January 2012

Quick Hits: Branyan, Reds, Mariners, Astros

Links for Monday night…

  • Russell Branyan intends to play in 2012, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. Branyan posted a .197/.295/.370 line with the Diamondbacks and Angels in 2011, but hit 25 home runs in 2010.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty said he hopes to lock Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips up long-term, even though doing so would require major commitments, MLB.com youth correspondent Meggie Zahneis reports. "Everyone has to understand that these are expensive deals and there is only so much we can do," Jocketty said. An extension for Votto would likely require one of the largest deals in MLB history.
  • Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner argues that the Mariners should make another move or two, even if they don’t project to contend in 2012. There’s value in staying in the pennant race and the Mariners can maximize their chances of staying competitive by adding to the roster before Opening Day, Cameron writes.
  • Ben Badler of Baseball America offers scouting reports on six intriguing international players not named Yoenis Cespedes. Outfielder Jorge Soler, lefty Gerardo Concepcion and right Armando Rivero are worth watching, Badler writes.
  • Astros owner Jim Crane announced that the team will not be changing its name. “The Houston Astros are here to stay,” he said.

Blue Jays Notes: Fielder, Beltran, Cash

The Blue Jays held their State of the Franchise event tonight and president Paul Beeston, general manager Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell offered insights into the team’s past moves and future plans. The details:

  • Beeston expects the Blue Jays to make the postseason two or three times in the upcoming five seasons, Mike Wilner of Sportsnet Radio FAN 590 tweets.
  • Beeston said the Blue Jays did not view Prince Fielder as a fit because of his contract demands, Wilner tweets. Fielder signed for nine years, but the Blue Jays don’t offer players anything more than five.
  • Anthopoulos said two free agents turned down more years and more money from the Blue Jays to sign elsewhere this offseason, Wilner tweets.
  • Anthopoulos said the following about Carlos Beltran: "some guys don't want to play on turf, no matter how much you pay them. Some guys don't want to DH." (quote via Wilner on Twitter)
  • Farrell said former MLB catcher Kevin Cash will be an advance scout for the Blue Jays in 2012, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star tweets. The Blue Jays signed Cash as an amateur free agent in 1999 and he played in Toronto for three years. He last appeared in the Major Leagues in 2010.

Indians Notes: Lugo, Cabrera, Perez

Before Spring Training begins, the Indians will work to settle two unresolved arbitration cases and the uncertainty that surrounds Fausto Carmona/Roberto (Heredia) Hernandez. Here are some notes from Cleveland…

  • Talks between the Indians and Julio Lugo have fallen apart, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. The sides agreed to terms earlier this month, but it no longer appears that the move will become official. Bastian suggests a physical issue may have surfaced.
  • The arbitration hearing dates for Asdrubal Cabrera and Rafael Perez have been set, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. The Indians haven’t had an arbitration hearing since 1991, Hoynes writes.
  • No one is sure how long it will be before Carmona/Hernandez can join the team, Bastian explains. It seems unlikely that the Indians will have him by Opening Day since obtaining a visa and sorting through legal issues will take time.

The Latest On Yoenis Cespedes

Here's the latest on Yoenis Cespedes, who was officially declared a free agent last week…

  • "We are aware of the [Spring Training] dates," said agent Adam Katz to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). "We expect him to be in camp with one of the clubs." Katz also called the market for Cespedes "meaningful and aggressive."
  • The Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, and Tigers are five of the six clubs that have been in serious talks with Cespedes, reports ESPN's Jim Bowden (Twitter links). He is expected to travel to the United States in the next 7-10 days for face-to-face meetings.
  • Baseball America's Jim Callis said he would rank Cespedes in the 7-15 range of their top 100 prospects list, and that he would take over as the top prospect of pretty much any team that signs him.

Minor Moves: Delcarmen, Tolbert, Gonzalez

The latest minor moves from around MLB…

  • The Yankees signed Manny Delcarmen to a minor league contract, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. The right-hander, who last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2010, owns a 3.97 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 292 2/3 innings over the course of six MLB seasons. Delcarmen spent the 2011 season with the Triple-A clubs for the Rangers and Mariners.
  • The Cubs announced that they signed infielders Edgar Gonzalez and Matt Tolbert to minor league deals that include invitations to MLB Spring Training. Tolbert appeared at short, second and third for the 2011 Twins, posting a .518 OPS in 226 plate appearances. The Twins outrighted him off of their roster in October. Gonzalez, 33, picked up MLB experience with the Padres in 2008-09, but spent last year with San Francisco's top affiliate. He posted a .315/.378/.457 line in 564 Triple-A plate appearances last year.
  • The Cubs also confirmed their deals with Rodrigo Lopez, Manny Corpas, Trever Miller, Jason Jaramillo, Alfredo Amezaga, Bobby Scales and Joe Mather.

Orioles Notes: Gregg, Uehara, Trades

The Orioles signed Pat Neshek and Ronny Paulino today and also added 17-year-old Korean lefty Seong-Min Kim on a minor league deal. Here are some more notes on the club: 

  • Orioles right-hander Kevin Gregg told Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun that last year left a bad taste in his mouth. “I think we all have something to prove to ourselves and to the rest of the league," Gregg said. He posted a 4.37 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 6.0 BB/9 during his debut season in Baltimore. 
  • MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli has heard that the Orioles’ interest in re-acquiring Koji Uehara has been overstated. It doesn’t seem likely that the right-hander will be traded back to Baltimore at this point. He is drawing trade interest after posting a 2.35 ERA with 11.8 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 in 65 innings for the Orioles and Rangers in 2011. 
  • The Orioles aren’t comfortable with the demands potential trade partners are making, Encina reports. The Orioles discussed deals with the Cardinals and the Rangers, who are both looking to unload salary. The 2011 World Series foes have both been linked to Roy Oswalt in recent weeks.

Latest On Roy Oswalt

Free agent righty Roy Oswalt is scheduled to meet with the Rangers today, we learned last week from Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News.  The latest on the three-time All-Star:

  • The sides had a "good," exploratory meeting, Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports.
  • The Rangers met with Oswalt and the situation is ongoing and unresolved, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan tweets.
  • Oswalt let the Indians and Blue Jays know he has no interest, tweets Peter Gammons of MLB Network.  Oswalt clearly wants the Rangers or Cardinals, writes Gammons.  Gammons' tweet does not reference the Red Sox, who reportedly made an offer last week.  The Red Sox have not considered themselves out of the hunt, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  Oswalt's agent Bob Garber told me on Saturday his client has no chance of landing in a bullpen, so if the Rangers or Cardinals sign him, a corresponding move will be necessary. 

Contract Details: Red Sox, Indians, Reds

MLB.com’s beat reporters have passed along lots of contract details today. Here they are:

Brewers Sign Corey Patterson

The Brewers signed outfielder Corey Patterson to a minor league contract, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Patterson, a client of Jim Bronner and Bob Gilhooley, doesn't have an invitation to Major League Spring Training at the moment.

Patterson, 32, spent the 2011 season with the Blue Jays and Cardinals. He played all three outfield positions, posted a .239/.273/.359 line in 397 plate appearances, and stole 13 bases in 22 attempts. Patterson, who appeared in 11 games with the 2009 Brewers, has been an average defender since 2007, according to UZR.

Justin Ruggiano To Elect Free Agency

Outfielder Justin Ruggiano will decline his outright assignment and become a free agent, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. The Rays had designated him for assignment last week.

"It was a tough decision but in the end I had to do what was best for my career," Ruggiano said, according to Topkin.

Ruggiano appeared in 46 games for the Rays last year, playing all three outfield positions. The 29-year-old posted a .248/.273/.400 line in 111 plate appearances. Ruggiano, who also played for the Rays in 2007-08, is not yet arbitration eligible.