Hot Stove talk: J.P. Howell

MLB.com's Washington Nationals beat writer Bill Ladson reports that at least five teams have expressed some interest in reliever J.P. Howell, including the Texas Rangers.

Howell, a left-hander, had a 3.04 ERA and induced plenty of ground balls in his 50 1/3 innings. His 2012 season came after he struggled in 2011, posting a 6.16 ERA in just 30 2/3 innings. Howell had shoulder surgery and missed the 2010 season.

He turns 30 in April and has pitched with the Tampa Bay Rays most of his career (he pitched in 15 games, all starts, with the Kansas City Royals his rookie season in 2005).

Left-handed hitters batted just .200 against Howell in 2012, numbers that are consistent with Howell's career. In fact, in the past three seasons, lefties have hit .209 and have just three homers against him. Lefties have a career .675 OPS off Howell.

Currently, the Rangers have three left-handed relievers with big-league experience on the 40-man roster: Tommy Hottovy, Michael Kirkman and Robbie Ross. Martin Perez is a left-handed pitcher, but could be fighting for a rotation spot.