Last week, we learned that some in the business think long time Braves catcher Brian McCann could earn as much as $100 million in free agency this off-season. That could come to fruition as many of the teams that will be in hot pursuit of McCann’s services rank among baseball’s richest teams.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports lists the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, Cubs, and Angels among the many teams who could get involved in the bidding for the free agent catcher.
Heymann says that the Braves aren’t expected to jump into the fray to retain McCann’s services:
The incumbent Braves like McCann but are sure to spend their money elsewhere considering their tight budget, with a player payroll that has stayed between $90 million and $100 million six straight years, and a decent catching situation, with Evan Gattis and prospect Christian Bethancourt, a defensive whiz, as young, cost-effective alternatives.
McCann turns 30 in February, so a likely free agent contract will take him into his mid-30’s. He missed the first 30 games of the 2013 regular season recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. He had a typical above-average year, reaching 20 home runs for the sixth consecutive year while being reliable behind the plate.
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.