According to a source, Rangers RHP Scott Feldman cleared outright waivers Wednesday, but, as is his right, rejected an outright assignment to the minor leagues and will be activated tonight.
Feldman, recently went over five years of major league service time, giving him the right to reject an outright assignment and force the club to either activate him or release him and eat the remaining guaranteed money in his contract. Feldman has almost $9 million guaranteed through next year in salary and buyout clauses if his 2013 option is not picked up.
He is likely to go into the Rangers' bullpen as a long reliever. He is most likely to replace RHP Yoshinori Tateyama in the bullpen. Tateyama can be optioned to the minors, creating a space on the 25-man roster. However, the Rangers will have to remove somebody from the 40-man roster in order to make room for him.
Scott Feldman has joined the team in Seattle, flying in from his home in San Francisco on Wednesday after rejecting the Rangers' assignment to Triple A. He will be in the bullpen tonight, according to two sources.
The Rangers had asked Feldman to accept assignment after clearing outright waivers so that he could continue to stay stretched out in case something happened to a member of the rotation. Derek Holland's rotation spot was thought to be at risk until he tossed a shutout just before the All-Star break and earned tonight's start in the second-half opener.
With Tommy Hunter also in the bullpen and Brandon Webb not expected to pitch this season, the Rangers' starting pitching depth is awfully thin. That could prompt them to seek a starter before the trade deadline or have a short leash with Holland.
In fairness, it is absolutely Feldman's perogative to exercise that right. Maybe if we were in the exact same position, we'd do the same thing. Maybe Feldman is full to the brim with confidence and knows he can help this ballclub immediately.
But now, you have the issues of:
(a) probably downgrading the bullpen from Tateyama -- who had struck out 17 and walked just one in 19 innings, and gives off the vibes of being a real asset if he can get the homers to left-handed batters ( who he probably shouldn't be facing in the first place) under control -- to Feldman, who had been struggling in AAA of late; and,
(b) not having another emergency starter stretched out in AAA, as I have my doubts about how prepared Feldman can be for this role when he is logging scattered innings as a long man in the majors.
Clearly, there wasn't an preexisting agreement in place between Feldman and the Rangers after all. Clearly, Feldman doesn't consider the fact that the Rangers are paying him a handsome sum as reason enough to abide by their wishes. And if the second bit is any indication, Feldman forced the Rangers' hands, and they figured that they might as well give him a shot rather than lose him altogether.
Make no mistake: I want to see Feldman do well. I don't hate Feldman. But if Feldman doesn't do well very quickly right out of the gates, I expect you're going to see people turn on him. If history is any sort of indication, people generally don't respond well to well-paid Rangers players putting themselves before the team.