Tigers looking to fill center field hole
The Tigers were rumored to be a potential suitor for Gregor Blanco in the hours before he signed a minor league-deal with the Diamondbacks yesterday afternoon. But even with him now off the market, they’ve apparently still got a free agent outfielder to focus on—Peter Bourjos, who would presumably help fill the team’s void in center field. Though one of the Tigers’ first moves this winter was trading away center fielder Cameron Maybin, they haven’t done anything since to fill the space he left behind.
Talks with Bourjos are reportedly preliminary at this point—the team has "been in touch," per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press—but yesterday’s rumors around him and Blanco marked the first concrete buzz that the Tigers have had on this front in quite a while. Fenech noted that Detroit is committed to a bargain buy here (which should be pretty obvious, given their recent rumored targets) and that doesn’t leave them a whole lot else on the free agent market. Some of the possible options are Drew Stubbs and Austin Jackson—which are uninspiring, sure, but not really any less inspiring than Peter Bourjos.
Diekman to miss half season after surgery
After regressing a bit last season, Jake Diekman won’t have much of a chance to reverse that course this year—the Rangers' reliever will miss “at least half” of the season due to surgery to help alleviate ulcerative colitis. First reported by Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the surgery will take place next week after Diekman experienced a flare-up of the disease over the holidays. The Rangers stopped trade talks involving their relievers when they realized the procedure was a possibility for Diekman, who has dealt with the digestive tract illness for most of his life.
General manager Jon Daniels said that the team plans to replace Dieman only with in-house options. That likely means more time on the mound for Alex Claudio, the 24-year-old lefty changeup specialist who got his first full season in the majors last year.
Tolleson and Tampa Bay near deal
Meanwhile, one of Diekman’s former bullpen mates could be locking down a new home. Shawn Tolleson is reportedly close to signing with Tampa Bay after being non-tendered by Texas last month. The Rays are looking to finalize a major-league deal with the former closer, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, after he chose them over several other options including a potential return to the Rangers.
The 28-year-old Tolleson is coming off his worst year as a major leaguer, which meant losing his closer spot while allowing more hits and notching fewer strikeouts than ever. (A back injury capped the whole thing off.) But those failures came after two years of fairly solid success—stemming from his development of a changeup after signing with the Rangers before the 2014 season—and that was apparently enough to encourage the Rays to take a chance.
A-Rod to host show helping former athletes in financial trouble
This will be the first full season of Alex Rodriguez’s retirement, but his next gig is already lined up. He’ll be hosting a new television show called Back in the Game on CNBC—a program built on the premise of helping former professional athletes get out of financial trouble by pairing them with mentors. (Rodriguez himself is still owed $21 million from the Yankees for the upcoming final year of his contract, though he has definitively announced that he will not play.) The press release for the show doesn’t share much about the specifics of A-Rod’s hosting duties, though it does pack in plenty of sports metaphors in the space of just a few sentences.
Of course, it will be hard to top the greatest moment of Rodriguez’s television career, which we were all lucky enough to bear witness to last fall.
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