Orioles To Sign Rey Navarro To Major League Deal

The Orioles have signed infielder Rey Navarro to a major league contract, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.

Navarro, 25 in 2015, is coming off a solid season in the Reds farm system. He hit a combined .282/.343/.435 in 542 plate appearances split between Double-A and Triple-A. The switch hitter – originally signed by the Diamondbacks in 2007 – tied a career high with 12 home runs this season. His defense is his calling card, with Kubatko describing it as “plus” at shortstop. In 2011, Baseball America named him the best defensive second baseman in the Carolina League. It seems likely he will compete for a utility infield role.

Under GM Dan Duquette, the Orioles have used major league contracts to entice top minor league free agents, as they did earlier this week with Oliver Drake. Baltimore now has 38 players on their 40-man roster.


NL Notes: Kemp, Padres, Tomas, Phillies

The Dodgers might be more likely to deal Matt Kemp than is commonly believed, Jon Heyman of CBS writes. If the Dodgers did trade Kemp, they could rid themselves of a significant portion of the remainder of his contract. Also, the possibility that Joc Pederson will start the season in center field means that Kemp will have to play left, which isn’t his preference. The Dodgers will “certainly” trade at least one outfielder, Heyman writes, and it’s increasingly likely that it will be Kemp. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • The Padres are reportedly involved in the bidding for Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas, but their history suggests they aren’t likely to sign either, Kirk Kenney of the Union-Tribune writes. Decades ago, the team came up short in bidding for Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson and Pete Rose, and Kenney writes that the Friars haven’t signed a significant free agent since Goose Gossage in 1983. Players like Greg Vaughn (who re-signed with the Padres as a free agent after the 1996 season) and Brian Giles (who did the same after 2005) might have something to say about that, but there’s little doubt that big free agent signings aren’t the Padres’ usual way of doing business.
  • A recent report indicated the Phillies‘ level of interest in Tomas might now be diminished due to worries about his defense. But defense should be a secondary consideration if Tomas shows he has the bat to produce runs in today’s pitching-dominated game, Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com writes. There are plenty of good defenders available, Seidman argues, but few dominating hitters.

Pablo Sandoval Rumors: Saturday

Here’s the latest on free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, with the day’s latest stories at the top.

  • The Red Sox, Padres and Giants have all submitted offers, and Sandoval will make his choice next week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.
  • The Padres have made the most expensive offer to Sandoval so far, but Sandoval is still more likely to pick the Red Sox, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Previous reporting indicated the Red Sox had offered Sandoval five years and $95MM, so the Padres’ offer appears to be worth more than that. The Giants will turn their attention to Yasmany Tomas if Sandoval departs.
  • Preller and the Padres made a “very serious” offer to Sandoval, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes.
  • The Blue Jays have not had contact with Sandoval’s camp in the last two days, suggesting that they are not a key bidder for Sandoval at this time, Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca writes.
  • The Giants have received no indication that they trail the Red Sox in the race to land Sandoval, Rosenthal tweets.
  • Echoing Rosenthal, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that the Giants still believe they’re in contention to re-sign Sandoval. Cafardo wrote yesterday that the Red Sox had extended Sandoval a five-year, $95MM offer.
  • Padres GM A.J. Preller, meanwhile, was in Miami on Friday to meet with Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes. He is expected to fly to the Dominican Republic today to meet with Tomas’ representation. Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Padres would make a formal offer to Sandoval on Friday. The Padres have joined the Giants and Red Sox as the key contenders to sign Sandoval, and the Braves as one of the key teams in the bidding for Tomas.


MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Episode 7

After running down a busy week of transactions, Jeff is joined by Steve Adams to discuss where their free agent predictions stand after the early market moves (1:30), and goes on to recommend some resources for assessing the payroll obligations that will set the parameters for teams in the winter to come (29:10).

Podcast

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! You can download the episode directly with this link.

You can access the podcast via SoundCloud at this link. The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


West Notes: Giants, Baldoquin, Hultzen

Every NL West team has undergone significant front office changes in the last few months except the Giants, whose GM, Brian Sabean, has been on the job since 1996, writes ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. New Rockies GM Jeff Bridich and Padres GM A.J. Preller were college freshmen when Sabean was hired. Bridich, Preller, Dave Stewart of the Diamondbacks, and Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi of the Dodgers will now attempt to build franchises that work as smoothly as the Giants’ has lately. “Our goal starting now is to have continuity as far as we can see out,” says Friedman. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Angels‘ pact with Cuban infield prospect Roberto Baldoquin was surprising, but MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes that it made sense in part because, since trading Jean Segura, the Angels didn’t have a young infielder to take over once Howie Kendrick, David Freese or Erick Aybar departed. Also, the Angels won’t be able to sign any player subject to international bonus pools for more than $300K in the next two signing periods, but that isn’t a huge factor for them, since they rarely do that anyway.
  • The Mariners have been granted an extra option on pitcher Danny Hultzen, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Hultzen missed the 2014 season after having shoulder surgery. Hultzen exhausted his option seasons early because the Mariners signed him to a big-league contract after selecting him second overall in the 2011 draft. He has pitched sparingly since 2012, his first pro season. He should be healthy in 2015, although Dutton notes that the Mariners are likely to carefully monitor his workload.

Central Notes: Swisher, Hunter, Reds, Blanco

Nick Swisher‘s contract with the Indians now fits on a long list of contracts teams would love to unload, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Swisher hasn’t been productive in his contract so far and he has two years and $30MM left, plus a vesting option for 2017. Pluto guesses that Swisher will end up back in Cleveland in 2015 despite recent trade rumors. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.

  • GM Walt Jocketty says the Reds aren’t really close” on any significant moves, the Enquirer’s John Fay reports. Jocketty also would not confirm whether the club has interest in free agent outfielder Torii Hunter, the way he did with Nori Aoki and Michael Morse. “I don’t want to got into that,” says Jocketty. “When I talked about Aoki, I got hounded by the media. Let’s put this way: We’re talking to a lot of agents, and (Hunter) is a pretty good player.” The Blue Jays, Royals, Twins and other teams have recently been connected to Hunter.
  • The Cubs have hired Henry Blanco away from the Diamondbacks, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets. Blanco will serve as the quality assurance coach under new manager Joe Maddon. Blanco, of course, was a catcher for the Cubs from 2005 through 2008. He joined with the Diamondbacks after retiring as a player prior to the 2014 season.

Minor Moves: Buck Britton, Carlos Triunfel

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

  • The Dodgers have signed infielder Buck Britton to a minor league deal, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Britton, the brother of Orioles reliever Zach, had spent the previous seven years in Baltimore’s system. Last season, the 28-year-old hit .289/.345/.453 in 505 plate appearances split between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, primarily playing second base and third base.
  • The Giants have signed infielder Carlos Triunfel and lefty Braulio Lara to minor-league deals, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. Triunfel hit just .223/.256/.330 for hitter-friendly Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014, mostly playing the two middle infield positions. The Dodgers outrighted him in September. The 25-year-old Lara posted a 5.77 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 57 2/3 innings of relief in a 2014 season spent in the upper minors of the Rays’ system.

Twins Win Bidding For Hyeon-jong Yang

The Twins have won the bidding for Korean lefty Hyeon-jong Yang and are nearing agreement on a deal, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. The Kia Tigers posted Yang earlier this week. The Twins have a 30-day negotiating window with Yang.

Yang, who will be 27 in March, posted a 4.25 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 165 innings in Korea in 2014. Those numbers don’t sound that impressive at first, but each team scores an average of 5.63 runs per game in the offense-heavy KBO, far higher than in the Majors, and Yang’s season earned him the KBO’s equivalent of the Cy Young award. Yang is viewed as a mid-rotation starter with No. 2 starter upside, the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand reports. Yang has a smooth delivery and throws 92-95 MPH.

Feinsand had named the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Astros as teams that could have interest in Yang. The Red Sox also reportedly had interest. The Padres recently won the bidding for another KBO pitcher, Kwang-hyun Kim, for $2MM, although the top bid for Yang was expected to cost more.

The Twins were expected to pursue starting pitching this offseason, and Yang should give them an option to accompany Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson and Ricky Nolasco. Twins starters posted a league-worst 5.06 ERA in 2014.


Week In Review: 11/15/14 – 11/21/14

Here’s a look back at this week at MLBTR, a week in which teams set their rosters in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.

Key Moves

Signed / Agreed To Terms

Traded

Avoided Arbitration

Exercised Team Option

Designated For Assignment

Claimed

Outrighted

Released

Key Minor League Signings

  • Mariners - P Misael Silverio (link)

Other


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Week In Review

Wily Mo Pena Becomes Free Agent; Twins Interested

Wily Mo Pena, previously with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan, has become a free agent, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. Berardino further notes that there is mutual interest between Pena and the Twins.

MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in September that Pena would look for a deal with a US team, noting at the time that three clubs were interested. The huge 1B/OF hit 32 homers in Japan last season, batting .255/.344/.486 for Orix after playing two seasons for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. The 32-year-old Pena, who last appeared in the big leagues in 2011, struggled in parts of eight seasons in the states despite his prodigious power. After a strong season in Japan, though, big-league teams could view him as a potential option to improve their lineups, perhaps particularly at DH and against lefties.


Braves Release Venters, Designate Pena

FRIDAY: Atlanta has released Venters, per the MLB.com transactions page.

WEDNESDAY: The Braves have designated left-hander Jonny Venters and infielder Ramiro Pena for assignment, according to the team’s transactions page. Additionally, the team has added Brandon Cunniff, Yean Carlos Gil, Kyle Kubitza, Williams Perez, Mauricio Cabrera and top prospect Jose Peraza to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.

The 29-year-old Venters was an elite setup man with Atlanta from 2010-12 but underwent Tommy John surgery — the second of his career — that kept him out for all of the 2013 season. Venters rehabbed the injury through August of this season before learning that he had re-torn the ligament. In September, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that Venters would undergo a third Tommy John and attempt to make a comeback. Venters has a 2.23 ERA in three career seasons to go along with an average of 10.1 strikeouts and 4.3 walks per nine innings pitched.

Pena, 29, batted .245/.304/.347 in 165 plate appearances for the Braves this season — a decline from the .278/.330/.443 line he posted in 107 PA the previous year. Pena has more than four years of big league service as a utility player with the Yankees and Braves. He’s a career .244/.288/.330 hitter in 610 PAs at the big league level.

Both Venters and Pena were arbitration eligible. Venters would have earned either the same $1.6MM he made in 2014 or slightly less, had he gone through arb, while MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Pena to earn $900K.


Minor Moves: Satin, Kensing, Romak, Orioles, Billings, Avery

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

Earlier Updates

  • The D’Backs have agreed to terms on a minor league deal and a Spring Training invite with infielder/outfielder Jamie Romak, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweeted today. The 29-year-old Romak, a client of Taurus Sports’ David Sloane, made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2014 and collected his first hit in the Majors. The former fourth-rounder is a lifetime .258/.324/.474 hitter at Triple-A.
  • The Orioles announced the signings of infielder Paul Janish, right-hander Terry Doyle and outfielder Quincy Latimore to minor league contracts and invitations to big league Spring Training. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo was the first to tweet Janish’s agreement, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com had previously reported that the team was working on a deal with him. Janish is the only one of the bunch that comes with MLB experience; the 32-year-old defensive specialist is a career .214/.284/.288 hitter in 1206 plate appearances between the Reds and Braves.
  • The Nationals announced that they have signed right-hander Bruce Billings to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 29-year-old Billings pitched four innings for the Yankees last season and split the season between the Yankees and Dodgers organizations. Overall, the veteran posted a 5.27 ERA with 6. K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings.
  • Outfielder Xavier Avery has inked a minor league deal with the Tigers and will receive a Spring Training invite as well, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The 24-year-old Avery spent last season with the Mariners after being acquired from the Orioles in the 2013 Mike Morse trade. Avery hit .275/.344/.413 with 10 homers and 31 steals, appearing at all three outfield spots for Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014.

Red Sox Offer Sandoval Five Years, $95MM; Padres Offer Expected Today

As of late last night, the Padres, Red Sox and Giants were said to be the three primary suitors for Pablo Sandoval, with the White Sox and Blue Jays reportedly more on the periphery. As the Panda draws nearer to a decision, we’ll run down the latest rumors from today in this post…

  • The Red Sox have made Sandoval a five-year, $95MM offer, per a report from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The status of other offers is less certain, with Cafardo noting that it is not known whether a sixth year option has been put on the table by another club and saying only that Boston may have the highest offer out.
  • The Padres will make a formal offer to Sandoval today, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). A report last night indicated that the Pads, along with the Red Sox and Giants, were all interested in Sandoval at somewhere in the $90-95MM range over five years.

International Notes: Emery, Moncada, Hernandez, Quiala

The Yankees have inked Colombian outfielder Bryan Emery, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America, which means both that all of BA’s top thirty international free agents have signed and that ten have gone to New York. Emery will take home a $500K bonus, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. That adds on to an already remarkable level of spending for the Bronx Bombers, who will of course have to match their commitment to Emery in penalties.

Here’s more from the international scene:

  • There was some thought that the Angels‘ bonus pool-busting signing of Roberto Baldoquin may have been a prelude to a bigger outlay on Yoan Moncada. But there is “not a chance” that the team will pursue high-budget players such as Moncada or Yasmany Tomas, a source tells Dylan Hernandez of MLB.com (Twitter link).
  • Like the Halos, the Red Sox have already reached the maximum level of international penalties. The club is performing “due diligence” on Moncada, amateur international scouting director Eddie Romero tells Alex Speier of WEEI.comIt was a good opportunity just to lay eyes on him, to see him physically for the first time. He’s in tremendous shape, tremendous shape,” said Romero. “We’ll do our due diligence there and see where it goes.”
  • Jorge Hernandez and Yoanys Quiala, both pitchers out of Cuba, have each been declared free agents by MLB, according to a tweet from Jorge Arangure of Vice Sports. They are considered “good young talents,” per Arangure.

White Sox To Sign Adam LaRoche

The White Sox have signed first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year, $25MM deal, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. LaRoche is a client of Relativity Sports’ Mike Milchin.

Adam LaRoche

Left-handed power has been a priority for the Sox this offseason, and LaRoche will bring just that to the table, having averaged 26 homers per year over the past three seasons to go along with a solid .256/.346/.458 batting line in that same span. LaRoche will team up with American League Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu to create a formidable punch in the middle of manager Robin Ventura’s order. He’s regarded as a plus defender at first base, although he may see some more time at designated hitter with Abreu also figuring to log significant innings at first.

LaRoche has spent the past four seasons with the Nationals but will now move to a much more hitter-friendly environment in the form of U.S. Cellular Field, which should only serve to boost his already solid power marks. However, LaRoche does come with a sizable platoon split, having batted just .201/.269/.325 against southpaws over the past two seasons after a more promising line of .268/.319/.506 in his excellent 2012 season, when he finished sixth in the NL MVP voting.

The 35-year-old LaRoche reportedly had a two-year, $20MM offer from the Marlins and has also been connected to the Padres, but he’ll instead head to the south side of Chicago where GM Rick Hahn is acting quickly to build a team that has eyes on contention in the near future. (In a free agent profile for LaRoche, I was a bit more bullish, pegging him for $30MM over this same two-year term.) In addition to Abreu, the Sox have a pair of nice young outfielders in Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia, and the rotation is fronted by a stellar combination of Chris Sale and Jose QuintanaCarlos Rodon, the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft, looms as a possible addition to that duo.

LaRoche is the second major free agent signing for Hahn and his lieutenants this week, as the Sox also inked southpaw reliever Zach Duke to a three-year, $15MM contract on the heels of a dominant season that can be largely credited to altering his delivery. Chicago still figures to add at least one more relief arm and could entertain trades for shortstop Alexei Ramirez, as has been rumored of late, but Hahn’s aggressiveness signals a clear goal of putting a contending group on the field in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.