Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the club has not discussed Prince Fielder with any team after a report Tuesday said the Rangers were gauging interest from other clubs about picking up Fielder’s hefty salary.
Fielder has five years remaining on the contract he signed with the Tigers, which pays him $24 million a season. Detroit will pick up a portion of the salary beginning in 2016. The Tigers will pay $5 million in 2016 and 2017, $6 million in 2018, and $7 million in 2019 and 2020.
“We haven’t had conversations about Prince with other clubs,” Daniels said. “We’re open to talk about anything [with other teams] but I don’t want to create concern.”
Fielder rebounded in 2015 after missing much of 2014 after neck surgery. He made the All-Star team and led the Rangers’ offense, batting .305 with 28 doubles, 23 home runs and 98 RBIs.
Jones, Tepesch updates
Outfielder James Jones is close to a deal with the Rangers, Daniels said. Jones was part of the trade that sent Leonys Martin and Anthony Bass to the Mariners for reliever Tom Wilhelmsen in November. Neither Tepesch nor Jones were tendered contracts last week and are free agents.
Daniels said Jones’ deal is not finalized but he expects “to get it done” soon.
Tepesch missed the entire 2015 season with elbow inflammation.
“I hope he comes back but the fact that we haven’t signed him yet makes me think it’s unlikely,” Daniels said. “I think it’s a good spot for Nick. You have people on the staff that know him ... and we’ve got one spot on the staff totally wide open.”
Interest in Lee
Free agent left-hander Cliff Lee, who started 15 games after being traded to the Rangers in 2010, is 37 and trying to rebound from a flexor tendon tear that kept him off the field in 2015. He didn’t have surgery but if he proves healthy, could bolster a staff.
“If he’s healthy he could certainly help anybody,” Daniels said. “I don’t know if he’s going to be in our price range.”
It’s an intriguing idea because it would reunite Lee with Cole Hamels, who pitched together for four seasons with the Phillies.
Major league executive Joe Torre hopes the league and players association find an agreement on slides into second base before the 2016 season.
Torre, who oversees on-field operations, on-field discipline and umpiring, spoke to the media Tuesday at the winter meetings. The topic will be discussed Wednesday by the rules committee.
“We can’t unilaterally make a rule,” Torre said. “We want to make sure we include the players association because it’s something that involves players. We certainly want to do the right thing. I’m not saying it’s not going to be in place by this season. It depends on if we can find a common ground.”
The issue came to a boil during the playoffs when the Dodgers’ Chase Utley broke Mets’ shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg sliding into second base. Utley’s slide was late and several feet to the right of the bag.
Umpires have discretion to rule a runner out if deemed out of the base path. On the Utley slide, the crew failed to see how far he was from the bag. The league has experimented with forcing players to slide directly into the bag the past two Arizona Fall League seasons. The players association would have to agree to any rules changes, Torre said.
“We’re gathering information on that and how comfortable the players are doing that,” he said. “The thing that really gets your attention is when you carry guys off the field. We certainly don’t want that to happen.”
Torre isn’t a fan of runners being called out when their foot briefly comes off the bag after a slide but acknowledges there’s little the league can do to alter the rule.
“We accepted certain things over the years but when the camera shows you the glove is on the guy’s leg and he’s not on the bag how can you say he’s safe,” Torre said
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760