– The Nationals are talking to free agent Jon Garland, says ESPN.com’s Peter Gammons in his blog.
Garland is surely hoping for some multiyear security this time around after settling for a one-year deal last winter. There’d be little reason for him to take a short-term deal with the Nats when there will probably a contender or two interested in him as a fourth starter.
– Yahoo! Sports’ Steve Henson report the Dodgers are exploring a three-team deal involving Juan Pierre that would net them a starter with a similarly bad deal.
He goes on to say that the Braves and Derek Lowe are not involved. Would the Dodgers take on a contract as bad as Carlos Silva’s to get rid of Pierre? It seems unlikely.
– Sources told FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi that the Rays and Reds have inquired about the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz.
Several other teams likely have as well, but there’s very little reason to think the Rangers would deal Cruz. They’re looking to add right-handed power, not subtract it.
– While Tracy Ringolsby thinks it’s a done deal, the Denver Post’s Troy Renck believes Rafael Betancourt is still weighing whether to take arbitration from the Rockies.
Betancourt likely will accept the offer, as his status as a Type A free agent has really cut into his market. Rafael Soriano appears to be the only other free agent considering accepting arbitration.
– Newsday’s Ken Davidoff tweets that it’s a forgone conclusion that the Yankees will non-tender Chien-Ming Wang and that the Mets are considering Rod Barajas as an alternative to Bengie Molina behind the plate.
Davidoff thinks the Dodgers will be after Wang once he hits the market, but given that he’s unlikely to be ready for Opening Day, Wang probably won’t sign anytime soon.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.