Rangers, D-Backs involved as market for Shin-Soo Choo reaches “critical stage”

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With Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury off the board, Shin-Soo Choo is the biggest name remaining in the free agent market. And it sounds like he could find a new home during this week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida:

Many have speculated that the Tigers could also be involved, though that’s not confirmed.

David Murphy recently signed a two-year deal with the Indians while Craig Gentry was dealt to the Athletics, so the Rangers have some big questions in left field. Michael Choice, who was acquired in the Gentry deal is one option, though it’s unlikely they’ll go that way. Choo would obviously address that need quite nicely, though it will take around $100 million to make it happen.

On a related note, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels confirmed to Jeff Wilson of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram that he met with the agent for Nelson Cruz today. However, he added that the team has likely already made their big offseason splash with the Prince Fielder deal. Sounds exactly like someone who could have something big cooking.

UPDATE: Rosenthal reports that the Diamondbacks are also in on Choo and remain “active on multiple fronts.”

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.