- Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos is ahead of schedule in his rehab and could beat his initial timeline of 10-12 weeks, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). Chirinos, on the disabled list due to a fractured forearm, could return the first day that he is eligible, on June 9, according to Wilson. Of course, catcher has been a surprisingly productive position for Texas even in the absence of their starting backstop; the trio of Bryan Holaday, Bobby Wilson and the since-traded Chris Gimenez have batted .260/.323/.473 with six homers entering play tonight.
The Rangers have announced a series of roster moves relating to their recent outfield injuries. A 40-man spot was cleared for the selection of the contract of Jared Hoying when the club designated Patrick Kivlehan for assignment. Meanwhile, outfielder Drew Stubbs was placed on the 15-day DL and top prospect Joey Gallo was promoted.
Texas had hoped that Stubbs could avoid a DL stint, but apparently his toe injury was significant enough that he will be shelved for at least 15 days. The club previously shelved fellow outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, and that combination of injuries led to the need for reinforcements.
Kivlehan, 26, was off to a rough start at Triple-A. He owns a .184/.252/.262 slash over 155 plate appearances. The Rangers acquired Kivlehan from the Mariners over the winter as the player to be named later in the Leonys Martin swap.
As for Gallo, the 22-year-old gets another crack at the majors after showing both his prodigious power and strikeout propensity in a 36-game stint last year. He hit six long balls but also struck out 57 times over 123 plate appearances, posting a .204/.301/.417 line overall.
Starting out back at Triple-A to begin the 2016 campaign, Gallo has impressed. He has increased his walk rate (20.8%) while cutting back significantly on the swings and misses (22.6% strikeout rate). And those gains haven’t come at the expense of power: Gallo owns a .265/.415/.639 slash over 106 plate appearances, with eight home runs.
It’s not yet known how Texas will deploy Gallo or how long he’ll stay up. He’s primarily a third baseman, but saw time in the outfield last year and could conceivably also play first or DH. The club is six games above .500 despite sub-par performances from its two primary options at those spots, Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder.
Certainly, it’s possible to imagine any number of scenarios unfolding. If Gallo does stay in the majors the rest of the way, he’d be able to accumulate 133 days of service after entering the year with 63 to his credit. In that case, he’d pass one full year (172 days) and move one year closer to free agency. Even if he can’t stick on the active roster for good, an extended stint or two could leave Gallo on pace for eventual Super Two status.
Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton will not suit up for the club this year, GM Jon Daniels told reporters including Jared Sandler of the Rangers Radio Network (Twitter link). He’ll undergo surgery in early June that will sideline him the rest of the way.
Texas also took another hit to its outfield, as Shin-Soo Choo is heading back to the DL. He had just finished up a rehab assignment for a calf strain when he went down to a hamstring issue. The club waited a few days, but finally decided it needed to free up a roster spot.
Hamilton, who just turned 35, had already been sidelined for the season to date after having work done on his knee several times in the last year. But hopes were that he’d provide another option at some point in the middle of the year.
Instead, he’ll look ahead to 2017, with Daniels stressing that the slugger fully intends to play. He’ll be earning another $30MM in the final season of his free agent contract, though of course the Angels are responsible for the bulk of that. As things stand, he’s provided just 182 plate appearances of .253/.291/.441 hitting to the Rangers since he was re-acquired in April of last year.
As for Choo, it’s obviously promising that he wasn’t immediately placed on the DL, but concerning that he hasn’t bounced back as quickly as hoped. The emergence of Nomar Mazara has changed the outfield dynamic, and reduced the impact of Choo’s loss, but center fielder Drew Stubbs is dealing with his own injury that still may lead to a DL stint as well.
For the time being, Texas will purchase the contract of outfielder Jared Hoying, which will require a complementary 40-man move. The 27-year-old earned his MLB debut with an excellent start to the year at Triple-A. Of course, Opening Day center fielder Delino DeShields Jr. remains available at Round Rock as well.
- Yu Darvish threw six shutout innings in a rehab start today and is on track to return to the majors on Saturday against the Pirates. The Rangers ace told reporters (including Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) that he felt good after the 87-pitch outing, which wrapped up a very impressive rehab stint that saw Darvish allow just two earned runs over 20 minor league innings. Darvish missed the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery and hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since August 2014.
The appeal hearing on the eight-game suspension the league gave Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor for punching Toronto’s Jose Bautista will be held Tuesday, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Major League Baseball’s executive vice president, John McHale, will conduct the hearing and Odor will have to begin serving his suspension once McHale’s ruling is issued. The decision could take up to two days to render, notes Grant.
- Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin – who has been on the disabled list since May 8 with a shoulder strain – isn’t close to returning, according to Grant. Texas’ hope when it placed Griffin on the DL was that he’d be able to come back immediately, but the 28-year-old still hasn’t thrown off a mound since and will need to go on a rehab assignment after he does. “It’s probably going to take more than one rehab start. We’ve got to make sure the arm is ready to handle the workload,” stated manager Jeff Banister.
Some rumblings on the Rangers, who improved to 24-19 on Saturday:
- After acquiring top-end starter Cole Hamels at last year’s trade deadline, the prospect-stocked Rangers are well-positioned to make another major splash this summer, writes Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com. The Rangers aren’t yet engaged in “significant” discussions with other teams, reports Morosi, but he believes they could ultimately land another quality pitcher – be it a closer or a starter – and lists the Yankees’ Andrew Miller and the Rays’ Drew Smyly as possible targets. Texas would be “reluctant” to put together a package sufficient enough to land Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, per Morosi, who cites young infielder Jurickson Profar and corner infield/outfield prospect Joey Gallo as potential trade chips.
- The deadline is still a ways off, but the Rangers are poised to land a notable reinforcement in ace Yu Darvish, who hasn’t pitched since 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery a year ago. Darvish is on track to make his season debut for the Rangers next Saturday, tweets Morosi. Darvish’s last remaining hurdle is a 90-pitch rehab start Sunday for Double-A Frisco, relays Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- Thanks in part to second baseman Rougned Odor’s forthcoming eight-game suspension, the Rangers might have to put right fielder Shin-Soo Choo back on the disabled list, as Grant details. Choo returned from a month-plus absence stemming from a calf injury Friday, but he had to leave the game because of a hamstring injury and is unlikely to play before Monday. Thus, rather than play with a 23-man roster and two-man bench (including a backup catcher), it could behoove the Rangers to return Choo to the DL and allow him to fully heal. “There is going to be a convergence of decisions,” manager Jeff Banister said. “We know we are going to have to play short-handed at some point. We are not in position to play ultra-short-handed.”
TODAY: Further details of the ballpark plans have emerged, with MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan (all links to Twitter) and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link) were among those to report. The plans call for a $1B facility that would be ready for play by at least 2021, with a lease running through 2054. Team and city plan to split that fee equally, with an “extension” of a current tax used for the public funding. In terms of politics, city council approval will be sought on May 24th, with a public election on November 8th also needed to finalize the deal.
YESTERDAY: The Rangers and the City of Arlington are set to announce plans for a new ballpark, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. According to the report, a retractable roof facility is expected to replace what’s currently known as Globe Life Park in Arlington before the lease on that stadium is set to expire after the 2023 campaign.
As Grant explains, the timing of the agreement is tied to efforts from other localities to woo the ballclub, with Dallas representing a particularly appealing possibility. Instead, Arlington will keep the organization by facilitating a new building ahead of the lease expiration, which was a perk that only that city could offer.
While Globe Life is among the dozen oldest stadiums in the majors, it’s only been around since 1994. It opened then to great fanfare, as it — along with what’s now known as Progressive Field, in Cleveland — joined Oriole Park at Camden Yards as retro-styled stadiums with modern amenities. The successes of those parks spurred a round of new construction that has shown little sign of abating.
With the move, the Rangers will join at least the Braves and Diamondbacks as teams in some stage of the ballpark procurement process. Atlanta is set to replace the even-younger Turner Field next year, while Arizona hopes to move out of Chase Field (which came on line in 1998) in the coming seasons. Other organizations, most notably the Rays and A’s, are still navigating complicated paths toward their own replacement parks, with the possibility of alternative locations still looming.
Financing and formal legal approval remain barriers, Grant notes, with an election likely necessary to move the project forward. The city has already approved a sizeable entertainment and hotel project next to Globe Life, which is expected to come on line in the coming years. It’s not apparent whether that undertaking will be impacted. Neither does it appear to be known whether there is an established location for the proposed new ballpark.
Playable weather isn’t hard to come by in Texas, but Grant explains that the retractable roof will allow the club to manage the blistering summer sun. That will, in theory, allow the organization to boost is attendance. Of course, new facilities also tend to allow teams to cash in through other avenues, though that often comes at the expense of taxpayers (as well as paying patrons).
While it’s far too soon to know what kind of impact this move may have on the Rangers’ bottom line, suffice to say that such plans usually redound to the team’s benefit. The Texas organization already runs out one of the league’s more robust payrolls, and it seems reasonable to expect that these plans will aid the club as it competes for top-level talent with other big-market organizations.
- Midway through his first game off the DL, Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo departed with a tight left hamstring, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Choo had been sidelined by a right calf injury, so at least it’s not a re-aggravation of the prior issue, but that’s certainly disappointing news for the veteran. Texas still has plenty of options in the corner outfield, of course, and the severity of the injury remains to be seen.
The Rays have released backstop Carlos Corporan, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. His role at Triple-A is now occupied by J.P. Arencibia, whose signing was announced by the club.
Corporan, 32, is a switch hitter with a good deal of major league experience. He owns a .218/.280/.342 lifetime batting line over 780 plate appearances in parts of six seasons. But he struggled last year with the Rangers and has failed to re-establish himself since.
The Yankees inked Corporan to a minor league deal over the winter, and dealt him to Tampa Bay just before the start of the season. He’s put up a meager .200/.246/.308 slash in his 70 plate appearances at Triple-A Durham on the year.
While that’s not a terribly exciting package of results with the bat in hand, Corporan is generally regarded as a sturdy presence behind the dish. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that he’s capable of hitting from both sides and has spent so much time in the bigs — not to mention the relative scarcity of palatable receivers around the league.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler tells Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times that he hasn’t taken a single call asking about the availability of Mike Trout in the midst of his team’s injury-riddled season. There’s been a perhaps surprising amount of speculation about the Halos eventually making Trout available with a poor on-field product at the moment (due in part, though not necessarily entirely due to the aforementioned injuries) and the team’s dismal farm system. As one rival GM put it when speaking to Shaikin: “You’re getting a guy who’s being paid at the very top of the food chain and trading three to five potential impact players in return. I don’t think there is a scenario where that is going to happen.”
More pertaining to the Halos and their division…
- Angels ace Garrett Richards spoke to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link) about his decision to hold off on the Tommy John surgery he was reported to require for a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. “The way my timetable lines up, as far as being back by 2018 if I did have surgery, is not any different if I have surgery now versus in a couple of months from now,” said Richards, who plans to first attempt stem-cell therapy to treat his injury. “This is just something that was an option, and I decided to take it. Why not, right?” Even the most optimistic projections for a Richards return would’ve been a late May/early June return for Richards in 2017, and if he follows a 14- to 16-month recovery timeline for Tommy John, then he’d indeed have missed most or all of the 2017 season anyhow.
- The Rangers optioned reliever Andrew Faulkner to Triple-A yesterday, which should clear a path for outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to be activated from the disabled list today. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram tweets that with Choo’s return, he’ll return to his role as the everyday right fielder, with rookie Nomar Mazara sliding over to left field. The Rangers, following Delino Deshields’ recent demotion, will move forward with Mazara and Choo flanking a resurgent (and re-positioned) Ian Desmond in center field. Choo appeared in only five games for the Rangers this season before suffering a calf injury that necessitated a roughly six-week stay on the disabled list.
- Evan Gattis’ return to catching drew strong reviews from Astros right-hander Collin McHugh, writes MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Gattis, who was solely a DH in his first year with Houston, was recently optioned to Double-A Corpus Christi to once again familiarize himself with catching, and the plan is for him to catch a couple of times per week when he isn’t serving as the club’s designated hitter, per McTaggart. “The story of today is Evan Gattis,” said McHugh following a strong start against the White Sox. “…He’s a big league catcher and everybody needs to understand that and recognize that. He did a really phenomenal job tonight, both calling the game and blocking.” Despite hitting 27 homers last season, Gattis’ .285 on-base percentage made his work as a DH questionable overall. However, if he can deliver relatively similar production while serving as a part-time catcher in 2016, he’ll obviously become a considerably more valuable commodity for the Astros, even if his defense behind the dish isn’t premium.