Neftali Feliz will be Rangers' primary setup man

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Ron Washington just confirmed that Neftali Feliz will be the Rangers’ eighth-inning setup man in front of closer Frank Francisco.
Feliz established himself as an elite starter prospect in the minors, but joined the Rangers’ bullpen for his big-league debut last August and was nearly unhittable down the stretch, tossing 31 innings with a 1.74 ERA, .124 opponents’ batting average, and 39/8 K/BB ratio.
During the offseason the Rangers’ brass seemed unclear about whether they wanted Feliz to remain in the bullpen or go back to starting again. Early on in spring training they talked about him being a candidate for the rotation, but eventually that notion faded.
At just 22 years old Feliz seemingly deserves at least a chance to show that he can be dominant for 200 innings per season as a starter rather than 75 innings per season as a reliever, but because Texas isn’t New York you won’t hear much Joba Chamberlain-type uproar either way.
Whatever role he ends up filling, Feliz’s presence is a big part of why I picked the Rangers to win their first division title since way back in 1999. Their rotation is shaky, particularly if Rich Harden fails to stay healthy again, but the lineup should do plenty of damage and the late-inning duo of Francisco and Feliz is among the most overpowering in baseball.

Kyle Gibson, Orioles finalize 1-year, $10M contract

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – Right-hander Kyle Gibson and the Baltimore Orioles finalized a one-year, $10 million contract.

The 35-year-old would receive a $150,000 assignment bonus if traded, payable by the receiving team. He also can earn a $25,000 bonus if he is elected or selected for the All-Star team. Gibson was an All-Star in 2021.

Gibson was 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA in 31 starts for Philadelphia last season. He also pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in two relief appearances in the postseason for the NL champions.

Baltimore gained another experienced arm as it looks to build on its surprising season. After losing 110 games the previous year, the Orioles contended for an AL wild card for much of the summer before finishing 83-79 for the franchise’s first winning record since 2016.

Gibson was an AL All-Star in 2021, going 6-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 19 starts for Texas. He was traded to Philadelphia that July, and he went 4-6 with a 5.09 ERA in 12 appearances for the Phillies down the stretch.

The 6-foot-6 Gibson was selected by Minnesota in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Twins in 2013.

He spent his first first seven seasons with Minnesota, going 67-68 with a 4.52 ERA in 193 games, including 188 starts. He had his best year in 2018, finishing with a career-low 3.62 ERA in a career-best 196 2/3 innings.

Gibson, who signed a $28 million, three-year contract with Texas in December 2019, is 89-91 with a 4.52 ERA in 267 major league games.