Texas Rangers transactions: Phillips Valdez has been claimed on waivers by the Seattle Mariners, the team announced today. In addition, the Rangers declined their 2020 club options on Shawn Kelley, Welington Castillo and Nate Jones.
Valdez, 27, was signed as a minor league free agent last offseason, and was added to the 40 man roster and worked as a reliever for the Rangers in a couple of stints in the majors, though he spent the bulk of the season in the minors with Nashville. Valdez had a 3.94 ERA and a 5.46 FIP in 16 innings in the majors, and a 4.95 ERA for Nashville. With the state of the 40 man roster, he seemed like a likely candidate to be waived or non-tendered.
The decisions to decline the options on Jones and Castillo were expected, as both players were acquired in separate trades with the Chicago White Sox for the sole purpose of taking on their salaries and/or option buyout amounts in order to acquire additional international bonus slot money, which allows the Rangers to spend more than they would otherwise on acquiring international free agents. Jones has a $1.25 million buyout on a $5.15 million option, and Castillo has a $500,000 buyout on an $8 million team option.
Kelley seemed like a lock to return early in 2019, when he was one of the Rangers’ best relievers, but he was awful down the stretch, leading Texas to decline the $2.5 million 2020 option and pay him the $250,000 buyout instead. Kelley had said that he would retire if he didn’t return to Texas for the 2020 season, though the Rangers may be interested in bringing him back on a non-guaranteed deal.
The Rangers’ 40 man roster now stands at 34, although it will go up to 37 once Joey Gallo, Jesse Chavez and Taylor Hearn are activated from the 60 day injured list. With 7 players seen as likely to be added to the 40 man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft, plus free agents expected to be signed, there are additional moves that will need to be made to prune the 40 man roster between now and the end of November.