Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and the agent for right-hander Yu Darvish have engaged in a couple of contract extension-related conversations – but not serious ones – Daniels told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Extension talks tend to heat up around spring training, which was the case last year between the Rangers and cornerstone third baseman Adrian Beltre. The two sides ultimately hammered out a deal in mid-April, thus preventing Beltre from testing the open market this winter. Darvish will become a free agent next offseason if he and Texas don’t reach an extension, but it seems the 30-year-old wants to remain with the organization. “I am really grateful to the Texas Rangers for giving me that contract,” Darvish said of the six-year, $56MM pact he signed to leave his native Japan in 2012. “They have taken care of me really well.”
Now for the latest on the majors’ Florida-based teams:
- The Marlins have reportedly discussed signing either Chris Carter or Mark Reynolds – two power-hitting first basemen who remain without contracts. However, picking up a big bat isn’t a priority, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, who notes that the Marlins are likely at their payroll limit. As a result, the Fish could roll with a four-man bench consisting of A.J. Ellis, Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Dietrich and Miguel Rojas and an eight-man bullpen to begin 2017. One reason the Marlins are open to taking that route is because they’re aiming to give lefty-swinging first baseman Justin Bour more opportunities against southpaw pitchers. Bour has slashed a miserable .223/.273/.291 versus lefties in his career, but those struggles have come over a small sample size (110 plate appearances). “We haven’t really actively tried to finish off anything in terms of a right-handed bat, knowing that we’re going to give Bour every opportunity to be that everyday guy and face lefties and righties — and occasionally getting (catcher) J.T. Realmuto [time] over at first,” stated team president Michael Hill, who added that signing a righty hitter is “not at the forefront of things for us. Our goal was to create as much pitching depth and quality as we could.”
- The Rays are continuing to monitor the open market for bench and bullpen pieces, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. With that in mind, the club could look for a “proven right-handed hitter,” suggests Topkin, who rules out Mike Napoli but lists the aforementioned duo of Carter and Reynolds as possibilities. While the Rays have been involved in the sweepstakes for free agent reliever Greg Holland, it’s “unlikely” they’ll land him, per Topkin.
- Since hiring Jason Pare as their senior director of analytics a year ago, the Marlins have worked to beef up the department – which is now roughly league average in size – details Tim Healey of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Hill and manager Don Mattingly, two organizational bigwigs, are among those who have embraced the 31-year-old Pare’s role. “[Hill] is very good about giving everybody a seat at the table,” Pare told Healey. “That’s the expression that he uses. They come to me with a lot questions, and I’m encouraged to give my opinion proactively as well.” Pare, for instance, was instrumental in Miami’s decision to shift Christian Yelich from left field to center, which had Mattingly’s support after he observed that Yelich fared better up the middle than Marcell Ozuna did in 2016. “He gives us another dimension of … trying to put the right people in the right spots and make sure metrically we are paying attention. We do want to be able to evaluate our guys, and that’s part of it,” Mattingly said of Pare.