Daily Dose: Rangers sticking with Davis

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General manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday that the Rangers will stick
with Chris Davis and Derek Holland despite their respective struggles.
Davis is batting just .204 with an MLB-high 94 strikeouts in 206
at-bats, putting him on pace to break Mark Reynolds’ single-season
record of 204 with plenty of room to spare, but will get a chance to
right the ship because Daniels doesn’t want to “bail on him.”

Davis was never a good bet to hit .285 again, but striking out in 46
percent of his at-bats is absurd even for his standards and he almost
can’t help but make more contact going forward. If the Rangers truly
stick with him, Davis should be able to hit .250 or so with 15-20
homers over the final 100 games. He’s batting .375 with 12 homers and
nine doubles in 112 at-bats when he actually makes contact.

Daniels’ decision to stay with Holland is perhaps more surprising,
because unlike Davis he’s yet to experience any success in the majors.
Holland has a 6.63 ERA over 36.2 innings split between the rotation and
bullpen, but Daniels said that the plan is to “let Derek pitch every
fifth day and give him a chance to improve.” He’s a strong long-term
prospect, but may not be quite ready to thrive at 22 years old.

While the Rangers utilize their spot atop the AL West to show patience, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* John Smoltz’s final rehab start will come Wednesday at Triple-A
and he’s set to join the Red Sox’s rotation next Thursday versus the
Nationals. There have been tons of rumors about Boston shopping Brad
Penny to make room for Smoltz, but the Red Sox announced Tuesday that
they’ll put off the difficult decision by going with a six-man rotation for now.

* David Ortiz went deep again Tuesday and narrowly missed a second
homer as he drove in a season-high three runs. Ortiz hit .185 while
homering once through the May, but has gone deep four times in 36
at-bats this month while bringing his OPS up from .570 to .663. His
season totals are still going to be ugly, but Ortiz is definitely
showing some serious signs of life again.

* For now at least Dontrelle Willis remains in the Tigers’ rotation
despite his 6.60 ERA, but manager Jim Leyland announced Tuesday that
his next scheduled start will be skipped. Willis has allowed 28 runs on
37 hits and 28 walks in 34 innings, including handing out eight free
passes in his last outing, and Zach Miner will get the call against the
Brewers this weekend.

* Ervin Santana was scratched from his Tuesday start with a sore
forearm, but is hoping to avoid the disabled list after an MRI exam
cleared him of any structural damage. Sean O’Sullivan pitched very well
in Santana’s place versus the Giants and will likely stick in the
rotation for however long he’s sidelined. Meanwhile, the plan to
replace Scot Shields with Kelvim Escobar has been put on hold for now.

AL Quick Hits: Torii Hunter (ribs) is planning to rejoin the
lineup Wednesday after losing a battle with the still-unbeaten outfield
wall … Travis Hafner homered and drove in three runs Tuesday for the
second straight game … Robinson Cano and Joe Mauer both had 4-for-4
nights Tuesday … Roy Halladay (groin) played catch Tuesday and is still
hoping to make his next scheduled start … Denard Span remained
sidelined Tuesday by an inner-ear infection, but the Twins got Michael
Cuddyer, Joe Crede, and Glen Perkins back … Felix Hernandez tossed a
two-hit shutout Tuesday in San Diego … Kenji Johjima (toe) is set to
begin a rehab stint at Triple-A this weekend … Gil Meche threw shutout
ball for the second straight start Tuesday, this time with a complete
game … Carlos Quentin (foot) jogged and took batting practice Tuesday,
but remains weeks from returning … Frank Francisco (shoulder) reported
no problems following a bullpen session Tuesday.

NL Quick Hits: Ivan Rodriguez homered Tuesday while tying
Carlton Fisk for the all-time record in games caught … Johan Santana
refuted former pitching coach Rick Peterson’s claim that his surgically
repaired knee remains an issue … Willy Taveras finally snapped his
0-for-32 streak Tuesday, but Emmanuel Burriss and his 0-for-27 were
sent back to Triple-A … Chris Volstad was knocked around for eight runs
Tuesday and has served up the third-most homers in the NL … Casey
Kotchman came off the disabled list Tuesday, with Daily Dose favorite
Barbaro Canizares heading back to Triple-A … Brad Lidge (knee) reported
no problems following a bullpen session Tuesday … Chris Young looks DL
bound with a sore shoulder after failing to make it out of the third
inning Sunday … Brandon Webb (shoulder) has a bullpen session Friday
and hopes to return around the All-Star break …Edinson Volquez (elbow)
threw from 110 feet Tuesday, but isn’t close.

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.