Texas Rangers Rumors

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

Quick Hits: Upton, Santana, Ethier, Blue Jays

Here’s the latest from around the majors:

  • The Orioles, Rangers, and Padres are still among the bidders for Braves outfielder Justin Upton, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. All three clubs have a need for a powerful outfielder, so it will be interesting to see where the bidding goes. It’s unclear if the Braves are targeting a specific position in return.
  • The Giants are showing interest in Ervin Santana and other starting pitchers, tweets Morosi. I assume this is due diligence as the club competes for Jon Lester. If they miss on the ace lefty, they will have groundwork laid for the next tier of free agent.
  • Andre Ethier has stated he would like to start in 2015 – be it for the Dodgers or another club, writes Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times. Ethier, 32 next season, has informed the club via his agent of his feelings. After spending much of last season as a part-time outfielder, Ethier is ready to get back into a regular role. Even with the club shopping Matt Kemp, it seems unlikely that a full time role will be available for Ethier in L.A.
  • The Blue Jays are focused on improving their bullpen at the Winter Meetings, reports Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. Toronto had the sixth worst bullpen ERA at 4.09, and they suffered through continual changes at the closer position – eight players recorded a save. Hiring a true closer and perhaps a setup man remain high on the Jays to-do list.

Free Agent Notes: Melky, Gomes, White Sox

As we wait for word on several fast-moving free agent situations, here’s the latest out of the market:

  • Outfielder Melky Cabrera is looking for a five-year deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. That is not surprising as an asking price, given that Cabrera is just 30 years of age, though it remains to be seen whether he can get that fifth year guaranteed.
  • More surprising, perhaps, is that the Giants have expressed in Cabrera, per another Rosenthal tweet. While the match makes sense on paper, Cabrera left San Francisco on somewhat strained terms a few years back. But with options quickly disappearing to fill San Francisco’s void in left field, Cabrera could hold renewed appeal. Of course, San Francisco has been said to be casing a wide net in its search for upgrades, and it is not yet clear how seriously it intends to pursue Cabrera.
  • The Rangers and Mariners join the previously-reported Cubs as teams to have checked in on outfielder Jonny Gomes, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. The veteran lefty-masher should have his choice of several landing spots, and will no doubt look to maximize his expected role.
  • As the White Sox look to add a right-handed starter, the team is not ruling out pursuit of high-end free agents, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. That includes quality arms up to and including Max Scherzer, says Heyman, who notes that Chicago remains unlikely to make the massive outlay that will be required to add the consensus best arm available. The South Siders are also exploring the trade market, of course, and are looking not only at controllable options but also a variety of veterans with just one year remaining on their deals.

Rangers Re-Sign Colby Lewis, Michael Kirkman

As expected, the Rangers have agreed to re-sign free agent pitcher Colby Lewis, the club announced today (via MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan). The deal is for one year and $4MM. Texas has also re-signed the recently non-tendered Michael Kirkman to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, the team announced.

Lewis, a 35-year-old righty, has been with the Rangers since returning stateside after a two-year run with in Japan. He was a sturdy, high-value presence in the team’s rotation until being derailed by elbow issues in the middle of 2012.

Lewis worked back to throw 170 1/3 innings last year, proving that he could carry the load of a big league starter. The results were not there, with a 5.18 ERA, but his peripherals (7.0 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9) led ERA estimators to value his contribution at about a run per nine lower than the earned runs he actually permitted.

Kirkman, meanwhile, lost his 40-man spot but obviously still held interest to the Rangers. The club seemingly took advantage of the non-tender deadline as a way to move him off the roster without exposing him to waivers, a process explained recently by Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper. Last year saw Kirkman’s lowest MLB innings tally since he broke into the league in 2010, though he had a fairly typical season at Triple-A and should have every opportunity to crack the big league pen in the spring.

Free Agent Notes: Melky, Ervin, Headley, Miller, Soto

The Royals have reached out to a familiar name in the form of Melky Cabrera, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s not clear if the Royals are able to afford Cabrera, who is said by Heyman to be seeking “at least” a five-year deal. He notes that the Reds have also contacted Cabrera’s camp. Additionally, Heyman lists the Mariners, Orioles and White Sox as speculative fits. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that the Blue Jays are still in touch with Cabrera as well. As many have pointed out, Toronto has just three outfielders on its 40-man roster at present. I profiled Cabrera in early October and projected a five-year deal worth just over $66MM.

Some more notes from the free agent market…

  • Also seeking a five-year deal is right-hander Ervin Santana, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. Santana is among the best of the bunch in the second tier of free agent starters, and he’s been rumored to have mutual interest with the Royals. However, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Royals’ comfort level is at three years with Santana. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes projected a four-year, $56MM contract for Santana.
  • Continuing on the theme of five-year contracts, Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reports that the Yankees aren’t willing to give Chase Headley a five-year deal, and it’s believed by some that five years is now his asking price in the wake of both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez signing in Boston. An alternative for the Yankees, Matthews writes, is to play Martin Prado at third base regularly and give prospect Rob Refsnyder a chance to be the everyday second baseman.
  • The Yankees, Red Sox and Astros are all continuing to show strong interest in free agent lefty Andrew Miller, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Miller is believed to be headed for a four-year deal, and the Astros have been somewhat surprisingly linked to him and fellow top reliever David Robertson.
  • Geovany Soto is currently talking to five or six teams, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. A reunion between Soto and the Rangers is a definite possibility, per Cotillo. The free agent market for catchers has few options remaining, putting Soto in a relatively good spot.
  • Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that 10 teams, including the Tigers, have reached out to free agent righty Ronald Belisario after he was designated for assignment by the White Sox and chose to elect free agency (Twitter link). Belisario has a track record of success but struggled in 2014 despite maintaining his velocity and ground-ball rate.
  • Nyjer Morgan is eyeing a return to the Majors and has drawn interest from both MLB and Asian clubs, tweets Cotillo. The 34-year-old spent a bit of time with the Indians last season but had his Cleveland tenure cut short by injury.

Rangers Expect To Finalize Colby Lewis Deal Soon

Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reporters, including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link), that he expects to finalize a deal with Colby Lewis this week.

The 35-year-old Lewis got back on a Major League mound for the first time since 2012 this past season after spending more than 18 months on the shelf with a torn flexor tendon and then undergoing a hip debridement operation. Lewis totaled 170 1/3 innings for the Rangers with 7.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in that time, but his ERA was an unsightly 5.18.

However, that ERA mark was higher than ERA estimators such as FIP and SIERA, which pegged him in the mid- to low-4.00s. Lewis was plagued by a sky-high average on balls in play for much of the season (he finished with a mark of .339). Over his final 13 starts, Lewis pitched to a much more respectable 3.86 ERA with a 60-to-22 K/BB ratio in 86 1/3 innings. For a team with several question marks in its rotation, Lewis makes for a nice depth piece that doesn’t figure to come with a prohibitive price tag.

Rangers Non-Tender Alexi Ogando, Michael Kirkman, Adam Rosales

The Rangers have non-tendered three players, headlined by righty Alexi Ogando, the club announced. Also being set loose are lefty Michael Kirkman and utilityman Adam Rosales.

Ogando, 31, has tantalized with his ability but failed to failed to maintain his health. And 2014 was a rough year even before he was shut down with elbow issues, as he threw to a 6.84 ERA (albeit with a 3.81 FIP) on the back of 7.9 K/9 against 5.4 BB/9. Ogando’s decision not to play winter ball may also have had an impact on the team’s decision, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News explains.

Ogando was projected by MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz to earn $2.6MM through arbitration. Paying that price tag would be easy if Texas felt it was getting the All-Star starter it had in 2011, or even the effective reliever it enjoyed in 2012. But that no longer seemed a safe bet.

Kirkman, 28, has been a sort of backup relief option for the Rangers for the last five years, seeing time in every campaign but never throwing more than 35 1/3 innings. He is not yet arbitration eligible. Rosales, meanwhile, has been one of the better-traveled names in the game over the past few seasons. His projected $1MM hit landed above his value as a utility piece.

Rangers Pushing For Torii Hunter; Decision Expected Soon

9:21am: The Orioles, Royals and Twins remain in the mix for Hunter, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). However, he too hears that the Rangers are making a push to sign Hunter. It’s perhaps worth noting that Hunter resides in Texas in the offseason.

9:08am: The Rangers have been making a push to sign free agent outfielder Torii Hunter, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). Olney tweeted yesterday that the Rangers were continuing their talks with the Reynolds Sports Management client, and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wrote last night that the Rangers were aggressively pursuing Hunter.

The 39-year-old Hunter would presumably fill the space that has been vacated by Alex Rios and join an outfield mix that also features Shin-Soo Choo and Leonys Martin. As Olney points out, Hunter’s right-handed bat would help to balance out a Rangers lineup that currently leans pretty heavily to the left side. Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Robinson Chirinos are the only projected regulars that bat from the right side. Andrus offers little in the way of power, and Chirinos has little track record as a 30-year-old with just one full season under his belt.

Hunter has been linked to a large number of teams, including the Orioles, Mariners, Royals and Twins of late. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Hunter plans to make his decision soon, and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that Hunter’s preference is still to sign with a contender.

Quick Hits: A’s, Rockies, Morales, Albers

With the Winter Meetings just a week away, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince names the top ten Hot Stove storylines heading into December. How the top-tier starting pitcher market shakes out heads the list, according to Castrovince, who notes the trade market for the likes of Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija will heat up once free agents Jon Lester and Max Scherzer sign. Among Castrovince’s other top headlines this month are whether the Braves trade Justin Upton and how the Red Sox and Dodgers deal with their surplus of outfielders.

Elsewhere in baseball on the final day of November:

  • After A’s GM Billy Beane signed Billy Butler to a $30MM deal and traded third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com isn’t sure what the plan is in Oakland.
  • The best way for the Rockies to become contenders is for Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki to be healthy and productive, but it would be daring for GM Jeff Bridich to trade the duo in search of salary relief to address areas of concern, opines MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby.
  • The market for Kendrys Morales has been quiet to date with only the Indians being linked to the free agent DH. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman tweets, besides Cleveland, the Rangers and Royals are also taking a look at Morales while the Mariners and Blue Jays are possibilities, as well.
  • Left-handed starter Andrew Albers recently became a free agent and has drawn interest from a number of big league clubs, an industry source told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Albers became a free agent when South Korea’s Hanwha Eagles declined the 2015 option on his one-year deal. The Canadian pitched to a 5.84 ERA in 146 1/3 innings, though he did make 27 starts and led his team with 102 strikeouts. BN-S writes Albers appears to be seeking a split contract with incentives.

Cafardo On Lester, Cespedes, Porcello, Miller

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that some in the Red Sox organization see Xander Bogaerts as a young Hanley Ramirez.  “They are both fun-loving kids who love playing the game,” Red Sox first base/outfield coach Arnie Beyeler said. “I didn’t see Hanley after the Dominican League, but I remember him as a kid who once he got his chance just did things better than everyone else. He ran better, threw better, hit better. It was easy to see that he was going to develop into a very good baseball player. And you see the same things with Xander.”  More from today’s column..

  • Major league sources tell Cafardo that the Cubs are very serious about Jon Lester while the Giants are becoming more serious about him.  Meanwhile, the Yankees are thinking about getting serious about Lester but haven’t committed to doing so.  The Red Sox remain interested but it remains to be seen how far they’ll go.
  • If the Red Sox sign Jon Lester, Cafardo can see them moving Yoenis Cespedes for a No. 2 or No. 3 starter such as Reds hurlers Mat Latos or Mike Leake.  The Reds would have a need for Cespedes’s bat, but they would also probably have a need for shortstop Deven Marrero.  Meanwhile, Johnny Cueto would cost Cespedes and maybe two top prospects, but it would be tempting for Boston.
  • The Tigers could also be a match in a Cespedes deal.  If those talks were to take place, the Red Sox would have more interest in Rick Porcello than Anibal Sanchez.  David Price could be a possibility if the Red Sox whiff on Lester, but that would be costly.
  • It’s strange to some that the Yankees haven’t re-signed closer David Robertson by now.  One rival AL East GM wonders if the Yankees might change direction and go after someone like Andrew Miller, a power lefty, to go along with Dellin Betances.
  • It’s hard to tell whether the Nationals are serious about trading Jordan Zimmermann because they have the resources to sign him and he’s their best pitcher. “It doesn’t hurt to listen,” said one NL executive about GM Mike Rizzo’s strategy. “If you get overwhelmed, you do it. If you don’t, you keep him. Pretty simple, actually.”  Cafardo writes that the Red Sox, Rangers, and Cubs seem to have the pieces to get a deal done.
  • There are teams interested in Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz.  “There’s a lot of talent there that hasn’t come out,” one NL scout said.

Quick Hits: Hunter, Fowler, Bargains

Here’s the latest from around the league.