Dr. Frank Jobe, the man who performed the first -- or, perhaps more accurately, the -- Tommy John surgery, has passed away at the age of 88. As MLB.com's Ken Gurnick writes, the longtime Dodgers medical director was instrumental in pioneering that now-commonplace, immensely impactful procedure: "it was Jobe who invented it, performed it, refined it and taught it to hundreds of training orthopedic surgeons." Needless to say, Jobe's contributions to the game will continue to have impact for generations to come, and MLBTR joins the rest of the baseball world in saluting him in passing. If you're interested in learning more about his remarkable life, see this excellent bio piece from MLB.com's Doug Miller.
More from the NL West:
- Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin suffered an arm issue of his own, rupturing his left biceps tendon, but will not need surgery at this point, MLB.com's Corey Brock reports. GM Josh Byrnes said he feared the worst -- a season-ending injury -- but that after consulting the medical staff "the strong consensus was no surgery." Though a timeline has not yet been set, Maybin could return within four to six weeks. San Diego should have plenty of depth to cover in Maybin's absence, though the club will certainly hope for a positive resolution of this latest setback for the 26-year-old, who signed a five-year, $25MM deal before the 2012 season.
- Meanwhile, the Padres have let third baseman Chase Headley know that they fully intend to make him a qualifying offer at the end of the year, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com via Twitter. While this does not come as a surprise, it indicates that San Diego -- like the Indians with Justin Masterson -- views the QO as a card to be played in extension talks.
- Former Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt will work out with the club for a ten-day stretch as he seeks another shot at a MLB job, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The club previously declined to exercise its half of a mutual option on the 38-year-old after he underwent -- you guessed it -- Tommy John surgery late last year. It is surely worth it for Colorado to take a look, as Betancourt has largely been an outstanding reliever since breaking into the bigs at the late age of 28 back in 2003.
As has been previously discussed on MLBTR, the MLB collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they do not receive a binding promise to be added to the team's 25-man roster (or the Major League disabled list) five days prior to the season. If the team decides to pay the retention bonus, the player also receives a June 1st opt-out clause. Contracts can permissibly include terms that are more favorable to the player, such as greater retention bonuses and/or earlier opt-out clauses.
For the current season, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweets, decisions must be made by March 17th for the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, and by March 25th for the rest of the league. (Of course, at present, neither of the clubs opening play in Australia has signed an XX(B) free agent.) Last year, numerous XX(B) free agents received either a roster guarantee or a bonus from teams hoping to maintain control over the player.
There are many different ways to become a free agent, but only those players who reach free agency through Article XX(B) and certain international free agents are eligible for this added protection. There are two types of players who can qualify in this manner at the end of a season. (In either case, of course, the player must not already be a free agent; i.e., he must be on a club's 40-man roster upon the conclusion of the World Series.) First are those players who have accrued at least six years of Major League service time and are not under contract for the following season. Second are those players with expiring contracts who signed with an MLB club after turning 23 and after playing five seasons in one of the major international leagues. (In the below list, Kawasaki and Wada are examples.) In either case, the XX(B) free agenty must sign his minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day to qualify for the added contractual protections.
Here is a list of this year's crop of Article XX(B) free agents who have signed minor league deals and thus come within the ambit of the rule, as of today. (Several other players likely to land minor league deals could also qualify -- including names like Kevin Gregg and Juan Pierre -- if they sign in time.)
Astros: Cesar Izturis
Blue Jays: Munenori Kawasaki
Braves: Freddy Garcia
Cubs: Tsuyoshi Wada
Giants: Kameron Loe
Marlins: Reed Johnson
Philies: Ronny Cedeno
Rays: Erik Bedard
Red Sox: Rich Hill
Rockies: Nick Masset
The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options. That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so. I've included players on multiyear deals. This list was compiled through MLBTR's sources. Next, we'll take a look at the NL West.
With the Diamondbacks beginning their season on March 22nd in Australia against the Dodgers, both teams will deal with a unique set of roster rules, as outlined by MLB.com's Steve Gilbert last month.
Delgado seems slated for Arizona's bullpen, unless perhaps Bronson Arroyo's bulging disk lands him on the DL. Regarding Tuiasosopo, D'Backs manager Kirk Gibson told Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic yesterday, "He definitely could be a guy that comes into play for us because of his versatility."
The D'Backs took Mateo from the Cubs in December's Rule 5 draft, but with Brad Ziegler, J.J. Putz, David Hernandez, Addison Reed, Josh Collmenter, and Joe Thatcher seemingly locked in, there won't be room for Mateo if Delgado joins the pen. A trade or injury could create a spot. A trade with the Cubs to retain Mateo's rights wouldn't make much sense, as the D'Backs would still have to pass him through waivers to get him to Triple-A.
Elbert is on the 60-day DL currently, so he won't be occupying a roster spot. Guerra is "up against it" in trying to make a Dodgers bullpen stacked with veterans, as explained by MLB.com's Ken Gurnick last month. Tim Federowicz is set to back up A.J. Ellis behind the plate, so the Dodgers will probably have to try to pass Butera through waivers.
Yesterday, Matt Kawahara of The Sacramento Bee suggested there are two openings in the Giants' bullpen, assuming Petit makes the group as a long man. Machi will probably take one, but it could be tough for Huff to make the team in a similar role to Petit. Heath Hembree, Derek Law, and Jose De Paula are just a few of the other names in the mix.
There won't be room for both Adrianza and Abreu, as explained by Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles. It seems likely one of them will be traded.
Unless the Padres decide to carry three catchers, Rivera's shot at making the team depends on Yasmani Grandal's recovery from July knee surgery.
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has changed agents, hiring Adam Katz and Andy Mota of Wasserman Media Group, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). As shown in MLBTR's Agency Database, Puig had been represented by Jaime Torres.
As Rosenthal notes, Wasserman represents a host of high-profile players, including fellow Dodgers Hanley Ramirez and Kenley Jansen. The deal that Puig signed out of Cuba carries him through 2018 (his age-27 season), so there is little pressure to begin considering a new deal. Puig does have the ability to trade out his guaranteed salary for arbitration earnings once he's racked up enough service time to qualify. As Puig has only 119 days of service at present, that will likely not occur until the 2017 season.
Let's take a look at the latest on the best arm left on the market, starter Ervin Santana.
- Seemingly contradicting Alou, Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.com reports (Twitter links) that Santana has fired Stringfellow. Santana does not have plans to hire a replacement, and could negotiate his own deal, according to Soldevila.
- Another of Santana's reps at Proformance, Jay Alou, tweets that there has been "no change" in Santana's representation. "Ervin Santana is still represented by the same person that he first signed with 15 years ago," wrote Alou.
- Santana is now considering a change of representation, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Santana is currently represented by Proformance. We heard from Proformance managing director Bean Stringfellow recently, as he spoke in strong terms about his determination to land Santana a contract befitting his talent, and said they had discussed the possibility of waiting to sign until after the June amateur draft (to shed the draft pick compensation tied to Santana).
- The Blue Jays are still unlikely even to make Santana an offer, reports Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. Though GM Alex Anthopoulos said that he has still had some contact with the representatives of some free agents, he added that "I don't think we have anything active."
- Updating the market situation of Santana, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes that teams still in touch with Santana include the Mariners, Orioles, Rockies, Rangers, and aforementioned Blue Jays. Stringfellow weighed in to say that Santana was dealing well with the wait. "He's concentrating on his workout," he said. "Obviously, he'd rather be in camp, as he's always in camp at this time. But he understands the process, and the business aspect of it. He's doing well."
- Though the Orioles would have no problem sacrificing a third-round pick to add Santana, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the team has not engaged in "real dialogue" over the past few days. As with the team's previous signing of compensation free agents, Baltimore is looking to achieve value in any deal.
The Marlins made a series of small moves as they wait for their young core to reach the Major League level and climb out of the NL East cellar.
Major League Signings
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C: Three years, $21MM.
- Garrett Jones, 1B/OF: Two years, $7.75MM.
- Jeff Baker, 1B/2B/OF: Two years, 3.7MM.
- Rafael Furcal, 2B: One year, $3MM.
- Carlos Marmol, RHP: One year, $1.25MM.
- Casey McGehee, 3B: One year, $1.1MM.
- Total Spend: $37.8MM.
Notable Minor League Signings
Trades and Claims
- Acquired RHP Carter Capps from the Mariners in exchange for 1B/OF Logan Morrison.
- Acquired OF Brian Bogusevic from the Cubs in exchange for OF Justin Ruggiano.
- Logan Morrison, Justin Ruggiano, Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, Chris Coghlan, Casey Kotchman, Chad Qualls, Ryan Webb
The Marlins' offseason began with a long-awaited shakeup that saw president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest dismissed, with assistant GM Dan Jennings being promoted to general manager and general manager Michael Hill assuming Beinfest's old role. The drama leading up to the decision was widely publicized, as Beinfest was long said to have clashed with owner Jeffrey Loria, who often went over Beinfest's head. One example was last summer's one-year extension for bench bat Greg Dobbs; the deal was said to be worked out by Loria and Dobbs' agent, with Beinfest not even being aware that the negotiations were taking place.
With the front-office shuffle out of the way, the Marlins set to work on supplementing their young core. While the Anibal Sanchez trade brought over young catcher Rob Brantly, who for a time looked to be the catcher of the future, Miami wasn't happy enough with Brantly's progress and elected to fill the void with their biggest signing of the offseason. Saltalamacchia (pictured) was brought in on a three-year, $21MM deal that proved to be far less expensive than most pundits had figured -- particularly after 35-year-old Carlos Ruiz signed a three-year, $26.5MM deal to remain with the Phillies.
While Saltalamacchia has his flaws -- he strikes out at a prolific rate and does not hit well from the right side of the dish -- the deal looks quite favorable when juxtaposed with the much older Ruiz's contract. Saltalamacchia's deal pays him for his age-29 to age-31 seasons. Beyond that, he's bound to be an improvement for a team that saw its catchers post a collective .192/.249/.280 batting line (no, that is not a typo) in 2013 -- good for the worst cumulative wRC+ (42) at that position in all of Major League Baseball.
Unhappy with the way former top prospect Morrison had turned out -- both on and off the field -- the Marlins traded the injury-plagued social media guru to the Mariners in exchange for a flamethrowing right-hander in the form of Capps. While Capps has a good deal of upside as a late-inning arm, it still seems a disappointing return for a player who once looked to be on his way to emerging as one of the National League's top young first basemen. Brash or not, LoMo twice ranked among Baseball America's Top 20 MLB prospects and slashed .259/.351/.460 in his age-22 to age-23 seasons before a pair of knee surgeries diminished his 2012-13 production.
The Marlins aimed big in their attempts to find an upgrade over Morrison, as they reportedly made a serious run at Cuban slugger Jose Abreu and were comfortable pursuing him even when it was learned that his price tag would exceed $50MM. Abreu ultimately signed with the White Sox on a six-year, $68MM contract, forcing Miami to look elsewhere.
It's no Abreu, but the Marlins were able to cobble together a cheap platoon that should be able to provide plenty of pop. The signings of Jones and Baker were met with little fanfare, but the duo could be an under-the-radar source of offense for the Fish. Baker pummelled lefties at a .314/.407/.667 clip with 10 homers in 123 PAs last season and has a career .298/.353/.522 line against southpaws. Likewise, the lefty-swinging Jones has a career .271/.337/.489 batting line against right-handed pitching. The pair may be defensively limited, but they could surprise at the plate.
Loria's issues with second base prospect Derek Dietrich were well-documented last year -- Loria wanted to hold Dietrich down in the minors due to the belief that he was one of the reasons hitting coach Tino Martinez resigned after players dubbed him abusive -- and the club sought to address that hole on the free agent market. Miami inked Furcal, a lifetime shortstop, to a one-year deal with the idea of him manning the keystone on an everyday basis.
Polanco provided veteran leadership but little else for the Marlins in 2013, and with retirement a likely outcome for Polanco, Miami plucked McGehee out of Nippon Professional Baseball on a cheap one-year deal. McGehee posted a monster season as Masahiro Tanaka's teammate with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, slashing .292/.376/.515 with 28 homers.
Losing Qualls was an undoubted hit to the bullpen, but Miami added Capps and took a reasonable gamble on Marmol's strikeouts. It's easy to chuckle at Marmol's struggles, but he's never whiffed fewer than 10.8 hitters per nine innings in a big league season. Even marginal improvement in his command could make him a weapon.
There's no doubt that Jose Fernandez is one of the best young pitchers in the game and the cornerstone of the Marlins' rotation; the $635K payday they gave him proves that, as the Marlins could've given him a mere $1K raise and not been alone in such a pre-arb payscale.
However, they neglected to add any veteran depth beyond re-signing Slowey to another minor league deal, and seem willing to proceed with Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner behind him in the rotation. Slowey, Tom Koehler, Brian Flynn, Andrew Heaney and others will compete for the fifth slot. The Marlins have depth, but a veteran arm on a one-year deal could've helped lessen the burden for their young stockpile of starters.
Likewise, they seem set to go with youth in the outfield alongside Giancarlo Stanton, as Jake Marisnick, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna battle for the other two slots. All three come with plenty of upside and have been Top 100 prospects, but each is also under the age of 24.
Turning toward the infield, there are question marks at all four spots. The aforementioned Baker/Jones platoon should hit, but neither has shown much defensive aptitude at first base. McGehee left for NPB due to a drastic decline at the plate. Adeiny Hechavarria's defense has impressed the Marlins, but he pulled off the rare feat of posting a sub-.300 average, OBP and slugging percentage in 2013 (.227/.267/.298). This year will be critical for him to show that his bat can trend closer to his Triple-A numbers (.327/.376/.446 in 606 PAs).
Furcal didn't play in 2013 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, and at age 36, how much does he have left in the tank? He batted .264/.325/.346 in 2012 with the Cardinals and has appeared in just five games at second base since 2001. Can he really be an upgrade over Dietrich, who struggled offensively but showed plus pop with a .214/.275/.405 batting line? Among second basemen with 200+ PAs, only Robinson Cano and Jedd Gyorko bested Dietrich's .191 ISO. He did skip Triple-A, so perhaps some time at that level will improve his all-around game.
Of course, the biggest question with the Marlins on a year-to-year basis regards Stanton. Miami has said that the plan is to build around Stanton (and now Fernandez), but outside of Saltalamacchia and a failed push for Abreu, the Marlins did little this offseason to impress Stanton. Miami is counting on its young core to make large strides and form the basis of a winning team, but that could take until 2016, when Stanton has just one year of team control remaining. Stanton tweeted that he was "pissed off" following the Marlins' 2012-13 firesale in which they traded Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and others, effectively hitting the reset button just one year into a new stadium. Has the bridge been burned, or could those same players' inability to win with the Blue Jays (along with Miami's bounty of prospects) have quelled Stanton's anger?
Deal of Note
As stated above, the Morrison trade brought back a young arm with some upside, but was that the best possible return the team could have gotten? It's odd to think that Morrison wound up with the Mariners -- a team that already had Justin Smoak, Corey Hart, Jesus Montero and several other corner/DH type bats in house.
Fast forwarding to the present day, the Pirates and Brewers still lack a great deal of uncertainty at first base, and either team would likely consider Morrison an upgrade over its current in-house options. Capps has averaged 10.1 K/9 in his young career with decent control (3.6 BB/9) and an average fastball velocity of 96.5 mph. However, he's also yielded a .321/.414/.543 batting line to opposing lefties.
It's fair to wonder if a better deal for Morrison would have materialized had the Marlins exercised more patience.
The 2014 Marlins could be an improved team simply due to the fact that their young players have another year of big league experience under their belts. Adding Saltalamacchia should help to improve the team's production from behind the plate, but most of their other additions come with questions on defense, offense or both.
While the Marlins could win a few more games, their offseason dealings likely weren't enough to pull them out of last place in the NL East. They'll probably have another Top 5 to 10 selection in the 2015 draft after choosing second this year and sixth last year. However, the clock to extend Stanton is ticking, and an improved on-field product would likely help their cause. At some point, the results will need to show up on the field and in the standings, but for now, another Marlins rebuild continues.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with Twins first baseman Joe Mauer about the transition from catching everyday to becoming a regular first baseman. Stark also spoke with several instructors around Twins camp, including Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and three-time All-Star Terry Steinbach, about the changes facing Mauer and what can be expected of him going forward. Stark puts Mauer's transition into some surprising historical context, noting that Joe Torre is the only player in Major League history to log 300+ games at another position after catching his 900th game. Mauer has some experience at first, having started 54 games there over the past few seasons, but admits that those games aren't the same: "You know, the last few seasons, when I’d get out there, it was kind of a day off from catching, and it was kind of like, go out there and do your best. But now, it’s your job. So you’d better do it right."
Here are some more Twins links for your Thursday afternoon...
- Agent Damon Lapa, who represents second baseman Brian Dozier and right-hander Kevin Correia, is expected to be in Twins camp this weekend and will have informal extension discussions with assistant GM Rob Antony, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In a second tweet, Berardino quotes Dozier, who broke out in 2013 with a 3.8 rWAR/2.8 fWAR season, as saying: "The Twins have done it before. Those can benefit both sides. We're still open to the idea."
- While Spring Training has been kind to Chris Parmelee in the past, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger notes that this time around is quite a bit different for the former first-round pick. Parmelee is out of options and knows that with Mauer penciled in as the everyday first baseman and the corner outfield spots likely full, his role on the club could be diminished. Parmelee was one of the players that Tim Dierkes and I examined in today's post on AL Central players that are out of options.
- While much was made of the Twins' pursuit of Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter, Antony tells Berardino that A.J. Pierzynski was "no doubt" the team's No. 1 catching target this offseason. Pierzynski himself said back in December that the Twins made him a two-year offer. Antony said he wouldn't rule out pursuing Pierzynski in the future and has no hard feelings that he didn't take Minnesota's recent offer: "I understand; he got a chance to join the world champs. A.J. is a competitor. I don't think it was an easy decision. He told a lot of people that: 'God, I would have loved to come back to Minnesota. This was a tough decision to make.'"
The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options. That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so. I've included players on multiyear deals. This list was compiled through MLBTR's sources. Next, we'll take a look at the AL Central.
Both Carrasco and Outman will be on the Indians' pitching staff, noted Tony Lastoria of FOX Sports Ohio on Monday. Carrasco is battling a few others for the fifth starter job, but if he doesn't earn it he'll go to the pen.
Hayes seems to be the favorite to back up Salvador Perez at catcher, as 24-year-old Francisco Pena can get more seasoning at Triple-A. Veteran Ramon Hernandez, signed to a minor league deal, is also in the mix for the Royals' backup catcher job.
Dyson is expected to make the team as the center field backup for Lorenzo Cain, wrote Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star last week. That leaves Maxwell and Peguero battling for the fifth outfield spot. Maxwell would seem to have a leg up, having played well upon joining the team in a trade last July. His right-handed bat might be of more use to the Royals, who avoided arbitration with Maxwell in a January agreement about a week before acquiring Peguero.
The Royals seem to have room for five infielders, and Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star wrote last week that Valencia is likely to make the team. That would leave the team without a reserve middle infielder behind Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar. If the Royals do surprise and find a way to include a reserve middle infielder, it would be a competition of Ciriaco, Christian Colon, and Johnny Giavotella.
Kelly is in good standing as a super-utility man. There appears to be one bullpen job up for grabs, with pitchers such as Luke Putkonen, Justin Miller, Blaine Hardy, and Casey Crosby (if healthy) among those battling with Reed. The Tigers claimed Reed off waivers from the Marlins about a year ago, and will probably need to put him in their bullpen to start the season to retain him.
Plouffe and Swarzak are locks to make the club. Plouffe figures to man third base on an everyday basis now that Miguel Sano is out for the season, and Swarzak was among the league's best swingmen in 2013.
Diamond, Deduno and Worley are in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation, and each can make their case based on historical context. Diamond was the club's best starter in 2012, Deduno has outperformed him since, and Worley was a key component of the Ben Revere trade just one offseason ago before a disastrous 2013 dropped his stock. The trio also has deal with top prospect Kyle Gibson, who is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. Any of the three could end up in the bullpen, but at least one seems likely to go.
Presley has the inside track to make the club either as the Opening Day center fielder -- should Aaron Hicks struggle in Spring Training -- or as a fourth outfielder.
Escobar's versatility is appealing to the Twins, and his case for the Opening Day roster has been strengthened now that starter Pedro Florimon had his appendix removed two weeks ago. Florimon is fielding grounders pain-free as of yesterday, per MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger, but his Opening Day status is up in the air. Former Twin Jason Bartlett is in camp as a non-roster invitee and could serve as competition.
Parmelee is a former first-rounder that hasn't hit since a 2011 September call-up. The now-26-year-old demolished Triple-A pitching in 2012 but has batted just .228/.302/.364 over his past 543 PAs in the Majors. He didn't fare much better at Triple-A in 2013. With Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham at the outfield corners, Joe Mauer at first base and Jason Kubel likely to make the club as a DH/corner outfielder, Parmelee's best hope is to lock down a bench role. His experience at first base could give him an edge for that spot.
The Sox seem to only have one spot open for a third baseman at this time, though that could change if they trade an outfielder like Dayan Viciedo or Alejandro De Aza. As it stands, Gillaspie is competing for third base with Jeff Keppinger and rookie Matt Davidson. It would be sensible to start Davidson at Triple-A, and it's possible lingering effects of Keppinger's September shoulder surgery could cause him to start the year on the DL.
Boggs and Belisario seem locks for the bullpen after signing as free agents, though Belisario has yet to arrive in camp due to visa issues. A few of the team's relievers are dealing with nagging injuries, but if everyone is healthy and Belisario is in camp as Opening Day approaches, there would seem to be one spot for either Veal (a lefty) or Cleto. Veal is the favorite over Cleto, who joined the team in a waiver claim just last week.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
11:50am: Carpenter's deal will be worth $50-55MM if completed, Rosenthal tweets.
11:17am: The Cardinals and Carpenter are closing in on an extension of "significant length," sources tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The deal is believed to buy out all three of his arbitration seasons and at least one free agent season, "and probably more than that," according to Heyman.
12:06am: The Cardinals are talking with Matt Carpenter about a long-term contract extension, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Cards GM John Mozeliak confirmed that he had been in contact with Carpenter's agents at SSG, and though the general manager gave no hint as to whether or not a deal was close, Goold said that Carpenter left the club's Spring Training facility in the middle of Wednesday's game, "presumably to have a physical."
2013 was Carpenter's first full season as a Major Leaguer and he delivered in style, hitting .318/.392/.481 with 11 homers and leading the league in runs (126), doubles (55) and hits (199) while producing 7.0 fWAR and 6.6 rWAR. He did all of this while playing primarily as a second baseman, a position Carpenter had never played as a professional before last year (he'll move back to third base this season). This spectacular campaign earned Carpenter his first All-Star appearance, an NL Silver Slugger Award and a fourth-place finish in NL MVP voting.
Carpenter was also one of baseball's top bargains, as he did all that while still playing for around the league minimum. He isn't eligible for arbitration until next winter and the Cards have him under team control through the 2017 season, and an extension would give St. Louis some cost-certainty through those three arb years. Since Carpenter isn't eligible for free agency until his age-31 season is over, a multiyear pact would give him security now rather than risk missing his chance at a big contract if he's already seen as being on the decline once he hits the open market. This isn't to say that Carpenter will be at a negotiating disadvantage, of course, as he's still coming off an elite season.
Cole Hamels' scheduled throwing session was canceled today, as the Phillies' co-ace reported feeling a fatigued arm that wouldn't allow him to go through the throwing motion as he normally would, reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Hawkins. Said Hamels: "My body is telling me,'Hey, you’ve got to take a step back and start over.'" The outlook for Hamels isn't great, as Hawkins reports that he is now likely to miss the entire month of April. Hamels said a cortisone injection or MRI is unlikely, as all the tests he's done have checked out. Hawkins' article is chock-full of Hamels quotes for Phillies fans and interested parties. Here's more on Hamels' situation and the Phillies...
- Hawkins' colleague Corey Seidman looks at the Phils' options to fill out their rotation in the wake of Hamels' setback. Seidman notes that Ethan Martin has been shut down with shoulder inflammation, and Jonathan Pettibone is also dealing with shoulder pain. Adam Morgan and Shane Watson each had shoulder surgery this offseason. Seidman calls Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez locks for the rotation and says the battle for the fifth spot comes down to Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, David Buchanan, Jeff Manship and Sean O'Sullivan. He lists left-hander Mario Hollands as a darkhorse candidate as well.
- Manager Ryne Sandberg tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Phillies will utilize defensive shifts more frequently in 2014 and have already been working on it in Spring Training. As Gelb writes, the Phillies shifted fewer than 28 of baseball's 30 teams in 2013 and graded out as the worst defensive club in baseball last year, per Baseball Info Solutions. Said Sandberg: "It's something that's grown, and the information is there. Teams have had some success doing that, so that's something to think about and apply."
In his latest piece for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal wonders how the Indians could possibly say no to Justin Masterson's proposed extension. Rosenthal's sources tell him Masterson is seeking a three-year extension on top of his current deal at roughly market value in terms of average annual salary (Rosenthal speculates $17-18MM). Few Cleveland stars in any sport express a willingness to take a discount to stay, adds Rosenthal, and it would send a poor message to fans and the Indians' players to make the decision not to pay Masterson. Here are some more highlights from a jam-packed Rosenthal column...
- Outfielder Billy Burns might be the most intriguing player in Athletics camp, writes Rosenthal. Acquired from the Nationals in exchange for Jerry Blevins, Burns was attractive to the A's because he was one of just three players in all of minor league baseball with more than 50 stolen bases and an OBP north of .400 last season. Burns has swiped seven bags in eight Spring Training games thus far, and scouts have raved about his instincts as a leadoff man, says Rosenthal.
- Mike Olt has looked good thus far in camp with the Cubs, and the team's preference is for him to win the third base job out of Spring Training rather than head back to Triple-A. Doing so would allow the club to start Christian Villanueva at third in Triple-A and Kris Bryant at the hot corner in Double-A. Rosenthal points out that if Olt were to rebound from the concussion/vision issues that plagued him last season, the Cubs' haul for Matt Garza would look all the more impressive. Chicago also plucked C.J. Edwards from the Rangers, who enters the 2014 season ranked as the game's No. 26 prospect, per Baseball America.
- Brewers first baseman Juan Francisco could be squeezed out again and find himself on the move, writes Rosenthal. Francisco is out of options, and the Brew Crew could prefer to take Lyle Overbay as a potential pairing with Mark Reynolds due to Overbay's superior glove. Rosenthal speculates that the Tigers could be a good fit for Francisco, as they have just four players capable of hitting left-handed on their roster. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes ran down all of the NL Central's out-of-options players yesterday.
- It's been reported in recent days that the Royals and James Shields aren't likely to work out an extension, and sources tell Rosenthal the same thing. A Masterson extension would be a clear benefit to Shields, as Shields would have less competition on next year's open market. MLBTR recently examined what Shields might earn as a free agent next offseason.
It's still relatively early on in Spring Training, but the White Sox have already begun getting calls on outfielders Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The two are battling for the everyday job in left field, as it 2013 trade acquisitions Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia are likely to man center field and right field, respectively.
De Aza is the more established player of the two but also comes with less team control. Set to turn 30 in early April, De Aza has batted .279/.343/.420 in 357 games with the White Sox since being claimed off waivers from the Marlins in 2009. The lefty swinger belted a career-high 17 homers last season and has stolen 46 bases over the past two seasons. Ultimate Zone Rating pegs him as an average defender in the outfield, though Defensive Runs Saved feels he's somewhat below average. He has extensive experience in center field and also played 426 innings in left field for the Sox last season. De Aza is under team control for two more seasons and will earn $4.25MM in 2014.
Viciedo is the younger and more powerful of the two, but comes with question marks about his defense and on-base skills. Viciedo, who turns 25 on Monday, mashed 25 homers in his first full season with the Sox in 2012, posting a .255/.300/.444 triple-slash line. However, he wasn't able to match that power level in 2013, as he hit just 14 homers with a .265/.304/.426 slash line. UZR/150 pegs him at -5.5 over his career in left field, while DRS has him at -3. Both metrics agree that his glove worsened in 2013. As a Super Two player, he'll earn $2.8MM in 2014 and is controllable through the 2017 season.
De Aza would seem to be a natural fit with the Tigers, who recently learned that they'll be without Andy Dirks for roughly three months due to back surgery. His left-handed bat would pair well with Rajai Davis to form a left field platoon, which was supposed to be the role filled by Dirks. With an extra year of team control, he could potentially fill Torii Hunter's spot in 2015 if Hunter signs elsewhere and the Tigers don't find a suitable replacement on the free agent or trade market. Of course, this is all purely speculation on my part, and the White Sox and Tigers may prefer not to swing a trade within their own division. Other teams that could use an upgrade in the outfield include the Orioles, Mariners and Pirates, to name a few.
While Jeff Samardzija has been a chief subject of trade rumors this offseason, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio on SiriuxXM (via Bowden's Twitter feed) that his preference would be to sign the right-hander to a long-term extension. Samardzija said the same during an appearance on the broadcast (audio link here), as "I've always stated this is where I wanna be...this organization stuck by me and has given me the opportunity to be a starter." Despite the rumors, there has "obviously been a mutual interest between the two parties, for sure...[which] kinda makes everything else just talking, which is what you want it to be."
Here's some more news from around the game...
- Johan Santana never considered retirement in the wake of his latest shoulder surgery, as the veteran southpaw told reporters (including MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli) that he didn't want to let his health dictate the end of his career. "I don't want to go out in the game like that. I want to go out of the game on my own terms, knowing this is going to be my last game, knowing this is going to be my last year," Santana said. The two-time Cy Young Award winner said he has "nothing to lose, [and] a lot to gain" from his incentive-heavy minor league deal with the Orioles.
- Jon Lester's cancer diagnosis in 2006 played a big part in his acceptance of his original multiyear deal with the Red Sox, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports. That contract will expire this offseason, and while Lester has no new news on the status of extension talks, he is hopeful a new deal will be settled soon.
- The Dodgers' surplus of pitching could force the team to make a tough cut in the form of right-hander Seth Rosin, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon writes. Rosin has pitched well thus far in Spring Training but L.A. might not have space for him on the roster, a situation that Saxon says could backfire like the team's cut of Kevin Gregg last spring. Rosin was selected off the Phillies' roster by the Mets in last December's Rule 5 draft and was then traded to the Dodgers, who now must keep Rosin on their Major League roster all season or else offer him back to Philadelphia for $25K.
- In a subscription-only piece for Baseball America, Matt Eddy and J.J. Cooper look at some of the offseason's key minor league free agent signings and some of the overall trends of this winter's minor league deals.
- Jim Leyland is happy in his position as special assistant to Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and has no interest in returning to the Pirates organization, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “I really don't want to come back to the organization,” Leyland said. “Not because I don't love it, but (because) they've set their tempo now and they have their own people in place. They don't need somebody like me hanging around and, really, I don't need to do that....I'll retire a Tiger.”
The Mariners sent a scout to watch David Phelps' recent Spring Training outing, George A. King III of the New York Post reports, while the White Sox and Brewers also had scouts on hand to watch the Yankees' catchers. King previously reported last week that the White Sox had their eyes on the Yankees' catching surplus and that the Yankees were scouting Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks.
With the Yankees known to be looking for infielders, King speculates that Nick Franklin could be a target for the club, especially since Seattle is known to be exploring trades for the young second baseman. The M's are looknig to upgrade their pitching depth thanks to injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, though as King notes, it would take more than just Phelps to acquire Franklin.
It would be somewhat surprising to see the Yankees move Phelps given the club's lack of starting pitching depth. Phelps is competing with Michael Pineda and Adam Warren to be New York's fifth starter, and since Pineda hasn't pitched in a Major League game since 2011 and Warren has only three career starts over his two MLB seasons, the Yankees would have to be confident in both pitchers' development to send Phelps elsewhere. Phelps' advanced metrics (3.81 FIP, 4.03 xFIP, 3.91 SIERA) indicate that he pitched much better last season than his 4.98 ERA over 86 2/3 IP would indicate.
The Yankees have Francisco Cervelli, J.R. Murphy and Austin Romine competing to be Brian McCann's backup, and all could fit into reserve roles in Chicago or Milwaukee. The Sox could offer more regular time, as their catching mix of Josh Phegley, Tyler Flowers, Hector Gimenez and Rule 5 Draft pick Adrian Nieto isn't at all settled.
With Jonathan Lucroy firmly locked into the starting job in Milwaukee, the Brewers are only looking for a backup. If Weeks is a target, it's only a matter of how much of his $11MM salary the Crew will agree to absorb (King also suggests Aramis Ramirez as a trade possibility, but I doubt the Brewers would think to trade him unless they struggle during the season and fall out of the race).
The Mets made Daniel Murphy available this past offseason but put a high price on the second baseman's services, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports, including asking the Orioles for top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy. Murphy has been working hard this spring to increase his value to the Mets, focusing on making more contact at the plate and reaching base more often (Murphy only had a .319 OBP last season). "On-base and slugging, this is what teams want," Murphy said. "This is what drives the offensive market now. They want you to be able to get on base, and when you do get base hits, they want them to be doubles. So I think that our game is heading in that direction. I think (the Mets are) probably a little bit farther, maybe out in front a little bit of the curve."
Here's some more from the Amazins' camp...
- "I'm not a mercenary," David Wright tells Bob Klapsich of the Bergen Record, as the Mets third baseman insisted that he has no regrets over staying with the team through their ongoing rebuilding process. "If my goal was to win right this second, then obviously, I would've been a free agent," Wright said. "To me, it was important to show loyalty to the Mets. I grew up rooting for them, they drafted me when I was 18, they're the only team I've ever played for." Klapisch, however, opines that the Mets haven't shown that same loyalty to Wright by not spending more to make the team competitive.
- The Mets' rebuild could be spurred by making trades rather than free agent signings, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that if the Mets are willing to expand their payroll, they have the minor league depth to acquire expensive star players from teams who are themselves looking to rebuild or unload salaries.
- After eight seasons in the minors, 31-year-old Anthony Seratelli is still looking for his first taste of the majors, and now the New Jersey native has a chance close to home after he signed a minor league deal with the Mets earlier this offseason. MLB.com's Anthony DiComo profiles Seratelli's career, his video-editing talents and how he is inspired to keep playing by the tragic losses of his father and grandmother.
“If my goal was to win right this second, then obviously, I would’ve been a free agent,” Wright said. “To me, it was more important to show loyalty to the Mets. I grew up rooting for them, they drafted me when I was 18, they’re the only team I’ve ever played for.” - See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/sports/Klapisch_Mets_rebirth_vital_for_David_Wright.html?c=y&page=1#sthash.2fJKHX8T.dpu