MLB rumors roundup: Rangers' contingency plans for Josh Hamilton

Oft-injured Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is already banged up. AP Photo/Matt York

One of the issues facing the Texas Rangers at the start of spring training is a familiar one: What can they expect out of left fielder Josh Hamilton?

Injuries have been a constant companion to Hamilton, and the latest issue involves inflammation in the capsule behind his left knee following offseason surgery.

The soreness is another reminder that the Rangers no longer can count on Hamilton, who turns 35 in May, as an everyday player. The 2010 American League MVP has played in 89 and 50 games, respectively, over the past two seasons.

Hamilton says a “reachable goal” is to play 120 games in 2016, and he will discuss a more formalized plan with manager Jeff Banister and the coaching staff near the end of spring training, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

Veteran Justin Ruggiano, signed as a free agent over the winter, could get plenty of at-bats if Hamilton’s injury issues persist. Additional left field options include Joey Gallo, Ryan Rua and James Jones. The Rangers added another left-handed bat by signing first baseman Ike Davis to a minor league contract.

As for external options, Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com reports the Rangers are “keeping tabs” on New York Mets outfielder Alejandro De Aza and have kept in touch with the agents for free agents David Murphy and Will Venable.

De Aza signed a one-year, $5.75 million deal with the Mets in December but became a spare part a few weeks ago when Yoenis Cespedes decided to remain in New York. As a free-agent signee, De Aza would have to approve any trade before June, but the opportunity of more playing time in Texas could make that happen.

Both Murphy and Venable had previous stints with the Rangers.

Hamilton will be paid $28.4 million each of the next two seasons, but the Angels are on the hook for the bulk of that cash, which makes the injuries easier to digest.

Here are more rumors making the rounds on Thursday:

  • Baltimore Orioles: ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Wednesday night “there is a strong confidence” that both right-hander Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Dexter Fowler will sign with the O’s. Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports the holdup in negotiations with both players centers on guaranteed money, with the cost apparently rising as more free agents have come off the board. While the Orioles expect to sign both players, they do not appear to be in a rush to get a deal done, according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles would surrender draft picks to sign Gallardo and Fowler because they turned down qualifying offers from their former teams last fall.

  • Madison Bumgarner: Back in 2012, Bumgarner received financial security from the Giants when he signed a six-year, $35.6 million deal that included team options of $12 million for both 2018 and 2019. As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle points out, Bumgarner is set to earn $9.75 million in 2016, about $12 million less than Matt Cain and $5 million less than both Jake Peavy and Johnny Cueto. At some point, the Giants will have to deal with the future of the three-time All-Star. “When the time is right to address it, it will clearly be addressed,” GM Bobby Evans tells Schulman.

  • DJ LeMahieu: While LeMahieu has experience as a shortstop in the minors, Rockies manager Walt Weiss tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post there are no plans to move him off second base if Jose Reyes receives a long suspension under baseball's new joint domestic abuse policy. Just before a scheduled arbitration hearing Wednesday, the second baseman and the Rockies agreed on a two-year, $7.8 million contract.

  • Ryan Webb: The Tampa Bay Rays are close to a deal with the free-agent reliever, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. A native of Clearwater, Florida, Webb posted a 3.20 ERA in 40 games and 50.2 innings for the Indians last season. The 30-year-old Webb also spent time with the Padres, Marlins, and Orioles, compiling a 17-18 record with a 3.35 ERA in 357 career appearances.