Texas Rangers Rumors

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

West Notes: Doolittle, Tulo, CarGo, Preller, Rios

In a guest piece on the blog of ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link), Athletics closer Sean Doolittle offers a look inside some of the less conventional advanced metrics employed by Oakland’s front office. In particular, a unique twist on BABIP (batting average relative to Bip Roberts) seems to have played an important role in the organization’s oft-noted ability to outperform its payroll. (Obviously, the piece is in jest, but it’s a fun read from a player who has had quite an interesting career path.)

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

  • The Rockies will soon learn more about the injury situations of their two stars, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, as Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports, as both men are set to visit specialists today. Tulowitzki, battling a strained left hip flexor, may have a hip labrum his issue. If that is the case, there are non-surgical options that might allow him to return to action this year. Meanwhile, Gonzalez is struggling with chronic tendinitis in his left knee. He, too, could conceivably play again in 2014, though some treatments would keep him out until the spring. Needless to say, the lingering (and, potentially, expanding) injury concerns with both players not only create yet more questions about Colorado’s ability to put together a contending roster next year, but could further dampen the possibility of either player being dealt over the offseason.
  • When the Padres hired A.J. Preller to take over as GM, they agreed with the Rangers not to hire away any Texas front office staffers over the next two year, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report tweets. Presumably, the Rangers were able to extract this promise in exchange for allowing San Diego to interview and hire away Preller himself before his own contract was up.
  • More on Preller: Miller applauds the Friars for taking a chance on a bold candidate. And on his blog, Jamey Newberg provides some interesting thoughts on Preller, who he calls a “scout’s scout who prefers doing his work behind the scenes.”
  • Though Alex Rios of the Rangers appears to have avoided a significant injury, his continued absence from the lineup means that he is increasingly unlikely to be dealt, writes ESPNDallas.com’s Calvin Watkins. Not only do the Royals now appear to be an unlikely suitor, says Watkins, but other possible landing spots could disappear as the month goes on and playoff races clarify.

Minor Moves: Hill, O’Sullivan, Sale, Daley, Gimenez, Thomas

Here are today’s minor moves …

  • The Tigers inked right-hander Shawn Hill to a minor league deal today, as James Wagner of the Toledo Blade reports on Twitter. Hill, 33, has seen mostly scattered MLB action since taking 28 starts for the Nationals over the 2007-08 seasons. He has a 4.87 ERA through 105 1/3 innings (4.7 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9) in the upper minors this year with the White Sox and Blue Jays organizations.
  • The Phillies have outrighted Sean O’Sullivan to Triple-A, according to the International League transactions page. The righty accepted a previous outright assignment earlier this year, but will once again have the right to elect free agency instead.
  • Rays prospect Josh Sale has been hit with a 50-game suspension for recreational drug use, MLB announced today. This is hardly the first brush with trouble for the 23-year-old former first-round pick, who came into the 2013 season rated Tampa’s 24th-best prospect by Baseball America. After a previous drug-related suspension, Sale missed all of last year when the team banned him for inappropriate conduct. He had slashed .238/.313/.344 over 361 plate appearances on the year at the High-A level.
  • After reporting earlier today that Matt Daley has accepted an outright assignment from the Yankees, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Daley has actually been optioned by the club. The righty still occupies a 40-man spot.
  • Catcher Chris Gimenez has accepted an outright assignment from the Rangers rather than electing free agency, tweets John Blake, the club’s executive VP of communications. The 31-year-old was designated for assignment five days ago, and apparently has not found a better opportunity with another organization.
  • The Phillies have released outfielder Clete Thomas, Cotillo tweets. The 30-year-old has seen 794 MLB plate appearances in parts of four seasons, but had not been elevated by Philadelphia this season. Over 226 minor league plate appearances, he carries a .247/.345/.335 slash.

Earlier Updates

Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has posted his weekly look at minor league transactions from around the league from the past seven days. We’ll highlight a couple of the (relatively) notable names that were missed in the past week:

  • Eddy reports that the Cardinals have released southpaw Pedro Feliciano from his minor league deal. The 37-year-old, once an excellent setup man with the Mets, pitched to a 5.57 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 21 frames with Triple-A Memphis this season.
  • The Reds have released left-hander Scott Maine, Eddy reports. The former Cub was inked to a minor league deal in June after pitching well for the independent Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish, but he posted a 6.10 ERA in 10 1/3 innings with the Reds organization.
  • The Athletics have released first baseman/third baseman B.A. Vollmuth, tweets Eddy. Vollmuth, a third-rounder as recently as 2011, batted just .207/.278/.341 this season at Class A Beloit. The 24-year-old has yet to move above the Class-A Advanced level and a has a .702 OPS in his pro career.

Injury Notes: Verlander, Machado, Rios, Anderson

Let’s take a look at a few injury situations from around the game that could have hot stove implications:

  • Tigers starter Justin Verlander lasted only one rough inning today, leaving with right shoulder soreness. The veteran will undergo an MRI tomorrow, reports Chris Iott of MLive.com (Twitter links). “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous,” said Verlander. “I’ve never been through this before.” Indeed, the 31-year-old righty has never been on the disabled list in his excellent career. But there have been signs of trouble this season, as Verlander has worked to an uncharacteristic 4.57 ERA and seen his strikeout numbers plummet (6.6 K/9). Eno Sarris of Fangraphs wrote recently that some indicators suggested Verlander may have been playing hurt, and the hurler confirmed today that the issue “has been lingering for a while,” as John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press reports on Twitter. In the immediate term, Verlander’s situation — combined with a DL stint for Anibal Sanchez — creates significant rotation difficulties for the club, which just dropped out of first in the AL Central. Detroit will call up youngsters Robbie Ray and Buck Farmer (who has just two Double-A appearances to his name) to take upcoming starts, but another addition cannot be ruled out at this point. In the long run, of course, questions continue to pile up regarding the outlook for the Tigers’ remaining $140MM commitment to a player who was once considered by many to be the game’s best pitcher.
  • Orioles third baseman Manny Machado also left early today after twisting his right knee awkwardly at the plate. A severe injury seemed possible based on replays, but the team has expressed hope that it dodged a bullet after initial X-rays did not reveal any ligament damage, as MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli tweets. But an MRI will be needed for a full assessment, and Machado will have a scan tomorrow morning, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter. Machado missed the early portion of the season due to surgery on his left knee. With Baltimore still fending off competitors from atop the AL East, any significant absence for Machado would be a big blow. Though the team could scan the trade market (with all the usual August complications) for a replacement, if it became necessary, the O’s would perhaps be more likely to turn to in-house options such as Ryan Flaherty and Jimmy Paredes.
  • Outfielder Alex Rios of the Rangers received positive news from an MRI on his left ankle, which revealed only a sprain, as Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports on Twitter. Rios, who has cleared waivers, may be ready to return to action as soon as tomorrow. He could still hold appeal for clubs looking to add a right-handed-hitting, corner outfield bat to the mix, though one possible suitor likely dissipated today when the Royals acquired Josh Willingham.
  • Rockies starter Brett Anderson will undergo surgery to repair a disc in his lower back, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The procedure is expected to come with a five-month recovery period, which would set Anderson on track for Spring Training but will certainly make it difficult for Colorado to justify exercising its $12MM club option over the lefty. While Anderson was strong in limited action this year, and is still just 26 years old, he has not stayed healthy enough to throw over 100 innings since 2010.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Tigers, Lester, Front Offices

The Tigers have “kicked around” the idea of trading for a hitter to bolster the back end of their lineup, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports in his latest Full Count video.  Finding a quality bat will be more difficult in the August waiver period, of course, and there also isn’t any position that Detroit would clearly be looking to upgrade.  Rosenthal says the team is “pretty much set in the outfield,” though I’d argue that adding another outfielder to complement or even replace J.D. Martinez or Rajai Davis (both of whom were originally acquired to be part-timers) would help the Tigers down the stretch.

Here’s some more from Rosenthal’s video and a separate piece that examines which managers and general managers could be on the hot seat…

  • Some of Jon Lester‘s former teammates believe the southpaw will sign with the Cubs this offseason.  Lester, of course, has ties to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, and the Cubs’ recent waiver claim of Cole Hamels indicates that the team is prepared to spend big money on a top-tier starting pitcher.
  • Had the Padres hired Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, the return of Kevin Towers to the San Diego organization “would’ve been almost automatic.”  (The two worked together in New York.)  Between Tony La Russa’s hiring in Arizona and the firing of Josh Byrnes in San Diego, rumors have swirled for weeks that Towers would find himself back with the Friars given his friendship with Padres president/CEO Mike Dee.  As Rosenthal notes, Towers could still return under new GM A.J. Preller, though rival executives are split as to whether Towers’ presence would be a positive or a negative for Preller as a first-time general manager.
  • Bud Black “would be out of work for about five minutes” if Preller decided to make a managerial change.  Mike Dee recently told Rosenthal that Preller would decide on Black’s future with the Padres, though the fact that Black’s removal was “never seriously considered” by upper management would seem to bode well for the long-time skipper.
  • While Reds GM Walt Jocketty is in the final year of his contract, “there is no indication that Jocketty wants to leave, or that owner Bob Castellini wants him out.”  Rosenthal speculates that a reunion between Jocketty and La Russa in Arizona could be a possibility, though Jocketty might prefer to stay with the contending Reds rather than face a rebuilding job with the D’Backs.
  • Ruben Amaro’s future as the Phillies‘ GM has been in question given the team’s struggles, which could also mean that manager Ryne Sandberg’s continued employment could also be up in the air.  The Hall-of-Famer has “at times looks overmatched, struggling in his communications with veterans and with his in-game management,” Rosenthal writes, though he points out that Sandberg hasn’t been given much to work with on the roster.  Sandberg is under contract through the end of the 2016 season.
  • Could Jeff Luhnow’s job actually be in jeopardy?  Rosenthal isn’t sure, though he notes that “internal tension seems unavoidable” in Houston.  The Astros have seen little improvement on the field this season and Luhnow’s front office was widely criticized for its handling of the Brady Aiken negotiations.
  • Mike Maddux’s Rangers contract is up at the end of the season, and while extension talks probably won’t take place until then, both Maddux and the team seem eager to see the long-time pitching coach remain in Texas.

Quick Hits: Rays, Twins, Rangers

Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan believes there’s too much pressure on prospects today, Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “People didn’t even know who was in Triple-A 10 years ago,” says the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year winner. “People didn’t know your name. Now ‘prospects’ are at an all-time high. … I feel bad for the young kids now because people are putting so much pressure on them.” Ten years ago, there was comparatively little information available about prospects, and all but the highest-profile of them were left to learn their craft in peace. The newfound scrutiny prospects face — partially, obviously, from websites like this one — is surely now a factor in their development, and it’s led to waves of hype for the big-league debuts of top talents like Javier Baez. Here’s more from around baseball.

  • Contrary to an earlier report, there weren’t any directives preventing the Rays from trading David Price to the Yankees, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “We don’t have a no-fly list,” says Rays president Matt Silverman. “We have 29 potential trading partners, and we have explored trades with each and every one of them.” Topkin adds that the remaining Rays don’t believe Price’s departure from their clubhouse is a factor in how they’ve performed since he left. After winning their last three games, the Rays are now 4-4 since the deal.
  • Teams from overseas have offered the Twins $1MM-$1.5MM to purchase the contract of pitcher Kris Johnson, but the Twins have declined, 1500ESPN.com’s Darren Wolfson tweets. Johnson has made just three big-league starts this season, instead spending most of the season with Triple-A Rochester, where he’s posted a 3.12 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 109 2/3 innings.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law (audio link) spoke this afternoon to Hoffman & Sandler on ESPN 103.3 FM in Dallas about various Rangers topics. Law says that the Rangers aren’t likely to get more than a fringe prospect in return for Alex Rios (which seems reasonable, as Rios has already cleared waivers), although they might do better if they package him with another player, the way the Mets did last August when they sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black. (Rios suffered an ankle injury today, which might render any trade talk moot if it turns out to be serious.) Law also says that although Joey Gallo is a top talent, promoting him to the big leagues right now would be “a horrendous idea,” and that Gallo would strike out about 45% of the time if he were in the big leagues today.

West Notes: Liriano, Gallo, Rockies

The Padres will promote top outfield prospect Rymer Liriano on Monday, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Liriano hasn’t made many lists of top prospects throughout the game, but Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 named him the Padres’ sixth-best prospect heading into the season, praising his five-tool potential, even after he missed the 2013 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. Since then, the 23-year-old has attracted attention with a solid performance at Double-A San Antonio and a ridiculous outburst in a small sample with Triple-A El Paso, in which he’s hit .467/.536/.683 in his first 69 plate appearances. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Rangers will not promote top prospect Joey Gallo this season, ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets. The 20-year-old is hitting .255/.347/.568 for Double-A Frisco after putting up even more ridiculous numbers earlier this season at Class A+ Myrtle Beach, and he wowed fans at this year’s Futures Game. But it sounds like we’ll have to wait until 2015 before we see him hit home runs in Arlington. He’s struck out more than three times for every walk so far at Double-A, and he has no Triple-A experience, so there could be merit to allowing him to spend at least a couple more months in the minors.
  • The Rockies should make seven moves to vault themselves into contention in 2015, ESPN Insider’s Jim Bowden writes. FanGraphs’ Paul Swydan recently wrote an article with a similar theme, but very different suggestions, and it’s interesting to compare the two pieces. Some of Bowden’s suggestions (like trading Kyle Parker and DJ LeMahieu to Minnesota for Brian Dozier, or dealing Brett Anderson and prospect Raimel Tapia to the Red Sox for Mookie Betts) seem a bit far-fetched, but they’re good springboards for discussion, and figuring out how to fix a 45-71 team in short order isn’t an easy exercise.

Phillies Claim Jerome Williams, Designate Sean O’Sullivan

The Phillies announced that they have claimed right-hander Jerome Williams off waivers from the Rangers and designated fellow right-hander Sean O’Sullivan for assignment. Williams, who will be joining his third organization in a span of six weeks, is expected to replace O’Sullivan in the rotation and make his Phillies debut Tuesday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. The Rangers will receive $20K from the waiver claim, tweets Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News.

Williams was designated for assignment Friday by the Rangers after making a pair of starts. The 32-year-old was outstanding in his Texas debut allowing just one run and no walks over six innings against the best team in the American League, the A’s, but he was shelled by the Indians in his next start (10 runs, 13 hits, and three walks in four innings). After pitching to a 4.46 ERA in 351 innings for the Angels from 2011-13, Williams has struggled to a line of 6.71 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, and 12.0 H/9 in 28 appearances (two starts) for the Rangers and Astros covering 57 2/3 innings.

This is the second time the Phillies have designated O’Sullivan for assignment this season. Before that DFA, the 26-year-old made one start in the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Braves allowing four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. O’Sullivan regained a 25-man roster spot when the Phillies traded Roberto Hernandez and, in the lone start of his second tour of duty Thursday, surrendered three home runs to the Astros over six innings.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Minor Moves: Marte, Pridie, Lee, Daley, Gimenez, Sizemore, Carpenter

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game:

Earlier

  • Righty Matt Daley was has been outrighted by the Yankees, per the International League transactions page. Daley had been designated for assignment yesterday, and apparently went right onto waivers.
  • Catcher Chris Gimenez of the Rangers has cleared outright waivers and is at least exploring the possibility of electing free agency, according to a tweet from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. If he does hit the open market, the Rays would have interest, says Topkin.
  • The Yankees have re-signed infielder Scott Sizemore to a minor league deal, reports MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (via Twitter). He will go right onto the Triple-A disabled list. The 29-year-old, who has not seen significant MLB action since 2011, was released just over a week ago by New York.
  • Reliever David Carpenter has accepted an outright assignment with the Angels rather than electing free agency, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 26-year-old righty — not to be confused with the Braves pitcher of the same name — was designated for assignment a week ago today. Over 49 Triple-A innings this year, Carpenter has a 2.20 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9.
  • The Yankees have announced that they’ve unconditionally released infielder Brian Roberts, who they designated for assignment at the end of July. The Yankees also placed catcher Brian McCann on the 7-day concussion DL and recalled Austin Romine to take his place on the active roster. The Yankees signed Roberts to a one-year, $2MM deal before the season, but he hit just .237/.300/.360 in 348 plate appearances with them.
  • The Marlins have selected Brad Penny‘s contract, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Penny will start tonight against Alfredo Simon and the Reds. Penny is ultimately replacing Jacob Turner on the roster (although, officially, the Marlins cleared space for Penny by optioning Edgar Olmos to Triple-A New Orleans). As MLBTR’s Steve Adams points out, it’s questionable whether Penny will be better than Turner in the short term, even before considering the years of control Turner has left. Penny did pitch well in five Triple-A starts, however. Tonight will be his first big-league appearance since 2012, and his first appearance with the Marlins since 2004.

Brad Johnson contributed to this post


Rangers Designate Jerome Williams For Assignment

Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake has announced (via Twitter) that right-hander Jerome Williams has been designated for assignment in order to clear roster space for Geovany Soto, who has been officially activated from the disabled list.

The 32-year-old veteran made a pair of starts for the Rangers and had wildly different results in the two outings. Williams hurled a strong quality start in his first game, yielding just one run on five hits and no walks with four strikeouts in six innings against a tough Oakland lineup. In his second start with Texas, however, the Indians rocked him for 10 runs on 13 hits in just four innings.

Overall, Williams has a 6.71 ERA this season while playing for both Texas teams — the Rangers and Astros. That’s a far cry from the solid work he put together from 2011-13, when he turned in a 4.46 ERA in 351 innings as a swingman for the division-rival Angels.


Alex Rios Clears Revocable Waivers

Rangers outfielder Alex Rios has cleared revocable waivers, reports Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com (Twitter link). That makes the 33-year-old Rios eligible to be traded to any team, though any deal would have to be finalized before Sept. 1 in order for Rios to be eligible for an acquiring team’s postseason roster.

Rios is hitting .293/.323/.412 with 22 doubles and eight triples, but he’s gone deep just four times this season despite playing at the hitter friendly Globe Life Park in Arlington. He’s owed $3.62MM through season’s end, plus a $1MM buyout on next year’s $13.5MM option (though the Rangers or another team could obviously elect to exercise that option). Rios drew interest from the Giants, Mariners, Royals, Reds and Indians prior to the deadline, and it stands to reason that those teams could have continued interest now that the financial commitment is even lower than it was during those talks.

ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that teams are wary of Rios’ declining power, however, so the Rangers may have to kick in more salary than one would originally expect in order to facilitate a deal (that last part is just my speculation). Still, as a serviceable corner outfield bat, Rios should garner some interest on the trade market. Rios will now be added to MLBTR’s running list of players that have cleared revocable waivers.