The Diamondbacks agreed to terms with No. 3 overall pick Trevor Bauer earlier today, but it doesn’t sound like the Astros are close to an agreement with their first-round pick.
Confirming a story passed along by Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors earlier this afternoon, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that George Springer did indeed meet with the general manager of the independent league Long Island Ducks on Saturday.
Springer’s father, George Springer Jr., attended the meeting and said that they merely met with the Ducks in case an agreement couldn’t be reached with the Astros prior to the August 15 deadline.
“Obviously, whatever discussions are going on with the Astros are going to be kept between us and the Astros, and hopefully we can reach some agreement,” Springer Jr. said. “We have to prepare for all contingencies if that doesn’t happen. I don’t want anybody to read into it more than that.”
Springer, a 21-year-old outfielder, was selected No. 11 overall out of the University of Connecticut in June’s First-Year Player Draft. While talks with the Ducks could very well be a bluff, Springer’s father said that returning to college isn’t a likely option. If the two sides are unable to reach an agreement before the deadline, Springer would re-enter the draft in 2012 and the Astros would receive compensation in the form of a draft pick.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.