Reid Brignac Opts Out From Marlins

Infielder Reid Brignac has opted out of his deal with the Marlins after learning he would not make the Opening Day roster, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). The 29-year-old is now a free agent.

Brignac, 29, has not cracked 100 plate appearances in a big league season since back in 2011. Over parts of seven seasons, he owns a .222/.266/.314 slash over 905 plate appearances. At this point, defensive flexibility — Brignac has spent most of his time at short — is his primary calling card.


Rangers Release Jamey Wright

The Rangers have released righty Jamey Wright, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on Twitter. Wright would have been owed a $100K bonus to keep him in the minors.

Wright, 40, has spent 19 years in the big leagues. Last year, he tossed 70 1/3 frames for the Dodgers, putting up a 4.35 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9. He is sure to draw interest given his long track record of durability and solid results.


Blue Jays To Release Dayan Viciedo

After failing to make the Blue Jays roster, outfielder Dayan Viciedo has requested and will be granted his release, GM Alex Anthopoulos tells reporters including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link).

Viciedo, a late entrant onto the free agent market when the White Sox released him, struggled at the plate this spring. The 26-year-old has seen plenty of action over the last three big league campaigns, averaging over 500 plate appearances per year. He has also hit an average of twenty long balls in each of those campaigns, though his on-base percentage is sub-.300 and he is not well-regarded defensively.

It remains to be seen whether any team will have a major league opportunity for Viciedo to start the year. Several clubs have less-than-clear corner outfield situations, but those organizations already had one opportunity to grab Viciedo. Of course, things have changed in some situations; the Phillies, for example, will start Domonic Brown on the DL and have watched Grady Sizemore scuffle this spring, so could be newly motivated to take a shot on Viciedo.



Marlins Release Nick Masset

The Marlins have released right-handed reliever Nick Masset, the club announced. Masset, 32, signed as a minor league free agent and enjoyed Article XX(B) protection.

Once a consistently productive presence in the Reds’ pen, Masset traveled a long road back to the big leagues after undergoing multiple shoulder surgeries. He ended a two-year layoff last year, throwing 45 innings of 5.80 ERA ball for the Rockies but posting a more promising 4.33 FIP. Masset was able to deliver typically strong groundball results while striking out 7.2 and walking 4.8 batters per nine.

Miami obviously had decided not to give Masset a spot on its big league roster and preferred not to pay him a $100K bonus to stay in the upper minors. Masset has scuffled somewhat this spring, striking out only three batters and allowing nine earned runs in 11 innings of work, but ought to hold appeal to organizations seeking depth.


Phillies Release Kevin Slowey

The Phillies have announced the release of right-hander Kevin Slowey. The 30-year-old was in camp on a minor league deal.

Last year, Slowey threw 37 1/3 frames for the Marlins, working to a 5.30 ERA with 5.8 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. But his peripherals support some reason to believe there’s a reasonably productive arm to be had, as Slowey has averaged sub-4.00 FIP marks over 129 1/3 total innings in the last two seasons.

Slowey had good numbers this spring, allowing four earned over 9 2/3 while striking out seven and walking two. But it appears that he has lost the fifth starter’s battle to Sean O’Sullivan. Of course, as Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News notes on Twitter, the club figures to take a look at the arms that depart other organizations over the coming days.


Red Sox Release Felipe Paulino

The Red Sox have released righty Felipe Paulino, the club announced. As an Article XX(B) free agent, the 31-year-old would have required a $100K bonus to keep stashed in the upper minors.

Paulino struggled in minimal action last year with the White Sox as he worked back from Tommy John and shoulder surgery. After serving as a swingman for several years, Paulino was off to a very nice start as a starter with the Royals in 2012 when he began experiencing arm issues. This spring, he has allowed two hits and one earned run while striking out three and walking one in four innings of action.


NL West Notes: Garcia, Hatcher, McGowan, Bradley, Ray

Newly-inked Dodgers righty Freddy Garcia is now a client of the Praver/Shapiro agency, MLBTR has learned. It was reported last night that the long-time big leaguer was coming back from Taiwan to join the Los Angeles organization. As Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times explains things (on Twitter), injuries to Erik Bedard and Chad Gaudin opened up a need for innings and depth in the upper minors.

Here’s more from out west:

  • Righty Chris Hatcher played an important role in the Dodgers complicated swap with the Marlins this winter, but as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register explains, he has had a tough spring. Hatcher blames that in part on trying too hard to impress his new employer, though as Plunkett notes, he is still all but assured an important bullpen role to start the year.
  • Meanwhile, the team actually has something of a tough call to make on fellow righty Dustin McGowan, who is guaranteed the league minimum but stands to earn a $1MM roster bonus if he breaks camp with the club. McGowan has also struggled, perhaps leading to some question of whether he is worth that commitment. Of course, Los Angeles is not exactly overflowing with alternatives for these two veterans.
  • One somewhat surprising roster battle is shaping up as Diamondbacks camp closes, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Prospects Archie Bradley and Robbie Ray are in the mix for a bullpen slot, manager Chip Hale says, explaining that many young rotation members have had their first taste of big league action from the pen.

NL Central Notes: Maholm, Bucs, Bryant, EJax, Ricketts

Lefty Paul Maholm has a “standing offer” at Triple-A with the Reds, tweets Jon Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. At present, however, Maholm is looking to secure a big league deal if possible. He was released yesterday by Cincinnati.

Here’s more from the NL Central:

  • The Pirates have pillaged the Yankees in recent seasons, particularly in the catching department, as Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Both teams have placed significant value on pitch framing, but Sawchik suggests that perhaps Pittsburgh has remained more willing to commit to its ideas in that area. I’m not sure if they were ahead of us, we were ahead of them or if we arrived at this way of thinking at the same time. Actually, they were probably first,” said club GM Neal Huntington. “The two clubs evaluate catchers similarly.”
  • The agent for Cubs third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant, Scott Boras, says that starting the season without the game’s top big-league-ready prospect in the majors is tantamount to staging “ersatz baseball,” Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets“MLB is not MLB without the best players,” said Boras.
  • Cubs starter Edwin Jackson, himself a former Boras client, is still waiting to learn what his role will be in 2015, as ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers reports. It seems likely that he’s headed to a middle relief spot, in spite of the fact that he’s still owed $22MM by the team.
  • Cubs owner Tom Ricketts indicates that his organization is still executing on its plan to build steadily, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports“We knew that if we’re ever going to bring a World Series to Chicago, it’s to be disciplined, and build things the right way,” said Ricketts. We’ve done that. Now, it’s up to us to deliver that promise.” That goes for the team’s player assets as well as its efforts to rehabilitate Wrigley Field, as Nightengale explains.

NL East Notes: Duda, Wilpon, Gonzalez, Turner

The Mets and Lucas Duda intend to cut off extension negotiations when the season opens, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. It remains to be seen whether anything gets done, of course, especially since the 29-year-old still has just one complete season of strong performance on his ledger. A league executive tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that the comparables suggest a deal in the four-year, $30MM range could make sense, pointing to the cases of Allen Craig, Alex Gordon, and Billy Butler. In spite of his somewhat late start, Duda could have a higher earning capacity than that trio if he keeps hitting thirty-plus home runs.

  • One notable new feature of Mets camp has been the presence of owner Fred Wilpon, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. Though Wilpon has not said much publicly, he has been fairly visible and active behind the scenes, says Martino, consistently conveying the message that he expects winning baseball.
  • Phillies righty Miguel Gonzalez looks like he may never pay off on the team’s investment, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes, particularly since he has not managed to earn a job in spite of the team’s desperate need for arms. “He hasn’t pitched well enough to be a major league starter for us,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “His stuff and his command just weren’t good enough. It’s kind of simple. He needs to be better for us to utilize him in our rotation. He’ll go down and pitch and hopefully he improves. If he doesn’t, then he doesn’t.” Amaro continued to acknowledge: “He hasn’t performed as well as we would have liked. He may never perform as well as we would have liked, but that’s the risk you take. Sometimes, you’ve got to take a risk.”
  • Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post takes a look in at Nationals shortstop-to-be Trea Turner, who is currently still with the Padres until he can formally be sent to D.C. The club had to check with the league to see if the deal could be structured that way, and pulled the trigger when it found it would be permitted. Washington had been intrigued with Turner in last year’s draft, says Svrluga, and a strong entry into the professional ranks has only raised his stock. For his part, as he waits to get introduced to a new organization, Turner says that his former team has “treated me just like one of their players.”

Dodgers To Sign Freddy Garcia

The Dodgers have agreed to a minor league deal with veteran righty Freddy Garcia, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports on Twitter. Garcia, 38, agreed to sign with Taiwan’s EDA Rhinos last year.

While details of Garcia’s stint in Taiwan are hard to dig up, it appears that he at least threw a full season as the Taipei Times credits him with picking up a Gold Glove award. Garcia had seemed ticketed for the Braves rotation last spring before the club dropped him in favor of Aaron Harang — a decision that delivered Atlanta a surprisingly excellent season from Harang and sent Garcia out of the bigs for the first time since he broke into the league in 1999.

Garcia came up with the Mariners, promptly reeling off 200+ inning campaigns in seven of his first eight years. He carried a 4.01 ERA with 6.6 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 to that point. Injuries intervened, however, and Garcia did not even crack the 60-inning barrier from 2007 through 2009 (even while working as a starter).

He has been a useful swingman since then, however, and figures to provide a depth option for a Los Angeles club that is approaching the season looking somewhat thin on pitching.


Nationals Sign Reed Johnson To Minor League Deal

9:23pm: Johnson will earn $1MM if he makes the roster, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson tweets.

3:36pm: Though outfielder Reed Johnson was released by the Marlins earlier this morning, his brush with unemployment will apparently be fleeting, as the Nationals announced that they’ve signed him to a Minor League contract. Johnson, 38, will report to big league camp and be in the mix for a bench spot.

The Nationals could use some additional outfield depth with Denard Span likely out through mid-May and Jayson Werth unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. As I noted this morning in discussing Johnson’s release, while his overall work with the bat is light, he’s still a solid option against left-handed pitching. Johnson batted .303/.319/.409 in 69 PA against lefties last year and is a lifetime .310/.363/.454 hitter when facing opposite-handed pitching. He has experience in center field but is likely best suited for left field at this stage of his career.

It remains unclear exactly how the Nationals’ outfield situation will play out, but prospect Michael Taylor figures to slide into Span’s spot and receive the bulk of the playing time in center field.


Added To The 40-Man Roster: Monday

With teams making decisions on the final piece of their Opening Day rosters, especially regarding Article XX(B) players, we’ll keep tabs on the day’s moves to add non-roster invitees to the 40-man.

Right-handed relievers, somewhat unsurprisingly, dominate today’s news in this arena:

  • Lefty specialist Joe Thatcher has been added to the Astros‘ 40-man roster, Rosenthal reports on Twitter. The Article XX(B) veteran will receive a $1MM salary and can add an additional $1.3MM through incentives. If he can return to form, Thatcher could be quite a nice addition to a Houston pen that was an area targeted heavily for upgrades this offseason.
  • Fellow non-roster invitee Roberto Hernandez will also make the club, the Astros have announced. As MLBTR originally reported, Hernandez will earn $2.65MM on the year. The 34-year-old joined the fold in Houston late in the spring, but provides a sturdy and versatile presence as the club seeks to take the next step this year.

Earlier Updates

  • The Twins have announced that righty Blaine Boyer is now a member of the team’s major league roster. Boyer’s deal will pay him $750K at the big league level and includes up to $100K in incentives tied to appearances, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. MLBTR’s Zach Links recently spoke with Boyer about his interesting professional journey.
  • Likewise, right-handed Carlos Villanueva has been added to the Cardinals‘ 40-man roster, the club announced. That means that the veteran swingman will be entitled to a $2MM salary this year with St. Louis. Villanueva, 31, has racked up 863 2/3 MLB innings in 76 starts and over 300 relief appearances. Though he had only a 4.64 ERA last year with the Cubs, Villanueva’s peripherals earned him strong marks from ERA estimators.
  • The Indians have informed righty Anthony Swarzak that he will make the pen, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune tweets. Though it does not appear he has been officially added to the 40-man, that will need to occur. The 29-year-old has a 4.48 career ERA in 439 2/3 frames at the major league level, most of them coming from the pen. Swarzak will take home a $900K salary and can earn up to $350K in incentives.
  • Similarly, the Cubs have told southpaw Phil Coke that he will be on the club, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Coke had exercised his opt-out clause on Friday when he was not added to the 40-man at that time, says Rosenthal. Now, it appears he will receive the $2.25MM (and up to $900K in bonuses) that his deal allows; indeed, the team has now announced that his contract was selected.

MLBPA Issues Statement On Bryant, Prospect Promotions

The MLB Player’s Association has released a sternly worded statement (links to Twitter) regarding the Cubs’ decision to option super-prospect Kris Bryant to start the year.

“Today is a bad day for baseball. We all know that if @KrisBryant_23 were a combination of the greatest Players to play our great game, and perhaps he will be before it’s all said and done, the @Cubs still would have made the decision they made today. This decision, and other similar decisions made by clubs will be addressed in litigation, bargaining or both.”

There are several items in this statement to unpack, of course. For starters, it seems difficult to disagree with the sentiment that it is unfortunate for the game as a whole that Bryant will not start the year in the big leagues. While imagining a mutually agreeable rule tweak to make that happen in the future will not be easy, it certainly seems a worthy pursuit.

Then, there is the interesting second sentence, which seems to draw attention away from the Cubs’ particular decision and focus it instead on the set of incentives that seemingly made it inevitable. Certainly, those words strike a somewhat different posture than that adopted by Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras.

Finally, and most ominously, the union fired a parting shot suggesting that “litigation” could be a method employed in “address[ing]” the Bryant decision and others like it. Presumably, that refers to the possibility of pursuing grievance proceedings under the CBA, rather than some kind of action in open court, but it is interesting regardless because it suggests the union may seek to argue that weighing service time at the start of a player’s career violates the current iteration of the CBA.

Of course, the statement also notes that collective bargaining may be the route pursued to deal with the issue, and regardless of the MLBPA’s actual intentions, the union clearly wishes to put the league on notice that the promotion timeline of top prospects will be at or near the top of the labor agenda in the next round of bargaining. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has recently come out strongly in favor of some form of international draft, and both sides increasingly appear to be lining up their positions. Negotiations are expected to launch in earnest next winter.


Scott Downs Only Interested In MLB Offers

After being released today by the Indians, veteran lefty Scott Downs is seeking another opportunity. But Downs is only interested in a deal that would give him a major league roster spot, MLBTR has learned.

That insistence is understandable: the 39-year-old has thrown nothing but rehab innings at Triple-A over the last decade or so. At this point, he may simply prefer only to play at the game’s highest level.

Downs does have a fairly compelling resume. Prior to his struggles last year, he had carried an outstanding 2.33 ERA over 379 1/3 innings in seven seasons since shifting exclusively to the bullpen. And Downs has put up good numbers in Cactus League action this spring, where he has allowed just two earned runs while striking out five and walking two in 6 1/3 frames.


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Scott Downs

Marlins Place Rule 5 Pick Andrew McKirahan On Waivers

The Marlins have placed Rule 5 lefty Andrew McKirahan on waivers, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. McKirahan can be claimed by any team, but will be offered back to the Cubs if he makes it through waivers.

The 25-year-old has had plenty of success in the minors and reached Double-A last year with the Chicago organization. He seemed to have a reasonable chance at earning a role in the Miami pen, but it appears that the Fish will instead roll with Brad Hand as a second lefty. Reviews have been positive, so it would not be surprising to learn that another club intends to give McKirahan a look.