MLB roundup: Texas has interest in Baker, Tigers hire Leyland as special assistant


The Rangers have interest in a free agent utility man, Leyland returns to Detroit, Miami invites five to Spring Training and more

The Rangers would be open to bringing back utility man Jeff Baker, according to Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News.

The swiss army knife compiled a .279/.360/.545 slash line with 11 home runs in only 175 at-bats. Throughout the year, he played first base, second base, third base, both outfield spots and acted as the team's designated hitter.

For More Rangers News: Head to Lone Star Ball

Leyland receives 'special assistant' title in Detroit

The Detroit Tigers aren't quite done with Jim Leyland. He is headed to the front office to be a special assistant to GM Dave Dombrowski, reports Detroit Sports 105.1 per Brian Manzullo of the Detroit Free Press.

Leyland will have assorted duties as special assistant, ranging from looking at players that could be involved in a trade to evaluating minor leaguers.

More From Bless You BoysOn Leyland's Legacy

Detroit signs catcher Exposito to minor league deal

The Tigers inked backstop Luis Exposito to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, per Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

The 26-year-old catcher has seen 22 major league plate appearance, compiling a dismal .056/.190/.056 slash line. That's one hit in 18 at-bats, and it's good for a -28 OPS+. He'll likely just be Triple-A depth for Detroit.

Miami signs five to minor league deals

The Marlins signed three pitchers and two position players to minor league deals on Wednesday, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America.

There are plenty of familiar names in the bunch, starting with Kevin Slowey who was good for a 3-6 record and a 4.11 ERA last season. They also bring in former Rangers and Twins prospect Joe Benson and former Mets headache Jordany Valdespin. The last two are 23-year-old lefty Jose Gonzalez, who belonged to the Twins, but stalled out at Double-A, and Craig Westcott, a 30th-round pick of San Francisco in 2009 who also pitched at Double-A last year.

More Marlins News: From Fish Stripes

Five awarded invites to Spring Training by Philadelphia

The Phillies announced that they have invited five players to major league Spring Training as non-roster invitees.

The five invitees include current top prospect Jesse Biddle, a left-handed pitcher who registered 154 strikeouts in 138 innings and a 3.64 ERA while appearing in the MLB Futures game. Joining Biddle is Maikel Franco, winner of the Paul Owens Award - given to the best player in the Phillies minor league system. Franco led MiLB with 308 total bases en route to a .320 average, 31 home runs and 103 RBI in 134 games, splitting time between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. He also appeared in the MLB Futures game.

Ken Giles receives an invitation despite only reaching High-A thus far in his career, though he received positive reviews during his time in the Arizona Fall League. Giles' 6.31 is ugly to look at, but it obscures his impressive fastball, which has registered 100+ MPH more than once. He threw limited innings last season thanks to two strains to his oblique muscle but the reliever looks to be on the fast track for now.

Minor league pitcher Mario Hollands is the fourth invite, with the 24-year-old dominating High-A before struggling in about half a season at Double-A. The final member of the five is Sebastian Valle, a one-time top prospect who has plateaued in the last few years, playing at Double-A last season after reaching Triple-A the season before. He hasn't posted an OPS over 700 in two seasons and managed a meager 603 OPS last season.

For More Phillies Analysis : Check Out The Good Phight

Houston hires first base coach

The Astros announced that they have hired Tarrik Brock as their first base coach, with Pat Listach moving to third base coach.

Brock spent the last seven seasons as the Miami Marlins minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator and worked with Astros manager Bo Porter in the Miami organization from 2006-09. Brock played in the majors as an outfielder with the Chicago Cubs after being drafted in the second round in 1991.

For More On The Astros : Go To The Crawfish Boxes

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