Rangers agree to terms with three players
ARLINGTON, Texas — There's still no news on the Yu Darvish front for the Texas Rangers, but they did take steps Tuesday to solidify their roster for 2012 by agreeing to terms with three veterans.
Outfielder David Murphy and pitchers Mark Lowe and Mike Adams avoided arbitration with the club by agreeing to one-year deals.
The Rangers will pay Murphy $3.625 million, Lowe $1.7 million and Adams $4.4 million.
The moves leave the Rangers with four arbitration-eligible players without deals for next year — Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli, Elvis Andrus and Matt Harrison.
The next big move for the Rangers figures to be the signing of Darvish. Texas has until 4 p.m. Wednesday to get the deal done, and club officials, including team president Nolan Ryan, are optimistic it will happen.
The Rangers began a three-day pitching camp for prospects, but catcher Tommy Mendonca might be the one who needs the most work.
Mendonca came up through the Texas system as a third baseman, which is where he played in 2011. But with Adrian Beltre likely blocking any chance of Mendonca making it to the majors at third with Texas, the organization asked Mendonca to give catching a try last November.
"I'm never going to turn something down," said Mendonca, who hit .278 with 25 home runs at Double-A Frisco last season. "I have a lot of respect for catching now. So far it's been fun. It's been three weeks, but it's been a good three weeks."
Mendonca, who has now caught five bullpen sessions including three Tuesday at Rangers Ballpark, is starting to develop a comfort level behind the plate. While Mendonca doesn't know where he'll play this season, he realizes the move could be important for his future with Texas.
While the Rangers have Beltre at third base, catcher Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba could be gone from the club after the 2012 season. With no front-line catching prospects in the organization, the switch could provide Mendonca the opening he needs.
"It's awesome in a way," he said. "Looking for myself, it's going to be a better move than third base. We've got a helluva man in Beltre there. I don't want to be a guy who's just stuck. Catching's opened up a lot of doors and I'm happy about it."
Most eyes in the winter camp figure to be on the left-handed pitchers, which is where the Rangers have the most need.
As of now, Texas has no lefty relievers in its bullpen. That could end up being a place where Michael Kirkman or Martin Perez could help immediately.
Perez, who has pitched in relief just twice in the past two years, would welcome the chance to get to major leagues as a reliever.
"If they let me work as a reliever just to face one hitter, that would be all right," said Perez. "The time to start will come."
The Rangers have had a lot of success breaking starters into the majors as relievers. That's the path the club used with current starters Alexi Ogando and Derek Holland. It's also what they're attempting to do with Neftali Feliz.
"They want guys to get experience in the bullpen," said Perez, who went 8-6 between Frisco and Round Rock in 2011. "Then they work them as starters. I'm fine with that."