Friday's minor moves: Rangers, Dodgers, Marlins

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Rangers claimed infielder Joe Inglett off waivers from the Blue Jays.
Inglett, 31, played a key role of the 2008 Jays, but he spent most of last season back in the minors, as the team preferred the right-handed-hitting Jose Bautista in the spot the lefty-swinging Inglett could have occupied. He’s a career .293/.349/.396 hitter in 639 at-bats, but since he can’t play shortstop and he’s below average at second base, he’s had a difficult time establishing himself. He’d make plenty of sense as a 25th man for a Rangers team that will rarely if ever take its second and third basemen out of the lineup.
Dodgers signed RHP Justin Miller to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Miller likely would have gotten a major league deal had he not injured his elbow late in the year and required surgery. He had a 3.18 ERA in 56 2/3 innings for the Giants last season. Still, his peripherals suggest it was a fluke. He possesses a nice slider, but his fastball isn’t what it used to be and he’s always walked a few too many guys. The minor league contract was appropriate.
Brewers signed outfielder Trent Oeltjen to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Oeltjen, a 26-year-old out of Australia, was a brief sensation for the Diamondbacks last season, going 12-for-24 with three homers, a triple and two doubles in his first five major league games. Unfortunately, he went 5-for-46 the rest of the way and was dropped from the 40-man roster at season’s end. Oeltjen is a quality defender in an outfield corner and a left-handed hitter, so he has a shot at a career as a bench player. Still, there’s no clear strength to his game that’s going to help carry him. The Brewers figure to have him start out at Triple-A.
Orioles re-signed catcher Chad Moeller to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Moeller looked around for a guaranteed deal, but he couldn’t find one. He hit .258/.313/.438 in 89 at-bats while backing up Matt Wieters last season, and he’ll probably be the favorite to hold the job next year, though Craig Tatum and Michel Hernandez will get a chance to compete.
Marlins signed RHP Jesse Foppert, RHP John Fulton, RHP Kasey Olenberger, INF-OF Hector Luna, INF Vinny Rottino and OF Brandon Tripp to minor league contracts.
Olenberger, Luna and Rottino received invitations to spring training. Olenberger, 31, is being re-signed after posting a 1.10 ERA in 65 2/3 innings for the Marlins’ Double-A club last season. It’s surprising he opted to stick around, given that the Marlins called up all kinds of pitchers last season yet never gave him a second thought.
Luna, 29, batted .351/.414/.610 in 313 at-bats for the Dodgers’ Triple-A club in Las Vegas last season. If only he kept himself in better shape, he’d be in the middle of a fine career as a utilityman. As is, he’s too poor of an infielder to be of real use.
Foppert is still kicking around after all this time. The one-time elite prospect hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2005. He had a 6.27 ERA in eight starts and two relief appearances for the Giants’ Double-A affiliate last season.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.