Rangers still want a bat, Vladdy not yet in the mix

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Having struck out on Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez, the Rangers are still seeking a bat to add to their lineup mix. They don’t want to add a full-timer and push Mitch Moreland out of the lineup, but a complement to provide insurance in case Moreland struggles is a possibility.

Right now, the Rangers are looking at the following lineup:

SS Elvis Andrus
DH Michael Young
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
2B Ian Kinsler
1B Mitch Moreland
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Julio Borbon

David Murphy and Matt Treanor are guaranteed two spots on the bench. Another will go to a backup middle infielder, probably Andres Blanco. That leaves one opening.

Ideally, that opening would go to a right-handed hitter, assuming that the Rangers do want to stick with Moreland. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a first baseman, since Young could play there when Moreland sits against tough lefties or maybe all lefties. But it should be a righty, particularly since the team’s other strong bat off the bench is a lefty.

The obvious solution for the Rangers would seem to be Troy Glaus. The other available first basemen (Russell Branyan, Casey Kotchman, Nick Johnson, Carlos Delgado) are all lefties. Vladimir Guerrero wants and deserves to be a regular. Glaus probably would like that, too, but there don’t seem to be any possibilities for him out there right now.

If not Glaus, then Willy Aybar is the next best bet. He’s a switch-hitter, but he has a 785 career OPS against lefties, compared to a 712 mark against righties. He’s coming off a rough year and should be available cheap.

Jose Guillen, Lastings Milledge and Andy LaRoche are some of the other righty swingers still out there.

One last possibility if the Rangers really wanted to swing for the fences: Milton Bradley. The Mariners have to be especially eager to get rid of him after his arrest this week, and he did lead the AL in OPS while with the Rangers in 2008. I doubt the Rangers would take him back on now, but if could recapture a little of that magic from three years ago, he’d be a big asset.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.