Texas Rangers Rumors

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

East Notes: Lee, Hamels, Braves, Price, Orioles

There were plenty of scouts on hand for the Phillies‘ matchup tonight, as ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (links to Twitter). Among the players presumably being eyed were starter Cliff Lee, fresh off a lengthy DL stint, and southpaw reliever Antonio Bastardo. Clubs with representatives on-hand included the Tigers, Blue Jays, Orioles, Brewers, Angels, Royals, Giants, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Mariners, though Crasnick adds that all were not necessarily looking at Lee in particular. The return start for Lee did not go well for the veteran lefty, as he surrendered 12 base hits (11 singles and one long ball) and six earned runs to go with three strikeouts and a walk over 5 2/3 innings.

Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions:

  • The Phillies are telling clubs that starter Cole Hamels is not available, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. Hamels looks to be the best trade piece on the club’s current MLB roster, but Philadelphia may well prefer to keep the 30-year-old as it attempts to avoid a total rebuild.
  • The Yankees appear on Lee’s twenty-team no-trade list, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Lee also listed New York on last year’s version of his slate of clubs to which he can decline to be dealt.
  • For the Braves, the trade deadline is likely to bring aid to the bullpen and bench, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. A left-handed reliever has long been on the club’s list, and Bowman says that the club might also look to add a bench bat that would improve the team’s anemic pinch-hitting results. As Bowman notes, Jordan Schafer and Ryan Doumit have both largely been ineffective in that role.
  • The Rays now seem more likely than ever to take the decision whether to deal David Price right up until the trade deadline, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post“I think they take it down to the wire,” an executive told Sherman. “That allows them to make sure they know who they are while making a couple teams sweat to the end that one of their competitors are going to get him. … It wouldn’t surprise me if Price actually ends up a July 31 decision.”
  • Meanwhile, the Orioles are looking at a broad array of options to bolster their club, reports MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli. In particular, the club is looking at both starting and relief arms, and has indicated to at least three clubs that righty Miguel Gonzalez could be moved. One of those teams is the Padres, who of course hold one of the better available starters in Ian Kennedy. A.J. Burnett of the Phillies is also on Baltimore’s radar, as is Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies, though Ghiroli says that Colorado was asking for top prospect Kevin Gausman to be included. Manager Buck Showalter indicated that executive vice president Dan Duquette remains hesitant to part with the club’s best prospects, and could ultimately take things down to the wire to get the right deal. (That, of course, was the strategy that Baltimore employed in this year’s free agent market, though last year the club started buying somewhat early at the deadline.)

Relief Market Notes: Buyers, Red Sox, Tigers, Phils, Cubs, Cishek

As usual, the relief market promises to be active in the coming days. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports via Twitter, one executive with a reliever to shop cited the Tigers, Indians, Orioles, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Giants, Dodgers, and Pirates as clubs that are in the market.

Here’s more on possible pen moves:

  • While many teams have interest in shoring up their bullpens, many top relief targets might not ultimately be moved, Rosenthal also tweets. He names Koji Uehara (Red Sox), Joakim Soria (Rangers), and Joaquin Benoit (Padres) as quality late-inning hurlers who could stay put.
  • The Red Sox have received plenty of interest in both Uehara and southpaw setup man Andrew Miller, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, but the pair is not going to be dealt at this point given the club’s recent winning streak, which reached five games tonight.
  • Among the most active buyers are the Tigers, who have scouted virtually all the available arms, tweets ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. Detroit is showing interest in Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets, though the team is indeed keeping its eye on a wide variety of possibilities. That includes fellow Philly Jonathan Papelbon, adds Morosi.
  • After shipping out their top two targets, the Cubs are receiving the most hits on lefty James Russell, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Two other pen pieces — southpaw Wesley Wright and swingman Carlos Villanueva — are also “in play,” says Wittenmyer.
  • Marlins closer Steve Cishek is a recent addition to the rumor mill, though MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro says that Miami has told opposing clubs that they do not intend to deal the righty. The 28-year-old comes with three more years of control through arbitration, though he’ll be well-paid after taking home $3.8MM as a Super Two. Meanwhile, with the Fish hoping to make a run at extending star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton after the season, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald cites a source who tells him that shipping out Cishek could have a negative impact on that effort.

AL Central Notes: Shields, Moore, Rios, Castillo

The Royals‘ recent slide has dropped them below the .500 mark and, with so many teams ahead of them in the playoff race, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron believes K.C. should cut its losses and trade James Shields.  There seems to be little chance Shields will re-sign with Kansas City this winter, so the Royals could get more prospect value by dealing him now than they would by getting a single compensation pick if and when he left in the offseason, Cameron opines.

Here’s the latest from around the AL Central…

  • Dayton Moore doesn’t seem to be in sell mode, nor does he necessarily seem to be close on any trades as per comments made to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi.  “I’m not going to give up on our team….We need the group of players we have to produce. We believe they will,” the Royals GM said (Twitter links).
  • The Royals had a scout watching the Rangers/Blue Jays series over the weekend, and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News believes the right-handed hitting outfielder-needy Royals could’ve been there to watch Alex Rios.  Of course, Rios suffered a sprained ankle during the first inning of Saturday’s game and hasn’t played since.  The sprain isn’t believed to be too serious, yet even a minor injury can’t help Rios’ trade value.
  • The Twins will attend Rusney Castillo‘s showcase for scouts on July 26, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter link).  There is “no sense yet of real interest” from Minnesota, according to Wolfson, and the decision will ultimately come down to how high the bidding gets for the Cuban outfielder’s services.
  • Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer doesn’t expect the Indians to be major players at the trade deadline, either as buyers or sellers.  The Indians are still in the hunt for both the AL Central lead and a wild card spot so they won’t be selling any notable players, but “it would be a shock if they added any high-priced talent.”


Tigers, Pirates, Indians Interested In Benoit

The Tigers, Pirates and Indians are interested in Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. The Padres have already shipped out one reliever with closing experience, trading Huston Street to the Angels, but Heyman writes that Benoit will likely fetch a less attractive return, since teams generally view him as a setup man, not a closer.

Heyman notes that the Tigers or Pirates could use Benoit in the eighth inning, allowing Joe Nathan or Mark Melancon, respectively, to continue to close. (Those two teams are also interested in Joakim Soria of the Rangers, Heyman notes.) It isn’t yet clear whether the Indians will be buyers.

Benoit is owed $8MM next year plus $8MM or a $1.5MM buyout in 2016. His 2016 option will vest if he finishes at least 55 games in 2015. Benoit has a 2.04 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 39 2/3 innings with San Diego this year.


Minor Moves: Moseley, Tanaka, Crowe

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Marlins have signed pitcher Dustin Moseley, according to MiLB.com. Moseley, who missed 2013 and all of this season so far due to shoulder trouble, last appeared in the Majors with the Padres in 2012 and has also pitched for the Angels and Yankees. In June, MLBTR reported that Moseley was looking to sign with a new team. For his career, Moseley has a 4.67 ERA with 5.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in parts of seven big-league seasons, pitching both as a starter and in relief.
  • Infielder Kensuke Tanaka has requested his release from the Rangers‘ Triple-A club, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Tanaka made his MLB debut last season for the Giants slashing .267/.353/.267 in 34 plate appearances (15 games). The 33-year-old signed a minor league contract with the Rangers last December and has posted a .258/.340/.371 line in 245 plate appearances for Round Rock this year.
  • The Tigers have released outfielder Trevor Crowe from their Triple-A affiliate, per the International League’s transactions page.  The 30-year-old, who signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in January, slashed .240/.291/.349 in 278 plate appearances for Toledo with most of his playing time coming as the Mud Hens’ DH. Crowe, the 14th overall selection in the 2005 draft by the Indians, played 60 games for the Astros last year batting .218/.287/.291 in 181 plate appearances.
  • Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, three players currently reside in DFA limbo: Ian Stewart (Angels), Deck McGuire (Blue Jays), and Jimmy Paredes (Royals).

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


Quick Hits: Rangers, Castillo, Ziegler, Butler

The Rangers believe they can be competitive in 2015 and therefore won’t be trading players like Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre or Elvis Andrus, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Even with a number of talented young infielders in their system, they don’t want to trade Andrus, who is an important figure in their clubhouse. They will, however, consider dealing Joakim Soria and Alex Rios. The Tigers have shown interest in Soria, and the Mariners, Blue Jays, Giants or Royals could all be fits for Rios. Reliever Neal Cotts could also fetch a nice return for Texas. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Cubs, White Sox, Braves and Giants all have interest in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Sanchez notes that Castillo has received comparisons to Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kenny Lofton. All teams throughout MLB are likely to be represented at Castillo’s showcase next week.
  • The Tigers have asked about the availability of reliever Brad Ziegler, but the Diamondbacks are likely to keep him, tweets FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi. Ziegler has pitched well this year and is under contract for $5MM in 2015, with a reasonable option on his services the following year.
  • Billy Butler believes the Royals should pick up the $12.5MM 2015 option on his contract, but if they don’t want to, he’s willing to renegotiate so he can stay in Kansas City, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. “My numbers throughout my contract suggest they should (pick it up),” says Butler. “Maybe not the way I’ve necessarily played this year, but that’s the reason you play a full 162 games. … That’s the reason why you have a track record.” Butler has struggled this year, with a .272/.324/.354 line in 383 plate appearances that’s well below his career norms.
    Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article762548.html#storylink=cpy

Minor Moves: Pena, Torrealba, Volstad, Berg, Enright, Gimenez, Wells, Fellhauer

It has been a busy day as the league returns to action out of the All-Star break. Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball …

  • First baseman Carlos Pena has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter. Pena, 36, was designated for assignment yesterday after a rough start to his tenure in Texas.
  • Veteran backstop Yorvit Torrealba has requested and been given his release from the Cubs, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports on Twitter. The 35-year-old has a .256/.315/.379 career MLB triple-slash over 13 seasons of work. He has only seen time at the Cubs’ rookie-league affiliate this year since signing last month.
  • The Angels have signed hurler Chris Volstad to a minor league deal, according to the MLB transactions page. Volstad, a towering righty, has a 4.94 ERA over parts of six MLB seasons, working mostly as a starter until a stint last season with the Rockies. He had been pitching for the Korean Doosan Bears this season, working to a 6.21 ERA over 87 frames with just 3.3 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9.
  • Free agent righty Jeremy Berg has signed a minor league pact with the Cardinals, also via the MLB transactions page. Berg, 28, has yet to pitch in the big leagues and owns a 4.43 ERA in 256 innings at the Triple-A level. He had spent his entire career in the Angels organization.
  • The Phillies released right-hander Barry Enright today, according to the International League transactions page. The 28-year-old has struggled mightily in his most recent stints at the major league level, and carries a 5.58 ERA through 101 2/3 Triple-A innings this season with 5.7 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.
  • The Brewers have inked catcher Hector Gimenez to a minor league deal and assigned him to Double-A Huntsville, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (on Twitter). The 31-year-old Gimenez spent some time as the White Sox’ backup catcher in 2013 but posted just a .191/.275/.338 batting line in 80 trips to the dish. He’s a lifetime .216/.280/.330 hitter in 100 big league plate appearances and is a veteran of 12 minor league seasons. He’ll provide some minor league catching depth for Milwaukee.
  • Outfielder Casper Wells has signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish, the club announced on its web site. Once a nice fourth outfielder for the Mariners, Wells’ stock has dropped after hitting just .126/.186/.147 for the White Sox, A’s and Phillies in 2013. He began the year with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate but batted just .197/.290/.230 in 69 PA with Iowa before being released.
  • The Brewers have also acquired outfielder Josh Fellhauer from the Reds in exchange for cash considerations, the team’s player development department announced (on Twitter). A former seventh-round pick, the 26-year-old Fellhauer was hitting .239/.338/.313 in 155 PA between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He’ll also report to Double-A Huntsville with the Brewers.

Tigers, Rangers Discussing Joakim Soria

11:10am: Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, adds that the Tigers are also interested in Joaquin Benoit but are not actively pursuing Huston Street at this time (Twitter links). The Tigers, according to a rival executive with whom Rosenthal spoke, are interested in adding a reliever that doesn’t view himself as a pure closer, suggesting that a new acquisition may not supplant Nathan as the primary ninth-inning option.

9:57am: The Tigers and Rangers are having ongoing discussions about Texas closer Joakim Soria, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports 1 (on Twitter).

The back end of the bullpen was a worry that Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski hoped not to have when he signed Joe Nathan this offseason, but the former Twins/Rangers stopper hasn’t pitched like himself in 2014. Nathan has posted a 5.61 ERA in 33 2/3 innings with the Tigers, and while his strikeout rate remains strong (9.4 K/9), his walks are up and his fastball is averaging a career-worst 91.7 mph. That velocity dip could have something to do with the increase in his home run rate and decrease in swinging-strike rate as well.

Soria, on the other hand, has been excellent in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. The former Royals closer has turned in the best strikeout and walk rates of his career (11.9 K/9, 1.2 BB/9) en route to a 2.67 ERA and 16 saves in 30 1/3 innings of relief work.

An acquisition of Soria would give the Tigers an improved ninth-inning option not only for 2014 but also 2015, as his contract contains a $7MM club option ($500K buyout). Beyond that, Soria is highly affordable in 2014, as he’s earning just a $5.5MM salary, of which $2.19MM remains.

This would be the second straight season in which the Tigers have acquired bullpen help, should a deal come to fruition. However, the asking price on Soria will undoubtedly be higher than last year’s asking price for Jose Veras. Detroit sent Danry Vasquez and David Paulino to Houston in order to complete that deal.

The Rangers have reportedly been receiving a good deal of interest in their bullpen arms, and they’ve already shown a willingness to move veteran pieces by sending Jason Frasor to the Royals this week.


Minor Moves: McGrady, Willis, James, Olmsted, Wang

Former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady, who had been trying his hand as a pitcher with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, announced his retirement from baseball today, writes Brett Dolan of CBS Houston. T-Mac totaled just 6 2/3 innings with Sugar Land, and his lone strikeout came against the final hitter he faced. “That is definitely going in the trophy case,” McGrady said after his announcement. He called the opportunity to get to know and learn from his teammates “an honor.”

Here are the rest of the day’s minor moves:

  • Dontrelle Willis was briefly considering a career in coaching, but the former Rookie of the Year and Cy Young runner-up will instead pitch for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The D-Train is familiar with the Atlantic League, as he made 14 starts for the Long Island Ducks (producing a 2.57 ERA) in 2013. His debut will come on Friday.
  • Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers have signed former first-rounder Chad James to a minor league deal and assigned him to Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. The Marlins selected James 18th overall in 2009, but he never made it past High-A. Now 23 years old, James had been pitching for the Evansville Otters of the independent Frontier League. He has a career 4.71 ERA between the minor leagues and indy ball.
  • The Portland Sea Dogs (the Red Sox’ Double-A affiliate) announced on Twitter that they have released right-hander Michael Olmsted. The longtime Mets farmhand returned for a second stint in Boston’s farm system when he inked a minor league deal this spring. Olmsted posted a 4.45 ERA with a 37-to-24 K/BB ratio in 32 1/3 innings.
  • The White Sox have made a series of transactions at the minor league level, according to a tweet from its Triple-A affiliate Charlotte Knights (h/t to MLB.com’s Scott Merkin). The team has added righty Chien-Ming Wang on a minor league deal. Wang, who has thrown at least 27 MLB innings over each of the last three seasons, was recently let go by the Reds after opting out of his deal.
  • Meanwhile, the Reds have acquired righty Dylan Axelrod from the White Sox for an as-yet unknown return. The 28-year-old threw 128 1/3 innings last year for Chicago, including 20 starts, but managed only a 5.68 ERA with 5.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. He currently sports a 4.50 ERA through 88 frames at Triple-A on the year, logging 7.8 K/9 versus 3.7 BB/9.
  • The White Sox also released Deunte Heath, a 28-year-old righty who has tossed 9 2/3 MLB innings over the past two seasons. Heath will evidently be signing with a Japanese club after posting generally excellent numbers at the Triple-A level over the past several seasons.

Rangers Designate Carlos Pena For Assignment

The Rangers announced that they have designated first baseman Carlos Pena for assignment. That move, along with yesterday’s trade of Jason Frasor to the Royals, clears 40-man and 25-man roster spots for Geovany Soto and J.P. Arencibia — both of whom will be added to the big league roster.

The veteran Pena batted .136/.190/.237 in 63 plate appearances for Texas after having his contract selected from Triple-A Round Rock. The 36-year-old had signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, who have lost first basemen Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland for the season due to injuries.

Soto will be activated from the 60-day disabled list and make his season debut for the Rangers sometime in the team’s upcoming three-game series against the Blue Jays. Arencibia, meanwhile, is a bit of an interesting story. The 28-year-old struggled tremendously with the Rangers earlier this season and was outrighted off the 40-man back in May after clearing waivers. However, he’s now picked up some experience at first base with Round Rock, and as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (on Twitter), that’s where the Rangers will use him this time around.