Texas Rangers Rumors

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

AL West Notes: Castillo, Jackson, Parker, Gonzalez, Pujols

Though his role with the Cubs had diminished, Welington Castillo was still “shocked” to learn he’d been traded to the Mariners, he tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times“I wasn’t expecting it. Now I’m here. It was a long day yesterday. Now I’m here and ready to go. I’m really excited to be here.” Castillo discusses the sometimes overlooked difficulty of being traded for a catcher, as he’s already been informed that he’ll be behind the dish for Thursday’s matinee, leaving him scarce time to get to know starter J.A. Happ, whom he’ll catch for the first time in his career. “I’m going to go and sit and watch video with him and go over the lineup, ask him, ‘what do you want to do, what do you like to do? What’s your first pitch? What’s your last pitch? What’s the pitch you throw behind in the count for a strike?’” Castillo is excited for the opportunity to play more, as even though he won’t be Seattle’s everyday option at catcher — that honor will still go to Mike Zunino — he should now pick up a couple of starts per week. With the Cubs, Castillo had just 47 plate appearances on the season.

More from the AL West…

  • After speaking with Mariners director of minor league player development Chris Gwynn, Divish also reports that top prospect and 2014 first-rounder Alex Jackson has been shut down with a shoulder issue. According to Gwynn, Jackson hurt his left shoulder in Spring Training while diving for a ball, and the injury has likely hampered his swing this season. That would explain how Jackson, who slashed .280/.344/.476 in his pro debut with the club’s Rookie-level affiliate in 2014, saw his production plummet to .157/.240/.213 with Class-A Clinton in 2015. Jackson will head to extended Spring Training for the time being as he works to rehab the injury.
  • Athletics righty Jarrod Parker underwent successful surgery to repair the fractured medial epicondyle in his right elbow, reports MLB.com’s Jane Lee. The club briefly thought that Parker might need a third Tommy John surgery after he initially sustained the injury, making this operation something of a relief, despite the its generally unfortunate nature. There’s still no timetable on his recovery, however.
  • The Rangers‘ decision to designate Carlos Peguero earlier today opened a spot on the 25-man roster and was likely influenced by the impending return of Josh Hamilton (who will pick up most of Peguero’s at-bats in the corner outfield), but Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets another wrinkle to the move. The open spot on the 40-man roster won’t be filled immediately — Klein was already on the 40-man, as is Hamilton — which could allow the Rangers to give former first-round pick and consensus Top 100 prospect Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez a look in the rotation if they wish. Gonzalez hasn’t dazzled in his first taste of Triple-A pitching, but the 23-year-old does have a lifetime 3.14 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in the minors.
  • Albert Pujols left the game tonight after being hit by a pitch on the hand, but Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters, including Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (Twitter link) that there are no fractures. Pujols will be day-to-day with a bruise but shouldn’t miss any significant amount of time.

Minor Moves: Baker, Pimentel, Francis

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • It appears that the Mariners have released veteran backstop John Baker, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (via Twitter). Obviously, Seattle just added an additional catcher to its organization with the acquisition of Welington Castillo. Baker, 34, has hit just .161/.185/.194 in 65 plate appearances this year with Tacoma. He has seen big league action in seven seasons.
  • The Rangers have assigned right-handed reliever Stolmy Pimentel to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter. Texas will no doubt be pleased to retain the rights to the 25-year-old, who owns a 3.97 ERA over 11 1/3 innings on the year. Pimentel has seen his strikeout numbers plummet from double figures last year to just 5.6 per nine thus far in 2015.
  • Blue Jays lefty Jeff Francis has cleared outright waivers and is expected to report to Triple-A, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The 34-year-old has given up nine earned runs over 12 innings thus far, though he has struck out 15 opposing batters while walking five.

Rangers Designate Carlos Peguero

The Rangers have designated outfielder Carlos Peguero for assignment, club executive VP of communications John Blake announced on Twitter.

The club needed a roster spot for righty Phil Klein, who will start tonight. But in the bigger picture, Peguero’s role — left-handed power bat at the outfield corner — will be taken over soon by Josh Hamilton.

Peguero, 28, has hit at about a league average clip  — with marginal on-base numbers (.314 OBP) offset by good power output (.414 slugging percntage with four home runs) — through his 84 plate appearances on the year. That continues a rather familiar narrative for the slugger, who launched 38 long balls at Triple-A last year while striking out 189 times in 556 plate appearances.

Quick Hits: Marlins, Montreal, Moncada, Hamilton

Thanks in part to revenue sharing, the Marlins remain profitable, and Jeffrey Loria’s fellow owners might take issue with his indecisive and costly approach to building a team, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Marlins are now paying two former managers who are still under contract (Mike Redmond and Ozzie Guillen), plus former executives Larry Beinfest and Jim Fleming. They’re also paying former catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia through next season. Meanwhile, their attendance remains poor despite the recent opening of Marlins Park. Here’s more from throughout the game.

  • Redmond’s firing demonstrates the Marlins’ inability to follow a steady course, Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports writes. The manager the Marlins hire tomorrow will be their eighth in the last decade, the others being Jack McKeon, Joe Girardi, Fredi Gonzalez, Edwin Rodriguez, McKeon again, Guillen and Redmond.
  • Montreal mayor Denis Coderre will meet with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on May 28, and he plans to convey to Manfred the city’s love for baseball, the Associated Press reports. Montreal, of course, hasn’t had a team since the Expos were moved to Washington following the 2004 season. Coderre would like for big-league baseball to return, but it sounds like he expects it will be awhile before that can happen. “I don’t want to negotiate openly, but we’ll clearly talk about Montreal,” he says. “We need a step-by-step approach. You don’t pull the flower to make it grow faster.”
  • The Greenville Drive, the Red Sox‘ Class A affiliate, have announced that Yoan Moncada will make his professional debut Monday night, playing second base. The 19-year-old Cuban phenom had been in extended spring training. Red Sox fans will surely be paying close attention to tomorrow’s box score, hoping for hints as to what to expect from Moncada, who officially signed for a $31.5MM bonus in mid-March.
  • Josh Hamilton hasn’t yet joined the Rangers, but he’s happy to be back in the Dallas area on a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco, Ryan Gerbosi of the Dallas Morning News writes. “It’s been a good reception,” says Hamilton. “It’s been good to hear a little twang in people’s voices and just go out there and it’s just a good feeling.” Hamilton, who has also played a handful of games for Triple-A Round Rock, doubled today in his second game with the RoughRiders and appears close to a return from his shoulder injury.
  • 19-year-old lefty Cionel Perez has left Cuba in search of a deal with a big-league team, but MLB’s registration rules will be an obstacle, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. (Perez’s departure from Cuba was originally reported by MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.) Badler notes that Perez isn’t a top-tier prospect, but he has improved his standing lately and had become one of the better pitchers in Cuba before his departure. (Badler notes in a subscriber-only scouting report that Perez is small, at 5-foot-10, but has added velocity lately and is now throwing in the low 90s.) Because Perez was born after September 1, 1995, though, and has not yet registered with the commissioner’s office, he will not be eligible to sign until the international signing period that begins next July. Once he’s eligible, he will be subject to rules regarding international bonus pools.

Rangers Designate Kyuji Fujikawa For Assignment

The Rangers have designated Kyuji Fujikawa for assignment, according to John Blake of the Texas Rangers (on Twitter). Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News reports the Rangers could not option Fujikawa to the minors without his consent before June 15 and the right-hander had indicated to the team he did not intend to accept such an option.

Fujikawa, 35 in July, has appeared in just two games for Texas this season and didn’t have a great amount of success. In a combine 1 and 2/3rds innings, he allowed three earned runs. He fared a little better better in eleven combined minor-league appearances this season. In 11 outings (ten at Triple-A, one at Double-A), the veteran pitched to a 4.35 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 7.8 BB/9.

The Rangers signed the reliever back in December to a one-year deal worth $1MM plus incentives. The contract also included a club option for $2MM that can be bought out for a modest $100K. Fujikawa threw only 25 innings between 2013 and 2014, with two stints sandwiched around a Tommy John procedure and rehab. The former Cub has never been a strong ERA buy, but he does own career averages of 10.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.

The Rangers now have ten days to trade, release, or outright Fujikawa to the minor leagues. The reliever is now is joined in DFA Limbo by Kevin Gregg, Nick MassetStolmy Pimentel, and Bruce Chen.  You can keep track of everyone’s status using MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.

Quick Hits: Brown, Martinez, Hamilton

Ollie Brown, known to the San Diego faithful as the “Original Padre” has died of complications from mesothelioma, reports Corey Brock of MLB.com. The outfielder was the first player selected by the Padres in the 1968 Expansion Draft. Brown hit 52 home runs in parts of four seasons with the Padres including 23 blasts in 1970. Brown was 71 and is survived by two brothers, a wife, a daughter, and five grandchildren. We at MLBTR wish to extend our condolences to Brown’s family and friends.

  • Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez could sign for $10MM, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The 20-year-old is subject to the international spending pool which could affect the bidding. Among the interested teams include the Braves, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. New York and Arizona may have an advantage since they’ve already exceeded their bonus pool. Chicago won’t be able to jump into the bidding until July 2nd. It was reported two days ago that Martinez could sign as early as next week.
  • While still with the Angels, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton repeatedly tried to reach out to owner Arte Moreno, writes Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Instead, Hamilton says his efforts were blocked by GM Jerry Dipoto and team President John Carpino. Hamilton attempted to contact Moreno regarding his poor performance last season and again after his offseason relapse. The embattled slugger is currently rehabbing in Double-A and could return to major league action soon. Los Angeles is responsible for most of the remaining $80MM on his contract.

Rangers Designate Stolmy Pimentel For Assignment

The Rangers have purchased the contract of left-hander Sam Freeman from Triple-A Round Rock and designated right-handed reliever Stolmy Pimentel for assignment, executive VP of communications John Blake announced (on Twitter).

The 25-year-old Pimentel has worked to a 3.97 ERA with a 7-to-3 K/BB ratio in his 11 1/3 innings with the Rangers since being claimed off waivers from the Pirates. Despite the lack of punchouts, Pimentel sports a swinging-strike rate of 10.9 percent this season and 12.9 percent in his career — both of which are considerably higher than the league average of about nine percent. He’s also racked up a 48.6 percent ground-ball rate and averaged 92 mph on his heater (though that mark is admittedly down from his 2014 average of 93.3 mph), making him a relatively intriguing bullpen piece for teams looking for middle relief help.

In a small sample of work this season, Pimentel has showed a pronounced platoon split, yielding a .443 OPS to righties but a 1.071 OPS to lefties (again — in just 14 plate appearances). His splits have been less notable throughout his brief, 53 1/2 inning Major League career, however. I’d imagine that Pimentel will generate some interest from other clubs in the 10-day window that Texas has to trade him or attempt to outright him to Triple-A.

AL West Notes: Parker, Krauss, Odor, Rangers

Athletics righty Jarrod Parker will visit Dr. James Andrews next Monday to determine the severity of his latest elbow injury, writes John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group. Parker fractured the medial epicondyle in his right elbow over the weekend in what was supposed to be one of his final rehab appearances before being activated off the disabled list. The medial epicondyle is one of the two bones to which a replacement ligament is grafted in Tommy John surgery, and the A’s do not yet know if Parker’s new UCL remains intact. We at MLBTR wish Parker the best in the wake of what must be a heart-sinking setback.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • Marc Krauss, whose contract was selected by the Angels earlier tonight, has the opportunity to stick with the club for awhile, writes MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. The Halos are in dire need of some left-handed pop to help balance out a lineup that has struggled at times against right-handed pitching. “We need offense,” manager Mike Scioscia said to Gonzalez. “The balance of left-handed and right-handed isn’t quite there with us, and it’s showing up statistically.” Krauss is something of a journeyman, but he was hitting quite well at Triple-A this season, having slashed .281/.405/.458.
  • Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor wasn’t entirely surprised by his demotion to Triple-A, he tells Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News“I was swinging at a lot of bad pitches. I know that,” Odor said to Grant. “I was not like me. I didn’t feel like me. I wasn’t hitting good.” GM Jon Daniels said he expects Odor to return to the big league club shortly once he corrects some of the issues he developed en route to a cringe-worthy .144/.252/.233 batting line.
  • The Rangers will have a crowded situation at first base upon activating Mitch Moreland from the disabled list this week, and it might cost outfielder Jake Smolinski his roster spot, according to Grant’s colleague, Gerry Fraley. Smolinski, 26, has just five at-bats over the team’s past eight games and did not get the start tonight, either. Moreland will join Prince Fielder, Adam Rosales and Kyle Blanks as first base options, and Blanks has begun working out in the outfield, Fraley notes. Smolinski has options remaining, so the team wouldn’t need to expose him to waivers in order to send him to the minors.

Minor Moves: Lendy Castillo, Anthony Varvaro

We’ll keep up with the minor moves of the day in this post:

  • The Rangers have signed right-hander Lendy Castillo to a minor league pact, reports the Dallas Morning News’ Gerry Fraley (Castillo’s mention is at the bottom of his post). The 26-year-old Castillo tossed 16 innings of relief for the 2012 Cubs, yielding 14 runs with 13 strikeouts against 12 walks. He spent last year with Chicago’s Double-A affiliate, posting a 3.95 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 41 innings. However, Castillo was old for the level and also mixed in an alarming 39 walks. He hasn’t had such pronounced control problems in the past, however, so the Rangers will hope to be able to help him rediscover the ability to throw strikes while maintaining his proclivity for whiffing batters.
  • Righty Anthony Varvaro has cleared outright waivers and is expected to be assigned to the Cubs‘ Triple-A affiliate, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Varvaro figures to take up residence as a handy depth option for Chicago, which recently called upon fellow former Braves reliever James Russell after he took a stint in Iowa. In his case, the 30-year-old Varvaro had worked to a 4.09 ERA in 11 frames early in the season with the Red Sox. While that is hardly dominant run prevention, and his 4.9 BB/9 were less than promising, Varvaro has put up good results with solid peripherals over the last several years and is a nice arm to have stashed.

Quick Hits: Mock Draft, Upton, Papelbon, Verlander, Rondon

Early mock drafts continue to roll out, with MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis releasing their first effort at spitballing the always hard-to-call results. The MLB.com team pegs high school outfielder Daz Cameron — son of longtime big leaguer Mike Cameron — as the likeliest current optiton for the Rangers at fourth overall.

Here are a few more notes from around the game:

  • The Padres expect outfielder Melvin Upton to begin a rehab stint in the near future given the improvement in his foot injury, MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes in response to a reader question. San Diego probably will not have any decisions to make until the start of June, says Brock, which is probably the earliest he’ll be ready to come off of the DL. What happens at that point remains to be seen, of course, but Brock notes that the club could theoretically give Wil Myers more time at first base to afford Upton a useful place on the roster — and a chance to attempt to return to form. In truth, Upton represents a free roll for the Friars, who took on his salary only to facilitate the addition of Craig Kimbrel. But the team has every incentive to see if it can get him back on track.
  • The market for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has evolved significantly over time, of course, and figures to continue to do so as the summer draws near. Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com argues that the Marlins currently make the most sense as a trade partner for Papelbon, whose contract appears more and more manageable over time — particularly as he continues to produce on the field. We just saw reports that the Fish are indeed exploring external options to bolster their pen, of course, and Papelbon remains an intriguing option. While I agree with Seidman that the division rivals would probably not hesitate to deal with one another, I wonder whether Miami would have the appetite for Papelbon’s still-hefty salary (he’s owed $13MM this year and $13MM next if his option vests).
  • The Tigers watched bullpens from two important right-handers today, as Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press report (Twitter links). Starter Justin Verlander threw twenty pitches and left pitching coach Jeff Jones “very pleased,” while reliever Bruce Rondon also took a turn on the bump. Detroit ranks toward the upper-middle of the pack in terms of run prevention thus far in 2015, but the club has relied more than it might prefer on the largely untested Kyle Lobstein in the rotation and could certainly use a quality set-up man at the back of the pen. The progress of Verlander and Rondon, then, is likely to have a significant impact on the team’s summer plans.