If you hadn’t heard, MLB made a new rule in the offseason, allowing teams to promote a player and go with 26-man rosters on doubleheader days. A lot of teams were making moves in between games of doubleheaders anyway, so it seemed like a pretty good idea to help alleviate any bullpen issues that might arise playing 18 innings.
Unfortunately, the league left a loophole.
See, the player recalled before the doubleheader doesn’t necessarily have to be the one sent down the next day to get back to 25 players. Also, the player sent down after the doubleheader doesn’t have to stay in the minors for 10 days (barring a DL move), which is the way it works following typical demotions.
The Astros this week became the first team to take advantage of that latter fact. They sent fifth starter Jordan Lyles down after Monday’s doubleheader and recalled him Saturday night to start Sunday’s game against the Reds.
By taking advantage of the loophole, the Astros essentially got to play with a 26th man for five days instead of one. Which is smart thinking on their part. Of course, being that they lost their eighth straight game Saturday, it didn’t do them a lot of good.
Regardless, MLB needs to close the loophole. Require players sent down after doubleheaders to stay in the minors for 10 days, just like everyone else.
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.