MLB Trade Rumors » » Texas Rangers Thu, 18 Jan 2018 15:49:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 AL Notes: Rangers, Ramirez, Betts, Orioles Wed, 17 Jan 2018 17:50:04 +0000 Rangers GM Jon Daniels cast doubt on the idea of the team making any marquee additions in comments yesterday to the media, including’s TR Sullivan. Daniels called it “unlikely” that the club would end up with a top starter, though he said he also wouldn’t “close the door” on a market that includes former ace Yu Darvish. More likely, it seems, would be a depth addition of some kind, though Daniels also emphasized that the organization is not close to any new deals. Broadly, the organization remains steadfast in its “realistic” assessment of its abilities and needs. While the anticipated roster mix is likely “to create some challenges,” says Daniels, that doesn’t mean it will vary from its strategy entering the winter. The Rangers, he says, were “not going to go all-in, spending big dollars this year, nor were we going to be looking to trade all of our young players.”

More from the American League:

  • The Angels received some promising news on righty J.C. Ramirez, GM Billy Eppler tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter). Ramirez is continuing to show healing in his right elbow, where he suffered a season-ending partial UCL tear. Stem cell treatment has been promising to this point, giving the team some renewed confidence that it will receive a contribution again from Ramirez, who agreed to a $1.9MM arbitration salary after turning in 147 1/3 innings of 4.15 ERA ball in 2017.
  • As the Red Sox prepare for an arbitration show-down with star outfielder Mookie Betts, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald argues the team never should have put itself in this position. The sides have a $3MM gap at present ($10.5MM vs. $7.5MM) and indications are they’ll resolve it in a hearing, meaning the Sox will be put in the position of presenting Betts in a less-than-positive light before an arb panel. With a prior disagreement over his 2017 pre-arb salary, the financial relationship between the sides isn’t exactly off to the most promising start. For what it’s worth, MLBTR contributor and arbitration guru Matt Swartz argued before numbers were exchanged that Betts is likelier to command a first-time arb payday on the lower side of the existing gulf.
  • Speaking of arbitration, the Orioles will evidently not commit to going to trial over their remaining cases, per Roch Kubatko of Rather the club is still willing to engage in negotiations with both infielder Jonathan Schoop ($9MM filing versus $7.5MM counter) and righty Kevin Gausman ($6.225MM filing versus $5.3MM counter). Whether that’ll mean avoiding a hearing isn’t yet known, but the seeming strategic shift will at least leave remaining room for talks on a few players of quite a bit of importance to the organization’s future.
Rangers Sign Deolis Guerra Tue, 16 Jan 2018 18:15:31 +0000 The Rangers have struck a minors deal with righty Deolis Guerra, per a club announcement. He’ll participate on the MLB side of spring camp.

Guerra, 28, becomes the latest in a succession of pitchers to sign on with the Texas organization over the winter. If he can’t earn his way onto the active roster in camp, Guerra will presumably take up a spot near the top of the Rangers’ relief depth chart.

Texas has seen plenty of Guerra in recent seasons, as he has played with the division-rival Angels organization. In 2015, the righty spun 53 1/3 innings of 3.21 ERA ball with 6.1 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Despite that useful output, he was removed from the Halos’ 40-man roster last spring.

Guerra ended up bouncing between the MLB roster and Triple-A in 2017. In the majors, he sputtered to a 4.68 ERA in 25 frames, over which he uncharacteristically handed out a dozen free passes but did show a surprising 14.9% swinging-strike rate. Guerra carried a 1.98 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in his 41 innings at the highest level of the minors.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: American League Fri, 12 Jan 2018 21:00:23 +0000 The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)

Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salarie

American League West

  • The Astros and Evan Gattis agreed to a $6.7MM deal for 2018, per FanRag’s Robert Murray (Twitter link). A free agent next season, Gattis lands within $100K of his $6.6MM projection. The club also has deals (for values unknown) with starters Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., and Brad Peacock, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • The Rangers agreed to a $1.05MM deal with infielder Jurickson Profar, tweets Murray. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, meanwhile, tweets that lefty Jake Diekman landed a $2.7125MM deal and righty Keone Kela will earn $1.2MM. Profar had been projected at $1.1MM and is controllable another three seasons. Diekman, a free agent next winter, was projected at $2.8MM. And Kela, still controlled for three more years, matched his $1.2MM projection on the dot.
  • The Athletics and closer Blake Treinen agreed to a $2.15MM deal for next year, tweets Murray. The A’s can control Treinen for another three years. He was projected at $2.3MM. Shortstop Marcus Semien has settled for $3.125MM, Heyman tweets; his $3.2MM projection was nearly spot-on. Oakland has announced that it has avoided arbitration with Liam Hendriks and Josh Phegley as well, but their salaries have yet to be reported.
  • The Angels have a one-year, $7.3MM agreement in place with right-hander Garrett Richards, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Richards, a free agent next offseason, tops his $7MM projection by a margin of $300K. The Halos have also avoided arb with first baseman C.J. Cron ($2.3MM) and left-hander Tyler Skaggs ($1.875MM), tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Cron’s total falls a ways shy of his $2.8MM projection, while Skaggs comes in just $25K south of his $1.9MM projection. Both are controllable through the 2020 season. Lastly, Murray tweets that Matt Shoemaker agreed to a $4.125MM deal. He’s controlled through 2020 and projected at $4.4MM. Fletcher also tweets that the club has agreed with righty J.C. Ramirez ($1.9MM salary vs. $2.6MM projection) and lefty Jose Alvarez ($1.05MM salary vs. $1.1MM projection). Finally, righty Cam Bedrosian has agreed at $1.1MM, Flecher tweets, which represents a payday close to his projection of $1.2MM.
  • Left-hander James Paxton will earn $4.9MM with the Mariners in 2018, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Murray tweets that the Mariners and David Phelps agreed to a $5.55MM deal. Paxton, controlled through 2020, projected to earn $5.6MM, while Phelps was pegged at $5.8MM. He’s a free agent next winter. Righty Erasmo Ramirez took a $4.2MM deal,’s Greg Johns reports. That’s half a million shy of what the model suggested. Fellow right-hander Nick Vincent also has an agreement, but the terms aren’t yet known.

American League Central

  • New lefty Luis Avilan has agreed to a $2.45MM deal with the White Sox, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports via Twitter. The recent trade acquisition came with a projected $2.3MM price tag. Fellow southpaw Carlos Rodon will receive $2.3MM, a bit of a bump over the $2MM he projected to receive. Also, utilityman Leury Garcia gets $1.175MM, which is just $25K short of his projected value.
  • The Royals and righty Nate Karns agreed to a $1.375MM deal for 2018, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports (on Twitter). That lands within $25K of his $1.4MM projection for the coming season. Kansas City controls Karns through 2020. Meanwhile,’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports (via Twitter) that Kelvin Herrera will earn $7.9375MM in 2018, landing a bit shy of his $8.3MM projection. Herrera is a free agent next winter.
  • The Indians have a $5MM agreement with righty Danny Salazar,’s Jordan Bastian tweets. He had projected to earn just $200K more, this falls right in line with expectations. Cleveland also agreed with Lonnie Chisenhall on a $5.5875MM deal, tweets Nightengale. The third baseman-turned-outfielder, who was projected to earn $5.8MM, will be a free agent following the 2018 season.
  • Trevor May has a $650K agreement with the Twins for the 2018 season, according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. May, who missed the entire season due to Tommy John surgery (and did some writing for MLBTR during his rehab process), had been projected at $600K. The Twins also agreed to a $1MM deal with infielder Ehire Adrianza, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. Meanwhile, righty Ryan Pressly has agreed to a $1.6MM deal, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Both deals are identical matches with their projections. Adrianza has three years of team control remaining, while Pressly has two. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that outfielder Robbie Grossman settled at $2MM, leaving him $400K shy of his projection. Grossman is controlled for another three seasons.
  • Tigers third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos will earn $6.05MM, per Heyman (via Twitter). He had projected at a much heftier $7.6MM in his second-to-last season of arb eligibility.’s Jason Beck reports (Twitter links) that the Tigers and right-handed reliever Alex Wilson settled at $1.925MM, while fellow righty Shane Greene will earn $1.95MM. Wilson was projected to earn $2.1MM, while Greene was at $1.7MM. Wilson is controlled through 2019, while Greene is under control through 2020.

American League East

  • The Yankees have knocked out some of their biggest arb cases, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links). Shortstop Didi Gregorius receives $8.25MM and righty Sonny Gray checks in at $6.5MM. The former had projected to earn $9.0MM while the algorithm was just $100K high on the latter.Backstop Austin Romine will earn $1.1MM, Heyman also tweets, which is also $100K below the projection. Righty Adam Warren and the Yankees have a $3.315MM deal, per Murray (Twitter link). This is Warren’s final season of eligibility before hitting the open market next winter. He’d been projected at $3.1MM. Meanwhile, fellow right-hander Dellin Betances has agreed to a $5.1MM deal, per’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). That’s just $100K more than Betances had sought last year, when he took his case to a hearing that he ultimately lost. But it’s quite a bit more than the $4.4MM he projected to receive after a subpar season in which he played at a $3MM salary.
  • The Red Sox have agreed to pay $8.5MM to southpaw Drew Pomeranz, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). That’s short of the $9.1MM that had been projected after Pomeranz turned in a productive 2017 season. Boston and Jackie Bradley Jr. settled at $6.1MM, tweets Murray. That’s a bit north of the $5.9MM at which he’d been projected for the upcoming season. Bradley Jr., a Super Two player, has another three seasons of club control remaining. Nightengale tweets that righty Joe Kelly ($3.6MM projection) agreed to a $3.825MM deal. He’ll be a free agent next winter. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez ($2.375MM salary vs. $2.7MM projection) and righty Brandon Workman ($835K salary vs. $900K projection) are two other Sox hurlers that have agreed to terms, Speier reports (Twitter links). On the position player side, catcher Sandy Leon falls a bit under his projection $1.95MM (via Speier, on Twitter) while utilityman Brock Holt just beats expectations at $2.225MM (per’s Jerry Crasnick, on Twitter). The team also agreed with shortstop Xander Bogaerts for $7.05MM, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston tweets, which comes in a bit shy of his $7.6MM projection. Boston also announced agreement with backstop Christian Vazquez, who’ll earn $1.425MM, per’s Ian Browne (via Twitter). That’s just under the projection of $1.5MM.
  • The Blue Jays and righty Aaron Sanchez agreed to a $2.7MM deal for 2018, according to Nightengale (Twitter link). That crushes his $1.9MM projection, which was likely suppressed due Sanchez’s lack of innings (just 36) in 2017. He’s under Jays control through 2020. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, meanwhile, tweets that second baseman Devon Travis will make $1.45MM next year, falling a bit shy of his $1.7MM forecast. Other Toronto players agreeing to terms include Kevin Pillar ($3.25MM vs. $4.0MM projection) and Dominic Leone ($1.085MM vs. $1.2MM projection),’s Gregor Chisholm tweets.
  • The Rays and closer Alex Colome settled at $5.3M, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (on Twitter). He’d been projected at $5.5MM and is controllable for three more years. They also settled at $5.95MM with outfielder/DH Corey Dickerson ($6.4MM projection) and $4.5MM with infielder Brad Miller ($4.4MM projection), per Murray (all Twitter links). Steven Souza, according to Murray will earn $3.55MM, placing him right in line with his $3.6MM projection. Dickerson and Miller are controlled through 2019. Souza is controlled through 2020.
Yu Darvish Choosing Among Six Teams Thu, 11 Jan 2018 05:34:03 +0000 Yu Darvish is widely considered to be the top starting pitcher available in free agency, and while his market — like the market of nearly every other top free agent this winter — has been slow to progress, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Darvish has whittled the decision down to a handful of teams: the Rangers, Cubs, Astros, Twins and Yankees. Darvish himself has hardly been shy about stirring the pot on social media this winter, though, and he created an additional layer of intrigue tonight when he responded to the report by tweeting: “I know one more team is in.” The Dodgers may very well be the sixth team to which Darvish alluded, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times tweeted tonight that Los Angeles “remains in the mix” to bring Darvish back to L.A.

In his column, Wilson once again cautions that the Rangers aren’t a prime suitor for Darvish. The right-hander, according to Wilson, would prefer to return to Arlington were all things equal, but the Rangers aren’t expected to pursue top-tier free agents, as has reportedly been the case for the entire winter. Wilson reported three months ago that Texas was aiming to trim payroll by about $10MM for the coming season, which would leave them around $155MM overall. A backloaded contract for Darvish could technically still make that goal possible, but Wilson strongly suggests that the Rangers won’t be making any moves of the “all-in” variety this winter. The Rangers’ payroll projects to check in around $144MM as things presently stand.

Both the Yankees and Astros have been prominently linked to another high-end rotation candidate recently, as both have been said in recent weeks to be in talks for Pittsburgh righty Gerrit Cole. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow earlier today shot down a report that his team had struck an agreement to acquire Cole, but both New York and Houston appear to have some level of interest more cost-effective trade candidates.

The Yankees, of course, have been hard at work trying to bolster their 2018 roster while simultaneously remaining south of the luxury tax barrier (to great success thus far), while Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported just yesterday (subscription required and recommended) that Houston prefers to trade for a pitcher like Cole rather than shell out a massive contract to Darvish or another free-agent starter. If the Yankees can find a way to shed a significant portion of Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract (which seems unlikely) or if the Astros ultimately deem all of their trade targets too expensive in terms of prospects, then perhaps on of those clubs will take a more serious look at Darvish.

Minnesota, meanwhile, has long been reported to be one of the more aggressive teams on Darvish, who knows Twins GM Thad Levine quite well from the pair’s time with the Rangers. Of all the teams in the mix, the Twins’ payroll outlook is by far the most open (zero dollars on the books beyond the 2019 season). As for the Cubs, they’ve been tied to Darvish, Jake Arrieta and fellow righty Alex Cobb as they seek to round out their rotation and remain atop a competitive NL Central division.

The Dodgers, like the Yankees, are facing some self-imposed financial restrictions. Both clubs are trying to reset their luxury tax penalty level, and the Dodgers look to have done so in the Adrian Gonzalez/Scott Kazmir/Brandon McCarthy/Matt Kemp trade. Bringing Darvish back into the fold would once again push them north of the tax line, L.A. is also looking for ways in which to shed Kemp’s contract. As is the case with the Yankees and Ellsbury, finding a taker for a notable portion of that deal could create additional flexibility.

Rangers Agree To Minor League Deal With Mike Ohlman Tue, 09 Jan 2018 22:19:28 +0000
  • The Rangers have picked up catcher Mike Ohlman on a minor league deal with an invite to Major League Spring Training, per FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). The 27-year-old made his big league debut with Toronto last year but collected just 13 plate appearances over the life of seven games. An 11th-round pick of the Orioles back in 2009, Ohlman has logged a respectable .758 OPS in 518 Triple-A plate appearances thus far in his minor league career. Robinson Chirinos is slated to handle the bulk of the Rangers’ catching duties, but Ohlman will vie for a backup gig along with Juan Centeno, Brett Nicholas and Jose Trevino.
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    Avoiding Arbitration: Andrew Heaney, Ryan Rua Tue, 09 Jan 2018 20:48:23 +0000 We’ll use this post to track some of the day’s arbitration agreements. As always, you can reference MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration projections and 2018 MLB arbitration tracker as needed.

    • Lefty Andrew Heaney is in agreement on a $800K deal with the Angels, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). The 26-year-old lands right at MLBTR’s projection for his Super Two salary. Heaney has scarcely pitched in the majors over the past two seasons owing to Tommy John surgery. But he did make it back late last year and will hope for a healthy and productive 2018 season after an opportunity to build up over the offseason. The Halos need Heaney to regain the trajectory he was on when he arrived in the organization. In his first 18 starts in L.A., Heaney managed 105 2/3 innings of 3.49 ERA ball with 6.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.
    • The Rangers have avoided arbitration with oufielder Ryan Rua, per a club announcement. He is slated to earn $870K, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter). Rua, 27, just did quality for arbitration as a Super Two. MLBTR projected him to earn $900K in his first trip through the process, so he’ll land just below that mark. It is not immediately clear just how Rua will fit into the Ranger’ roster mix, though that’s due in no small part to the fact that the team is still said to be looking into options to upgrade. The right-handed hitter has spent the bulk of his time in the majors in left field, though he can also play some first base. Over 608 total MLB plate appearances, Rua owns a .246/.305/.388 batting line with 17 home runs. He has shown more in a similar sample at Triple-A, where he has posted a .272/.343/.459 output.
    Rangers, Andrew Cashner Remain In Contact Sun, 07 Jan 2018 05:31:53 +0000
  • The Rangers are still in touch with free agent right-hander Andrew Cashner, who’s interested in re-signing with the team, TR Sullivan of reports. After Cashner joined the Rangers on a $10MM guarantee last winter, the Texas native proceeded to toss 166 2/3 innings of 3.40 ERA ball, but that came with the majors’ worst K/BB ratio among qualified starters. Cashner, 31, is reportedly seeking a three-year contract this time around. If the Rangers ultimately do bring Cashner back, he’d follow Doug Fister, Mike Minor and Matt Moore as the fourth established rotation piece to latch on with them this winter (though Minor hasn’t started a big league game since 2014).
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    Rangers "Appear" To Have Interest In Christian Yelich Sun, 07 Jan 2018 02:06:12 +0000 The Blue Jays and Rangers “appear” to be among teams with interest in Marlins center fielder Christian Yelich, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Yelich has landed on several clubs’ radars this offseason, owing to his impressive track record, long-term affordability and age (26), but he may end up sticking with the Marlins. Miami understandably wants an enormous return for Yelich, presumably in the form of prospects, so it’s worth noting that Toronto is ninth and Texas 21st in Baseball America’s most recent farm system rankings (subscription required and recommended).

    AL West Notes: Rangers, A’s Scouting, Pinder, Ohtani Sat, 06 Jan 2018 16:32:37 +0000 The Rangers and the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Japan Pacific League have announced a partnership. Gerry Fraley of SportsDay wrote a full report on the news, noting that the partnership will include exchanging of “ideas and information” about business, ballpark construction, scouting and player development. Notably, the Fighters will also send one of their own instructors both to Rangers spring training camp and to travel with the team during the regular season. The partnership may have evolved from the depth of scouting personnel that Texas deployed to scout players such as Yu Darvish, Yoshinori Tateyama and Shohei Ohtani“We look forward to helping each other in a variety of ways,” Rangers President Jon Daniels said of the new alliance. It’s fair to wonder whether this partnership will allow Texas to get its foot in the door with future Fighters talent interested in making the transition to MLB.

    More items from the American League’s western clubs…

    • The Athletics recently hired 24-year-old Haley Alvarez as their scouting coordinator; she’s the first woman to be hired by the club as a talent evaluator. Alyson Footer of wrote a piece on the subject detailing the former intern’s rise to her new position. Alvarez’ journey to scouting began with baseball operations experience she gained during her college days at the University of Virginia, followed by internships with the Commissioner’s Office and the Boston Red Sox organization. Following an internship with the A’s, GM David Forst offered to sponsor her for scout school. Though Alvarez didn’t even know such a thing existed, she was excited about the opportunity, and used it to fuel her career path. She’s now using modern analytics and new advanced technology to help the A’s bring in talent. “You don’t have to have played baseball, which is a common misconception,” says Alvarez, who hopes to inspire other women to pursue career paths in baseball operations.
    • In other Athletics news, Jane Lee of reports that sophomore Chad Pinder is preparing to play first base for the club on occasion. Because Ryon Healy was shipped to Seattle this offseason, the club needs a backup first baseman. “I think the last time I played first base was in eighth grade,” said Pinder, though he did take ground balls during practice there last season. The Oakland utilityman started at six different positions for the club last season while hitting .232/.292/.457 across 309 plate appearances with 15 homers and 42 RBI. The righty-hitter struck out in nearly 30% of his plate appearances.
    • Angels GM Billy Eppler is headed to Japan in order to help with Shohei Ohtani’s transition process, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. He’ll be bringing three other Angels personnel with him. “We spent so much time saying what we’re about to Ohtani and putting things forward for him,” said Eppler. “The main purpose of this is now to get his input and feedback on things.” Eppler also added that Ohtani is scheduled to get on a mound in two weeks; there don’t seem to be any concerns about his health at this time.
    Minor MLB Transactions: 1/5/18 Sat, 06 Jan 2018 02:53:11 +0000 Here are Friday’s minor moves from around the game…

    • The Rangers have inked a minor-league pact with right-hander Brandon Cumpton, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning news (Twitter link). Arm troubles have limited the 29-year-old of late, but he did return to professional action in 2017 after a two-year hiatus. Over 37 1/3 innings, Cumpton pitched to a 3.86 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
    • As Cumpton leaves the Pirates organization, two other right-handers are on their way in, according to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects. Tyler Jones and Bo Schultz have each joined the Bucs on minor-league arrangements, per the report. The former will be looking to crack the majors for the first time. He has often produced quality strikeout rates in the upper minors but only managed a 4.38 ERA in 63 2/3 innings at Triple-A last year with the Yankees organization. As for Schultz, the former Blue Jays reliever will be looking to return from Tommy John surgery. Schultz turned in a useful 2015 season but faltered in the ensuing season — he worked to a 5.51 ERA in his 16 1/3 MLB innings — before going under the knife.
    • Righty William Cuevas will join the Red Sox organization on a minor-league pact, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The 27-year-old has spent the bulk of his career in the Boston organization but played elsewhere in 2017. He worked to a 4.85 ERA in 104 Triple-A frames in 2017, with 7.0 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9. Cuevas has twice cracked the majors, but only briefly.
    • Yet another right-handed hurler, Preston Guilmet, is heading to the Cardinals on a minors deal, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. He’ll get a spring invite and can earn at a $600K rate in the majors. The 30-year-old Guilmet has seen parts of three seasons in the majors but only has 23 career innings at the game’s highest level. He has put up some interesting results of late, though, posting a 2.77 ERA with 10.8 K/9 against 1.6 BB/9 in 68 1/3 Triple-A frames in 2016 before heading to Japan and running a 3.62 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in his 54 2/3 innings for the Yakult Swallows (over four starts and 28 relief appearances).

    Earlier Updates

    • The Tigers have agreed to a minor league deal with former Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (on Twitter). Kozma, 30 in April, split the 2017 season between the Rangers and Yankees organizations and logged 51 plate appearances in the Majors, though he batted just .111/.200/.178 in that small sample. Long considered an excellent defender with a light bat, Kozma is a career .215/.282/.285 hitter in parts of six MLB seasons but also comes with a career +11 Defensive Runs Saved mark and +9 Ultimate Zone Rating in 1450 innings at shortstop.
    • The Braves announced yesterday that right-handed reliever Luke Jackson cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Gwinnett. Once a well-regarded prospect in the Rangers system, the now-26-year-old Jackson posted an ERA north of 6.00 and walked 16 batters in 24 1/3 innings with Gwinnett last season. He actually performed better in the Majors, logging a 4.62 ERA in 50 1/3 frames, albeit with pedestrian averages of 5.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 with a 45.2 percent grounder rate. Jackson does have a history of missing bats in the upper minors and did average 94.7 mph on his heater last year while running up a 10.2 percent swinging-strike rate, so there’s some hope that he could yet figure things out.
    Rangers Sign Delabar, Hood To Minors Deals Thu, 04 Jan 2018 19:46:34 +0000
  • The Rangers announced minor league deals for right-hander Steve Delabar and outfielder Destin Hood (via Twitter). Both players will be invited to Spring Training, per the announcement. Delabar didn’t pitch in 2017 after being popped for an 80-game suspension following a failed PED test. Delabar, 34, was an All-Star with the Blue Jays back in 2013 and served as a very effective member of Toronto’s relief corps from 2012-13 before declining in 2014-15. He has a career 4.07 ERA and has averaged better than 11 strikeouts per nine innings in 194 2/3 MLB frames. Hood, meanwhile, long rated as one of the Nationals’ more promising farmhands, but the former second-rounder’s career stalled in Triple-A. He spent the 2016-17 seasons in the Marlins organization and posted solid, albeit unspectacular numbers in Triple-A.
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    Rangers Pursuing Lorenzo Cain Thu, 04 Jan 2018 18:19:23 +0000 The Rangers have “ramped up” their pursuit of free-agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). The report from Crasnick comes not long after a morning report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal that tied Cain to the Brewers — the team that initially drafted him.

    [Related: Free Agent Profile — Lorenzo Cain]

    Cain, 31, rejected a qualifying offer from the Royals following a characteristically excellent season, so he’d require the Rangers to part with their second-highest draft selection as well as $500K of next year’s international signing pool. However, Cain would also provide the Rangers with a noted boost in an outfield that saw Carlos Gomez hit free agency at season’s end.

    Over the past four seasons, Cain has been at least an average bat and often rated considerably higher. In that time, he’s slashed .300/.352/.437 — numbers that would look considerably better on the surface had Cain not spent his home games playing in one of the league’s more pitcher-friendly settings. His OPS+ in that time, which adjusts for league and park, was a strong 113 (or 13 percent better than a league-average hitter).

    Cain also brings sterling defense and baserunning value to the table. Both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating feel his glovework has deteriorated in recent years, but he was still at +5 DRS and +1.6 UZR last season. And, only four outfielders in all of baseball ranked higher than Cain in Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric in 2017. As for his baserunning, Cain has averaged 24 steals in 28 attempts per year over the past four seasons, and Fangraphs ranks him 17th of 289 position players in total baserunning value in that time.

    For Texas, the question isn’t necessarily one of whether Cain would fit the roster or better the team, but rather one of whether they can afford him from a financial standpoint. Texas has already signed Mike Minor, Doug Fister, Chris Martin and Tony Barnette this offseason while also acquiring Matt Moore from the Giants. The Rangers currently project to open the year with a payroll just north of $144MM, and reports earlier this offseason indicated that the Rangers hoped to keep their 2018 payroll in the $155MM range. Backloading a multi-year deal for Cain could certainly make that possible, though it’d likely mean that the signing of Cain was the last of the significant moves for Texas GM Jon Daniels and his staff this offseason.

    At present, the Rangers figure to have an outfield consisting of Nomar Mazara, Delino DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo, though Choo could move to designated hitter (and the Rangers have reportedly been trying to shed his contract).

    Rangers Notes: Trades, Darvish Thu, 04 Jan 2018 02:12:33 +0000 Thus far, the Rangers have mostly focused on open-market additions to their pitching staff. A turn to the trade market shouldn’t be expected, GM Jon Daniels tells’s T.R. Sullivan. While there are a variety of enticing possible trade candidates floating around, Daniels says the organization is “making a concerted effort to be more disciplined and stay away from” moves that cost the team its “best young players.” Though the team’s top baseball decisionmaker wouldn’t rule out the trade avenue entirely, he said the team won’t be giving up notable future value for a short-term addition. Speaking of the Rangers’ moves to this point, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News solicited a scouting breakdown of the new arms brought onto the staff.

    • The Twins are “still trying to match schedules” to schedule a sit-down with free agent Yu Darvish, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). That’s somewhat odd to read at this stage of the winter; Darvish has already met with other teams, Minnesota has long labeled him a “priority,” and spring camp is just six weeks away. Nevertheless, at this point it seems little has changed in the situation: the Twins are still interested in the top-flight righty, though it’s difficult to determine a favorite in the Darvish sweepstakes. To that end, it’s worth noting that Jim Bowden of The Athletic wrote today that Minnesota “appears … prepared to offer a market deal” for Darvish (though it stands to reason that an in-person meeting would precede such an offer). Bowden also notes that the Astros are still in the Darvish mix, in part due to concerns over their ability to sign Dallas Keuchel long term, and he cites multiple sources in reporting that the Rangers are still alive in the bidding for Darvish as well.
    Could The Phillies Target Cole Hamels At The Deadline? Sun, 31 Dec 2017 04:11:02 +0000
  • The Phillies are known to be looking for pitching, though Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury writes that the team could wait until the July trade deadline to make a big addition to the rotation.  Asking prices could be lower for some pitchers by July, or the Phillies could have a better idea of what young players they’d be more comfortable giving up in a trade.  Interestingly, Salisbury notes that Cole Hamels could be targeted by the Phils if the Rangers fall out of contention, as both Hamels and the Phillies would have interest in the 2008 World Series hero returning to Philadelphia.
  • ]]>
    Rangers Notes: Choo, Pitching Fri, 29 Dec 2017 00:12:31 +0000
  • Shin-Soo Choo is “not really worried about” being mentioned in trade speculation, the Rangers outfielder tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  Choo’s name was reportedly included as part of the Rangers’ talks with the Diamondbacks about a possible Zack Greinke swap, as Texas was looking to move Choo’s contract to offset some of the salary the club would be taking on by acquiring Greinke.  For Choo, such speculation is “part of baseball. That’s part of the deal. Nobody is happy to hear them in trade rumors….I have a great feeling for the Rangers, but at the same time I understand the team’s situation.”  Choo has been hampered by injuries during his four years in Texas and is owed $62MM over the next three seasons, though Wilson feels that the Rangers should keep Choo, arguing that the outfielder has been effective when healthy and provides an OBP boost that the Rangers lineup otherwise lacks.
  • The Rangers probably lack the prospect depth to trade for a top-tier starting pitcher,’s T.R. Sullivan writes in his latest mailbag piece, in part because the club has already dealt so many other top minor leaguers in trades for Cole Hamels, Carlos Beltran, Jonathan Lucroy, and other established stars in recent years.  Moving what few blue chip prospects the team has left for a pitcher like Chris Archer or Michael Fulmer doesn’t seem likely at this point.  Texas has beefed up its rotation with the additions of Matt Moore, Doug Fister, and Mike Minor this winter, filling multiple holes in its rotation rather than making a big splash for an ace.
  • ]]>
    Scout's Take On Minor, Fister, Moore Mon, 25 Dec 2017 05:48:44 +0000
  • An American League scout shared his opinion on the Rangers’ three pitching acquisitions (Mike Minor, Matt Moore, and Doug Fister) with Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News, noting that the trio’s ability to miss bats will help take pressure off a shaky Texas defense.  Most interestingly, the scout suggested that Minor would be most effectively deployed not just as a reliever, but as the Rangers’ closer.  Minor has said that he chose to sign with Texas because the club was open to giving him the opportunity to again be a starting pitcher, so while the left-hander has also said he’s fine with continuing as a reliever, rotation work would seem to be his first option.  Minor began his career as a starter but shoulder problems cost him all of the 2015 and 2016 seasons before he returned to post excellent numbers out of the Royals bullpen last year.
  • ]]>
    Astros, Rangers Reportedly Set To Meet With Yu Darvish Sun, 24 Dec 2017 17:48:04 +0000 DEC. 24: The Rangers remain in contact with Wolfe, writes Wilson, who adds that Darvish hasn’t ruled out a reunion with the club. However, it’s up in the air whether Rangers ownership would pay the necessary amount to bring back Darvish, Wilson suggests.

    DEC. 19, 10:35pm: Wilson reports that Darvish and Daniels are planning to have dinner this week, but Darvish’s agents will not be in attendance and the two do not plan to discuss business. The two are simply having dinner, per Wilson, adding that Daniels has continually maintained the stance that Texas will not play at the top of the free-agent market. The dinner was actually planned for November but was pushed back to this point. Darvish himself confirmed as much by quote-tweeting Wilson and adding the comment, “Tomorrow night!”

    Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports the same sentiment, noting that Daniels and Darvish never had much of a chance to have a conversation when Darvish was traded to the Dodgers. Grant likens the meeting to an “exit interview” and emphasizes that Darvish’s lead agent, Joel Wolfe, will not be present.

    All of that said, it’s still a bit of an eyebrow-raiser to see Daniels, whose rotation is rife with uncertainty, meet with the top free-agent pitcher on the market under the guise that no business will be discussed.

    6:41pm: Darvish is set to meet with the Rangers after he sits down with the Astros, a club source tells Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link). That seemingly runs counter to what GM Jon Daniels told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier today, as Wilson tweeted that Daniels said there was no meeting planned with Darvish at that point.

    Obviously, the Rangers are more familiar with Darvish than any other club, and there’s certainly a need in their rotation. Texas has added Mike Minor as a potential starting option this winter and has also swung a trade for Matt Moore and signed Doug Fister. Still, there’s room for improvement among a shaky group of Texas starters.

    What remains to be seen, though, is exactly how much payroll capacity the Rangers have remaining. Texas is reportedly aiming for its 2018 payroll to come in around the $155MM mark, and signing Darvish would almost certainly take them beyond that point, barring a heavily backloaded deal.

    The Rangers could see a substantial amount of cash come off the books after the 2018 season, depending on Cole Hamels’ option and Elvis Andrus’ opt-out provision, but a long-term Darvish deal would likely mean boosting their commitments for 2020 season north of $85MM. Certainly, finding a taker for Shin-Soo Choo’s albatross contract would alleviate some of that crunch, though that’s a daunting proposition for the Texas front office.

    5:00pm: One day after Yu Darvish reportedly met face-to-face with the Cubs, he’s sitting down for a similar meeting with the Astros, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Houston joins the Cubs and Twins as teams that have now been prominently linked to Darvish, who topped MLBTR’s free agent rankings at the beginning of the offseason. The Rangers, Heyman writes, are “monitoring” the Darvish market.

    The Astros, of course, got an up-close look at Darvish for years when he fronted the division-rival Rangers’ rotation and when they clobbered him in a pair of World Series starts. Though that rough pair of outings was obviously a sour note upon which to end an otherwise solid season, the tiny sample of two starts against a powerhouse offense isn’t likely to alter his perception much among big league teams. (Notably, one unnamed Astros player revealed to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci that Darvish was tipping his pitches in both World Series outings.)

    Houston isn’t exactly in dire need of a rotation upgrade, as their current group of Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton and Brad Peacock is already strong. Houston also still has Collin McHugh as an option for the back end of the rotation as well as a number of upper-level prospects (e.g. Francis Martes, David Paulino) that could eventually emerge as rotation options.

    That said, adding Darvish to a rotation that already includes Verlander, Keuchel, McCullers and Morton would make for a potent starting five. Peacock thrived in a multi-inning relief role on multiple occasions in 2017 and could function in a similar capacity in 2018, should the ’Stros ultimately elect to add a significant arm to their rotation. Picking up Darvish could also bode well for the club in the long term, as both Keuchel and Morton are set to become free agents at the conclusion of the 2018 season.

    From a pure payroll standpoint, Houston can certainly absorb a significant multi-year deal. The Astros do have just shy of $150MM committed to the 2017 payroll (including projected arbitration salaries), but that number plummets to $56MM on the books for 2019 when Keuchel, Morton, Evan Gattis, Tony Sipp and Marwin Gonzalez are all eligible for free agency.

    [Related: Houston Astros depth chart and payroll outlook]

    The ’Stros will no doubt look to lock up Jose Altuve beyond the 2019 campaign, when their control over the 2017 AL MVP runs out, though, and they probably want to keep George Springer around beyond 2020 as well. Those will be considerations when deciding whether to offer a long-term deal to any high-priced free agent, though it’s worth pointing out that Houston only has $21.5MM committed to the 2020 roster at present and does not have a single guaranteed contract for the 2021 season on its current books.

    International Signings: 12/23/17 Sat, 23 Dec 2017 05:13:46 +0000 Let’s check in on a few notable international signings that have just gone down …

    • The Yankees have struck agreements with two Venezuelan talents, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. With cash still left to spend after missing out on Shohei Ohtani, the Yanks are moving to bring in another big haul of talent from Latin America. Outfielder Raimfer Salinas and catcher Antonio Cabello will join an already strong haul from the current July 2nd class. Per BA’s rankings, these two are the 11th and 15th-best players available, respectively, leaving the Yankees with five of this year’s top twenty talents.
    • Another spurned Ohtani suitor, the Rangers, has found another investment opportunity with some of its funds. The Texas organization has added shortstop Osleivis Basabe out of Venezuela, Badler also reports. Basabe, who has a few family members already playing in affiliated ball, is said to be a quality athlete with excellent speed and a good arm. Though Basabe ranked as only the 46th player on the BA board due to questions about his hitting acumen, Badler says he has shown well in winter ball action.
    • It seems the Twins have finalized a deal with Taiwanese righty Kai-Wei Teng. That agreement was first reported by LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star-Tribune and was noted as going in the books recently on Twitter by’s Rhett Bollinger. The 19-year-old is said to be receiving a bonus in the $500K range.
    Rangers Sign Tolleson, Espino, Eibner To Minor League Deals Fri, 22 Dec 2017 16:57:16 +0000 Former Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson is returning to the organization on a minor league contract, per a team announcement. Texas also announced minor league deals for right-hander Paolo Espino, outfielder Brett Eibner and right-hander Zeke Spruill. (Spruill’s deal had been previously reported.) Tolleson and Espino received invitations to Major League Spring Training, though Tolleson will still be working his way back from Tommy John surgery at that point.

    Tolleson, 30 in January, was cut loose by the Rangers after a dreadful 2016 campaign. Tolleson shined with the Rangers from 2014-15, tossing 144 innings and logging 35 saves with 9.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 against a 41.4 percent ground-ball rate. Tolleson limped to a 7.68 ERA and served up eight homers in just 36 1/3 innings with the Rangers in ’16, and he never appeared in a game for the Rays after signing a one-year deal last offseason before TJ surgery in May. Tolleson was used heavily in 2014-15, including five straight games to close out that 2015 regular season.

    Espino made six appearances for the Rangers last year after being picked up from the Brewers. Though he’ll turn 31 next month, last year marked Espino’s first taste of the big leagues — a debut that included 24 innings with a 6.00 ERA and a 20-to-10 K/BB ratio. Espino brings a 3.76 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 505 1/3 career innings at the Triple-A level and will bring some depth to a rotation mix that has plenty of injury question marks.

    Last season, the Dodgers attempted to convert Eibner into a pitcher, but he ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 1. The Rangers announced Eibner as an outfielder, seemingly indicating that they won’t continue experimenting with him on the mound. Once healthy, Eibner can handle all three outfield spots and will come to the Rangers organization with a .274/.348/.464 career batting line in parts of four Triple-A seasons and a .191/.263/.355 slash in 244 MLB plate appearances.

    Rangers Sign Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Erik Goeddel Tue, 19 Dec 2017 19:29:53 +0000 The Rangers have announced the signings of righties Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Erik Goeddel. Both players will receive minors contracts that include invitations to MLB Spring Training.

    Texas has worked hard to build out its pitching depth this winter, and that’s all the more important now given that Martin Perez is slated to miss some time early on. While the Rangers will surely still hope to find more impactful additions, a little spring competition never hurts.

    Bibens-Dirkx reached the majors for the first time in 2017 with the Rangers. Working as a swingman, he provided 69 1/3 innings of 4.67 ERA ball over 18 relief appearances and six starts. He also managed only 4.9 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 and allowed 1.8 home runs per regulation outing. The 32-year-old was outrighted off of the 40-man roster at the end of the season.

    As for Goeddel, who turns 29 tomorrow, he’ll step into the bullpen competition after appearing in each of the past four seasons with the Mets. The UCLA product has shown some swing and miss, recording 9.4 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 while carrying a 3.96 ERA through 104 2/3 career MLB frames. Goeddel managed a hefty 15.2% swinging-strike rate in 2017, though he also coughed up eight long balls in just 29 frames on the year.

    Martin Perez Undergoes Surgery For Break To Non-Throwing Elbow Tue, 19 Dec 2017 18:47:56 +0000 Rangers left-hander Martin Perez is set to miss approximately four months after undergoing surgery for a fracture to the radial head in his right arm, the club announced. He is said to have incurred the injury at his ranch in his home country of Venezuela.

    Perez, 26, is expected to hold down a starting spot for the Rangers in 2018. Odds are, though, that he’ll miss a bit of time to open the season, perhaps increasing the organization’s need for rotation depth. Four months from today puts the potential return in mid-April, but perhaps it’s wise to build in a bit of extra padding to expectations.

    Though Perez limped to a 4.82 ERA in 2017, he enjoyed a second consecutive healthy campaign and has thrown 383 2/3 innings since the start of 2016. Texas decided to pick up a $6MM option to retain him in hopes that he’d again fill up some frames and might also improve his results.

    While there’s not much to love about Perez’s peripherals of late, he has long generated good rates of grounders and has been effective in the past when he suppresses home runs sufficiently. He also still delivers a 93 to 94 mph fastball, though his swinging-strike rates are stuck below eight percent.

    [RELATED: Updated Rangers Depth Chart]

    In any event, the Rangers now have more reason than ever to seek an additional rotation-capable arm. The team has already added Mike Minor, Matt Moore, and Doug Fister to a unit fronted by Cole Hamels, but the organization is short of established options beyond that.

    Rangers Acquire Matt Moore Sat, 16 Dec 2017 02:24:58 +0000 The Rangers have officially acquired lefty Matt Moore from the Giants. Texas will also add $750K of international bonus pool spending capacity while shipping minor-league righties Sam Wolff and Israel Cruz to San Francisco.


    With the move, the Giants have cut loose a pitcher that was slated to open the season as part of the organization’s rotation. As a peak at the club’s depth chart shows, the organization doesn’t exactly have an established player ready to step in, though there surely are options. Chris Stratton and Ty Blach will likely enter camp as the favorites to round out the starting unit, with pitchers such as Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez, and Joan Gregorio also in the picture in the near future.

    GM Bobby Evans says that his organization will reallocate Moore’s $9MM salary to upgrade elsewhere. (H/t Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area, via Twitter.) Certainly, the organization has been looking to add power bats all offseason long, and it’s evident now that the goal is to do so without running afoul of the $197MM luxury tax line. Evans says the club’s “focus remains to strengthen our outfield defense and our everyday lineup.” Of course, there are limits to what kind of asset can be had for the level of payroll capacity that was freed with this trade, though further dealing could open more space.

    For the Rangers, Moore will fill out a southpaw-heavy starting staff — now and, perhaps, in 2019, as he can be kept at a $10MM price (or turned onto the open market with a $750K buyout). The organization has aggressively pursued pitching this offseason, with this acquisition following earlier moves that brought in Mike Minor, Doug Fister, Chris Martin, and Tony BarnetteClick here to see the updated depth chart after the move. While the Rangers have given some indication of pursuing a higher-end rotation option, at this point the staff seems mostly set unless a new opportunity arises and the organization finds a way to make all the pieces fit.

    In Moore, they’ll add a hurler who seemed on his way to establishing himself as a top-end starter before Tommy John surgery intervened. Moore looked to rebound somewhat in 2016, the year in which he was shipped from the Rays to the Giants in a deadline deal that sent Matt Duffy and prospects to Tampa Bay. The southpaw ended the year with a 4.08 ERA over 198 1/3 innings, with 8.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.

    The Giants’ belief at that point was surely that Moore would at least continue to provide quite a few solid innings, with perhaps some hope that he’d make yet further strides. But his 2017 follow-up effort fell flat, as Moore’s velocity trended down and his swinging-strike rate sat at a full-season-low 8.6% rate. He ended the year with 174 1/3 frames of 5.52 ERA ball. Though he managed a fairly typical 7.6 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9, Moore was harmed by a 1.39 HR/9 rate.

    While the primary motivation here is likely financial, the Giants will add two arms in the process. The 26-year-old Wolff had some success upon moving to the bullpen in 2017, posting a cumulative 2.93 ERA with 12.3 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 over 43 innings split about evenly between Double-A and Triple-A. That said, he is expected to miss significant time due to injury in 2017, per’s Keith Law (via Twitter). Cruz, 20, has yet to advance past the Rookie ball level, where he struggled to a 5.91 ERA but did manage 11.8 K/9 against 4.5 BB/9 in 32 innings in 2017.

    John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reported the deal (Twitter link). Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area (via Twitter),’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter), and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter) all added components of the return. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter) reported the amount of international bonus pool capacity.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Rangers Notes: Greinke, Makita Fri, 15 Dec 2017 04:14:05 +0000
  • Talks between the Rangers and Diamondbacks regarding Zack Greinke are “mostly dead,” according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (via Twitter).  Three other teams, however, have some interest.  The Phillies and Yankees have both reportedly checked in on Greinke, though it isn’t clear if either is one of the three teams Heyman references.  The D’Backs are willing to cover at least some of Greinke’s huge contract to facilitate a deal.
  • The Rangers have interest in Japanese right-hander Kazuhisa Makita, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.  The 33-year-old submariner will be posted by the Seibu Lions before December 31, though there hasn’t been much word on what other MLB clubs may be exploring Makita’s services.  Adding Makita would be part of GM Jon Daniels’ overall bullpen strategy of adding lower-cost relief options rather than commit a lot of payroll space in an increasingly-expensive market for free agent relievers.
  • ]]>
    Rangers Agree To Minors Deals With Hanser Alberto, Kevin Jepsen Thu, 14 Dec 2017 15:39:33 +0000 The Rangers have announced minor-league pacts with infielder Hanser Alberto and righty Kevin Jepsen. Both will receive MLB Spring Training invitations.

    The 25-year-old Alberto was non-tendered by the Rangers earlier in the offseason, but he’ll remain with the only organization he has known. Alberto missed the bulk of the season due to a shoulder issue but had previously reached the majors, where he struggled in limited playing time. In 616 career plate appearances at Triple-A, Alberto carries a .296/.320/.430 batting line with a dozen home runs.

    As for Jepsen, the 2017 season was the first since 2007 in which he had failed to appear in the majors. The 33-year-old reliever had been an effective performer and even stepped into a closing role during the 2015 campaign, but ran into trouble beginning with the ensuing season. He ended up throwing only 23 2/3 Triple-A innings in 2017, over which he permitted 5.32 earned runs per nine — in large part due to surrendering five home runs — but did generate 11.0 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9.

    Rangers Acquire Carlos Tocci Thu, 14 Dec 2017 14:45:44 +0000 The Rangers have acquired outfielder Carlos Tocci from the White Sox in exchange for cash, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Chicago had selected him with the No. 4 pick in the Rule 5 draft (out of the Phillies’ system).

    Tocci was a fairly high-profile sign out of Venezuela for the Phils back in 2011, taking home a reported bonus of $759K at the time. Though he’s never exactly dominated in the minors, he’s coming off a solid .294/.346/.381 slash line in 528 plate appearances between the Phillies’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates — his first stop at each of those levels on his rise through the Majors. Tocci doesn’t come with any power and isn’t a base-stealing threat, but he’s an excellent defensive center fielder with a strong hit tool, per Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of, who had rated him 23rd among Phillies prospects.

    Tocci will retain his Rule 5 status with the Rangers, meaning he cannot be optioned to the minors without first being exposed to waivers and then offered back to the Phillies for $50,000. If he lasts the entire season on the Rangers’ big league roster (with at least 90 days on the active roster and not on the DL), he’ll become their property without any restrictions in 2019.

    Minor MLB Transactions: 12/14/17 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 09:59:38 +0000 Here are a few recent minor moves that took place amidst the recent flurry of major league rumors and transactions…

    • A source tells MLBTR’s Jeff Todd that Felix Doubront has agreed to terms on a contract with the KBO’s Lotte Giants. Doubront hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2015, though he did spend some time with the Triple-A affiliate of the A’s last season. His most successful MLB season came with the Red Sox in 2013, for whom he made 27 starts and two relief appearances spanning 162 1/3 innings. During that year, he compiled 139 strikeouts and pitched to a 4.32 ERA.
    • The Rangers have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-hander Zeke Spruill, TR Sullivan of tweets. Spruill is best known as one of the five players the Diamondbacks acquired from the Braves in exchange for Justin Upton back in 2013. The sinkerballer pitched a handful of innings across a pair of seasons with Arizona during his MLB career, allowing 16 runs in 34 IP. He’s spent the past two years pitching in Korea.
    • Unsurprisingly, yet another international prospect has been signed by the Rangers. Jesse Sanchez of reveals in a tweet that Texas has inked 16-year-old outfielder D’Vaughn Knowles to a deal for $500K. The Bahamian native will join Yenci Pena and Keithron Moss as international players to join the Rangers following Shohei Ohtani’s decision to sign with the Angels.
    • Outfielder Cesar Puello has signed with the Diamondbacks on a minors deal and will receive an invite to spring training (hat tip to Nick Piecoro of Puello made his major league debut last season; the outfielder accrued 39 plate appearances between the Angels and Rays. While his results at the MLB level were rather pedestrian, the Dominican native showed some impressive upside with a .397/.440/.620 across 200 plate appearances at Triple-A Salt Lake, the highest level of the Angels’ farm system. It should be noted that the above slash line came with a .493 BABIP.
    • Tony Pena’s son Francisco Pena has earned a minor league pact with the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. He’ll serve as an addition to the Redbirds’ catching depth. Pena has made MLB appearances with the Royals and Orioles, garnering 14 hits in 60 plate appearances (including three home runs).
    Rangers “Strongly Pursuing” Kelvin Herrera Thu, 14 Dec 2017 09:01:51 +0000 The Rangers are “strongly pursuing” late-inning reliever Kelvin Herrera of the Royals, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports tweets.

    The Rangers have already been connected to a couple of different potential trade candidates in the past few days, and it’s no secret that their bullpen could use some fortification. Their 2017 relievers as a group ranked among the worst in baseball in a number of key categories (five separate links), and they’re hoping to contend in 2018.

    As for the Royals, recent indications are they are willing to sell off major league assets to rebuild their prospect base and shave payroll. Herrera would be an obvious trade candidate should they choose to go that route. The soon-to-be 28-year-old reliever is under team control for just one more season, and projects to make $8.3MM in his final trip through arbitration.

    Herrera was one-third of a terrifying bullpen trio for Kansas City during their memorable 2014 and 2015 seasons. For most of that time, he served as the seventh-inning setup option behind Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Herrera was bumped up to the eighth inning when Holland got injured near the end of 2015, and became the Royals’ closer following the pre-2017 trade of Wade Davis to the Cubs. He struggled with the long ball in 2017 en route to a career-worst 4.25 ERA, but given his stellar track record, there’s reason to believe he could bounce back and provide the Rangers with some stability at the back end of their bullpen.

    Rangers Interested In Mark Reynolds Thu, 14 Dec 2017 01:46:20 +0000
  • The Rangers and Red Sox each have some degree of interest in free agent first baseman Mark Reynolds, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. They join a few other clubs with interest, as we covered recently.
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    Pitching Rumblings: Twins, Darvish, Cishek, Cole, Mariners, Liriano, Watson Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:21:28 +0000 While the market for starters is still fairly slow to develop, relievers have been flying off the board at the Winter Meetings. Here’s the latest chatter on some hurlers from around the game:

    • The Twins are sending signals that they’re serious about their pursuit of free agent righty Yu Darvish. As LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star-Tribune writes, skipper Paul Molitor says the organization has “targeted [Darvish] as somebody we have tremendous interest in.” That follows prior public indications of interest from GM Thad Levine, who, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press examines, has a longstanding relationship with Darvish. That piece is well worth a full read, if only for Berardino’s enjoyable chat with catcher Chris Gimenez, who worked closely with Darvish with the Rangers and has played most recently with the Twins.
    • Meanwhile, the Twins are also among the teams looking into righty Steve Cishek, according to Berardino (via Twitter). The sidearmer has been left as one of the top remaining free-agent setup men after a spate of signings at the Winter Meetings. He finished the 2017 season on a strong run with the Rays.
    • The Orioles have at least checked in on Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Certainly, Baltimore isn’t the only organization that would love to add Cole, whose name has arisen in chatter a few times in recent days. Whether the Bucs are really ready to deal him isn’t entirely clear; neither is it certain just what the club would seek in return. Yesterday, though, Buster Olney of gave perhaps the clearest indication yet that Pittsburgh may be prepared to strike an agreement, tweeting that there’s a belief from some around the game that Pittsburgh would pull the trigger if the right deal came across its desk.
    • Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto says his team is in the “red zone” on a deal, likely for a reliever, in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio tweets that Juan Nicasio is a “strongly rumored possibility,” though clearly that’s not a firm connection at this point. And it’s certainly worth noting that the M’s have, in fact, struck agreement on a trade since Dipoto went on the air — though it’s not clear whether the minor acquisition was the one he was referring to. Perhaps Dipoto was giving a nod to that swap, but it’s also possible there’s a more significant move still in store. Regardless, the M’s are clearly focused on pitching, as Dipoto has made clear and TJ Cotterill of the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
    • The Astros are weighing a reunion with lefty Francisco Liriano, according to Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Long a starter, the 34-year-old was added by the ’Stros at the 2017 trade deadline and moved into a relief role. He did not exactly thrive in that job initially, allowing seven earned runs and posting an ugly 11:10 K/BB ratio in his 14 1/3 frames over twenty appearances. Liriano will presumably also draw some looks from organizations that would propose to give him a shot at rediscovering his form as a starter.
    • Another lefty, Tony Watson, is a possible target for the Athletics, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 32-year-old has plenty of late-inning experience and finished strong after a mid-season swap to the Dodgers. In twenty innings with L.A., Watson posted a 2.70 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
    Rangers Eyeing Backup Catchers Wed, 13 Dec 2017 16:38:40 +0000
  • Rosenthal also notes within that piece that the Giants, Blue Jays, Rangers and Twins are all looking for backup catchers as well. Any from that bunch could stand out as a reasonable landing spot for Avila, though he’s stated that his preference is to play for a contender even if it comes at the expense of some playing time. Jonathan Lucroy is the biggest name on the catching market but probably doesn’t wish to serve as a backup option; Rene Rivera, Nick Hundley and Chris Stewart are among the other available catchers.
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    International Notes: Keithron Moss, Bolsinger, Wagner Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:00:46 +0000 The Rangers have signed 16-year-old shortstop Keithron Moss, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. Moss, a native of the Bahamas, trained at the Max D Sports Academy and will get a bonus of $800K. As I noted when the club signed Yenci Pena recently, the Rangers are finding other ways to allocate the large bonus pool (about $3.5MM) they were saving in part to gain an advantage in the competition for Shohei Ohtani. The switch-hitting Moss is 5’10” and weighs 170 pounds. Ben Badler of Baseball America (insider subscription required and recommended) describes him as, “mostly a line-drive hitter with gap power and a bit more sock from the right side of the plate.”

    A couple of other items from outside the United States…

    • Mike Bolsinger has signed with the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group tweets. Bolsinger posted an ERA north of 6.00 across his past two seasons with the Blue Jays and Dodgers, but has had some success in the past. Most notably, the right-hander had a 3.62 ERA and a 53.1% ground ball rate with L.A. in 2015. Bolsinger began his career with the Diamondbacks after the club selected him late in the 2010 draft.
    • Elsewhere in Japan, the Seibu Lions signed right-hander Neil Wagner to a deal worth $750K (via Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.CA). The contract is for one year, and comes with a potential $300K in incentives. The 33-year-old righty joined the Indians organization as a 21st round selection in the 2005 draft, but although he’s been with six different organizations, he’s only pitched in the majors in parts of three seasons. Across 53 MLB innings, Wagner has a 4.92 ERA, but a 4.08 xFIP estimates that he’s been nearly a full run better. He averages 96.2 MPH on his fastball and has excelled in limiting hard contact (26.8 hard%), but his 1.45 career WHIP may have been a deterrent for major league clubs.
    Tigers, Rangers Not Making Progress In Fulmer Talks Wed, 13 Dec 2017 05:47:42 +0000
  • The Rangers are one of the teams known to have contacted the Tigers about Michael Fulmer, though Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Fress Press reports that the two sides haven’t gotten very far in negotiations.  Fulmer’s ability and years of team control make him an attractive target for any club, especially the pitching-needy Rangers, though the Tigers have naturally put a huge asking price on their young righty.
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    Rangers Talking To D’Backs About Pitchers, Including Zack Greinke Wed, 13 Dec 2017 04:36:00 +0000 10:36pm: The D’Backs are “showing no interest in a salary dump,” USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link), as the Rangers are offering only “marginal prospects” and they want Arizona to pay a portion of Greinke’s contract (perhaps in the form of Choo’s deal).

    8:19pm: Texas isn’t one of the 15 teams on Greinke’s no-trade list, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports (via Twitter).  Choo can also list 10 teams per season via his own no-trade clause, though it isn’t known if the D’Backs are included.

    7:41pm: The Rangers have been in discussions about the Diamondbacks about starting pitchers, with’s T.R. Sullivan (Twitter links) reporting that Zack Greinke’s name has been included in the talks.  There isn’t any sign that a trade is close to actually happening, though Sullivan says that the negotiations “are real and on-going.”

    According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link), the Rangers need Shin-Soo Choo to be involved in the deal as well, in order to help balance out the Greinke’s enormous contract.  Choo is owed $62MM through the 2020 season, while Greinke still has a whopping $138.5MM owed to him through the 2021 campaign.

    For a Rangers team in dire need of pitching help, they would seemingly be a great fit to absorb that extra money on Greinke’s deal while also unloading an extraneous piece in Choo.  The outfielder simply hasn’t lived up to expectations since signing that seven-year, $130MM with Texas in the 2013-14 offseason.  Choo has been worth only 5.1 fWAR over his first four years in Texas, with most of that total coming just in 2014 (3.6 fWAR), as he has battled injuries and become a defensive liability, though his run-creation numbers are still slightly above average.

    Depending on what else is involved in a potential trade, moving Greinke would essentially be something of a salary dump for the D’Backs.  Even though the ace righty is coming off an excellent season (rebounding nicely from a down year in 2016), Greinke simply accounts for such a giant portion of Arizona’s payroll that the team is hard-pressed to make many other moves, given that the Snakes are again expected to spend in the $115-$120MM range next year.  Greinke at least has much more trade value now than he did last winter in the wake of his tough 2016 campaign, though it would still be a tough blow for the D’Backs to lose their ace while still hoping to build on their NLDS appearance from a year ago.

    Since the two teams were engaging in talks on multiple starters, it’s fair to say that Patrick Corbin might be a more reasonable trade candidate that wouldn’t involve nearly the salary machinations of a Greinke/Choo deal.  Corbin is projected to earn $8.3MM in 2018, his final year of arbitration eligibility, so he’d also represent some significant payroll savings for Arizona if dealt.

    Latest On Billy Hamilton Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:28:45 +0000 There’s significant enough interest in Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton that it’s possible a deal could come together during the Winter Meetings, according to a report from Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. In particular, the Giants are holding “serious discussions” with Cincinnati.

    The Giants have long been connected to Hamilton, with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeting earlier today they are the strongest contender while noting the Reds are interested in clearing room for Jesse Winker in the outfield. But Buchanan stresses they are not the only team still involved in talks. Hamilton is said to be the Reds player generating the most trade interest, with numerous other teams — including the Rangers — also still showing real interest.

    Hamilton, of course, is a burner on the bases and top-quality up-the-middle defender. He also has not yet established himself at the plate at the game’s highest level, though. MLBTR recently broke down Hamilton’s trade candidacy in full at this link.

    Pitching Market Rumblings: Brewers, Rays, Duffy, Nicasio, Arrieta Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:28:06 +0000 Starting pitching is in the news this morning, with several notable names being discussed. But there are a whole lot of other moving pieces out there. Let’s run down the latest chatter on the pitching market:

    • The Brewers have chatted with the Rays about their potential rotation trade pieces, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter), who cautions that there’s no indication to this point that “any traction was made.” It’s not immediately clear which Tampa Bay hurlers have piqued the interest of the Milwaukee front office, though surely they’d have the trade pieces necessary to swing a deal for just about anyone. Chris Archer remains the big name to watch, though we don’t yet know whether he’s truly available. The Brewers could conceivably have interest in other pitchers, too, including veteran Jake Odorizzi, but it’s all speculation at this stage.
    • Meanwhile, the Brewers are said to have interest in righty Jesse Chavez, Haudricourt also tweets. We heard yesterday the veteran swingman was likely to find a new home this week.
    • Veteran closer Fernando Rodney has met with the Rangers and Twins, per’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter) and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). It’s not clear at this point how serious the interest is, though Rodney might conceivably be an option for either club, both of which have largely unsettled ninth-inning plans.
    • Another interesting possibility on the rotation market is Royals lefty Danny Duffy. He has drawn interest from the Cubs, per Robert Murray of Fan Rag. Indeed, K.C. has been contacted by rivals on Duffy and a few other notably interesting assets,’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. It’s entirely unclear at this point what kinds of scenarios might be pondered on Duffy, but the Royals will surely want a significant return for a player they only recently extended. His contract runs through 2021 and promises him $60MM. While a DUI arrest and elbow surgery introduce some uncertainty into the situation, from a pure on-field perspective Duffy remains a valuable asset as he nears his 29th birthday.
    • The Mets are among the organizations with interest in free agent righty Juan Nicasio, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (via Twitter). The 31-year-old pitched quite well throughout 2017, both before and after an odd series of August transactions. He ended the year with a 2.61 ERA over 72 1/3 innings, with 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
    • We’ve heard some possibility that the Nationals could have interest in free agent righty Jake Arrieta, and’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that agent Scott Boras is working to sell that potential fit to the team’s ownership. Then again, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post characterizes the Nationals’ interest as “tepid” in a tweet. The division-rival Phillies are reportedly also a possibility, along with several other teams, as we covered this morning. Given that the Nats have an opening in their rotation, it isn’t at all surprising to hear that Boras is pushing for it to be filled by Arrieta; after all, his connection to the organization’s ownership is quite well-established by this point. Of course, adding yet another high-priced starter would carry some pretty notable risk for the organization, so it stands to reason that the club will explore other possibilities before deciding whether to join the pursuit of the 31-year-old Arrieta. Crasnick also takes a broader look at Arrieta’s still-developing market, including an extensive examination of Boras’s marketing strategy.
    • While there is action at the top of the pitching market, the Blue Jays seem to be taking a patient approach, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes. While GM Ross Atkins says there’s a lack of depth in the rotation market, he also has indicated no interest in pushing hard to strike a deal. It seems the organization’s inclination remains to seek value in bolstering the rotation depth.
    • For the Diamondbacks, meanwhile, the team may at least be preparing to consider deals involving some fairly surprising players. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic runs down the team’s options for trade candidates who might free up some payroll space and enable the team to achieve future value. At the top of the list are center fielder A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin. Meanwhile, the D-Backs are certainly still looking to field a competitor in the near term as well. They are one team with some level of interest in reliever Seung-Hwan Oh, according to Murray. Oh was not able to match his compelling MLB debut season in 2017, but still posted 8.2 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 while carrying a 4.10 ERA over 59 1/3 innings.
    Rangers Have Inquired On Michael Fulmer, Marcell Ozuna Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:25:18 +0000 After missing on Shohei Ohtani, the Rangers are spreading a wide net in search of improvements. The latest word is that they have asked about two of the top potential trade assets on this winter’s market.

    Texas is one of several teams to have inquired on the availability of Tigers righty Michael Fulmer, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). Grant also discussed the possibility earlier, noting some of the many complications but also the fact that Detroit seems willing to entertain offers. The pre-arb righty is recovering from nerve transposition surgery but has an early-career track record that will support a massive asking price from the rebuilding Tigers.

    And while the club has alternatives on hand to play the outfield, the Rangers have also put out feelers with the Marlins regarding Marcell Ozuna, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Ozuna is projected by MLBTR to earn a hefty $10.9MM in his second-to-last trip through arbitration, but that’s still a bargain rate after his breakout 2017 campaign. For the cost-cutting Marlins, though, now may well be the time to move Ozuna — so long as the team can secure an appropriately significant return.

    Of course, it’s important to bear in mind that the Rangers have also been connected to a wide variety of others in recent days. On the pitching side, that includes free agents Yu Darvish (link) and Alex Cobb (link) as well as possible trade candidates Gerrit Cole (link) and Matt Harvey (link). And Texas is reportedly among the many teams still in on free agent first baseman Carlos Santana (link).

    The broader takeaway, then, seems to be that the Rangers are engaged in a broad effort to find a high-quality player or two to bolster their roster. With several areas susceptible of improvement, and also perhaps some flexibility with some existing pieces, it’s still possible to imagine the roster developing in any number of different ways.

    Rangers, Padres, Rockies Join Indians, Others In Pursuit Of Carlos Santana Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:42:36 +0000 TUESDAY, 7:42am: Santana and his representatives are weighing offers from several teams, Hoynes reports, though it isn’t certain if he is close to accepting a deal.

    MONDAY, 5:04pm: The Padres have indeed discussed Santana, but “it seems they’re still focused on” Hosmer, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).

    1:51pm: The Rockies are also showing some interest in Santana, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweets. Colorado has a clear opening at first base, though the team has indicated its top priorities lie elsewhere.

    10:27am: Cleveland’s top extension offer to Santana was three years and $36MM, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets, and the organization would “likely go higher” now that he’s on the open market.

    SUNDAY, 9:00pm: The Indians made Santana a contract offer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes reports.  While the offer wasn’t taken, the Tribe have been informed that they will get a chance to counter any offer Santana receives from another team that he considered acceptable.

    6:32pm: Carlos Santana is already drawing quite a bit of interest this offseason, and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer adds the Rangers and Padres to the list of other teams (including the Phillies, Red Sox, and Mariners) already linked to Santana on the rumor mill.

    Texas is known to be focusing on adding pitching this winter, though the team’s offense also lacked some of the well-rounded attack of past years.  Santana would clearly be a big upgrade in the first base/DH hole left behind by free agent Mike Napoli, who struggled last year in a sub-replacement level season.  Santana’s arrival would bolster the Rangers’ lineup against the possible departure of Adrian Beltre after the 2018 season.

    Installing Santana at first base would have a ripple effect throughout the Rangers’ lineup.  Joey Gallo would have to return to left field, with Nomar Mazara shifting to right and Shin-Soo Choo being limited to DH duties.  Top prospect Willie Calhoun had been mentioned as a possible candidate for regular DH or corner outfield duty, though Texas might want to give him a bit more seasoning rather than expect Calhoun to immediately contribute to a team that hopes to contend.

    Previous reports seemed to downplay San Diego’s possible interest in Santana, though it could be that the Padres have since considered Santana for what seems to be an increasing desire to sign a first baseman.  The Padres have also had interest in Eric Hosmer, with the logic being that the 28-year-old Hosmer is young enough to still be productive in a few years when San Diego is theoretically finished with its rebuild.  Santana, by contrast, turns 32 in April, and while the slugger hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down, he wouldn’t have the luxury of the occasional DH rest day while playing for a National League team.

    Adding a first baseman would necessitate shifting Wil Myers into a corner outfield role, though the Padres may see that as an acceptable tradeoff for adding offense.  The Padres finished at or near the bottom of most major offensive categories last year, so a proven above-average hitter like Santana (who hit .259/.363/.455 with 23 homers over 667 PA last year and has posted a 123 wRC+ over his career) would add some much-needed pop to the lineup.

    Santana rejected the Indians’ qualifying offer, and thus the Rangers and Padres would each need to surrender some compensation to sign the first baseman.  Texas would give up their second-highest draft pick and $500K of international signing bonus money, while San Diego would only have to surrender its third-highest draft pick.

    Rangers Rumors: Yu, G. Cole Tue, 12 Dec 2017 02:35:29 +0000 The Rangers talked to the Pirates about acquiring right-hander Gerrit Cole, but those discussions didn’t go anywhere, TR Sullivan of reports (Twitter link). Given that the Rangers are in need of starters even after signing Doug Fister and Mike Minor, the possibility of them turning back to old friend and top free agent Yu Darvish has come up. General manager Jon Daniels revealed Monday that the Rangers and Darvish still have a strong relationship even after they traded him away last July, Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram tweets. For his part, Darvish is interested in a reunion, agent Joel Wolfe told Wilson and other reporters (Twitter link). The potential of Texas deploying a six-man rotation doesn’t necessarily appeal to Darvish, though, despite the fact that he spoke in favor of that setup on multiple occasions in the past. “He’s one of those guys that would rather pitch on short rest than long rest,” Wolfe said.

    FA Rumors: LoMo, Rox, Hunter, Mets, Kintzler, Brewers, O’s, Tigers, Jays Mon, 11 Dec 2017 23:41:02 +0000 The latest free agent rumors…

    • Contrary to a report from Sunday, the Rockies haven’t had any discussions about signing first baseman Logan Morrison, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (Twitter link).
    • Reliever Tommy Hunter has emerged as a “prime target” for the Mets in their search for bullpen help, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter). The 31-year-old right-hander was quietly excellent over 58 2/3 innings with the Rays in 2017, recording a 2.61 ERA and putting up 9.82 K/9 against 2.15 BB/9.
    • Count the Diamondbacks among those interested in reliever Brandon Kintzler, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who expects the former Twins closer to land a two-year deal. Kintzler suggested last month that his wife is rooting for him to sign with Arizona. The Twins continue to monitor him, and they’ve also checked in on almost every other available pitcher, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey revealed (Twitter link via Rhett Bollinger of
    • Brewers GM David Stearns said Monday that he’s likely to “cross paths” at the Winter Meetings with the agents for second baseman Neil Walker and reliever Anthony Swarzak, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Walker and Swarzak ended last season with the Brewers after coming over in trades and performed quite well during their short stints in Milwaukee.
    • Although the Orioles badly need starters, they’re not inclined to dole out long deals. GM Dan Duquette suggested to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun and other reporters Monday that four- to five-year pacts for pitchers generally don’t work out well (Twitter link). On the other hand, Duquette hasn’t closed the door on re-signing righty Chris Tillman, who figures to be an affordable, short-term pickup after enduring a dreadful 2017 (Twitter link via Roch Kubatko of
    • As is the case with Baltimore, the Tigers are in the market for a starter who won’t require a long commitment, GM Al Avila informed reporters (via Evan Woodbery of, on Twitter). Detroit is open to reeling in another starter on a one-year deal to join the just-signed Mike Fiers.
    • The Blue Jays are engaging with multiple starters and relievers, GM Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet and other reporters Monday. They “will most likely add an infielder,” too, and are looking at outfielders, Atkins said (Twitter link).
    • The Rangers are considering signing catcher Rene Rivera, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). The righty-hitting Rivera, who was with the Mets and Cubs last year, batted .252/.305/.431 in 237 plate appearances. Behind the plate, he caught an excellent 38 percent of would-be base stealers (10 percent above the league average) and, as has been the case for most of his career, held his own as a framer.
    • Right-hander Jesse Chavez appears likely to sign this week, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. The 34-year-old Chavez spent last season with the Angels and posted an ugly 5.35 ERA across 138 innings and 38 appearances (21 starts), though he did log acceptable strikeout and walk rates (7.76 K/9, 2.93 BB/9).
    Rangers, Mets Have Discussed Profar/Harvey Swap; Orioles Also Talking Harvey Mon, 11 Dec 2017 23:00:28 +0000 5:00pm: A Brach-Harvey swap is unlikely to occur, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets.

    4:34pm: The Orioles are discussing dealing a reliever for Harvey tweets Rosenthal, who lists Brad Brach and Darren O’Day as potential trade chips.

    3:28pm: The Rangers aren’t willing to trade Profar for a year of control, Grant tweets.

    2:59pm: The Orioles are also discussing Harvey with the Mets, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). The possible structure isn’t at all clear at this point.

    Heyman, meanwhile, throws some doubt on the entire idea of Texas and New York linking up in a follow-up tweet. Profar’s control rights may be too valuable for Harvey from the Rangers’ perspective, he suggests. The Rangers were also looking into other Mets pitchers, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets.

    2:50pm: The Rangers and Mets have engaged in some discussions on a possible deal that would involve Texas infielder Jurickson Profar and New York righty Matt Harvey. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first broached the possibility while Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeted that the sides have engaged in some chatter.

    It’s tough to know just what to make of the news at this point. We heard recently that New York will consider moving Harvey, a former ace who has been a shell of himself of late. He’s projected to earn $5.9MM in arbitration before reaching the open market at the end of the season. While the Mets still need the rotation depth and would no doubt prefer to see for themselves whether Harvey can return to form, there’s also a long and checkered history to consider along with the team’s many other roster needs — including a second baseman.

    On the Rangers’ side, Profar has become a forgotten man. He did not receive a late-season call-up after an early demotion to the minors, a decision that also left the Rangers with three more seasons of arb control. That enhances Profar’s trade value, though certainly his marginal overall big league showing — a .229/.309/.329 slash over 718 plate appearances — makes it questionable whether he’ll draw a significant return. Profar has shown more in the minors, though. Indeed, he batted a strong .287/.383/.428 in his 383 trips to the plate at Triple-A in 2017, drawing 43 walks while going down on strikes just 33 times.

    The assumption long has been that the Rangers would look to deal Profar this winter, as he’s out of options and does not have an obvious place on the roster. And the team certainly still needs starting pitching even after two early moves to bolster the rotation. Whether Harvey is the right risk to take, though, is anyone’s guess. He has shown that he can still bring a mid-nineties fastball, but the velo is still down against his pre- and early-post-Tommy John numbers and Harvey also showed a rising walk rate (10.9%) and plummeting swinging-strike rate (7.5%) in 2017.

    Similarly, the Mets will have some questions as to whether it’s worth taking a shot on Profar. All told, it’s a trade scenario that would have been quite a bit more exciting a few years ago but which could still make some sense for both organizations. It’s certainly possible, too, that other pieces could become involved in discussions.

    Rangers To Sign Chris Martin Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:50:58 +0000 The Rangers have struck a two-year deal with righty Chris Martin, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Martin will receive a $4MM guarantee with $550K in annual incentives that can be reached if he reaches unstated games-finished thresholds. Martin is represented by SSG Baseball.

    Though the 6’8″ Martin did not succeed in two brief MLB chances, he has gone on to produce outstanding results in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Over the past two seasons, he carries a 1.12 ERA with 9.3 K/9 against 1.3 BB/9 over 88 1/3 innings.

    With the move, the Rangers have continued a long-established practice of bringing back pitchers that have found success in Japan after first failing to gain traction on this side of the Pacific. Another recent returnee, Tony Barnette, recently re-signed with Texas and will also factor into the current relief mix.

    Martin will step into the club’s pen for the next two seasons, but will not be controllable beyond that point. His contract, Rosenthal notes, provides that the team will not be able to tender him a contract via arbitration after the 2019 campaign.

    Latest On Pitching Plans For Rangers, Orioles Entering Winter Meetings Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:37:37 +0000 Every team in baseball is still looking for pitching, so in that regard the Rangers and Orioles don’t stand out. But these two organizations are similarly situated in some regards; notably, each came into the offseason with rosters that appear to be capable but not certain of contention along with clear needs for significant improvement in their starting rotations.

    For Texas, the Winter Meetings offer an opportunity and a challenge to chart a course that won’t involve Shohei Ohtani. While the pursuit of the two-way Japanese star is over, the team is still considering some novel approaches to its rotation usage. As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes, that might involve a six or even four-man rotation setup, depending in no small part upon the team’s eventual moves. Of course, Mike Minor and Doug Fister were already brought aboard, but that doesn’t mean the club is done adding.

    Notably, the Rangers aren’t just looking at budget arms. According to Grant, the club has not only checked in on quality veterans like Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, but has “maintained some contact” with former star Yu Darvish and hasn’t yet ruled out a surprise reunion. While he was dealt away at the trade deadline after the sides failed to line up on an extension, Darvish’s roots in Texas obviously trace back to his initial entry to the majors. Grant cautions that the team isn’t planning to lead the charge after Darvish or another top hurler, but it’s notable nonetheless that there seems to be serious consideration.

    It’s less pressing in some regards, but the Rangers will also be looking to improve their relief corps. Late-inning pieces, in particular, would clearly be on the wish list. One player to keep an eye on, per’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter), is righty Brandon Kintzler. Of course, he has also been linked to quite a few other organizations. The sinkerballer has obviously boosted his stock quite a bit with a hefty groundball rate and steady work in high-leverage situations over the past two seasons. Japanese reliever Kazuhisa Makita could also represent a potential target for Texas, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes.

    The situation is somewhat different for the Orioles, whose need for rotation pieces is even greater than that of the Rangers. With multiple pieces needed and relatively little available payroll space, Baltimore isn’t going to dabble at the top of the market, Dan Connolly of writes. That’s essentially the same conclusion reached by Roch Kubatko of, who says the Orioles “really like” Cobb but don’t expect to be able to afford him.

    Wary of the risks of a long-term pitching contract, the O’s plan instead to look further down the pecking order of rotation pieces. As Connolly explains, though, several of those pitchers have already gone off the market with early deals. Veteran righty Andrew Cashner is perhaps the most logical remaining mid-tier target for the team, he notes, while a variety of less costly pitchers also figure to be strongly considered. Both reports suggest southpaw Jason Vargas as a plausible name to bolster the back end of the rotation, so he’s certainly a player to watch.

    Quick Hits: Sports Science, Iglesias, Moylan, Rangers Mon, 11 Dec 2017 12:51:12 +0000 Though baseball hasn’t publicly embraced sports science the way it has analytics, the Giants are looking towards that very field as a way to gain an advantage. A fascinating article by Ian MacMahan of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) provides some insight into the goals of Geoff Head, San Francisco’s newly-promoted assistant director of player development. “Everybody in baseball is tired by August,” Head tells MacMahan. “But if we are a little less fatigued than our opponent, it gives us an advantage.” The field of sports science focuses heavily on factors such as hydration, nutrition, workload and sleep; experts attempt to put together a formula that will keep players performing at their optimal levels as often as possible. According to Dr. Glenn Fleisig, the main difference between sports science and analytics is that sports science focuses on the “physical and medical aspects of a player,” as opposed to gameplay-based statistics. Less than half of all MLB teams currently have a dedicated sports scientist on their staff, and heavier use of sports science data could lead to big improvements by baseball players. As MacMahan puts it, “no one hits a home run sitting in the dugout nursing lead-filled legs and a tight back.”

    • Evan Woodbery of provides some insight into the questions the Tigers face as the winter meetings commence. Most notably, Woodbery reports that there hasn’t been much buzz surrounding shortstop Jose Iglesias, who will become a free agent after the 2018 season. With no open spots on the 40-man roster, Iglesias is one player Detroit could consider moving in order to take advantage of having the first pick in baseball’s Rule 5 Draft this Thursday (As Woodbery points out, Ian Kinsler could also be on the move before then). Though Iglesias hit just .255/.288/.369 across 489 plate appearances last year, his excellent defense boosted his fWAR to 1.6. Because he’s projected to earn just $5.6MM in his final year of arbitration, there would seem to be some surplus value in his contract.
    • Reliever Peter Moylan is generating some interest, specifically from the Royals and Braves (hat tip to Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston). As Drellich notes, Moylan held opposing right-handed hitters to a .161/.244/.236 batting line in 2017 (and may have also provided the Royals with some intangible value thanks to his espresso skills). The 38-year-old Moylan has typically been excellent against righties over the course of his 11-year major league career; he’s posted a 2.22 ERA against them in 280 innings with the Braves, Dodgers and Royals.
    • Even after losing out on Shohei Ohtani, the Rangers may still elect to use a non-traditional rotation, Evan Grant of SportsDay writes. Texas has reportedly kept contact with Yu Darvish, who has pitched in a six-man rotation in Japan and prefers such a setup; that might be one item which could help entice him to return to Arlington. Grant mentions Cole Hamels, who is generally a stickler for routine, as someone who could present a roadblock to such a strategy. However, based on Hamels’ quotes in the piece, he’d be willing to consider it if the modification helped bring about a postseason berth. “I’d love to get to the postseason again and win a World Series. That’s what I want to do here,” said Hamels. “If we can be stronger and healthier, not as worn down, you have the advantage.”
    Cubs Among Teams Pursuing Alex Cobb Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:17:42 +0000 SUNDAY: Along with the Cubs, count the Rangers, Yankees, Blue Jays and Orioles among teams interested in Cobb, according to FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link).

    SATURDAY: The Cubs added right-hander Tyler Chatwood on a three-year, $38MM guarantee this week, but another sizable investment for their rotation could be on the way. With the Winter Meetings nearing, they’re making a “strong push” to sign free agent righty Alex Cobb, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. Their hope is to reach a deal with Cobb prior to Monday, which would enable them to turn their focus elsewhere during the meetings and prevent other suitors from aggressively pursuing the 30-year-old.

    Cobb going to the North Side of Chicago has frequently come up as a possibility since last season ended, in part because of his connection to multiple members of the Cubs’ coaching staff. He played under manager Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay from 2011-14 and was under the tutelage of pitching coach Jim Hickey with the Rays through last season. Hickey, whom the Cubs hired in October, has been Cobb’s sole pitching coach since he debuted in 2011. Cobb spoke glowingly of those two last month and said he’d be “very honored” to sign with the Cubs.

    While Cobb would be a risky signing, having undergone two serious procedures (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in 2011 and Tommy John surgery in 2015) during his career, he’s still poised to land one of the richest contracts on the open market this winter. Across 700 major league innings, including a career-high 179 1/3 last season, Cobb has pitched to a 3.50 ERA with 7.33 K/9, 2.62 BB/9 and a 54 percent groundball rate. Some of his numbers took a dip in 2017 (6.42 K/9, 47.8 percent grounder rate) – his first full year back from Tommy John surgery – though his velocity looked normal and he managed a quality 3.66 ERA/4.16 FIP, also recording a career-best walk rate (2.21 per nine).

    Along with guaranteeing a notable sum to Cobb, who rejected the Rays’ $17.4MM qualifying offer, the Cubs would have to surrender their second-highest draft pick in 2018 (No. 63 overall) and $500K in international bonus pool space to sign him. But that prospect clearly isn’t scaring off the Cubs, who will collect compensation if their own qualified free agents (starter Jake Arrieta and closer Wade Davis) depart. The Cubs are still interested in retaining those two, per Levine, but picking up Cobb would give them five capable starters (Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Chatwood are the others) and seemingly lessen the chances for an Arrieta re-up.

    Rangers Notes: Darvish, Bullpen Sun, 10 Dec 2017 01:20:23 +0000
  • Speaking of six-man rotations, the Rangers could be prime candidates to go that route in 2018 if they manage to bring back Yu Darvish, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News observes. The Rangers didn’t enter the offseason planning to spend big money on a single player, but Grant wonders if they’ll pivot from that strategy after failing to reel in Ohtani. As such, he proposes offering a four-year, $80MM guarantee to Darvish and including incentives and a fifth-year vesting option. While that seems light for the longtime Ranger and recent Dodger, Grant posits that both Darvish’s affinity for Texas and the prospect of going with a six-man rotation – something the hurler advocates – could help sway him toward a reunion.
  • In another piece, Grant runs down a Winter Meetings to-do list for the Rangers, arguing that they should look to spend on a top-tier free agent starter (Darvish would qualify), improve their bullpen, attempt to trade Shin-Soo Choo and retain their key prospects. Regarding the bullpen, the Rangers are more inclined to target multiple affordable relievers than sign one of Wade Davis or Greg Holland, per Grant.
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