- In a Q&A with Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Rangers designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo addressed a number of topics, including Adrian Beltre’s retirement, the atmosphere under new skipper Chris Woodward and his own future in baseball. Choo, who is signed for another two seasons, empathized with Beltre’s desire to spend more time with his family but also voiced a desire to continue playing so long as he is physically able to do so. “Baseball, sports, is a short career,” said the veteran slugger. “If you’re healthy and can perform on the field, I definitely can play. At the same time, I have a family. My wife has been a single mom for eight months for 16 years.” Choo’s bat cratered in the second half last season, but he was slashing a robust .293/.405/.506 at the All-Star break. He’s owed $21MM in each of the next two seasons.
- The Rangers are considering the possibility of pursuing extensions with several young players, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. At this point, though, it’s not clear that the team has engaged any agents. Neither is it evident which players might be approached. Sullivan tabs Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, and Jose Leclerc as the likeliest candidates. That would indeed seem to be a plausible trio. All have reasonable cases for significant money. Mazara is already into his arbitration years. Gallo and Leclerc have one more campaign to go, but each promises to accumulate the kinds of counting stats (home runs and saves, respectively) that pay well in arbitration.
- Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun entered last year, his first full season with the organization, as Baseball America’s 36th-ranked prospect. Despite the hype, Calhoun fell flat at the Triple-A level and in the majors, leading GM Jon Daniels and then-manager Jeff Banister to tell him he needed to change his work ethic and lifestyle in the offseason, per Levi Weaver of The Athletic (subscription required). The meeting “humbled” Calhoun, who’s treating last season as a wake-up call and has since lost 24 pounds (the Rangers requested he drop 20). Calhoun admitted to Weaver he was “stubborn coming up with the Dodgers,” who traded him to the Rangers for Yu Darvish in 2017, as well as during his first year and a half in the Texas organization. Now in better physical and mental states, Calhoun is attempting to win a season-opening spot with the Rangers, but as Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram notes, he’ll have to beat out veteran pickup Hunter Pence.
The Rangers have signed outfielder Ben Revere to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. The deal comes with a $1MM salary if Revere makes the majors, per Jon Heyman of Fancred.
Revere, out of work since the Angels released him last August, is coming off a year spent solely at the Triple-A level. The 30-year-old took 166 trips to the plate with the Angels’ top affiliate and hit .277/.319/.406.
Before 2018, Revere – a first-round pick of the Twins in 2007 – saw major league action in seven straight and was successful at times. With the Twins, Phillies and Blue Jays from 2010-15, the lefty-hitting speedster posted four seasons of at least 1.5 fWAR and stole between 22 and 49 bases in five campaigns. At the same time, Revere batted a solid .295 with a .328 on-base percentage across 2,660 plate appearances, though a complete lack of power (four home runs, .054 ISO, .348 slugging percentage) tamped down his offensive impact.
After his decent early career run, Revere’s production fell below replacement level from 2016-17 with the Nationals and Angels, thus keeping him out of the majors last year. The center field-capable Revere could resurface in Texas in 2019, though the team already has six outfielders on its 40-man roster (Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Delino DeShields, Willie Calhoun, Carlos Tocci and the injured Scott Heineman), not to mention veteran minor league signings Hunter Pence and Danny Santana vying for spots in camp.
The Rangers signed catcher Adam Moore to a minor league deal and invited him to major league camp, per John Blake, the team’s Executive VP of Communications (via Twitter). Moore passed his physical this morning, making the deal official, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter). The Rangers now have 66 players in camp from whom they will eventually form their 25-man Opening Day roster.
Moore joins a relatively deep corps of prospective backstops vying for the backup job in Texas. Jeff Mathis has a loose hold on starter’s minutes as of now, with Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jett Bandy, Tony Sanchez and Jose Trevino also in the room. Kiner-Falefa presented a decent showing in 2018, batting .261/.325/.357 while splitting time behind the plate and in the infield, primarily at second and third. Mathis has a strong defensive reputation, of course, but if this group remains as is, it would be one of the weaker prospective catching teams in the majors.
Moore has seen time on major league rosters in 9 of the last 10 seasons, but only once has he passed the double digit mark – back in 2010, he hit .195/.230/.283 in 218 plate appearances for the Mariners. Moore has also appeared for the Royals, Padres, Indians and Rays. Moore, 34, is used to seeing regular time in Triple A, where he spent the majority of last season. For the Rays’ top affiliate, Moore hit an uninspired .219/.260/.347. Given his struggles with the stick, Moore is likeliest to play a similar role in Texas if he stays with the club past Spring Training.
Here are the latest agency changes from around the game. As always, you can find updated representation information in MLBTR’s Agency Database.
- Both of the Gurriel brothers — Yuli Gurriel of the Astros and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. of the Blue Jays — have hired Magnus Sports, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter). The elder Gurriel is closest to free agency, though he still has two full seasons to go on his five-year contract with the Houston organization. He’s also already 34 years of age. His little brother is still just 25 years old and cracked the bigs for the first time last year, turning in a promising initial showing with the Jays. His contract takes him through the 2023 campaign, with at least one year of arbitration eligibility remaining thereafter.
- Meanwhile, Rangers power-hitting prospect Willie Calhoun has hired MVP Sports Group, per Robert Murray of The Athletic (Twitter link). The 24-year-old has seen brief tastes of the majors in each of the past two seasons but has yet to earn a full showcase at the game’s highest level. He’s seen as a high-end talent with the bat who still needs to iron things out defensively. It seems Calhoun will ultimately be given a shot in left field, but he’ll need to bounce back from a 2018 power outage (11 home runs in 578 total plate appearances) in order to force his way back onto the active roster.
Here are Thursday’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Athletics announced that they’ve signed lefty Tyler Alexander to a minor league deal and invited him to Major League Spring Training. He’s been out of affiliated ball since the 2014 season, pitching on the independent circuit and in the Mexican League. Manager Bob Melvin spoke to Jane Lee of MLB.com and touted Alexander as someone who the A’s have kept an eye on for the past few years, specifically citing this winter’s strong showing in the Dominican Winter League — 2.68 ERA, 48-to-10 K/BB ratio in 50 1/3 innings — as a source of intrigue.
- The Orioles announced that infielder Jack Reinheimer cleared waivers and has been assigned outright to Triple-A Norfolk. He’ll be in camp as a non-roster invitee, where he’ll compete with a variety of other players for a shot at some time in the Baltimore infield mix. The light-hitting 26-year-old hasn’t seen much MLB time but bounced around the waiver wire a bit this winter, indicating that teams see him at least as a plausible big-league depth piece.
- Catcher Adam Moore has agreed to a minor league contract with the Rangers, tweets Jon Heyman of the MLB Network. He’d earn a $600K base salary at the Major League level. Moore, 34, has seen action in nine MLB seasons but played in double-digit games in only one of those. He spent most of 2018 at Triple-A, slashing .219/.260/.347 in 208 plate appearances.
- In somewhat of a blast-from-the-past move, the Blue Jays have added lefty Ryan Feierabend on a minor league deal, per Baseball Toronto’s Keegan Matheson (Twitter link). Now 33 years old, Feierabend has just 7 1/3 MLB innings under his belt since the close of the 2008 season. However, he’s had some success pitching in the Korea Baseball Organization in recent seasons and is now utilizing a knuckleball — a rare pitch in today’s game that is all the more anomalous given that Feierabend is left-handed.
Veteran right-hander Doug Fister has elected to call it a career after spending parts of 10 seasons in the Majors, agent Page Odle tells Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Fister, 35, received multiple Major League contract offers this winter, according to Odle, but is instead making a “100 percent family-driven” decision to spend time with his wife and two children.
A seventh-round pick of the Mariners back in 2006, Fister ascended to the Majors as a largely unheralded prospect with the Mariners in 2009. After establishing himself as a quality starter over his first 378 frames with the Mariners, Fister was flipped to the Tigers in a 2011 trade deadline deal, where he’d go on to thrive over another three seasons. Fister, in fact, was somewhat quietly one of the game’s better starters from 2011-14, pitching to a 3.11 ERA (129 ERA+) with 6.5 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9.
A 2015 forearm strain led to diminished velocity and diminished results for Fister, though he managed to make 32 starts for the 2016 Astros and served as a stabilizing force in their rotation. Hip and knee injuries slowed Fister in his most recent run with the Rangers, with the latter of the two issues ultimately ending his season after 66 innings.
All in all, Fister will walk away from his baseball career with a lifetime 83-92 record, a 3.72 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 1422 1/3 big league innings. The towering 6’8″ righty also amassed an impressive postseason resume, tallying 56 2/3 innings of 3.02 ERA ball with a 41-to-17 K/BB ratio in five separate postseasons runs (three with the Tigers, one with the Nats and one with the Red Sox). He made one World Series start, with the Tigers in ’12, where he tossed six innings of one-run ball against the Giants.
Fister earned more than $36MM in player salaries over the life of a career that both Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs value at 20 wins above replacement. Best wishes to the former Tigers, Mariners, Nationals, Astros, Red Sox and Rangers righty in his life beyond baseball.
- Infielder Matt Davidson chatted with MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan about his role with the Rangers this coming season. Davidson, signed as a corner infielder/reliever, indicated that he’s not expecting to be one of the team’s top seven or eight relievers. Rather, he’s aiming to be an option to pitch in the same capacity he did with the White Sox last year — as a mop-up reliever in blowout games. “I want to be the pitchers’ best friend,” said Davidson. “Nobody wants to go in when it is a 7-0 blowout. I want to be the guy that helps them out.” Davidson did toss three shutout innings last season, and it’s not out of the question entirely that he pitches more effectively than some would expect if given a few more opportunities. However, it sounds as if the early plan is for him to try to make the club as a bench piece and emergency option on the mound more than any type of regular bullpen piece.
- In addition to the Blue Jays, the Twins and Rangers are looking into signing veteran righty Sergio Romo, per Jon Morosi of MLB.com (via Twitter). The Minnesota and Texas organizations, though, only seem to be considering minor-league offers. (Toronto’s offer level isn’t clear.) It’s a bit surprising to hear of such limited interest in the 35-year-old, who still gets plenty of swings and misses and comes with ample late-inning (and opening) experience.