UPDATE: If you were frustrated about Neftali Feliz staying in the bullpen, this probably won’t make you feel any better. According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, club officials have confirmed that Alexi Ogando is now a possibility for the starting rotation. Like Feliz, Ogando was stretched out for the starting rotation this spring.
9:31 PM: We have a timetable for Tommy Hunter’s return from a groin injury. And it’s not good.
Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com earlier today that Hunter will be sidelined for at least six weeks after an MRI confirmed a Grade 2 (or moderate) strain of his right groin.
The Rangers hope that a blood-platelet injection scheduled for Monday will help advance his recovery.
“That’s a fair range,” assistant general manager Thad Levine said. “We’ll have to update that as he responds to treatment and the injection. But that’s kind of a ballpark figure.”
Hunter suffered the injury just hours after the team announced that Neftali Feliz would remain the closer for this season. Despite the injury, the Rangers remain committed to keeping the 22-year-old right-hander in the bullpen.
According to Sullivan, Michael Kirkman and non-roster invitee Dave Bush are in the mix to replace Hunter in the starting rotation. The Rangers would probably love to keep Bush around for depth purposes, but he has the option to declare himself a free agent on Sunday.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.