Texas Rangers Rumors

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

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.


Angels Don’t Match Up For Kennedy, Still Pursuing Street

The Angels and Padres don’t match up on a deal for right-hander Ian Kennedy, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but the two sides are still discussing closer Huston Street (Twitter link). Rosenthal notes that the Padres are still listening to offers from other clubs with interest in Kennedy.

The Angels have been connected to Street several times, and the pitcher himself even said he would welcome a trade to the Halos when asked by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. That’s not to say that Street wants to be traded to Anaheim — he’s said multiple times that he loves San Diego — but rather that if he is traded, he’d prefer it to be to a contending team. Street also told Shaikin how exciting the concept of playing alongside names like Mike Trout and Albert Pujols would be, and he offered high praise for manager Mike Scioscia.

According to Shaikin, the Angels prefer Street to Jonathan Papelbon and Joakim Soria. Street, who has pitched to a 1.09 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 33 innings this season, is earning $7MM and has a $7MM club option on his contract for 2015. As such, the price tag on him is likely to be fairly substantial, though not as steep as the presumed price tag on Kennedy.

As far as Kennedy goes, it’s not entirely surprising that the two sides don’t match up. The Angels’ weak farm system has been well documented, and there’s been a great deal of speculation that they could have trouble landing significant upgrades on the trade market. In a second piece, Shaikin spoke with GM Jerry Dipoto, who said that he doesn’t want to deal any pieces from his big league roster in trades.

That, of course, implies that a young player who could be of interest to a rebuilding club, such as slugging first baseman/DH C.J. Cron, isn’t likely to find himself as part of a trade. As Shaikin writes, Dipoto knows that means he doesn’t have the pieces to acquire David Price, but the team is still in active pursuit of pitching upgrades. Based on all of these reports, it seems that Street is the primary target for the time being, though I’d expect the Angels to cast a wide net over the next few weeks.



Royals Acquire Jason Frasor

The Royals have acquired right-hander Jason Frasor from the Rangers in exchange for right-hander Spencer Patton, the Rangers announced.

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The 36-year-old Frasor is in the midst of a strong season with the Rangers, having pitched to a 3.34 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate in 29 2/3 innings. That continues a trend of relatively strong performance for Frasor, who has notched an ERA of 3.68 or better in five of the past six seasons.

Frasor is an affordable add for GM Dayton Moore, from a financial standpoint, as he’s owed just $1.75MM in 2014, which translates to roughly $717K for the rest of the season. He will be a free agent at season’s end, so this acquisition is strictly a rental for the Royals.

Bullpen help may not seem to be the Royals’ largest needs — many would instead cite right field — but the team’s 3.62 ERA from its relievers ranks 16th in the Majors. Additionally, they’ve been a top-heavy unit as a group. While Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera have been excellent, Kansas City has also relied heavily on the likes of Michael Mariot (6.48 ERA in 25 innings) and Louis Coleman (7.48 ERA in 21 2/3 innings). Additionally, there has to be some concern over Aaron Crow, who has seen his velocity dip nearly three miles per hour and his K/9 rate dip to 4.8.

Patton, 26, has a 4.08 ERA with a 60-to-22 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings for the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate in 2014. The former 24th-round draft pick did not rank in among Kansas City’s Top 30 prospects, per Baseball America.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


AL West Notes: Preller, Gallo, Johnson, A’s

The AL West has three teams on pace for postseason play and is home to the two best records in baseball.  The 59-36 A’s hold a slim lead over the 57-37 Angels, while the Mariners’ 51-44 record gives them a 2.5 edge over the Royals and Blue Jays for the second AL wild card slot.  On the flip side, Houston (40-56) and Texas (38-57) hold the American League’s two worst records, with the Rangers’ eight-game losing streak dropping them to worst record in the game.

Here’s the latest from around the AL West…

  • Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller will receive a second interview for the Padres‘ general manager job, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Of the dozen or so candidates known to have interviewed for the job, Preller is thought to be the first to receive a second meeting with San Diego’s upper management team.
  • Also from Fraley, he notes that the Rangers are projected to draw around 400,000 fewer fans than last season, and he speculates this drop in attendance could impact the club’s 2015 payroll.
  • Joey Gallo‘s power was the talk of yesterday’s Futures Game, and WEEI.com’s Alex Speier is already wondering how the Rangers prospect could have fallen to the 39th pick of the 2012 draft.  The Red Sox, in particular, had two bonus compensation picks plus their own first-rounder with Gallo still on the board and yet passed on him all three times (drafting Deven Marrero, Brian Johnson and Pat Light instead).
  • When Drew Pomeranz is ready to return to the Athletics‘ 25-man roster, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle hints that the A’s could make room by parting ways with Jim Johnson.  The A’s nearly dealt Johnson to the Marlins last month and there have been reports that Oakland would be willing to eat most of Johnson’s remaining salary (approximately $4.2MM) in a trade.  Johnson has been a major disappointment in his first season as an Athletic, posting a 6.18 ERA and losing his closer’s job to Sean Doolittle.
  • The Athletics‘ seven All-Stars took some very different paths to get to Oakland, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes, which is a tribute to how creatively the team has built its first-place roster.

Minor Moves: Perez, Marshall, Feierabend

Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball.

  • The Pirates have signed pitcher Rafael Perez to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Indianapolis, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets. The lefty has spent the past two seasons pitching in Triple-A and in Mexico. For many years, he was a fixture in the Cleveland Indians bullpen, posting a 3.64 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in parts of seven big-league seasons.
  • The Reds have outrighted pitcher Brett Marshall to Triple-A Louisville, according to MiLB.com. They designated him for assignment on Thursday. Marshall, 24, has struggled this season for Louisville, with 29 runs and 27 walks allowed in 21 1/3 innings there. The Reds claimed him from the Cubs in February.
  • The Rangers have purchased the contract of lefty pitcher Ryan Feierabend, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. To clear space on their active roster, they’ve optioned pitcher Aaron Poreda to Triple-A Round Rock. Feierabend, 28, last appeared in the big leagues all the way back in 2008 with the Mariners. In 113 innings with Triple-A Round Rock this season, he has a 4.54 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. It’s not clear who will start for the Rangers tomorrow; Feierabend, who last pitched on Tuesday, looks like he could be a candidate.

Minor Moves: Erik Hamren, Robert Coello

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Rangers have added righty Erik Hamren on a minor league deal, signing him away from the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, his former club announced. The 27-year-old tossed 12 1/3 frames for the Padres in 2011, but struggled with his control (6.6 BB/9). Last year, he spent time with the Double-A affiliates of the Braves and Rays.
  • The Orioles have signed right-hander Robert Coello to a minor league deal, reports David Hall of the Virginia-Pilot (via Twitter). Coello, 29, has thrown 32 innings of 1.69 ERA ball for the Yankees’ top affiliate this year. Over parts of three MLB seasons, including time last year with the Angels, Coello owns a 5.90 ERA with 12.1 K/9 against 5.3 BB/9.

Rangers’ Relievers Drawing Interest

9:13pm: Texas wants a “substantial package” to move Soria, report T.R. Sullivan and Grace Raynor of MLB.com. The asking price is believed to be two or three prospects.

1:51pm: The Rangers are receiving trade interest in a number of their bullpen arms, according to multiple reports. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the team is listening on right-hander Jason Frasor and lefty Neal Cotts, and both have generated some interest. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report that the Angels, Blue Jays and Tigers have been in contact with the Rangers about closer Joakim Soria (Twitter link).

As Sullivan points out, both Frasor and Cotts are free agents at season’s end. While Frasor has scuffled of late, yielding five runs over his past 3 1/3 innings, he still boasts a solid 3.38 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate. The 36-year-old is earning a highly affordable $1.75MM this season, meaning that he’s owed about $765K through season’s end.

Cotts, 34, reemerged in the Majors last season after an absence of four years and put his injury woes behind him with an electric 1.11 ERA in 57 innings for Texas. He’s taken a step back in 2014 but has a solid 3.55 ERA with 45 strikeouts against 15 walks in 38 innings. However, after dominating opposing lefties in 2013, he’s surrendered a .281/.328/.456 batting line against same-handed hitters in 2014. It shouldn’t come as a total shock, as Cotts does have a reverse-platoon split for his career, but certainly not one this pronounced. Cotts is earning $2.2MM this season, meaning he has roughly $962K remaining on his deal.

As for Soria, the Tigers and Angels come as no surprise, as both have dealt with significant bullpen issues in 2014. However, the Blue Jays are a bit of a surprise club to see listed here. In another series of tweets, Rosenthal adds that while the club does like Soria, the team is also toying with the idea of promoting top prospect Aaron Sanchez to work out of the bullpen this season. Fellow top prospect Daniel Norris could even join him eventually, Rosenthal adds, making for a situation that would resemble the dynamic pairing of Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez with the Cardinals last year.

Soria is in the midst of one of perhaps his finest season. In his second year back from Tommy John, the 30-year-old has a 2.76 ERA with a whopping 12.3 K/9 and a minuscule 1.2 BB/9 in 29 1/3 innings. Sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (0.80), xFIP (1.93) and SIERA (1.58) all feel that he’s doing the best work of his career. Though he has a higher salary at $5.5MM, Soria unquestionably will come with the highest asking price in a trade. He has an affordable $7MM club option on his contract for 2015, and the Rangers do have eyes on contending next season, when they hope to have better luck on the injury front.


Rangers Sign Jerome Williams

3:35pm: Williams’ contract contains an out clause that allows him to opt out within two weeks if he’s not added to the Major League roster, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (Twitter link)

3:20pm: The Rangers have signed Jerome Williams to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock, senior vice president of communications John Blake announced (on Twitter).

Williams, a client of Full Circle Sports Management, signed a one-year, $2.1MM contract with the Astros this offseason but found himself released earlier this week after posting a 6.04 ERA in 47 2/3 frames with Houston. The veteran swingman is plenty familiar with the AL West, as prior to his time in Houston, he had some success with the 2012-13 Angels, notching a 4.57 ERA in 307 innings (40 starts, 29 relief appearances).

The 32-year-old Williams has seen time with the Giants, Cubs, Nationals, Angels and Astros to this point in his career, and given the outbreak of injuries among Rangers pitchers this year, it seems likely that he could get a crack in the big leagues with Texas as well. The Rangers have lost Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez for the season, while Tanner Scheppers, Nick Martinez and Alexi Ogando are currently on the disabled list. Veteran lefty Joe Saunders, who made eight starts for the Rangers, was just released and hooked on with the Royals. All told, the Rangers have played 92 games this season and deployed 12 different starting pitchers.

Williams has a career 4.45 ERA with 5.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 48.4 percent ground-ball rate in 824 innings of work at the Major League level.


Rangers To Release Donnie Murphy

WEDNESDAY: Blake now announces that Murphy rejected an outright assignment and has been placed on unconditional release waivers (Twitter link).

MONDAY: Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake has announced a series of roster moves (on Twitter): Texas will recall right-hander Roman Mendez and purchase the contract of outfielder Jake Smolinski from Triple-A Round Rock, with Michael Choice being optioned to Round Rock and Donnie Murphy being designated for assignment to clear roster space.

Murphy, 31, batted .196/.268/.330 in 128 plate appearances for the Rangers this season — a far cry from the .255/.319/.530 batting line and career-high 11 homers he produced for the Cubs in 2013. The nine-year MLB veteran has career experience at all four infield positions, though his experience at first base is extremely limited.

The 24-year-old Choice — a consensus Top 100 prospect the Rangers landed from the A’s in the offseason’s Craig Gentry trade – struggled mightily in his first extended taste of big league action. Choice batted .177/.247/.318 with eight homers, but he has an outstanding minor league track record — a .290/.376/.482 batting line.

Smolinski has a career .259/.345/.407 batting line in 103 games at the Triple-A level. The 2007 second-rounder signed as a minor league free agent this offseason after failing to make the Majors with either the Nationals (who drafted him) or the Marlins (who acquired him in the 2008 Josh Willingham trade). Mendez, 23, had a 4.02 ERA with a 30-to-12 K/BB ratio this season with Round Rock –his first experience at the Triple-A level.