A few items to roll around the ole noggin’ today …
- The Rangers added Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo this offseason, which is swell, but they didn’t really do much about their rotation. Matt Garza left in free agency. Derek Holland hurt his knee and is out until midseason. Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch are coming back from injury issues. And now, Matt Harrison, who was also trying to come back from injury issues, is dealing with continued back problems that will require an MRI, per Evan Grant. If Harrison has to miss time, the Rangers’ rotation currently looks like this: Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, and … um … uh … pitchers. Among those other pitchers is probably Alexi Ogando, as well as Tommy Hanson (who is far from a sure thing). It’s hard to see them entering the season without making a move, unless the news on Harrison’s back is exceedingly positive.
- … so, do the Cubs have some conversations with the Rangers about a pitcher? Would the Rangers even want to pay a steep price for Jeff Samardzija (I can hear all Rangers fans everywhere thinking about the possibility of another deal with the Cubs for a pitcher and screaming, “NOOOOOOoooooo!!!!!”)? Would they see a swing guy like Carlos Villanueva as a sufficient upgrade over what they already have? I’m just thinking about loud, given the situation. The Cubs do know the Rangers’ system quite well, and the sides have had many, many trade discussions in recent years. That can help make a deal a little easier, since you already know where the other side stands with respect to certain players.
- Speaking of Rangers/Cubs pitcher trades, Gordon Wittenmyer writes about Ryan Dempster, whom the Cubs traded to the Rangers in 2012, and the possibility that the righty could come back to the Cubs after he takes off the 2014 season. The predicate for the suggestion is the possibility that Dempster, who would be 37 at the time, could want to come back to Chicago on an inexpensive, why-the-hell-not kind of deal. I don’t really have much of an opinion on it right now, because we don’t know how things are going to look – for the Cubs or for Dempster – a year from now. Maybe it’ll seem like a slam dunk idea. Maybe it’ll seem nuts.
- Apropos of last night’s discussion of Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, Jesse Sanchez reports that he and pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne will be working out for the New York Yankees today. Apparently the Yankees, Cardinals, Giants, Blue Jays, Braves, Phillies, and Mariners are among the teams interested in Diaz (Joe Strauss). Despaigne has strong interest from at least four teams, according to Chris Cotillo.
- The Braves continued their free-stadium-fueled extension spree today, inking shortstop Andrelton Simmons to a seven-year, $58 million deal. It’s the biggest extension in history for a guy with just over one year’s service time, but it’s a pretty fair deal for the 24-year-old whom many think has the best glove at shortstop in a long, long time. The deal covers two pre-arb years, three arbitration years, and two free agent years. As the Cubs have seen (at least in a one-year flash), these pre-arb extensions aren’t without risk to the team, because the Braves already had five years of super cheap control over Simmons. By guaranteeing him $58 million, they’re banking on those two free agent years being worth a whole lot of money, which means Simmons has to stay good and healthy for another five years before the Braves really see much value in the deal.
- The Mariners have checked in on Ervin Santana, per Ken Rosenthal, but nothing is happening just yet. Santana remains the last higher-end starting pitcher left on the free agent market. Chris Capuano, by the way, appears headed to the Red Sox.
- Jayson Stark reports that Santana to the Blue Jays is unlikely, which should preserve some Samardzija rumors.