MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers have promoted first base prospect Justin Smoak (pictured right) from Triple-A Oklahoma City and demoted struggling first baseman Chris Davis in a corresponding move.
Smoak will take over starting first base duties for the Rangers and could hang onto the gig for a long while if he performs as expected. The 23-year-old was off to a superb start at Triple-A this year, with a .326/.500/.587 batting line and two home runs over 62 plate appearances. He has serious, serious upside and Rangers fans have been clamoring for his promotion for at least the last two weeks.
Davis, 24, had been batting just .188 with a 556 OPS in 48 at-bats. He may need to find another organization in order to continue his major league career, but will first need to prove his worth with a nice stretch of production for Oklahoma City.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.