The Rangers: still trying for Justin Upton, talking to the Rays about James Shields

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Expect the Rays to talk to everyone given that they are the rare team willing to part with starting pitching. But the latest conversation they’ve had, Ken Rosenthanl reports, is with the Texas Rangers:

On one hand, the Rangers are trying to sign free-agent right-hander Zack Greinke. On the other hand, they’re also discussing trades for other top-of-the-rotation types, sources say, most notably Tampa Bay righty James Shields.

Rosenthal runs down the Rangers’ agenda this winter, which seems to be “upgrade everything,” as he reports that they’re still in the hunt for Justin Upton too.  Never mind that the Diamondbacks, whenever Upton is rumored to be going someplace, usually come out and say that it’s not likely he’s being dealt.

Report: Rangers sign Jeff Mathis to two-year deal

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The Rangers have signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year contract, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The deal is pending a physical.

Mathis turns 36 years old at the end of March and has a career .564 OPS across 14 seasons, but he is well-regarded for his defense and ability to handle a pitching staff.

The arrival of Mathis could mean the Rangers are moving on from Robinson Chirinos behind the plate, as he is now a free agent. The Rangers could go after another catcher to complement Mathis or just have Isiah Kiner-Falefa back up Mathis. Though Kiner-Falefa mostly played elsewhere, including three spots across the infield, he did rack up over 300 defensive innings behind the plate in 2018.