Your early early early draft preview

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In response to Keith Law’s outrageously early draft preview Mel Kiper has decided to chuck the 2010 NFL draft entirely and start handicapping 2011. True story. Anyway, there’s a top 50 list there, and some overall analysis:

In general, the quality of talent this year is below where it was
the last two years, and is well below what we can already see for the
2011 draft. It’s extremely light on college position players and weak
in high school catchers and shortstops, although I think by the time we
get to June the remaining groups — college arms, high school arms and
high school bats outside of those two positions — will have the same
quality and depth as they do in a typical year.

There is no Stephen Strasburg in this class, nor is there a Dustin
Ackley or a Matt Wieters, and right now we have only two players, Bryce
Harper and Anthony Ranaudo, who are expected to demand well-above-slot
bonuses (although that is simply industry speculation).

In a companion piece Law considers some of the early criticisms of Bryce Harper and dismisses them for the most part. I’m no prospect expert, but I’m not sure how you pass up someone like Harper. Sure, he’s a Boras guy and yes he’ll be expensive, but he’s a special kind of talent.

The only question is whether his therapy schedule will interfere with game times, what with all of that rush-rush-rushing his parents allowed.

Rougned Odor received two horses as part of his contract extension with Rangers

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Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor reached an agreement with the Rangers on a six-year, $49.5 million contract extension. It was announced on Saturday and finalized on Thursday. The contract is pretty typical — a signing bonus, escalating salaries each year — except for one thing: Odor received two elite horses as well, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.

Here are those horses, per Jared Sandler of 1053 The Fan:

Players do sometimes get perks as part of their contracts. Usually it’s mundane stuff like extra game tickets for family and friends, use of a suite, limo rides, or plane tickets. Sometimes they can get rather specific. For example, in 2005, Troy Glaus got $250,000 per year in “personal business expenses” from the Diamondbacks, which was for his wife’s equestrian training. Hall of Famer George Brett got a 10 percent stake in an apartment complex in Memphis when he signed an extension with the Royals in the mid-1980’s. But as far as my research was able to go, no one received any horses, so that’s new.

Of course, the Rangers certainly think Odor is worth the perks. Last season, Odor hit .271/.296/.502 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases in 632 plate appearances. And at just 23 years old, he has plenty of room to improve.

Mariners sign Mark Lowe

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The Mariners have signed reliever Mark Lowe, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. The Tigers released him on Sunday.

Lowe, 33, is entering the last of a two-year, $11 million deal signed with the Tigers in December 2015. The right-hander struggled to a 7.11 ERA with a 49/21 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings last season. His performance this spring didn’t do much to inspire confidence.

Lowe began his major league career with the Mariners, breaking out in 2009 with a 3.26 ERA across 80 innings. He has been inconsistent throughout most of his 11-year big league career, however.