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Abrupt ending to Rangers after 2 World Series

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Abrupt ending to Rangers after 2 World Series

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington was in shock, slugger Josh Hamilton got booed and pitcher Yu Darvish wasn't sure what to do next.

After going to two World Series in a row, then being in first place for a majors-high 178 days this season, the Rangers never expected an ending like this.

The Rangers are done without winning a game in October. That includes the three-game sweep at Oakland, part of 4-9 finish and cost them the AL West crown on the final day of the regular season. They then lost 5-1 to upstart Baltimore Orioles in the AL's first one-and-done wild-card playoff.

Closer Joe Nathan said Saturday, while cleaning out his locker, that the Rangers unfortunately picked the worst time for their worst slump of the season.

``You throughout the course of a season try to go through your funks at the right time. Unfortunately, we picked about the worst time to go into our worst funk,'' Nathan said Saturday in a quiet and mostly abandoned Rangers clubhouse. ``Most of the season, we played good baseball and stayed consistent. ... The last two weeks didn't go right, for sure.''

It was a miserable closing stretch for the 93-win Rangers and Hamilton, the former AL MVP and batting champion heading into free agency. He may have played his last game in a Texas uniform, considering the price and length of contract it likely will take to keep him.

Hamilton hit a career-high 43 homers and drove in 128 runs but was lustily booed by Rangers fans while going 0-for-4 against the Orioles.

``I enjoyed my five years playing with these guys. Most fun I've ever had playing baseball,'' Hamilton said after the game, when he also put his odds on staying at 50-50. ``The fans, it's been a good ride. Even if you send me off with boos, I still love you.''

In May against Baltimore, Hamilton became only the 16th major leaguer with a four-homer game as part of a 5-for-5 night that included a double.

With the season on the line Friday night, Hamilton struck out twice on three pitches, including the inning-ending out in the eighth with a runner at second when it was still 3-1. He swung at the first pitch his other two at-bats. Though it pushed in the only Texas run, Hamilton's double-play grounder in the first came after the first two batters reached on a combined 12 pitches.

That came after Hamilton dropped a routine popup in Wednesday's regular-season finale, a two-out tiebreaking miscue that allowed the A's to score two runs and go ahead to stay. He missed five games on a September trip because of a cornea problem he said was caused by too much caffeine and energy drinks - and had one homer with 18 strikeouts in the final 10 regular-season games after returning.

``I didn't get the job done,'' the 31-year-old Hamilton said. ``Overall, I had a great year. I think everyone's expectations were up there after the first couple of months. But I came back down to reality. I played the best I could.''

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera won the AL's first Triple Crown since 1967, but Hamilton was on an early pace for that. He led the majors with a .406 average, 14 homers and 36 homers through 27 games, but couldn't keep pace after hitting .202 with eight homers over 47 games in a miserable June and July.

This will be the longest offseason in three years for the Rangers. No other team has ever led a division so long in a season without winning it.

Texas Rangers made its first World Series in 2010, in the franchise's 50th season, and lost in five games against San Francisco.

The Rangers made it back last season and twice were within one strike of their first title in Game 6 at St. Louis. They lost in 11 innings and were beaten in Game 7 after blowing a quick 2-0 lead.

Dismissing any notion of any hangover from that devastating finish, the Rangers started 12-2 this year. They led the AL West only four games into the season, and stayed alone in first place until Oakland caught them in the 161st game and took over the next day.

``I don't know the right way to describe it. I don't know,'' outfielder David Murphy said. ``At some point we just ran out of gas. We stopped playing like the Rangers. I don't know why that is. ... We definitely didn't play up to our capabilities.''

Two offseasons ago, the Rangers added third baseman Adrian Beltre, an AL MVP candidate with his stellar play in the field (career-low eight errors) and at the plate (.321, 36 homers, 102 RBIs). The big offseason addition a year ago was Darvish, Japan's top pitcher; the Rangers committed more than $107 million to acquire him.

Darvish was 16-9 in 29 regular-season starts, when he struck out 221 batters in 191 1-3 innings and established himself as the Rangers' ace. Against the O's, the only AL team he didn't face in the regular season, the 26-year-old right-hander struck out seven and allowed five singles in 6 2-3 innings.

``My mind is more of a blank now. I really can't tell you what kind of season it was,'' Darvish said. ``But the way I feel, it's almost like they tell you to run like a 30-mile marathon. At the last stretch, second wind, third wind and you're about to finish, they tell you to stop. Like I had to stop, and it was just a little bit more to go, and I could have finished it.''

Now, Darvish and the Rangers have to wait until next spring for a fresh start.

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Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles signed right-hander Andrew Cashner to a two-year, $16 million contract on Thursday after searching for starting pitching all offseason.

The 31-year-old Cashner is 42-64 with a 3.80 ERA in eight major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego, Miami and Texas, including 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA for the Rangers last year. The deal with the Orioles has an option for 2020.

He'll join right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the rotation.

"I do know that they need some starting pitching, and here it is, show up every day and whoever I can help out, help out and my job is to come here and pitch and win," Cashner said.

Cashner's deal could be worth $41 million over three seasons if he pitches 200 innings annually. He gets a $3 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments each Jan. 15 from 2020 through 2021.

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Cashner has salaries of $5 million this season and $8 million in 2019, and there is a $10 million option for 2020 that would become guaranteed if he pitches 340 innings combined in the next two seasons. If he reaches 360 innings, it would become a player option.

He can make $5 million in performance bonuses each year.

There are $1,525,000 per season in bonuses based on starts: $250,000 each for 10 and 15, $625,000 for 20 and $400,000 for 30.

Cashner also can make $3,475,000 each year based on innings: $250,000 each for 110 and 120, $275,000 for 130, $350,000 for 140, $750,000 for 150 and $400,000 apiece for 170, 180, 190 and 200.

Cashner was at the Orioles' spring training facility, and was due to head to his Texas home for a few days before returning on Sunday when Baltimore's full squad is required to report. He'll likely work out with the team for the first time Monday.

He has little experience against the Orioles, but said he was excited to join the team.

"It's a lineup you can't really make a lot of mistakes against," Cashner said. "It's a lot of power in there, and I got to pitch (for) San Diego one year in Baltimore. Really cool stadium, really neat, a lot of history. It's one of my favorite places to pitch, so I'm looking forward to making that my home (stadium) every night."

RELATED: ORIOLES TO SHUFFLE UP INFIELD AHEAD OF MACHADO'S FINAL SEASON

Manager Buck Showalter said Cashner would be an ideal addition to the club.

"He's a veteran starter. That's a good deal for both us and him," Showalter said. "He's a guy who's pitched well in the American League. That's something that I think played in his favor."

Cashner said that he began negotiations with Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson last fall and in a challenging offseason for free agents, he said patience was vital.

"I don't think it's been difficult. It's been interesting. It's been different," Cashner said.

To make room for Cashner on the 40-man roster, Baltimore placed left-hander Zach Britton (Achilles) on the 60-day disabled list.

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Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

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USA Today Sports

Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Even if Manny Machado doesn't switch teams this season, he almost certainly will be changing his position in the infield.

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Saturday that Machado will move from third base to shortstop this spring, and shortstop Tim Beckham will be shifted to third.

The shuffle will become permanent unless something goes wrong -- or Machado gets traded to another club.

"There could be some adjustments if we don't like the feel of it, but that's where we're going to head into it," Showalter said at FanFest, an annual offseason event designed to promote interest in the club.

Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop did not attend.

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Machado becomes a free agent after this year and is sure to demand a huge contract. The Orioles have entertained trade offers for the 25-year-old, who's been an All-Star in three of his six seasons with Baltimore.

Dan Duquette, vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, has to decide whether to deal Machado sometime between now and September or seek to sign him to a long-term deal.

"That's a big decision for the organization, obviously," Duquette said. "But we're planning on Manny being with the club. We explored all those options. We think the strongest option is for Manny to be on the ballclub."

Machado played in 156 games last season, offsetting a career-low .259 batting average with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs. He has averaged 35 home runs and 92 RBIs over the past three years.

Machado avoided arbitration this month by agreeing to a $16 million contract for 2018. He received $11.5 million last season.

Drafted as a shortstop as the third overall pick in 2010, Machado played third base with Baltimore next to slick-fielding J.J. Hardy, whose contract expired after last season.

So when they return to the field next month in Florida, the Orioles will have Machado at shortstop with Beckham on his left. Beckham came to Baltimore from Tampa Bay in July and played shortstop for the injured Hardy over the final two months.

"I think Tim would rather play shortstop, as Manny would," Showalter said. "Tim's big thing is getting an opportunity to play every day at one position. We need to settle both those guys into a spot and let them get into it."

Showalter said Machado was enthusiastic about the switch.

"All indications are, he's really excited about this," Showalter said. "I can't imagine him being in a better frame of mind or setup to do this. I think out of his respect for J.J. the past few years he's been very professional about it. But it's not like he's changing positions. He's going back to the position he's equipped to play."

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Deciding what to do with Machado is only one problem Duquette has faced this offseason. He's also been trying to fill out a starting rotation that currently consists of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and perhaps Miguel Castro, who made his first major league start on Sept. 30 after pitching in relief for 75 games over three seasons.

"Obviously we have work to do to address some of the deficiencies on our ballclub," Duquette said. "We're going to continue to build our pitching staff, most notably the starting pitching."

If Castro joins the rotation, the Orioles will be further pressed to fill out the back end of the bullpen. Closer Zach Britton tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout and will likely miss the entire 2018 season, leaving setup man Brad Brach the odds-on favorite to take over as the stopper.

"I'm hoping I get a shot to close. I'd be lying if I say I didn't," said Brach, who served significant time as a closer in 2017 while Britton was sidelined with elbow and knee issues.

Brach had 18 saves but blew six chances.

"I think I did all right," Brach said. "Hopefully, I get another chance to do it."