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

2 Comments’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.

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.