Texas Rangers rumors: Martin Perez and Adrian Sampson are two free agent pitchers the Rangers have kept in contact with, according to Jon Daniels (via the beat guys on Twitter), who spoke to the media today in Las Vegas where the Winter Meetings are slated to kick off tomorrow.
Perez spent the 2018 season with the Rangers and had a disastrous year, including a couple of stints on the disabled list and a banishment to the bullpen, resulting in the Rangers declining to exercise his 2019 team option. Perez has expressed a desire to come back to Texas, however, and it appears there is at least some interest on the part of the team to bring him back.
Sampson, 27, was claimed on waivers by the Rangers in November, 2016, and ended up making four starts in the big leagues for Texas in 2018, along with a relief appearance, putting up a 4.30 ERA and a 6.03 FIP in 23 innings. There was some talk that he would get a look as a potential rotation candidate this spring, though he was one of four players non-tendered last month. Sampson would seem to be in the mix for a minor league deal.
The Rangers currently have three veterans who appear to be in the rotation for 2019 — Mike Minor, Edinson Volquez, and Drew Smyly — but Volquez and Smyly didn’t pitch last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017. The Rangers have several intriguing young pitchers coming up in the system, including three — Taylor Hearn, Joe Palumbo and Jonathan Hernandez — who are on the 40 man roster and ended 2018 in AA Frisco. Those three, however, likely won’t be candidates to be up in the majors until the second half of 2019, at the earliest.
So the Rangers are going to be looking not only for legitimate candidates to round out the 2019 rotation, but also for some depth pieces for AAA Nashville to start 2019. Ronald Herrera is still on the 40 man roster, but he missed all of last season, and I suspect that the team would prefer to get Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado as many AAA innings as possible. Thus, pitchers like Sampson and Perez will be looked at by the Rangers, and may well view Texas a more likely place than most to get major league starts.