September 2012

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White Sox Sign Johan Cruz

We'll keep track of tonight's international signings here..

  • The White Sox finalized the signing of Dominican shortstop Johan Cruz with a $450K deal, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (via Twitter).  Cruz, a 6'1" right-handed hitter, was the club's only pickup from the July 2nd class of this year.



Managerial Notes: Francona, Indians, Varitek

Soon after the Indians dismissed Manny Acta yesterday afternoon, it was reported that former MLB player Sandy Alomar Jr. is favored to obtain the permanent managerial position in Cleveland. Terry Francona, another candidate for the job, has already had some contact with the Indians. Here are today's managerial links...

  • Francona confirmed that he's interested in managing the Indians and that he plans to interview for the position at some point, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (Twitter links). "I wouldn't come in and interview if I wasn't [interested]," Francona said.
  • There’s mutual interest between Francona and the Indians, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports (Twitter link). Gammons points out that a peaceful, understanding environment may be more important than money to Francona, whose tenure in Boston ended poorly. The sides will have a better sense of how to proceed after the weekend, Gammons writes.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio that Francona and Alomar are the only two candidates that the team is "publicly acknowledging at this point" (Twitter link).
  • Jason Varitek joined the Red Sox as a special assistant, but declined to speculate about his future as an MLB manager. “I'm not in a position to make that a 'yes' or 'no' at this point,” he told reporters, including Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter link).



Latest On Angels, Torii Hunter

Angels owner Arte Moreno told Roger Lodge of KLAA that he realizes fans want Torii Hunter to re-sign when he hits free agency this coming offseason. "If we don't figure out a way to re-sign him, we're going to get hung, aren't we?" Moreno said. Here’s the latest on Hunter, who has repeatedly stated his preference for staying in Anaheim...

  • There are indications Hunter will return, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times writes. Hunter came away from a recent meeting with GM Jerry Dipoto convinced that the Angels will make a strong push to bring him back, DiGiovanna reports.
  • Hunter, 37, believes he has two or three seasons left and the Angels don’t necessarily disagree, Yahoo’s Tim Brown reports. Hunter has 16 homers and a .306/.358/.446 batting line in 2012, his 16th MLB season.



Phillies Acquire Stefan Jarrin

The Phillies announced that they have acquired infielder Stefan Jarrin from the Dodgers. The move completes the July 31st trade that sent Shane Victorino to Los Angeles for Ethan Martin, Josh Lindblom and player to be named or cash.

Jarrin, 22, spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Dodgers' Rookie ball affiliate. The 2011 40th round selection has a .211/.309/.336 batting line in 175 plate appearances over the course of two seasons with the Arizona League Dodgers. He played one game at shortstop but has spent most of his professional career at second base. Jaime Jarrin, the Hall of Fame Spanish language broadcaster of the Dodgers, is Stefan Jarrin's grandfather.



Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Antonetti, Ortiz, Royals

One year ago today, the Red Sox and Braves completed their September collapses on the final day of the regular season. Boston lost to the Orioles to allow the Rays to make the postseason while Atlanta fell to the Phillies, opening the door for the Cardinals to make their World Series run. With six days to go in the 2012 regular season, there are still six of ten playoff spots up for grabs and nine total teams within two games of them. Here's the latest from around the web...

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here. Only one email per week, please.



Bottom Nine Teams Obtain Protected Picks

For MLB teams to obtain a protected first round draft pick in 2013, they will have to finish this year with one of the nine worst records in baseball. Though the top ten draft choices are protected under the sport’s new collective bargaining agreement, one of those selections will go to the Pirates, who did not sign their 2012 first round pick, Mark Appel. This means the nine teams with the worst records in baseball will have protected first round selections in 2013, MLB confirmed to MLBTR.

MLB determines the order of its amateur draft by upending the order of the previous year’s standings. As MLBTR’s Reverse Standings page shows, the Astros, Cubs, Rockies, Twins, Indians, Marlins, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Royals would obtain protected draft picks if the season ended today. The Mets, Marlins and Padres could obtain protected draft picks depending on the results of the season’s final week.

Teams must forfeit a draft pick to sign a free agent who declined a qualifying offer from his former club. If a team's first round pick is protected, the team will forfeit its next highest selection.

“A Club that signs one Qualified Free Agent who is subject to compensation shall forfeit its highest available selection in the next Rule 4 Draft,” the CBA reads. “Notwithstanding the above, a Club shall not be required to forfeit a selection in the top ten of the first round.”

Top first round selections are especially valuable under baseball’s CBA. Not only does a top-ten draft choice provide teams with a wider selection of players, it assures them of a protected pick, regardless of what happens in free agency. 

While the top ten selections cannot be forfeited as draft pick compensation, picks from 11 on are vulnerable. This year finishing with the tenth-worst record in MLB won't be enough to obtain a protected pick.



Twins Release Tsuyoshi Nishioka

The Twins announced that they have unconditionally released Tsuyoshi Nishioka at the infielder's request. Nishioka had been under contract for 2013, but he will relieve the Twins of the $3.25MM remaining on his contract. Nishioka thanked his fans and the Twins in a statement released by the team.

"I take full responsibility for my performance which was below my own expectations," Nishioka said. "At this time, I have made the decision that it is time to part ways. I have no regrets and know that only through struggle can a person grow stronger."

Nishioka signed a three-year, $9MM contract with the Twins before the 2011 season. The Twins are no longer responsible for his $3MM salary in 2013 or for the $250K buyout on his 2014 contract option.

Nishioka, 28, appeared in 68 games with the Twins last year but missed considerable time with a broken leg suffered early in the season. He has spent most of the 2012 season at Triple-A, where he posted a .258/.315/.324 batting line in 431 plate appearances.

It's rare for an MLB player to pass up guaranteed money. Royals starter Gil Meche walked away from $12MM before the 2011 season.



Colletti On Gonzalez, Crawford, Mattingly

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti confirmed that he and manager Don Mattingly will return in 2013, Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com reports. The GM also reflected on the eventful 2012 season in an extended interview with Bloom. Here are some highlights...

  • Colletti explained that the team’s midseason trades should help the team in 2013 and beyond, regardless of whether the Dodgers make the playoffs this year. “When we made these trades, we thought that these players were going to be with us for a while,” Colletti said.
  • The GM said he'll be pleased if Gonzalez can continue producing at this clip for the remainder of his Dodgers career. Gonzalez has a .276/.328/.431 batting line with 21 RBI in 134 plate appearances.
  • There’s a chance Carl Crawford will open the 2013 season with the Dodgers, Colletti said. The left fielder’s throwing arm should be at full strength by May, but he could open the season with the club if he’s progressing well.
  • Colletti said it’s been a great experience working with the Dodgers’ new ownership group, including veteran MLB executive Stan Kasten. “He's someone who understands baseball very well,” Colletti said. “He's been in the game for three decades.” 
  • Manager Don Mattingly succeeds for a variety of reasons, Colletti said. “He continues to learn every day. He's open-minded. He's ultra-competitive. And a very hard worker.”



Drew Could Return To A’s In 2013

No one with the Athletics is discounting the possibility of bringing Stephen Drew back for another season, even though most believe his $10MM option would be overly expensive, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Drew’s contract includes a $10MM mutual option for 2013 ($1.35MM buyout) and even if he hasn’t considered his options thoroughly, he’s open to the idea of returning.

“I know I have an option and I've got to sit down and discuss it with my family,” Drew told Slusser. “So far, I haven't really thought about it, I just want help this team win."

Many baseball people believe the 29-year-old would be wise to explore his options in free agency, Slusser reports. Shortstops are at a premium, so one person suggested the market for a player such as Drew would be “robust.” He appears to have recovered from the ankle injury that sidelined him for the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, posting a .269/.331/.400 batting line with Oakland since being acquired from Arizona on August 20th.



Quick Hits: Varitek, Rockies, Haren, Diamondbacks

Earlier tonight, the Red Sox announced that Jason Varitek will serve as a special assistant to General Manager Ben Cherington.  “Jason was one of the most respected players of his era and will be a key voice as we move forward,” said the GM. “He will be involved in a number of areas including Major League personnel decisions, evaluations, and mentorship and instruction of young players. We are fortunate to have him in this role.”  The former catcher has long been rumored to be on the verge of a role with the club, but yesterday we learned that he would not be in the mix for the managerial job.  Here's more from around baseball..

  • Rockies manager Jim Tracy says that he wants to return in 2013 despite a difficult season in which the team is set to post its worst record in franchise history, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.  The Rockies plan to discuss their managerial position but so far have made it sound as though Tracy is safe.
  • Dan Haren is less-than-thrilled about a report earlier this week that indicated the Angels are leaning towards turning down options for him and Ervin Santana this offseason, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.  Haren says that he and his fellow pitcher are dialed in on the season at hand and are not giving any thought to their respective contract situations.
  • Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic evaluates Trevor Cahill's performance with the Diamondbacks since being acquired from Oakland in December.  While Cahill hasn't given the club everything all that they could have hoped for, the 24-year-old has still delivered a reasonably strong year.









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