As spring training approaches and the roster starts to round out, the Texas Rangers have officially agreed to minor league deals with some familiar faces in 1B Jared Walsh, 3B Matt Duffy, and LHP Blake Taylor. All three will have a chance to be a part of spring training with hopes to break through towards the big-league roster.
These minor league deals that are agreed upon around January are usually the noted veterans around the league looking to make their way back to the big leagues which is the case for these three guys as they are all in their high 20’s-early 30’s.
A notable minor leaguer signee prior to last season was World Champion outfielder Travis Jankowski who made his impact through spring training and earned a spot on the team for the entirety of the season hitting .263 serving as a viable backup and veteran voice to this iconic championship team. The minor league signings made so far is a group poised to have someone break through the big leagues.
1B Jared Walsh
Once an all-star in 2021, former LA Angel 1B Jared Walsh has found himself with a former division rival. It’s been a turbulent turn of his career since his breakout all-star season in 2021 where he hit .277 batting average while tallying 29 home runs. Negative trends of production started to begin in 2022 until he was ruled out towards the end of the season with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and had a hard time from there to get back to all-star form.
In 2023, Walsh would start the season on the 10-day IL with headaches and insomnia then report back to the Angles and was unable to find a stride being sent back down shortly after for most of the season only able to muster up a .125 batting average with four runs showing no hopes of a turnaround season. After the season LAA would DFA him and the Texas Rangers would now give him an opportunity in the Spring to see if he can rejuvenate his career.
For Walsh, this opportunity with the Texas Rangers should not be taken lightly as this is a veteran guy who has served as a prominent locker room voice in year’s past as it would be interesting to see what he could bring to the defending world series champs. The anticipation is that he will not likely break through with the Rangers after reports have said that 3B prospect Justin Foscue is working out at 1B, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Walsh bounces back either here in Texas or elsewhere.
3B Matt Duffy
3B Matt Duffy will be making his sixth stop featuring stops with SF, TB, CHC, LAA, KC winning the world series with the San Fransisco Giants in 2014 and will now reunite with former SF manager and current Rangers Manager Bruce Bochy. Duffy in 2023, had the same fate prior to the season being granted a minor league deal from the Kansas City Royals and performing his way towards a roster spot where he spent the whole season batting .251 with two home runs.
Duffy, being 33, is also looking to find his footing with a new club and could serve as a viable Utility/backup 3B option with Ezequiel Duran looking to spend most of his time as the DH. This may be a guy who could break through your roster opening day due to the veteran presence he can bring along with familiarity with Bochy.
LHP Blake Taylor
Out of this group of signees, Blake Taylor is the only pitcher out of the bunch and has spent 2020-22 with the Houston Astros posting a 7-6 record with a 3.06 ERA. Taylor would then spend the entire 2023 season with Houston’s AAA affiliate the Sugar Land Space Cowboys where he posted an 0-2 record with 5.15 ERA. His underwhelming season resulted in him being let go which resulted in him possibly getting a shot to crack the Major Leagues.
At this time the Rangers only have two active left-handed relivers in Brock Burke and Jake Latz. Left-handed-relivers is an area which lies thin for the Rangers so it would not be a surprise if Taylor were to sneak his way into the bullpen similar to what Will Smith did in 2023. Although Taylor did not make any appearances in 2023 in the MLB, his overall stats in prior appearances may serve as a viable factor to him returning to the big leagues to shape out the rest of the bullpen.