Rangers expressing interest in free agent Hiroki Kuroda?

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Take this one with a grain of salt, as Japanese news services have been wrong many times before about the goings-on in MLB. But here’s the report…

According to Sponichi, via the invaluable Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker, the Rangers are expressing free-agent interest in Hiroki Kuroda.

Kuroda has drawn attention from several teams this offseason, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Rockies, but he’s not budging from an asking price that is thought to be in the range of $12-$13 million annually. The Rangers might not have that kind of room in their budget, and they already have six viable starters on their 40-man roster in Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando, and Yu Darvish — who is expected to sign a contract before the January 18 deadline. So it’s hard to see where Kuroda might fit.

But, hey, crazier things have happened. And the 36-year-old right-hander isn’t just some slouch.

Kuroda registered a 3.07 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 32 starts last year for the Dodgers, striking out 161 batters and issuing only 49 walks in 202 innings. He has a 3.45 career ERA in four major league seasons.

Report: Rangers’ deal with Seung-hwan Oh is off

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The Rangers will not sign free agent reliever Seung-hwan Oh after all. Reports from MLB.com’s TR Sullivan indicate that negotiations were brought to a halt after a physical issue was found with the pitcher. While the specifics have yet to be released, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the issue was revealed on an MRI of the right-hander’s arm.

Oh was thought to be in talks with the Rangers last week, though a deal was never officially announced by the club. The 35-year-old righty is fresh off of a two-year run with the Cardinals, during which he posted a cumulative 39 saves, 2.85 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 in 139 innings. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season, however, and finished 2017 with a disappointing 4.10 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 62 appearances for the team.

While Oh hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his arm in the majors so far, he does have a history of prior injuries during his time in KBO. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2009 and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2010. It’s possible that the Rangers saw an entirely different problem on the MRI, but clearly it was enough to give them strong reservations about inking the righty to a $2.75+ million deal. It’s still possible that another of Oh’s suitors will offer him a contract prior to Opening Day; the Giants were rumored to be interested in the veteran reliever, among other teams, though their recent acquisition of lefty reliever Tony Watson will likely take them out of the running now.