International Notes: Fanning, Capitales, Atkins

Jim Fanning, the first general manager of the Montreal Expos, has passed away at age 87, as Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun notes (on Twitter). Fanning played briefly for the Cubs as a catcher in parts of the 1954 through 1957 seasons, but he was better known for the career he built after he was through as a player. He assembled the original 1969 Expos team, beginning with the 1968 Expansion Lottery, and, during his tenure, acquired Expos greats like Rusty Staub, Ellis Valentine, Gary Carter and Andre Dawson. After Charlie Fox replaced Fanning in 1976, he continued to work for the Expos, eventually taking over as manager in 1981 in time for their first and only playoff appearance. Later in his career, he worked in the Rockies and Blue Jays organizations. In 2000, he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Here are more notes on baseball throughout the world.

  • The Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League have announced (link in French) that they will have four Cuban players this season, via an agreement with the Cuban government. Those include outfielder Yuniesky Gourriel, the son of the legendary Lourdes Gourriel and the the brother of star Yulieski Gourriel and the promising Lourdes Gourriel Jr. Outfielder Alexei Bell, shortstop Yordan Manduley, and pitcher Ismel Jimenez will also join the Capitales. It’s unclear whether any of them are big-league talents, although it’s worth noting that the Can-Am League (from which, for example, the Twins signed Chris Colabello) will make it easier for scouts for affiliated teams to see them.
  • Former Cubs and Astros pitcher Mitch Atkins has signed with the Lamigo Monkeys in Taiwan, J.M.G. Baseball announces (via Twitter). The 29-year-old Atkins last appeared in the big leagues in 2011. He pitched much of the last two seasons in the Braves organization, also pitching in independent ball and in winter ball in the Dominican.

Blue Jays Release Ricky Romero

The Blue Jays have released lefty Ricky Romero, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets. Romero will make $7.5MM in the last year of a $30.1MM contract he signed in late 2010. He will receive a $600K buyout for 2016.

Romero, the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft, was once a promising young starter. His best year was 2011, when he posted a 2.92 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 225 innings and finished tenth in AL Cy Young balloting. The following season, though, was a huge step backward — he had a 5.77 ERA and led the league in walks, then had elbow surgery after the season.

After that, Romero never returned to form. He spent much of 2013 in the minors, and the Jays outrighted him in June and then again in October. A knee injury ended his 2014 season after nine minor-league starts, and he had not yet pitched in 2015. According to Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star (via Twitter), Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says that since Romero was in the last year of his deal and was not close to being able to help, there was no reason for the team to keep him.


Rays Designate Allan Dykstra For Assignment

The Rays have designated first baseman Allan Dykstra for assignment, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The move clears space for pitcher Everett Teaford, whose contract the Rays selected from Triple-A Durham.

Dykstra collected the first 38 plate appearances of his big-league career with the Rays this season, hitting .129/.289/.226 before being optioned to Durham when James Loney returned from injury. The 27-year-old Dykstra is now in his eighth season in the minors and could be on his way out of his third organization despite a first-round draft pedigree and consistently impressive-looking minor-league stats. He hit .280/.426/.504 in 439 plate appearances with the Mets’ (admittedly hitter-friendly) Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season.



Ben Zobrist To Have Knee Surgery

Athletics utilityman Ben Zobrist confirms that he will have arthroscopic knee surgery, which likely means he will be out four to six weeks, Joe Stiglich of Comcast SportsNet California writes (via Twitter). That Zobrist would have surgery seemed increasingly likely earlier today, when the A’s placed him on the disabled list and promoted infielder Max Muncy to take his place on the active roster.

Via the Bay Area News Group’s John Hickey (on Twitter), Zobrist says he’s hopeful he can return by the start of June, giving the A’s four more months of regular-season baseball with him before he becomes a free agent. But the injury limits the amount of time the Athletics have to recoup the investment they made this offseason when they sent top prospect Daniel Robertson (along with big-leaguer John Jaso and another prospect, Boog Powell) to Tampa Bay for Zobrist and Yunel Escobar. Zobrist had been very durable before this season, having played 146 or more games in every year since 2009.


Quick Hits: Mets, Beltran, Dorn

The Mets are one of several teams helping Major League Baseball understand more about pitchers’ epidemic of elbow injuries, Mike Vorkunov of NJ.com writes. The Mets, along with four other teams, are having the pitchers in their 2014 draft class participate in a study by agreement with MLB and the MLBPA, along with the American Sports Medicine Institute. Vorkunov reports that the study will examine pitchers’ biomechanics, anatomy and flexibility to try to identify players who might be at risk. All 30 teams will have access to the results. “We as an industry probably should have taken the initiative long ago before this became such an epidemic,” says Mets GM Sandy Alderson. “But I’m happy we’re pursuing it now. That, I think, will help us with the next generation of baseball pitchers.” The problem is surely one that all clubs are curious about, although the Mets, who have lost Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to Tommy John surgery in recent years, likely are especially interested. Here’s more from around the Majors.

  • Carlos Beltran is becoming disliked by fans of both the Mets and the Yankees, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. It’s questionable whether Mets fans have reasonable grounds to dislike Beltran — as Sherman notes, Beltran played well with the Mets and landed them Wheeler. But many do. And the first year-plus of Beltran’s three-year, $45MM contract with the Yankees has been awful so far, particularly given his defensive limitations. Beltran, who turned 38 yesterday, is hitting .173/.241/.288 so far this season.
  • 30-year-old 1B/OF Danny Dorn finally made it to the big leagues after 939 minor-league games after the Diamondbacks promoted him Tuesday, and he’s thrilled to be there, writes MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom. “I can call myself a Major Leaguer,” says Dorn. “It’s been great. I just feel blessed and thankful for the opportunity.” Dorn has been climbing uphill his entire career — he was a 32nd-round draft pick all the way back in 2006, and although he hit well throughout the minors, he spent parts of seven seasons at Triple-A.

Rangers Nearing Deal To Acquire Josh Hamilton

SATURDAY 12:46pm: Hamilton would receive a significant buyout if he were to excercise his opt-out, Rosenthal tweets. That makes sense — if not for a buyout, there would be few scenarios in which it would make sense for Hamilton to opt out of the $30MM he’s set to make in 2017.

12:02pm: The Rangers will take on less than $7MM of Hamilton’s contract, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, meanwhile, writes that the Rangers will pay $2MM-$3MM. Hamilton will eat about $6MM of the contract himself, according to Grant, since he can make up at least some of the difference due to the fact that Texas does not have a state income tax. That means the Angels could still save $8MM-$13MM. Hamilton will also receive an opt-out clause after 2016.

FRIDAY 7:15pm: The talks are still “complex” and “volatile” and remain incomplete, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). If the deal is completed, the Rangers will take on less than $15MM and will not send any players to their division rivals.

Multiple reports indicate that the lack of state income tax in Texas is playing a role, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeting that Hamilton will cede some pay to make the deal work. Hamilton’s gains through tax avoidance would, presumably, even things out (to some extent, at least) on his end.

If the proposed transaction is indeed one in which the Rangers would assume some of the contract without sending anything in return, and in which Hamilton would give up some guaranteed money, it is not hard to see the complexities. Both the league and union would surely want to take a close look at a deal of that nature.

6:16pm: The Rangers will pick up about $15MM of Hamilton’s salary, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Los Angeles will pay the remainder of the $83MM that he is owed.

6:10pm: The deal “has been agreed to” though there remain several “ancillary” matters to be addressed, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

5:31pm: The Rangers are nearing a trade to acquire Josh Hamilton, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports on Twitter. There is still “legal work” remaining before the deal can be finalized, but Sullivan says an announcement could come Monday.

The details of the arrangement remain unknown, but Shin-Soo Choo is not involved in the prospective trade, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Choo had at least appeared to be a plausible piece to be included in a deal given his huge salary and rather pronounced struggles.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that Texas would either need to have virtually all of Hamilton’s salary covered — or, would add him if and when he negotiates a release. Indeed, per another Shaikin tweet, some cash savings for the Angels may the only substantial element in the deal.

Hamilton, 33, has disappointed in Los Angeles since inking a five-year, $125MM contract before the 2013 season. He has slashed .255/.316/.426 in a Halos cap, a useful enough line but hardly enough to justify his contract. Injuries dogged Hamilton last year, who is still working back from offseason shoulder surgery.

Of course, Hamilton earned that sizeable contract with his play in Texas, where he produced at a .305/.363/.549 clip for five seasons while swatting 142 long balls. Though he did not end his stint with the team on the best off terms, Hamilton will forever be associated with the Rangers — the place where he became a star.


Athletics Designate Eury De La Rosa For Assignment

The Athletics have designated lefty reliever Eury De La Rosa for assignment, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The move clears space on the 40-man roster for infielder Max Muncy, who’s needed because the A’s are placing Ben Zobrist on the 15-day disabled list. Slusser also tweets that if Zobrist has arthroscopic knee surgery, which currently seems to be a possibility, he would likely be out three to six weeks.

The Athletics acquired the 25-year-old De La Rosa in a December trade after the Diamondbacks designated him for assignment. He’s spent the beginning of the 2015 season pitching at Triple-A Nashville, where he struck out four batters and walked five in six innings. Last season, he posted a 2.52 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 39 1/3 innings at Triple-A Reno, along with a 2.95 ERA, 7.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 36 2/3 innings in the big leagues.


Reactions To The Josh Hamilton Trade Reports

As we noted yesterday, the Angels and Rangers are close to a deal that would send troubled outfielder Josh Hamilton back to Texas, with the Angels receiving $15MM or less in salary relief in return. The deal isn’t yet complete (and it’s easy to see why, given the complexity of dealing with the approximately $80MM on Hamilton’s contract), but here are a few early reactions.

  • Given the reported terms of the deal, the Hamilton trade is a low-risk gambit by the Rangers, Dayn Perry of CBS Sports writes. Hamilton’s left-handed power should play better in the Rangers’ ballpark than it did in the Angels’, and also, Hamilton could prove to be more comfortable in Texas, where he produced many of his best seasons. Meanwhile, the $15MM or less the Rangers are reportedly taking on isn’t an exorbitant commitment.
  • Arguing in a somewhat similar vein, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News argues that the Rangers have little to lose from the trade.  Hamilton won’t block any outfielders who are performing well, and the Rangers can provide a supportive environment that can help Hamilton as he battles his addiction issues.
  • Hamilton’s Angels teammates hope he has good luck in Texas, Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times reports. “No matter what the situation is, Josh is going to pick up a 35-inch bat and go swing,” says C.J. Wilson. “That’s what he’s good at, and I think that’s what he needs to be doing right now.”
  • Along with Gary Matthews Jr. and Vernon Wells, Hamilton will be the third high-priced outfielder in recent years who the Angels have traded with two or more years left on his deal, Bill Shaikin of the Times notes. The Angels just $2MM when they sent Matthews to the Mets, and $14MM when they shipped Wells to the Yankees.

Week In Review: 4/18/15 – 4/24/15

Here’s a look back at this week at MLBTR.

Key Moves

Trades

Designated For Assignment

Claimed

Outrighted

Released

Key Minor League Signings

Other


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Week In Review

Minor Moves: Juan Jaime, Daniel Corcino

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game:

  • The Braves have outrighted righty Juan Jaime to Triple-A Gwinnett, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The 27-year-old Jaime, who throws very hard and gets plenty of strikeouts, surely would have been an interesting project for any number of teams, but other clubs were likely deterred from claiming him because he was out of options. In 41 innings at Gwinnett last season, he posted a 3.51 ERA with 13.8 K/9 but an unsightly 7.9 BB/9. He walked four batters in 1 1/3 innings with the Braves this season.
  • The Dodgers have outrighted righty Daniel Corcino, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweets. They claimed Corcino from the Reds earlier this month. The 24-year-old posted a 4.14 ERA with 7.1 K/9 in 143 1/3 innings at Double-A Pensacola last season. He walked too many batters, with 4.4 BB/9, but given his relative youth and prospect status (Baseball America ranked him the No. 94 prospect in the game heading into 2013), he should provide the Dodgers with valuable minor-league depth. Corcino is the second former Reds pitcher the Dodgers have claimed and then outrighted this month, the other being reliever Ryan Dennick, who they removed from their roster when they claimed Corcino.

West Notes: Baker, Dodgers, Johnson, Iwakuma

Prior to being hired as the Diamondbacks‘ general manager, Dave Stewart reached out to Dusty Baker to let him know that he may have interest in Baker as a manager if he were to get the GM role, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, Baker never heard back from Stewart before the D-Backs hired Chip Hale. Baker said he has no hard feelings about not getting an interview. Stewart told Heyman that he does indeed have a good deal of respect for both Baker and former Rangers manager Ron Washington, both of whom he initially considered for the managerial vacancy. Baker tells Heyman that he hopes to manage again, and Heyman notes that he has applied to three positions, including the Mariners, Tigers and Nationals since being let go from the Reds. “I didn’t fire myself,” said Baker. “I didn’t retire.”

Here’s more from out west …

  • The Dodgers have now acquired and designated no fewer than four relievers, and have made a host of other minor roster moves in the season’s early going. That has all taken place as part of the club’s plan entering the season, manager Don Mattingly explains (video via the Tout feed of J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Media Group).
  • Padres righty Josh Johnson tossed a 40-pitch pen session today and is nearing a rehab stint, manager Bud Black tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock (Twitter link). The 31-year-old has not made a major league appearance since 2013, but represents some nice low-risk upside for an a San Diego club that is off to a nice start.
  • The Mariners have struggled somewhat with keeping runs off the board, a subject that I discussed with Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune on today’s podcast. In addition to starting poorly, veteran Hisashi Iwakuma has hit the DL with shoulder fatigue (officially called a strained lat), as Dutton reports. He will undergo an MRI tonight, though the hope is that some rest will do the trick. Of course, Iwakuma is also a free agent after the season, and he’ll have some catching up to do to re-establish his value at age 34.

East Notes: Red Sox, Rogers Centre, Franco, Harang

There’s been quite a bit written about the Red Sox‘ lack of an ace, but as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe notes, acquiring an ace-caliber pitcher is harder now than ever before. Speier looks back at the top 20 pitchers in terms of WAR from the 2004 season and notes that not only did pitchers remain elite later in their careers, but they were also more readily available in both free agency and trades. The average age of the top 20 pitchers in WAR has dropped from 29.5 to just under 28 in the year 2014, and none of the top 17 were signed as free agents. One talent evaluator noted to Speier that teams simply aren’t trading established aces anymore. The evaluator continued, “Very few come from free-agent signings given that, traditionally, their age was such that when they signed, they’re aces in age but not in [future] performance.”

Here’s more from the East:

  • The Red Sox have continued to field a lineup that stresses “grinding” at-bats, but at present have yet to deliver much power, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. That continues something of a trend from last year, says MacPherson, who notes that unearned runs have propped up the team’s run scoring totals.
  • Complaints about the Blue Jays‘ Rogers Centre turf have been hard to ignore, with Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reporting on Twitter that the Orioles actually considered forfeiting a recent game rather than taking the field. Baltimore has contacted the league, per Encina, though Jeff Blair of Sportsnet.ca tweets that the commissioner’s office has not received any formal complaint.
  • Top Phillies prospect Maikel Franco has been on a tear at Triple-A, but the team still does not have immediate plans for a call-up, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Service time remains a factor despite the fact that he saw action at the MLB level last year; as Zolecki explains, by waiting until approximately mid-May, Philadelphia can earn itself an extra year of control. With the big league club seemingly going nowhere and fellow youngster Cody Asche playing well at third, there is little reason for the team to move quickly on Franco.
  • There have been some limited bright spots for the Phillies, of course, and veteran righty Aaron Harang may be chief among them. The 36-year-old righty has tossed 26 1/3 innings of 1.37 ERA baseball, allowing a meager .800 WHIP and striking out 21 batters. Despite an excellent 2014, Harang signed a one-year deal for just $5MM (which he discussed recently with MLBTR’s Zach Links). He is starting to look like a rather appealing summer trade candidate for clubs that need to fill in at the back of their rotation.

Blue Jays Designate Steve Tolleson

The Blue Jays have designated infielder Steve Tolleson, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. With the move, the club has cleared roster space for the activation of outfielder Michael Saunders.

The 31-year-old Tolleson saw just 12 plate appearances this year for Toronto, picking up three hits and a walk. He saw his most extensive MLB action last year with Toronto, slashing .253/.308/.371 in 189 plate appearances. Tolleson has seen limited action in two other seasons.


Dodgers Designate Xavier Cedeno, Purchase Contract Of Sergio Santos

In yet another round of reliever roulette, the Dodgers have designated the just-acquired Xavier Cedeno for assignment. The club selected the contract of veteran righty Sergio Santos, necessitating the move.

Cedeno, a southpaw, was just added in a deal with the Nationals, who had designated him. Like Ryan Dennick and Daniel Corcino before him, Cedeno was added to the roster only long enough to be designated off of it, presumably with intentions of seeking outright waivers to facilitate a stashing in Triple-A.

Santos had an opt-out clause that was due May 1, so it was a use him or lose him situation for L.A. The 31-year-old has had a roller coaster of a career to this point, flashing plenty of talent while struggling with a variety of arm ailments. In 4 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year, he has allowed two earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out eight opposing batters.


Rangers Designate Logan Verrett

The Rangers have designated righty Logan Verrett for assignment, Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake announced on Twitter. The move clears roster space for the addition of Wandy Rodriguez.

Verrett was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Orioles from the Mets, and was later claimed by Texas. He would ultimately be offered back to New York if no other club decides to put in a waiver claim once he hits the wire (as is likely).

The 24-year-old threw nine innings of relief for the Rangers in just four appearances. He struck out three and walked four in that span, and was charged with six earned runs. Verrett had worked as a starter in the minors, always exhibiting outstanding control and progressing quickly through the Mets system.