After more than a week of flirtation with the Dodgers, a brief fling with the Braves, and then some footsie with the Yankees, Ryan Dempster has been traded. To the Rangers. In exchange, the Cubs get third baseman Christian Villanueva and RHP Kyle Hendricks.
There were rumblings this morning that the Rangers were involved, but many figured that it was simply a matter of the Cubs trying to leverage Dempster’s first choice — the Dodgers — into paying what they want. That didn’t happen, however, and late this afternoon word came down that Dempster had given approval for a trade to either the Dodgers, the Yankees or the Rangers. And Jon Daniels sealed the deal.
Villanueva is only 21 years-old. He’s hitting .285/.356/.421 with ten homers for high-A Myrtle Beach. His teammate, Hendricks, is 5-8 with a 2.82 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 130.2 innings with only 15 walks. He’ll turn 23 in December.
Veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon was released from his minor league deal with the Rangers on Saturday, MLB.com’s TR Sullivan reports. Despite his strong showing in spring training, Colon wasn’t considered a lock to make the Opening Day rotation. This may not be the end of his time with the team, however — according to multiple reports, the Rangers have expressed their desire to restructure a minor league deal with the right-hander and could work out an arrangement to keep him on as bullpen and Triple-A depth this season.
Colon, 44, is preparing for his 21st year in the majors. He split his 2017 campaign with the Braves and Twins, posting a cumulative 7-14 record in 28 starts and finishing the season with a 6.48 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 5.6 SO/9 in 143 innings. While those numbers were some of the worst he’d seen since 2009, the veteran righty made a compelling case in camp this spring, holding batters to six earned runs, four home runs, two walks and 10 strikeouts in 18 innings.
The Rangers are expected to open the season with a rotation comprised of Cole Hamels, Doug Fister, Matt Moore, Mike Minor and Martin Perez. Perez is working his way back from an elbow injury in his non-throwing arm and is slated to miss his first start of the season, which would provide a brief window of opportunity for Colon when the Rangers hit the road in April.