Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier says hip injury may end regular season

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier says he could miss the rest of the regular season with a left hip injury after being moved to the 60-day injured list.

Kiermaier, a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, hasn’t played since July 9. He is hitting .228 with seven homers, 22 RBIs with six stolen bases in 63 games this year.

“Yeah, it is (tough to grasp),” Kiermaier said. “It hasn’t really hit me just yet. … For right now I’m kind of in that limbo, in-between period but I think we will all know more here shortly.”

The earliest he could return from the IL is September. The 32-year-old Kiermaier is scheduled to see a specialist in Nashville after the All-Star break. A surgical procedure hasn’t been ruled out.

“Just got to keep everything under wraps until a decision is made, and then we’ll go from there,” Kiermaier said.

The move with Kiermaier move cleared a roster spot for second baseman Brandon Lowe, who was reinstated from the 60-day IL after being out since mid-May due to a lower-back injury,

“I’m not going to be back anytime soon, so this was the move that needed to be made and I totally understand, agree with it ” Kiermaier said.

Lowe, who had 39 homers and 99 RBIs last year, hit .212 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 32 games this year before going on the IL.

“Immediately it just feels like a thicker lineup,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Brandon has been a force with a bat in his hand in our division for a couple years. We know what he’s capable of when he’s right at the plate.”

Tampa Bay recalled left-hander Ryan Yarbrough from Triple-A Durham to start against the Baltimore Orioles. Reliever Ralph Garza Jr. and infielder Jonathan Aranda were optioned to Durham.

Starting pitcher Yonny Chirinos allowed one hit over a scoreless inning in his first game with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Rays against the FCL Braves. The right-hander, coming back from Tommy John surgery, last pitched in the majors on Aug. 16, 2020.

The Rays claimed righty Cooper Criswell off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels and optioned him to Durham.

To make room on the 40-man roster, right-hander Shane Baz, out with a sprained right elbow, was moved to the 60-day injured list. Baz has been on the IL since July 13, meaning he can’t be activated until mid-September.

Despite having the major’s second highest total of 15 players on the IL, the Rays hold the top AL wild-card spot. The list includes shortstop Wander Franco (right hamate bone surgery) and 11 pitchers, including ace Tyler Glasnow (Tommy John surgery in August 2021).

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.