NL Notes: Rendon, McCarthy, Rollins, Braves Stadium

While most have assumed that Anthony Rendon will return to third base upon his activation from the disabled list, with Yunel Escobar shifting to second base, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears that may not be the case. Some close to the situation have told Heyman that Escobar may continue to play third base, with Rendon handling second base, though GM Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams would only comment by saying nothing definitive has been decided. “They can both play both very well,” said Rizzo. Escobar’s time at either position may only be temporary, as he figures to slide into the shortstop position next year if Ian Desmond departs as a free agent. As for timing, Rendon sat out a scheduled rehab start today for precautionary reasons with what the team described as fatigue. Washington will surely continue to exercise care, but needs him to return as soon as possible, as the club has struggled to produce runs while dropping six straight.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says that he intends to fill in for injured starter Brandon McCarthy with internal options for the foreseeable future, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports“We’ll wake up in June having scouted other organizations over the next four to six weeks, and we’ll see where we are,” said Friedman, who noted that deals are “pretty uncommon” in the season’s first two months.
  • Meanwhile, Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins acknowledges that this is the toughest start to a season that he has experienced, but says he is not worried, as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes. Saying that he believes his “process is good” at the plate, Rollins expressed confidence that some minor tweaks will get him back on track. Los Angeles is paying Rollins $10MM this year, with the Phillies picking up an additional $1MM as part of the deal that brought the veteran out west.
  • The Braves continue to line up major corporate partners for their new ballpark, with Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporting that Omni Hotels will participate in the mixed-use development that is set to accompany the stadium. The club is counting on a revenue boost from the controversial project to improve its financial standing going forward.

Homer Bailey On DL With Potentially Serious Elbow Injury

Reds starter Homer Bailey was placed on the DL today with what the club is calling a right elbow ligament sprain. Manager Bryan Price indicated that the injury could be serious, as John Fay and C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer were among those to report (Twitter links).

Price did not offer a precise diagnosis or timetable, but did not express much optimism. “He certainly won’t be pitching here in the near future,” said Price. He added: “It’s messy and unbelievably unfortunate both for him as an individual and for our ball club.”

Bailey suffered a torn flexor mass tendon late last year, undergoing surgery in early September. The right-hander rehabbed and returned after missing just a few starts to open 2015, but it now seems that return may be short-lived.

In his two outings this year, Bailey lasted 11 1/3 innings but compiled just three strikeouts against four walks while permitting seven earned runs to cross the plate. An even more troubling trend from the early going is a marked velocity decline. Bailey had thrown his fastball at an average rate of just over 94 mph over each of the last two seasons, but was clocking a mean offering of just 91 mph in 2015.

The news is deeply concerning for a Cincinnati club that already has its share of short-term and long-term issues. Bailey was one of several pitchers nearing free agency when the team locked him up to a six-year, $105MM deal before last season.

Bailey earned that payday with two straight 200+ inning seasons, including a strong 2013 performance. He threw well enough last year, even if he did not continue to progress, before going down to injury.

All involved certainly hoped for a quick return to form this season, but that seems increasingly out of reach. Beyond the present season, the Reds are obligated to pay Bailey $86MM from 2016-19 (including the buyout on a 2020 mutual option) under the backloaded deal structure that was agreed to.


Nationals To Promote A.J. Cole

The Nationals will call up righty A.J. Cole to start for the club tomorrow, Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter. A starter was needed with Max Scherzer‘s scheduled appearance being pushed back due to a thumb injury.

Cole, 23, opened the year rated as a consensus top-100 prospect. Baseball Prospectus, in particular, is quite high on him, rating him 30th overall. MLB.com, which had Cole in the 52nd slot, praises his “easy velocity,” quality change, improving breaking ball, and overall approach.

It appears that this could be nothing more than a spot start for Cole, given the Nationals’ still-loaded rotation, but it will nevertheless represent his first big league action and first chance to accumulate some service time. In the off chance that he does stick on the active roster, he would be set up to qualify for Super Two status down the line.

Cole was drafted by the Nationals before being shipped to the Athletics as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade. He struggled in one season in the Oakland organization, and was then sent back to D.C. (along with Blake Treinen and Ian Krol) in the three-team swap that sent Michael Morse to the Mariners and John Jaso to the A’s.

He has regained his stock since, obviously, and reached the Triple-A level last year. Across 134 innings in the upper minors in 2014, Cole worked to a 3.14 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. He has been fairly dominant in three starts in the highest farm level this season, permitting just four earned runs and one free pass while striking out ten in 15 frames.



Poll: The Josh Hamilton Trade

It’s not often that we see significant trades this early in the season, but special circumstances led to the deal that sent Josh Hamilton from the Angels back to the Rangers. Timing is not the only reason that the trade was unique; Hamilton’s sacrifice of guaranteed money is a rarity, too.

While reports are still emerging on the complicated arrangement, it appears that Los Angeles will save about $20MM over the next three years, while Texas will enjoy Hamilton’s services for only $6MM or so during that stretch. (For his part, Hamilton can now opt out of the last year of the deal, thus conveying some value to him, along with state income tax savings, in exchange for giving up some of his promised payout.)

So, let’s take a quick poll: how would you assess the trade?


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Rangers Acquire Josh Hamilton

7:02pm: The Angels will actually save approximately $20MM in total on the deal, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Texas will pick up about $6MM of the tab, with the remainder of the savings coming from Hamilton sacrificing salary, per the report.

The $20MM is spread unevenly over the three years covered by the contract, per Fletcher. He adds that the deal “likely” has language providing that the Angels would recoup additional money if Hamilton loses pay due to suspension.

After starting the season about $12.5MM under the luxury cap for the current year, the Halos now have closer to $20MM in space, per MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (via Twitter). That extra cushion could make the Halos an even more active buyer on the summer trade market than had already been expected.

3:17pm: The wording of the deal — “in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations” — is a mere formality, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A source tells Wilson that the Rangers aren’t giving up anything of real value to acquire Hamilton.

2:34pm: The Rangers announced today that they have re-acquired outfielder Josh Hamilton from the Angels in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The Rangers will also be receiving cash from the Angels, the team added, and previous reports have indicated that Texas will be on the hook for less than $7MM of the money that is he owed. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, right-hander Nick Tepesch has been transferred to the 60-day DL.

Josh  Hamilton

The transaction represents a homecoming of sorts for Hamilton, who was named the American League MVP as a member of the Rangers in 2010 and appeared in five consecutive All-Star games with Texas from 2008-12. The Rangers will reportedly pay Hamilton just $2-3MM of what he’s owed, and Hamilton will give up about $6MM worth of guaranteed money, which will be offset by the lack of income tax in the state of Texas. The Angels are saving somewhere in the vicinity of $8MM of what he’s owed over the rest of his contract, and the deal has reportedly been restructured to give Hamilton an opt-out clause with a significant buyout following the 2016 season.

Hamilton’s return to Texas was, of course, prompted by a relapse into substance abuse this offseason that led to a perhaps too-public look into the outfielder’s personal life and created a great deal of drama and controversy. After a panel composed of two league officials and two players union representatives deadlocked on whether or not Hamilton had violated his treatment program with the relapse, an arbitrator ruled that he had not, and therefore could not be suspended by the league. The news came as a surprise to many, and reports indicated that commissioner Rob Manfred had indeed intended to suspend Hamilton before the arbitrator eliminated that as a possibility. While the factors that led to the ruling remain unknown, Hamilton likely helped his cause by coming forth voluntarily and admitting his relapse.

Today’s trade brings to a close a tenure with the Angels that was marred not only by this most recent controversy, but also by injuries and a failure to live up to the lofty expectations that came along with his hefty five-year, $125MM contract. Hamilton was not entirely unproductive for the Halos, as his .255/.316/.426 batting line translated to a 110 OPS+. However, the level of production that he provided certainly didn’t line up with his average annual salary of $25MM, or even the $34MM he received in 2013-14 on the backloaded contract. The Angels, of course, will remain on the hook for the majority of that salary.

Hamilton and the Rangers will both hope that a return to a familiar environment will help to rekindle some of the production that made him one of the most feared hitters in baseball for half a decade. From 2008-12, .305/.363/.549, averaging 28 homers per season and 36 per 162 games played. Once he’s fully recovered from shoulder surgery, which should be in mid-to-late May, Hamilton will presumably slide into left field. Texas currently has little in the way of long-term options at the position, with the possible exception of Ryan Rua, who is currently on the shelf sprained ankle and a fracture in his right foot. Opposite Hamilton will be another corner outfielder whose production has yet to live up to his eye-popping contract — Shin-Soo Choo. That Rangers’ hopes for contention in the near future will now be tied to the performance of that duo, as well as first baseman Prince Fielder, as the three under-performing but well-compensated former All-Stars have each been shadows of their former selves in recent years.

Of course, though Hamilton hasn’t been gone from the Rangers for that long, the organization still looks markedly different than it did in his final year. Manager Ron Washington abruptly resigned late last season, and he’s since been replaced by Jeff Banister, whose hiring prompted former bench coach (and managerial hopeful) Tim Bogar to join the Angels. Michael Young has retired, while Ian Kinsler has been traded to the Tigers. Nelson Cruz has signed a pair of free agent contracts with other teams since Hamilton’s departure, and Mike Napoli is in his third year with the Red Sox. The team is not without its share of familiar faces for Hamilton, however, as he’ll be reunited with the likes of Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Leonys Martin, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis, among others.

Billy Casey of Shutdown Inning and Brandon Land of One Strike Away first reported trade talks between the two sides more than a week ago. SI.com’s Michael McCann reported that the Angels could part with him in a matter of days, and FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reported that a trade was looming (Twitter links). MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan first tweeted that a trade to the Rangers was close, and CBS’ Jon Heyman added that an agreement was in place. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram each added details on the financial components of the trade, with Grant adding mention of the opt-out clause. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweeted that everything was done, pending league approval, and MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez was the first to tweet that the deal would be likely announced on Monday. Heyman tweeted shortly before the announcement that the deal had been finalized.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Brandon McCarthy Has Torn UCL

6:57pm: McCarthy says he likely will undergo Tommy John surgery, Shaikin tweets.

6:19pm: Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy has suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter links). Manager Don Mattingly declined to say whether the righty would undergo Tommy John surgery, but it would obviously end his season if he does.

The 31-year-old signed a four-year, $48MM deal to join the Dodgers after posting his first 200 inning tally last year. While the results were not quite there, he worked to a career-best strikeout rate of 7.9 per nine and seemed primed for a strong 2015 campaign. Though McCarthy came with a history of arm ailments, Los Angeles decided that the risk was worth taking.

McCarthy was off to a slow start this year, due mostly to struggles with the long ball. Over just 23 frames, he had already permitted a league-high nine dingers, though he has also retired an impressive 29 batters by way of strikeout.

Now, assuming he undergoes a TJ procedure, McCarthy will have to wait until some time in 2016 to prove that the long balls were just a short sample quirk. Recovery time is generally over a year, meaning that McCarthy will probably require at least an early-season fill-in next season — assuming that he makes steady progress.


Adam Wainwright Out For Season With Achilles Tear

TODAY: Wainwright has a torn Achilles and will miss the year after undergoing surgery, GM John Mozeliak tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link).

YESTERDAY, 11:41am: Cards GM John Mozeliak told KMOX Sports (on Twitter) that he “would imagine” that the injury is season-ending, but the team will wait for official word on Monday.

9:58am: The Cardinals confirmed (on Twitter) that Wainwright suffered an Achilles injury.

9:00am: Wainwright will see a doctor on Monday and receive a prognosis then, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

8:30am: The expectation is that Adam Wainwright is done for the season after suffering an Achilles injury last night, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  The Cardinals pitcher has yet to undergo an MRI, however.

Wainwright suffered his injury in the fifth inning of Saturday night’s game against the Brewers as he was running out a pop-up.  Wainwright, who has pitched four scoreless innings, was running to first when he came up lame after hurting his left ankle, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.  The veteran left the park in a walking boot and was stunned by the freak injury.

I’ve never had anything down there to compare it to.  I’m thinking what in the heck just hit me. I thought the catcher’s mask must have hit me. Or the bat must have hit me. It was crazy,” said Wainwright. “I wasn’t even going that hard. I just popped it up. I saw that it was in play so I started to run and my foot just shut down on me. It’s in the back of my ankle. Everything right now is all speculation. I’ve not got my hopes up or down.”

Wainwright was doubly disappointed because, as he told reporters, he felt the best he had all year heading into Saturday night.  If Wainwright is in fact done for the year, it’ll be the second time in his career that he has suffered a lost season.  The 33-year-old (34 in August) missed the entire 2011 season thanks to Tommy John surgery.

Through four starts this season, the three-time All-Star has posted a 1.44 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9.  For his career, Wainwright has pitched to a 2.98 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.


Marlins Have Discussed Saltalamacchia With Five Teams

The Marlins have already had contact with five teams regarding Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter. GM Dan Jennings says that he expects to find a deal for the just-designated backstop.

Among the potential landing spots are the Red Sox, Indians, Mariners, and Diamondbacks, one source tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). According to other reports, however, Boston is “unlikely” to be interested in adding the 29-year-old, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets, even if it were able to add him for just the league minimum.

Saltalamacchia thrived in Boston, slashing a combined .243/.307/.455 during his four seasons there. Since earning a large free agent payday to join the Marlins last year, Saltalamacchia owns a fairly disapointing .209/.310/.351 line at the plate. That output, while still not bad for a catcher, was not enough to outweigh his lightly-regarded defensive work.

Nevertheless, Salty remains an interesting option for teams looking for a backup or injury replacement (as the above list would indicate). The switch hitter has been much more productive historically against right-handed pitching (.775 career OPS) and makes for a natural platoon mate for any right-handed swinging backstop.


Marlins Designate Jarrod Saltalamacchia For Assignment

In a rather surprising move, the Marlins announced that they have designated catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for assignment.

Saltalamacchia, 29, is less than a month into the second year of a three-year, $21MM pact with the Marlins. He’s owed $6.16MM through season’s end and still has an $8MM salary remaining in 2016, the final year of his contract. With $14.16MM left on his deal, Saltalamacchia is all but certain to clear waivers if that’s where he’s headed, but it remains possible that the Marlins could move him to another club if they absorb a significant portion of his remaining salary.

Though the remaining salary on his contract and the early juncture of the season make this move unexpected, Saltalamacchia’s bat hasn’t justified the investment which the Marlins made in the 2013-14 offseason. In a combined 468 plate appearances over the past two years, Saltalamacchia has batted just .209/.310/.351 with a dozen homers. Top catching prospect J.T. Realmuto was promoted earlier this month and will be relied upon as the everyday catcher going forward, it would seem.

It’s possible that the Marlins are far enough along in trade discussions that they were comfortable designating Saltalamacchia in order to clear a 40-man spot now. (The Orioles recently did this with Ryan Webb, for example.) It seems odd that they wouldn’t be able to find a taker for Saltalamacchia at $1-2MM per season to spare them some of the cost, but as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports notes, the team did try to trade Saltalamacchia all winter without any success (Twitter link).


White Sox Outright Eric Surkamp

Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league…

  • The White Sox announced today (Twitter link) that left-hander Eric Surkamp has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Charlotte. Surkamp, 27, has spent the early portion of the 2015 campaign pitching at Charlotte himself, allowing four runs on eight hits and six walks in 6 1/3 innings. Those numbers aren’t exactly enticing, but he has an outstanding Minor League track record overall, having worked to a combined 3.13 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 569 2/3 innings. Those numbers haven’t translated to the Majors, however, where Surkamp has struggled to a 6.20 ERA with 33 strikeouts against 30 walks (and five hit batters) in 53 2/3 innings split evenly between the rotation and the bullpen. Surkamp was designated for assignment yesterday to clear a 40-man roster spot for righty Scott Carroll.

Rays Acquire Xavier Cedeno From Dodgers

12:31pm: The Rays have moved John Jaso to the 60-day disabled list in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Cedeno, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Because Cedeno won’t join the team for a couple of days, there will be no 25-man move to accommodate him just yet, Topkin adds.

12:26pm: The Dodgers announced today that they have traded recently designated left-hander Xavier Cedeno to the Rays in exchange for cash considerations (Twitter link).

Cedeno, who was designated for assignment by the Nationals and quickly acquired by the Dodgers, found himself again DFA’ed in Los Angeles after the team selected the contract of Sergio Santos. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman had stated after acquiring Cedeno that he expected the southpaw to be added to the active roster, but Cedeno never appeared in a game with the Dodgers.

For the Rays, Cedeno will give them a desperately needed left-handed relief option. Tampa has lost Jeff Beliveau for the season after the southpaw tore the labrum in his left shoulder, necessitating surgery. Fellow left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser recently hit the disabled list as well, leaving the Rays even more thin in terms of lefty relief.

The 28-year-old Cedeno has a relatively limited Major League track record, but he did post a 3.77 ERA with 10.5 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9 in 31 innings for the 2012 Astros. Since then, he’s been limited to just 22 1/3 big league innings, tallying a 5.64 ERA along the way. Cedeno comes with an outstanding Triple-A track record, having totaled a 2.83 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 127 1/3 innings at that level.


Chris Perez Opts Out Of Brewers Contract

Former Indians closer Chris Perez has opted out of his Minor League pact with the Brewers, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy (on Twitter). With the decision, Perez is again a free agent, so the CAA client will be able to field offers from any of the 29 other clubs.

Perez, still just 29, struggled a great deal in his six appearances in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. In 7 2/3 innings, he allowed eight runs (9.39 ERA) on 14 hits (one homer) with an unsightly 3-to-4 K/BB ratio.

Over the past two big league seasons, Perez saw his stock drop considerably, posting a combined 4.31 ERA in 100 1/3 innings between Cleveland and the Dodgers. That mark lines up in a near-perfect manner with his 4.32 xFIP in that time, although FIP (which doesn’t normalize his homer-to-flyball ratio as xFIP does) feels that his ERA should’ve been a bit north of 5.00. In those 100 1/3 innings, Perez averaged 8.3 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9, though it’s worth noting that he did rediscover his previously diminished velocity in 2014, averaging 94.2 mph on his heater.

From 2010-12, Perez was a serviceable ninth-inning arm for Cleveland, pitching to a 2.84 ERA (138 ERA+) with 7.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 180 1/3 frames. That strikeout rate isn’t as high as one would hope to see out of a shutdown closer, though it’s skewed by what appears to have been a fluky 5.9 K/9 in 2011. Perez’s relative youth, velocity and 133 career saves should allow him to latch on with another club in spite of his 2015 struggles at the Triple-A level.


AL East Notes: Papelbon, Holt, Romero, Paredes

The Phillies have been trying to sell the Red Sox on a reunion with Jonathan Papelbon in light of Koji Uehara‘s decline in velocity, reports the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Uehara’s average heater is down to 86.2 mph, according to Fangraphs, which is leading to an alarming reliance on his splitter — a pitch he’s thrown upwards of 85 percent of the time this season, per PITCHf/x. Cafardo looks up and down the Sox roster, noting that uncertainty abounds not only in the rotation, but in the lineup as well.

More from Boston and the AL East…

  • Tony La Russa’s handling of super utility player Tony Phillips in the late 1980s has served as at least somewhat of a blueprint for Red Sox manager John Farrell’s usage of Brock Holt, writes WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. La Russa spoke with Bradford about the importance of using a player like Phillips (or Holt) to keep the rest of the lineup fresh, particularly when that versatile asset is one of the team’s better hitters. Holt may or may not be one of Boston’s top bats — the lineup is loaded with talent, after all — but it’s hard to look past the .293/.344/.397 line he’s tallied dating back to Opening Day 2014.
  • Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star details the Blue Jays‘ decision to part ways with embattled left-hander Ricky Romero. GM Alex Anthopoulos explained to Kennedy that the Blue Jays didn’t feel Romero would recover from a double knee operation in time to contribute by season’s end, and they therefore opted to part with in order to “give him the opportunity to get a head start somewhere else.” Romero did not request his release from Toronto, per Anthopoulos, who spoke highly of a pitcher who was formerly seen as a building block in Toronto. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” said Anthopoulos. “He’s worked tremendously hard. We don’t have anything but the highest praise for the way he’s gone about it…” The GM added that to this day, he’s still not sure if anyone has an explanation as to what caused the chronic knee problems that seemed to derail Romero’s career.
  • The decision to re-acquire Jimmy Paredes after first losing him on waivers to the Royals is paying off significantly for the Orioles, writes MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski. Baltimore lost Paredes to waivers last offseason and acquired him for cash in July. Since that time, he’s batted a collective .352/.374/.636 with the O’s. Paredes won’t sustain a BABIP near .400, but he’s shown more power than most likely expected and could be a valuable utility piece going forward.

Loria: No Serious Discussion Of Managerial Change

A 3-10 start for the Marlins led to speculation that manager Mike Redmond might be on the hot seat, and after initially declining to comment one way or another on that speculation, team owner Jeffrey Loria endorsed Redmond when speaking to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports after last night’s victory. “He’s the manager. Period,” said Loria after watching his team improve to 8-11. “All team go through bad moments. Ours came early. … He did a very nice job last year, and he works hard.”

Heyman goes on to write that Loria insisted that the team isn’t giving any serious consideration to replacing Redmond, who signed a three-year extension through the 2017 season on the final day of the 2014 campaign. He also denied that Mets Triple-A skipper Wally Backman is or was a consideration at one point, noting that he doesn’t know Backman.

The Marlins have gone 5-1 since the initial report that Redmond could be on the hot seat, and while that’s a small sample of games, it did include a decisive sweep of the division-favorite Nationals, in which Miami outscored Washington 17-4. The Fish also took two of three against the Phillies last week as well.

Reports last week also indicated that GM Dan Jennings and president of baseball operations Michael Hill are both big fans of Redmond, and neither wanted to make a change. It would seem, then, that some combination of the team’s improved play over divisional opponents, combined with a vote of confidence from his top baseball ops executives, has swayed Loria to come around on Redmond. Last week, when asked whether or not Redmond was on the hot seat, Loria declined to comment on his job security, stating, “I’m not interested in palace intrigue. We’ve got games to win — period.”


AL Notes: Fields, Holt, Hamilton

Center fielder Roemon Fields went undrafted out of college and spent the summer of 2013 working in a mall and delivering mail, but a former coach’s invitation to play in the World Baseball Challenge led to him being signed by the Blue Jays, Shi Davidi writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). Roemon’s brother Anthony urged him to play. “He kept telling me, ‘Just go,’ and I kept telling him, ‘I think I’m done with baseball. I gave it a try in college,'” says Fields. “I hadn’t hit in months, hadn’t thrown, went out there and I guess played pretty good.” Now that Fields is in the Jays’ system, it’s unclear whether he’s a prospect, but if he does get to the big leagues, it will probably be due in large part to his speed — he stole a remarkable 48 bases in 328 plate appearances in short-season Vancouver last year, leading the Jays to promote him all the way up to Class A+ Dunedin this season. Here’s more from around the American League.

  • GM Ben Cherington says the Red Sox want to draft and develop more players like the versatile and effective Brock Holt, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. “There are guys who are good players and talented but have a harder time staying productive if they’re moving around in the field a lot and there are other guys who seem able to do it, and Holt’s one of those guys, clearly,” says Cherington. “(Holt’s skillset) has always been important, but with the challenges everyone faces of keeping teams and players healthy through a season and getting through the grind, those guys are becoming more and more important.” Cherington notes that it’s crucial to get players rest, so players who can man several positions while hitting reasonably well are especially valuable. The Red Sox are considering the possibility of drafting a player this June, likely after the first round, who they might develop with the goal of turning into the next Holt. So far this season, Holt has played second base, shortstop, third base, left field and center field while getting 14 hits in his first 33 at bats.
  • The Rangers likely represent Josh Hamilton‘s last clear chance of reestablishing himself in the big leagues, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale writes. The Rangers appear likely to be getting Hamilton at such a steep discount that he can be a good value for them even if he’s just a bench player. Meanwhile, though, they’ll also have to try to help him as he battles addiction issues that have now caused problems at several points in his career.