Rangers sign ex-All-Star Hawpe to Minors deal
Lefty power hitter gives Texas another option at first base
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com | 01/20/12 5:50 PM EST
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have signed a left-handed power-hitting first baseman who is a former All-Star.
Texas signed Brad Hawpe to a Minor League contract on Friday afternoon. The announcement came three hours before the Rangers' news conference to introduce Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.
The announcement also comes at a time when there is speculation the Rangers might still pursue free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder. A source on Friday reiterated the Rangers' stance that they are unlikely to get involved in Fielder, especially at the current asking price.
Instead the Rangers signed Hawpe, 32, a former All-Star outfielder with the Rockies who switched to first base with the Padres last year. But he went on the disabled list on June 21, and missed the rest of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on June 26.
The Rangers were looking for some depth at first base in case Mitch Moreland is slow in returning from wrist surgery. Moreland underwent surgery on his right wrist at the end of November, and is not expected to be ready at the start of Spring Training.
"If Brad's healthy and swinging it like he's capable, he's a pretty interesting option for the club," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.
Hawpe, who played at nearby Saginaw-Boswell High and at LSU, has been spending his offseason doing rehabilitation work on his elbow. He is expected to take part in full activity at first base in Spring Training. He became a free agent on Oct. 30, when his mutual option was declined by the Padres.
Hawpe played in 62 games for the Padres, batting .231 with four home runs and 19 RBIs. It was his first season as a full-time first baseman.
He spent seven years with the Rockies as their right fielder. His best season was in 2007, when he hit .291 while setting career highs with 29 home runs, 116 RBIs, a .387 on-base percentage and a .539 slugging percentage. He was an All-Star for the Rockies in 2009.
Hawpe is a career .284 hitter with a .493 slugging percentage against right-handed pitchers, while batting .243 with a .340 slugging percentage against left-handers. His career .848 OPS overall is currently 35th among 163 active players with at least 3,000 plate appearances.