The Rangers don’t appear to have anyone firmly in place as the their closer, though the recently-signed Tim Lincecum is one candidate to win the job. There’s at least a possibility that they could fill the position externally, as Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports in his latest “Inside Baseball” column that the team has considered bringing Greg Holland into the fold. We haven’t heard much other chatter about interest in Holland recently. The outgoing Rockies closer is MLBTR’s third-best free agent remaining, and the odds of him surpassing the offer he reportedly received from the Rockies earlier this winter (something in the three-year, $51MM range) aren’t good. This is particularly true considering the fate of the two Scott Boras clients to sign contracts most recently; Mike Moustakas recently received just a one-year deal at a $6.5MM guarantee from the Royals, while Carlos Gonzalez is said to be finalizing a one-year, $8MM contract with the Rockies.
Other recent items out of the AL West…
- Speaking of the Rangers’ bullpen, the team hasn’t yet decided whether to utilize former closer Matt Bush as a starter or reliever this season, according to Evan Grant of SportsDay. By his own admission, Bush had trouble finding consistency in his most recent spring training outing, walking two and allowing a homer on 43 pitches. In 52 1/3 innings with the Rangers last season, Bush pitched to a 3.78 ERA and a 4.57 xFIP. He saved ten games during his brief stint as the club’s closer, but he blew another five save opportunities that came his way.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports provides feedback from some scouts on the bat of Shohei Ohtani, the Angels’ most high-profile offseason acquisition. These eight MLB scouts (seven of whom have seen Ohtani this spring) aren’t high on the Japanese phenom’s chances to produce offensively at the major league level. According to Passan, these scouts believe that “[p]itchers are going to punish him with inside fastballs, his swing contains flaws in balance and mechanics, and he needs at least 500 plate appearances of seasoning in the minor leagues to give him a chance at becoming a productive major league hitter.” One in particular noted that Ohtani did not hit from a balanced base, adding that he needed to “cheat” on inside fastballs, which would theoretically leave him susceptible to other pitches. Of course, it should be noted that Ohtani’s never attempted to hit major league pitching before this spring; one would think he deserves a reasonable adjustment period before jumping to any conclusions about his hitting ability.
- On the flip side of the coin, Joel Sherman of the New York Post details some concerns about Ohtani’s pitching. Sherman notes that he lacked high-end velocity in his most recent spring training start, mostly throwing between 91-94 MPH with some command issues. Though he generated 17 swings and misses (an extremely impressive number in just a few innings), he also uncorked a triad of wild pitches. Sherman wonders whether this can simply be chalked up to growing pains, or if it’s part of a more serious issue. The obvious caveat to this is that minute spring training sample sizes aren’t entirely indicative of cause for panic.
- Mariners reliever Tony Zych is undergoing medical tests for what’s being described as shoulder discomfort, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com. Though Seattle’s setup man improved his ERA to an impressive 2.66 in 40 2/3 innings last season, he experienced a steep dropoff in his strikeout rate, down to 7.75 batters per nine innings from a 12.66 career mark prior to 2017. He didn’t make any appearances past August 19th due to arm issues.