The majority of MLB teams have contacted the Rangers about reliever Jose Leclerc’s availability, Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram reports. Vast interest in Leclerc is hardly surprising, considering the soon-to-be 25-year-old right-hander was spectacular in 2018 and won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after next season. Texas isn’t necessarily looking to deal Leclerc or other appealing major leaguers such as left-hander Mike Minor and outfielder Nomar Mazara, Wilson notes, but with the Rangers in a rebuild, any of them could end up on the move if a team offers the right package of prospects.
And now a few updates from the AL Central…
- Although the White Sox have been connected to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the top free agents on the board, don’t expect any haphazard, short-term spending from the team if it loses out on elite FAs. General manager Rick Hahn said this week (via James Fegan of The Athletic; subscription required) that Chicago’s not going to “scurry around and look for short-term fixes to get modest improvements” this offseason. Meanwhile, the White Sox seem unlikely to sell low on first baseman Jose Abreu as he enters a contract year, Fegan suggests. Abreu’s aging (32 in January), projected to make $16MM in 2019 and coming off a mediocre season, but Hahn lauded the respected slugger’s on- and off-field contributions and added, “Although he is going into the last year of his contract, that does by no means preclude him from being a part of our future.”
- Having already addressed two needs this offseason with the additions of first baseman C.J. Cron and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, the Twins’ heavy lifting may already be done in advance of the Winter Meetings, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune observes. The club will look to bolster its bullpen, Neal relays, though it’s satisfied with most of its starting rotation and will only pick up a full-time designated hitter (e.g., Nelson Cruz) if the price is palatable. The Twins are content to use multiple DHs next year, per Neal, and they wouldn’t be able to do that with Cruz in the fold.
- The Royals expect to be “active” in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, according to general manager Dayton Moore (via Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com). Kansas City, which is set to pick second in the draft, is only a year removed from striking gold on a Rule 5 selection. During the 2017 edition, the Royals acquired right-hander Brad Keller, whom the Reds chose fifth overall. The 23-year-old ended up turning in a surprisingly strong season in KC, where he pitched to a 3.08 ERA/3.55 FIP with 2.5 fWAR in 140 1/3 innings.