Texas Rangers Rumors
Epifanio "Epi" Guerrero, one of the key figures in the history of Dominican baseball, passed today at age 71. Guerrero signed a number of notable international talents (including Cesar Cedeno, Carlos Delgado and Tony Fernandez) while working in the Astros, Yankees, Blue Jays and Brewers organizations as a scout and coach during a career that began in 1965. Guerrero was one of the first scouts to be involved in the development of the academy system that gave countless young Dominican prospects chances at a professional career. We here at MLBTR extend our condolences to Guerrero's friends and family on his passing.
Here are some news items from around the baseball world...
- While it has been assumed that the Cardinals will part ways with Carlos Beltran after this season, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks both Beltran and the Cardinals could benefit from Beltran re-signing a short-term contract, provided the veteran was willing to take a hometown discount. While Miklasz has a point that Beltran is a surer thing to produce for a contender than youngsters like Oscar Taveras or Matt Adams, I would be surprised if Beltran returned to St. Louis in 2014. If the Cards were confident enough in their young talent to let Albert Pujols and Kyle Lohse go, they'll do with the same with Beltran.
- The Diamondbacks may not need to make any major moves before the trade deadline, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. The Snakes have depth at several positions and further reinforcements are coming as some injured players return from the disabled list. The only possible area of need could be at closer given J.J. Putz's elbow problems but GM Kevin Towers is "100% confident" that Putz will recover.
- The Mariners talked with Jesus Montero about a long-term contract before he was linked to the Biogenesis scandal, but nothing came of those conversations, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Earlier today, the M's demoted the 23-year-old to Triple-A.
- If MLB announces that an international draft will take place in 2014, Baseball America's Ben Badler notes that teams like the Rangers, Yankees, Cardinals or Reds (who are likely to pick near the end of that draft's first round) could be wise to exceed the spending cap on international prospects this year. Such teams would lose their 2014 or '15 international draft first-rounder for going over the cap, but it could be worth it to get a jump on the non-North American talent market.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo profiles some of the top corner infielders in the upcoming amateur draft, a list led by University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant.
- ESPN's Keith Law discusses draft prospects, minor leaguers and other moves from around the game in a live chat with fans.
- Andrew Cashner is making great strides as a starting pitcher for the Padres, MLB.com's Corey Brock writes. Cashner has a 2.80 ERA in six starts for the Friars in 2013 after being limited to mostly bullpen work over his first three seasons due to injuries and concerns about his arm strength. If Cashner develops into a solid starter, it will obviously give the Padres a much greater return on the Anthony Rizzo trade from January 2012.
- The Rays' pitching depth is the envy of baseball, MLB.com's Bill Chastain writes, and that depth at the Major League level gives all their minor league arms time to properly develop into the club's next generation of rotation stalwarts.
MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post
Lowe was designated for assignment on Monday to make room for the newly activated Josh Lindblom. The hurler cleared waivers yesterday and had the option of joining the club's Triple-A affiliate but instead chose to elect free agency. The Rangers signed Lowe to a minor league deal on March 6th and he subsequently made the team’s Opening Day roster. In nine relief appearances with Texas, Lowe allowed 13 runs while striking out eight batters and allowing three walks.
As MLBTR reported earlier this week, Teahen was granted his release from the Diamondbacks and became a free agent. The D'Backs agreed to trade the veteran to the Reds earlier this month but the deal fell through due to Cincinnati's concerns about his physical. While Arizona claims to have spotted a red flag or two, both the D'Backs and Teahen say that he is healthy. Across seven big league seasons, the versatile 31-year-old posted a .264/.327/.409 line for the Royals, White Sox, and Blue Jays.
The Angels are the only AL West team playing today, with Joe Blanton facing Ervin Santana and the Royals in Kansas City. Having won their last four games, the Halos have climbed to a 19-27 record. They'll need to play .612 ball moving forward to have a shot at 90 wins and the playoffs. The latest out of their division:
- Angels righty Jered Weaver had a successful extended spring training start yesterday, reports Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times. Weaver is recovering from a fractured elbow suffered in April, and he may be ready to return to the Angels next week. It's quite possible Blanton, owner of a 6.62 ERA in nine starts, is auditioning for his rotation job tonight despite signing a two-year, $15MM deal in December. I was surprised to see today that Blanton still has a positive FanGraphs WAR, because that calculation does not consider his 86 hits allowed in 50 1/3 innings.
- Reliever Ryan Madson seemed like a solid signing for the Angels in November, with only a $3.5MM guarantee. The 32-year-old had Tommy John surgery in April 2012, but suffered a setback in a rehab appearance last week. Madson and the Cubs' Scott Baker, both signed to one-year free agent deals, serve as reminders that pitchers are not a lock to return to a Major League mound 12 months after Tommy John surgery.
- The Mariners have dropped six in a row, and at 20-27, and Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner explains that "the season is lost." Cameron's plan calls for Brandon Maurer, Dustin Ackley, and Jesus Montero to be optioned to Triple-A and Nick Franklin to get a look at second base in the bigs, among other things. UPDATE: Montero will indeed be sent to Triple-A today, reports Ryan Divish of The News Tribune.
- Rangers reliever Neal Cotts has an amazing story, with a four-year gap between Major League appearances. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has the details on Cotts' comeback from Tommy John and four hip surgeries.
WEDNESDAY: Lowe has cleared waivers and now must decide whether to accept an assignment to Triple-A or become a free agent, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
MONDAY: The Rangers designated righty Derek Lowe to open a spot on the active roster for Josh Lindblom, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Rangers now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.
Lowe, 39, posted a 9.00 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 2.08 HR/9, and 55.8% groundball rate in 13 relief innings this year. He had signed a minor league deal in March and made the team out of Spring Training, receiving a $1.25MM salary. That salary should prevent a waiver claim, and result in Lowe becoming a free agent via release. At that point, a team could sign him for the league minimum $490K with the Rangers picking up the rest of the tab.
Lowe has pitched over 2,600 innings in his big league career with the Mariners, Red Sox, Dodgers, Braves, Indians, Yankees, and Rangers, and has had success as both a reliever and a starter. His 176 wins rank him 11th all-time among those born in Michigan, and his 86 saves rank tenth.
The latest minor moves...
- The Rangers plan to purchase the contract of lefty reliever Neal Cotts if tonight's game is played, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. The 33-year-old hasn't seen big league action since 2009, but he's been dominant in 23 Triple-A innings this year. The Rangers already have an open spot on their 40-man roster for him.
- The Hanshin Tigers have a basic agreement with righty reliever Blaine Boyer, according to Sanspo (via Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker). Boyer, 31, pitched 15 relief innings for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate before exercising his out clause to pursue the opportunity in Japan.
- The Mariners signed 17-year-old Brazilian righty Daniel Missaki, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Badler notes that he was the youngest player in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
- The Athletics announced that first baseman Daric Barton cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A, after he was designated for assignment Saturday to open a spot for Chris Young. He's earning $1.1MM this year, which may have limited interest. Barton led the American League in walks as a 24-year-old in 2010, but has battled injuries since. He's still a walk machine at Triple-A, though, with a .422 OBP through 128 plate appearances.
- The Angels outrighted outfielder Scott Cousins to Triple-A yesterday, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Cousins had been designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Chris Nelson.
- The Yankees outrighted infielder Alberto Gonzalez to Triple-A yesterday, according to the International League transactions page. Gonzalez had been designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Reid Brignac.
- Three players currently reside in DFA limbo: Jon Rauch of the Marlins, Derek Lowe of the Rangers, and Michael Bowden of the Cubs. Rauch and Lowe figure to be released by their clubs in the coming days, while Bowden will have to decide whether to accept an outright assignment if he clears waivers.
The Rangers have placed Ian Kinsler on the disabled list with an intercostal strain and recalled middle infielder and top prospect Jurickson Profar, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. Profar already had a cup of coffee last September, collecting 17 big-league at-bats. But the promotion of the No. 1 player on recent top prospect listings from Baseball America, Keith Law, and MLB.com is cause for excitement. The Baseball America Prospect Handbook praises Profar's all-around game, particularly his bat speed, plate discipline and defense, noting that "Profar may not have the most power, the most speed or the strongest arm on the field, but he's typically the best player out there."
Profar, 20, has hit .278/.370/.438 for Triple-A Round Rock so far this year. He is already on the 40-man roster. If he sticks in the big leagues, he would be eligible for free agency after the 2019 season, and he would be a Super Two player, meaning that he would be arbitration-eligible after the 2015 season. Super Two status would only be an issue if the Rangers kept Profar in the big leagues much of the rest of the season, however, and it remains to be seen what they will do with Profar once Kinsler returns from injury.
Here are more notes from the AL West.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and owner Jim Crane watched a potential draft pick in Chapel Hill Saturday (likely UNC third baseman Colin Moran), and Luhnow says he's pleased that Crane came along, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports. "We don't comment on Draft-eligible players for obvious reasons, but we continue to put in a lot of time against it, and it was great Jim was willing to go out and see a player with his own eyes," says Luhnow. "We might try another couple before it's all said and done."
- The Mariners blew it by missing out on Michael Bourn this winter, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times argues. "[T]he Bourn thing, for me, is a classic example of how this rebuilding process has played out for the Mariners," says Baker. "It’s taken a long time to get where we are and I do think we could have seen some better baseball a bit quicker had the Mariners spent some dough this winter and in prior ones to shore-up where they were lacking." Bourn is hitting .311/.363/.473 and has been a key contributor to one of baseball's best offenses with the Indians, while the Mariners have the worst offense in the American League. The Mariners do have the No. 12 overall pick in the upcoming draft, however, and they would have had to forfeit that pick if they had signed Bourn.
Credit Dodgers' scouting director Logan White for ensuring that Clayton Kershaw's big league successes have come in a Dodger uniform, says Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The club had targeted Kershaw and Evan Longoria in the 2006 draft, but were worried that neither would last until the team's seventh overall pick. Several pieces had to fall into place: Luke Hochevar failed to sign in 2005, leading to his being taken first overall the next year. Meanwhile, with many scouts on hand for the last pre-draft starts of Kershaw and Brad Lincoln, the former struggled while the latter dominated. Lincoln went fourth overall to the Pirates. According to White, with Longoria already off the board to the Rays, the Dodgers "were hoping and praying Clayton would get to us." That's just what happened: consensus top arm Andrew Miller fell, perhaps owing to signabilty concerns, and was nabbed by the Tigers at number six, leaving Kershaw for L.A. The decision to take Kershaw caused some initial consternation when Tim Lincecum, taken with the tenth pick by the rival Giants, began his career with a bang. Now, of course, the Dodgers (and their fans) could not be more pleased with their selection. Here are a few more notes from the leagues' western divisions:
- With the Rockies off to an up-and-down start, the Denver Post's Woody Paige has some harsh words for the team's ownership and management. He says that, with a top-12 attendance but a bottom-7 payroll, the club appears "content to produce a .500 team." Among the decisions Paige disagrees with are the team's apparent intention to rely on veteran pitchers like Roy Oswalt and Jon Garland while former top prospect Drew Pomeranz toils in Triple-A and Tyler Chatwood bounces between the minors and the big club. He also faults the club for going with the now-departed Chris Nelson and Reid Brignac instead of bringing up Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu to start the season. He warns that the Rockies could be in danger of losing the affections of stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Unhappy superstars can always cause problems by demanding a trade, of course, but it is worth noting that Colorado has no immediate need to sell its shortstop and left fielder on staying in town. Tulowitzki is inked through at least 2020 (with a 2021 club option), while Gonzalez is under contract through 2017.
- Despite four starters on the disabled list, the Rangers lead the American League in ERA (3.38). Richard Justice of MLB.com writes that the success of the pitching staff is attributable to GM Jon Daniels's efforts to create a deep, talented organization. Likewise, Justice praises Daniels's confidence to enter the season without prior stalwarts Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams, and Koji Uehara, and to bring in veterans Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski on one-year deals. The 37-year-old Berkman, in particular, has hit .299/.422/.465 in 154 plate appearances as the club's primary DH.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow says it is still too early for the club to narrow down its likely pick with the first choice in the upcoming amateur draft, tweets Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. The club will likely have more clarity when it conducts staff meetings in early June, Smith further tweets.
- As the Astros gear up for an important draft, the club is holding a series of four regional player workouts, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. According to scouting director Mike Elias, the workouts will allow the club to "get up close and personal with the process and see some guys further down the list." He further notes that the process was utilized with success by the Cardinals: "It really helps those players get drafted and helps us make better decisions in the draft."
- Meanwhile, Houston is beginning to see returns from its efforts to develop a pipeline of talent from the Dominican Republic. According to another tweet from Smith, Luhnow is excited about the first Dominican prospect that the club's efforts produced. Jose Cisnero, a right-hander that was originally signed in 2007, checked in at fifteenth on Baseball America's ranking of the club's prospects and has been pitching from the club's bullpen this year.
Here are today's minor moves from around the league...
- Astros pitcher Philip Humber has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma City, according to Chris Cotillo of CLNSRadio.com (via Twitter). MLBTR has learned that the right-hander has until Friday to accept the assignment or elect free agency. Humber was designated for assignment earlier this week after posting a 9.59 ERA with 5.0 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in seven starts and two relief appearances.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets that the Padres have requested unconditional release waivers on Fautino De Los Santos, confirming an earlier tweet from Chris Cotillo of CLNS Radio. De Los Santos, 27, was designated for assignment over the weekend. He made only two appearances for Triple-A Tucson this season due to an injury but has a 4.21 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings at the Major League level -- all coming with the A's. His release will become official on Thursday.
- The Rangers have signed right-hander Scott Richmond to a minor league contract, according to Jeff Sullivan of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). The 33-year-old Canadian hurler has a 5.27 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 169 big league innings for the Blue Jays. Richmond, who was pitching in Korea prior to this signing, was on Team Canada's roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He will report to extended Spring Training, according to Sullivan.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Having dropped their last five games, the Astros own a .256 winning percentage, easily the worst in baseball. Their new division rivals, the Rangers, are at .632, tied for second in baseball. The two numbers are not unrelated, as the Rangers have won five of six contests against the Astros. The latest on the two Texas clubs:
- The Astros announced yesterday that president and CEO George Postolos resigned. Postolos' role with the Astros had little to do with baseball operations, unlike some other team presidents. Postolos "specializes in franchise acquisition," wrote Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, and his skill set no longer matched with the job description. One of Postolos' tasks involved carriage agreement negotiations, trying to get the Astros and Comcast Sportsnet Houston into Houston homes. CSN Houston is available in "only about 40 percent of Houston's 2.2 million TV homes," writes David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.
- Asked on ESPN's Galloway & Company show yesterday if he has any interest in the Astros' new job opening, Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan replied, "I don't think so." Ryan has not been in contact with Astros owner Jim Crane. There was some springtime drama about Ryan's role with the Rangers, which was resolved in April.
- The Astros are running "extended evaluations" at all three outfield positions, writes Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. J.D. Martinez, Robbie Grossman, and Jimmy Paredes will hold the starting spots for now, with Justin Maxwell to regain center field when he returns from a fractured left hand. The Astros have already moved Chris Carter to first base and jettisoned Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez, though Martinez cleared waivers and remains in the organization.
- Carter, a 26-year-old acquired from Oakland in February as part of the Jed Lowrie trade, is tied for fifth in the league with nine home runs. He also leads all of baseball in strikeouts, however.
- 33-year-old Rangers righty Colby Lewis, a free agent after this season, "has been diagnosed with a mild case of tendinitis in his right triceps muscle" according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Lewis last pitched in the Majors on July 18th of last year, before undergoing flexor tendon surgery. His current issue is not related to the surgery, and Lewis could make another rehab start next week after receiving an anti-inflammatory injection.
- Rangers long reliever Derek Lowe told Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he didn't pass the "stats test" when hunting for an offseason job, explaining he leans toward the human element. Apparently mixing stats and scouting, as all teams do, Lowe commented, "If you pump my numbers into the system compared to, let’s say, Tanner Scheppers, of course his stuff is going to outscore my stuff, I’m not naive. He’s a young kid who throws 98 mph with a great breaking ball. Listen, I know I don’t pass the test."
Astros president and CEO George Postolos announced this morning that he is resigning from his role, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart (on Twitter). Postolos spent the better part of seven years helping Jim Crane to finalize his purchase of the club, writes David Barron of the Houston Chronicle. Barron's piece includes the following quote from Crane on Postolos' sudden and unexpected departure:
“We appreciate George’s hard work in the acquisition of the Astros and his commitment to the organization. I’d also like to personally thank him for the assistance that he has provided to me over the last several years and wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Barron's colleague, Brian T. Smith, reports that the Astros' "Big Three" (Crane, Postolos and GM Jeff Luhnow) were all adamant that they were on the same page with the rebuild as recently as February. Recently, however, there was an increasing divide and certain members of the Astros organization were not happy with Postolos' decisions (Twitter links).
Postolos' departure from the Astros is expected to have little impact on the team's long-term rebuilding plan or the on-field product itself, writes Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. While many have speculated that this may ultimately free up a spot for Nolan Ryan to join the organization, Ryan himself today addressed the situation on the Randy Galloway radio show in Dallas by saying he isn't interested (via Reid Laymance of the Houston Chronicle).