As part of their cuts Monday, the Rangers released veterans Conor Jackson, Joe Beimel and Mitch Stetter, making the group free agents.
Jackson, who finished last season with the Red Sox, was vying to make the Rangers as a right-handed hitting option at first base and in the outfield corners, but he was just 3-for-33 this spring. The poor showing suggests that he’ll have to go to Triple-A for a bit to earn another shot. The Nationals are one team that may want to give him a look, considering they have Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse banged up and the fragile Mark DeRosa as their top fallback at first base.
Beimel and Stetter were among those vying to become the lone lefty in the Texas pen. Beimel allowed three runs in six innings this spring, while Stetter gave up six runs — two earned — in 3 1/3 innings. The Rangers are still considering Michael Kirkman, Neal Cotts and maybe Robbie Ross for a role, though it’s not guaranteed that they will keep a lefty.
The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”
While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.
It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.
The deal has not been confirmed by the team.