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Texas Rangers Rumors
Here’s the latest from baseball’s two Texan clubs.
- The Astros have asked third baseman Matt Dominguez to prepare to play first base, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Last week’s trade for Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily has pushed Dominguez into a competition for the third base job, and the club is hoping to get more flexibility out of the former prospect. Dominguez, 25, will compete with Jon Singleton and Evan Gattis. To Dominguez’s favor, he could form a traditional platoon with the left-handed hitting Valbuena. Both Dominguez and Singleton have options, giving the Astros roster flexibility.
- Houston is still looking for a starting pitcher, tweets Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. The club will probably target a NRI. Per Drellich (also Twitter), it’s not the end of the world if the club doesn’t find somebody. The club does seem to have plenty of rotation depth, with Straily looking like the sixth starter.
- The Rangers are hunting for relief help, reports Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. In particular, the club would like to add a left-handed reliever to supplement Robbie Ross, Michael Kirkman, and Alex Claudio. As GM Jon Daniels points out, there aren’t many lefties remaining in free agency – MLBTR lists only seven. We learned earlier today that the Rangers were uninterested in re-signing Neal Cotts.
Talks between the Phillies and Brewers concerning closer Jonathan Papelbon are “on life support,” reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Haudricourt reported earlier today that “there was no traction” between the two sides. GM Doug Melvin echoed that sentiment, saying there was no momentum. It is thought that Papelbon’s $13MM option for 2016 is holding up an agreement. Since Papelbon has a limited no trade clause that includes the Brewers, he may ask for the option to be guaranteed before accepting a trade. The ball may be in Philadelphia’s court to find a financial solution to the situation.
- Brandon Beachy has “zeroed in on a new team,” tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN. Beachy and the unknown team are currently working on contractual details. Wolfson adds that the team is not the Twins. Beachy was non-tendered by the Braves earlier in the offseason after undergoing his second Tommy John procedure. If he avoids setbacks, he may return to action mid-season. It’s easy to compare Beachy’s situation with fellow former Brave Kris Medlen, who signed a two-year, $8.5MM deal with an option. Like Beachy, Medlen is also recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.
- Cuban infielder Hector Olivera held a public workout in the Dominican Republic last week and over 200 scouts attended, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The Giants, Padres, Rangers, Braves, and Yankees are showing the strongest interest in Olivera.
The Marlins‘ offseason moves position them for a “measured buildup,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Mat Latos has just one year of control remaining, while Martin Prado and Michael Morse have two. And even the post-opt-out portion of Giancarlo Stanton‘s contract is structured so that the Marlins will be able to afford it once they renegotiate their TV deal. This isn’t like the 2011-2012 offseason, when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to long-term deals, only to trade all three. For that reason, Rosenthal writes, the Marlins are unlikely to sign James Shields to a big contract, even though they’ve been connected to him lately. Here’s more from throughout the big leagues.
- After Ichiro Suzuki plays his first game with the Marlins, the Reds will be the last team that hasn’t had a Japanese-born player, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. The Reds did express interest in Nori Aoki this offseason, but they don’t have a strong presence in Japan (although Rosecrans notes that the Reds aren’t the only team that doesn’t). “We do have some people who do cross checking. We don’t have a scout in Japan,” said GM Walt Jocketty. “It’s too costly.”
- The White Sox signed closer David Robertson for four years and $46MM, but GM Rick Hahn says they weren’t the highest bidder for his services, CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes tweets. It’s unclear who the top bidder might have been, although the Blue Jays and Astros were connected to Robertson this offseason.
- GM Jon Daniels said today at Rangers Fan Fest that the team is unlikely to trade for Josh Hamilton, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. The Rangers reportedly discussed a Hamilton deal with the Angels earlier this offseason, although those talks were not in-depth. Also, free agent lefty reliever Neal Cotts is not likely to re-sign with the Rangers, Andro tweets.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Righty Jair Jurrjens has agreed to return to the Rockies on a minor league deal with a big league camp invite, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports. The 28-year-old righty has never regained the form he showed early in his career with the Braves. Last year, he was hit hard in two big league starts and worked to a 4.54 ERA over 81 1/3 Triple-A frames with the Reds and Rockies organizations.
- The Orioles sent cash to the Braves in exchange for lefty Daniel Rodriguez. Baltimore had tried to nab Rodriguez out of Mexico several years ago, says Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). The 30-year-old came to Atlanta from Saltillo before the 2012 campaign and went straight to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he has generally struggled while working as a starter. The team is likely interested in taking a look at Rodriguez out of the pen, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
- The Rangers have signed righty Ross Ohlendorf to a minor league deal that includes a spring invite, the club announced. Ohlendorf had a quality 60 1/3 inning run with the Nationals in 2013, working to a 3.28 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. That earned him a $1.25MM arbitration deal, but injury derailed his entire 2014 campaign.
- Two former Rangers ballplayers are among the recent moves reported by Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (links to Twitter). The Dodgers have signed righty Ben Rowen, a 26-year-old righty who cracked the Rangers’ pen last year and who has had solid results in the upper minors. And the White Sox signed center fielder Engel Beltre, a defense-first player who has struggled to produce offensively and missed most of last year with a fractured tibia.
- Also via Eddy, the Braves have inked former Angels reliever David Carpenter — not to be confused with the other right-handed reliever by the same team that Atlanta just traded. Carpenter has struggled in limited MLB exposure, but last year put up a 2.17 ERA over 62 1/3 innings, with 8.3 K/9 against 6.4 BB/9, despite pitching in the notoriously hitter-friendly PCL.
Earlier today, the Twins avoided arbitration with Jordan Schafer by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.55MM. We’ll keep track of the remainder of today’s smaller moves to avoid arb here in this post (with all projections courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)…
- First baseman Mitch Moreland has reached agreement on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration with the Rangers, the club announced in a press release. Moreland will earn $2.95MM with the chance at $25K in bonuses, Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports on Twitter. Moreland filed at $3.35MM and the team countered at $2.75MM, with the 29-year-old landing just below the midpoint but just above his $2.8MM projection. After struggling to a .246/.297/.347 slash in just 184 plate appearances and missing significant time to ankle surgery, Moreland and his employer will hope for better things in 2015.
- The Astros and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal that will pay the Octagon client a salary of $1.0625MM, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Gonzalez, who filed for $1.4MM and received a $900K counter-offer from the team, settled for somewhat less than the $1.15MM midpoint between the figures, though he did still top his $1MM projection by about $60K. The former Rule 5 pick enjoyed his best season as a big leaguer in 2014, batting .277/.327/.400 with six homers, although defensive metrics were split on his work at short. Ultimate Zone Rating pegged him at four runs below average, while Defensive Runs Saved thought he was four runs above average. With Gonzalez’s case settled, the Astros are done with their arbitration class this offseason.
- The A’s have avoided arbitration with infielder Eric Sogard by agreeing to a one-year, $1.075MM contract, tweets Heyman. Sogard filed at $1.425MM, while the A’s countered at $900K, as can be seen Sogard, 28, batted .223/.298/.268 with a homer and 11 steals in 329 plate appearances last season. Known more for his glove than his bat, Sogard played his usual brand of excellent second base defense for 721 innings, and he also filled in at shortstop a bit, chipping in 108 innings there. The Octagon client will receive $75K more than his $1MM projected salary. Oakland still has some work to do in arbitration, as the team has yet to reach an agreement with right-handers Tyler Clippard and Jarrod Parker as well as lefty Fernando Abad.
Note that you can monitor the arb situations of each team/player using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.
The Cubs announced that they have claimed righty Gonzalez Germen off waivers from the Rangers. Germen had only just been acquired by Texas, after previously being dealt from the Mets to the Yankees following a DFA.
Needless to say, the 27-year-old has covered some ground this offseason in rather a short period time. (He was first designated by the Mets in mid-December.) But the wide interest in his services bodes well for his prospects at receiving another big league opportunity.
Germen saw regular time in the Mets bullpen in each of the last two seasons, compiling a 4.31 ERA in 54 calls from the pen. He delivers an average fastball of 92.9 mph and generates a good number of whiffs (8.9 K/9), but has less-than-perfect control (4.2 BB/9) and does not generate many ground balls (36.8%).
Wilin Rosario‘s name has come up quite frequently in trade talks this winter, but Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes that it now appears likely that the Rockies will hold onto Rosario heading into the 2015 season. GM Jeff Bridich explained to Saunders that he feels Rosario possesses the athleticism and work ethic to add first base and corner outfield to his repertoire, and he’ll still likely see some time behind the dish.
Here’s more from Saunders’ piece and more regarding other clubs in baseball’s Western divisions…
- Charlie Blackmon has also been a popular name on the rumor mill of late, but Saunders hears that the Rockies haven’t initiated any trade talks regarding Blackmon. While they’ve talked to several teams over the past few months, they’ve been on the receiving end of those calls rather than openly shopping Blackmon.
- Saunders also notes that a trusted Major League source informed him that the Rockies “unequivocally did not make [James] Shields an offer,” thereby squashing some speculation that it was Colorado who extended the previously reported five-year, $110MM offer.
- The Astros‘ deal with Ryan Vogelsong looks to have fallen through, with the Giants reportedly making a serious run at re-signing the righty, but Houston GM Jeff Luhnow indicated earlier today that the team could still add another starting pitcher but is likely set from an offensive standpoint, per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (All Twitter links). Luhnow also did not rule out trading away more of his own players. It seems like the Astros may not be quite done shaping the 2015 roster.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with Luhnow about the Astros‘ abundance of strikeout-prone hitters, and Luhnow explained that the team is OK with the trade-off of strikeouts for power. “We probably will have a few strikeouts because of the types of players that we have,” said Luhnow, “but the flipside of that equation is we’re going to produce a lot of runs with those types of players. It’s up to our hitting coach to work on them to figure out when’s the right time to go for it and when to put the ball in play, and (manager A.J. Hinch) to figure out the lineup, so we don’t kill rallies by stacking up more than two or three of these guys at a time.”
- More from Drellich, who adds some additional Astros notes in a late-night roundup, noting that Luhnow doesn’t expect to resolve the team’s only outstanding arbitration case (that of Marwin Gonzalez) in the near future. He also adds that the Astros’ acquisition of so many strikeout-prone hitters wasn’t due to a philosophy or belief that Houston knows something about strikeouts that other clubs do not; it just happened that the power bats they targeted came with strikeout issues.
- In a piece for FOX Sports, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines the changes in Yovani Gallardo‘s arsenal of pitches over the past few seasons and wonders if the Rangers can receive better results from the 28-year-old by trying to revert him to his previous ways. Gallardo has switched from pitching primarily off a four-seam fastball to throwing significant amount of two-seamers. The results, Cameron notes, has been an increase in grounders and a decrease in strikeouts. However, Cameron theorizes that part of the thinking behind the conscious shift from Gallardo was that Milwaukee catchers excel at expanding the bottom half of the strike zone. Meanwhile the Rangers ranked 29th in team ground-ball percentage in 2014 and typically emphasize four-seamers over two-seamers. Cameron wonders if the change in scenery could cause Gallardo’s strikeout rate to rise, which could pay significant dividends for Texas.
- Logan White is invigorated by his transition from Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting to Padres senior adviser/professional scouting director, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock. White spoke at length about the differences between working on the amateur side of the game and working the pro side and the aggressive approach that the Padres will be taking to scouting: “We’re going to see anyone and everyone in pro baseball. We’re going to get after it on the back fields, make sure we know the makeup of these guys, talk to coaches, watch BP and early work. … Some of the best decisions you make is because you work a little harder, not because you’re smarter than everyone else.”
11:08am: The deal is official, per Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake (via Twitter). To create roster space, the club designated righty Gonzalez Germen, who was acquired only yesterday.
9:40am: The Rangers have agreed to a deal to acquire backstop Carlos Corporan from the Astros, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter. Corporan was designated for assignment yesterday to create roster space for the signing of Colby Rasmus. Righty Akeem Bostick is headed to the Astros in return, Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram tweets.
Corporan, 31, is set to earn $975K in his first season of arbitration eligibility. That means that he’ll come with two more years of control. His role was occupied by trade acquisition Hank Conger, and the presence of the younger Max Stassi rendered Corporan a largely redundant piece for Houston.
The switch-hitter should, however, be more useful for a Rangers club whose big league options included Robinson Chirinos, who had never even seen 100 plate appearances in a big league season before last year, along with largely untested 23-year-old Tomas Telis and minor league non-roster invite Chris Gimenez.
Last year, Corporan put up a .235/.302/.376 slash and six home runs over 190 trips to the plate. That line is fairly representative of Corporan’s offensive profile in the majors: low-average, low-OBP, solid power. In a backup role in Houston, he has rated out as a reasonably capable option behind the dish.
Bostick, 19, was a (below-slot) second round pick out of high school in 2013. He seems a nice return for a player who was in DFA limbo, though Corporan’s market was surely active before he technically lost his roster spot. Bostick struggled to a 5.18 ERA in 92 Class A frames last year, though that may have been a somewhat aggressive assignment. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs included him at the tail end (27th) of his recent list of the most promising Rangers prospects, explaining that Bostick has plenty of raw talent but is in need of refinement.
JAN. 20: The Rangers and Astros are still discussing a Corporan trade following his DFA earlier today, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo hears that Texas is emerging as the “clear favorite” to acquire Corporan (Twitter link).
JAN. 15: The Rangers are still on the hunt for catching help, and a pair of reports have them in pursuit of Astros backstop Carlos Corporan and free agent Geovany Soto. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Astros and Rangers have discussed a trade of Corporan, while Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram adds (via Twitter) that the team is also interested in Soto.
Corporan, 31, batted .235/.302/.376 with six homers in 190 plate appearances for Houston last year. Over the past three seasons, he’s batted .237/.297/.383 with 17 homers in 485 PAs. That line should give some kind of rough expectation for the type of production that Corporan can provide — questionable on-base skills with respectable pop for a catcher. (His .146 isolated power in that time is 11 points better than the league-average catcher in 2014.)
From a defensive standpoint, Corporan has typically graded out very well in terms of pitch-framing, and his 25.5 percent caught-stealing rate over the past three seasons is merely a tick below the league average of 27 percent. Corporan is arbitration eligible for the first time this winter and projects to earn a very reasonable $1MM. He can be controlled through the 2017 season.
Soto, of course, is no stranger to the Rangers organization, having spent parts of the past three seasons in Texas. With the Rangers, he’s batted a combined .223/.287/.401, displaying the same low-OBP, above-average pop skill set that Corporan has brought to the table. He’s thrown out a superior 28.6 percent of runners in the past three seasons, though his once strong framing grades have declined, per Baseball Prospectus and StatCorner.com.
It seems then, based on these targets, that the Rangers are comfortable without a big-name catcher behind the dish after missing out on a notable name yesterday in the form of Evan Gattis, who was traded to the Astros. Any catcher acquired by Texas would pair with Robinson Chirinos, whose 338 PAs were far and away a career-high last season for an injury-plagued Rangers club. Chirinos hit .239/.290/.415 with 13 homers in that time.
With Max Scherzer off the market following a historic seven-year agreement with the Nationals, all eyes will be on top remaining free agent James Shields and agent Page Odle leading up to Spring Training. ESPN’s Jayson Stark has spoken to a number of industry sources for his most recent look at Shields’ market, and he lists various reasons that the industry doesn’t expect Shields to end up with the Marlins, D-Backs, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Royals, Tigers, Rangers, Astros, Cardinals and Brewers (the Padres, at least, are listed as “possible, but not likely”).
Of particular note from Stark is that the D-Backs are actively trying to trim their payroll, rather than add salary; the Cubs are likely to look for another big-name starter, but not until next offseason; and the chances of the Marlins signing Shields are precisely “zero,” the latter of which meshes with a recent report from Grantland’s Jonah Keri.
Nonetheless, one executive to whom Stark spoke said he sees jumping back into the mix for Shields. However, one of the reasons, per that exec, is that teams believe Shields will have to settle for less than the $110MM that he reportedly was offered earlier this month and are revisiting the situation with the assumption that the price has dropped. Said Stark’s source, “But the problem is, now everyone is bottom-feeding. And when you’re someone like him, that’s the last thing you want, is a lot of teams bottom-feeding on you in late January.”
Regardless of the imperfect fits that litter the market for Shields, most executives tell Stark they can’t see Shields signing for anything less than $80MM over a four-year term, and nearly everyone to whom he spoke thinks that Shields could sign at virtually any time.
One club that won’t be signing Shields is the Giants, it seems, based on comments made by GM Brian Sabean earlier today on KNBR radio. As KNBR scribe Dieter Kurtenbach writes, Sabean plainly stated that while his club has wiggle room to add another piece, “it’s not going to be a high ticket item.” Sabean explained that while the team made a run at a pair of “high ticket” items in the form of Pablo Sandoval and Jon Lester, the team made the decision to spread the money throughout the roster. As such, the club acquired Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki to fill respective holes at third base and in left field, and Jake Peavy was re-signed to add some stability to the rotation. (Of interest to Astros fans may be Sabean’s statement of the fact that he believes Ryan Vogelsong is “going elsewhere as we speak,” as Vogelsong is said to be nearing a deal with Houston.)
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