Most assumed that after losing free agent righty Zack Greinke to the Dodgers, the Rangers would shift their focus (and winter budget) back toward Josh Hamilton. But that might not be the case.
According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Rangers “still want to trade for” Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton. Which would mean letting Hamilton walk and going after one of the other free agent starters or spinning another trade for a front-line guy like R.A. Dickey or James Shields.
Upton batted .280/.355/.430 with 17 home runs, 18 stolen bases, 24 doubles and 67 RBI across 628 plate appearances this past season for Arizona.
The 25-year-old is under contract through the 2015 campaign for a total of $38.5 million.
The Snakes are known to want a shortstop in return and the Rangers don’t want to surrender either Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, which is why a multi-team trade has recently been explored.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.