March 2013

Reds Designate Donald; Outright Arredondo

The Reds have designated infielder Jason Donald for assignment and outrighted right-hander Jose Arredondo to Triple-A, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Donald and Arredondo were both out of options. The Reds now have ten days to either trade, release, or outright Donald to the minors. Arredondo has already cleared waivers, reports Fay (via Twitter).

Donald, acquired from the Indians in the Shin-Soo Choo trade, was beat out by non-roster invitee Cesar Izturis. Fay tweets the deciding factor was Izturis' ability to play shortstop and serve as a backup to starter Zack Cozart.

Arredondo, who is in the final year of a contract he signed in January 2012 and will still be arbitration eligible in 2014 and 2015 as a Super Two, lost out to Manny Parra and Alfredo Simon for a spot in the Reds bullpen. 


Rays Designate Robinson Chirinos, Stephen Vogt

The Rays have announced they have designated catchers Robinson Chirinos and Stephen Vogt for assignment. The Rays now have ten days to trade, release, or outright Chirinos and Vogt to the minors.

The moves were needed to open space on their 40-man roster for first baseman/DH Shelley Duncan and relievers Jamey Wright and Juan Carlos Oviedo. Oviedo was then transferred to the 60-day disabled list, as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Duncan's promotion was necessitated by a right calf strain suffered by Luke Scott, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Executive VP of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman told reporters, including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter), Duncan won the job due to his extra base-hit ability and because he adds value with his power.

Chirinos was acquired in the Matt Garza trade and appeared in 20 games for the Rays in 2011 producing a slash line of .218/.283/.309 in 60 plate appearances. He sat out the 2012 season due to a concussion.

Vogt, a 12th-round selection by the Rays in the 2007 draft, made his MLB debut last season, but went hitless in 25 at-bats. He has fared much better at the plate during his six-year minor league career (.290/.360/.448), including numbers of .272/.350/.424 in 396 plate appearances in 94 games at Triple-A Durham in 2012.


Red Sox Designate Mauro Gomez For Assignment

The Red Sox have announced they have designated infielder Mauro Gomez for assignment. The move was made to create room on the 40-man roster for Jackie Bradley, Jr. The Red Sox now have ten days to trade, release, or outright Gomez to the minors.

Bradley, who was named the Opening Day left fielder by manager John Farrell today, played his way onto the roster with a Spring Training slash line of .419/.507/.613 and a team-high 12 RBI's in 28 games. The absence of David Ortiz, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right Achilles tendinopathy, also opened the door for the 40th overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft.

At 22, Bradley becomes the youngest starting Opening Day left fielder for the Red Sox since Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski in 1961 and 1962 (per the team's public relations department) and is also the youngest Red Sox position player to start Opening Day in 15 years (h/t Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald). 

Gomez, meanwhile, struggled this spring batting only .156./.240/.200 during 50 plate appearances. The 28-year-old did post respectable numbers in his MLB debut season last year: .275/.324/.422 in 111 plate appearances over the course of 37 games. 



Cafardo On Zambrano, Tigers, Wilson, Soriano

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe spoke with Indians manager Terry Francona, who is very grateful to have a fresh start.  Francona would love to make things competitive with the Tigers in his first season in Cleveland, but he's not getting ahead of himself.  “There are good teams in our division,” said Francona. “We know how good Detroit is, but you know we can’t approach the season like that. We know we’re playing Toronto first and we have to take care of things with them and then move on to the next series."  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • Carlos Zambrano is an intriguing free agent, but his reputation as a bad clubhouse guy coupled with his downward-trending performance has kept teams away.  “You’ve got to be up for what he brings,” said an NL GM. “Not saying the guy hasn’t been good in his career because he has, but when things go bad, he has a rap sheet that shows how he reacts, and that’s hard to overcome.”  The 31-year-old boasts a career 3.66 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
  • Brian Wilson could be an option for the Tigers once he’s ready, but one National League GM says that he's going to stick to his plan of not letting anyone see him throw until he's 100%, “I think everyone is anxious to see when that time comes, because if he gets it back to what he used to be, he’s going to help someone immediately down the stretch of a pennant race,” said the GM.  Cafardo won't rule out a return to the Giants for Wilson either. 
  • The serious spleen injury suffered by free agent right-hander Carl Pavano has put baseball in the distant future and could even spell the end of his career. Pavano lost a significant amount of blood and faces a long recovery after he fell at his Vermont home while shoveling snow.
  • People in baseball have long been wondering when the Cubs will trade Alfonso Soriano, but Cafardo notes that the veteran seems especially happy with the club and has played with intensity through spring training.  Soriano is set to earn $18MM in each of the next two seasons.

Offseason In Review: Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers waited until the eleventh hour to make a splash, but they made a significant upgrade to put themselves in the playoff mix.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades and Claims

Extensions

Notable Losses

Needs Addressed

After trading Zack Greinke last July and losing Shaun Marcum to free agency, the Brewers seemed content to head into 2013 without making a significant upgrade to the rotation.  However, Milwaukee decided to give Kyle Lohse a home last week by giving him a three-year, $33MM deal.  Aside from the money, the deal also means that the Brewers have to forfeit their No. 17 pick in the June draft.   Gallardo

You can debate whether or not it was worth it for Milwaukee, but there's no denying that it makes them a better team to open the season.  Lohse joins Yovani Gallardo atop the rotation and their presence is especially important given the lack of experience on the rest of the staff.  Marco Estrada pitched to a 3.64 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 23 starts and six relief appearances in 2012 and the Brewers would love to see something similar this year, but he had just nine starts on his resume prior to last season.  They'll also be counting on Mike Fiers in the No. 5 spot after slotting Chris Narveson in the bullpen.

The Brewers' biggest need was their bullpen and they made major changes in an effort to turn things around.  First, Milwaukee traded Raul Mondesi Jr. to the Rays for right-hander Burke Badenhop.  Then, they picked up a pair of former Nationals in free agent left-handers Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez. All three should help the Brewers' cause this season and they should improve upon their NL-worst 4.66 ERA from last season.  

Alex Gonzalez was picked up in February to provide an alternative to Jean Segura, but he'll be serving an even more important role to open the season.  With Corey Hart sidelined until mid-to-late May and Mat Gamel out for the season, Gonzalez will start the season as the club's first baseman.  Which leads us to..

Questions Remaining

The Brewers scored the most runs in the National League last season (third in the majors) but the Hart injury could hurt them depending on his recovery time.  Hart's slash line of .270/.334/.507 was a big reason for their offensive surge last season but they'll have to get by with Gonzalez in the interim, a player who hit .241/.270/.372 in his last full campaign.  It's cause for concern defensively as well.  Gonzalez has 13,207 2/3 innings of experience of at shortstop but exactly none at first base.  

The trio of Badenhop, Gorzelanny, and Gonzalez should improve the Brewers' bullpen but there are still plenty of question marks about their relievers.  John Axford took a major step back in 2012, posting a 4.67 ERA (versus a 2.26 ERA in the three years prior) with 12.1 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9.  They'll need better than that in 2013 to compete in the NL Central.

Deal of Note

In mid-March, the Brewers gave Carlos Gomez a three-year, $24MM extension that will keep him locked up through the 2016 season.  The deal buys out the first three years of Gomez's free agency and could prove to be a bargain for the club if he continues to progress and hit right-handed pitching.  It also came as something of a surprise since agent Scott Boras typically urges his players to test the market rather than sign an extension with a year to go before free agency.  The 27-year-old posted a .260/.305/.463 batting line in 452 plate appearances with a career high 19 homers as Milwaukee's everyday center fielder last season.  He also provides solid defense at the position, as his career 14.7 UZR/150 shows.

Overview

The Brewers finished the 2012 season in the middle of the pack with 83 wins – enough to claim a .500 record but not enough to play in October.  While things looked stagnant for much of the winter, the Lohse addition gives their starting rotation a boost that cannot be overstated.  As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently noted, Lohse has 331 career starts to his credit, which is more than the combined 270 starts that the originally planned rotation of Gallardo, Estrada, Wily Peralta, Narveson, and Fiers have made.  

On paper, Milwaukee's starting five should be strong enough to help reduce demand on their potent offense.  If the bullpen can climb out of the cellar, then the Brewers should find themselves in the playoff hunt this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Quick Hits: Verlander, Wheeler, Gregg

Tigers manager Jim Leyland is excited about Justin Verlander's extension and the possibility it could keep Verlander in Detroit his entire career, MLB.com's Adam Berry reports. "I think it was obviously a great situation for him. I think it's a great situation for the organization. I think it's a great situation for the fans," says Leyland. "He's been with the Tigers for going on his eighth year, [and he could stay] conceivably 15 years or maybe 16. That's pretty much a whole career. I think that's got a nice ring to it."

  • The Mets should consider promoting top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, and should soon begin thinking about signing him to a long-term deal, David Lennon of Newsday.com argues. Promoting Wheeler to start the season, rather than delaying his service-time clock by starting him off in the minors, might show that the Mets are taking the 2013 season seriously, Lennon suggests. Once Wheeler is in the majors, Lennon argues that the landscape of the game (with teams signing their young stars left and right) suggests that the Mets will consider signing Wheeler long-term.
  • Kevin Gregg of the Dodgers is still bothered that he didn't receive a major-league contract this offseason, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon reports. Gregg posted a 4.95 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 for the Orioles in 2012. "The way last year ended, the way the offseason unfolded, you're not a competitor if you don't have a little fire to show your abilities," says Gregg. Gregg has gotten good results this spring, but the Dodgers have a very crowded pitching staff, and might not have space for him.

Red Sox Release Ryan Sweeney

The Red Sox have released outfielder Ryan Sweeney, according to a team release. Sweeney signed a minor-league deal with Boston in January. Sweeney hit .260/.303/.373 in 204 at-bats with the Red Sox in 2012. For his career, Sweeney has hit .280/.338/.378 in 1,719 at bats with the Red Sox, Athletics and White Sox. The Red Sox had already informed Sweeney he would not be making their 25-man roster, and he had requested his release, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe notes (on Twitter).


West Notes: Freiman, Goldschmidt, Borbon

Rule 5 pick Nate Freiman has made the Athletics, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle notes (on Twitter). Freiman hit .298/.370/.502 for Double-A San Antonio in the Padres system last year. The Astros took him in the Rule 5 Draft, and he was later claimed by the A's. He will have to stick on Oakland's roster throughout the season if the A's intend to keep him. Freiman is expected to play primarily against lefties. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says the biggest hangup during negotiations of the Paul Goldschmidt extension was the team option at the end, AZCentral.com's Nick Piecoro writes. Goldschmidt's contract is a five-year deal that begins in 2014 and includes a $14.5MM team option for 2019, with a $2MM buyout. The contract guarantees Goldschmidt $32MM total. "We wanted at least a year of free agency and probably the thing that took the most time was they didn’t really want an option year," Towers says. "A mutual option, no option, guarantee six years. We had to have some kind of an option."
  • Julio Borbon has made the Rangers' 25-man roster, but he might not have a spot when the Rangers add fifth starter Nick Tepesch on April 9, says MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Borbon is out of options, and the Rangers say they have had trade discussions about him. Borbon is 27 and has yet to establish himself in the majors, though, so other teams likely wouldn't be willing to part with solid talent in a trade.

East Notes: Desmond, Garcia, Inciarte

It's "possible," though not likely, that the Nationals could sign shortstop Ian Desmond to a contract extension before the season begins Monday, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Desmond is eligible for free agency after 2015, and the Nationals would likely look to acquire the rights to some of Desmond's free agency years if he were to sign with them, Kilgore suggests. Desmond hit .292/.335/.511 in a breakout year for the Nationals in 2012. He avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $3.8MM contract for 2013. Here's more from the East Coast.

  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter likes the depth that new acquisition Freddy Garcia provides, Eduardo A. Encina and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun report. "He is inventory. He can help us if we have a need," says Showalter. "He can pitch as a starter and out of the bullpen. I like it." Encina and Connolly write that Garcia will start five or six games for Triple-A Norfolk before the Orioles reevaluate how they plan to use him.
  • Outfielder and rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte has won a job with the Phillies, meaning Philadelphia won't be offering him back to the Diamondbacks, Tim McManus of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Inciarte will be required to stick on the Phillies' 25-man roster throughout the season. Inciarte spent 2012 at Class A South Bend and Class A+ Visalia. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says Inciarte "may be a little overmatched offensively," but can provide help on defense.

Minor Moves: Paulino, Mets, Jeroloman

We’ll keep an eye on the minor moves today right here. 

  • The Mariners have released catcher Ronny Paulino, MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports (on Twitter). Paulino, who collected 63 at bats with the Orioles in 2012, was in Mariners camp on a minor-league deal. He has hit .272/.324/.376 in parts of eight seasons with the Pirates, Marlins, Mets and O’s.
  • The Mets have released a host of minor leaguers, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The released players are: Brad Holt, Daniel Herrera, Craig Hansen, Mike Wilson, Corey Patterson, Pedro Zapata, and Brandon Brown. Herrera has a 3.72 ERA over 101 2/3 big league innings for his career, but has not pitched in the majors since 2011 and was working back from injury. Patterson, of course, has an extensive MLB track record but spent last year with the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate, posting a .251/.285/.410 line in 387 plate appearances. Hansen had not played at the major league level since 2009, and Wilson saw only very limited action with Seattle in 2011. None of the other players released have played above the minor league level.
  • Catcher Brian Jeroloman has been traded from the Indians to the Pirates in exchange for cash, reports Quinn Roberts of MLB.com. Jeroloman, now 27, advanced to Triple-A as a 23-year-old but has yet to see big league action. He spent last season primarily in Double-A, where he hit .195/.308/.195 in 137 plate appearances. Jeroloman was destined for Double-A with Omir Santos in Triple-A, so the Indians instead shipped him to Pittsburgh where there was an opening at the higher level, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.