Cubs To Sign Phil Coke

2:15pm: Coke’s deal will pay him $2.25MM if he makes the Major League club with the opportunity to earn up to $900K more via incentives, reports MLive.com’s Chris Iott (Twitter links). The incentives kick in beginning with his 35th appearance of the season, Iott adds.

9:08am: The Cubs have agreed to sign left-handed reliever Phil Coke to a minor league deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Coke turned down at least one MLB offer, per the report.

Coke, 32, will give Chicago another southpaw option to pair with Felix Doubront in the pen. Chicago somewhat surprisingly decided to non-tender Wesley Wright earlier in the offseason, leaving some uncertainty in the depth chart. There are other internal options as well, such as Zac Rosscup and Drake Britton.

In Coke, the Cubs have added a still-live arm with a history of underperforming his peripherals. With the Tigers last year, he worked to a 3.88 ERA with 6.4 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 over 58 frames. Unsurprisingly, Coke was much more effective when he enjoyed the platoon advantage (.691 OPS) than when pitching to right-handed hitters (.871).


NL West Notes: Outfielders, Rosario, Rollins, Dodgers

The trade market is still full of outfielders, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. That is especially true in the NL West, where four teams — the Rockies (Brandon Barnes, Charlie Blackmon, Drew Stubbs), Dodgers (Andre Ethier), D-Backs (Cody Ross, Ender Inciarte, David Peralta and, to a lesser extent, Mark Trumbo and A.J. Pollock), and Padres (Will Venable, Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin) — all have surpluses. And the Red Sox, too, may feel compelled to move an outfielder given their slate of options, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd covered at length in February. Jeff and I discussed Ethier in particular on the latest MLBTR Podcast, in light of recent reports indicating that the Dodgers may be willing to absorb as much as $28MM of his remaining $56MM to facilitate a trade.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Wilin Rosario has looked comfortable at first base early in game action this spring, writes MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. The Rockies signed Nick Hundley to be their primary backstop, so Rosario will see increased time at first base this winter, particularly against tougher left-handed pitching. Doing so will help spell Justin Morneau. However, Rosario is still expected to see some time behind the dish. And, I would speculate that Rosario is likely very much still available on the trade market should another team make what GM Jeff Bridich and his staff consider to be a suitable offer, though the rookie GM said in January that no such offers had been received.
  • Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the Phillies presented him with four possible trade destinations: the Dodgers, Yankees, Mets and Padres. A report earlier this week said that the Mets may have been Rollins’ second choice, and he admitted to Heyman that was perhaps possible, but it’d have required some thought. The Dodgers, however, were his clear first choice, Rollins explained. He wasn’t interested in trying to fill Derek Jeter‘s shoes at age 36 (“If I was 26, OK. But I’m 36. There was not enough time.”) and he didn’t feel the Padres were close enough to competing. Of course, little did Rollins know what type of aggressive restructuring San Diego GM A.J. Preller was about to undertake. The shortstop also told Heyman he’s open to the idea of playing until age 40 and said the idea of reaching 3,000 hits (he’s 694 shy) holds great appeal to him.
  • Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel posted his ranking of the Dodgers‘ top prospects today, and some fans may be interested to see that he ranked the highly touted Julio Urias ahead of fellow top prospect Corey Seager. While the two have similar future value and risk, in McDaniel’s estimation, most other outlets do have Seager slightly ahead of Urias. Of course, I’m splitting hairs by calling attention to the distinction, as McDaniel recently ranked Urias as the No. 4 and No. 6 prospects in all of baseball, respectively, and most agree that the duo ranks firmly in the game’s Top 10-15 prospects.

MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Will Ohman

Jeff covers the MLB’S quick hits, welcomes veteran southpaw reliever Will Ohman on to talk about his career and future plans (2:01), and then discusses Andre Ethier‘s marketability and possible destinations with MLBTR’s Steve Adams (28:20).

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.



Orioles, Suk-min Yoon Finalizing Contract Settlement

11:37am: Baltimore is attempting to finalize a deal with Yoon that would release him from his MLB contract, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports on Twitter. The deal would allow Yoon to resume his career in Korea.

9:05am: The Orioles appear to be on the way to severing their relationship with Korean hurler Suk-min Yoon, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (Twitter links). Reports had emerged from South Korean media indicating that Yoon was on his way back, following recent indications of strains between player and team.

Yoon had been scheduled to report to minor league camp on Saturday, but it appears he will instead head to Korea. The precise nature of the transaction that could or will take place remains unclear, though it would seem reasonable to expect some kind of buyout negotiation. Baltimore inked the Scott Boras client to a three-year, $5.575MM deal last year, leaving salary obligations among the matters to be addressed.

Yoon never got going last year, ultimately ending his campaign with a 5.74 ERA in 95 2/3 Triple-A innings and 6.3 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. He dealt with shoulder issues along the way and was ultimately outrighted in mid-season. The O’s decided against inviting him to big league camp this spring, which seemingly precipitated today’s developments.


International Notes: Yoon, Moncada, Draft, Venezuela

We learned this morning that Suk-min Yoon and the Orioles appear to be in the process of severing their relationship, with Yoon apparently headed back to his native Korea. Yoon is still formally required to report to the Orioles on Friday, a club official tells Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. His contract will not be voided if he does not show, says Encina. Instead, Yoon would be placed on the restricted list and he would not be paid while so designated. O’s skipper Buck Showalter commented briefly on the situation, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets, saying: “He’s going to be fine. We wish him well.”

Here are some more international notes:

  • The Red Sox are still awaiting final results of drug testing on Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada before making his deal official, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports. That is expected to occur in short order, with Moncada set to report to minor league camp thereafter.
  • J.J. Cooper of Baseball America explores the impact of the Moncada signing on the push for an international draft in a highly recommended piece. Unlike prior major Cuban signings, which included competition from a broad number of clubs, the relatively new rules applicable to Moncada — namely, a virtual 100% tax on international bonus pool overages — meant that only a few, deep-pocket teams could realistically compete. The general system is favorable for Cuban players seeking big bonuses, but its function has added impetus to the idea of a “single method of entry,” as new commissioner Rob Manfred recently phrased it. Logistical impediments clearly remain, but one lower-revenue club official tells Cooper that an international draft “has to happen” to correct the imbalance.
  • Broader political matters can easily impact international efforts, of course, as seen recently with the Cuban market. That appears to be the case in Venezuela, where new visa rules will complicate scouting efforts, as Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. The need for a visa to enter the country will create logistical hurdles for operations, says Badler, who notes that some Venezuelan trainers had already begun moving players to the Dominican Republic to increase their visibility.
  • Indeed, the general socio-political and economic climate in Venezuela will lead the Mariners to transfer their operations there to the Dominican, according to a report from Ignacio Serrano of El Emergente (Spanish language link; h/t Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, via Twitter). Seattle is declining comment on the matter, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets. The overall situation is creating concern of a broader exodus, though Phillies assistant GM Benny Looper tells Morosi (Twitter link) that “it’s business as usual for the Phillies in Venezuela.”

AL Notes: Hamilton, Projections, McCann, Injuries

In his look at the game’s most untradeable contracts, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com rates Josh Hamilton of the Angels as the least desirable in the game. While that deal already had a reasonable stake to that label, Hamilton’s recent surgery and still-unresolved disciplinary matter definitely seem to take it to another level of difficulty. The Halos have rightly put the focus on Hamilton’s personal health and wellness, but the fact remains that the contract would be all but impossible to move at this point. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports report that a decision on Hamilton could come as soon as next week and is anticipated to occur before the season starts. The league and union have disagreed on the proper suspension and/or treatment scenario, with possibilities ranging from a relatively short suspension to a full-year ban. The matter is now before an arbitrator, whose determination will decide the nature of the violation. If a material violation is found, per FOX Sports, commissioner Rob Manfred would have “broad authority to determine the length of Hamilton’s suspension.”

Here are some more notes from the American League:

  • Good and/or bad 2014 campaigns changed the future outlook for many players, and Ben Lindbergh of Grantland evaluates the players whose campaigns most swayed projection systems. On the positive side, a host of American League bats saw nice bumps, including youngsters Mookie Betts and Joey Gallo as well as longer-tenured players J.D. Martinez, Steve Pearce, and Victor Martinez.
  • The Tigers appear set to give a long look at backstop James McCann, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes. Detroit needs to find out what it has in the 24-year-old, says Iott, with veteran Alex Avila having dealt with concussion issues and set to reach free agency after the season.
  • Physical setbacks are an unfortunate but inevitable part of the spring, and two talented younger players have already suffered significant injuries. The Yankees have announced that catching prospect Luis Torrens will miss the season after tearing his right shoulder labrum. Torrens opened spring rated the ninth-best prospect in the New York system. Also, Mariners farmhand Ji-Man Choi will miss four to six months after suffering a fractured right fibula, as MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets.

Phil Coke “Very Close” To Deal With Unknown Team

Left-handed reliever Phil Coke is “very close” to signing a deal and getting into camp, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. He is expected to have a contract by tomorrow, per the report.

Coke, 32, has seemingly drawn fairly wide interest and could conceivably sign with any number of teams. The question has been whether he will be able to land a MLB deal with a reasonably significant guarantee, or instead whether he will need to choose a good destination and battle for a job on a minor league pact.

In spite of the fact that Coke has not put up particularly excellent bottom-line results, there is plenty to like about his package. Namely, he features a low-to-mid-90s fastball, gets groundballs, and has been rather durable (though he did have two fairly short DL stints in 2013). Coke owns a 4.16 ERA an 3.71 FIP in just under 400 career innings, most of them for the Tigers.


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Placido Polanco “90 Percent” Retired, Open To Coaching

Placido Polanco didn’t play in the Majors or Minors in 2014, and the 39-year-old infielder tells Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald that he considers himself to be “90 percent” retired at this stage. However, Polanco did say he’s leaving a door open in case the right situation arises. He listed the Tigers, Phillies and Marlins — the final three teams for which he played — as possibilities.

Polanco said he’s satisfied with the body of work he put together in his 16-year career, however he’s also disappointed to not have won a World Series despite coming close on multiple occasions. Polanco speculated that perhaps, in the future, he could achieve that goal as a coach or manager, noting that he’s accumulated a wealth of baseball knowledge. He feels he could help younger Latin American players learn how to handle both good and bad situations and teach discipline to a new generation of players.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Polanco moved to the United States and attended high school in Miami before being selected as a 19th-round pick by the 1994 Cardinals. He debuted with St. Louis in 1998 and soon emerged as a regular in their infield. Over the course of his 16-year career, Polanco appeared with the Cardinals, Tigers, Phillies and Marlins, compiling a very nice .297/.343/.397 batting line. He made two All-Star appearances, won a Gold Glove at both second base and third base, and took home a Silver Slugger with the 2007 Tigers. Polanco earned nearly $52MM in salary over the life of his days as a big leaguer, according to Baseball-Reference.


Dodgers Willing To Pay Half Of Ethier’s Contract In Trade

The Dodgers’ expensive outfield logjam was a well-known issue entering the offseason, and while the team’s new-look front office has already unloaded Matt Kemp in a trade with the Padres, Andre Ethier remains in Los Angeles. Ethier has voiced an openness to a trade so that the he can receive regular at-bats with another club, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is now reporting that the Dodgers are willing to pay as much as half of the $56MM remaining on Ethier’s contract to facilitate a deal.

Ethier, 33 in early April, is entering the third season of a five-year, $85MM extension signed with the club back in 2012. However, his role with the Dodgers has diminished greatly in recent years as his offensive production has tailed off. Ethier has never hit left-handed pitching particularly well, but his production versus southpaws has tailed off even further since 2012, and his numbers against righties declined in 2014 as well.

Last season, Ethier batted .249/.322/.370 overall and a marginally better .253/.325/.385 against opposite-handed pitching. He’s stated in the past the difficulty that he’s had transitioning to a part-time role, and it’s certainly possible that there’s something to that theory after having been an everyday player for much of his career prior to 2014. However, testing that theory out is an expensive proposition — particularly at a stage of the offseason when most potential trade partners have already exhausted their budget.

Nonetheless, a return to form at the plate for Ethier would make him worth that ~$9MM annual value; from 2008-13, Ethier’s OPS+ never dipped below 121. In that time, he batted a healthy .286/.363/471, averaging 20 homers per season in a pitcher-friendly home park. While he’s at an age when many hitters do begin to decline, the thought of him enjoying another few productive seasons is far from outlandish. He’s not likely to contribute a significant amount of defensive value, but a team with a corner outfield need could make some sense, particularly one in the American League.

Heyman notes that the Orioles have had discussions with the Dodgers about Ethier — we last mentioned those talks in early January — and he lists the Blue Jays as a fit on paper (though Toronto’s financial limitations have been an oft-discussed storyline this winter). I’d also point out that the Rangers have done little to address their left field situation this offseason, making them a match on paper as well.

The Dodgers project to enter the season with Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig in their outfield (assuming Pederson performs well this spring), and they also have Scott Van Slyke and Chris Heisey on the 40-man roster.


2015 Draft Pool Changes By Team

Last week, Baseball America’s John Manuel reported an 8.77 percent increase among draft pool allotments from 2014. That change was highly significant, as the draft pools only rose by a combined 1.7 percent from 2013 to 2014. Thanks to the data provided by BA, we’re able to look and see which clubs will see the largest increase and largest decline from their 2014 pools.

Draft Pool Changes

2015 draft pool gains and losses

As you can see, the D-Backs, who selected 16th overall in 2014 but will have the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, saw the largest increase, adding more than $6MM to their allotment by virtue of their improved draft status. Meanwhile, the Mets, who forfeited their top pick — one of the highest unprotected picks in this year’s draft — in order to sign Michael Cuddyer to a two-year contract, won’t select until No. 53 overall and, as such, have the lowest pool among teams in this year’s draft.

The Astros possess the largest pool of all, which shouldn’t be surprising, considering the fact that they have the No. 2 and No. 5 overall selections based on their failure to sign 2014 No. 1 pick Brady Aiken and their poor record this past season. Houston also acquired a Competitive Balance Round A pick (No. 37 overall) from the Marlins in last summer’s Jarred Cosart trade, which explains in large part why the Marlins’ own draft pool is the most shrunken in all of baseball. Miami dropped from the No. 2 overall slot to the No. 12 overall pick in this year’s draft as well, and they also had a supplemental third-round pick in 2014 for failing to sign 2013 third-rounder Ben DeLuzio, which they of course do not have in 2015. As such, their $7.4MM free-fall isn’t exactly surprising.

In addition to the previously mentioned Mets, other clubs that signed players who rejected qualifying offers all saw decreases in their bonus pools as well. The White Sox (David Robertson and Melky Cabrera) saw a decrease of $4.16MM, the Blue Jays (Russell Martin) dropped by $4MM, the Mariners (Nelson Cruz) fell by $2.58MM, the Nationals (Max Scherzer) lost $1.17MM and the Padres saw a $921K decrease after signing James Shields.

Toronto’s $4MM drop may seem steep since they did receive a comp pick in exchange for Cabrera signing with the White Sox, but the Blue Jays do not pick until 29th overall this season after selecting ninth and 11th in 2014. (Toronto had an extra first-round pick after not signing 2013 first-rounder Phil Bickford.)

Another team whose change is perhaps surprising at first is the Red Sox, who forfeited a pair of picks to sign both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez but saw just a $150K decrease. However, it must also be noted that Boston leaped from 26th overall coming off a World Series to a protected pick — No. 7 overall — after their surprising fall to last place in the AL East. Likewise, the Twins signed Ervin Santana despite a qualifying offer and saw just a $137K drop. Minnesota’s top pick, too, was protected, so the Twins instead forfeited their second-round pick to land Santana. They also picked up a Competitive Balance Round B pick in this year’s Competitive Balance Lottery after not having a Comp Balance pick in 2014.

The only other players to reject qualifying offers last year were Victor Martinez and Francisco Liriano, both of whom re-signed with their previous teams anyhow. As for the rest of the teams to gain picks from qualifying offers, the Rockies ($5.6MM), Orioles ($5.5MM), Yankees ($4.7MM), Braves ($3.8MM), Tigers ($2.2MM), Dodgers ($2MM) and Giants ($1.6MM) each saw increases. The Royals, despite gaining a pick for the loss of Shields, still saw a $1.4MM dip, though that was due to dropping from 17th to 21st in the draft order and also missing out on a Comp Balance pick in this year’s lottery.


Latest On Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton‘s fate is in the hands of an arbitrator, report Bill Shaikin and Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times, after a four-person panel was unable to come to an agreement on the course of treatment after the outfielder’s recent relapse with substance abuse. The panel, made up of a league-appointed doctor, a league-appointed lawyer, an MLBPA-appointed doctor and an MLBPA-appointed lawyer, split their vote down the middle, per the L.A. Time duo. As such, an arbitrator will break the tie.

As MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez wrote earlier today, Hamilton was on the Rays’ 40-man roster for his first violation, so he is considered a multiple offender. (The Times duo notes that it is unclear how many of the “at least six drug tests” failed by Hamilton when with the Rays occurred whilst on the 40-man roster.) A first-time offender could be suspended for 15-25 games, a second-time offender for 25-50, a third-time offender for 50-75 and a fourth-time offender for a full season.

Per DiGiovanna and Shaikin, MLB is deciding whether or not to rule Hamilton as a fourth-time offender. That would mean that Hamilton could miss a whole season and forfeit the entirety of his $25MM salary. However, If Hamilton is ruled to enter a rehabilitation program, he’ll earn his full salary for 30 days and half his salary for the following 30 days, per the Times. That would come out to a bit less than $6.2MM.

Commissioner Rob Manfred would have final say on the length of any suspension for Hamilton. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark told both Gonzalez and the L.A. Times pairing that it is the Union’s “responsibility to protect the player and his rights in the process.” However, Clark voiced far more concern for Hamilton as a person than as a baseball player. “What I hope for is support for Josh. There are always baseball concerns. There are, more importantly, life concerns. We have protocols in place to handle the baseball-related issues. But I’m hopeful that anyone in the baseball family who finds himself in a tough spot gets support as a person beyond baseball.”


Rays, Jim Miller Agree To Minor League Deal

The Rays and right-hander Jim Miller have agreed to a minor league contact with an invitation to Spring Training, MLBTR has learned (Twitter links). Miller’s deal is pending a physical.

The 32-year-old Miller, a former eighth-round pick of the Rockies (2004), has appeared in the Majors in each of the past four seasons. Most of that work came in a 48 2/3 inning stint with the 2012 A’s, when he worked to a 2.59 ERA with 44 strikeouts against 27 walks. In parts of five seasons at the big league level, Miller has a 3.48 ERA with 7.9 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 and a 33.5 percent ground-ball rate. He’s averaged just under 93 mph on his fastball in his 67 1/3 Major League innings and has a solid 3.78 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 429 Triple-A innings. Miller is a client of agent Joshua Kusnick, as can be seen in MLBTR’s Agency Database.


Street, Angels To Exchange Offers Soon

Angels closer Huston Street is expected to swap formal offers with GM Jerry Dipoto in short order, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. The Halos have already held exploratory discussions with the 31-year-old, who, as Gonzalez writes, is one of the rare big league players to take on his own representation. (Street discusses his decision to represent himself within Gonzalez’s article.)

As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register wrote earlier this week, Street and the Angels have talked over the winter but took a break when pitchers reported to Spring Training. Street’s plainly stated to the media that he feels a new, four-year deal in the $36-46MM range (the respective deals given to Andrew Miller and David Robertson this winter) would be fair. Street is eyeing a deal that would override his 2015 salary, meaning he’s seeking three new years.

Per Fletcher, the Angels are only about $15MM away from the luxury tax threshold, so a new deal for Street will certainly come with financial implications. He’s earning $7MM right now, but a four-year deal in the $40MM range would mean an additional $3MM or so going against the luxury tax barrier, as the luxury tax is calculated based on the average annual value of contracts. Of course, the Angels could have some additional leeway in that area in the event of a suspension of Josh Hamilton.

Gonzalez writes that Street will not let negotiations drag into the regular season unless the two sides are merely hashing out the final details, so it seems likely that we’ll soon know one way or another whether Street will be remaining in Anaheim long-term or testing the waters of the open market next winter.


NL East Notes: Braves, Minor, Peraza, Marlins

ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark recently took a look in at an interesting Braves camp. With so much roster turnover, stars Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman each split the cost of t-shirts with “Hi, my name is” labels to help the new teammates get acquainted. Both Kimbrel and Freeman also emphasized that they had no problems with the team’s offseason shuffling and still believed Atlanta would be competitive. Nevertheless, Kimbrel acknowledges the possibility that circumstances could change. “I made a commitment with the organization that I wanted to be here in Atlanta,” he said. “And them not trading me this offseason shows that they want me here as well. But you know, it is a business, so at any time, that can change. I think, as a player, anyone understands that aspect of the game. … So when moves are made, they may not always be what you like. But it may be what’s best for the team that you’re on at the time.”

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • The Braves have scratched lefty Mike Minor from his first scheduled spring outing because he is experiencing tightness in his left shoulder, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports (Twitter links). According to Bowman, this likely means that Minor will not be ready to take a rotation spot to open the year, as the club will look to avoid another season of ongoing shoulder troubles. The 27-year-old, a key component of the team’s turnaround efforts, is earning $5.6MM this year after defeating Atlanta in arbitration. He comes with two additional seasons of control through arbitration.
  • Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez says that he hopes to “convince some people in the front office” to break camp with top prospect Jose Peraza on the roster, as Bowman reports. While his comment was made somewhat in jest, he did note that the coaching staff is split as to whether the speedy 21-year-old is ready for the bigs. Even if he is ready, that may not be enough to sway new president of baseball operations John Hart and top lieutenant John Coppolella. After all, Atlanta has brought in a good number of veteran options to fill out its infield and will surely be loath to sacrifice a year of control given the organization’s current priorities.
  • The Marlins‘ best offer to James Shields was for three years and $50MM with a vesting option, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Miami “badly wanted Shields,” says Heyman, but the failure to land him (or fellow free agent target Francisco Rodriguez) has not dampened the enthusiasm of recently-extended superstar Giancarlo Stanton over the team’s busy offseason.

AL West Notes: Hernandez, Andrus, Crisp, Athletics

Astros righty Roberto Hernandez has finally received his visa an is set to report to spring camp for a physical, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets. Hernandez has a bit of catching up to do if he hopes to make the roster after inking a minor league deal earlier in the offseason.

Here are some notes from the AL West:

  • A rough 2014 season for Elvis Andrus of the Rangers has left some looking askance at his eight-year, $120MM extension, which officially kicks in this season. As the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com), Andrus says that he is ready for a better campaign after reporting out of shape last year. “This year I took it a thousand times [more] seriously than I did the year before,” he said. “… That was an offseason that I hope never happens again. In spring training I wasn’t ready.” A turnaround from Andrus would go a long way toward restoring the once-promising trajectory of the Rangers, to say nothing of his own. It would also increase his appeal as a trade chip, though Texas no longer has quite the middle infield logjam it once did.
  • Coco Crisp is set to play left field this year for the Athletics, manager Bob Melvin tells reporters including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). That shift, which was occasioned by a desire to protect the team’s investment in Crisp by reducing the toll on his body, will result in Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld platooning in center. In turn, that probably also puts an end to the notion that Oakland could look to acquire a second baseman and move Ben Zobrist to the outfield.
  • While it is hard to deny (and not entirely surprising) that the Athletics got less back for Jeff Samardzija than they gave to acquire him (along with Jason Hammel), the team feels good about the young players that it picked up from the White Sox, MLB.com’s Phil Rogers writes“Look, both of those deals are difficult,” said assistant GM David Forst. “You never like trading a guy like Addison [Russell], but Jeff and Jason filled a particular need for us at that time. Then to turn around and lose Jason and feel like trading Jeff is the best option is never an easy decision to make. Jeff is a guy who has his best years ahead of him still. He’s right at the age you want to get a pitcher. He knows his game. His stuff is without question. It was not an easy decision to make. It was part of the balancing act we are forced to make.”