Rangers, Mariners Swap Miscellaneous Pieces

On Monday the Rangers traded OF Leonys Martin and RHP Anthony Bass to the Mariners, in exchange for veteran RHP Tom Wilhelmson and OF James Jones, and a player to be named later. This comes just five days after team president Jon Daniels announced that Texas would tender Martin a contract.

Wilhelmson, 31, had spent all of his four-year career with the Mariners, posting a 2.97 ERA (3.94 xFIP) in a shade over 300 IP, with a solid 22.7% strikeout rate and below-average 10.8% strikeout rate. He joins an already deep assortment of arms in the Rangers bullpen -- along with Shawn Tolleson, Sam Dyson, Keone Kela and Jake Diekman -- and is under contract for 2016 and 2017. 

Jones, 27, is the wildcard in this deal, as to this point he's performed at a sub-replacement level through fractions of two MLB seasons (.238/.268/.296, 61 wRC+, -1.6 fWAR). In the minor leagues he showed some semblance of getting on base, and stole his fair share of bases, so there is hope that he can develop into a 4th/5th outfielder with some decent utility, but I won't be holding my breath.

In 2011, the Rangers signed Leonys Martin to a five-year big league contract worth $15.5 million, including a $5 million signing bonus. In spite of posting monster minor league numbers -- as well as being added to the 2011 ALDS playoff roster less than six months after the ink had dried -- Martin's biggest contributions wouldn't begin to take shape until 2013, after Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels in free agency. 

The results were mostly positive, as Leonys generated a modest .260/.313/.385 (87 wRC+) triple slash line with an advanced feel defending center field during his rookie campaign. The year after, in 2014, in a lost year for the Rangers on the field, Martin posted a .274/.325/.364 (89 wRC+) clip with Gold Glove-caliber defense in CF. Through his first two seasons, he was worth +6.4 fWAR in a scarce position of talent around MLB. He more than paid (by about double) for the $20.5 million investment the Rangers made in him four years earlier. 

2015 was a year Leonys never really got it going. In 95 games and about 300 plate appearances, he slashed just .219/.264/.313 (50 wRC+), lost his starting job to Rule-5 pick Delino DeShields, and was later exiled to Triple-A where he would break his hand. 

Martin would fill in during late September, in mostly mop-up action, with the Rangers, but didn't make the postseason roster against the Blue Jays, and refused an assignment to keep training at the team's complex in Surprise in case he would be needed in the LCS. Because he's being sold so low to Seattle, it's evident that Jon Daniels crossed the reconciliation threshold between a player's overall talent in helping a franchise win games, and that player's actions being detrimental to the team and its ultimate goal.

In the Rangers post-juggernaut years -- 2013-'15 -- Leonys Martin helped the club win a lot of baseball games. It's just unfortunate that his time in Texas had to end such a way.

Offseason Update

  1. Contrary my original line of thought, yesterday Team President Jon Daniels said the Rangers will tender Leonys Martin a contract this winter. During the postseason, Leonys made news for refusing an assignment to continuing working at the team's complex in Surprise, AZ, in case he would be needed in a later series. As it turns out, the move to tender a contract simply states that this is a business decision, and paying Martin ~$5 million is a cheap way to retain a guy who has proven to be valuable in the past. He will be 28 on Opening Day. 

  2. By tomorrow, we'll know whether or not Yovani Gallardo accepted his 1 year, $15.8 million qualifying offer. Jon Daniels maintains publicly that the club will try to bring back one of Gallardo or free agent RHP Colby Lewis, but based on the track record that no player has ever accepted the QO* -- and that Yovani stands on the open market to sign for more money and more years than the Rangers are probably comfortable going -- Colby seems far more realistic. 

  3. Heading into today's Arizona Fall League game, Jurickson Profar was hitting .260/.344/.500 (116 wRC+) with 2 HRs, and as many walks as he had strikeouts (8). These are all positive, if only brief, reminders of the type of talent Jurickson is -- that he could essentially miss two full years of baseball action during such a critical stage of his development, and come out of the gates so strong. As Keith Law mentioned in a brief scouting report from seeing him: Profar's body remains in excellent shape, and he looked fine when standing at shortstop in batting practice, handling grounders but just flipping them to other fielders rather than making regular throws to the first baseman. His bat speed is totally intact, and despite the injury to his right shoulder, his left-handed swing was unrestricted in BP and during the game. All four balls he put in play were hard-hit and came on fastballs 93 mph or above. 

  4. Today the Braves traded away perhaps its most valuable position player, Andrelton Simmons, to the Angels for shortstop Erick Aybar, LHP Sean Newcomb, RHP Chris Ellis and about $3 million. This is an interesting move from both directions. The Braves are trying to retool to focus on Opening Day 2017 when its new ballpark opens, which makes me wonder why they would want to trade a star defender playing on a cheap 5-year, $53 million contract; the Angels, meanwhile, have holes they need to fill elsewhere, and chose to upgrade a position that wasn't in dire need of one (like 3rd base, or left field, for instance). Out of an already dormant farm system, Anaheim shipped away its two-best pitching prospects.

*This morning while I began writing this, it was in fact that no player had ever accepted the qualifying offer. By about 4:30 PM Pacific Time, when I picked it back up to finish, that has changed. According to Ken Rosenthal, Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus will become the first in history to accept the one-year deal, and will be under contract with Houston for $15.8 million in 2016. 

Rangers Finalize Coaching Staff

Per John Blake, the Rangers have announced Anthony lapoce will be the team's hitting coach, Brad Holman will be the bullpen coach, Justin Mashore the assistant hitting instructor, and Bobby Jones will hold the position of replay coordinator. 

Anthony lapoce is the lone unknown from the group, as Holman, Mashore and Jones are each internal promotions from Triple-A Round Rock. Here's what Evan Grant writes of him:

Iapoce, 42, has spent the last three seasons as the Chicago Cubs' Special Assistant to the General Manager/Player Development, overseeing that club's minor league hitting program while contributing to additional projects for the organization.  Prior to joining the Cubs, he spent three seasons as Toronto's roving hitting coordinator from 2010-12 after beginning his coaching career in the Marlins system from 2006-09.

It's an interesting choice for hitting coach, as the Rangers decided on a voice that had some hand in developing the embarrassment of promising young position players in Chicago. With Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Lewis Brinson each gunning for full-time roles as early as 2017, the hope is that lapoce will similarly aid in their transitions.

Report: Rangers expected to name Doug Brocail as pitching coach

Per sources close to Evan Grant, the Texas Rangers and Doug Brocail's agent are in the final stages of negotiating to make him the club's next pitching coach. Brocail most recently worked in the same role for the Corpus Christi Hooks, Houston's Double-A affiliate, and has spent time as a member of Houston's front office and as pitching coach over the last six years. 

Reports also indicate that Brad Holman, formerly the pitching coach for Texas's Triple-A affiliate, will be named bullpen coach.