Diamondbacks Release Kevin Frandsen

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Diamondbacks have released veteran utility infielder Kevin Frandsen, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports on Twitter. Frandsen, 33, owns a .309/.352/.333 slash over 89 plate appearances for Triple-A Reno. He spent last year with the Nationals, contributing only a .259/.299/.309 batting line in his 236 plate appearances. Since a strong year for the Phillies in 2012, Frandsen — who mostly plays at second and third — has been at or below replacement level.

AL East Rotation Notes: Tanaka, Rodriguez, Porcello, Odorizzi

The Yankees will welcome Masahiro Tanaka back into the rotation on Wednesday, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweets. It remains to be seen whether he can return yet again in top form, but at this point it’s hard to count him out. Tommy John surgery seemed inevitable, and could still be the result, yet Tanaka was excellent in his first four starts of the year before suffering the forearm strain that led to his most recent DL stint.

Here’s more on AL East starting pitching:

  • Meanwhile, the Red Sox will hand the ball to rookie Eduardo Rodriguez at least once more, as Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports on Twitter. While the club will stay with a six-man rotation for now, that certainly indicates that his audition could result in a permanent spot — no surprise after an excellent first outing in which he tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings.
  • Of course, the Red Sox rotation still has issues. Rick Porcello‘s struggles are one significant concern, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe recently explained that Porcello has shown little sign of being a top-of-the-rotation starter. Boston owes him $82.5MM over the next four years under his recent extension — not exactly “ace” money, but quite a bit — but Porcello is carrying a 5.37 ERA. The good news is that Porcello, still just 26, is striking out better than seven batters per nine (on the high side for him) and has increased his velocity from last year.
  • It has been a breakout year for Jake Odorizzi of the Rays, who owns a 2.31 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .210/.248/.327 batting line. If that sounds impressive, it’s not exactly all that Odorizzi is aiming for, as Matt Stein of Sports Talk Florida reports“That’s my mindset every time,” he said. Starts with trying to throw a perfect game, move on to a no-hitter, shutout. Just kind of work your way down the line. That’s the mindset I take into every game to be honest with you.” There’s plenty more value for Tampa Bay to tap into, as Odorizzi had just over one year of service time entering the season. All said, it’s beginning to look like it might be time to re-weigh yet again the deal that brought Odorizzi and Wil Myers to the Rays in exchange for James Shields.

Minor Moves: Lavarnway, Asencio, Beltre, Kobernus, Redmond, Quiala, Black

Here are Friday’s minor moves from around baseball…

  • Catcher Ryan Lavarnway has elected free agency rather than taking an outright assignment from the Orioles, the club announced. The 27-year-old received just 32 plate appearances with Baltimore, registering only three hits. He has yet to make good on his former promise, but should have no trouble finding another club interested in giving him a slot at Triple-A to get back on track.
  • The White Sox released Jairo Asencio, according to a tweet from its Triple-A affiliate. Asencio, 31, has tossed 55 2/3 big league innings in parts of four years, but has not appeared in the majors since 2013. He worked to a 5.03 ERA in 19 2/3 innings at Triple-A, but did rack up an impressive 28 strikeouts against just six walks.
  • Both outfielder Engel Beltre and utilityman Jeff Kobernus have signed minor league deals with the Giants, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports on Twitter. Both have a smattering of big league experience, though neither has hit much in limited action. Beltre was a long-time Rangers farmhand, while Kobernus has only previously appeared professionally in the Nationals organization (though he did spend a spring with the Tigers as a Rule 5 pick before being returned).
  • The Blue Jays announced that right-hander Todd Redmond has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Buffalo. Redmond was designated for assignment a week ago and will have the option to reject the assignment in favor of free agency. He pitched well in more than 70 innings for the Jays in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but he’s struggled in 2015, yielding 11 runs in 8 1/3 innings of work thus far.
  • The Astros and Cuban right-hander Yoanis Quiala have agreed to terms on a minor league contract, reports Scout.com’s Max Wildstein. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets that the Astros view Quiala as a starting pitcher, though he did work mostly in relief in his lone pro season in Cuba. The 22-year-old Quiala made 16 appearances (nine in relief, seven from the rotation) in the 2012-13 season in Cuba, totaling 52 2/3 innings with a 2.22 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald reported (Spanish link) back in November that Quiala had been granted free agency by Major League Baseball, adding that he can run his fastball up into the mid-90s. Given his age and limited experience, Quiala would be subject to international signing limitations. Because the Astros have already spent the vast majority of their 2014-15 budget, it seems unlikely that Quiala received a significant bonus; even $1MM would put Houston well over their allotted pool. Ben Badler of Baseball America ran down all of Houston’s significant expenditures in his April review of their international signings.
  • The KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization have signed first baseman Dan Black, who had been playing with the Triple-A affiliate for the White Sox, Han Lee of Global Sporting Integration reports (on Twitter). Black, 27, is a former 14th-round pick of the White Sox (2009) that was hitting an impressive .324/.457/.568 with six homers in 34 games for Triple-A Charlotte this season. He’ll be paid $300K, according to the Yonhap News Agency, and will be replacing former big league right-hander Andy Sisco on the Wiz’s roster. Sisco, who was recently released by the Wiz (according to the Yonhap), posted a 6.23 ERA with 42 strikeouts but 25 walks in 39 innings of work with the Wiz in what was his only KBO action to this point of his career.

NL Notes: Cubs, Nationals, Strasburg, Heyward, Gosewisch, Giants

Earlier, we discussed a report from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times indicating that the Cubs will be players if Ben Zobrist is marketed. In that piece, he also discusses the team’s need for pitching. Chicago is “in the mix” for Rafael Soriano and could also be interested in Diamondbacks lefty Oliver Perez. Discussing the team’s summer plans, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein hinted that the club will be looking hard at additions — as Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago said he expected on last week’s MLBTR podcast“We’re trying to balance short- and long-term interests,” said Epstein. “But we’re in a situation [in which] we have a fairly competitive team right now, and we have some needs. So you don’t ignore that. You keep it in mind. But at the same time you can’t just go out and unilaterally add.”

  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo indicated that he believes the club can get by with internal options like Michael Taylor and Tyler Moore while Jayson Werth recovers from a fractured wrist, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. The left-handed-hitting Clint Robinson could also see time. My own guess is that another lefty bat could be acquired if the right player becomes available, but that the team will not be aggressive unless the need becomes more apparent. It’s worth recalling, too, that Matt den Dekker is still available at Triple-A, with Nate McLouth still a possible candidate to return later in the year.
  • Stephen Strasburg left tonight’s start for the Nationals after just five batters. As Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com reports (Twitter links), Strasburg is said to have suffered a left trap muscle issue of some kind. The righty, who has struggled uncharacteristically, said that his neck tightened up so much that he had trouble turning his head. While it does not appear that there is any concern with arm issues, Strasburg’s general difficulties and neck and back issues are certainly an increasing problem for him and the club.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says he does not have any retrospective qualms over his acquisition of outfielder Jason Heyward, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Heyward has shown some signs of life after a rough start, but the outstanding early performance of Shelby Miller stands in stark contrast at present. “I think whenever you make those kind of deals, there are reasons behind it,” Mozeliak explained. “And at the time, we felt that we had to do something. Not only looking at how we want this club to be put together, but we did not feel like there might be any other opportunities that would meet the type of criteria we’re looking for.” 
  • Though he has not yet been evaluated, injured Diamondbacks catcher Tuffy Gosewisch says a radiologist that looked at the MRI on his knee believes he may have a torn ACL, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets. Certainly, that would mean a disappointing end to the year for the 31-year-old, who has struggled at the plate in his opportunity at a starting role. Arizona has called up recent signee Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who will presumably take a good portion of the time behind the dish.
  • Several Giants players have upcoming opt-out dates, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News writes. Righty Kevin Correia can become a free agent on the first of June, while third baseman Casey McGehee can opt out on June 5.

Heyman’s Latest: Howard, Tillman, Price, Cespedes, Astros

In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off by discussing Ryan Howard‘s increased trade value. Howard is hitting .256/.298/.519 with 10 homers this season, and while the OBP is lackluster, he’s performed particularly well of late, hitting .307/.340/.602 with six homers this month (a .389 BABIP on the month, though, is heavily influencing those numbers). The Phils were willing to pay down $35MM or so of Howard’s remaining contract this offseason, and doing so would make him a roughly $10MM player this season and next. While Heyman notes that might be seen as a fair price, he adds that some scouts and executives will want to see more sustained production before considering a move, which strikes me as more than reasonable; I doubt three weeks of hot hitting have transformed him from albatross into hot commodity. The Orioles, Royals and Rays all discussed Howard with the Phillies this offseason but went different directions, and Heyman looks at those three teams as well as five others in determining if there’s a fit to be made. Howard received 10-and-5 rights on May 2, however, allowing him to veto any deal. And while many reports have indicated it won’t get in the way of a trade, Heyman hears that Howard is happier in Philadelphia now than he was over the winter and wonders if he might require some kind of incentive to waive those rights.

Some more highlights from a lengthy column …

  • The Orioles never really came close to reaching an extension with starter Chris Tillman this spring, and talks are on hold at present. The 27-year-old has scuffled early this year with a 5.59 ERA over 48 1/3 innings.
  • David Robertson could have taken home even more than the $46MM promised to him by the White Sox, says Heyman, as an unnamed team offered him more this winter. That provides yet more reason to believe that plenty of teams are still willing to pay top dollar for premium relievers.
  • While the Tigers are very interested in attempting to retain Yoenis Cespedes beyond the current year, Heyman says that all signs point to him reaching free agency. Detroit can, of course, pursue him on the open market, but sources tell Heyman that Cespedes is unlikely to agree to an extension.
  • Likewise, the Tigers don’t appear to have much hope of an extension with ace David Price, and Heyman says they “aren’t overwhelmingly confident” that he’ll be back. Detroit’s front office believes that Price will look to top Max Scherzer‘s contract. 
  • The Astros are sorting through many pitching acquisition possibilities, and Aaron Harang of the Phillies has “at least been discussed” by the club. Fellow Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels may come with too much contract for Houston, but Heyman reports that the club does see Reds free agent-to-be Johnny Cueto as a possibility.
  • While Brewers GM Doug Melvin has given signals that he’s ready to sell early, owner Mark Attanasio may prefer the club hold off until at least the upcoming draft. While PR considerations seem to be a factor, that may be the best strategy anyway; the team could still get out ahead of the market, while allowing it to mature somewhat before acting.
  • Be sure to check out the piece for more interesting items around the league.

Cubs Expected To Pursue Ben Zobrist

The Cubs are expected to pursue a trade for Ben Zobrist of the Athletics this summer, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Zobrist recently returned to action after missing time for knee surgery.

Zobrist, who just turned 34, has played all over the diamond in his career, registering stellar defensive marks at numerous positions. In recent years, he’s spent most of his time at second base and the corner outfield, though he played at short quite a bit earlier in his career. Of course, Zobrist has also consistently delivered well-above-average production on offense, with a career .264/.354/.429 batting line.

All said, Zobrist has been one of the ten most valuable all-around position players in the game since the start of 2011. He is still a bargain with only a $7.5MM salary this season, though he’ll hit the open market after the year.

A trade would, of course, render Zobrist ineligible for a qualifying offer, and Oakland will surely be looking for a return that exceeds the value of a compensatory draft pick if it decides to move him at the trade deadline. That is no sure thing, as Wittenmyer notes, as Oakland still hopes to get back into contention.

From the Cubs’ perspective, adding Zobrist would make obvious sense, though that can be said of many other teams as well. The veteran thrived under skipper Joe Maddon when both were with the Rays, and he’d offer the team ample flexibility while deepening its lineup. While Chicago has enjoyed strong production at many spots in the everyday lineup, its bench has been underwhelming.

Erik Cordier Declines Assignment, Re-Signs With Giants

Right-handed reliever Erik Cordier declined an outright assignment with the Giants but re-signed with the club on a minor league deal, Chris Haft of MLB.com tweets. The live-armed hurler had been designated for assignment and cleared waivers.

Cordier, who works in the triple digits with his fastball, struck out nine and walked only two in six MLB innings last year for San Francisco. He has steadily improved over a lengthy minor league career, with his strikeout tallies soaring after moving to a pen role.

The 29-year-old had been on a rehab assignment to start the year. He owns a 1.50 ERA with twenty strikeouts against eight walks over a dozen minor league frames in 2015.

Cordier’s new deal contains several opt-out dates, per Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News, which explains the procedural moves.

Brewers Rescind Brandon Kintzler DFA

6:13pm: Milwaukee announced that it has rescinded the move and instead placed Kinzler on the 15-day DL, with the team apparently learned that Kinzler was suffering from a pre-existing knee issue.

1:23pm: The Brewers announced that they have designated right-handed reliever Brandon Kintzler for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for shortstop Jean Segura, who has been activated from the disabled list. Segura had been on the shelf with a broken pinkie finger.

The 30-year-old Kintzler has allowed five runs in seven innings since being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs earlier this month, and his 6.35 ERA in 5 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year wasn’t much more inspiring. Still, as Adam McCalvy notes, Kintzler could have simply been optioned to Triple-A but was instead designated for assignment. He becomes the third relatively long-tenured reliever to be designated by the Brewers over the past few weeks, as the team outrighted Rob Wooten to Triple-A last night and did the same with Jim Henderson earlier this month.

Kintzler has been an effective middle relief option for the Brewers over the past two seasons, however. From 2013-14, he notched a 2.93 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 135 1/3 innings of work, thanks in part to a 57.2 percent ground-ball rate. Milwaukee’s 40-man roster drops to 37 with Kintzler no longer on board.

Rangers To Promote Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez

The Rangers will bring up top pitching prospect Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez to make his first big league start on Saturday, the club announced. Gonzalez came to Texas as the 23rd overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Gonzalez is a consensus top-100 pitching prospect, though most outlets have placed him near the back of that list. But Baseball Prospectus is particularly bullish on him, rating him inside the thirty best pre-MLB players in the game before the season.

Most view Gonzalez as a mid-rotation starter, with his upside limiting his value. Indeed, the 23-year-old has slowed somewhat in his first run at Triple-A, striking out 5.4 and walking 3.9 batters per nine innings while working to a 4.15 ERA over 43 1/3 innings.

Texas apparently intends to give Gonzalez every chance of entrenching himself in the rotation. GM Jon Daniels says that a regular starting job is “his spot to lose,” as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets. That would make him an unlikely Super Two candidate: the cutoff was most recently projected at 2.140 years of service, while Gonzalez can accrue as many as 128 days on the active roster this year.

Rafael Soriano To Change Agents

Free agent reliever Rafael Soriano is set to replace agent Scott Boras, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post (Twitter link). It is not clear whether he has chosen a new agent.

Soriano hopes to sign a deal and return to big league action, per the report. He has been inactive for the first two months of the year despite plenty of apparent interest. Presumably, the fact that he has yet to do so had something to do with the parting.

Boras has negotiated Soriano’s contracts since the fall of 2010 — as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times then reported on Twitter — and has done rather well for his now-former client. Soriano has earned a total of $49MM over four years, exercising an opt-out clause negotiated into his deal with the Yankees and overcoming a qualifying offer to find better money over two years with the Nationals (though a significant piece of that was deferred).

Most recently, the Marlins were said to be dabbling in the Soriano market, though no deal was completed and the team apparently no longer has interest. MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth provided a complete look at the possible suitors last weekend (with our readers voting the Cubs as the odds-on favorite to bring him in).

Matt Adams Out At Least 4 Months With Quad Tear

FRIDAY: The surgery revealed a complete tear of the quad muscle, tweets Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, which will likely extend his recovery time to over four months.

While the news does not shift the timeline too significantly, it already seemed there was a fairly slim chance that Adams would return for the regular season or even postseason. Now, that seems all but impossible unless Adams can beat expectations.

WEDNESDAY, 11:04pm: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that Adams will undergo surgery to repair the tear on Friday.

8:01pm: GM John Mozeliak just discussed the injury in an appearance on KMOX radio, stating: “We anticipated this being a DL, but now we have to look at how we look at this club long-term,” (Twitter link via KMOX’s Benjamin Boyd).

7:43pm: The Cardinals announced tonight that Adams will miss an estimated three to four months with the injury. Given that timeline, it’s fair to suggest that there’s a chance he could miss the remainder of the regular season. MLB.com’s Jen Langosch hears that the team is still deciding whether or not Adams will undergo surgery (Twitter link).

A recovery timeline of that significance would seem to increase the chances that the Cardinals will look outside the organization eventually in order to address the need. Reynolds has plenty of power and could serve as a stopgap, but he batted just .209/.297/.394 from 2013-14 with the Indians, Yankees and Brewers in fairly regular duty, making him a questionable long-term solution.

4:05pm: Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams will miss significant time with a torn quadriceps, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on Twitter. Surgery is a possibility for the 26-year-old.

The injury is said to be worse than that of fellow St. Louis outfielder Tommy Pham, who is on the 60-day DL with his own quad injury. The Cardinals had already decided to rely on Mark Reynolds at first for the immediate future, but the severity of the injury could potentially contribute to additional roster planning over the summer.

Of course, Adams has been off to a rough start, hitting just .243/.281/.375 over his first 153 plate appearances on the year. But the team certainly had good reason to expect better the rest of the way: after all, Adams averaged a .287/.327/.474 line over the prior two seasons.

Reynolds could ultimately be paired with Dan Johnson, who is in the fold at Triple-A, or a similarly available left-handed bat such as Travis Ishikawa. The team could in theory consider sliding an outfielder like Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty in at first, but none of them have played the position before (at least professionally).

But if Adams will miss much of the rest of the season, it certainly seems at least plausible that the Cards will dabble in the summer trade market. Adam Lind, Justin Morneau, and Ryan Howard are among the players that could be marketed at the deadline.

Scott Feldman To Miss Six Weeks Following Knee Surgery

Astros right-hander Scott Feldman will be out for “approximately six weeks” following arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee, the team announced on Friday. The 32-year-old injured his knee while fielding a grounder in his most recent start. Right-hander Michael Feliz, one of the organization’s most highly regarded pitching prospects, has been promoted from Double-A to take Feldman’s spot on the roster.

Rotation depth was already an area that many expect the Astros to address on the trade market this summer, based on previous comments from GM Jeff Luhnow and from some struggles at the back end of the rotation. While a glance at Feldman’s ERA might not inspire much confidence, he’s pitched significantly better since a disastrous second start of the season. Overall, he has worked to a 4.47 ERA (3.42 FIP, 3.62 xFIP) in 48 1/3 innings over a stretch of eight starts.

Feldman has served as a nice veteran complement to the less experienced Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. To this point in the season, Keuchel has looked the part of a bona fide ace yet again. And while McHugh hasn’t repeated last season’s breakout numbers, he’s enjoyed solid peripheral stats and is still sporting a relatively serviceable 4.24 ERA.

The question for the Astros is who will fill in the rotation behind Keuchel, McHugh and Feldman. So far, Roberto Hernandez has soaked up 54 2/3 innings, though he’s done so with a 4.77 ERA and peripherals that suggest he’ll continue to produce at that clip. Lance McCullers has stepped into the rotation and impressed over a pair of starts, but he’s largely unproven and hasn’t thrown more than 104 innings in a pro season since being selected 41st overall back in 2012. The Astros have also cycled through Asher Wojciechowski, Sam Deduno, Brad Peacock and Brett Oberholtzer at the back of the rotation with little success to show. (The latter three of that quartet are now each on the disabled list, as well.)

A wide variety of pitching options figures to be available this summer, if the Astros elect to go that route. Cole Hamels represents a long-term, top-of-the-rotation option, whereas teammate Aaron Harang would be a reliable, low-cost rental. Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza‘s names have both been mentioned as trade candidates as well, although neither veteran is performing at the moment. Scott Kazmir and Johnny Cueto represent potentially more impactful rental players that would, of course, come with a higher price tag, in terms of prospects.

Marlins Claim Chad Smith From Angels

The Marlins announced that they have claimed right-handed reliever Chad Smith off waivers from the Angels and optioned him to Triple-A New Orleans. Smith had previously been designated for assignment by the Halos in order to clear a roster spot for the recently acquired Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

With this waiver claim, the 25-year-old Smith will join his fourth organization of the past six months. Originally a 17th-round draft pick of Detroit back in 2011, Smith has made his way from the Tigers to the Athletics to the Angels and now the Marlins via waiver claim.

Smith tossed just 1 1/3 innings for the A’s this season and yielded five runs. That, combined with the 11 2/3 innings he pitched last year with Detroit, accounts for the entirety of his work at the Major League level. In his 13 big league frames, he’s struck out 11 batters against six walks.

In the minor leagues, Smith has a rather strong track record, however (this season’s poor results notwithstanding). Though he’s allowed 12 runs in 20 innings at the Triple-A level this season, Smith posted a 3.45 ERA across Double-A and Triple-A in 2014, and he sports a lifetime 2.97 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 184 2/3 innings.

Phillies Designate Grady Sizemore For Assignment

The Phillies announced today that they have designated veteran outfielder Grady Sizemore for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for Cody Asche, who will return from Triple-A and presumably see the bulk of playing time in left field as he transitions away from third base.

The 32-year-old Sizemore returned to baseball last season after missing two full seasons due to knee and back injuries. After a slow start with Boston got him released, Sizemore latched on with the Phillies and hit well enough in 60 contests — .253/.313/.389 with three homers — that Philadelphia re-signed him to a one-year, $2MM extension back in October.

The early returns on Sizemore’s second season in Philly haven’t been pretty, however, as he’s batted just .245/.288/.296 and displayed questionable defensive skills in the outfield corners — perhaps to be expected after enduring the type of injuries that he’s dealt with since 2010.

Sizemore, of course, was one of the game’s truly elite players early in his career Cleveland. From 2005-09, he batted .276/.368/.488, averaging 25 homers and 28 steals per season to go along with a penchant for highlight-reel catches in center field. Baseball-Reference pegs him at 26.8 wins above replacement in that stretch, whereas Fangraphs was even more bullish, crediting him with 29.4 WAR.

Injuries have derailed what looked to be one of the game’s most promising young talents, however, and he’ll now step aside in large part so that the Phillies can give extended tryouts to two young talents of their own. Asche’s move from third base to left field was necessitated by the emergence of Maikel Franco as an option at third base, and Philadelphia will hope that both can settle in as regulars and contribute for years to come.

Phillies Notes: Asche, Hamels, Nola

The Phillies announced today that Cody Asche has been recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, indicating that the former third baseman’s transition to left field will continue at the Major League level. After being sent to Triple-A to work on the position, Asche batted .295/.358/.393 in 15 games. A corresponding roster move has yet to be announced, but the presence of Asche will further crowd an outfield mix that currently includes Ben Revere, Odubel Herrera, Grady Sizemore, Jeff Francoeur and Darin Ruf. Veterans Sizemore and Francoeur have each struggled at the plate this season, and it seems fair to speculate that Asche’s presence could squeeze fellow lefty swinger Sizemore out of a roster spot.

Here’s more on the Phillies…

  • Cole Hamels is becoming a more attractive trade chip with each passing day, writes Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. While GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has taken his share of flak, Lawrence opines that he’s played the Hamels situation “close to perfect,” as Hamels is the most attractive trade chip in a market filled with teams in need of rotation help. Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir each hold their own appeal, Lawrence notes, but Cueto recently underwent an MRI after being scratched from a start, whereas Scott Kazmir had an MRI on his left shoulder after experiencing pain of his own. Neither test revealed structural damage, but the MRIs could create a bit of unease as teams look at the pair of rentals, Lawrence notes. He also reminds that Amaro and team president Pat Gillick expressed in Spring Training a desire to get more bats into a minor league system that has added some intriguing arms over the past year or so. I’m inclined to agree with Lawrence — it didn’t make sense late in the offseason or in Spring Training for Amaro to merely take the best offer he could get for Hamels, and he’s now in a position where multiple teams will need to show interest, thereby increasing the possible return by forming somewhat of a bidding war.
  • Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes that “all signs point to the Red Sox” as the team on which the Phillies are focused in looking to move Hamels. Salisbury cautions that the interest may not be reciprocated, but he did speak to a scout who feels that the two teams can line up on a trade, even without including Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart. Salisbury runs down several of the names listed in their conversation, though they’re listed in a speculative nature.
  • Todd Zolecki of MLB.com feels that while Amaro’s comments about impatient fans “not understanding” the game were regrettable, there was merit to his message that the development of top prospects like Aaron Nola is a process that shouldn’t be rushed. Zolecki looks at top draft picks from the 2006-12 drafts and notes that highly drafted college pitchers have averaged 32.4 starts in the minors before establishing themselves as big leaguers. (The number jumps to 34.7 if Mike Leake — an exceptionally rare case who skipped the minors entirely — is excluded.) To this point, Zolecki notes, Nola has made just 20 minor league starts. While Stephen Strasburg and Tim Lincecum jumped to the Majors after 11 and 13 minor league starts, respectively, those two and Leake are more of the exception than the rule.