Texas Rangers Rumors
The Rangers announced, via press release, that they have claimed right-hander Shawn Tolleson off waivers from the Dodgers.
Tolleson, who turns 26 in January, missed nearly all of the 2013 season after undergoing surgery in late April to repair a herniated disc in his back. The Baylor University product owns a career 1.34 ERA with 13.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 127 2/3 minor league innings, though just 15 of those have come at Triple-A. Tolleson pitched 37 2/3 innings for the Dodgers in 2012, posting a 4.30 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 20 walks.
Baseball America's Ben Badler tweets that the Rangers may have gotten a steal by landing Tolleson, praising his high strikeout and ground-ball rates.
The Rangers and Tigers are discussing a blockbuster deal that would send Prince Fielder to Texas for Ian Kinsler, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has learned. One person involved in the talks called it a "possibility."
The dollar amount of Fielder's contract isn't the only potential hurdle in getting such a deal done. Fielder holds a limited no-trade clause, but it isn't known if it includes the Rangers.
The Rangers were in the mix for Fielder when he was on the open market a couple years ago before the Tigers signed him to a nine-year, $214MM deal. Fielder took a step back in 2013, posting a .279/.362/.457 slash line as opposed to the .287/.393/.538 batting line he posted in his previous eight campaigns. For all of the concern over his conditioning, Fielder sure has been durable - the slugger has missed just one regular season game in the last five seasons.
Aside from giving Texas a five-time All-Star with a big bat, the deal would have the added benefit of opening up second base for Jurickson Profar. Kinsler's name has been on MLBTR quite a bit in recent months thanks to the Rangers' middle infield logjam and lack of quality second base options available on the open market outside of kingpin Robinson Cano. The veteran has spent his entire career with Texas, hitting .273/.349/.454 across eight big league seasons. While not on the level of Fielder's deal, the 31-year-old has a pretty decent-sized contract himself as he is owed $57MM through 2017.
The Rangers are considering a run at Shin-Soo Choo, but they've apparently scratched the other top free agent outfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, off of their list, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Choo fits the bill for Texas if they don't re-sign Nelson Cruz, but a Rangers connected person suggested they aren't likely to secure him if "rumored prices" are accurate. The Rangers aren't as intrigued by Ellsbury at this time because they are happy with center fielder Leonys Martin.
It's not clear which rumors Heyman's source was referring to, but it has been said that agent Scott Boras has previous deals for Jayson Werth (seven-year, $126MM deal) and Carl Crawford ($142MM over seven years) in mind for clients Choo and Ellsbury.
There are options beyond the free agent market, however. Heyman notes that the Rangers have also talked to Dodgers about Andre Ethier and Crawford in addition to Matt Kemp. It has been said that one of the Dodgers' surplus outfielders might be made available this offseason.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels appears to be casting a wide net in terms of free agent possibilities, but if the team is truly pleased with Martin in center field, the Rangers likely only have one space available. Alex Rios, acquired in August in exchange for infielder Leury Garcia, is under team control for 2014 and figures to patrol right field in Arlington. However, as a gifted outfield defender, he Rios could likely play any of the three outfield spots, which gives Daniels some flexibility in deciding who to target.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Here's a quick look around the majors..
- Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News surveys the Rangers' options when it comes to their crowded infield. Trading Elvis Andrus or Ian Kinsler would give Texas some financial flexibility. Andrus is due $6.75MM in 2014 and $120MM guaranteed from 2015 through 2022. Kinsler, meanwhile, is due $62MM over the next four seasons.
- The Phillies would like to retain free agent catcher Carlos Ruiz, but what happens if he signs elsewhere? Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com sizes up some of the possibie alternatives, including Dioner Navarro and Ryan Hanigan. The switch-hitting Navarro isn't in the same stratosphere as Brian McCann or in that second tier with Ruiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski, but he resides all by himself in that third tier of available catchers this winter.
- In an interview with Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (Twitter link), Rangers manager Ron Washington confirmed that the club has been discussing all of the big name free agents including Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury.
The posting system standoff between MLB and Japan's NPB could temporarily benefit the Red Sox if Masahiro Tanaka is kept away from the Yankees, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The dispute over the posting system could drag on long enough for Tanaka to not make it over to the U.S. in 2014. The Bombers are going to improve one way or another and upgrade their rotation, but Tanaka is the one potential addition they consider to be an elite pitcher. Here's more from today's column..
- The Blue Jays need at least two starting pitchers and dealing Jose Bautista could land them one. “It’s a name we’re hearing through backchannels right now, but wouldn’t be surprised if he’s available,” said an NL general manager. Red Sox skipper John Farrell is a fan of Bautista from his days in Toronto, but it’s doubtful the Blue Jays would deal within the division, even though Boston has pitching to spare.
- Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval can be had in a deal, but his weight issues are of concern to clubs. The Giants have tried everything to get Sandoval to slim down and it's worked at some points, but not last season. Cafardo notes that Sandoval can also play first base and may have a market at either position.
- For Jacoby Ellsbury to re-sign with the Red Sox, he would have to be willing to accept a five-year deal that likely would not surpass $100MM. The Mariners, Rangers, Yankees, Tigers, Giants, and Phillies seem to have some level of interest, but whether they dive into the 6-8 year range at $20MM plus per year remains to be seen.
- The Orioles likely won’t deal Matt Wieters unless it’s in a blockbuster that would improve their pitching.
- Even though there’s been talk about an extension, there's growing sentiment that the Padres will trade Chase Headley this offseason to improve in a couple of different areas. New CEO Mike Dee says that he's willing to spend in order to strengthen the club long-term.
- Alfredo Aceves re-hired agent Tom O'Connell to represent him recently, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database. According to O'Connell, the pitcher called and apologized for firing him in the first place. There's now a "good possibility" that the pitcher will land with the Mets.
An interesting study by Conor Glassey for his website examines which states big leaguers in the past five years were drafted from. As expected, the warm-weather states of California, Florida and Texas dominate the rankings, together accounting for more than 40 percent of drafted players. However, Illinois high schools were found to be surprisingly productive in developing future big leaguers. Let's round up the latest from around baseball:
- Buster Olney runs through Max Scherzer rumors in a video for ESPN, concluding that he will "almost certainly not be" traded this winter. The Tigers are in full win-now mode, and other teams are unlikely to surrender major talent for this year's AL Cy Young winner, as he's not expected to sign a long-term extension with Scott Boras as his agent. Scherzer, who's on track to hit free agency after next season, is projected to earn $13.6MM in his final season of arbitration by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- Rick Porcello is "expected" to be traded, Olney says in the same video.
- The avascular necrosis in Mike Napoli's hips has come up in discussions with some clubs, agent Brian Grieper said in an interview with WEEI, but other teams don't consider it an issue. WEEI's Alex Speier notes that Grieper opted not to disclose whether the first baseman had received a multi-year offer yet.
- T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com becomes the latest writer to report that Masahiro Tanaka isn't a top target for the Rangers. Offense is more of a priority for Texas this winter, Sullivan writes.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times previews the Rays' potential targets in trade and free agency this offseason. At first base, the Mets' Ike Davis might be an option, along with Logan Morrison of the Marlins, Mitch Moreland of the Rangers, and another Met, Lucas Duda. In free agency, the Rays could attempt to court Corey Hart, Lyle Overbay or Justin Morneau. Topkin also examines possibilities at catcher and closer.
Pour a tall cup of coffee and open up a Baseball Reference tab. It's time for this Saturday morning's minor moves, via the Pacific Coast League and International League transaction pages (except where otherwise noted) ...
- The White Sox have signed lefty David Purcey to a minor league deal. The 31-year-old had rejected an outright assignment from the Sox in late October to become a free agent. Purcey made 24 apperances for the Sox's major league club in 2013, posting a 2.13 ERA but walking 6 batters per nine innings.
- The Dodgers signed first baseman/outfielder Jamie Romak to a minor league deal, according to MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (on Twitter). Romak's deal includes a July 1st opt out. The 28-year-old posted a .242/.322/.461 slash line with 22 homers in 134 games for the Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate last season.
- Right-handed reliever Mark Lowe, 30, has signed with the Rays, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Lowe was battered in just eleven appearances with the Angels last year, but posted a 3.60 ERA across 2009-12 and has continued to notch high strikeout totals while being stashed in the upper minors.
- The Cardinals signed third baseman Scott Moore, a thirty-year-old who has thrived at Triple-A but has yet to have a real shot in the bigs. Last year, over 485 plate appearances in the Oakland and San Diego organizations, he hit .271/.353/.448 with fourteen long balls. In his most extended MLB action, a 2012 stint with the Astros, Moore hit a more-than-respectable .259/.330/.448 with nine home runs in 228 plate appearances.
- Right-hander Jim Miller is back with the Yankees on a minor league pact after making just one MLB appearance last year, an ill-fated inning-and-a-third that resulted in three earned runs. The 31-year-old had been a solid member of the A's pen just one year prior, however, as he registered a 2.59 ERA in 48 2/3 innings for Oakland. Miller did flash a 13.1 K/9 rate during his 63 1/3 Triple-A innings last year, a somewhat intriguing mark given his manageable walk rates. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com had the news first on Twitter.
- Lefty reliever Will Startup will stay with the Tigers after he notched a 3.41 ERA in 58 Double-A innings last year. Startup reached Triple-A as a 21-year-old back in 2006, but before joining Detroit had landed with the Sugar Land Skeeters in 2012.
- The Giants have inked two righties to minor league deals, bringing aboard Jason Berken and Daryl Maday. Berken, 29, has thrown in 110 MLB games, including 28 as a starter, and recorded a 5.36 ERA over 248 2/3 innings. He spent last year at the White Sox' Triple-A affiliate, where he managed a 3.80 ERA in 161 innings -- all as a starter -- and posted 6.5 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9. Meanwhile, at 28 years of age Maday has yet to see San Francisco, but will continue to keep the dream alive in the Giants system. He has bounced between Double-A and Triple-A since 2008, and now serves primarily as a reliever. Last year, Maday notched a cumulative 4.17 ERA in 49 2/3 innings, with 7.1 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
- The Pirates signed first baseman Miles Durham and catcher Francisco Diaz to minor league deals. At age thirty, Durham has spent his entire career in the Pittsburgh organization, other than a brief Independent League stint, and apparently served as a player-coach last season. Dia, 23, has all the markings of a light-hitting backstop (two career home runs in 1,115 plate appearances), though he has reached base at a productive clip in the low minors.
- Longtime Yankees farmhand Walter Ibarra has agreed to play short in the Cubs organization on a minor league pact. The 26-year-old reached Triple-A for the first time last year. Known for his defense, Ibarra failed to himpress with a cumulative .276/.308/.367 slash across 212 Double-A and Triple-A plate appearances in 2013.
- And the Nationals have reached agreement with a player by the name of Josh Johnson -- not the starting pitcher, but the middle infielder and third baseman who has been in the Nats' system since 2010. Last year, playing at both of the two highest minor league levels, the 27-year-old Johnson put up an impressive .293/.390/.458 line in 300 trips to the plate. He was especially impressive in his short time at Syracuse, where he had a .924 OPS and was a perfect six-for-six in stolen bases in just 111 plate appearances. Washington also added catcher Sean McCauley to the fold on a minor league pact. The 24-year-old was brought back to professional baseball by the Nats last year in a coaching capacity after losing his career to injury.
- The Rangers have signed righty Zach Russell away from the Cards' system. The 24-year-old reliever topped out with a brief Double-A stint last year, but struggled there.
The Rangers and Dodgers discussed trades during the GM Meetings, looking to fill the other team's respective needs in the outfield and infield, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The Dodgers had interest in shortstop Elvis Andrus while the Rangers had interest in Matt Kemp, though they were concerned about the $128MM owed to Kemp through 2019 and his recent injury problems. Talks between the two sides didn't go anywhere, Rosenthal said.
Here's some more news from the Lone Star State...
- Rosenthal expects the Rangers to be "linked to virtually every power bat in free agency and trades" (Twitter link). This includes such names as Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Mike Napoli.
- Speaking of Napoli, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that some executives think the Rangers will be the Red Sox biggest rivals for the first baseman this offseason. Scouts were impressed by how well Napoli handled first base and Texas is known to be looking for first base help. Napoli has drawn interest from several teams and while there's mutual interest in a return to Boston, the Sox have reportedly only made him a one-year offer.
- Shin-Soo Choo could be on the decline and will cost too much for the Rangers to pursue in free agency, ESPN Dallas' Todd Wills opines. McCann is a better fit for Texas' needs, Wills argues.
- Ray Davis was unanimously approved as the Rangers' control person by MLB owners today, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett reports. Davis, the club's co-chairman, will represent the Rangers at ownership meetings and he told media (including Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) that GM Jon Daniels would report directly to either Davis or co-owner Bob Simpson.
- From earlier today, the Rangers avoided arbitration with Adam Rosales by signing him to a one-year, $750K contract.
Here are the latest minor transactions from around the majors, with the latest moves at the top of the page...
- The White Sox have signed corner infielder Alex Liddi to a minor league contract, Mario Salvini of La Gazzetta dello Sport reports (confirmed by FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi). The Italian-born Liddi was designated for assignment by the Orioles in September and he was outrighted off the team's 40-man roster. Liddi has a .636 OPS in 188 Major League PA with the Mariners since 2011 and he has posted a .272/.337/.459 slash line in 3734 career PA in the minors.
- The Twins have signed catcher Eric Fryer to a split contract, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. If Fryer is in the Major Leagues next season, the 28-year-old backstop will earn $515K. Fryer appeared in six games with Minnesota last season and he has 50 career PA accumulated with the Twins and Pirates from 2011-13.
- The Rangers have signed outfielder Brad Snyder to a minor league contract with an invite to the big league Spring Training camp, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports (Twitter link). Snyder was drafted 18th overall by the Indians in 2003 and was ranked 71st on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list prior to the 2006 season, yet despite some big minor league numbers, Snyder only has 37 Major League PA to his name (with the Cubs in 2010-11). Snyder hit .311/.370/.494 with 12 homers in 458 PA with the Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate in 2013, and he has a career .850 OPS over 4773 minor league PA.
- Also from Andro, the Rangers officially signed southpaw Aaron Poreda today. The two sides agreed to a contract three weeks ago.
The Rangers have avoided arbitration with infielder Adam Rosales by agreeing to a one-year, $750K contract, according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com (on Twitter). Rosales is represented by agent Steve Hilliard of Octagon.
The 30-year-old Rosales bounced back and forth between the Rangers and A's an unthinkable amount of times. Rosales was designated for assignment by Oakland on July 31, claimed by Texas on Aug. 2, designated for assignment by the Rangers on Aug. 5, claimed by the A's on Aug. 8, designated by Oakland again on Aug. 10 and finally claimed for the last time by the Rangers on Aug. 12.
In 166 plate appearances between Oakland and Texas this season, Rosales batted .190/.259/.327. He appeared at second base, third base, shortstop and left field, and he also posseses more then 200 career innings at first base. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected a salary of $900K from Rosales, who earned $700K in 2013.