The Rangers have reportedly done minor league deals with lefthanded pitcher Joe Beimel and first baseman/outfielder Conor Jackson, with each player getting an invite to spring training.
Both of these players are intriguing additions to the mix, and it wouldn't be shocking if both of them actually ended up making the Opening Day roster.
Beimel, who turns 35 in April, is a lefty reliever who has led the typical journeyman lefty reliever's vagabond existence, having appeared in the majors with the Pirates, Dodgers, Rockies, Twins, Rays, and Nationals. Beimel spent the 2011 season with Pittsburgh and had a rough go of it, with a 5.33 ERA in 25.1 innings pitched. Lefties put up a .302/.333/.465 line against him last season, which isn't good for a lefty specialist, but righthanders hammered him to the tune of .333/.408/.619. For his career, Beimel has held lefties to a .261/.320/.404 line. If the Rangers decide to go with two lefties in the bullpen, Michael Kirkman and Beimel are probably the two most likely candidates to end up with those jobs.
Jackson, who turns 30 in May, is a native of Austin who was a first round pick of the D-Backs in the ill-fated 2003 draft.* From 2006-08, Jackson was okay but unspectacular, putting up a .292/.371/.451 line in 414 games. Then he missed most of 2009 with a fungal disease called "valley fever," and his career hasn't gotten back on track since, putting up a .232/.312/.323 line in 204 games since the start of the 2009 season.
* Check out the first round...Delmon Young #1, Kyle Sleeth and Tim Stauffer at #3 and #4, a couple of high school outfielders who never sniffed the majors at #5 and #6. Even the successes of that first round are guys -- John Danks, Nick Markakis, Aaron Hill, Chad Billingsley, Carlos Quentin, Adam Jones, Rickie Weeks -- who have the air of unmet expectations hanging over them.
Jackson was dealt to Oakland for former TCU pitcher (and unsigned 2004 Ranger draftee) Sam Demel in 2010, and then moved to Boston at the August trade deadline last year for minor leaguer Jason Rice.
Jackson is probably destined for Round Rock, along with Brad Hawpe, but if he's fully shaken the effects of the disease that disrupted his career and can hit like he did pre-illness, he'd be a valuable asset off the bench as a four-corner guy.