- The Rangers dropped to 13-19 after today’s loss to the Mariners, and if Texas can’t turn things around, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron opines that Yu Darvish could be a major trade chip at the deadline. Darvish is only under contract through this season, though as Cameron notes, other rental starters dealt in recent years have still merited big returns, so the Rangers could look for something like the package the Tigers obtained from the Blue Jays for David Price in 2015. The Yankees and Cubs are best-equipped to afford this outlay of young talent (though it remains to be seen if Chicago will make another big deadline splash), with other teams like the Rockies, Astros and Red Sox also possible fits as trade partners.
- The Rangers have purchased righty Austin Bibens-Dirkx’s contract from Triple-A Round Rock and optioned lefty Dario Alvarez in a corresponding move, according to the club. The 32-year-old Bibens-Dirkx has never pitched in the majors, having spent the first 11-plus years of his career in the minors with several teams, including Seattle, which selected him in the 16th round of the 2006 draft. Bibens-Dirkx owns a lifetime 5.16 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 383 2/3 Triple-A frames.
- Rival executives expect Rangers general manager Jon Daniels to act aggressively if the club isn’t contending as the trade deadline approaches, says Rosenthal. That could mean moving ace Yu Darvish, a free agent-to-be, but doing so might not be as easy as it seems, Rosenthal contends. Darvish has a limited no-trade clause that could include 10 teams, for one, and Texas has “a unique relationship” with the 30-year-old, according to Rosenthal. As such, the team could try to extend Darvish in lieu of dealing him. However, thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, there’s less incentive to retain an impending free agent than there was under the previous system. Last offseason, for instance, the Rangers could have extended Darvish a qualifying offer and gotten back a first-round pick had he rejected it and signed elsewhere. In the same scenario next winter, though, the Rangers would only net a pick after the second round as compensation for Darvish’s exit in free agency.
- The Blue Jays have acquired catcher Pat Cantwell from the Rangers, per announcements from both teams. A player to be named or cash will head to Texas in return. The 27-year-old, a third-round pick in the 2012 draft, was off to a rough start this year at Triple-A. He has managed only a .226/.296/.265 batting line in 286 plate appearances at the highest level of the minors.
- Among organizations taking an early look at possible upgrades, the Rangers are said to be eyeing rotation help — if not also the addition of a bat. No doubt the loss of Cole Hamels for roughly two months will increase the urgency, though it’s also fair to wonder to what extent the team will end up buying at all. As Heyman and others have noted, if the Rangers’ struggles continue, that could free Texas to dangle Yu Darvish and Jonathan Lucroy at the deadline.
- There are a few updates on some key injuries for the Rangers. Firstly, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan writes that right-hander Tyson Ross is set to throw a two-inning simulated game in Seattle this weekend. Ross’ rehab from TOS surgery was slowed by back spasms, but he recently tossed a 30-pitch bullpen session without issue. He’ll need three to four starts before he’s ready to return to a Major League mound, Sullivan notes, making an early June return feasible. And third baseman Adrian Beltre could potentially beat Ross back to the big league club, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets that general manager Jon Daniels said today that the team is optimistic about a late-May return for Beltre.
The Rangers have placed lefty Cole Hamels on the 10-day DL, per a club announcement. He was scratched from his most recent start with an oblique strain; the injury is expected to cost him around eight weeks, per the club.
Hamels, 33, was expected to anchor the rotation alongside Yu Darvish. But he has struggled to open the season, recording only 4.1 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 over his 32 2/3 innings. Hamels has still managed a strong 3.03 ERA, so the bottom-line looks good, but his swinging-strike rate (7.5%) is lagging far behind his career average (12.3%) and he is benefiting from a .219 BABIP.
Righty Anthony Bass has been brought up to take the open roster spot. While his first (and so far, only) MLB outing of the year went poorly, he has been pitching well at Triple-A since returning from a 2016 stint in Japan. Over 9 1/3 innings, Bass has allowed just one earned run and only four hits while recording an outstanding 17:4 K/BB ratio.
Rangers starters currently rate third in the Majors with a 3.45 ERA, but their 4.68 FIP and 4.71 xFIP rank among the bottom third of the league, and their 4.89 SIERA is the second-worst mark in baseball. In other words, regression from this unit already looked likely, and subtracting Hamels from the mix doesn’t figure to do Texas any favors. As can be seen on their depth chart at Roster Resource, the top internal candidates to fill in for Hamels are A.J. Griffin, Clayton Blackburn, Eddie Gamboa and Dillon Gee.
- Southpaw Cole Hamels was scratched from his outing for the Rangers today, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweeted. Oblique tightness was given as the reason, though the severity isn’t yet clear. Texas can scarcely afford anything less than a healthy and effective Hamels as the team seeks to dig itself out of the AL West basement. The veteran has managed just 4.1 K/9 on the year, less than half his career average, with a 7.5% swinging-strike rate that’s well off his typical pace (12.3% lifetime). That said, he still carries a 3.03 ERA through 32 2/3 innings.
The Ranger announced after yesterday’s game that infielder/outfielder Jurickson Profar has been optioned to Triple-A Round Rock in order to clear a spot on the roster for infielder Pete Kozma, who was claimed off waivers from the Yankees.
The decision to option Profar may be a surprise to some that haven’t followed his season closely. Profar clearly comes with plenty of name value after twice topping Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list a few years ago and homering in his first Major League plate appearances as a 19-year-old back in 2012. However, shoulder injuries wiped out two years of Profar’s career, and he’s followed up a lackluster 2016 season with a dismal start to the 2017 campaign. Through his first 46 plate appearances this season, the switch-hitting Profar mustered just a .135/.289/.135 batting line.
The decision to option Profar, general manager Jon Daniels tells Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, came down to the simple matter that the team did not want him gathering rust on the bench.
“The way the rotation is in left field and the infield right now, with the lack of regular playing time, we felt the time was better spent at Triple-A playing every day,” said Daniels. “We believe he’s capable of more, but he’s just not going to get better sitting on the bench.”
Playing time has been an issue for Profar since returning from his shoulder troubles last season. Elvis Andrus is locked into a long-term deal at Profar’s natural shortstop, while Rougned Odor has broken out as a power-hitting second baseman and been rewarded with a six-year contract of his own. When Adrian Beltre opened the season on the disabled list, the third base role went to Joey Gallo, who has thrived in 2017. Profar was relegated to left field to begin the season, but his anemic performance at the plate ultimately led the Rangers to give Ryan Rua more time there.
Profar’s lack of a defined role on the team has made him a popular trade candidate among speculators over the past year, though it’s currently difficult to imagine his trade value being at a much lower point than it currently resides. Since returning to the Majors in 2016, Profar has batted .227/.317/.314, and though he just turned 24 years old in February, he’s not exactly a highly controllable option, either; Profar entered the 2017 season with three years, 124 days of Major League service time thanks to the fact that he accrued two years of service while on the 60-day disabled list due to his shoulder troubles.
While Grant notes that the demotion temporarily halts Profar’s service clock, it would take a significant amount of time in the minors to prevent him from getting to four years of service in 2017. With 29 days of service time already under his belt this season, Profar would reach four years of service time with just 19 more days at the Major League level. In other words, he’d effectively have to spend almost the rest of the season in Triple-A in order to delay his free agency until the 2020-21 offseason.
The Rangers have claimed infielder Pete Kozma off waivers from the Yankees, per an announcement from New York. Texas will make a corresponding move to create room for Kozma when he reports, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
The 29-year-old Kozma had been in limbo since the Yankees designated him for assignment Friday, which came when the team activated shortstop Didi Gregorius from the disabled list. Kozma appeared in 11 games this month for the Yankees, though he only collected 10 plate appearances. The ex-Cardinal didn’t play in the majors at all last season, instead spending the year with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. Kozma hit a non-threatening .222/.288/.293 in 693 plate appearances with St. Louis from 2011-15, but he did provide quality work at shortstop with 11 Defensive Runs Saved and a 9.9 Ultimate Zone Rating in 1,432 innings at the position.
For Texas, the addition of Kozma could lead to a minor league demotion for former star prospect Jurickson Profar, Grant suggests (on Twitter). In 15 games this year, most of which have come in left field, Profar has posted a .135/.289/.135 line across 46 PAs. He hasn’t appeared in a game since April 25.