October 2013

Orioles Outright Chris Dickerson, Dan Johnson

Here are today's minor moves and outright assignments from around the league…

  • The Orioles announced that they have outrighted outfielder Chris Dickerson and first baseman Dan Johnson to Triple-A Norfolk. The 31-year-old Dickerson hit .238/.266/.400 in 109 plate appearances for the O's, surviving a DFA and being outrighted to Norfolk only to resurface with the club later in the season. Johnson, 34, was hitless in five at-bats for the O's and is a career .236/.337/.411 hitter in parts of eight big league seasons. He is most famous for the dramtic two-out, two-strike, game-tying home run that he hit in the bottom of the ninth inning in the final game of the Rays' 2011 season. Tampa would go on to win the game, sending them to the postseason.

Reds Claim Pedro Beato, Outright Greg Reynolds

The Reds announced that they have claimed right-hander Pedro Beato off waivers from the Red Sox. In corresponding moves, Cincinnati has outrighted right-hander Greg Reynolds and catcher Corky Miller off the 40-man roster, each of whom has elected free agency.

Beato, 27, was designated for assignment last week when the Red Sox acquired outfielder Alex Castellanos from the Dodgers. Beato pitched 10 innings for Boston this season and allowed four earned runs (five total) on 12 hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. In 89 career innings between the Mets and Red Sox, the Dominican hurler has a 4.55 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 45.5 percent ground-ball rate. He's averaged a solid 92.4 mph on his heater in those 89 innings and was up to 93.1 mph with the Sox in 2013.

The 28-year-old Reynolds was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Rockies, but the Stanford product has never been able to get his career going. He struggled through six appearances (five starts) for the Reds this season, yielding a 5.52 ERA with just 13 strikeouts against six walks in 29 1/3 innings. He was completely dominant at Triple-A Louisville, however, compiling a 2.42 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 156 1/3 innings.

Miller, 38 next Spring, batted .257/.366/.400 in 41 plate appearances for the Reds this season. The journeyman has appeared in parts of 11 big league seasons with the Reds, Red Sox, Twins, Braves and White Sox, posting a .193/.277/.306 triple-slash line in 616 plate appearances along the way. The veteran is a career .249/.370/.420 hitter in 3,859 minor league plate appearances.

Indians Release Chris Perez

The Indians announced that they have released closer Chris Perez. The right-hander would have been eligible for arbitration for the final time this winter, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $9MM salary, making him a clear non-tender candidate. Perez-Chris By releasing Perez now, the Indians are essentially non-tendering him, but they won't have to use a 40-man roster spot on a player they knew they weren't going to retain. Likewise, it's beneficial to Perez, as it gives him and agent Nez Balelo of CAA additional time to explore the free agent market.

The 28-year-old Perez earned $7.3MM this season and pitched to a 4.33 ERA in 54 innings. Perez saved 25 games and posted a solid 9.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9, but he became shockingly homer-prone and wilted in the season's final two months, posting a 7.52 ERA with seven homers allowed in his final 20 1/3 innings of work.

Originally acquired along from the Cardinals (along with fellow right-hander Jess Todd) in exchange for Mark DeRosa, Perez has served as the Tribe's closer for the past four seasons. In 267 2/3 career innings with Cleveland, he's registered a solid 3.33 ERA and saved 124 games, averaging 8.4 strikeouts per nine frames along the way.

Perez will join a crowded market for closers that also includes Joe Nathan, Brian Wilson, Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Kevin Gregg and Edward Mujica. His late season struggles and the stiff competition on the free agent market might make it difficult for him to land a closing gig this offseason. He comes with a bit of personal baggage, having recently pleaded no-contest and being convicted of misdemeanor drug abuse after having marijuana shipped to his home. Perez was fined, placed on probation for a year and will speak to youth about drug use (per the Associated Press).

With Perez out of the picture, the Indians will have some work to do at the back of their bullpen. Fellow right-hander Joe Smith is also a free agent, and Vinnie Pestano experienced quite a bit of regression in 2013.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Indians Re-Sign Jason Giambi, Acquire Colt Hynes

The Indians announced that they have re-signed Jason Giambi to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training and also acquired left-hander Colt Hynes from the Padres in exchange for cash considerations.

Giambi will turn 43 in January and managed just a .183/.282/.371 batting line in 2013. He was a beloved member of the Indians clubhouse however, and provided a number of pinch-hit home runs, including a pair of dramatic walk-off shots. On a minor league deal, there's little risk for Cleveland to bringing him back and seeing if he can force his way onto their roster with a big Spring Training performance.

Hynes, 28, was one of two left-handers to be designated for assignment by the Padres last week in order to create roster space for starters Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland, each of whom was returning from the 60-day disabled list (Tommy Layne was also DFA'ed). A former 31st-round draft pick of the Friars, Hynes made his big league debut this season but allowed 17 runs in 17 innings of work with a 13-to-9 K/BB ratio. He was dominant in the minors, however, posting a 1.52 ERA with an otherworldly 58-to-2 K/BB ratio in 47 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.

Royals Exercise Club Option On James Shields

The Royals have exercised their $13.5MM club option on ace James Shields, the team announced on Twitter. Shields' option was one of the easiest calls among the many contract options that are facing Major League teams.

Shields, 32 in December, was acquired along with Wade Davis last offseason in a blockbuster trade that sent top prospect (and 2013 AL Rookie of the Year front-runner) Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to the Rays.

In his first season in Kansas City, Shields racked up a league-leading 228 2/3 innings, posting a 3.15 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 41.6 percent ground-ball rate. Baseball-Reference pegged his value at 4.1 wins above replacement, while Fangraphs was even more of a fan at 4.5 WAR.

Shields will return to the rotation alongside Jeremy Guthrie, but the Royals will need to offer up some serious coin to keep fellow front-line starter Ervin Santana in the fold. Other internal candidates for their rotation include Davis and top prospects Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura. Barring an extension, Shields will be eligible for free agency following the 2014 campaign.

147 Players File For Free Agency

The Major League Baseball Players Association has issued a press release announcing that 147 players have officially filed for free agency. This year's crop of free agents is headlined by the likes of Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Brian McCann, as shown on MLBTR's Free Agent Power Rankings.

Teams will have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents for five days following completion of the World Series. In other words, free agents will be free to begin negotiating with all 30 Major League clubs at 12:01am EST on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

For a look at the top names available (minimum 20 IP or 50 plate appearances), check out MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent List.

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Messenger Has Three-Year Offer To Stay In Japan

Right-hander Randy Messenger has revived his career with three dominant seasons for the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball, and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned that Messenger has a three-year offer to remain with the Tigers (Twitter link). The offer is in the $15MM range, which, as noted by NPB's Patrick Newman, would make Messenger the highest-paid foreign player in Hanshin's franchise history (Twitter link).

Messenger, 32, joined the Tigers for the 2010 season but didn't have a breakout campaign until 2011. Since that time, he's posted a 2.75 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 543 innings out Hanshin's rotation. Messenger was particularly impressive in 2013, boosting his K/9 to 8.4 and firing six complete games, including a trio of shutouts.

There has been speculation that Messenger might return to the Major Leagues and enjoy a similar success story to Colby Lewis, but a $15MM offer could very well be enough to keep him in Japan. The Twins showed interest last offseason, but the Tigers didn't want to let go of their right-hander, who was under control through the 2013 season.

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Red Sox Notes: Ellsbury, Napoli, Bullpen

In today's edition of his daily column, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (ESPN Insider required) some specifics on the two hard runs the Red Sox took at extending Jacoby Ellsbury. According to Olney, Boston offered Ellsbury an extension that fell just shy of $100MM following his runner-up finish in the 2011 AL MVP voting. Agent Scott Boras countered with a $130MM proposal, and the two sides weren't able to strike a deal. Last winter, the Sox again tried to extend Ellsbury, this time for something in the neighborhood of B.J. Upton's five-year, $75.25MM deal with the Braves (Ellsbury had a down season in 2012, hence the decreased offer).

Now, Ellsbury is primed to hit free agency, and reports have indicated that Boston may not go far beyond $100MM to retain him. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes opined recently that the question shouldn't be whether or not Ellsbury crosses the $100MM barrier, but rather whether or not he can reach $150MM. According to Olney, the Rangers and Mariners will be two of the most aggressive teams on the Ellsbury market this winter. Here's more on Ellsbury and the 2013 World Series Champion Red Sox…

  • Ellsbury spent the season's final month playing through a severe bone bruise in his left-hand and will undergo an MRI to provide further details, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • Mike Napoli feels that he's found a home in Boston and told reporters, including ESPNBoston.com's Tony Lee, that he hopes to return to the team in 2014 and beyond. Said Napoli: "I want to be here. I love this place… They've treated me so good here, the way they've taken care of me has been unbelievable. When the time comes I'm pretty sure we're going to have conversations." MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently projected Napoli to earn three years and $42MM on the open market.
  • GM Ben Cherington deserves praise for the team's tremendous bullpen depth, as it became a key component to their World Series title, writes MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom. Bloom points out that Koji Uehara was fourth in line for closing opportunities to open the season, while Brandon Workman, who pitched the eighth inning in Game Six, opened the season at Double-A. Boston lost Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller to injury at various points in 2013.
  • Cherintgon talked with Tim Britton of the Providence Journal about his team's incredible clubhouse chemistry last night, stating that while there was no real way to predict how this group would come together, he definitely thinks it was a contributing factor to their success: "When you're around it and you feel it, it's hard to say it's not valuable. I don't know that any of us know how to engineer it. But when you're around it and you feel the group coming together the way it did, I don't have any doubt it's valuable. I still don't know how to predict it."

Nationals Hire Matt Williams

OCT. 31: The Nationals officially announced that they have hired Williams as their manager. According to the release, Williams will receive a multiyear deal. GM Mike Rizzo offered the following statement:

"I am thrilled to welcome Matt to our organization and am confident he is the best choice to lead the Nationals at this time. He is exceptionally prepared for the task. Matt came into the interview process already possessing an extensive knowledge of our organization: our roster, our Minor League system – and our fan base. He has genuinely creative, unique ideas on how to increase performance, and on cultivating leadership and team unity."

OCT. 25: 8:40am: Knorr told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (Twitter link) that he would stay in the event that he isn't selected to be the next manager, stating plainly: "I love this team."

8:27am: The Nationals plan to hire Matt Williams as their new manager with the hope of retaining Randy Knorr as their bench coach, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The timing of an official announcement is still unknown, he adds.

Williams has been the rumored favorite for the past week or so, with one evaluator recently telling ESPN's Buster Olney that he would be "shocked" if the Nats don't tab him for the job. The Nationals have also interviewed Knorr, third base coach Trent Jewett, Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale and Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus.

Williams served as Arizona's third base coach from 2011-13 and was the team's first base coach a year prior in 2010. In terms of managerial experience, he spent two months as the interim manager for the Diamondbacks' Double-A affiliate. Last year, he managed in the Arizona Fall League, leading the Salt River Rafters to the AFL East Division Title before falling in the AFL Championship Game.

Over the course of a 17-year playing career, Williams batted .268/.317/.489, earning five All-Star appearances, four Silver Slugger Awards and four Gold Gloves. He finished in the Top 6 in NL MVP voting on four separate occasions, including a second-place finish with the 1994 Giants after he batted .267/.319/.607 with 43 home runs and earned a Gold Glove at third base.

White Sox Exercise Matt Lindstrom’s 2014 Option

The White Sox have exercised their $4MM club option on right-hander Matt Lindstrom, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin (on Twitter). Lindstrom's option contained a $500K buyout, essentially making this a $3.5MM decision for White Sox GM Rick Hahn and his staff.

Lindstrom, who turns 34 in February, was the only option decision that the White Sox had to make this offseason. The veteran flamethrower turned in a 3.12 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 55.6 percent ground-ball rate in 60 2/3 innings in 2013. Lindstrom's fastball was once again blistering, checking in with an average velocity of 95 mph.

Lindstrom will re-join a relief corps that is fronted by closer Addison Reed and also includes hard-throwing setup man Nate Jones. While the White Sox have a number of internal options, it wouldn't be surprising to see them add at least one more veteran arm for the 2014 season. Their bullpen depth took a hit this season when they traded Matt Thornton to the Red Sox and Jesse Crain to the Rays.