J.R. Towels was a backup catcher for the Astros for a few years, with his last big league action coming in 2011. He was stuck in the minors for 2012 and 2013 went off baseball’s grid and into independent ball this season, where he’s played for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League. He’s heading back to affiliated ball now, however, as the team announced that his contract was purchased by the Texas Rangers. He will report to Triple-A Round Rock.
Towles played in 67 games for the Bluefish in 2014, hitting 11 home runs with 37 RBI and holding a .292 batting average. He was also named to the Atlantic League All-Star team.
Guys often head down to the independents for chances like this. They don’t come too often. Good to see someone making the move back to affiliated ball like Towels is.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.