The Rangers activated center fielder Delino DeShields from the DL prior to their game Sunday and sent fellow center fielder Carlos Tocci to the DL with a bruised left hip. This represents a quick return for DeShields, who suffered a broken left hamate bone March 31 and was expected to miss four to six weeks. Neither Tocci, a Rule 5 pick, nor Drew Robinson effectively grabbed the reins in center during DeShields’ absence. Rangers center fielders have hit a league-worst .148/.242/.193 in 100 trips to the plate, 92 of which have come from Robinson and Tocci.
The Rangers have released right-hander Steve Delabar from his minor-league contract, per a club announcement. In a corresponding move, the team’s top affiliate has added recently signed righty Yovani Gallardo to its active roster.
Delabar, 34, has not pitched much in recent seasons. He didn’t last long with the Reds in 2016 and only turned in a short stint later that season with Japan’s Hiroshima Carp. Then, he sat out all of 2017 following a PED suspension.
The Rangers gave Delabar another shot in hopes that he might boost the bullpen depth, but obviously were not that optimistic. He had issued five walks in his 5 2/3 innings thus far at Round Rock after handing out ten free passes in nine spring frames.
APRIL 19: Texas has formally announced the signing.
MARCH 6: The Rangers have agreed to terms with Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. The touted 21-year-old prospect, who became eligible to sign today, will receive a $2.8MM signing bonus, which will fully deplete the remainder of Texas’ 2017-18 international bonus pool.
Due to his age and lack of professional experience, Martinez was not eligible to sign as a professional. He’ll receive a minor league contract in addition to that $2.8MM bonus and join the Rangers as one of the game’s more touted prospects. Badler notes that Martinez will slot in at No. 60 overall on BA’s updated Top 100 prospect list. That places him two spots behind countryman Luis Robert, who in the final season of the 2012-16 collective bargaining agreement signed with the White Sox for a reported $26MM bonus that came with a 100 percent luxury tax under the previous international signing rules.
The discrepancy between the cost of acquisition for two somewhat comparable prospects is fairly staggering and also underscores the manner in which the latest CBA has restricted clubs from spending on amateur talent. Under the previous agreement, teams could make the tactical decision to exceed their league-allotted bonus pools by more than 15 percent in exchange for a two-year ban from signing international amateurs for anything more than $300K apiece. Many teams, including the Cubs, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, Reds, Dodgers and Padres, among others, were willing to make that trade-off in exchange for signing splurges that completely shattered their pools but also provided an immediate talent infusion to their respective prospect pipelines.
Now, the league and union have agreed to a hard cap on international amateurs, and no club is allotted more than $5.75MM at the onset of a given international signing period. While teams can trade for up to an additional 75 percent of their initial pool allotment, the strategy of aggressive spending on the international front is not one that teams can employ anymore — at least not with the previously acceptable levels of vigor. The now-finite level of resources teams can utilize on the international market only makes those funds more coveted — particularly among rebuilding/retooling clubs.
Digression aside, the Rangers will add an athletic young center fielder to their ranks when the deal is finalized. Martinez will become the team’s third-ranked prospect, Badler notes, trailing only Willie Calhoun and Leody Taveras. The left-handed-hitting, left-handed-throwing Martinez hit .333/.469/.498 with six homers, 11 doubles, two triples and 24 steals (in 29 attempts) during his most recent professional effort in Cuba. More impressively, he drew 52 walks that season against just 30 strikeouts in 264 plate appearances. He also appeared in 57 games and tallied 255 plate appearances in the 2017 Can-Am Association — the same independent league that was previously home to big leaguers Chris Colabello, Andrew Albers, Craig Breslow, Steve Delabar and Tim Adleman, among others — where he hit .297/.345/.449 with seven homers and 20 steals.
Badler notes in today’s piece that Martinez’s present level of development should allow him to head to Class-A Advanced or Double-A. He’s also expanded on the talented young outfielder in a pair of prior columns — both of which those looking to learn more about Martinez will want to check out.
- Rangers reliever Tony Barnette has been placed on the 10-day DL with what the team is calling right shoulder inflammation. His open roster spot will go to outfielder Ryan Rua, who was just optioned down but can come back before the usual ten-day minimum stay since he’s replacing an injured player. Barnette has endured a few minor maladies early in the year and has only appeared in two games thus far.
- Jurickson Profar exited Monday night’s game after a rough landing upon being upended by a sliding Mallex Smith at second base and is currently in MLB’s concussion protocol, as Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes. Even a short-term absence for Profar would further devastate the Rangers’ middle infield depth, as both Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus are currently on the shelf. As Fraley points out, Eliezer Alvarez is the only middle infielder in the minors that’s on Texas’ 40-man roster, but he’s primarily a second baseman. Hanser Alberto could see his contract selected if Profar needs to go on the disabled list, though that’d require a corresponding 40-man move. Andrus is the only player who presently stands out as a potential 60-day DL candidate to make that move, but the initial prognosis on him called for a recovery of six to eight weeks. If the Rangers are optimistic that he can return on the shorter end of that window, they won’t want to lock him into a 60-day absence, creating the possibility that they’ll need to designate someone for assignment.
The Rangers have acquired backstop Tony Sanchez from the Reds, both teams announced. Cash or a player to be named later will head back in return.
Once a highly-regarded prospect with the Pirates, the 29-year-old Sanchez has settled in as an upper-level depth piece. He’ll head to the Rangers’ top affiliate to take the place of Brett Nicholas, who was recently dealt to the Padres.
Sanchez has just 156 total plate appearances at the MLB level in four seasons of action, over which he carries a .257/.301/.375 batting line. He spent the bulk of 2017 at the Triple-A level with the Angels organization, where he posted a .272/.355/.374 slash with four long balls in 284 trips to the plate.
The Rangers have claimed infielder/outfielder Renato Nunez from the Athletics and transferred right-hander Tim Lincecum from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day DL, Texas executive vice president of communications John Blake announced.
Given that he’s out of options, the 24-year-old Nunez entered spring training in a do-or-die position, but he wasn’t able to seriously vie for a roster spot after suffering a left hamstring strain early in camp. It wouldn’t have helped his cause, anyway, that the Athletics are set at his two main positions with first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman.
Nunez also has some major league experience at second base and in the outfield, though he has only collected 38 plate appearances in MLB. The majority of his time has been spent at the Triple-A level, where he has batted .241/.301/.461 in 1,110 PAs. Nunez seems unlikely to garner much playing time with his new team, which has Joey Gallo at first and Adrian Beltre at third, though second baseman Rougned Odor is on the disabled list.
Meanwhile, Texas’ pitching staff will continue to go without Lincecum, who has been dealing with blister issues since March. The Giants icon and two-time Cy Young winner, who signed a $1MM deal with the Rangers just over a month ago, could be a bullpen piece for Texas when he’s ready to take the mound again. He last pitched in the majors on Aug. 5, 2016, as a member of the Angels.
- Rangers center fielder Delino DeShields could come back earlier than expected from the broken left hamate bone he suffered March 31, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News relays. DeShields was slated to miss four to six weeks at the time of the injury, but he’s aiming for an April 23 return – which would be three weeks. The Rangers’ reserve options, Drew Robinson and Carlos Tocci, haven’t exactly stepped up during DeShields’ absence. Robinson has hit a meek .167/.255/.262 in 47 plate appearances, while Tocci has collected only one hit in 10 trips to the plate.
- The Rangers signed infielder Nick Noonan to a minor league deal, according to team executive VP of communication John Blake (Twitter link). Noonan has been assigned to Triple-A Round Rock. Noonan was selected 32nd overall in the 2007 draft by the Giants and has appeared in 83 Major League games (with San Francisco and San Diego) as he begins his 12th pro season. The 28-year-old has a .267/.319/.373 slash line over 4497 minor league PA, plus extensive playing time as a second baseman, third baseman, and shortstop, so he’ll provide some extra depth for a Texas club that has lost Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor to the disabled list.
- Shortstop Luisangel Acuna, the younger brother of star Braves prospect Ronald Acuna, will be a sought-after name in the next July 2 international signing period, Heyman writes in a separate piece. The Rangers are one of multiple teams interested in the younger Acuna, who could receive a bonus as high as $500K. This estimated price tag will keep the Braves out of the running, as they are limited to spending no more than $300K on any single international prospect for the next July 2 period. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes that some scouts feel Acuna will eventually have to move to second base, and he “has shown some power and has the potential to be an average-or-better hitter with proper instruction, but he’ll have to grow” beyond his current 5’9″, 160-pound frame.