Cincinnati is among the teams linked to Roy Oswalt, but general manager Walt Jocketty said yesterday that the Reds haven’t talked to the right-hander’s agent in a week and “the last we heard he was going to Texas.”
“That was on Monday,” Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I don’t know if that deal is still in place. If he doesn’t sign, we’d take another look at it.”
Fay reports that the Reds would need to clear significant payroll space in order to sign Oswalt and their rotation depth chart is also full, even if Aroldis Chapman is assigned to the bullpen. Fay speculates that Homer Bailey would be the most likely starter moved, although the Reds would obviously love to unload Bronson Arroyo’s contract if they could.
As for Jocketty hearing that Oswalt was going to Texas, the Rangers also have a full rotation and reports last week indicated that signing Oswalt was “unlikely.” Other teams said to be in the mix are the Red Sox, Phillies, and Cardinals, this late in the offseason he’s running into similar roster/payroll issues everywhere.
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.