Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre spoke about his future Saturday, telling Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News and other reporters that he’s unsure if he’ll return in 2019. But if Beltre does come back for what would be his age-40 season, the impending free agent only wants to play for the Rangers. “If I’m going to play next year, I want it to be here,” Beltre said. “Right now, that’s a big if. But, if I play, I think I owe it to these fans. And I want to retire as a Ranger.” The Rangers seem open to welcoming back Beltre if he continues playing, as general manager Jon Daniels said that “having him finish his career here would be an honor.” In the meantime, it’s possible Beltre will finish this season on a playoff contender if Daniels trades him. However, given that Beltre has 10-and-5 rights, he could stand in the way of a deal.
- Angels star Shohei Ohtani took part in a simulated game consisting of 10 at-bats on Saturday, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. “It all went well. It’s definitely a positive step for him,” said manager Mike Scioscia, leading Fletcher to posit that Ohtani could be within a week of returning if he doesn’t suffer any setbacks. Damage in Ohtani’s ulnar collateral ligament has kept the two-way standout off the field since early June, and he might not pitch again this season as a result. It appears the 23-year-old rookie will factor into the Angels’ offense again in 2018, though, and that would be a boon for the club. Before going on the DL on June 8, Ohtani slashed an excellent .289/.372/.535 with six home runs in 129 plate appearances.
- As the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches, staying under the $197MM competitive-balance tax figure is “a target, not a mandate” for the Giants, according to general manager Bobby Evans (via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle). At the moment, the Giants are under the threshold, per Evans. If they stay under it through the end of the season, the Giants would lower their tax rate from 50 percent to 20 percent in time for the offseason, when rumored target Bryce Harper is scheduled to be among the majors’ available free agents. Indeed, “there are a lot of incentives to stay below it,” Evans added. But it could be difficult, Shea explains, especially if the Giants remain in playoff contention around the deadline. They entered Saturday at 43-40, putting them just 1 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot.
- Dodgers rookie righty Walker Buehler had worked exclusively as a starter this year until Thursday, when he came out of the bullpen in his return from the disabled list. That outing – Buehler’s first with the Dodgers since June 8 – didn’t go well, and after yielding five earned runs over an inning against the Cubs, LA optioned him to the Single-A level on Friday. Now, Buehler will have to make a minimum of two minor league rehab starts before returning to the Dodgers’ rotation, manager Dave Roberts told reporters, including Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers’ plan was for Buehler to work three innings Thursday in lieu of a rehab assignment, but that blew up in their faces.