The Rangers have asked about Cliff Lee and, oh yeah, Roy Oswalt

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MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers are inquiring about big name pitchers such as Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. Poor Sullivan. Now Buster Olney and everyone is going to tell him how full of it he is.  Sad.

There is nothing imminent on any front and the club has not confirmed
its interest in Lee, or any other player. The Rangers still have
financial issues that must be considered in any trade discussions.

But the Rangers are actively making it known they are looking for
pitching and they haven’t been afraid of asking about some of the big
names available including Lee and Astros ace Roy Oswalt. Both pitchers
could be available at some point this summer but have not been actively
shopped to this point . . . Assistant general manager Thad Levine, who is with the team in Florida,
declined to discuss specific names but did acknowledge the Rangers’
pursuit of pitching.

We can quibble about what one means by the word “preliminary,” but all of this is consistent with my report earlier this week about the Rangers talking to Houston about Roy Oswalt.  Given the financial approvals that are required, even agreeing in principle to the players who would change teams — as my sources say the Rangers and Astros did — would qualify as “preliminary” in my book.

As Sullivan notes, however, once the Rangers’ bankruptcy is in the past — which could happen very soon, as the court is scheduled to rule on it all on Tuesday — the financial constraints will be lifted, the Rangers will be able to add some money to offers that already include some of the prospects from their top-shelf system and they will likely be able to land anyone they want.

Cliff Lee would make the most sense because he’s relative cheap and happens to be the best pitcher available. Oswalt would make some sense too because he won’t require as many prospects and Texas fans like him a hell of a lot.  Either way, the Rangers are likely to do some damage before July 31st.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.