AL Notes: Springer, Tigers, Orioles

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.


48 Responses to AL Notes: Springer, Tigers, Orioles Leave a Reply

  1. UK Tiger
    UK Tiger 1 year ago

    Pretty obvious thats Springers decision to reject this contract led directly to this demotion.

    As for it being a good or bad move? I dont know yet, he’ll definately earn more throughout his first 7 years as a player IF he stays healthy but if he gets hurt early that $23m would have looked pretty good sat in his bank account.

    • jeffbrown 1 year ago

      He rejected the contract in September.

      • UK Tiger
        UK Tiger 1 year ago

        Im aware of that, i still dont think it lessens the link of not signing the contract and now not making the club out of Spring…

    • homer
      psabella 1 year ago

      Is it not possible the .161 BA was a contributing factor as well?

      • UK Tiger
        UK Tiger 1 year ago

        If you hold much stock in Spring stats, yes, it is.

        If you realise they mean pretty little in reality, then no, im still running with the contract rejection…

  2. Strugz 1 year ago

    Player timetables and promotion seem to be a huge topic in the next CBA. Players like Springer should be in the majors, or at least breaking camp. Teams are opting to field worse ML clubs than potentially possible just to get extra service time.

    I remember hearing people question the Marlins last year when they broke camp with Jose Fernandez. People suggested it was foolish because of service clock. But he turned out to be one of the BEST starting pitchers in baseball last year, possibly 2nd best SP in the NL to only Kershaw… and many suggested he shouldn’t have played in the majors. Definitely a fundamental problem with the way players are promoted/demoted.

    • Bronx Bombers 1 year ago

      Not only do the Astros benefit from keeping him in the minor in terms of control and his service time, but the other advantage of fielding a bad team is to get a high draft pick.

    • homer
      psabella 1 year ago

      If players can use every legal method in the CBA to make more money why can’t the owners use every possible legal method in the CBA to control costs? Regardless how much money anyone thinks owners make, there will be a tipping point.
      For every player who should have started with a club there is another who should have started in the minors. I by the way to not necessarily disagree with the point you make, it is just there are two sides.

      • Bronx Bombers 1 year ago

        Just because you have the options or the avenues to do it doesn’t make it is reasonable. Do you agree that A-Rod should have prolonged the steroid scandal with appeals just because he had the resources?

        • homer
          psabella 1 year ago

          of course not but as spider man said, with great power comes great responsibility. Both sides are guilty of pushing the envelope and looking for every loophole, it is why lawyers were created and for that matter still exist.

      • jb226 1 year ago

        Technically speaking, you’re not allowed to keep a player in the minor leagues just to manipulate his service time. The problem is it’s exceptionally easy for the team to say “he needs more seasoning” or something along those lines and very hard to prove otherwise to the extent necessary to win a grievance, so it has just become an accepted part of the game.

        • homer
          psabella 1 year ago

          understood and agree

        • Kennon Riley 1 year ago

          Well he has only played 62 games at AAA, so is he really ready

        • kcstengelSr 1 year ago

          the rays used david price in relief down the stretch in 2008. they made the playoffs.
          the rays gamed price’s clock until late may of 2009 and missed the playoffs (going back for postseason play in ’10, ’11, and ’13 with price).
          ok, they got another year of david price, but I guess tampa fans want to see a world series championship someday so all the retired ex-yankee fans in the tampa/st. pete area will finally show up for the real home team.
          granted that the astros are a long shot this year, springer or not.

          • TheRealRyan 1 year ago

            I think using Price is a pretty poor example. In 2009, Price had an ERA of 3.93 and FIP of 4.71 in AAA and an ERA of 4.42 and FIP of 4.59 in MLB. He wasn’t ready to be an MLB pitcher and didn’t pitch particularly well. Unfortunately, the Rays were forced to call him up earlier than they planned when Kazmir went on the DL. The Rays missed the super 2 cutoff by 18 days and Price had 4 arb years. In 2009, the Rays gained an extra 3-4 starts of 4.50 ERA from Price, their 4th best starter that season, at a cost of an extra arbitration year. For a small market team like the Rays, that extra year of arb is huge. It most likely cost them the option of adding to their playoff teams the last couple of years and didn’t help them at all that season.

      • kcstengelSr 1 year ago

        some guys are hyped and don’t cut it, but fans have heard about them are are willing to buy tickets to watch them until proven otherwise.
        i guess for the astros, the fans don’t matter.
        i applaud the royals for giving a rotation spot to yordano ventura. the fans are starting to get excited about watching the kid.
        i guess the astros don’t care about springer’s fans.

        • Kennon Riley 1 year ago

          The Astros definitely care about George Springer’s future. They know he will be at least a solid regular for the club for years to come. There’s no reason not to give him further time to develop at AAA to open the season. Luhnow wants to build a winning culture and strengthen the relationships between players. Guys like Foltynewicz, Springer, Singleton, Stoffel, and Wojo will be with the Astros to end the season. Having them play day to day together will only pay dividends when they are all major league regulars.

    • David Jones 1 year ago

      As Strugz points out, the Marlins and other teams have put fielding a quality team ahead of service-time considerations. It’s understandable when a small-market team like TB limits the service time of a Wil Myers, as they did last year, because of tight payrolls. The Astros aren’t a small-market team, and they have virtually no long-term contract commitments.

      At 24 years old, Springer is obviously major-league ready after tearing up all levels of minor league pitching, his strikeouts notwithstanding. But the Astros ownership and management would rather eek out whatever profit they can by assembling a roster that, other than Altuve and Castro, is made up largely of 4-A players.

      The Astros haven’t fielded a major-league caliber team in three years and have no intention to field one in 2014. The team’s management and ownership have total contempt for their fan base and, apparently, for their players. It’s no wonder Springer turned down an insulting, low-ball offer that attempted to buy out all his arbitration years as well as some free agency for an average salary slightly over $3 million/season.

      • TheRealRyan 1 year ago

        There is nothing insulting about the offer the Astros made to Springer. There is risk on both sides. Springer was BA #18 prospect this year and has an issue making contact.

        Looking back at 2008, Travis Snider(#11), Jacoby Ellsbury(13), Andrew McCutchen(14), Fernando Martinez(20), Carlos Gonzalez(22), Matt LaPorta(23) and Jordan Schafer(25) were the OF ranked between 10-25. Sure, Ells, McCutchen and CarGo would have looked foolish if they signed a 7/23. However, Snider, Martinez, LaPorta and Schafer don’t have anywhere near that amount combined. Do you think they would have liked the chance to set their families up for life at age 24?

        It’s only a low-ball offer if he reaches his potential and stays healthy.

      • Todd Smith 1 year ago

        You think the Astros would go all the way this year if only Springer could play in April and May? The Astros are in rebuilding mode, and they are doing a fine job at it with one of the better farm systems in the league. They aren’t a playoff contender this season with or without Springer on the opening day roster. Why lose a year of control?

        Also, not sure how you figure $23MM is an insulting, low-ball offer. He will probably make around $300K this year for the 4 months he plays. $500K in 2015, 2016, and 2017 before becoming arbitration eligible. He’ll have to earn $21MM over his 3 years of arbitration to match the offer he turned down.

    • LazerTown 1 year ago

      But they should have kept him down for a bit longer. It doesn’t make sense to start the service time of an elite prospect on a team that is still several years off. You can argue whether it is right or not, and that he apparently was ready, but I think the GM really needs to have the long term strategy in mind. Say Fernandez is a 5 WAR player, Marlins were better off improving 2.5 wins this year on a really bad team, and potentially being able to get a 5 WAR player 6 years down the line when they could potentially be good. If the Marlins were contenders thats one thing, but they were really bad, and were expected to be.

      • kcstengelSr 1 year ago

        and fernandez could have thrown his arm out pitching on some badly-tended minor league diamond last season.

      • Strugz 1 year ago

        I understand the logic, agree with it, and would have made the same decision. I’m merely suggesting that the loophole be removed in the coming CBA.

    • kcstengelSr 1 year ago

      astros are the cheapest big market team in baseball.
      the cubs are right behind.

  3. FOmeOLS 1 year ago

    The Orioles have an idea whether or not they want Hardy to come back, and whether that is a realistic possibility.
    If they don’t think there going to be able to re-sign him, they should start shopping around for a replacement shortstop right now, rather than waiting until the last minute.
    They could also be looking for a top quality third baseman, because Machado can obviously fill either spot superlatively.

    • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

      Next year’s FA SS and 3B class is a good one. There is no need to panic and get a SS now.

      • FOmeOLS 1 year ago

        I hadn’t thought of going the FA route, but I think a trade would probably be better, unless they will give the QO expecting it to be declined.
        But they want to win now, so that may be less likely.

      • johnsilver 1 year ago

        Another strong and healthy year from Jed Lowrie could put him in for a major pay day and he can play 3 positions, then Hardy. Drew would slide behind both of those easily. Then Rollins, if he doesn’t manage to get those 400+ AB to vest his option could be a FA. I’m not even sure Drew is/would be better than Rollins if you take away the other issues surrounding him.

        That’s why Boras will continue scrambling so hard to avoid fighting to have to get Drew a job again next year. It will be even worse.

        • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

          True FA 3B will feature Headly Sandoval and Ramirez (maybe) FA SS will have Hardy, Hanley, Hardy, Drew (maybe), Cabrera and Rollins (maybe). That a strong pool to draw from, I’m sure Boras is looking at that and thinking Drew needs to land his multi year deal this year.

    • Bleed_Orange 1 year ago

      O’s also have Schoop who can play second or third

  4. jeffbrown 1 year ago

    Springer was not optioned, as he is not on the 40 man roster. Players not on the 40 man are assigned to the minors.

  5. Mike1L 1 year ago

    This is the way the game is played with young talent. When the team has the hammer, they use it. Stringer didn’t sign away his earning power for the first seven years, so he will have to live with whatever the Astros permit him. Minor leagues until they are ready. The Astros don’t have to compete, they would obviously be happy getting more high draft picks, and there’s nothing to make them do anything better. Certainly not Mr. Selig, and apparently not enough of the owners who have to play against them. Every time we get upset with a player turning down a QO, or asking for the moon, we should remember this one.

  6. Chebert 1 year ago

    Why wouldn’t the Astros do this? What other leverage do they have over escalating salaries? None. Also, it allows them to keep another player who may be out of options but still has value to the club.

  7. Personally, I like the Astros strategy and I bet we see more of this with other teams soon in regards to what they offered Springer and their subconsequent actions. Guys who want the guarantee now, will take it, guys confident in their ability will wait. Gives a little bit of leverage back to the owners and GM’s with all the inflation going on.

    • And, as another plus, if fans gripe about a team “not bringing a player” up fast enough, they can state they made him a fair offer. I like it a lot actually.

  8. $23M is still way more money than anybody needs in life but hey who am I to say how somebody else handles their finances?

  9. brian 1 year ago

    I don’t understand how Ken Rosenthal (and many other writers) only has issues with the system when small budget teams hold back (potentially) good players to extend their service time so the teams can keep them around longer, rather than lose them via free agency, but not take issue with the system that allows the Yankees to throw more than half a billion dollars in one offseason at free agents. Absolutely baffling…

    • pft2 1 year ago

      Yankees had a lot of payroll come off the books , Rivera, Granderson, Wells, Hafner, Arod, etc and actually cut payroll in 2014 despite spending in free agency, .

      They spend over 100 million in revenue sharing but many of these small market teams just pocket it.

      I think the greater evil for the game is keeping good young players off the MLB field when they are MLB ready. Their value to their team is primarily due to high free agency costs, which are subsidized by the young players making peanuts. Its good for them that at the end of the day a team like the Yankees will pay them what they deserve, but they get hurt by delaying their free agency which reduces their value at the end of the day.

      Revenue sharing was supposed to be the solution but MLB does not attach any strings to the revenue sharing payments. They should force teams to spend it on players. Maybe if more of these small market teams would call up players early and spend that revenue sharing money on extensions I would have more sympathy,.

      • kcstengelSr 1 year ago

        i thought houston is like the fifth largest market. i dont consider them a small market team, nor the cubs (trade everybody until the kids are ready).

        • pft2 1 year ago

          Revenue is low though. They are so bad they have shrunk the market.

          • pft2 1 year ago

            Houston received 9 million in revenue sharing. Cubs paid out 39 million. The Cubs revenue is over 100 million more than the Astros

      • Meh Sheep 1 year ago

        There is a huge loophole in the current revenue sharing system. Teams that own their regional broadcast networks and have large profits that stay with the network so that it isn’t subject to revenue sharing.

  10. coldgoldenfalstaff 1 year ago

    This is a non-story, he’s not ready for the bigs.

    He only has 219 AB at AAA and there’s real concerns about his plate patience and hitting for average.

    Besides, why should Houston change their stated plan and push the kid into the bigs before he’s ready? And he hit .161 with one extra base hit this spring.

    Service time may be a factor, but it’s a small factor.

  11. Fred_UD 1 year ago

    Has anyone even paid attention to how he’s played this spring? He needs more work in the minors. If he came out and tore the cover off the ball, its a different story. Instead his slash line is .161/.333/.194. What player with zero MLB experience would be given a spot on the 25-man roster for the first time with that line? Give me a break.

  12. pft2 1 year ago

    Andrus has been shut down for the 2nd time by the Rangers due to elbow pain. If he ends up needing TJ Surgery and is lost for the year look for the Rangers to move quickly on Drew. It would probably be a 1 yr deal but if Drew signs after opening day he won’t have to worry about another QO. Nice park for him to hit in too.

  13. Amber 1 year ago

    Springer was hitting a robust .167 in ST. They’re cutting down people for the season.

  14. David Jones 1 year ago

    You’re right about the four players you mentioned. The Astros actually have six players who belong on a 25-man roster.

  15. Kennon Riley 1 year ago

    Fowler, Dominguez, Carter, Albers, Qualls, Crain, Feldman, Cosart, Oberholtzer, Peacock.

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