UPDATE: As expected, Inge finalized his deal and will be the A’s starting third baseman tonight. Luke Hughes was designated for assignment to make room on the roster after his reign as Oakland’s starting third baseman lasted a week.
Brandon Inge’s deal with the A’s isn’t quite official yet, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the contract will be finalized in time for the veteran third baseman to be in the starting lineup tonight versus the Red Sox.
Inge will get every opportunity to be the A’s regular third baseman after the team cycled through Luke Hughes, Eric Sogard, and Josh Donaldson following Scott Sizemore’s season-ending knee injury, getting abysmal production offensively and defensively.
At this stage of his career Inge might only be viewed as an upgrade compared to that trio, however, as he’s hit .190 with four homers and a .538 OPS in 111 games dating back to the beginning of last season and hasn’t cracked a .250 batting average or .725 OPS since way back in 2006.
After releasing Inge the Tigers are on the hook for his entire $5.5 million salary and a $500,000 buyout of his contract for 2013, so if nothing else giving the 35-year-old a chance doesn’t cost the A’s much.
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.