We have a good idea of what the Yankees have offered to free agent Cliff Lee — six years and $140 million, at least initially — but what about the Rangers?
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News spoke with club president Nolan Ryan on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings, and Ryan told him that the Rangers are asking Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, to “tell them what it would take to sign” the ace lefty.
Odd, right? Most front offices would simply make a solid counter-offer and hope for the best.
It sounds like Ryan is wary of getting into a bidding war with the Yankees, however unavoidable it may be. That, or the Rangers are so confident in their ability to sign the left-hander that they are offering a proverbial blank check. We’re thinking it’s the former.
The Yankees seem really serious about wanting Lee. So much so that they haven’t made significant contact with any other free agent this winter. When they fall in love with a player, and are given an opportunity to sign that player, it’s not often that it falls flat.
Oh, and you know they’re going to want to steal the spotlight from the Red Sox, who just made Carl Crawford the highest-paid outfielder in major league history.
Eyes are upon you, Texas.
Nolan and his partner Chuck Greenberg won the ownership rights to the Rangers in August after bidding $593 million and besting Mark Cuban. Can they now go to seven years and $163 million for Lee? If Crawford can get a seven-year, $142 million pact from Boston, $160-plus million may be the going rate for baseball’s best strike-thrower.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.