The Rangers added two guys today who could figure into the major league picture in the summer or even by Opening Day. Conor Jackson, who spent parts of the past two years with the A's, gets inserted into the first base picture along with Mitch Moreland, Michael Young, Brad Hawpe and Mike Napoli. Like Napoli he's been better against right-handed pitchers throughout his career. Unless there is a spring surprise, Jackson and Hawpe will both likely head to Round Rock and await their chance to reestablish themselves as major leaguers.
Jackson was a nice hitter for his first three full seasons in 2006-08, but as Adam Morris points out he ran into a disease called valley fever in 2009 and hasn't been the same for the past two seasons. The Boston Herald has more on the fungal disease and its effect on Jackson:
Jackson's once-promising career was derailed in the spring of 2009 because of "valley fever," a fungal disease that typically afflicts residents of Arizona, New Mexico and other desert regions of the southwest. It attacks the lungs and often causes fever, chest pain and coughing.
"It's like the flu - every day," Jackson said yesterday. "It's aches and pains. And it's rare for mid-20s, white male. Very rare. I probably tried to come back a little quick. Your mind goes a lot better than your body."
That quote from Jackson is from last September when he signed with the Red Sox as they unsuccessfully tried to stave off the charging Rays. He played 12 games with Boston and wasn't able to turn things around by the end of the end of the season. Maybe five more months and another fresh start will be enough to see Jackson finally return to his healthy, successful early-career health.
Joe Beimel is a lefty reliever who will immediately enter the race for the one lefty/loogy spot in the bullpen. He struggled last year after a five-year stretch from 2006-10 where he was a solid middle relief guy, so if he finds his game he could give Michael Kirkman a run for his money.
Both guys signed minor league deals. I've seen no word on whether either has an out in their contract where they can opt to join another organization if they're not added to the major league roster by a certain date, but they're the caliber of players who often get that consideration.