The Rangers will sell Russell Wilson merchandise

12 Comments

C’mon, you had to see this coming. The Rangers announced yesterday that they will begin selling Russell Wilson merchandise to coincide with his upcoming appearance at Rangers camp:

Replica home white jerseys and red and royal t-shirts with “Wilson” and “3” on the back will be available at the Surprise Stadium merchandise stores beginning on Sunday, when the Rangers host the Chicago White Sox at 1:05 p.m. MT.

Replica home white jerseys, royal and “Seahawk Green” t-shirts with “Wilson” and “3” on the back will also go on sale this Sunday at the Texas Rangers Team Shops at Globe Life Park in Arlington (open Sunday from 12 noon-5:00 p.m. CT) and Fort Worth (open Sunday 12 noon-6:00 p.m. CT). The merchandise will also be available at the Rangers Team Shop in Dallas, which is closed Sunday but opens on Monday at 10:00 a.m. CT.

Wilson is expected to participate in drills and sit in the dugout for Monday’s Cactus League game against the Indians, but Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters earlier this week that there’s “no way” he’ll be used in the game. The Rangers mostly hope that the Superbowl winning quarterback can pass along some words of wisdom to the team’s players while making them a little bit of money too. Hey, the Rangers paid a $12,000 fee to take him from the Rockies in December’s Rule 5 Draft, so can’t blame them.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
12 Comments

The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.