Texas Rangers Rumors
Free agent closer Joel Hanrahan will host a showcase for teams next week, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). In a second tweet, Crasnick lists the Mets, Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Athletics, Red Sox and Rays as teams that are believed to have interest in Hanrahan. He adds that somewhat curiously, he hasn't heard much buzz on the Tigers or Phillies being interested, though that could always change.
The 32-year-old Hanrahan underwent Tommy John surgery and also had his flexor tendon repaired and bone chips in his elbow removed on May 16 of last season. He opened the year as Boston's closer after being acquired in an offseason trade that sent Mark Melancon to the Pirates, but he allowed eight runs on 10 hits (four homers) and six walks with just five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings for the Red Sox before landing on the disabled list.
Prior to that season, Hanrahan had averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings over a five-year stretch between the Nationals and Pirates. The Bucs acquired Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge from the Nats in a deal that sent Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan to Washington, and Hanrahan blossomed into a two-time All-Star closer with Pittsburgh. Always one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game, Hanrahan's 96.5 mph average fastball from his 2011-13 peak ranked seventh in the game among qualified relievers.
The changing rules and increasing number of extensions in the game are serving as a detriment to the Yankees, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Tighter rules regarding performance enhancing drugs are preventing players from performing well into their 30s, and many would-be free agents are locked up through their decline years and therefore unavailable to the Yanks in free agency. MacPherson looks at New York's misses in the draft over the years, pointing out that they'll need to turn that trend around if they're to improve a "crumbling foundation ... that can't be rebuilt the way it once was." Amazingly, he highlights that among Yankees position players with at least 20 plate appearances, only Yangervis Solarte is under 30 years of age.
Here's more out of the AL East...
- Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel looks at the story of how Yankees right-hander Shane Greene went from an unknown junior college arm to a big league pitcher. Yankees Florida area scout Jeff Deardorff had known Greene's family since Greene was nine years old, having lived down the street from them. Greene underwent Tommy John surgery his freshman year of JuCo, and afterward began asking Deardorff to watch him throw. Deardorff eventually conceded and was shocked to see his arm speed and velocity. He called scouting director Damon Oppenheimer to add Greene to the team's pre-draft workout, and the Yankees selected Greene in the 15th round having seen him throw just twice. McDaniel does an excellent job of telling Greene's story, and I would recommend taking the time to read the entire article.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington appeared on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show, and WEEI's Meredith Perri has some highlights. Cherington discussed John Lackey, his outfield and Jon Lester's extension process. Cherington said Lackey is understanding of the clause in his contract that will cause him to earn the Major League minimum next season after a serious arm injury and is one of the most accountable players in the game. Cherington expects Lackey to pitch beyond the 2015 season.
- The GM also said that recent salary hike for free agent pitchers has made the Lester negotiations more difficult, but there's always a chance for a deal to get worked out when both sides have interest -- which they do. Cherington does not, however, make it sound like a slam dunk: "...[W]e want Jon Lester to be here. We will work as hard as we can to try to make that work, but there’s things that other teams might do that we just won’t do."
- WEEI's Rob Bradford looks at Koji Uehara's incredible run as the Red Sox' closer, noting that statistically speaking, his time in the ninth inning stacks up with the best runs of the great Mariano Rivera's career. Bradford spoke with Rangers GM Jon Daniels about Uehara, with Daniels saying that Texas made a very similar offer to Boston's following the 2012 season, but Uehara elected for a fresh start in Boston. Daniels, unsurprisingly, calls Uehara a "tremendous bargain" for Boston.
The Rangers have re-signed catcher Chris Gimenez to a minor league deal, according to the MLB transactions page. Gimenez had become a free agent after declining an outright assignment from the club just days ago, but ultimately elected to return.
Gimenez, 31, will serve as depth for a Rangers club that is currently relying on J.P. Arencibia and Robinson Chirinos at the MLB level while waiting for Geovany Soto to return from injury. He joins Chris Snyder as the top options behind that pair. In Triple-A last year, Gimenez hit .224/.350/.305 in 375 plate appearances, though he had much better numbers (.310/.389/.483 in 301 plate appearances) the year prior.
Texas has a need at third base following a quad injury to Adrian Beltre in yesterday's game. Kouzmanoff, a veteran of six Major League seasons, can fill that role should Beltre need to miss time, though he hasn't appeared in the Majors since splitting the 2011 season between the A's and Rockies. Kouzmanoff, 32, blasted at least 16 homers and 30 doubles in each season from 2007-10 with the Padres and A's but also struggled to get on base in that time (combined .303 OBP). He's a career .255/.300/.420 hitter that has spent the past few seasons in Triple-A with the Royals and Marlins.
Rosin, 25, was the Mets' selection in last December's Rule 5 Draft (from the Phillies). He was immediately traded to the Dodgers for cash before being claimed off waivers by Texas in late March. Rosin made his big league debut with the Rangers this season, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts in four innings of work. The former fourth-round pick has a 4.00 career ERA in the minor leagues to go along with solid ratios of 8.3 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Prior to his selection in the Rule 5 Draft, Rosin had never appeared in a game above the Double-A level.
All remains relatively quiet on the compensation free agent front -- as you may have heard, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales remain unsigned, though each is now freed of the possibility of receiving another QO next year if they sign a one-year deal. While there have been rumblings that Morales could be approaching a contract, specifics remain unclear. Nevertheless, there is still a good bit of motion among some less-heralded names in the season's early going. Here's the latest:
- Free agent catcher Chris Gimenez, recently (albeit briefly) of the Rangers, has standing offers from three teams, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter links). The Rays, Athletics, and Rangers have all made offers, says Cotillo, while the Cubs also have interest.
- Joel Hanrahan is among the few intriguing relief arms still available, and the righty is preparing for a showcase in a few weeks, according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. The Mets are one of the teams that are expected to take a close look at Hanrahan, says Ackert, while her colleague Andy Martino tweets that the Yankees have also been monitoring the 32-year-old.
- A host of other players remains available, as reflected in MLBTR's list of the 2014 free agents. Among the names that could draw interest are Francisco Cordero, Ryan Madson, Freddy Garcia, Yorvit Torrealba, and Jamey Carroll. Also, of course, several options are still in DFA limbo. Vin Mazzaro of the Pirates is due for action today. Otherwise, Frank Herrmann (Indians), Jeremy Jeffress (Blue Jays), Hector Noesi (Mariners), Pedro Ciriaco (Royals), and Mike Baxter (Dodgers) are all candidates for new homes.
On Sunday, Yu Darvish became the fastest starting pitcher ever to reach 500 strikeouts, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan notes. He struck out the first two batters he faced on Sunday, hitting 500 whiffs in just 401 2/3 innings. Kerry Wood previously had the record with 404 2/3, and behind him were Mark Prior with 421 2/3 and Stephen Strasburg in 426 1/3. Wood and Prior's struggles to stay healthy are an indication that 500 quick strikeouts provide no guarantee of future success, but Darvish's accomplishment is still an impressive one. Darvish finished fifth in the AL in strikeouts in his 2012 rookie season, and topped the league with 277 last year, the most of any pitcher in a single season since Randy Johnson had 290 in 2004. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Pablo Sandoval and the Giants continue to negotiate an extension, and they have recently exchanged figures, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets. The two sides are optimistic a deal can be struck, Olney notes, but they aren't yet close to one. Last week, it was reported that Sandoval had allowed his agent, Gustavo Vasquez, to continue negotiating a deal after the start of the season. At last check, the two sides were far apart, with Sandoval's camp wanting to use Hunter Pence's five-year, $90MM deal as the model for an extension for Sandoval, and the Giants offering three years and $40MM.
- The Rangers will soon need to decide what to do with Colby Lewis, who can opt out of his contract on Thursday, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. Lewis pitched five innings for Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday. Joe Saunders, meanwhile, took a line drive to the foot while starting for the big-league team on Friday. The Rangers have Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez and Robbie Ross scheduled to pitch in their upcoming series against the Red Sox. It's not clear who will pitch on Friday against the Astros.
- Three to five teams are interested in free agent starting pitcher Randy Wolf, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. The Mariners released Wolf before the season amidst a dispute regarding a 45-day advance-consent release the team wanted Wolf to sign before adding him to its roster. Wolf missed the 2013 season after having Tommy John surgery.
The third time for the Indians and Jason Kipnis proved to be the charm, writes Zack Meisel of the Plain Dealer. Kipnis and the Tribe got together for long-term contract discussions in the previous two springs, but it was the third try that resulted in a six-year, $52.5MM deal. Things couldn't have worked out better for Kipnis since his price rose after he put up his best big-league season in 2013. Kipnis, who turned 27 this month, made his first All-Star team and finished 11th in the American League MVP voting on the heels of a stellar campaign in which he batted .284/.366/.452 with 17 homers and 30 stolen bases in 658 plate appearances. Here's more from around baseball..
- ESPN analyst Eric Wedge, who managed Kendrys Morales in Seattle, is shocked he’s still on the market. “He’s an impact, middle-of-the-order bat from both sides of the plate, a great teammate,” the former Mariners skipper told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “Anyone would love to have him on their team and in their clubhouse. I understand the issues involved, but it makes no sense to me that he’s not with a team. There are a lot of teams who could use that quality bat."
- The Pirates have an impressive track record of helping pitchers who have fallen on hard times back on the right track, writes ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. The Bucs are hoping that Edinson Volquez, who is now in the fold on a one-year, $5MM deal, will be the latest example of a positive reclamation project. Francisco Liriano, who returned to prominence in Pittsburgh, helped to recruit Volquez to the organization.
- Jose Contreras is not retiring following his release from the Rangers, a source tells Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (on Twitter). The veteran is currently pitching in Mexico and looking for opportunities in Japan. Contreras, 42, signed a minor league deal with Texas after tossing just five big league innings in 2013. The Cuban veteran was solid in 29 minor league innings last year though, posting a 2.79 ERA with the Triple-A affiliates for the Pirates and Red Sox. However, things didn't go quite as well during Spring Training.
Rangers amateur scout Jay Heafner is on hand for Nick Martinez's major league debut against the Rays tonight, and discussed scouting him as an amateur with MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Heafner liked "the way the ball came out of his hand, the way his delivery worked and his presence" when watching Martinez, then an infielder, work out of the bullpen. Texas ultimately selected him in the 18th round of the 2011 draft. Recognizing the right-hander's potential from limited looks as a reliever has to be considered a major win for the Rangers' scouting corps. Here's more from around the majors:
- Braves righty Cory Gearrin will seek a second opinion before submitting to Tommy John surgery, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Both team doctors and Dr. James Andrews have recommended that Gearrin undergo the procedure.
- David Golebiewski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review examined what allows Pirates reliever Mark Melancon to avoid home runs. Since joining the Pirates, the right-hander has increased his use of the cutter to 56.1 percent of all pitches thrown, which helped boost his ground ball rate to an amazing 60.3 percent in 2013.
- In addition to slimming down this winter, the Giants' Pablo Sandoval got instruction from Miguel Cabrera on his right-handed swing, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports. "See if they can command the fastball in, because that tells you a lot," Sandoval said when asked what advice he received. "And early in the count, get a pitch to drive."
- Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman discussed his throwing problems with Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post, commenting, "it’s hard to explain to people that have never played baseball." The early-season cold weather isn't helping matters, but Zimmerman hasn't felt right since 2012 shoulder surgery, which affected his mechanics. "I don’t like really saying things about [the issue] ... everyone who plays baseball has something like that," Zimmerman said.
Today's minor moves:
- 24-year-old righty Nick Struck has signed on with the Dodgers, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned. The Cubs released their 2012 minor league pitcher of the year last week. Strcuk briefly reached Triple-A in his age-21 season, then put up a solid campaign in 2012 (3.18 ERA in 155 2/3 innings) at Double-A. He earned a quick promotion back to the Iowa Cubs last year, but allowed 6.17 earned runs per nine in his 109 1/3 frames.
- Catcher Chris Gimenez has elected free agency rather than taking an outright assignment from the Rangers, the club announced. The 31-year-old was designated for assignment on Tuesday after just a few days with the team. The Rays are interested in signing him to serve as minor league depth, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News recently reported.
- Righty Justin Fitzgerald has agreed to a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter). Fitzgerald made it to the Triple-A level for the first time last year, but had a tough go of things. His 5.61 ERA in 77 innings was the worst of his career.
- 27-year-old outfielder Evan Bigley, formerly a Twins prospect, has signed with the independent league St. Paul Saints, tweets Mike Beradino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. A tenth-round pick out of Dallas Baptist back in 2008, Bigley never made the leap from Double-A to Triple-A and became a minor league free agent this year.
- The DFA limbo line has thinned considerably in recent days, as MLBTR's DFA Tracker shows. Pirates reliever Vin Mazzaro is a fairly intriguing name, and will see resolution of his situation by Monday. Frank Herrmann, Colt Hynes, and Preston Guilmet of the Indians are all due to learn their fates on Tuesday. Then come a series of players with interesting histories and a decent amount of big league experience: Eduardo Nunez (Yankees), Hector Noesi (Mariners), and Jeremy Jeffress (Blue Jays). Another player was just added to the rolls when the Royals designated Pedro Ciriaco this morning.
We'll keep track of the day's minor moves here:
- The Mariners have signed lefty Clay Rapada and added him to the roster at Triple-A Tacoma, according to Rainiers announce Mike Curto (on Twitter). Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune first reported (via Twitter) that Rapada was working out for the team. The left-hander has a 4.06 ERA in 94 big league innings but has never been able to hold down a consistent big league job despite dominant numbers against left-handed hitters; Rapada has held lefties to a minuscule .164/.255/.231 batting line in his career. However, righties have roughed him up at a .345/.464/.611 clip.
- Catcher Chris Gimenez has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Round Rock, according to the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant (Twitter link). Gimenez, who has been outrighted previously, has 72 hours to accept or reject the assignment. He was claimed off waivers by the Rangers last week but quickly designated for assignment when the club promoted Daniel McCutchen to the Majors.
- The Cubs have outrighted reliever Alberto Cabrera to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). The 25-year-old righty was designated on Saturday.
- Outfielder Michael Taylor has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 28-year-old will take up residence in Sacramento for the fifth straight year since joining the Oakland organization.
- Brian Bogusevic has accepted an outright assignment from the Marlins, reports Cotillo (via Twitter). Bogusevic, a 30-year-old outfielder who was acquired over the offseason for Justin Ruggiano, could have elected free agency since he has previously been outrighted.
- The Red Sox have released outfielder Scott Cousins, Cotillo also tweets. Cousins, 29, has seen bit action in parts of four MLB seasons. The news was first reported yesterday by Mike Andrews of SoxProspects (via Twitter). According to Andrews, longtime minor leaguer Juan Carlos Linares was also among the players cut loose from the Boston system.
- Pitcher Armando Galarraga is working on securing a visa after receiving an offer from the Taiwanese club Brother Elephants, his agent tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Cotillo tweeted earlier this morning that the former big leaguer was close to a deal to move to Taiwan. In 542 career MLB innings, Galarraga has a 4.78 ERA with 5.7 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9.
- Outfielder Dave Sappelt has been released by the Phillies, tweets Cotillo. Sappelt himself said on Twitter that he appreciates the club carrying him while undergoing offseason surgery. The 27-year-old has seen limited action in three big league seasons.
- The Astros have outrighted reliever Raul Valdes to Triple-A, according to the PCL transactions page. Though he lacks an extensive MLB track record at age 36, Valdes still has an intriguing recent stat line and looks to be a good bet to see time in Houston at some point. His ERA was a ghastly 7.46 last year, but he put up 9.5 K/9 (against just 2.1 BB/9), good for a 3.10 SIERA. Valdes posted numbers more line with those peripherals in 2012 and even during limited action this spring.
- Likewise, Hiroyuki Nakajima has been outrighted to the top affiliate of the Athletics, also via the PCL transactions page. The move is not surprising, given that Nakajima had only been added to the 40-man in the first place to fill it up to allow for the team to designate Taylor for assignment, according to a report from John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter).
Steve Adams contributed to this post.