Rangers send Matt Bush back to bullpen

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The Rangers had the idea to make reliever Matt Bush a starter this year. That idea has now been dismissed, as Evan Grant reports that Texas will send Bush back to the bullpen.

Smart move, and not just because he hasn’t done well in his spring starts thus far. For one thing, he has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in his two years in the bigs and only started one game in the minors, way back in 2010. For another thing, he had shoulder surgery back in October and, even if it was relatively minor, you don’t want to substantially increase the workload of a guy coming off of shoulder surgery. For another thing, he throws a fastball and a curveball, and that’s basically it, and that’s not going to get the job done as a starter.

Putting Bush back in the pen will end any remaining talk about the Rangers using a six-man rotation. It leaves the rotation as Cole Hamels, Matt Moore, Doug Fister, Mike Minor and either Martin Perez, if he’s healthy to start the season, or Bartolo Colon if he’s not. Grant says that Jesse Chavez could be used as a swingman to spot start or take over if Perez is hurt and/or the 44-year-old Colon is ineffective.

After returning to baseball following years in the wilderness — and time in prison — Bush was fantastic for the Rangers in 2016. He took a step back in 2017, though, posting a 3.78 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 58/19 in 52.1 innings. His K rate was up but his walk rate and hit rate were too, basically. The Rangers are obviously hoping that his fixed shoulder will help him whip back into 2016 form. He’s way more likely to do that as a reliever.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.