The Dodgers made a depth signing when they agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal Saturday evening. With Dan Haren suffering from back and shoulder issues over the past two seasons, and with Josh Beckett working his way back from shoulder surgery last July, the Dodgers needed a fallback option in the event either or both of Haren and Beckett could not participate. Not to be forgotten, Chad Billingsley won’t be ready to come off of the disabled list until mid-season by most estimates.
Per Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times, Maholm understands he may be asked to pitch in relief. However, the lefty intends to earn the #5 spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation.
“I’m going to come in and compete,” Maholm said. “If I pitch well, then things will work out.”
The Dodgers, perhaps more than any other team, understand the value of pitching depth. They entered the 2013 season with a surfeit of starting pitching and were rumored to be shopping at least two starters — Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly, namely — towards the end of spring training. But Billingsley could only make two starts; Lilly made five starts and Beckett made eight. They traded for Ricky Nolasco in early July. He was one of 11 pitchers to make at least one start for the Dodgers.
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.