The Rangers are going to make a decision on Neftali Feliz’s role before spring training

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Last year there was a lot of hemming and hawing over whether Neftali Feliz — who started all the way through the minor leagues before a year of closing — would return to the rotation.  He started some in the spring, some words were offered to the effect that he’d start, but ultimately Ron Washington wanted him in the pen.

While it was obviously a successful season for the Rangers, they’re still thinking about Feliz in the rotation, and said this afternoon that the decision will be made before spring training begins this time, not after.

Both are good calls. Feliz as a starter makes all kinds of sense given the likely departure of C.J. Wilson and given that, even with Wilson, one or two more solid starts from someone during the postseason could have made the difference between the pen tiring out in the World Series or not.  As for the timing of the decision: yes, let the young man know his role, let the manager use him in that role, and leave all of the uncertainty out of it.

I’m hoping we see Feliz start next year because it’s always better for good pitchers to start as opposed to relieve.  But even if he stays put, not jerking him around like they did last year is a good thing too.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.