If this week is any indication, the Rangers will be very exciting to watch in the postseason.
They played in yet another thriller on Friday night, this time against the Red Sox, winning 10-9 on a walkoff solo blast by Nelson Cruz in the 11th inning.
The Rangers actually trailed in this one 8-2 when they came to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning. You’ve probably seen by now how they won it, but the most exciting play of the game was how they tied it in the eighth.
Josh Hamilton, who went 4-for-5 with a home run and four runs scored, led off the bottom of the eighth with a double. Vladimir Guerrero followed, hitting a slow-rolling ground ball up the middle. Jed Lowrie was able to snag it, throwing across his body to first base. It was almost double-take worthy, but Vlad dove headfirst into first base and beat it out. Yes, that really happened.
That’s not all. Hamilton never broke stride on the play, scoring all the way from second base.
Rangers manager Ron Washington told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that he feels pretty fortunate to have Hamilton on his squad.
“That’s what he does: a five-tool guy,” Washington said. “A five-tool
guy — run, throw, field, hit and hit with power — that’s what Josh
does. He can do it all.”
I’ll say. In addition to leading the American League with a .362 batting average and .633 slugging percentage, Hamilton is second in OPS (1.044), third in on-base percentage (.411), fourth in runs scored (79), sixth in homers (25) and eighth in RBI (79). An individual performance like Friday night’s only bolsters his case for the American League MVP.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.
The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.
It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.
According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.