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Rangers considered heavy favorites to sign Roy Oswalt

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Roy Oswalt is reportedly close to choosing his new team and returning to the mound, and according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com the Rangers are heavy favorites to sign the 34-year-old right-hander.

In fact, an unnamed “baseball official” told Crasnick that he “would be shocked” if Oswalt doesn’t end up in Texas.

Along with the Rangers the Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Orioles, and Red Sox have also been linked to Oswalt, who threw 139 innings with a 3.69 ERA and 93/33 K/BB ratio for Philadelphia last season.

Neftali Feliz is on the disabled list and expected to be out until after the All-Star break with a sprained elbow and it’s possible that the Rangers could shift him back to the bullpen once healthy, creating a rotation spot for Oswalt. For now Scott Feldman is filling in for Feliz, joining Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, and Derek Holland in the rotation.

Ted Lilly’s shoulder injury may have magnified the Dodgers’ interest in Oswalt after watching him throw last week and if the Phillies get bad news on Roy Halladay’s shoulder it’s easy to envision them giving Oswalt a call for a reunion. Depending on which sources you choose to believe Oswalt’s primary motivation is pitching close to his Mississippi home, playing for a contender, or cashing in for the biggest contract. Or maybe some combination of all three, which seemingly also gives Texas the edge.

Report: Mark Trumbo signs three-year, $37.5 million contract with Orioles

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Mark Trumbo #45 of the Baltimore Orioles runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.

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Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.

Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.

Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.

Astros avoid arbitration with Mike Fiers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #54 of the Houston Astros walks to the dugout after pitching an inning during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.

Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.