake.

Barnes, claimed off waivers from the Orioles just over a week ago, appears headed for his fourth organization in less than a month’s time. The Orioles acquired him after he was designated for assignment by the Indians, only to lose him on waivers to Texas. The 27-year-old didn’t pitch in the Majors last season but he did in 2012-13, combining to compile a 5.20 ERA in 27 2/3 innings of work. Barnes spent the past season at Triple-A, where he averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings against 4.2 walks per nine with a 3.69 ERA. He held opposing lefties to a rather minuscule .191/.296/.255 batting line this year.

The 26-year-old Rowen made his big league debut this year and allowed four runs on 10 hits and four walks (three intentional) with seven strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. Rowen has an exceptional minor league track record with a 1.72 career ERA, including a 2.39 mark with 6.9 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 79 frames at the Triple-A level. All 262 of his minor league innings have come out of the bullpen.

Rangers To Sign Kyle Blanks

12:25pm: Blanks will earn $1MM if he makes the big league roster, with an additional $600K of incentives based on plate appearances, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).

11:46am: The Rangers are set to sign first baseman/outfielder Kyle Blanks, reports Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (Twitter links). Blanks, a client of Sosnick/Cobbe Sports, will receive a split contract, meaning his deal calls for separate Major League and Minor League salaries, dependent on whether or not he makes the team.

Blanks, 28, was acquired by the Athletics from the Padres early in the 2014 season. He performed quite well in a limited sample of 56 plate appearances before a torn calf muscle cost him the remainder of the season. With the A’s, Blanks hit .333/.446/.489 with a pair of home runs.

Blanks looked to be a breakout candidate in 2009 as a 22-year-old. The towering slugger ranked 50th among prospects prior to that season, per Baseball America, and proceeded to hit .250/.355/.514 with 10 homers in 172 plate appearances that season. Blanks looked like a potential building block for San Diego at that point, but in four subsequent seasons, he batted just .223/.300/.375 in 624 PA.

A career .244/.342/.409 hitter against left-handed pitching, Blanks will present the Rangers with at worst a candidate to platoon at DH, first base and an outfield corner. The Rangers currently project to have Mitch Moreland handle most of the time at DH next season, and Moreland’s struggles against left-handed pitching have been well-documented.

Rangers Sign Kyuji Fujikawa

The Rangers have officially agreed to a deal with free agent reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, as T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com first reported on Twitter. Fujikawa, a client of the Wasserman Media Group, gets a one year deal that includes a club option, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.

The contract has a $1MM base salary plus incentives, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The club option is for $2MM and comes with a $100K buyout, bringing the total guarantee to $1.1MM, Heyman adds (via Twitter). That option could rise to as much as $3.5MM if Fujikawa meets certain games-finished thresholds.

Fujikawa, a 34-year-old righty, came to the United States by way of the Cubs. He has thrown only 25 innings over the past two seasons, with two stints sandwiched around a Tommy John procedure and rehab. Though he carries only a 5.04 ERA at the big league level, Fujikawa has shown he can miss major league bats. He has averaged 11.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.

Chicago declined a $5.5MM option over Fujikawa at the start of the offseason. Fujikawa was an ace reliever in Japan, where he accumulated a 1.77 ERA over 12 seasons while posting 11.9 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9.

AL Notes: Rios, Mariners, Rangers, Murphy, Twins

Here’s the latest from the American League:

  • With Melky Cabrera off the board, Alex Rios remains on the Mariners‘ radar, tweets Bob Dutton of The News Tribune. Cabrera agreed to a three-year contract with the White Sox yesterday, which should pay him roughly $14-$14.5MM per season.
  • MLB.com’s Greg Johns entertains other scenarios (both external and internal) in which the Mariners can fill their vacancy in right field.
  • The Rangers have $10-12MM in financial flexibility remaining; but, because of the health questions surrounding their core players, they could sit on that cash until midseason when they will have had time to gauge what kind of team they really have, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
  • Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes wonders if Indians outfielder David Murphy is more of a platoon player at this stage of his career and believes a reader’s proposed trade of Murphy to the Mets for Ohio native Jon Niese would favor the Indians.
  • The White Sox have filled many holes with their high-profile acquisitions this offseason, but right field, second base, third base, and catcher remain areas of concern, opines Jim Margalus of South Side Sox.
  • The Twins have invested heavily in the free agent market this offseason and last because payroll was shed and there’s optimism over the performance of Minnesota’s young core, writes 1500ESPN.com’s Phil Mackey.

AL Notes: Melky, Jays, Red Sox, Masterson

With the Winter Meetings in the books, be sure to check out this interesting piece from Joe Lemire for Medium.com regarding the change wrought on the process by changes in communication technology. Texting has replaced in-person dealmaking and reporting, writes Lemire, which in some ways undermines the purpose of teams gathering in one place. Of course, as we found out this week, the annual meet-up is still capable of supporting a hotbed of transactional movement.

Here’s the latest from the American League:

  • The Mariners have made free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera a three-year offer, Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com reports (Spanish language link). Cabrera is looking for at least one more guaranteed year, says Rojas. This news reflects a recent report from Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, who suggested that the sides were at something of a standoff along those lines.
  • The Blue Jays are looking at the free agent market for a second baseman but are not interested in guaranteeing more than three years, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. “You won’t see any four or five-year deals,” said GM Alex Anthopoulos.
  • Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald (Twitter link) rejects the idea that the Red Sox made a mistake by not landing Jon Lester. That assessment, says Silverman, will depend upon whether the team finds a suitable alternative.
  • Justin Masterson says that the Rangers were one of several claims to make him an offer before he signed with the Red Sox, the Herald’s Scott Lauber reports on Twitter. That offer was for $6MM in guaranteed money, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets.

Rangers Acquire Ross Detwiler

After a season in which their pitching staff (and position players) were ravaged by injuries, the Rangers have added an arm to solidify their staff, announcing the acquisition Ross Detwiler from the Nationals. In exchange, Washington will receive righty Abel De Los Santos and infielder Chris Bostick.

Ross Detwiler

Detwiler, a former first-round pick, enters his age-29 season after a somewhat disappointing 2014 campaign. Working from the pen, Detwiler threw 63 innings of 4.00 ERA ball with 5.6 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9.

Previously, Detwiler had established himself as a fairly solid starter: he carried a 3.46 ERA over 301 2/3 frames from 2011-13, most of it working from the rotation. But the Nats shifted him to the pen given the team’s stacked rotation and the possibility that his stuff would play up in that role. Realistically, he did not have much of a place on this year’s Nationals roster with several lefties and starting depth pieces in place.

The southpaw comes with just one year of control — at a projected $3.3MM price tag — but will provide Texas with a rotation option or possible swingman piece. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan writes that the Rangers will give Detwiler the opportunity to start, though he could ultimately end up in a setup role if that does not pan out. While it is perhaps optimistic to say he has significant upside at this stage of his career, Detwiler could still deliver plenty of value for the Rangers. In particular, his solid 46.5 percent career ground-ball rate should be an asset with Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre in the infield.

The 21-year-old De Los Santos split the 2014 season between Class-A and Class-A Advanced, posting an outstanding 1.92 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 56 1/3 innings of relief. In his review of the Rangers’ prospects, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel mentioned De Los Santos as a potential power arm in the bullpen.

Bostick, also 21, was acquired by the Rangers in last year’s Craig Gentry trade. He spent the season with Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach and batted a respectable .251/.332/.412 with 11 homers and 24 steals (though he was caught 11 times as well). Bostick ranked 18th among A’s prospects at the time he was dealt to the Rangers, but his numbers in the Florida State League represented a decline from his work in the Midwest League a year prior.

This swap largely kicks off the offseason for both clubs. They have previously been linked in several trade scenarios, but nothing has been consummated. In fact, per MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker, the last time Texas and Washington matched up on a deal, the Nats acquired Tanner Roark — the man who in large part kept Detwiler from a rotation spot last year.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported that the Rangers would acquire Detwiler (on Twitter). USA Today’s Scott Boeck reported that Bostick and De Los Santos were headed to the Nats (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor Moves: Villarreal, Noonan, Rangers

Here are today’s minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Twins have signed right-hander Brayan Villarreal to a split contract, ESPN’s Enrique Rojas reports (via Twitter).  The deal contains an invitation to Minnesota’s Spring Training camp and Villarreal will earn $522K if he stays on the Twins’ Major League roster.  Villarreal last pitched in the majors in 2013 and spent last season with the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate.
  • The Yankees signed infielder Nick Noonan to a minor league deal, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reports (Twitter link).  Noonan, taken 32nd overall by the Giants in the 2007 draft, has a .262/.316/.368 slash line over 3322 career PA in the minors, all in San Francisco’s farm system.  He appeared in 62 games with the Giants in 2013.
  • The Rangers signed outfielder Antoan Richardson and right-handers Anthony Bass and Ross Wolf to minor league deals with Spring Training invitations, the team announced (hat tip to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram).
  • The Marlins are likely to sign free agent infielder Scott Sizemore, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  Sizemore signed a minor league deal with the Yankees last winter and played in six games for the club before being released and re-signed over the summer.  Due in part to a pair of major knee injuries, Sizemore has only appeared in eight Major League games over the last three seasons.
  • The Brewers have released outfielder Jeremy Hermida so he can pursue an opportunity to play in Japan, the team announced.  Hermida just signed a new minor league contract with Milwaukee in November.  The former 11th overall pick (in the 2002 draft) and top prospect last played in the majors in 2012 as a member of the Padres.