The Texas Rangers: “The Best Culture in Baseball”

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The Rangers signed Andrew Cashner to a one-year deal on Monday. They had been trying to land him for a while. Meanwhile Cashner, a Texas native who went to TCU, has long been interested in Texas. Everyone always says nice things right after a contract is signed, but the words from both the club and the player this week are particularly effusive.

For Cashner’s part, he said something which, I suspect, will become a recurring theme with the Rangers:

“The biggest thing for me is getting to come to what somebody told me the other day is the best culture in baseball,” Cashner said. “That sets the tone for winning.”

It may not always be a welcome recurring theme. Ask Cardinals fans how much they enjoy the whole “Best Fans in Baseball” thing (hint: they really, really, don’t). It has a way of taking on a life of its own and becoming the source of mocking more than anything.

So, the next time the Rangers are reported to be experiencing a bit of clubhouse drama or find themselves on the wrong end of some unwritten rules controversy — especially if it involves Cashner, which it very well might — expect the whole “Best Culture in Baseball” thing to come back again.

Phillies select active duty Navy aviator in MLB Rule 5 draft

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SAN DIEGO — The Philadelphia Phillies took U.S. Navy aviator Noah Song in the Rule 5 draft Wednesday, hoping the former top pitching prospect can still be effective once he completes his military service.

There is no definitive date on when the 25-year-old Song might be able to join the Phillies.

Song was picked from the Boston Red Sox system in the draft for unprotected minor league players. Philadelphia put him on the military list while he continues his active duty and he won’t count on the 40-man roster, the pool from which major league teams can select players for the 26-man active roster.

Song impressed in his only pro season, making seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate in 2019, with a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. With a fastball clocked in the upper 90s mph, the right-hander dominated that year as a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.

The Red Sox drafted Song in the fourth round – he likely would’ve gone much higher, but his impending military service caused teams to back off.

In November 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo clearing the way for athletes at the nation’s military academies to delay their service commitments and play pro sports after graduation. Song’s request to have those new rules retroactively applied to his case was denied.

Song began school as a flight officer in the summer of 2020 and finished that phase last April. He started additional aviation training in May.

Song was among the 15 players, including three Boston pitchers, taken in the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, which wasn’t held last year because of the MLB lockout.

Washington took righty Thad Ward from Boston’s Triple-A roster with the first pick. Baltimore took Red Sox minor league pitcher Andrew Politi with the ninth choice and the Phillies chose Song with the 11th selection.

Teams pay $100,000 to take players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The players must stay on the big league roster next season or go on waivers and, if unclaimed, be offered back to their original organization for $50,000.