Near the end of December, the club acquired catcher Luis Martinez from the San Diego Padres in exchange for right-handed reliever Ryan Kelly. On Tuesday, the team landed corner infielder Brandon Snyder from Baltimore for cash considerations. Snyder, a 40-man roster member, brings the Rangers to 38 players on the list. Martinez finished the 2011 season in the major leagues but had recently been designated for assignment by San Diego.
Texas also re-signed first baseman/outfielder Brad Nelson to a minor league contract. Utility infielder Omar Quintanilla reached a minor league deal with the Mets while Merkin Valdez has inked with the Oakland Athletics.
The Miami native had played his entire career in the San Diego system, beginning in '07. He split last season between Triple-A Tucson and the majors. With Tucson, Martinez played in 58 games and posted a .323/.379/.434 slash line while throwing out 14-of-50 (.280) potential base stealers. He played in 22 major league games, throwing out 5-of-19 (.263) base stealers and going 12-for-59 (.203) at the plate with one double, one triple, and one home run.
Kelly found more success after adding the cutter mid-way through the season, helping add deception to his fastball, which lacks much movement despite its above-average velocity. The 24-year-old hurler improved as the year progressed and logged a 2.95 ERA in 21 second-half appearances. Though he wasn't among the Rangers' top prospects, Kelly remains a solid relief arm with the potential to carve out a major league career.
As a member of the Rangers' 40-man roster, Snyder receives an automatic invitation to major league spring training, but he is likely to open the 2012 season with Triple-A Round Rock. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound righty is primarily a first baseman (after beginning his career behind the plate) but has also played some third base in recent seasons.
The former Brewers farmhand spent the winter in the Dominican Republic, where he played in 24 games for the Gigantes del Cibao. Nelson went 18-for-82 (.220) with seven doubles and two home runs, walking 16 times with 20 strikeouts. He should fill a similar role with the Express again this coming season.
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