Texas Rangers Rumors

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

Latest On Cliff Lee

The Rangers and Padres were among teams to at least “kick the tires” on Phillies starter Cliff Lee earlier this winter, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Of course, the Padres have since signed James Shields to a four-year, $75MM deal, which probably means that they won’t be making a play for Lee or teammate Cole Hamels.  The Rangers have also added to their pitching depth this offseason.

Meanwhile, Heyman believes that Lee would be a solid fit for the Red Sox as their own talks on Hamels seem to have stalled.  Boston won’t part with either catching prospect Blake Swihart or second baseman/outfielder Mookie Betts to pry Hamels away, but a Lee deal could get done with lesser assets.

A deal for Lee could even include former fan favorite Shane Victorino as Heyman hears the Phillies wouldn’t mind a reunion.  The Red Sox can certainly part with the Flyin’ Hawaiian given their crowded outfield, even though they’re pushing the idea that he’ll start Opening Day if he’s healthy.

While there haven’t been any known talks between the two teams regarding Lee, the BoSox do have an affinity for him and they’ve seemingly had interest since he joined Philly as a free agent.

He’s hard not to like,” one Red Sox person told Heyman.

However, another Boston official characterized the Lee possibility to Heyman as a “long shot” since he still has to prove his health.  On the other hand, it’s well known that Lee wants to play for a winner and his track record of pitching in the American League could appeal to the Red Sox.

Outside of the Red Sox, Heyman posits that the Cardinals are a team that would seem to fit since they weren’t all that aggressive in adding pitching and they’d be almost local for the Little Rock, Ark. resident.

Lee is owed $25MM for the coming season and can be controlled for another year through a $27.5MM option that comes with a hefty $12.5MM buyout.  Prior to his 2014 elbow trouble, Lee boasted a streak of six straight seasons with 200+ innings.  Over that stretch, he carried a 2.89 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9.  The 36-year-old (37 in August) has a no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to twenty teams per year.


AL West Notes: Moss/Donaldson Trades, Joba, Johnson, Angels, Castro

Looking to get some more insight into the trade that sent Brandon Moss from Oakland to Cleveland, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke with Athletics assistant GM David Forst and manager Bob Melvin about the swap (Oakland received second base prospect Joe Wendle in exchange). Though Wendle has never ranked as a Top 100 prospect according to outlets such as Baseball America, ESPN, etc., Forst said that the A’s don’t concern themselves with prospect rankings. Rather, the A’s have been enamored with Wendle for more than a year and tried to trade for him in the past. “He is a high-contact hitter. He plays good defense. He has an outstanding makeup. We like him,” Forst explained. Melvin explained that the A’s very much like Moss, but were hoping to get a bit younger. Candidly, the Forst told Pluto that the A’s feel Ike Davis can replace Moss’ bat at a cheaper price.

A bit more from Pluto’s interview and the rest of the AL West…

  • Forst told Pluto that the Athletics never discussed Josh Donaldson with the Indians. Oakland targeted a few select teams, and the Blue Jays were at the top of their list of potential trade candidates, he added. Meanwhile, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star chimed in on that same trade (via Twitter), noting that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said that his initial hope was to acquire Donaldson and move Brett Lawrie to second base, but it eventually became clear that Lawrie had to be included in the return to obtain Donaldson.
  • The Rangers offered Joba Chamberlain more than the $1MM base salary he received on his new deal with the Tigers, but Chamberlain elected to return to Detroit, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Earlier this morning, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters that Chamberlain had received more lucrative offers elsewhere but “really wanted” to be a Tiger again.
  • Also from Heyman (on Twitter), infielder Elliot Johnson will receive a $900K base salary if he makes the Rangers‘ big league roster. Johnson signed a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite yesterday, the team announced.
  • Drew Butera‘s Major League experience and the fact that he’s out of options make him the favorite to win the Angels‘ backup catcher job, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. However, Fletcher does quote manager Mike Scioscia, who says he’s also been impressed by candidates Carlos Perez and Jett Bandy“All of these guys have shown on the defensive side they are ready for the challenge,” said Scioscia.
  • Astros catcher Jason Castro recently spoke to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about the feeling of seeing his name floated in trade rumors for much of the offseason. “I think if you focus too much on it, you kind of drive yourself crazy,” said Castro, who called trade rumors “part of the offseason.” The White Sox and Rangers were among the teams with interest in Castro, per Drellich. Castro’s spot with the Astros became secure again once the team dealt Carlos Corporan to the Rangers. Castro and Hank Conger will see the bulk of the time behind the plate for Houston.

Rangers Claim Edgar Olmos From Mariners

The Rangers announced that they’ve claimed left-hander Edgar Olmos off waivers from the Mariners. Olmos, 24, was designated for assignment by Seattle when the team made its signing of Rickie Weeks official. Texas has moved Jurickson Profar to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on its 40-man roster for Olmos.

The Mariners had claimed Olmos off waivers from the Marlins earlier this offseason. The left-hander made his big league debut with the Fish in 2013, allowing four earned runs (nine total) in five innings on seven hits and a pair of walks. He fared much better between Double-A and Triple-A in 77 2/3 combined innings in 2014, working to a 4.06 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. Olmos held lefties to a .256/.330/.289 batting line between the Majors and Minors last season.

A former third round pick, Olmos has four times ranked among the Marlins’ top 30 prospects, per Baseball America. He’s ranged from Nos. 15 through 24, most recently coming in at No. 23 last offseason. BA noted that a move to the bullpen had his velocity up in the mid-90s, and he features a slider that is an average pitch at times and a changeup that can be a “true third offering.” Their scouting reports notes that he could become a situational lefty, though he’s gotten much better against righties since yielding a .942 OPS to them in 2011. Presumably, Olmos will compete with fellow lefty Alex Claudio for a spot in the Rangers’ bullpen.



Minor Moves: Elliot Johnson

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Rangers have added utility infielder Elliot Johnson on  a minor league deal, the club announced. Soon to turn 31, Johnson will receive an invite to big league camp. After a three-year run in which he made at least 180 plate appearances per season, Johnson earned only twenty trips to the plate last year with the Indians. Across his 826 career plate appearances, Johnson owns a .215/.269/.316 slash with 46 stolen bases. Johnson has been more productive in parts of six seasons at Triple-A, where he owns a lifetime .732 OPS.

Quick Hits: Kang, Olivera, Washington

It goes without saying that baseball teams invest incredible sums of money in individual players, all with the hopes that they will perform well throughout the game’s rather lengthy annual schedule. In that regard, it is not surprising that ballclubs look high and low for ways not only to identify the right player-contract investments, but also for means of maximizing the dollars spent. Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal discusses one area in which an increasing number of teams are looking to extract value (or, perhaps, slow a value drain). MLB’s exhausting travel, training, and playing schedule may contribute to injuries and performance decline late in the year, says Costa, who looks at a few ways that health and wellness are being improved around the game.

  • New Pirates infielder Jung-ho Kang is just starting out on his first run through the full major league cycle, of course, after spending all of his career in his native South Korea. As Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, the team seems bullish on his future and optimistic that he will force his way into the lineup right away. “We believe we’ve brought in a player who’s going to be an everyday player,” said manager Clint Hurdle. “When that happens, we don’t know. We want to prepare him for a starting role, see how the season plays out, see where he can fit and what he can add. Everybody’s vision down the road is for this man to post up and become a regular player in the Pirates’ lineup.”
  • The Dodgers still appear to be among the most plausible suitors for Cuban free agent-to-be Hector Olivera, and Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com notes that he is a name to watch for the team. It seems to be a waiting game for now, as GM Farhan Zaidi indicated: “I have no sense of the timetable,” Zaidi said. “We have had some discussions with them being at the workout and whatnot, but until he’s declared eligible to sign we can’t have any more concrete discussions.”
  • Former Rangers manager Ron Washington is looking for a way back into the game as camp opens, he tells Darrell Williams of the Baton Rouge Advocate (h/t Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News). He says that his expressions of interest with several teams have gone unrequited, indicating a willingness to work in just about any capacity. Washington’s abrupt resignation from the helm of the Rangers is still rather fresh, of course, and it seems likely that he’ll be given another chance at some point.

Relief Market Notes: Joba, Soriano, Rangers, K-Rod

In today’s Insider-only blog on ESPN.com, Buster Olney discusses some of the remaining relief options on the market, noting that right-hander Joba Chamberlain is expected to make a decision on his 2015 club sometime this week. The Dodgers are among the teams with interest, Olney writes, but there are others involved. Olney also notes that part of the reason Rafael Soriano remains unemployed is that scouts feel that his stuff evaporated late in the 2014 season with the Nationals.

A bit more on what’s left of the relief market…

  • The Rangers are still looking for left-handed relievers and are considering both Phil Coke and Joe Beimel, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. As Wilson notes, the team needn’t worry about a 40-man roster spot, as they can move an injured player to the 60-day disabled list if they accommodate either southpaw with a big league contact.
  • The Brewers and Marlins remain in the mix for Francisco Rodrigueztweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The two teams have been the most commonly linked clubs to Rodriguez’s market, with reports over the weekend indicating that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has discussed K-Rod with agent Scott Boras. Last week, the Marlins were rumored to be interested in the two-year, $10MM range, but Rodriguez is said to be eyeing a $10MM figure for 2015 alone.
  • Right-hander Dustin McGowan, who signed a Major League deal with the Dodgers earlier today, is viewing himself as a reliever at this point in his career, he told reporters (including FOX’s Ken Rosenthal). The Dodgers view McGowan as a relief candidate based on his 95 mph fastball and his splits; McGowan had a 5.08 ERA in the rotation last year compared to a 3.35 mark in the bullpen. His career 3.79 ERA as a reliever is nearly a run lower than his 4.78 mark as a starter.

Rangers Exercise Adrian Beltre’s 2016 Option

2:11pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that in exchange for guaranteeing the option in advance, Beltre has agreed to juggle his salaries a bit (Twitter link). Beltre will now earn $16MM in 2015 instead of $18MM, while his 2016 salary will jump from $16MM to $18MM.

1:07pm: The Rangers announced today that they have exercised their 2016 option on Adrian Beltre in advance, meaning that he will be guaranteed $16MM. The Rangers had the ability to void the option if Beltre didn’t reach 600 plate appearances in 2015, but GM Jon Daniels said over the weekend that he was considering removing the clause and locking in Beltre’s salary, as he didn’t want the clause to become a storyline.

Beltre, 36 in April, is coming off another typically excellent season, having batted .324/.388/.492 with 19 home runs and excellent defense at third base. He had been slated to enter the final guaranteed year of a five-year, $80MM contract signed in the 2010-11 offseason, but he’s now guaranteed to earn the full $96MM maximum that was available to him on the contract.

While one could argue that there’s risk involved with locking in that salary ahead of time, it’s unlikely that Beltre would suddenly deteriorate to the point at which a $16MM salary in 2016 would look like a substantial overpay. His defense alone gives him a considerably higher floor than most players, and he’s been very durable over the past three seasons, averaging 155 games per year.


Rangers May Pick Up Adrian Beltre’s 2016 Option

Adrian Beltre‘s contract can be voided prior to the 2016 season if he doesn’t reach 586 plate appearances this season.  However, Rangers GM Jon Daniels says that he’s considering taking that clause out of the equation and bringing him back regardless, as T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes.

Beltre’s deal isn’t exactly a traditional vesting option – the contract states that the 2016 season becomes voidable for Texas if he does not reach 1,200 plate appearances between 2014 and 2015 or hit 600 plate appearances in ’15.  After notching 614 PAs last season, Beltre would need 586 to satisfy the clause.  Daniels isn’t certain that he’ll lock in that extra season for Beltre, but it called it a “possibility” in a chat with reporters on Sunday morning.

I just don’t want the clause to be a story,” Daniels said, according to Jeff Wilson of the Star Telegram. “We will handle it accordingly. I don’t want that to be even a thought.”

This season, Beltre will earn $18MM in the final year of his five-year, $80MM pact signed in January of 2011.  The third baseman would bank $16MM in 2016 if retained.

Beltre, 36 in April, earned his fourth career All-Star selection in 2014.  The veteran slashed .324./388/.492 on the year with 19 homers.  Across his four seasons in Arlington, Beltre has hit .315/.364/.530 with an average of ~29 homers per campaign.


AL East Notes: Red Sox, Rays, Boggs

Free agency is fun for those of us on the outside to follow, but that’s not necessarily the case for the players themselves.  Tim Britton of The Providence Journal kept tabs on now two former members of the Red Sox throughout their free agent process, David Ross and Burke Badenhop.  While Ross found a home with the Cubs before Christmas, Badenhop had to wait a little while longer for his deal with the Reds. More from the AL East..

  • The most likely scenario in the Cubs/Joe Maddon tampering case is that no evidence will be found to support the Rays‘ claims, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes.
  • Juan Francisco‘s minor league deal with the Rays includes an April 5th opt-out and a salary of $2MM (plus incentives) if he makes the team, according to Topkin.  Francisco, 28 in June, spent 2014 with the Blue Jays, where he hit .220/.291/.456 with 16 home runs in 320 plate appearances.
  • Mitchell Boggs can opt out of his minor league deal with the Red Sox if he isn’€™t on the big league club by April 4th, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.  Bradford believes that the former Cardinals closer could wind up not only making the big league roster, but becoming a valuable piece in the pen.  Unsurprisingly, the Red Sox signed Boggs with every intention of having him on the varsity squad.  “€œThey communicated with me early in the offseason that it was a major league-type opportunity,”€ Boggs explained. “€œIt wasn’€™t depth for the entire year. It was a situation where they wanted me to come in and compete and try to make this team. That’€™s what I care about.”
  • Most of the Yankees‘ moves for young power arms, starting with the signing of free agent Andrew Miller, were made to build a deep bullpen.  But, the trade of win-now infielder Martin Prado for Nathan Eovaldi signaled a willingness to gamble on the starting rotation as well, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes.  If all goes according to plan, the Yankees could have one of the younger starting rotations in baseball with Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Eovaldi, and Ivan Nova.  The question marks about their injuries and inconsistency could have made guys like Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, and James Shields to be solid fits, but the Yanks decided instead to play it smart for the long-term.
  • Red Sox pitcher Wade Miley thought for several days that he would be traded to the Marlins or Rangers before he wound up in Boston, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe tweets.  Miley first learned that he was headed to the Red Sox when he saw the news on TV.
  • With or without permission from St. Petersburg, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said he’ll seek a replacement stadium no later than 2022, Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times writes.

West Notes: Shields, Rangers, Saunders

James Shields rejected a four-year, $80MM offer from the Giants before signing with the Padres for $5MM less, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. The Giants rescinded the offer once they re-signed Jake Peavy, however, so by the time Shields actually signed, the Cubs and Marlins were probably the Padres’ top rivals for Shields. Shields’ agent, Page Odle, says his client received more than one offer with a higher average annual value than the one he ultimately accepted from the Padres, confirming that Shields’ desires to play near his home outside San Diego and to for a revamped Padres team were quite strong. Odle implies, though, that another factor might have been that the Giants’ offer simply came too early in the offseason, and that he and Shields wanted more time to make a decision. Odle also says he and Shields did not reject a $110MM offer, as had been reported last month. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Rangers have three pitchers in Yu Darvish, Yovani Gallardo and Neftali Feliz who look like they could be extension candidates, but the team has no plans to extend any of them during Spring Training, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan writes. “There is nothing in the works right now,” says GM Jon Daniels. Darvish is signed through 2017, but can become a free agent a year earlier if he wins a Cy Young award in one of the next two seasons or finishes between second and fourth in both of them. “Counterintuitively, I’m rooting for him to be able to void that last year,” says Daniels, suggesting that the year lost will be positive if Darvish performs well enough to finish at or near the top in Cy Young balloting in one or both of the next two seasons.
  • Manager Lloyd McClendon says the Mariners will use newly signed lefty Joe Saunders purely as a reliever, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets. The 33-year-old Saunders has pitched almost his entire career as a starter, but he made six relief appearances for the Orioles last season.