Rangers bring back Ivan Rodriguez

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This offseason the Rangers traded Gerald Laird to the Tigers because they seemingly had a ton of MLB-ready catching depth in Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and Max Ramirez. Unfortunately that has all changed during the past five months.
Saltalamacchia is on the disabled list with an arm injury after hitting just .236/.293/.375 in 83 games as the Rangers’ primary catcher, Teagarden has been even worse while batting .198 as his backup, and Ramirez has struggled at Triple-A while missing time with a wrist injury. What was once a strength has quickly become a weakness.
Instead of overflowing with young catching depth that made the position one of the team’s biggest on-paper advantages, the Rangers rank just 10th in the league with a measly .664 OPS from their backstops. Their search for veteran help behind the plate has led them to the greatest catcher in franchise history, as the Rangers re-acquired Ivan Rodriguez from the Astros this afternoon for a player to be named later.
Rodriguez played in Texas from 1991-2002, during which time he was an All-Star and Gold Glover in 10 straight seasons while taking MVP honors in 1999. Unfortunately at 37 years old he’s now merely a shell of that Hall of Fame player, hitting .251/.280/.382 in 93 games with the Astros and .271/.299/.402 over the past three seasons. For comparison, Rangers catchers have posted a nearly identical .228/.287/.377 line this year.
Texas seems to realize his limitations, with T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reporting that “Rodriguez is coming as the backup catcher” and “understands” that Teagarden is the starter. My guess is that it’ll end up being more of a job-sharing arrangement than Sullivan suggests, but Rangers fans should be realistic. As far as stop-gap solutions go he’s not a bad one, especially if Saltalamacchia’s injury proves serious, but don’t expect Pudge to discover the fountain of youth in Arlington.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.