Feb 28, 2012; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers outfield Conor Jackson (28) poses for a picture during the Rangers photo day at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE
More news on the transaction front this afternoon, as we learn that the Rangers have released Conor Jackson, Mitch Stetter, and Joe Beimel. All three players were on minor league deals.
Jackson was added as a potential bench option, a righthanded hitter who could offer the Rangers depth at first base and in the outfield if he could show he was close to the player he was in 2008, rather than the guy who has had a 635 OPS since the 2009 season. Instead, all indications are that his bat is still gone, and the Rangers apparently decided that they'd rather release him than pay him the $100,000 he'd have been entitled to (under the new CBA) if they kept him past Opening Day.
Beimel and Stetter are both lefties who were considered options for the lefthanded reliever job. Beimel, like Jackson, had enough service time that it would have cost the Rangers $100,000 to keep him around, and it seems that the final reliever slot (assuming that Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe are both safe) will go to one of Yoshinori Tateyama, Robbie Ross, and Michael Kirkman. Keeping Tateyama would mean having no lefty in the bullpen, but Uehara and Mike Adams have both had a significant amount of success against lefties, which may make the Rangers more comfortable going lefty-free.
Brad Hawpe earlier today also said that he'd exercise his out clause rather than go to AAA, and with the release of Jackson and the current Craig Gentry situation, he may end up making the Opening Day roster. While there isn't really a spot open for a lefthanded bench bat -- particularly if Julio Borbon also makes the team -- if Gentry has to start the year on the d.l., the Rangers could add Hawpe for depth and to delay having to make a final decision on him for a while.
This, of course, assumes that the Rangers don't make a move for 1) some other bench bat, or 2) some other lefty reliever.