Texas Rangers Rumors

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

Rangers Extend Jon Daniels, Thad Levine

FRIDAY: The Rangers have officially announced both extensions. While specifics weren’t divulged, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that each received a three-year deal. Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest adds that the deals kick in at the end of their pre-existing contracts, meaning they’re now signed through 2018. In the press release, co-chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson issued the following statement:

“Under Jon’s and Thad’s leadership, the Rangers have created a strong overall organization that has combined major league success with a productive scouting and player development operation over a number of years. Jon and Thad are skilled executives who are well respected around the game and completely committed to once again delivering a winning team for our fans.”

THURSDAY: The Rangers have extended general manager Jon Daniels and assistant GM Thad Levine, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The exact terms of the extensions are unknown to this point, but Daniels’ contract was slated to expire at the end of the 2015 season.

Jon Daniels and Thad Levine

Daniels succeeded John Hart (now the Braves’ president of baseball operations) as GM of the team following the 2005 season at the incredibly young age of 28. He’s been in his role for nearly a decade now, and in that time, the Rangers have made their first two World Series appearances. The team struggled in 2014, finishing with just 67 wins, although a nearly unthinkable list of injuries was largely to blame for that disappointing performance.

The 41-year-old Levine was also appointed to his current post in October 2005 and has been long rumored as a GM candidate himself. He withdrew his name from consideration from the D’Backs GM search prior to the team’s hiring of Dave Stewart. When former Rangers AGM A.J. Preller became GM of the Padres, Levine took on the oversight of the club’s international scouting operations, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wrote back in September.

As can be seen in MLBTR’s Transactions Tracker, Daniels and Levine were behind what is considered one of the best trades in Rangers history — the Mark Teixeira trade to the Braves that netted Texas Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and minor leaguer Beau Jones. However, some Rangers fans are likely more focused on last offseason’s Prince Fielder/Ian Kinsler swap, which to this point has certainly not panned out for Texas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL East Notes: Desmond, Fish, Phils, Hamels, Braves, Medlen

The Nationals made Ian Desmond a seven-year, $107MM extension offer last year, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, though that also included contract deferrals that would have reduced its true value. Negotiations are expected to pick back up in the months to come, per Kilgore, and that offer will presumably be the starting point. Desmond, who put up another strong year and is now one year away from the open market, is one key piece of the team’s increasingly pressing long-term strategic questions.

Here’s the latest out of the division:

  • The Marlins‘ interest in the starting pitching market is fairly diverse, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. Possible trade targets range from buy-low (Ubaldo Jimenez) to buy-high (Johnny Cueto), and interest on the free agent markets includes Kyle Kendrick and Ervin Santana. The unifying force here is probably the expected ability of these varying arms to provide innings; as I noted yesterday, the Fish hope to add a solid, veteran presence to their staff.
  • Spencer also spoke with the Miami brass about Giancarlo Stanton, and discusses the team’s reasoning for trying to build a winner around him now, even if an extension cannot ultimately be worked out. “We’re trying to get away from that, that we have to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Hill said. “Enough of that. We want to win. We want to keep as many of our pieces as we can.”
  • There are “a lot of good fits” for Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is likely to be traded, sources tell Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Philadelphia is seeing interest in Ben Revere as well.
  • Of course, the flashier chip for the Phils is lefty Cole Hamels. As Salisbury reports, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says “the free agent market will kind of dictate where this thing goes,” referring to the possibility of striking a deal. “[A]t some point the dominores will start to fall and then we’ll see where it takes us,” said Amaro, who notes that there is no need to deal Hamels since he “traverses the timeline” of contention that the club has in mind.
  • Hamels would prefer to be dealt, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale provides additional teams to which Hamels cannot decline a trade (on top of the previously-reported Cubs): the Yankees and Rangers are the two A.L. clubs, with the Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, and Padres among the National League teams.
  • The Braves increasingly sound inclined to aim for the near future, and we’ve already heard several prominent names listed as possible trade candidates. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman provides two more, via Twitter: reliever Jordan Walden (who projects to earn $3MM in arbitration) and young second baseman Tommy La Stella.
  • Braves president of baseball operations John Hart says the sides will “need to get creative” to work out a deal to keep Kris Medlen, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. While the team has every hope of keeping the righty, his second Tommy John procedure and $5.8MM projected arb price tag do not make for a straightforward situation given the team’s tight payroll. Sherman suggests that a significantly lower guarantee, combined with incentives and a 2016 option, could be palatable for both sides. It seems that Medlen would be able to do better, however, were he to force the Braves’ hand: he would either be tendered a contract, or hit the open market with plenty of suitors given his upside.

AL East Notes: Andrus, Butler, Markakis, BoSox

It would be “the longest of long shots” if the Yankees acquired Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus this offseason, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.  Andrus’ eight-year, $120MM extension begins in 2015 and the Yankees aren’t interested in paying that type of superstar money to a player who hasn’t yet delivered on that level.  “You would have to hope he turned a big corner if you took on that contract,” an executive tells Feinsand. “If he never gets any better, that’s a lot of money for a good — but pretty ordinary — player.”  Ironically, the Yankees’ long-standing interest in Andrus was part of the reason why Texas extended him in the first place, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  It’s worth noting that Andrus has opt-out clauses in his deal after both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, so the financial commitment may not quite be as lengthy as it seems.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • There isn’t any truth to reports that the Orioles made a three-year, $30MM offer to Billy Butler, a member of the organization tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko.  While the O’s have had interest in Butler, Kubatko feels the team wouldn’t spend that much on a full-time DH.
  • The Orioles will meet with Nick Markakis‘ agent Jamie Murphy today, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter).  The O’s are still seen as the favorites to sign Markakis, though the Blue Jays and other teams are interested in the veteran outfielder.  Earlier this week, Murphy said that the Orioles weren’t one of the several teams he planned to speak with about his client during the GM Meetings.
  • Though Yoenis Cespedes‘ name has frequently been mentioned in trade rumors, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) that those rumors aren’t “based in any sort of evidence. We’re happy to have himWe felt like as we were building a lineup for next year, adding that power element in the middle of the lineup was critically important to us. So now that we have it, we’re not really anxious to give it away. We believe he’s very important in 2015, and 2015 is very important to us.”
  • Cherington spent “an extended period of time” talking with Jon Lester‘s agents last night, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets.
  • The Rays interviewed Giants bench coach Ron Wotus about their managerial opening yesterday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.  Of the ten candidates on the Rays’ list, the team still has to speak to Barry Larkin, Doug Glanville and Kevin Cash before getting into the second round of interviews.
  • In other AL East news from earlier today, we published a collection of Blue Jays notes, the Yankees signed lefty Jose De Paula and the Orioles are shopping right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.


Rangers Likely To Sell Contracts Of Poreda, Mikolas To Japanese Team

The Rangers will likely clear some space on their crowded 40-man roster by selling the rights of left-hander Aaron Poreda and right-hander Miles Mikolas to the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

While many clubs have trimmed the total players on their 40-man roster down into the mid-30s by outrighting players, the Rangers still have a full 40-man roster. Grant notes that this type of deal typically brings back about $150-200K for the selling team, so there’s a bit of financial benefit as well. On the players’ side of the transaction, Japanese teams will often pay seven-figure salary to this type of player, making the move a potential win for all parties involved.

The 28-year-old Poreda, a former top prospect with the White Sox that went to the Padres in the original Jake Peavy trade, has bounced around the league since seeing his stock fade. He made his first appearance in the Majors since 2009 with the Rangers this past season, struggling to a 5.91 ERA in 21 1/3 innings, though his 21-to-7 K/BB ratio was encouraging.

Control problems have plagued Poreda in the minors, as he’s averaged more than eight walks per nine innings in 157 1/3 Triple-A innings after displaying far better control at previous levels. However, he seemed to rein that problem in this year, and he also averaged 95.4 mph with his fastball in the Majors this season in an admittedly small sample. Grant notes that he even touched 100 mph with his fastball at one point.

Mikolas, 26, pitched 57 1/3 innings for Texas this season but had struggles of his own, posting a 6.44 ERA with 38 strikeouts against 18 walks. He has a rather strong track record in Triple-A, however, where he’s compiled a 3.23 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 125 1/3 innings in parts of three seasons.


Yasmany Tomas Rumors: Tuesday

Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas will celebrate his 24th birthday on Friday, and it will surely be a happy one given the lucrative contract on the horizon.  Yesterday, agent Jay Alou explained the Phillies’ standing in the Tomas derby, telling reporters including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, “There are several teams that I could say are frontrunners, but yes (the Phillies are one of them).”  Surprisingly, the Phillies have yet to make a formal offer, but Alou says, “It will all get going soon.”

Today’s Tomas rumors…

  • Tomas is drawing interest from the Orioles, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal also notes on Twitter that the chase for Tomas is still heating up, with two teams set to visit him in the Dominican next week and others still weighing pursuit.

Earlier Updates

  • The Royals have entered the Tomas sweepstakes, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Royals don’t feel that Tomas has the same type of advanced hitting skills that countryman Jose Abreu brought to the division-rival White Sox, but they have a need for a right fielder and feel his defense is at least adequate. The Royals like Melky Cabrera as well but Tomas would allow them to preserve their first-round pick, whereas Cabrera received and rejected a qualifying offer from Toronto.
  • The Phillies, Padres and Giants have each seen Tomas three times, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He also reports that agent Jay Alou rejected an eight-year offer (though he doesn’t specify the value), preferring a five to seven year term to get Tomas onto the open market again around his age-30 season. The Mariners also like Tomas but aren’t expected to outbid other clubs, according to Heyman.
  • Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Rangers aren’t likely to sign Tomas. Starting pitching is said to be the team’s top priority, and sources tell Wilson that the Rangers have informed Alou that their resources will be dedicated to that goal.
  • How about the $100MM figure that has been bandied about for Tomas?  “I don’t know where that came from, but he’d be happy and I’d be happy,” says Alou.  In my September profile of Tomas, I posited a seven-year, $105MM contract.  More recently, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports went with eight years and $100MM, an agent who spoke to Heyman said seven years and $93MM, and a GM said eight years, $100MM.  Eight years is an interesting call, because that would mean Tomas would be giving up a potential valuable free agent season.  Seven would be more aligned with typical MLB service time for a top prospect, who can put in just shy of seven years before reaching free agency if called up a few weeks into the season.
  • Yesterday, Jorge Arangure Jr. had an excellent profile of Tomas for Vice Sports.  In it, Arangure said Tomas will likely choose a team from the Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners, and Padres, who have all scouted the player several times.  Tomas’ Dominican-based trainer Raul Javier, asked when the player would sign, replied, “Very soon.”

AL West Notes: Kendrick, Astros, Engel Beltre

The Angels remain open to trading second baseman Howie Kendrick, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Kendrick, 31, is eligible for free agency after the season.  More from the AL West…

  • The Astros’ 2015 payroll still projects to be in the $70MM range, explains Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.  The team has about $17.7MM committed for 2015 for four players, plus around $21MM for their seven essential arbitration eligible players, a few of whom could be traded.  It’s easy to see that this team has some money to spend.
  • Drellich says “there’s little expectation the Astros would add a player who received a qualifying offer,” but admits that the team will be more open to giving up a draft pick this winter.  “We have two protected picks.  So a qualifying offer is not necessarily an impediment to how we would behave compared to a team that had a pick that was their only pick, and that was No. 13 or 15 or something like that. So we have that advantage,” said GM Jeff Luhnow.  The Astros would give up the competitive balance round pick they acquired from the Marlins in the summer if they sign one of the 11 qualified free agents.  The Astros were linked to Hanley Ramirez earlier today.
  • Outfielder Engel Beltre has elected free agency after refusing an outright assignment to Triple-A from the Rangers, writes Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com.  GM Jon Daniels said, “He’s exploring other options.  We are as well. We haven’t closed the door. We haven’t made him an offer at this point.”  Beltre, who missed the entire 2014 season with a fractured tibia, was a key piece of the Rangers’ return from the Red Sox for Eric Gagne at the 2007 trade deadline.

Cashman On Shortstop, Kuroda, Robertson, Headley, Young

Here are some of the hot stove-related highlights from Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s chat with reporters (including ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews and MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom) on Monday…

  • Acquiring a shortstop is atop Cashman’s list, but he says, “I think it’s a limited market to be honest, and I say limited in terms of availability and acquisition cost.”  Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has a source saying that beyond Troy Tulowitzki, the Yankees are “kicking the tires” on the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus and the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins.  “I don’t think this past season reflects what his true ability is,” said Cashman of free agent Stephen Drew, and the GM has already spoken with Drew’s agent.  Beyond Drew, Feinsand says the Yanks don’t seem inclined to pay up for Hanley Ramirez and Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie aren’t high on their list.
  • The Yankees have had “a brief conversation” with Chase Headley and “we’re certainly looking forward to continuing the dialogue,” says Cashman.  Given doubts about Alex Rodriguez‘s ability to play third base every day in 2015, the Yankees are making a “strong push” to sign Headley, according to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • Cashman thinks Hiroki Kuroda is going through his standard post-season “mental cleansing process” and will soon make a decision about whether or not he wants to return in 2015.  Cashman would “be surprised if he doesn’t play,” though isn’t sure if Kuroda will pitch in MLB or Japan.
  • Cashman will speak with David Robertson‘s agent during the GM Meetings, and was hesitant to discuss the Yankees’ closer situation until those talks had taken place.  “I would have no clue what [Robertson's] market value is going to be,” Cashman said. “Certainly, they’ll have an idea. They turned down the qualifying offer based on a lot of parameters, I’m sure, [and] some discussions they’ve already had. It’s hard to tell.
  • Two of the club’s statistical analysts pushed Cashman to re-sign Chris Young.  “They felt, from an analytical standpoint, his year wasn’t as bad as it played out, that there was a potential bounce-back situation with it. We signed him up on what we think is a fair-market value, fourth-outfielder type contract,” Cashman said.
  • Young’s signing may be the last outfield-related move the Yankees make this winter.  “I think right now, we’re kind of settled in the outfield unless something surprising happens in the case of a trade, which I wouldn’t anticipate,” Cashman said.  As Bloom notes, this would seem to close the book on any chance of Ichiro Suzuki re-signing with New York.

AL West Notes: Hammel, Veras, A’s, Daniels

The Astros are one of roughly 12 teams who have checked in with free agent righty Jason Hammel, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reports.  While Hammel makes sense for a lot of teams as a less-expensive option behind some of the pricier names on the pitching market, he seems like a particularly solid fit for an Astros team that is looking to upgrade its rotation without expending a lot of payroll.  MLBTR’s Jeff Todd, in his Free Agent Profile of Hammel, predicted the right-hander would receive a three-year, $30MM deal this winter — exactly what Houston spent to sign Scott Feldman last offseason.

Here’s some more from around the AL West…

  • Also from Drellich, Jose Veras‘ Barry Praver says his client is interested in returning to the Astros next season.
  • The Athletics have called about free agent shortstops Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  Shortstop is an area of need for Oakland this winter with incumbent Jed Lowrie also a free agent.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reports (including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News) that the team could consider trading from its shortstop depth.  “Its an area of strength for us. We’ve talked about the possibility for a while. We just have to decide if now is the time to make a move there,” Daniels said.  Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar are the two biggest names yet a deal involving either player wouldn’t be likely until Spring Training, when Profar can show that he’s healthy after shoulder injuries sidelined him for all of the 2014 season.  Earlier today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Yankees were “intrigued” by Andrus.  Prospects Luis Sardinas and Hanser Alberto could also be trade chips, either in small deals or as parts of larger trade packages.
  • Two sources tell Evan Grant that Colby Lewis will likely re-sign with the Rangers.  Daniels said that if he “had to guess, I think it gets done,” though noted that Lewis has “never been healthy and a true free agent before.  This is the first real chance he’s had to find out his true value.”
  • Kevin Jepsen could be a trade candidate if the Angels wanted to deal from their right-handed relief surplus, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez opines.  Jepsen has two more years of control left as a Super Two player, and his rising price tag could make him expendable for the Halos, Gonzalez speculates.

Ten Teams Showing Interest In Torii Hunter

At least ten teams have reached out to express interest in Torii Hunter, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today, and the free agent’s most aggressive suitors are in the very familiar AL Central. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals, Twins, Tigers, Cubs, Giants, Rangers and Mariners have all shown some early interest in Hunter (Twitter links). Hunter’s preference is to remain in Detroit, he adds, but his fate may be tied to that of Victor Martinez, as the Tigers likely can’t re-sign both.

Though Hunter turns 40 next July, he still enjoyed a productive season at the plate in a fairly pitcher-friendly home environment, hitting .286/.319/.446 with 17 homers in 586 plate appearances. His defensive game, however, appears to have slipped as Defensive Runs Saved pegged him at -18 runs and Ultimate Zone Rating agreed (-18.3).

Given his age, I’d think Hunter’s priority would be signing with a team he expects to contend in 2015 rather than maxing out his contract or perhaps making a sentimental return to his former Minneapolis stomping grounds.


East Links: Hamels, Tomas, Mets, Andrus, Jays

The Red Sox are one of the 20 teams on Cole Hamels‘ no-trade list, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As Rosenthal notes, Hamels wouldn’t necessarily block a trade to Boston, but he may want a team to pick up his 2019 vesting option ($20MM) in order to waive the clause. That would take Hamels’ total guarantee from four years and $90MM to five years and $110MM, likely making him a bit less attractive as  a trade target. Boston has been an oft-rumored potential trade partner should the Phillies decide to move their ace.

More from baseball’s Eastern divisions…

  • Yasmany Tomas isn’t close to a deal of any sort, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, had a one-on-one meeting with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at today’s GM Meetings in Phoenix.
  • The Mets saw Tomas, but their scouts didn’t love him and they’re not likely to go near the $100MM range to sign him, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He does note that the Mets are looking at outfielders on the trade market and willing to listen on Daniel Murphy again. However, the Mets have been underwhelmed by past offers for Murphy and may just hang onto him, as they’re comfortable giving Dilson Herrera more time to develop in the minors.
  • Sherman also reports that the Yankees are “intrigued” by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. The Yankees are trying to get younger and are hopeful of acquiring youthful players that may not have had their best season yet, and Andrus could fit that bill. However, they’re also wary of Andrus’ huge $120MM contract extension, which doesn’t even kick in until next season.
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair that he won’t allow other teams to dictate his offseason. What he means by that, Blair explains, is that the Jays won’t wait to see where a certain player signs before pursuing another. Blair recalls the 2006 Winter Meetings, when Anthopoulos was an assistant GM to J.P. Ricciardi. Toronto was hamstrung at the Winter Meetings waiting to hear back from free agents Ted Lilly and Gil Meche, both of whom signed elsewhere in the end. According to Blair, there was some stark internal criticism about how the other team’s plans were held up by other clubs. Toronto’s priority is re-signing Melky Cabrera, Blair writes, but the Blue Jays are aware that his QO and past ties to PEDs could lead to a slow-developing market.