UPDATE: It’s a done deal, with a slight surprise: Saunders is getting a major-league contract. That means he’s got a 40-man roster spot and, barring something unforeseen, will be on the Opening Day roster.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers are close to a deal with free agent left-hander Joe Saunders.
Last offseason Seattle deemed Saunders worthy of a $6.5 million investment, but he was awful for the Mariners with a 5.26 ERA and .311 opponents’ batting average in 32 starts at age 32.
Prior to last year Saunders was generally a decent third or fourth starter, eating innings with an ERA right around league average, so this close to Opening Day he’s a nice, cheap depth pickup for the Rangers with Derek Holland and Matt Harrison hurting.
Brewers outfielder Eric Thames made an early exit from Friday’s game against the Cardinals after colliding with Lorenzo Cain on an outfield catch in the first inning. According to an official report, he has been diagnosed with right knee soreness and is presumably day-to-day for the time being.
It was a brutal collision knocked both outfielders flat on their backs, but they were able to resume their positions and stick it out for the rest of the inning. Thames was up in the second, too, and struck out on five pitches from St. Louis right-hander Jack Flaherty before making an eventual exit in the top of the third. He was replaced on the field and in the lineup by Hernan Perez.
Entering Friday’s contest, the 31-year-old Thames carried a .230/.308/.516 batting line, 16 home runs and an .824 OPS in his second full season with the Brewers. He hasn’t replicated the career-high .247-average, 31-homer, 2.1-fWAR totals of his breakout performance in 2017, though that’s likely due to a combination of decreased playing time and lengthy recovery periods mandated by several significant injuries, including a torn UCL in his left thumb and a right hamstring strain. There’s no word yet on when he might return to the lineup this season.