The Rangers have settled on their roster mix to begin the season. Righties Ian Gibaut and Edinson Volquez have made the team along with outfielder Rob Refsnyder. All will be selected to the 40-man roster.
The Rangers reinstated left-hander Yohander Mendez on Wednesday and added him to their 60-man player pool, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes. The move leaves the Rangers with two open spots on their Summer Camp roster.
Mendez had been on the club’s suspended list since March for seeking unauthorized medical care as a result of shoulder inflammation. His team-imposed ban was the most recent disappointment in a career that hasn’t gone according to plan thus far. When he debuted in the majors in 2016, multiple outlets considered Mendez a top 50 prospect. The 25-year-old hasn’t seen much action in the bigs since then, though, and the results haven’t been pretty when he has pitched. Mendez owns a 6.23 ERA with a matching 6.23 K/9 against 4.72 BB/9 across 47 2/3 innings in a Rangers uniform. Home runs have been a problem for Mendez, whose difficulty keeping the ball out of the air (35.5 percent groundball rate) has led to 1.7 HRs per nine.
To his credit, Mendez has been much better at the Triple-A level, where he has logged 97 innings of 3.71 ERA ball with 8.1 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. But with no minor league season in 2020, MLB is Mendez’s only hope of pitching competitively this year.
Left-handed reliever Yohander Mendez has been placed on the suspended list by the Texas Rangers for seeking unauthorized medical care, which is a violation of this contract, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was tight-lipped and didn’t elaborate with any further details. Generally, MLB players must seek permission before getting outside medical opinions. Sullivan notes that Mendez will be allowed to remain in camp and continue rehabbing his shoulder inflammation, which is presumably the injury he sought outside advice about.
Since making his debut with the Rangers in 2016, Mendez has appeared in 20 games for the team, including five starts in 2018. Over that span, he has produced an ERA of 6.23 with 33 strikeouts over 47 2/3 IP. He was expected to compete for a bullpen spot this year. It remains to be seen whether this suspension will now prevent him from doing so.
This isn’t the first time Mendez has caught the ire of his employers. He was optioned down to the minors in 2018 after a night on the town with Rougned Odor and some members of the Kansas City Royals “got out of hand.” Much like with today’s story, Jon Daniels kept the details of that incident close to his chest.
A few more notes from Rangers camp…
- LHP Kolby Allard was optioned to Triple-A Nashville on Wednesday. The 22-year-old made 9 starts for the club in 2019, producing a 4.96 ERA and compiling 33 strikeouts over 45 1/3 innings pitched. But the offseason additions of Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles have pushed him into a depth role, at least for the time being.
- RHP Jesse Chavez is not going to be ready for Opening Day, according to Daniels. Chavez has been experiencing “shoulder weakness” this spring as he attempts to come back from the elbow surgery he underwent last August. “We are going to give him a couple of weeks to build up his strength before we get him back on a mound,” Daniels said. “The end of April would be a positive outcome to have him back in games.” The Rangers signed Chavez to a two-year $8MM deal prior to the 2019 season. The veteran oscillated between the rotation and the bullpen in the first year of his deal, accumulating 78 innings over 48 games, including 9 starts, putting up a 4.85 era in that time with 72 strikeouts.
Once the ace of the Athletics’ rotation, Frankie Montas has been something of a forgotten man since being issued an 80-game PED suspension on June 21. Montas will be eligible for the last five games of Oakland’s regular season, however, could still help the A’s get into the playoffs. GM David Forst told Chris Townsend of the A’s Cast podcast (partial transcript from Ben Ross of NBC Sports Bay Area) that the team is prepared to use Montas as either a starter or reliever, and has kept him stretched out in simulated games in case a start is required in one of those five games. Montas could also get a minor league game under his belt if Oakland’s Double-A or Triple-A affiliates advance in the postseason, as Montas is eligible to begin a rehab assignment beginning on September 10.
Montas was in the midst of a breakout campaign at the time of his suspension, with a 2.70 ERA, 9.7 K/9, and 4.62 K/BB rate over 90 innings. Though he won’t be eligible for the postseason if the Athletics are able to claim a wild card, Montas could certainly still be a valuable x-factor during what could be a very tense final week of action as the A’s, Indians, and Rays battle for the two wild card slots.
Some stray items from around baseball…
- After returning from the injured list just yesterday, Ramon Laureano left the Athletics’ 10-2 win over the Tigers tonight due to what the A’s described as a right leg cramp. After a leadoff double in the sixth inning, Laureano made it into second base despite “limping right out of the box,” as MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos described the situation. Manager Bob Melvin told Gallegos and other reporters that he hoped Laureano would be back on Monday, as the outfielder was already scheduled for a planned day off on Sunday. Laureano missed over five weeks due to a stress reaction in his right shin, and another absence would be the last thing he and the A’s need as the club chases down a wild card berth.
- Amidst the speculation about whether or not J.D. Martinez will exercise the opt-out clause in his Red Sox contract after the season, Ken Rosenthal (in his latest video report for FOX Sports) points out that Martinez doesn’t necessarily have to decide right now if he wants to leave Boston. The slugger also has opt-out clauses after both the 2020 season and (assuming he can avoid another Lisfranc-related right foot injury) 2021 season, so he could perhaps wait one more year to see if his market evolves. Despite Martinez’s hitting prowess, there aren’t too many obvious suitors for a mostly DH-only player….unless the National League were to become involved, as Rosenthal wonders if Martinez would stay in his contract to see if the NL adopted the designated hitter in the next collective bargaining agreement.
- Also from Rosenthal’s video, he makes a case for why Didi Gregorius could be “the odd man out” for the Yankees even if he performed well for the remainder of the season. New York might simply prefer to use Gleyber Torres at shortstop in 2020 rather than re-sign Gregorius, who is almost seven years older than Torres. Recovery from Tommy John surgery kept Gregorius from playing until June 7, and he is one of the few Yankees not tearing the cover off the ball, with a .252/.282/.462 slash line and 14 homers over 280 plate appearances (for a below-average 90 wRC+). If the Yankees did decide to move on from Gregorius, however, Rosenthal figures the team would still need to extend another veteran infielder, as DJ LeMahieu (who’d play every day at second base if Gregorius departed) is only under contract through the 2020 season.
- The Rangers and Yohander Mendez will learn in the offseason whether the left-hander’s one remaining minor league option will still be retained for 2020. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram details the situation, as the league already granted Mendez a fourth option for this season, though the lefty only made his 2019 debut today after missing the first five-plus months rehabbing a sprained UCL. This means Mendez hasn’t accumulated the 20 days of optional minor league assignment necessary to burn an option year. If Mendez is ruled to be out of options, the Rangers would then have to designate him for assignment (and thus expose him to a waiver claim) if they wished to remove him from the 40-man roster.
The Rangers have selected the contract of righty Adrian Sampson. Indeed, he was just called in to relieve in tonight’s game.
To create space on the roster, the club announced two additional moves. Southpaw Kyle Bird was optioned to make way on the active roster, while a 40-man spot was procured by shifting injured hurler Yohander Mendez to the 60-day injured list.
Sampson, a 27-year-old righty, has seen minimal MLB time and dealt with some serious arm issues over the past few seasons. He generated nice results last year at Triple-A, but ended up being non-tendered and re-signed to a minors deal by the Texas organization.
The Rangers announced that they’ve selected the contracts of outfielder Hunter Pence, infielder Logan Forsythe and right-hander Jeanmar Gomez. The trio of veterans will all be on the Opening Day roster. Right-hander Connor Sadzeck was designated for assignment to clear one spot on the 40-man roster, while fellow righty Luke Farrell was placed on the 60-day injured list to create another. Texas also optioned outfielder Zack Granite to Triple-A and placed lefty Yohander Mendez on the 10-day IL.
Sadzeck, 27, had been in competition for a bullpen job all spring, but the control issues that plagued him in the big leagues continued to manifest during exhibition play. While Sadzeck’s average fastball of 97 mph is undeniably tantalizing, he walked 11 batters in 9 1/3 MLB innings last season and issued another eight free passes through 8 1/3 innings of Cactus League action. In his place, the Rangers will entrust a bullpen spot to Kyle Bird — a 25-year-old lefty acquired as part of the Jurickson Profar trade.
Neither Pence nor Forsythe is expected to hold down an everyday role with the Rangers, though Pence is in the Opening Day lineup as the designated hitter with a lefty opponent on the mound. Pence should see occasional time in the corner outfield and at DH, particularly against lefties, while Forsythe can provide some platoon support for lefty-swinging Rougned Odor at second base. The veteran Forsythe has experience at all four infield positions, so he’ll give rookie manager Chris Woodward plenty of versatility off the bench.
Rangers lefty Yohander Mendez has been diagnosed with a grade one sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. He’s expected to miss approximately half of the coming campaign.
Though Mendez avoided the worst-case outcome of Tommy John surgery, he’ll still need to take a slow path back to competitive pitching. Per Grant, the current plan is for a six-week rest period followed by a full ramp-up back to top speed.
If all goes to plan, the 24-year-old southpaw will miss about ten weeks of the coming season (along with the final two weeks of camp). With a potential mid-June return, there’s still every chance that Mendez will throw significant innings in 2019. It’s likely he’ll open up back at Triple-A once his rehab assignment is up, though it’d be foolish to attempt to predict what the Texas pitching staff will look like by the middle of the summer.
Mendez cracked the majors in his age-21 campaign and has seen action in each of the past three seasons. The results have not been promising. Through 43 big-league innings, Mendez has allowed thirty earned runs on 46 hits with 25 strikeouts against 20 walks. He also coughed up 64 earned in 122 1/3 minor-league frames last year.
The Rangers will hope that they can otherwise emerge from camp without dings to a pitching unit that has quite a few health risks. Mendez will presumably be a candidate for a 60-day injured list placement, which would open up a 40-man roster spot to utilize on any late-spring claims or other roster decisions.
We’ve already published one batch of health-related notes today, though here’s the latest on other notable players who have been battling the injury bug…
- Rangers southpaw Yohander Mendez left today’s Cactus League start due to tightness in his throwing elbow (MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan was among whose to report the news). “Anytime a pitcher comes out saying it’s their elbow, it’s never a good sign. We’ll find out as soon as we can,” manager Chris Woodward said, adding that Mendez would undergo tests on Monday. The 24-year-old Mendez has a 6.28 ERA, 5.2 K/9, and 1.25 K/BB rate over 43 career MLB innings from 2016-18, but was fighting to win a job within the Rangers’ righty-heavy bullpen.
- Back tightness forced Jake Lamb out of today’s game after three innings. Diamondbacks skipper Torey Lovullo told media (including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic) that there weren’t any current plans for Lamb to undergo an MRI, as the current plan seems to just keep Lamb under evaluation over the next few days. After a pair of solid years in 2016-17, shoulder problems limited Lamb to just 56 games and a .222/.307/.348 slash line in 2018. The longtime third baseman will be taking on a new role for Arizona this season, as Lamb will be moving over to first base to help fill the void left behind by Paul Goldschmidt.
- In better injury news for the Diamondbacks, Jarrod Dyson played his first Spring Training game on Sunday. The veteran outfielder was out of action due to an oblique injury, which was of no small concern given that core injuries have plagued Dyson in each of the last two seasons. If he’s back healthy, however, Dyson’s speed and outstanding defense makes him a valuable bench piece for the D’Backs.
- Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe have both been out of the Padres’ lineups over the last few days, though manager Andy Green told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune and other reporters that the two players “are getting a little bit of an extended blow” due to “just general tiredness.” Neither Reyes or Renfroe are expected to miss much more time, leaving the Padres still to deal with a crowded outfield situation as Opening Day approaches.
The Rangers would be willing to pay down some of Shin-Soo Choo’s remaining salary in a trade, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports in his latest notes column. Heyman writes that the Rangers would do so “for the right take,” though it seems difficult to imagine the Rangers being especially picky in any Choo negotiations. While the 35-year-old is undeniably having a very nice season at the plate, hitting .277/.388/.468 with 13 homers, he’s also owed $52.86MM through the 2020 season — including about $10.86MM through season’s end in 2018. Choo, already largely limited to DH work, will be 38 by the time his current seven-year deal ends, and the last-place Rangers would presumably be happy to be free of a decent chunk of that onerous sum even if it meant taking on a negligible amount of talent in return.
A bit more out of Arlington…
- As third baseman Adrian Beltre draws trade interest in the twilight of his career, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News explores how that career blossomed more quickly than anyone could’ve imagined. In an extensive look back at the venerable Beltre’s original promotion by the Dodgers, Grant notes that he was promoted during Tommy Lasorda’s brief run as the GM in Los Angeles. Lasorda candidly explains to Grant that he initially called Beltre up to “set a tone” despite some protest from others in the front office. Beltre collected a pair of hits in his big league debut, and the improbable promotion proved to be a permanent move, as the then-19-year-old prospect never returned to the minors. It’s a fun tale of a unique situation featuring some notable baseball characters and terrific quotes that is well worth a full read.
- Lefty Jake Diekman has recently boosted his trade stock, as Grant writes in a thorough examination of the veteran reliever. Diekman, who’s a pending free agent, has been throwing hard and getting both whiffs and grounders, but he’s also continuing to issue too many walks. Still, with a 2.96 ERA through 27 1/3 innings, he has shown he can get results (as he has in the past). Perhaps the most confounding aspect of his season is the fact that he has uncharacteristically struggled quite a bit against lefties, who own a .303/.452/.424 slash against him. Despite the questions, it’s not hard to imagine a fair bit of interest materializing from teams that want a power lefty but miss on other options or see particular appeal in Diekman’s reasonable salary ($2,172,500).
- Matt Moore’s shift to the bullpen was supposed to prompt a long-term rotation audition for lefty Yohander Mendez, but plans quickly changed in that regard. General manager Jon Daniels told reporters this week that Mendez was optioned to Triple-A as a disciplinary measure after violating team rules (link via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). Wilson reports that Mendez and second baseman Rougned Odor were out for a night with some friends on the Royals while visiting Kansas City and the evening “got out of hand.” Police weren’t involved in the incident, Daniels emphasized. “Part of the development of where we are as a club is upholding a certain level of standards for veterans and young players alike,” Daniels said of the incident. “Part of the development process of young players is on the maturity side as well. I’d say that’s kind of where this one falls.” Manager Jeff Banister added that Mendez will now need to earn his way back to the big leagues.
The Rangers have claimed righty Deck McGuire off waivers from the Blue Jays, per a club announcement. He’ll be optioned to Triple-A.
The Texas organization has also shifted righty Matt Bush to the 10-day DL with what is being called a right elbow strain. Southpaws Yohander Mendez and Brandon Mann have been called up to the MLB roster from Round Rock.
McGuire was designated for assignment recently after throwing 9 1/3 middling innings for the Jays. But he produced solid results last year in his first, brief MLB action and has been effective at Triple-A over the past two seasons.
Bush just hasn’t pitched to his prior standard thus far in 2018. His upper-nineties heater is down about a tick on average, his swinging-strike rate has dropped to 9.4%, and he’s averaging just 7.4 K/9 with 5.5 BB/9 along with a 4.70 ERA that may understate his struggles somewhat.