The Texas Rangers today announced that the club has signed first baseman James Loney to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.
The team also announced the following five players from the Rangers' minor league system have been invited to major league spring camp: right-handed pitchers R.J. Alvarez, Ariel Jurado (air-REE-el hurr-RAH-doe), and Jose Valdespina (val-duh-SPEE-nuh), and catchers Jose Trevino and Patrick Cantwell.
With the addition of these six players, the Rangers now have 15 non-roster invitees to major league spring training camp in 2017.
Loney, 32, batted .265 with 9 home runs and 34 RBI over 100 games with the New York Mets in 2016, making a team-high 88 starts at first base. He began the year with El Paso, San Diego's Triple-A affiliate, batting .342 in 43 games before a May 28 trade and promotion to the Mets for the duration of the season. The Houston-area native was released by Tampa Bay at the end of spring training before signing with San Diego on April 8.
A left-handed batter and thrower, Loney has a career .295 batting average against right-handed pitchers. Since 2006, Loney is one of six active first basemen with minimums of a .284 batting average and 650-or-more RBI, joining Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Morneau, Albert Pujols, and Joey Votto. Loney has played for Los Angeles-NL (2006-12), Boston (2012), Tampa Bay (2013-15), and New York-NL (2016) over his 11-year major league career.
Alvarez, 25, was received on a waiver claim from Chicago-NL on September 10 and then assigned outright to Triple-A Round Rock on September 12 after splitting the 2016 season between the Oakland and Chicago-NL organizations. The right-hander made 31 relief appearances in 2014-15 with Oakland and San Diego. Jurado, 20, combined to go 8-6 with a 3.66 ERA (50 ER/123.0 IP) and 106 strikeouts over 24 games/22 starts with High-A High Desert and Double-A Frisco. The right-hander was the organization's Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2015 and has compiled a 2.82 ERA over four minor league seasons. The 24-year-old Valdespina reached Triple-A for the first time in 2016, going 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA (26 ER/64.0 IP) and 4 saves over 40 relief appearances with Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock.
Trevino, 24, was the Rangers 2016 Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year, batting .303 (131-433) with 30 doubles, 9 home runs, and 68 RBI in 109 games with High Desert. He earned a Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove after leading all California League catchers in fielding percentage (.998) and throwing out 48.0% of attempted basestealers. The 26-year-old Cantwell will be in big league camp for a second time as he was also a non-roster invite in 2015.
The current Rangers spring training roster is attached.
IVAN RODRIGUEZ TRAVELS TO PUERTO RICO FOR THREE DAYS OF APPEARANCES
Ivan Rodriguez will travel to his native Puerto Rico this week for the first time since being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on January 18. His trip begins this evening with a press conference at the Hotel Caribe Hilton in San Juan and then includes a number of appearances on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Tomorrow he will visit the San Jorge Children's Hospital and conduct a clinic for underprivileged youngsters prior to the Caguas Criollos home Roberto Clemente Winter League playoff game with Santurce. On Thursday, he will participate in a clinic in his hometown of Vega Baja and will continue with several appearances in Vega Baja and San Juan on Friday.
Rodriguez is the fourth native of Puerto Rico to be elected to the Hall of Fame, joining Roberto Clemente (1973), Orlando Cepeda (1999), and Roberto Alomar (2011). In addition, native Cuban Tony Perez (2000) has spent much of his life residing in Puerto Rico.