Right-hander Jose Rafael DePaula, who was originally known as Rafael DePaula Figueroa before coming forward with a new name and age, had his visa approved and is finally expected to travel to the U.S. next week for his Yankees physical.
After serving a one-year suspension for falsifying his identity, DePaula was signed by the Yankees in Nov. 2010, receiving a $500,000 bonus. In the 16 months since, he’s worked out at the Yankees’ academy in the Dominican Republic while attempting to secure a visa.
According to his current documentation, DePaula turns 21 on March 24. Baseball America says he was throwing in the mid-90s when he signed with the Yankees, but it also has sources saying he’s reaching the high-90s with his heater now. If true, he could quickly emerge as one of the team’s best prospects this year.
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.