The Rangers got a .699 OPS from their third basemen last season, fifth-worst in the majors at the position.
They've got their sights set higher -- and possibly much higher -- in 2020.
The team on Sunday agreed to terms with free agent third baseman Todd Frazier on a one-year, $3.5 million deal for 2020 according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The deal reportedly includes a $5.75 million club option with a $1.5 million buyout, bringing the total value of his deal to $5 million.
Frazier somewhat quietly posted a 106 wRC+ in 133 games with the Mets last season, batting .251/.329/.443 with 21 homers and 67 RBI. Frazier has hit at least 21 homers in five of his last six seasons.
The move shores up the position that proved difficult for the Rangers in 2019. Asdrubal Cabrera made the most starts at the hot corner and posted a .711 OPS, and six different players -- Cabrera, Danny Santana, Nick Solak, Logan Forsythe, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Patrick Wisdom -- saw time at the position.
With Cabrera and Wisdom now elsewhere, and Forsythe a free agent, the job should be Frazier's to lose. Unless, of course, the Rangers reel in an even bigger fish before spring.
On the same day the team signed Frazier, reports circulated that the Rangers maintain interest in bigger-ticket hitters as well. The signing does not preclude the club from trading for Nolan Arenado, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the team is also still interested in signing free agent Nicholas Castellanos, TR Sullivan of MLB.com reported.
Castellanos is a very nice hitter, but the addition of Arenado would show that the club is serious about contending in the AL West in 2020. It would also add to an already impressive crop of third basemen in the division, with recently signed Anthony Rendon on the Angels, AL MVP runner-up Alex Bregman on the Astros and Matt Chapman on the A's.
We'll see what moves, if any, the Rangers make in the next month to further strengthen their club heading into spring.
Dodgers Add Wood To Crowded Rotation
A murky starting rotation picture in Los Angeles just got a little more cloudy.
The Dodgers and free agent Alex Wood agreed in principle to a one-year, $4 million contract Sunday, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. With incentives, the deal can reach as high as $10 million.
Wood was abysmal in 2019, owning a 5.80 ERA and 6.38 FIP across seven starts -- he also missed the entire first half of the season due to a nagging back injury -- but was much better in the years prior. In 2018 he went 9-7 with a 3.68 ERA over 151 2/3 innings, and the year before that he posted an even better 2.72 ERA while going a remarkable 16-3 in 152 1/3 innings.
Of course, the Dodgers remember his prior success well. Wood spent three and a half seasons in LA before the Dodgers shipped him to the Reds ahead of last season. Now, they'll try to get him back to that previous form.
Regardless of whether they're successful in the long term, in the short term it further muddies an already muddled starting rotation forecast. Along with Wood, the Dodgers also have Julio Urias, Ross Stripling, Jimmy Nelson, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin for two spots.
The deal suggests the team will give the 29-year-old southpaw an inside track on winning a rotation spot this spring, leaving the rest to fight for the final starting job. All have pitched well at points in the past and have a claim to the job, while each also has reasons they may not win the role.
It will definitely be a battle to monitor in Cactus League play.
Arb Deadline Brings New Record-Setting Deals
The arbitration filing deadline was Friday, bringing with it some record-setting deals.
The biggest, and biggest ever for an arbitration-eligible player, was Mookie Betts' one-year, $27 million deal with the Red Sox. The contract broke Nolan Arenado's previous record high of $26 million.
Also smashed was the record for largest contract for a first-time arbitration-eligible player. That honor now goes to Cody Bellinger, who settled with the Dodgers for $11.5 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility, besting Kris Bryant's previous record of $10.85 million.
Other notable figures from Friday's deadline: Kris Bryant led the way, non-Betts edition, with an $18.6 million deal; Francisco Lindor will make $17.5 million plus the possibility of earning more in awards bonuses; Trevor Bauer will get the same $17.5 million from the Reds after avoiding, for the first time in a few years, the arbitration process; on the heels of his monster year, Marcus Semien more than doubled his salary to $13 million in 2020; Aaron Judge will make $8.5 million in his first year of arb eligibility; after being non-tendered by the Orioles, Jonathan Villar will make $8.2 million with the Marlins; and Jorge Soler will get $7.3 million after leading the American League in homers in 2019.
Quick Hits: Diamondbacks and OF David Peralta avoided arbitration by agreeing to a three-year, $22 million contract extension. He can earn $1.25 million more in incentives, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale. Peralta was eligible for arbitration for a final time before hitting the free agent market next winter, but he'll now remain in Arizona through 2022. The 32-year-old was limited to just 99 games in 2019 due to injury, but he posted a .804 OPS when healthy and also won his first Gold Glove ... Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that the Twins and Miguel Sano have reached an agreement on a three-year contract extension. The deal is for $30 million guaranteed over the three-year extension, which also includes a $14 million option ($3 million buyout) for a fourth season. With the option, the deal maxes out at $41 million over the four years. The 26-year-old slugged a career-high 34 home runs while slashing .247/.346/.576 in only 105 games for the Twins in 2019 ... Brewers signed INF Jedd Gyorko to a one-year contract with a club option for 2021. The financial details of the deal aren't available yet. Gyorko put up a lowly .498 OPS over an injury-shortened 2019 campaign, but he crushed lefties the previous couple years and could make for a solid platoon partner with Eric Sogard at third base ... Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Royals and Alex Gordon will have discussions about a new contract this week. It always seemed inevitable that the two sides would work something out and it sounds like they'll probably get something done soon. Gordon will turn 36 next month and hasn't been a league-average hitter for a while, but he's still an elite defensive left fielder and both he and the Royals want to continue the relationship ... Yankees signed OF Brett Gardner to a one-year contract with a club option for the 2021 season. The deal was announced in mid-December but was not made official until today. Gardner will earn $12.5 million in 2020 and the Yankees' club option for next season will come at a cost of $10 million. The veteran outfielder is now 36 years old but hasn't shown any signs of decline -- in fact 2019 was one of the best seasons of his career. He batted .251/.325/.503 and set career highs with 28 home runs and 74 RBI. He scored 86 times and stole 10 bases. His .829 OPS last year was the best of his career by a wide margin.