Rangers will be strong contenders again in 2012

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It won’t make them feel much better tonight and replacing the team’s ace for a second straight offseason would be a tall order, but Rangers fans should take some solace in the fact that C.J. Wilson is their only significant free agent.

Wilson, who earned $7 million in his final year of arbitration, figures to be the second-most sought after starting pitcher on the market behind CC Sabathia. He struggled in the postseason again, but Wilson threw 223 innings with a 2.94 ERA and 206 strikeouts in the regular season and is a relatively young free agent at age 30.

Replacing him would obviously be tough, but the Rangers’ only other free agent regulars are 40-year-old middle reliever Darren Oliver and third-stringer catcher Matt Treanor. Everyone else is either under contract or arbitration eligible, although they may look to make some moves involving, say, Yorvit Torrealba and Koji Uehara. Or maybe shop Michael Young and the $32 million remaining on his deal around the league again.

Regardless of what happens with Wilson this Rangers team is without question set up to make another deep run next season. Nolan Ryan somehow gets all the credit, but the team’s actual general manager, Jon Daniels, has done a very good job building a deep, talented roster. It’ll be interesting to see how strongly their effort is to re-sign Wilson and how tempted they’ll be to shake things up for the sake of shaking things up.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.