Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune seems to think so. He writes that the Rangers “are becoming a more realistic option” for Konerko.
The possibility has gained momentum in recent days, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported earlier this week that the Rangers were showing interest in the free agent first baseman after missing out on Victor Martinez, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Tigers.
Konerko, who turns 35 next March, batted .312/.393/.584 with 39 homers, 111 RBI and a 977 OPS with the White Sox this past season. According to Rogers, the Rangers view him as a potential replacement for Vladimir Guerrero, who is also a free agent this winter. The most likely scenario is that Konerko would split time between DH and first base with Mitch Moreland, who is also capable of playing the outfield.
Konerko would normally be in line for a massive payday after a career-year — and he still might get one — but teams have been increasingly less willing to hand out big contracts to players as they enter their mid-to-late 30s. Thus, I could see Konerko making some sense for the Rangers on a short-term deal if they aren’t truly sold on Moreland as their everyday first baseman. He would also represent an upgrade over Guerrero, who had a 748 OPS during the second half and offers zero flexibility in the field. Of course, the White Sox would be plenty happy to retain Konerko, especially in the event that a significant market for the veteran slugger fails to materialize.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.