ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have added to their starting pitching depth by signing free agent Jason Hammel to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.Sources said the club has also reached a Minor League agreement with corner infielder Matt Davidson, although the Rangers have not confirmed that
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have added to their starting pitching depth by signing free agent Jason Hammel to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
Sources said the club has also reached a Minor League agreement with corner infielder Matt Davidson, although the Rangers have not confirmed that deal. A source said Davidson will be given a chance to pitch as well as play the field.
Hammel, 36, is a 13-year Major League veteran who spent the previous two seasons with the Royals. He made 50 starts and 21 relief appearances in that stretch -- going 12-27 with a 5.59 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP.
Hammel's best season was with the Cubs in 2016, when he made 30 starts and was 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. The previous season in Chicago, he was 10-7 with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. Over his career, Hammel has averaged 7.1 strikeouts and 2.8 walks per nine innings.
The Rangers enter Spring Training with a rotation of Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Drew Smyly, Edinson Vólquez and Shelby Miller. But Smiley, Volquez and Miller are all finishing off their recoveries from Tommy John surgery and the club needs to build depth behind them. Hammel will be a significant part of that going into Spring Training.
Davidson, 27, became a free agent after being non-tendered by the White Sox. He played in 241 games for them over the previous two seasons, splitting time between first, third and designated hitter. Davidson hit .224 in 848 at-bats with 46 home runs and 130 RBIs, along with a a .291 on-base percentage and a .435 slugging percentage. He also struck out 165 times in each of those two seasons.
Davidson gives the Rangers a right-handed-hitting option at first base. Ronald Guzmán, a left-handed hitter, is the everyday first baseman, but the club was looking for an experienced veteran to provide depth at the position. He also provides a backup option at third base behind switch-hitter Asdrúbal Cabrera.
Davidson has also flirted with the idea of pitching. He made three appearances for the White Sox on the mound last season, and he did not allow a run. He gave up one hit, walked one and struck out two while reaching 91-92 mph on his fastball.
Davidson told MLB.com last season that he believes he could be a two-way player if given the chance. He is one of 13 position players since 1974 who has made three or more pitching appearances in a season.
"I've pitched my whole life coming up. That's how I got into the game," Davidson said. "I was a pitcher and then I learned how to hit a little bit later on. But I wanted to be a Major League pitcher. I studied, took lessons I worked with guys. I did it all from a young age."
The Rangers lost outfielder John Andreoli, who was claimed off waivers by the Giants after being designated for assignment earlier this week.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.