Category Archives: Texas Rangers

Rangers trade Lucroy to the Rockies

The Texas Rangers decided to trade away catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for a player to be named later.

 

Texas Rangers analysis/grade:

This is a really bad trade for the Rangers as they are giving up an all-star caliber catcher basically for nothing. Lucroy wasn’t having a very good year for the Rangers, but he is surely worth more than a low-level prospect. He is set to be a free agent after the season, but the Rangers could have gotten at least something decent in return for Lucroy. This is a trade that just isn’t worth it for Texas since they are acquiring pretty much nothing for a player that has a proven track record of being a very good catcher. Lucroy would have been more valuable just to remain with the team for the rest of the season rather than only getting a low-level minor league player presumably. We’ll see later on which prospect the Rangers receive from the Rockies for this trade, but this is still a major fail for the Rangers since they basically are getting rid of a valuable catcher for nothing.

Grade: F

 

Colorado Rockies analysis/grade:

This is a terrific low-risk trade for the Rockies as they are acquiring 2-time all-star catcher Jonathan Lucroy in exchange for basically nothing. Lucroy is having a down season in 2017 as he is only hitting .242 with 4 home runs and 27 RBI’s. However, Lucroy was an all-star just one season ago when he hit 24 home runs so he still has the potential to be a big impact player for the Rockies. The catcher position has been a major weakness for Colorado as both Tony Wolters and Ryan Hanigan have struggled to produce offensively. Even if Jonathan Lucroy plays like he did for the Rangers this season he still is a big upgrade at the position for the Rockies and he is still a dangerous hitter in the 8th spot of the Rockies lineup. Lucroy is likely only a rental player as he is a free agent after the season, but if he can just be half the player that he used to be then he will still make a major impact for the Rockies. The Rockies are giving barely anything up in exchange for Lucroy, so this trade has absolutely no risk and at the same time it could produce a huge return. Colorado is already a playoff-caliber team, yet this trade just makes the Rockies even more dangerous offensively especially if Lucroy can play like he did just a year ago.

Grade: A+

jonathan lucroy

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Biggest need remaining for every AL West team

Houston Astros – Biggest need: 1st baseman

The Houston Astros don’t have a big need, but if there is one position that appears to be a little bit of a concern then it would be 1st base. Yulieski Gurriel will be the team’s starting 1st baseman in 2017, but he has limited MLB experience which makes me wonder how he will fare with the everyday job at 1st base next season. Gurriel hit .262 with 3 home runs for Houston last season, but the Astros should add at least some depth to the 1st base position. It might not work out with Gurriel as the everyday 1st baseman and the Astros should find another 1st baseman that can fill in if Gurriel doesn’t do well. There are many options left in free agency and they would be smart to add some depth to 1st base.

Los Angeles Angels – Biggest need: Catcher

The Los Angeles Angels didn’t get much production out of the catcher position with Geovany Soto and Jett Bandy. Now, both Bandy and Soto have departed this offseason which means there will be a new starting catcher for the Angels in 2017. Carlos Perez will see more playing time as a backup catcher next season. However, Martin Maldonado was acquired from the Brewers this offseason in order to be the new starting catcher. Maldonado has some power as he hit 8 home runs last season, but he needs to be a more consistent hitter as he only had a .202 average. It’s tough to find solid catchers these days, but the Angels could really use one because the combination of Maldonado and Perez doesn’t look too promising.

Oakland Athletics – Biggest need: Centerfielder

Oakland has some big needs to fill before next season, but the biggest need that they have is in center field. Jake Smolinski is projected to be the starting centerfielder for the Athletics in 2017, but he has never been very good even as a backup outfielder. Smolinski can hit some home runs as he hit 7 last season, but a .242 average is a little concerning. I don’t see Oakland going out and signing a quality centerfielder. However, there are still a few out there if they choose to go that route and it would probably improve their lineup.

Seattle Mariners – Biggest need: Left Fielder

The Mariners outfield isn’t looking too good for next season as they have three starting outfielders that aren’t very solid players. However, left field appears to be a major weakness for Seattle heading into next season. Ben Gamel is projected to be the starter in left field for the Mariners in 2017, but the issue is his lack of experience. Gamel only has 48 career at-bats and he only has a .188 average to show for it. There are still some quality left fielders in free agency and the Mariners should sign one to compete with Gamel for the starting job.

Texas Rangers – Biggest need: 1st baseman

Texas lost starting 1st baseman Mitch Moreland in free agency and it has created a major vacancy at the position heading into next season. Right now Ryan Rua would be the starting 1st baseman for Texas and he has only played 44 games at the position in his career. Don’t be shocked if the Rangers make a move to sign a quality 1st baseman and it has been rumored that they will reach a deal with Mike Napoli. Either way, the Rangers should add an everyday 1st baseman soon, although their options are starting to run out.

Rangers trade Luke Jackson to the Braves

Once again the Braves made a very odd trade as they acquired right-handed pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for right-handed pitcher Tyrell Jenkins and left-handed pitcher Brady Feigl.

Rangers evaluation:

The Rangers had high hopes for Luke Jackson when they drafted him 45th overall in the 2010 MLB draft. However, the patience that the Rangers had for Jackson has apparently run out as they traded him to the Braves. Jackson has tons of talent, but it was his pitch control that really held him back with the Rangers. Meanwhile, the Rangers are getting some decent young talent in return for Jackson. Tyrell Jenkins is a talented right-handed pitcher who projects more as a bullpen arm long-term for the Rangers. Jenkins went 35-27 with a 3.64 ERA in the minor leagues mostly as a starter. However, Jenkins really struggled for the Braves last season as he went 2-4 with a 5.88 ERA in 52 innings. Jenkins has struggled with pitch control as he walked 33 batters at the MLB level compared to only 26 strikeouts. Jenkins has to develop some more and it would probably be best if the Rangers send him to Triple-A to start the 2017 season. Jenkins could contribute to the bullpen soon, but he needs to figure out some better control in order to be more successful. Also, Brady Feigl is another player that the Rangers will have to be patient with and develop for awhile before he can be a successful MLB player. Feigl had Tommy John surgery in April 2015 and he has basically missed all of the last 2 seasons because of it. Feigl put up some good numbers in the minor leagues as he is 5-5 with a 2.74 ERA. However, he will soon be 26 years old and he will only just be starting double-A in 2016. We’ll see what type of pitcher he is after Tommy John surgery. However, he is still several years away from being an MLB player if he ever reaches that level. I don’t really see the purpose of the trade for the Rangers as they are giving up a quality prospect that needs some development. Meanwhile, they are getting 2 players that they will need to definitely develop for awhile which makes me wonder why they would even make this trade.

Grade: D+

Braves evaluation:

This trade makes a little more sense for the Braves as they are getting a very talented prospect that they can develop. Luke Jackson has an electric arm as he has the possibility to reach 100 MPH with his fastball. However, he has struggled a lot to learn how to develop his pitches and his minor league numbers prove that as he is 38-26 with a 4.24 ERA. The Braves certainly will have a lot of work to do with Jackson to try and help him develop some more quality pitches. Atlanta will likely send Jackson down to either Double-A or Triple-A in order to develop some pitch control so it will take awhile for him to develop. The Braves gave Tyrell Jenkins a chance to prove himself and he certainly didn’t prove that he’ll ever be more than a good minor league player. Also, Brady Feigl doesn’t have much potential and he doesn’t have much of an MLB future at all after Tommy John surgery. The Braves are hoping that Luke Jackson can one day be a power arm in their bullpen. I can see why Atlanta made this trade, although it will take some serious development to make Luke Jackson a decent MLB pitcher.

Grade: C

luke-jackson

 

Rangers re-sign Carlos Gomez to a 1-year deal

The Texas Rangers and outfielder Carlos Gomez are reuniting for the 2017 season as the team re-signed Gomez to a 1-year/$11.5 million contract. It was a rough season for Gomez in 2016 and he was released in August after hitting .210 with the Astros. Gomez was ultimately picked up by the Rangers and he was much better in 33 games for them as he hit .284 with 8 home runs. Gomez is an all-star caliber player, but consistency offensively was an issue last season. It will be interesting to see if he can return to the type of player that he was just a few years ago with Milwaukee as he still has many valuable skills. Gomez still can hit 20 home runs in a season and he still has tremendous speed. This is a really good signing for the Rangers as this contract gives Gomez a chance to prove himself for one season. Gomez will be the everyday centerfielder for Texas in 2017 after the departure of Ian Desmond in free agency. We’ll see if Gomez can put together a consistent season for Texas in 2017 and if he can then he will be a key piece to the Rangers success.

carlos-gomez

Rangers sign Cashner to a 1-year deal

The Texas Rangers improved their pitching depth majorly as they signed veteran starting pitcher Andrew Cashner to a 1-year/$10 million deal. Cashner had by far the worst season of his career in 2016 as he went only 5-11 with a 5.25 ERA with the Padres and Marlins. However, a couple of years ago with San Diego he was one of the top starting pitchers in the national league as he had a 2.55 ERA. Cashner has been a very reliable pitcher throughout his career and in a starting pitcher market that is horrible this offseason then the Rangers had to make a move like this to bolster their starting pitching. Texas has proven all-star caliber pitchers Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish already. However, the depth behind those two pitchers is certainly not very good. The hope is that last year was just a down year for Cashner and that he can return to the consistent pitcher that he used to be. Just based on his past seasons I believe that Cashner can be a quality starting pitcher once again and he is certainly one of the best 3rd or 4th starters that you’ll find in any starting rotation. At least Texas is only giving Cashner a 1-year deal so that he has the incentive to prove himself before hitting free agency once again next year. Cashner might not be the same player that he was during his years with the Padres, yet the Rangers desperately needed starting pitcher and this is a signing that they needed to make.

Grade: B-

andrew-cashner

Predicted landing spots for the Top 10 Free Agents

The 2016 free agent class is filled with great closing pitchers, but other than that the free agent market is rather weak especially with starting pitchers. Either way, here are my top 10 free agent rankings and where I predict that they will land this offseason.

  1. Yoenis Cespedes – Outfielder – Former Team: New York Mets

It isn’t a shock that Cespedes opted out of his contract with the Mets considering that he is in line to receive a big long-term contract that is surely going to be worth more than $100 million. Cespedes has tremendous power as evidenced by his 31 home runs last season for the Mets. However, he isn’t the type of player that can carry a team on his shoulders, so he’ll likely land with a contender this offseason. The Yankees could make a strong push for Cespedes since they always want to make a big splash in free agency. However, the Mets will have an awful offense without him and they’ll likely do anything to re-sign him which is why he’ll likely return to the Mets despite the many offers that he’ll receive.

Prediction: Returns to the Mets

2. Edwin Encarnacion – 1st baseman/Designated Hitter – Former Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Edwin Encarnacion struck out a lot of times last season, but he proved why he is a dangerous hitter as he hit a whopping 42 home runs along with 127 RBI’s. He can play a decent 1st base, but at 34 years old he is most likely to be a full-time designated hitter. I don’t see a return for Encarnacion to Toronto after they just signed Kendrys Morales. However, the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros are all in the mix for a big-time middle of the order bat like Encarnacion. Boston is a team in need of a designated hitter after the retirement of David Ortiz and they have the money to be able to pull a deal for Encarnacion off, so ultimately he will land with the Red Sox on a 2 or 3-year deal.

Prediction: Signs with the Red Sox

3. Justin Turner – 3rd Baseman – Former Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Justin Turner is a really good 3rd baseman that just happens to really benefit from a poor market at the 3rd base position. He has always had a good batting average, but he took his offensive abilities to the next level last season with 27 home runs for the Dodgers. Also, he is an average defensive 3rd baseman, so that adds to his value even more. The Braves, Padres, and Giants are teams that will have interest in Turner. However, the Giants seem like the team that will challenge the Dodgers the most for him. Turner could get around $15-20 million per season and the Dodgers have the money and the desperation in order to re-sign him.

Prediction: Returns to the Dodgers

4. Kenley Jansen – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen is one of the top closers in MLB and yet he is only 29 years old, so he could be in line for a substantial long-term deal this offaseason. He is a hard-thrower and he has a cutter pitch that rivals that of Mariano Rivera. Also, he has had consistent production in recent years including last year when he had a 1.83 ERA and 47 saves for the Dodgers. There are many teams interested in Jansen and the Dodgers would certainly would like him to come back. However, the Cubs have a need for a closer since they don’t seem like they will retain their closer Aroldis Chapman. Chicago could use a consistent closer like Jansen that can pitch multiple innings especially in the postseason.

Prediction: Signs with the Cubs

5. Aroldis Chapman – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Chicago Cubs

Chapman is extremely difficult to hit at times because of his 100+ MPH fastball that hitters can’t catch up to. He proved valuable for the Cubs in the postseason as he could pitch multiple innings and he handled the workload well. Also, his 1.55 ERA and 36 saves last season was extremely impressive. The Cubs could be interested in a reunion with Chapman this offseason. However, the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees, and Nationals all could make a significant push to sign him. Any of those teams could make a case to sign him, but ultimately I believe the Washington Nationals will pull it off. Washington won’t re-sign Jonathon Papelbon after his terrible 2016 season which means the team has a need for a big-time closer like Chapman. Washington seems one piece away from being a world series contender and Chapman could be the guy to finally get them there.

Prediction: Signs with the Nationals

6. Ian Desmond – Shortstop/Outfielder – Former Team: Texas Rangers

Nobody rebuilt their free agent value more than Desmond did this past season as he hit .285 in 22 home runs in his one season with the Rangers. He has played shortstop most of his career, but he was an everyday center fielder for Texas last season. It is his powerful bat that teams desire, yet his position versatility will certainly help him as well. The Indians, Astros, Rangers, Orioles, and Braves all will have interest in Desmond. I could certainly see him returning to the Rangers or even bolting for the Astros or Indians. However, Baltimore seems like the team that could make the strongest push for Desmond. The Orioles don’t necessarily have a need in center field or at shortstop, but Desmond did play some left field last season and the Orioles have a big need at that position. I don’t see Desmond replacing Adam Jones in center field, yet Desmond could be an upgrade at shortstop or in left field for Baltimore.

Prediction: Signs with the Orioles

7. Mark Trumbo – Outfielder/Designated Hitter – Former Team: Baltimore Orioles

Mark Trumbo smacked a whopping 47 home runs last season which majorly improved his free agent value for this offseason. He does bring a lot of offensive ability and he was a starting outfielder last year for the Orioles, but his limited defensive capabilities make him a likely candidate for a full-time designated hitter job. There won’t be too many teams interested in him this offseason as basically only the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Braves are in the mix. The Orioles could try and re-sign him and Trumbo would likely come back, but the question is if Baltimore really wants him back that much. The Blue Jays are certainly a team to watch out for because they like power bats and they have a need at both right field and 1st base. Trumbo could play either of those positions and he would be a good signing for the Blue Jays because he is a solid middle of the lineup hitter.

Prediction: Signs with the Blue Jays

8. Dexter Fowler – Outfielder – Former Team: Chicago Cubs

Fowler is a tremendous leadoff hitter because of his tremendous speed and ability and to get on base. He had a solid year with a .276 average and 13 home runs for the Cubs which puts him in line to get paid a pretty good contract. The Cardinals, Rangers, White Sox, and Braves all could have interest in Fowler this offseason. However, I don’t really see him leaving the Cubs. He seems to like playing for Chicago and they won’t be the same team without him leading off their lineup.

Prediction: Signs with the Cubs

9. Mike Napoli – 1st baseman – Former Team: Cleveland Indians

Mike Napoli really helped his free agent value by proving that he still has tons of power as he hit 34 home runs for the Indians last season. He also is a terrific defensive player which will help give some confidence to teams about signing him. Toronto, Minnesota, and Seattle could have interest in Napoli on a short-term deal. However, Indians manager Terry Francona has a good connection with Napoli and the team will likely have a lot of interest in bringing him back. His offensive consistency is a little bit concerning, but I don’t see much of a scenario where Napoli leaves Cleveland.

10. Mark Melancon – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Washington Nationals

Mark Melancon doesn’t have the power arm that Jansen and Chapman have, but if you look at the stats Melancon has been just as productive as those guys have been in recent years. Melancon had a 1.64 ERA last season and 47 saves with the Pirates and the Nationals and the Dodgers, Nationals, Giants, and Diamondbacks all could have interest in him. The Nationals probably want to sign either Jansen/Chapman since they are younger and they are harder-throwing closers. However, I believe the Giants could make a strong push to sign Melancon. It’s no secret that the Giants bullpen was terrible last season and it’s also no secret that the Giants are going to try to sign either Jansen, Chapman, or Melancon to fill their closer’s role. I can’t really see the Giants spending outbiding the Nationals, Dodgers, and Cubs for Chapman and Jansen, so it appears they’ll be stuck signing Melancon and I’m sure they’re fine with that.

Prediction: Signs with the Giants

yoenis-cespedes

 

AL West Preview and Predictions

Houston Astros – 2015 Record: 86-76

Notable offseason additions:

SP Doug Fister(From Washington) and RP Ken Giles(From Philadelphia)

Notable offseason subtractions:

RP Chad Qualls(To Colorado), SP Scott Kazmir(To Los Angeles Dodgers), 1B Chris Carter(To Milwaukee), SS Jed Lowrie(To Oakland), and RP Oliver Perez(To Washington)

Analysis: The rebuilding process is officially over for the Astros as they made the playoffs last season. They really didn’t make any moves this offseason to improve on that though. Houston has a stacked lineup with Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and George Springer and those guys are young and they will be productive players for a long time. They will certainly carry the Astros offense and perhaps the team overall. The Astros also have a pretty good rotation led by Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. Houston also now has an improved bullpen after trading for young closer Ken Giles this offseason. Luke Gregerson and Tony Sipp will also be good late-inning options for the Astros. Expect this team to be very good for awhile because they are still very young and very talented in many aspects of their team.

Prediction: 1st place in the AL West

Los Angeles Angels – 2015 Record: 85-77

Notable offseason additions:

OF Craig Gentry(From Oakland), SS Yunel Escobar(From Washington), and SS Andrelton Simmons(From Atlanta)

Notable offseason subtractions:

SS Erick Aybar(To Atlanta), SP Mat Latos(To Chicago White Sox), 3B David Freese(To Pittsburgh), and C Chris Iannetta(To Seattle)

Analysis: The Angels came really close to the playoffs last season and they didn’t do too much to improve their team this offseason. Sure, they still have superstar players Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to carry the offense, but besides them they don’t have basically anybody else to produce consistently on offense. Expect Trout to have an MVP-type year and if Pujols can stay healthy then he should put up monster numbers as well. I really like the Angels starting rotation led by number 1 starter Garrett Richards. It is always good when you have Jered Weaver as the 4th starter in your rotation like the Angels do. I think Huston Street is a really good closer, but I’m not a fan of their bullpen overall. 8th inning guy Joe Smith isn’t a very good option as he had a 3.58 ERA. We know what the Angels will get from Trout, Pujols, and Richards. However, they will need to find someone else especially on offense to be able to compete in the AL West.

Prediction: 4th place in the AL West

Oakland Athletics – 2015 Record: 68-94

Notable offseason additions:

SS Jed Lowrie(From Houston), SP Rich Hill(From Boston), SP Henderson Alvarez(From Miami), OF Khris Davis(From Milwaukee), RP Ryan Madson(From Kansas City), and 1B Yonder Alonso(From San Diego)

Notable offseason subtractions:

2B Brett Lawrie(To Chicago White Sox), OF Craig Gentry(To Los Angeles Angels), SP Drew Pomeranz(To San Diego)

Analysis: The Athletics are the type of team that can go from a terrible team to a playoff team the next year. I’m definitely not saying that’s going to happen this year, but the Athletics are always confusing because of the strange signings and trades that they make every offseason. I’m not quite sure how good Oakland’s offense will be and who will lead the charge because they really don’t have a consistent offensive producer. Billy Butler and newly acquired outfielder Khris Davis will have to be consistent and carry the load on offense. Also, Sonny Gray has become one of the best pitchers in the MLB as he had 14 wins and a 2.73 ERA last season. He is the clear number 1 starter for the Athletics, but the issue is that they have a mess of a rotation behind him. Newly signed Rich Hill will be the number 2 guy and he has a 4.54 career ERA at age 36. The Athletics bullpen should be the strength of the team with Ryan Madson, John Axford, and Sean Doolittle as the late inning options, yet the issue for Oakland is if the starters will be able to get to those guys successfully. I’m unsure which direction the Athletics are heading, but besides Sonny Gray there really isn’t much talent on this roster and it’s hard to see them competing in 2016.

Prediction: 5th place in the AL West

Seattle Mariners – 2015 Record: 76-86

Notable offseason additions:

SP Wade Miley(From Boston), RP Steve Cishek(From St. Louis), OF Norichika Aoki(From San Francisco), RP Joaquin Benoit(From San Diego), 1B Adam Lind(From Milwaukee), C Chris Iannetta(From Los Angeles Angels), and SP Nathan Karns(From Tampa Bay)

Notable offseason subtractions:

OF Mark Trumbo(To Baltimore), SS Brad Miller(To Tampa Bay), 1B Logan Morrison(To Tampa Bay), RP Tom Wilhelmsen(To Texas)

Analysis: Perhaps no team was busier than the Seattle Mariners this offseason as they look to improve upon a disappointing 2015 season. The Main key for the Mariners in 2016 will be getting 2nd basemen Robinson Cano back to superstar form. Cano struggled last season, but in spring training he has looked a lot better. Nelson Cruz basically carried Seattle’s offense by himself last season and he is expected to be the main guy to do so again this season. Kyle Seager and Adam Lind should also provide a lot of power in the middle of the lineup as well. The Mariners rotation figures to be very good as they are still led by Felix Hernandez, but they also added quality depth this offseason with Wade Miley and Nathan Karns. Seattle also tried to improve their bullpen with the additions of Joaquin Benoit, Joel Peralta, and Steve Cishek. However, I’m not sold that those guys will be consistent in the late innings. I expect the Mariners offense to be very good this season especially if Cano can become the player that he used to be and the starting pitching is good enough to basically stop any offense.

Prediction: 3rd place in the AL West

Texas Rangers – 2015 Record: 88-74

Notable offseason additions:

RP Tom Wilhelmsen(From Seattle) and SS Ian Desmond(From Washington)

Notable offseason subtractions:

SP Yovani Gallardo(To Baltimore) and 1B Mike Napoli(To Cleveland)

Analysis: The Rangers lineup was what carried the team last season and expect it to be the same way this year. Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland, and Shin-Soo Choo all should carry the load as long as they can stay healthy. Add in the power of newly acquired left fielder Ian Desmond and this offense should be one of the best in the league. Meanwhile, the Rangers struggled with their starting pitching mostly because of the large amounts of injuries that they had. Cole Hamels should be a good number 1 starter for Texas and as long as the other guys in the rotation stay healthy then their pitching should be much improved. The bullpen is looking like a weakness for Texas as Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson aren’t very consistent late inning options. Shawn Tolleson should be a decent closer, but having a weak bullpen could negatively impact Texas. As long as the key position players for Texas can stay healthy then this team should be very good and if some starting pitcher besides Cole Hamels can step up then this team could be the top team in the AL West.

Prediction: 2nd place in the AL West

jose altuve