Rosenthal says the Rangers can sign Lee and Victor Martinez

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Ken Rosenthal writes today that he thinks the Rangers could be bigger players on the free agent market than some of us are giving him credit for:

The defending American League champions, major-league sources say, are in strong enough financial position to add not one but two top free agents — left-hander Cliff Lee and catcher Victor Martinez.

That would be something.

But man, I’m skeptical.  While that big new TV contract impressed all of us when it was announced, others have reported that it’s fairly backloaded, and that the front-end of it was going to be largely devoted to debt service connected with Chuck Greenberg’s purchase of the team.  I don’t have any independent intelligence on that, but some people I talk to who know a few things about the Rangers believe that the TV deal isn’t going to launch them into a new world of payroll expenditures so quickly, even if they do bump it up a tad.  And signing Lee and Victor Martinez would certainly be a new world.

Anything is possible — that’s whey we love the hot stove season — but I’m having a hard time seeing the Rangers landing Lee alone — due to the money and the competition involved — let alone getting him and another top-end free agent like Martinez.

Reds ink Oliver Perez to a minor-league deal

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The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.

Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.

While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.