Rangers add Beimel, Jackson to NRIs
Lefty an option for bullpen; OF/1B brings right-handed bat
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have signed left-handed pitcher Joe Beimel and outfielder/first baseman Conor Jackson to Minor League contracts with an invitation to Spring Training.Both players address specific needs for the Rangers. Beimel gives the Rangers another left-handed candidate in the bullpen, and Jackson gives the Rangers a possible right-handed-hitting option at first base or left field. Jackson, 29, played in 114 games for the Athletics and the Red Sox last season and hit .244 with five home runs and 43 RBIs in 352 at-bats. He had a .310 on-base percentage and a .341 slugging percentage. He has a career .283 batting average, .381 on-base percentage and .436 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers. Mitch Moreland, a left-handed hitter, is currently the Rangers' starting first baseman. The Rangers also signed Brad Hawpe, another left-handed hitter, to a Minor League contract earlier this winter. Moreland had surgery on his right wrist at the end of November and the recovery time is 8-12 weeks. That could put him behind at the beginning of Spring Training. The Rangers still expect Moreland to be fully recovered in plenty of time for the start of the regular season, but Jackson and Hawpe give the Rangers some depth in case he has a setback. Jackson was a regular for the D-backs from 2006-08. In 2008, he hit .300 with 12 home runs and 75 RBIs in a career-high 540 at-bats. But a series of ailments and injuries limited him to 90 games and 307 at-bats in 2009-10. He has played 387 games at first base and 207 in left field in his career. Beimel, 34, pitched in 35 games for the Pirates in 2011 and was 1-1 with a 5.33 ERA while being sidelined from May 28 to July 15 with inflammation in his left elbow. Opponents hit .321 off him, including .302 by left-handed hitters. In 2010, left-handed batters hit .221 off him. From 2006-10, left-handed batters hit .235 off him with a .282 on-base percentage. The Rangers have been looking for left-handed relief. Darren Oliver and Michael Gonzalez were their two left-handed relievers in the playoffs last October, but both became free agents after the season. Oliver has signed with the Blue Jays while Gonzalez, who had offseason knee surgery, remains unsigned. Michael Kirkman is the Rangers' primary left-handed relief candidate on the 40-man roster. Rookies Martin Perez, Miguel de los Santos and Robbie Ross could also get a chance to win a spot in the bullpen. The Rangers have also signed veteran Mitch Stetter to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Beimel has a career 24-32 record with a 4.21 ERA over 567 games/23 starts with the Pirates (2001-03, '11), Twins (2004), Rays (2005), Dodgers (2006-08), Nationals (2009), and Rockies (2009-10). He tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings over six postseason appearances in back-to-back years with the Dodgers and Rockies in 2008-09. The Rangers originally drafted him out of high school in 1996, but he did not sign. The Rangers now have 58 players coming to Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 22.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.