Restoring the rosters: No. 14 – Texas

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
The Rangers fare surprisingly well here, given their apparent struggles to produce pitching. They actually developed a strong rotation, only to allow other team to reap the benefits.
Rotation
Ryan Dempster
John Danks
Edinson Volquez
Aaron Harang
Doug Davis
Bullpen
C.J. Wilson
Ramon Ramirez
Scott Feldman
Nick Masset
Darren Oliver
Scott Eyre
Derek Holland
Volquez went 3-11 with a 7.20 ERA as a Ranger, while Davis was 21-21 with a 5.09 ERA. None of the other three starters ever pitched for the team, and only Volquez brought a fair return when moved.
The bullpen is nice, too, in part because of Ramirez’s presence. He signed with the Rangers in 1996, pitched for the team in the Dominican Summer League in 1997 and then didn’t resurface until 2002, when he played in Japan.
Based on his performance this year, Feldman should be in the rotation. However, I’m not completely sold on him as a starter going forward. He’d still be the obvious choice to move into the rotation if anyone gets hurt. However, Holland and Tommy Hunter remain in reserve as well.
Lineup
CF Julio Borbon
2B Ian Kinsler
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Carlos Pena
RF Edwin Encarnacion
3B Hank Blalock
C Taylor Teagarden
LF Scott Podsednik
SS Rich Aurilia
Bench
DH Travis Hafner
C Ivan Rodriguez
INF Tug Hulett
OF Fernando Tatis
Most wouldn’t guess it, but the Rangers scored more points for pitching than for hitting in these rankings. Kinsler, Teixeira and Pena qualify as stars, but they may be the only above average regulars. Decisions loom everywhere else.
Catcher: Teagarden’s future versus Pudge’s past. I’ll take the youngster, which is what the Rangers seem to be doing right now.
Third base: Blalock, Chris Davis and Encarnacion are all defensively challenged and inconsistent offensively. Blalock seems like the best option at the moment if he’s fit to handle the position, but Davis should be superior going forward.
Shortstop: The biggest problem area. Aurilia and Hulett were the choices, and while Aurilia’s shortstop days should be over, Hulett is really more of a second baseman.
Right field: This is where I struck Encarnacion. I think it makes a lot of sense to try him in the outfield anyway, and he does have the arm for right.
Center field: Borbon’s defense makes him the better option than Podsednik, even if he’s not ready to hit like Podsednik has this year. Then again, Podsednik didn’t seem to have much chance of hitting like he did this year.
Left field: Podsednik, Tatis, John Mayberry Jr., Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix and Brandon Boggs were the options. Podsednik probably won’t ever be this good again, but he still might be the class of that group.
Bench: Hafner and Davis were the options as the team’s top pinch-hitter. Ideally, there’d be room for both, but neither has any outfield experience at all.
Summary
I didn’t expect the Rangers to place this well when I started putting together these rankings, but a rotation full of No. 2 and No. 3 starters is able to make up for some significant lack of depth on offense. The actual Rangers, though, are working on just their second over-.500 season of the decade. There’s plenty of blame to spread around. Former GMs Doug Melvin and John Hart both made plenty of mistakes, as did Jon Daniels when he first took over. Owner Tom Hicks opened his wallet in a huge way for Alex Rodriguez and Chan Ho Park and then set the Rangers back years by deciding to turn the team into a mid-market club. Also, let’s save a little blame for those who approved the design of The Ballpark. Developing pitching has been a nightmare for the Rangers, and they’ve typically overpaid for what they’ve brought in through free agency and trades. A kinder environment could have resulted in some wildly different Rangers teams over the last 15 years.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.