The Rangers talked with Jarrod Dyson and Billy Hamilton before the two veteran outfielders respectively signed with the Pirates and Giants, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. The Rangers didn’t have any talks with Kevin Pillar prior to Pillar’s agreement with the Red Sox. Center field is still something of a question area for Texas heading into the 2020 season, as utilityman Danny Santana is slated to handle the position, but with Scott Heineman, Joey Gallo, and perhaps Nick Solak on hand to share in some of the center field duties.
Additional help may not be imminent, as GM Jon Daniels told Wilson and other reporters “there’s nothing that is front-burner right now that I’m expecting to come to a head this spring. There will be a lot of conversations, I’m sure.” This doesn’t close the door on a new acquisition, of course, even if that new player may be more of a part-timer than a star (such as Kris Bryant, who has also been widely linked to the Rangers on the rumor mill.) The versatile Santana is the answer in center field for the time being, though “we have to decide how we’re going to go about it,” Daniels said. “I think Danny comes in with the expectation he’ll get the bulk of the playing time out there, but we also like him in that versatile role. There’s a little bit of give there. We have to make a call.”
More from around the AL West…
- Taijuan Walker is back with the Mariners after signing a one-year deal with the club worth $2MM in guaranteed money, rejoining the team that originally drafted him in 2010 and, after four MLB seasons, dealt him to the Diamondbacks in the 2016-17 offseason. Looking back on his initial stint with the M’s, “I had a lot of stuff to learn,” Walker told the Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish and other media. “I don’t think I did very good job here of doing what I need to do become the best pitcher I could be. I definitely slacked off and just didn’t put the work in.” The trade inspired Walker to work harder in Arizona, plus he was further motivated by “good vets that kept on me — just having Zack Greinke over there, a bunch of guys who were really hungry and ready to work.” It could be said that Walker’s injury problems have also aided in the maturity process, as the right-hander has tossed only 14 innings totals over the 2018-19 seasons due to both Tommy John surgery and shoulder issues. The need to re-acclimate himself to pitching played a role in Walker’s decision to sign with Seattle, since “I’m comfortable here. I haven’t pitched in two years, so I wanted somewhere where I can come in and kind of take my time. I don’t have to rush.” Another positive factor was the Mariners’ hire of Kyle Torgerson as head athletic trainer, as Torgerson previously worked for the Diamondbacks and is already familiar with Walker. “I’m comfortable with him. He knows my body. He knows what I have to do to stay healthy,” Walker said.
- The arbitration hearing between Aledmys Diaz and the Astros is scheduled for February 17, The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan tweets. This is Diaz’s first of three trips through the arb process, and the utilityman submitted a $2.6MM figure while the team countered with $2MM. Acquired from the Blue Jays for Trent Thornton last winter, Diaz hit well (.271/.356/.467 with nine homers) in his first year in Houston but was limited to 247 plate appearances and 69 games, largely due to a hamstring injury that sidelined him for almost two months. Diaz is one of two Astros players who didn’t reach an agreement with the club prior to the filing deadline, though the Astros sidestepped a hearing with George Springer by agreeing to a one-year, $21MM deal with the star outfielder last month.
- The Athletics brought a catcher to their Major League spring camp, though it was non-roster invite and former Oakland Double-A backstop Collin Theroux rather than one of the well-known veterans the club reportedly has under consideration. “It probably looks like we go forward with the group we have right now,” manager Bob Melvin told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser and other reporters, with Theroux joining Austin Allen, Jonah Heim, Carlos Perez, Ronnie Freeman, and presumptive starter Sean Murphy at Spring Training. There isn’t much collective MLB experience in this group, which is why the A’s have looked into the likes of Russell Martin as a seasoned backup (and mentor) to Murphy, who the A’s see as their catcher of the future.