Matt Murton and Randy Messenger are close to extensions with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan, Kyodo News reports. It's possible that both could have drawn interest from major league teams, as each was excellent in 2013 for the Tigers. Murton, who had a nice .297/.365/.444 campaign all the way back in 2006 with the Cubs, led Japan's Central League in hits in 2013 for the third time in four seasons. Here's a look at the latest from MLB's Central divisions:
- Cubs hitting coach James Rowson will leave for the Yankees organization, a source tells Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Rowson, who was named the Cubs' top hitting instructor in June 2012, will assume the title of minor league hitting coordinator in the Bronx.
- Rick Renteria's journeyman career included stops in four organizations and three tours in Mexican baseball, Gonzales writes in a profile of the new Cubs manager. Padres first base coach Dave Roberts had high praise for his former colleague, commenting that "there's not a player who has come across Rick Renteria and hasn't gotten better."
- Gonzales and Colleen Kane, also of the Tribune, preview the offseasons ahead for the Cubs and their South Side neighbors. In the article, Cubs President Theo Epstein reiterated that free agent signings must help the Cubs both now and in the future. "We wish there were a free agent market for young players ... There's not," Epstein lamented. While the Cubs' strategy is to bide time and wait for "that one guy who might make sense," the front office may target a starter or bullpen help this offseason, Epstein adds.
- While the White Sox's signing of Jose Dariel Abreu in October will likely be their largest offseason move, they must still address team legend Paul Konerko's status with the club, Kane and Gonzales write. Catching also looms as a prominent need for the Sox, and could be addressed via the trade market. As the article notes, the Blue Jays are believed to have interest in second baseman Gordon Beckham.
- The Twins will have to add minor leaguer A.J. Achter to their 40-man roster by Nov. 20 if they want to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes. Achter looks to vie with around 10 other players for two Twins 40-man spots.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that money was likely a factor in the Indians' decision to draft Tyler Naquin, whom they selected 15th overall in 2012, over Michael Wacha. A teammate of Naquin's at Texas A&M, Wacha was eventually selected with the 19th pick by the Cardinals and signed for the full slot value of $1.9MM.