Texas Rangers Rumors
Perhaps the most intriguing "what if?" scenario in recent baseball history is what if Alex Rodriguez has joined the Red Sox (rather than the Yankees) prior to the 2004 season. The Deal, the latest instalment of ESPN's "30 For 30 Shorts" series, explores the near-trade that would've sent Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez and Brandon McCarthy from the Rangers to the Red Sox in exchange for Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra and Jon Lester. A-Rod even agreed to restructure his contract and take less money to make the deal work, though this was what eventually scuttled the trade, as the MLBPA wouldn't allow the agreement due to the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. Only a few weeks later, Texas instead traded Rodriguez to the Yankees and the rest is history.
Here's the latest in a very newsworthy day from around the AL East...
- Derek Jeter's impending retirement underscores the Yankees' lack of shortstop depth, MLB.com's Bryan Hoch writes, as it seems that Jeter's eventual replacement isn't currently on New York's roster. The Yankees could sign one of the quality shortstops available in next winter's free agent class, Hoch notes, or Stephen Drew exists as a current option that could be signed to play second or third for a year and then take over at short in 2015.
- Scott Boras, Drew's agent, has recently been looking to get his client an opt-out clause after the first year of a new deal. While some see Boras' demands as a longshot, Fangraphs' Mike Petriello notes that the opt-out could fit into the Yankees' plans, making Drew an even more obvious upgrade for the club's infield.
- The Red Sox haven't offered Drew a contract for longer than one year, John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports (via Twitter). Drew would like at least a one-year contract and an option, a source tells Tomase.
- The Orioles continue to be in contact with Kendrys Morales' representatives and are still interested in the free agent slugger, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
- It seems as if the Orioles prefer Ervin Santana to Ubaldo Jimenez, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes, as he has heard more tying the O's to the former free agent hurler than he has the latter. "I know the Orioles have talked to his people, but I didn’t get a sense that he was atop their list," Connolly says. There were whispers earlier this week that the O's were upping their pursuit of Santana or Jimenez. In the same piece, Connolly answers a number of Orioles-related questions from fans on Twitter.
FRIDAY: The Rangers and Hanson are making progress on a deal, tweets Morosi.
THURSDAY: The Rangers are engaged in talks with free agent starter Tommy Hanson, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Morosi reported earlier today that Hanson had received multiple offers.
Hanson, 27, was non-tendered by the Angels just one year after being acquired from the Braves in exchange for Jordan Walden. The 6'6" righty has struggled over the last two years, posting a combined 4.76 ERA in 247 2/3 innings. But Hanson was quite productive over 2009-11, posting a 3.28 ERA in 460 1/3 innings. With just four years and 97 days of service time, any club signing Hanson would control him for at least one more season through arbitration.
Here's the latest out of Arlington...
- The Rangers officially announced their new stadium naming rights deal with Globe Life And Accident Insurance Company today, as Rangers Ballpark will now be known as Globe Life Park In Arlington. Financial terms of the deal weren't announced, though it is a 10-year agreement the between the club and Globe Life.
- Some fans may balk at the idea of a corporate name on the stadium, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett writes, but the financial benefits of sponsorship can't be ignored. Durrett also notes that the naming rights deal is the latest example of how the Rangers have one of baseball's "most financially stable teams."
- Appearing on a podcast with WEEI's Rob Bradford (partial transcript provided by WEEI.com's Arjuna Ramgopal), Daniel Bard said that the Rangers showed interest in his services after the reliever's thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last month. Before Bard underwent the procedure, he said that he had drawn interest from a few teams, including the Cubs. Texas, however, "came in strong and made me feel really welcome and wanted. It just felt like a good fit," Bard said.
- Fans and pundits have become accustomed to seeing salaries in terms of how they fit a club's payroll, but even modest bonuses by MLB standards are life-changing amounts of money --- especially for young players from tough backgrounds in the Dominican Republic, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. Wilson looks at how the Rangers' signings of such prospects as Jairo Beras and Michael De Leon helped those players bring their families out of poverty, while other prospects (Ronald Guzman and Nomar Mazara) came from middle-class backgrounds.
WEDNESDAY, February 5th: Roe has rejected an outright assignment and elected free agency, the club announced.
FRIDAY: Roe has cleared waivers and has eight days to decide whether to elect free agency or head to camp with the Rangers as a non-roster invite, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweeted last night that Roe was likely to elect free agency if he cleared waivers.
WEDNESDAY, January 29th: The Rangers have claimed southpaw Pedro Figueroa off of waivers from the Rays, the club announced via press release. Righty Chaz Roe was designated for assignment to clear roster space.
Figueroa, 28, had been in DFA limbo since being designated by the Rays to make room for the Grant Balfour signing. Obviously, Tampa ultimately placed him on release waivers -- the second time Figueroa has changed hands by this method in the last month. Spending most of his time at Triple-A last year with Oakland, Figueroa threw to a 4.10 ERA and 7.4 K/9 against 5.0 BB/9 in 59 1/3 innings.
Roe, a 27-year-old reliever, came to Texas via waiver claim in early November. Pitching last year for the Diamondbacks, Roe threw 22 1/3 innings of 4.03 ERA ball, with 9.7 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9. Roe was originally the 32nd overall choice in the 2005 draft.
Southpaw Brian Burres will take the hill this Thursday to audition for interested clubs, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com reported yesterday (via Twitter). The 32-year-old spent parts of six seasons in the bigs, with about half of his appearances coming as a starter, but has not seen MLB action since 2011. After throwing for the Taiwanese Lamigo Monkeys last year, Burres will look to effect a comeback.
Here are a few business notes from around the game:
- The MLB and MLBPA are working through the annual review of the Joint Drug Agreement (JDA), tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Among other things, the sides are discussing increasing the penalties provided under the program. As I argued in November, creating a more effective set of incentives requires not an enhancement of the poorly functioning existing penalties, but a whole new approach altogether.
- Matt Holliday spoke in favor of changes to the qualifying offer system in an appearance today on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link). Though he says that compensation to a player's former club is not problematic, requiring signing teams to give up a pick is "not fair" to players who turned down a QO. Holliday explains that teams are valuing draft picks higher as more and more players reach the bigs quickly, and argues that the system "needs to be amended as soon as possible."
- Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca explains the effects of the QO system, arguing that its compensatory purposes have turned into a punishment to free agents. Indeed, upper middle class free agents like Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales, and Nelson Cruz have found a market that consists of an unattractive set of potential buyers: teams that have no interest in them regardless; teams that might otherwise want them but will not give up a pick; teams that only want them at a cheap price, because they do not want to sacrifice a pick; and teams that strongly want them but can wait for prices to drop.
- International spending is on the rise despite the new bonus pool system, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler. In 2013, the total outlay jumped to $97MM from $84MM the year prior, though Badler says that levels could remain flat for 2014.
- The Rangers will hold a press conference tomorrow morning to announce a new naming rights deal for Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the team announced today. Details of the sponsorship agreement are not known, but clearly the park will see some modification to its current name.
- A federal judge has issued an order placing the parent company of Comcast SportsNet Houston under federal bankruptcy protection, David Barron of the Houston Chronicle reports. The Astros had sought dismissal of the case. With the order, the team's TV network will continue to operate while the business partners seek to agree upon a reorganization plan and deliver the entity out of bankruptcy.
TUESDAY, 5:38pm: The Cubs joined the Rangers in watching Yoon throw 30 pitches today, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (via Twitter). He will hold similar, short bullpen sessions for other clubs in the next few days, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Yoon's health remains the major issue for clubs considering Yoon's request for multiple years, Sullivan adds. The South Korean is not close to signing, says Sullivan, contrary to statements made yesterday by agent Scott Boras.
MONDAY, 11:30pm: The Rangers will watch Yoon throw a bullpen session on Tuesday in Arizona, reports Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO, via Twitter).
7:30pm: The Orioles are one of several clubs to have made an offer to Yoon, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
(In case you missed the intervening update, Yoon's agent, Scott Boras, said that six or seven teams were still interested in the South Korean.)
11:41am: As many as five teams are still showing interest in Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon, according to Sang-Soo Kwon of Korean news outlet JoongAng Daily (hat tip: MyKBO.net's Dan Kurtz). According to Kwon, the Orioles are the front-runners to sign Yoon at this point, but the Rangers, Cubs, Twins and Giants have interest as well. The Orioles and Giants reportedly attended a workout held by Yoon at the UC-Irvine campus over the weekend.
The Rangers' interest is a new wrinkle in the Yoon saga, but Kwon cites an official from the Boras Coporation (which represents Yoon) in saying that Texas has scouted Yoon for more than two years. Interest on the Rangers' side picked up after Derek Holland's injury, the official said.
Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (on Twitter) that Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette wouldn't confirm the team's interest in Yoon when asked on Saturday, but he also didn't deny any of the reports. The Orioles have added a pair of notable Asian players in recent years, inking Tsuyoshi Wada and Wei-Yin Chen to multi-year deals. Kwon also points out Duquette's history of Korean additions from his days as GM of the Red Sox; Boston inked lefty Sang-Hoon Lee, right-hander Sun-woo Kim, right-hander Seung-Joon Song, and infielder Tae-in Chae.
Yoon, 27, was considered Korea's second-best starting pitcher behind Hyun-jin Ryu following the 2012 season. A shoulder injury in 2013 prompted a move the the closer's role with the Kia TIgers last season, but from 2011-12 Yoon posted a 2.77 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 325 1/3 innings as a starter. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted in Yoon's free agent profile, his fastball sits in the 91 to 93 mph range, and he won the KBO's MVP Award in 2011 for his outstanding work in the Kia Tigers' rotation.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Here are today's minor moves and outright assignments from around the league...
- The Rangers announced that they've signed right-hander Armando Galarraga to a minor league deal. Galarraga will report to minor league camp but did not receive an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 32-year-old righty is most famous for missing a perfect game by one out after a blown call at first base back in 2010. He split last season between the Triple-A affiliates for Colorado and Cincinnati, posting a 3.64 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 121 innings of work.
- The Rangers also announced a minor league deal with Taiwanese outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin, but they will be converting the 25-year-old to a pitcher. The former Red Sox prospect has a career .253/.349/.339 batting line in the minors.
- Red Sox right-hander Brayan Villarreal has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, the team announced. The hard-throwing 26-year-old was designated for assignment last week in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Grady Sizemore. Villarreal was acquired from the Tigers as part of the three-team Jake Peavy trade this past summer and walked the only batter he faced in a Red Sox uniform. He allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings for Boston's Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket and has been invited to Major League Spring Training.
- As can be seen in MLBTR's DFA Tracker, Chaz Roe (Rangers), Everett Teaford (Royals) and Emilio Bonifacio (Royals) are still in DFA limbo.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that back at the Winter Meetings, the Angels offered Matt Garza a four-year contract similar to the deal he eventually he inked with the Brewers last week. However, owner Arte Moreno typically wants a quick response to free agent offers, so the Angels didn't leave the offer on the table for long (Twitter links). The Halos have added Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs this offseason and inked a returning Mark Mulder to a minor league deal. Here's more from the West divisions.
- Rangers southpaw Joe Ortiz will miss three months of the season after he was hit by a motorcycle in Venezuela, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Ortiz, who was a pedestrian at the time of the frightening accident, has a broken bone in his left foot.
- The Astros announced that top prospect and 2013 No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel has had an emergency appendectomy. General manager Jeff Luhnow said in a press release that Appel isn't expected to miss much time: "He will report to camp on time. Once he arrives in Spring Training, we’ll see where he is at health-wise and take it from there. We anticipate that he will either be ready to work out at the start of camp or very close to ready." The Astros also announced that waiver claim Raul Valdes will be out four to six weeks after undergoing knee surgery.
- Former Dodgers starter Chris Capuano figures to be a bargain this offseason, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan writes. ESPN's Buster Olney recently noted (on Twitter) that Capuano is now only asking for a one-year contract. Sullivan suggests that could make him a better buy than someone like Bronson Arroyo, even though Arroyo is perceived as being more durable. In October, the Dodgers paid Capuano a $1MM buyout rather than picking up an $8MM option, suggesting that they did not believe he was worth $7MM to them. The Steamer projection system, however, projects that Capuano will be approximately as valuable as Arroyo, Tim Hudson or Phil Hughes.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
The Rangers have reached an agreement with right-hander Daniel Bard, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported earlier today that the two sides were nearing agreement on a minor league contract (also via Twitter). Bard is a client of Relativity Baseball.
The 28-year-old Bard was once a dominant setup man for the Red Sox, but following an outstanding run from 2009-11, Boston tried to move him back to the rotation, which triggered a series of problems for Bard. For one, he seemingly lost all semblance of control, as he's walked 45 batters over his past 60 1/3 Major League innings. He hasn't fared any better in the minors, as he's issued 56 walks in his past 47 1/3 minor league frames.
Bard has also been troubled by injuries. He underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery earlier this month, according to Wilson. He also missed time at Triple-A with a strained abdomen last season. Bard will look to fight his way into a bullpen that is headlined by Neftali Feliz, Tanner Scheppers, Joakim Soria, Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts.
Just yesterday, the reports indicated that the Mariners were "back in business" in their pursuits of Nelson Cruz and Fernando Rodney, and their pursuit of Cruz appears to be picking up. MLB Network Radio's Jim Bowden said on the air today that the Mariners could make an offer to Cruz as early as today (Twitter link from MLBN Radio).
Bowden also tweeted earlier today (prior to the above report) that the market for Cruz currently consists of the Mariners, Orioles and Rangers, with Texas only serving as a fallback option for Cruz should his market completely crash. Seattle is "clearly the best fit" for Cruz in Bowden's mind, he added.
Reports on the Mariners' ability to spend (or lack thereof) have gone back and forth since the team's blockbuster signing of Robinson Cano earlier this offseason. GM Jack Zduriencik quickly followed that mega-deal up by signing Corey Hart and swinging a trade for Logan Morrison, but since that time all has been quiet for the Mariners in terms of significant additions. Cruz is the most powerful bat left on the market, which would make him a welcome addition to a Mariners lineup that is in need of some thump even after the Cano deal.
Cruz would add another corner/DH bat to a mix that already includes Hart, Morrison and Justin Smoak, and his questionable defensive reputation would be magnified by the fact that other corner outfield options (such as Hart and Morrison) aren't considered strong defenders either. Mariners right fielders combined to bat just .239/.290/.400 in 2013, however, so Cruz's bat would be a clear upgrade.
As for the Orioles, they lack an obvious answer in left field and could also upgrade at designated hitter, though they recently signed Delmon Young to a minor league deal and could be looking at him as a potential platoon partner for David Lough in left field. From an offensive standpoint, however, Cruz would likely be an upgrade over that platoon or Baltimore's in-house candidates at designated hitter.