The Astros have optioned top prospect George Springer to the minors, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets. The demotion comes shortly after the news that the Astros had offered Springer a seven-year, $23MM contract before he had even played a day in the Majors. Springer's demotion will likely raise further questions about the effect of MLB service time on teams' promotion decisions. As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal put it last night, "If Springer was good enough to be offered $23 million, why isn't he good enough to crack the 25-man roster of a team that has finished with the worst record in the majors in each of the past three seasons?" By having Springer start the season in the minors, the Astros can ensure that he will become a free agent after the 2020 season, rather than after the 2019 season. And if they wait to promote him until the early summer, they can limit his number of arbitration-eligible seasons to three rather than four. As Rosenthal points out, if Springer had agreed to the Astros' contract offer, these service-time issues would have been moot.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says he has not been engaged in any serious trade talks recently, MLB.com's Andrew Simon tweets. Dombrowski offered no specific details about free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew. Meanwhile, it looks like shortstop Jose Iglesias may miss the entire 2014 season with stress fractures in his shins, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman notes. Iglesias should be able to play in 2015, however.
- Orioles executive Dan Duquette recounts his team's strange offseason in an interview with MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski. The Orioles endured plenty of criticism for their quiet offseason before they swooped in late to sign Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. "We were trying to sign a number of players and it didn't work out the way we thought it might," Duquette says. "But if we signed the players we signed back in November or December, people would say the Orioles are gearing up." Duquette also says the Orioles will not comment on any extension discussions with shortstop J.J. Hardy.