March 2011

Dodgers Designate Link, Lindsey For Assignment

The Dodgers have designated reliever Jon Link and first baseman John Lindsey for assignment, the club has confirmed.

Link, a 27-year-old right-hander, made his Major League debut with Los Angeles in 2010, appearing in nine games, after spending time in the Padres and White Sox organizations. For his minor league career, he has a 3.84 ERA, 9.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.

Lindsey, 34, debuted in the bigs with the Dodgers in 2010 after a lengthy minor league career. He appeared in 11 games with the big club after a 16-year minors career in which he posted a respectable .284/.361/.478 line in 6,342 plate appearances. Lindsey was a 13th-round pick of the Rockies in 1995.

Minor Moves: Braves, Red Sox, White Sox

A few minor league moves of note as organizations continue to shuffle their affiliates' rosters…

  • The Braves released left-hander Brett DeVall, a sandwich-round pick in 2008 (40th overall), tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. DeVall is still only 21, but elbow troubles limited him to just 160 innings at Class A Rome the past two seasons, according to Eddy. For his career, DeVall has a 3.92 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. Atlanta selected DeVall with the pick it received for the loss of Ron Mahay – whom it acquired with Mark Teixeira from Texas – to free agency following the 2007 campaign.
  • The Braves have acquired utilityman Marcus Lemon from the Rangers for a player to be named, tweets Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. Lemon, 23 in June, was a fourth-round pick of Texas in 2006, and has a career .274/.348/.372 line in five minor league campaigns, topping out at Double-A Frisco the past two seasons. He was drafted as a shortstop but began moving around the diamond in 2009.
  • The Red Sox released right-handed reliever Bryce Cox, tweets Eddy. Bryce was a third-round pick out of Rice in 2006, and he was ultimately felled by a 5.7 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 96 career outings with Double-A Portland, according to Eddy.
  • The Red Sox also released first baseman Aaron Bates, utility man Ryan Khoury and right-hander Adam Mills, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. Bates (who had a cup of coffee with Boston in 2009) and Khoury were selected in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, in the third and 12th rounds, respectively, while Mills went in the ninth round in 2007.
  • The White Sox released infielder C.J. Retherford, tweets Eddy. Retherford, 25, was a fairly promising prospect at Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham in 2008 and '09, respectively, but he struggled at two stops last season, notes Eddy. For his four-year minor league career, he has a .273/.327/.442 line.

Quick Hits: Ethier, Buehrle, 2011 Salaries

A few items of note as Opening Day 2011 winds down …

  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti confirmed that he and Andre Ethier's agent, Nez Balelo, have had vague discussions about a contract extension for the outfielder, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. We first learned of the extension talks Wednesday, when Balelo issued a statement in which he said the subject had been broached but no formal offer was made.
  • White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle has no idea about whether he factors into the South Siders' long-term plans, writes Scott Merkin of Buehrle is in the final year of a contract extension he signed during the 2007 campaign and said, "if [extension] talks do happen, I'm sure my agent will let me know or the White Sox will let me know."
  • USA Today has published its list of the payrolls of the 30 Major League clubs. Not surprisingly, the Yankees pull in at No. 1 at roughly $202MM while the Royals are No. 30 at roughly $36MM. Interestingly, the AL Central has the most top-10 teams between the White Sox, Twins and Tigers, writes Bob Nightengale.

Phillies Sign Ronnie Belliard

The Phillies have signed infielder Ronnie Belliard to a minor league contract, tweets Todd Zolecki of

Belliard, released by the Yankees on Monday, will report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, according to Zolecki. Presumably, the move was made for injury insurance at the infield positions, where the Phils are thin between second baseman Chase Utley being shelved and third baseman Placido Polanco coming off offseason elbow surgery.

Yesterday, the Phillies released Luis Castillo, eliminating him from contention for the second-base gig. So, it looks like the Phils will go with Wilson Valdez as the starter there for now.

Belliard, 35, hit .216/.295/.327 in 185 plate appearances for the Dodgers last year, playing first, second and third.

NY Notes: Hernandez, Misch, Yanks Rotation

One New York team, the Mets, rested today while the other, the Yankees, opened their season with a win over the Tigers. Here are some items of note for each of Gotham's big league ballclubs …

  • Luis Hernandez has decided to remain with the Mets organization after clearing waivers, according to Adam Rubin of The second baseman, rumored at one point during Spring Training to be the favorite to win the starting job at second base, will report to Triple-A Buffalo rather than testing free agency.
  • Similarly, left-hander Pat Misch has opted to stay with the organization after clearing waivers, writes Rubin. Misch, too, will report to Triple-A Buffalo.
  • All the conjecture over the state of the Yankees' rotation came to an end today, at the outset of the regular season, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Despite the attention paid to the state of the Bombers' rotation this offseason and spring, Sherman writes, their starting five was hardly a sure thing in 2010, when they managed to win 95 games and reach the ALCS. As with last season, the lineup and bullpen are very strong, but it will be interesting to see how the spotty rotation plays out and whether GM Brian Cashman makes any in-season moves in the event that things don't work out between A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia. No team's Nos. 1-5 starters are perfect, of course, but as Sherman notes, the Red Sox and Rays appear to have the better rotations in the AL East on paper as of now.

D’Backs Sign Josh Wilson

The Diamondbacks signed infielder Josh Wilson to a minor league deal, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter links). Wilson, who was released by the Mariners earlier in the week, will report to Triple-A Reno.

Wilson appeared in 11 games for Arizona during the 2009 season before playing for the Padres and Mariners. In 388 plate appearances for Seattle last year, Wilson posted a .227/.278/.294 line as a utility infielder. Though he's primarily a shortstop, Wilson has pitched three times and played every infield position.

Blue Jays Have Not Approached Hill About Options

Aaron Hill told Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star that the Blue Jays have not approached him about the options they have for his 2012-14 seasons (Twitter link). The Blue Jays can exercise all three options before the season for $26MM total, exercise the 2012-13 options after the season for $16MM total or decline the options and allow Hill to hit free agency next fall.

As Griffin points out, it does not appear that the Blue Jays will exercise the three options before the season, which means Hill will either become a free agent after the season or see the Blue Jays exercise his 2012-13 options for $16MM total.

No qualified hitter in baseball had a lower batting average on balls in play than Hill last year, an indication that the second baseman was unlucky. Hill, who turned 29 last week, finished the 2010 season with 26 homers and an unusual .205/.271/.394 batting line.

Wade Davis, Agent Take Calculated Risk

The Rays acknowledge that they took a significant risk when they invested $12.6MM in a pitcher who has appeared in just 35 big league games. Wade Davis signed for more guaranteed money than any pitcher in his service class (one-plus years), but he took on a different kind of risk.

Davis’ agent, B.B. Abbott, acknowledges that there’s a chance his client will earn millions less than he would have obtained by going year to year and hitting free agency after 2015. It could amount to a $6-8MM discount for the Rays, but Abbott says it's a worthwhile tradeoff for Davis, who gets guaranteed money and security.

"I don't think anyone can definitively tell you that it's the wrong deal or a bad deal or a good deal," Abbott told MLBTR. "It was just the right deal for Wade and the right deal for the team."

It's a contract that will allow Davis to enter free agency in time for a major free agent payday. Even if the Rays exercise their three team options, Davis will hit the open market as a 32-year-old with $35.1MM in his bank account. He was flattered that the Rays considered him worthy of such substantial investment after just one full season.

"It doesn’t seem to happen a whole lot in baseball, so it’s a huge compliment and something that I’m looking forward to," Davis said on a conference call earlier today.

The Rays made a similar investment in James Shields after the 2007 season and though 2010 was disappointing, he has put together three consecutive 200-inning seasons under his current contract. Shields was one of the main points of reference for the Davis deal, along with Brett Anderson, who had the record for one-plus pitchers ($12.5MM guarantee) until Davis signed. Chad Billingsley, who just signed an extension of his own, and Matt Garza were other comparable pitchers relevant to the negotiations between Davis, Abbott and the Rays. 

Friedman, Rays Take Calculated Risk With Deal

Wade Davis has appeared in 35 big league games and today the Rays signed him to a deal that could pay him over $35MM. Davis gets a $12.6MM guarantee from an organization that will spend just $41MM on its entire roster this year, so Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman fully acknowledges he's taking a risk. But the Rays didn't want to pass up the opportunity to sign a core player long-term.

"I think the one thing that we’ve really demonstrated over the years is how important these investments are for our organization," Friedman said via conference call. "We’ve been aggressive at that core that we can keep in place for a number of years and hopefully sustain success in this division."

Friedman locked up current Rays Evan Longoria, James Shields and Ben Zobrist to similar club option-heavy deals to provide the team with flexibility. The since-departed Carlos Pena and Scott Kazmir also signed extensions with the Rays since Friedman took over baseball operations in 2006.

The Rays wanted to add Davis to the list of players they've signed long-term, partly because they like his ability and his character. However, talent and dedication don't eliminate the risk inherent in signing a rookie pitcher to a multiyear deal.

"There’s no question that the injury rate is much higher with a pitcher than a position players and that fairly intuitive," Friedman said. "That’s why it’s so important for us in the sense of how well we know our guys – what their makeup is, the work ethic, how driven they are and it’s something that Wade fits into very, very well on all those fronts."

There’s another reason the Rays signed Davis long-term, though it’s impossible to quantify. Friedman says multiyear deals allow players to focus entirely on baseball and not on the money they may or may not make through arbitration or free agency. Davis, who considered the deal carefully before signing, agrees.

"The biggest thing for me is to be able to relax and I think it’s like that with anybody when they’re able to relax on the baseball field and just go all out out there," Davis said.


Jermaine Dye To Retire

After 14 seasons and 325 home runs in the Major Leagues, Jermaine Dye is retiring, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Dye, 37, last played in 2009, though he considered returning to the majors in 2010 and 2011.

Dye, a 17th round selection in 1993, hit 325 homers in his career with a .274/.338/.488 line. He played for the Royals, White Sox and Athletics after breaking in with the Braves as a 22-year-old in 1996. The two-time All-Star and 2006 Silver Slugger recipient was the World Series MVP in 2005 when the White Sox won the World Series.

Dye was traded twice; he went from the Braves to the Royals in 1997 and from the Royals to the A's in a three-team trade in 2001. He earned just shy of $75MM in his career, according to Baseball-Reference.

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