ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had a relatively quiet offseason, having made their biggest deals during the season last year when they acquired starter Cole Hamels, relievers Sam Dyson and Jake Diekman, and outfielder Josh Hamilton through trades.Their biggest offseason move was re-signing pitcher Colby Lewis. But they still made a
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had a relatively quiet offseason, having made their biggest deals during the season last year when they acquired starter Cole Hamels, relievers Sam Dyson and Jake Diekman, and outfielder Josh Hamilton through trades.
Their biggest offseason move was re-signing pitcher Colby Lewis. But they still made a few other acquisitions that should at least increase their depth in certain areas.
In the final countdown to Spring Training, here is a look at key players picked up by the Rangers.
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OF Justin Ruggiano: The Rangers' ongoing quest to add a right-handed bat to the mix led them to Ruggiano, a seven-year veteran who has consistently shown the ability to hit left-handed pitching. He has 535 career plate appearances against southpaws, hitting .272 with 38 doubles, 25 home runs, 70 RBIs and a .520 slugging percentage. In a perfect world, he would be a counter-balance and give rotating time off to Hamilton, Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland against left-handers.
RHP Tom Wilhelmsen: The Rangers wanted to make sure their bullpen remained a strength, so they acquired Wilhelmsen from the Mariners. A five-year veteran, he has 67 career saves, a 2.97 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Shawn Tolleson will go into Spring Training as the Rangers' closer, but Wilhelmsen has done the role before and gives them another proven setup reliever.
RHP Tony Barnette: Another right-handed setup reliever, the acquisition of Barnette comes from the file of you can never have enough pitching. He spent the past six seasons pitching for the Yakult Swallows in Japan and was impressive last year with 41 saves, a 1.29 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. Barnette has never pitched in the big leagues, but he adds bullpen depth.
OF James Jones: Acquired from the Mariners along with Wilhelmsen, Jones is a left-handed hitter with speed, giving the Rangers an alternative to Delino DeShields in center. He stole 27 bases in 108 games for the Mariners in 2014. A fourth-round pick by the Mariners in the '09 Draft, Jones was a pitcher at Long Island University, so the Rangers think there is still room for him to be a late bloomer.
C Michael McKenry: A six-year veteran with the Rockies and Pirates, McKenry was signed to a Minor League contract and will compete with Chris Gimenez and Bobby Wilson to be the backup catcher behind Robinson Chirinos. He is a defensive-minded catcher who works well with pitchers and has some power against left-handed pitching.
RHP A.J. Griffin: Possibly the most intriguing acquisition by the Rangers this offseason, Griffin enters Spring Training as a candidate to be the fifth starter. He was 21-11 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP in 47 starts for the Athletics in 2012-13 before missing all of '14 because of Tommy John surgery. Shoulder issues cut short a comeback in '15, but the Rangers expect Griffin to be full strength in Spring Training. If so, he could be a nice addition to the rotation.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.