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.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.