Darren Oliver joins Rangers’ front office as special assistant to GM

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43-year-old Darren Oliver retired last fall after 20 seasons in the majors and the Rangers announced today that he has been appointed as a special assistant to the general manager. Not surprisingly, his efforts will be focused on pitching.

Here’s part of the announcement from Rangers general manager Jon Daniels:

“We are very happy to welcome Darren Oliver into an official capacity with the Rangers,” said Daniels. “Darren will focus on pitching on both the major and minor league levels, and he will have a presence in Arlington and with our minor league affiliates. I also expect that he will be a valuable sounding board to our baseball operations group on all fronts.

“Darren has been working with us on an informal basis over the last several months and was a great asset on our trip to the Dominican Republic in January and during his several weeks at spring training camp. I am glad that we have been able to formalize that relationship.”

Oliver spent the final two seasons of his career with the Blue Jays, but he was originally drafted by the Rangers way back in 1988 and had three stints with the club. The southpaw started in the team’s first playoff game in 1996 and later made postseason relief appearances with Texas from 2010-2011. He still resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.