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Aaron Harang Rumors
New Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is virtually the peer of special advisor Jason Varitek — the two are only four years apart in age. But Pierzynski has still sought out Varitek's advice this spring, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. "He’s one of those guys, he came before me, so you kind of always looked up to him," Pierzynski says. "To be able to be in the same organization and be able to talk to him and learn things from him, it's huge. You can always get better and he was one of the best, so anything he can bring to the table to help me I’m definitely going to take and use." Here are more notes from the American League.
- The Indians have told starting pitcher Aaron Harang, who had been competing for their fifth starter job, that he won't make the team's 25-man roster, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets. Harang has the ability to opt out of minor-league deal on Monday.
- The Yankees are willing to eat part of Ichiro Suzuki's $6.5MM 2014 salary in the right trade, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. No deal appears to be imminent, however. Ichiro, who hit .262/.297/.342 with the Yankees in 2013, does not have a starting role this season.
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter says "vultures" are interested in his team's out-of-options players, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. "I know a lot of vultures are lurking around with our out-of-option guys. We've got quite an attendance here," Showalter says. "I get a list of the scouts every day, and if anything, it's gotten more. We had 17 here the other day." Two weeks ago, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted that the Orioles' out-of-options players included Edgmer Escalona, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, David Lough, Brian Matusz, Steve Pearce, Francisco Peguero and Josh Stinson. Obviously, the Orioles are in no danger of losing someone like Davis, and Escalona and Peguero appear likely to start the season on the disabled list. But the Orioles will have to make decisions about players like Pearce and some of the pitchers. The team recently designated another out-of-options player, Kelvin De La Cruz, for assignment.
- "I thought way too short term with the Garza deal last year. That one's got a chance to haunt us and haunt me," Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic in reference to his trade with the Cubs. Daniels gave up C.J. Edwards, Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez for Garza. Olt could soon make an impact in the big leagues, but it's Edwards and Ramirez who might turn out to be the keys to the deal — Edwards was terrific down the stretch last year for Class A+ Daytona, and Ramirez has pitched well in spring training after posting a terrific strikeout rate in Double-A last season.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
MONDAY: Harang will earn a $1MM base salary if he makes the team, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Harang, who will be 36 in May, pitched 143 1/3 innings for the Mariners and Mets in 2013, posting a 5.40 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. The fly ball pitcher allowed also allowed 26 homers. The Indians currently have Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister penciled into four spots in their rotation. Carlos Carrasco is out of options and could win the fifth starter job, although Harang could join Shaun Marcum, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin as potential contenders as well.
Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija isn't optimistic that he'll be able to work out a contract extension with the Cubs, and is preparing for the possibility of a trade, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The two sides continue to disagree about Samardzija's worth, and it appears the sticking points are Samardzija's belief that his value will continue to increase, and his concerns about the organization's rebuilding plan. "Both sides are justified; it’s not like anyone is asking for some outlandish concept," he says. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- Despite a quiet offseason, Pirates GM Neal Huntington believes his team is well-positioned, MLB.com's Mike Bauman writes. The Pirates did not add any impact talent over the offseason, and replaced A.J. Burnett with Edinson Volquez. Nonetheless, Huntington cites owner Bob Nutting's willingness to spend on aspects of the franchise unrelated to Major-League payroll, such as drafting, Latin American bonuses, scouting and player development, as crucial to the Pirates' success. And at the big-league level, Huntington feels the Pirates' offense should improve in 2014.
- Despite ties to manager Terry Francona, new minor-league signee Aaron Harang doesn't have the inside track on the Indians' fifth-starter job, reports MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. "Nothing has changed from what we've said about Carlos [Carrasco] or Josh [Tomlin]. We're just trying to have depth," says Francona. "We were very honest with Aaron. He's going to get a chance to show what he can do."
Here are Sunday's minor moves from around MLB:
- The White Sox outrighted reliever Jhan Marinez to Triple-A Charlotte, according to MLB.com's transaction page. Marinez posted a 6.11 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9 for Charlotte in 2013. He had big-league cameos with the White Sox in 2012 and Marlins in 2010. The White Sox acquired him from Miami when they sent Ozzie Guillen to the Fish after the 2011 season.
- The Mets tweeted right-hander Aaron Harang will join the club tomorrow along with catcher Juan Centeno and outfielder Mike Baxter. Neither Harang nor Centeno are on the Mets' 40-man roster and, with no openings, corresponding moves will need to be made. Harang was signed to a minor league deal by the Mets a week ago today and appeared in just one game at Triple-A Las Vegas: four innings, two runs (both earned), seven hits (one home run), five strikeouts, and one walk. Harang made 22 starts for the Mariners this year. In 120 1/3 innings, the 35-year-old posted a 5.76 ERA, 6.5 K/9, and 2.1 BB/9.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
Here's a look at today's minor moves from around baseball.
- The Mets tweet that they have signed starting pitcher Aaron Harang to a minor-league deal. He has been assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas. The Mariners recently released Harang, who had posted a 5.76 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 120 1/3 innings for them this season. It remains to be seen how the Mets will use Harang, but their rotation has been wracked by injuries. Las Vegas has also clinched the Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern division and is about to begin its playoff run.
SUNDAY, 9:20am: The MLB transactions page reflects that Harang has been released.
Harang, 35, had a 5.76 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 22 starts this season. The veteran had solid numbers with the Padres and Rockies in the previous two seasons (3.62 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9) but has been unable to replicate that with the M's. He could be on his way to joining a fourth team in 2013 – the Dodgers traded Harang to the Rockies for Ramon Hernandez in April and Colorado flipped him to the M's just days later. Harang's stay with in Colorado was brief, however, and he never got to pitch for the Rockies.
For the status of all players in DFA Limbo, be sure to check out MLBTR's DFA Tracker.
Each August, teams will place a large number of players on revocable waivers to gauge interest in their trade value. Because the waivers are revocable, if a claiming team doesn't make a suitable offer, the player's original team can simply pull him back for nothing. Should that player be placed on waivers a second time, they are then irrevocable, so most players only hit waivers once. Should that player clear waivers, however, he's eligible to be traded to any team.
For more info on how waiver trades work, refer to the August trade primer that I posted yesterday. In the meantime, here is Friday's list of players who have reportedly been placed on revocable waivers…
- Mike Gonzalez: The 35-year-old Gonzalez was the most likely trade candidate of this group in July and is therefore the most likely to be claimed. He's earning a $2.25MM base salary this season, of which roughly $713K remains (his contract also contains incentives). He's appeared in a league-leading 54 games this season, en route to a 3.76 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 through 38 1/3 innings.
- Placido Polanco: Polanco, 37, is on a one-year deal worth $2.75MM with the Marlins. He's owed about $872K over the rest of the season but is hitting just .259/.313/.301. UZR hasn't been a fan of his glove work at third this season, but The Fielding Bible still considers him a plus defender.
- Aaron Harang: The 35-year-old Harang is owed roughly $2.22MM through the end of the season plus a $2MM buyout of his mutual option. He's posted a 4.89 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings since being acquired by Seattle, and advanced metrics like FIP (4.32) and xFIP (4.27) feel his ERA should be lower. A claim seems unlikely given his salary.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe was the first to report that Gonzalez, Polanco and Harang were among today's waived players (Twitter link).
For the fourth straight year, Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony sat down with Jesse Lund of SB Nation's Twinkie Town to discuss the state of affairs with his team. Antony and Lund discussed the Twins' offseason at length, ranging from the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere to the Twins' pursuit of starting pitching. Here's a look at some of the highlights, but bear in mind that entire piece is well worth your time…
- The Twins never intended to trade both Revere and Span, but the Phillies' offer of Trevor May and Vance Worley was too strong not to pull the trigger. Antony identifies May as someone who could get a September call-up in 2013 if he enjoys a strong season.
- The Twins had conversations with both Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano, but were unable to agree to terms with either one. In particular, the Twins sought a club option for Baker, who wanted strictly a one-year deal. Antony said they didn't want 2013 to "be a donation" to Baker in the event that he wasn't healthy and effective for most of the season. That decision looks wise, with Baker on the 60-day disabled list for the Cubs.
- Mike Pelfrey identified the Twins as a team he wanted to pitch for and was aggressive in working out a deal, according to Antony. The Twins did quite a bit of homework on Pelfrey's recovery from Tommy John surgery in order to ascertain that the right-hander would indeed be ready for Opening Day, as he promised.
- The Twins made several "competitive offers" to free agent starting pitchers, in some cases making better offers than the ones those pitchers ultimately took. The Twins had conversations with nearly every free agent starting pitcher and spoke with around 15 agents for pitchers at the Winter Meetings in December.
- Following the Span trade, most teams didn't believe that the team would also trade Revere. Antony says four teams were in the mix for Revere, but the Phillies were the most aggressive and ultimately landed him with the aforementioned offer.
- The Twins were willing to do a one-for-one swap of Span and Alex Meyer because they believe Meyer is a legitimate front-of-the-rotation candidate who can be a "dominant" strikeout pitcher.
- The decision to bring Aaron Hicks north as the team's Opening Day center fielder was a result of Hicks' strong play in Spring Training and his poise off the field. The Twins' front office was never overly concerned with delaying Hicks' free agency by a season: "If he's that good of a player we're going to do what we can to sign him long term and none of that's going to matter."
- Antony, GM Terry Ryan and the rest of the front office prefer to gradually expose their top prospects to the Major Leagues so as not to field a team of all rookies. Additionally, that line of thinking prevents mass arbitration and free agency issues: "If you can bring a couple guys, a couple rookies in each year, it helps infuse that and it helps to spread it out so that not everybody becomes arbitration eligible at the same time or free agents at the same time, all that stuff."
- The Twins "admire" the Royals' bullpen of power arms and would like to build a similar bullpen. The team prioritized power arms in the 2012 Draft, selecting a number of hard-throwing college relievers.
- Antony offered a definitive "No," when asked if the team had interest in Aaron Harang prior to his trade to the Mariners. The Twins feel they have a number of similar arms in the organization already.
- There's been no contact between the Twins and Jim Thome for "a couple of months," and the two were never on the same page. Minnesota had interest in Thome, but they were far apart in discussions.
- "It would be great if he could be a Twin for life," Antony said of Justin Morneau. "He's a guy who's meant a lot for this organization and we'd love it if he were to play his entire career here, but you just don't know how things are going to work out in the end."
- Antony feels that too much has been made of the decision not to extend Ron Gardenhire prior to this season. Many have speculated that Gardenhire is on the hot seat following a pair of 90-loss seasons, but Antony said it was intended to be an organization-wide message that they're looking to get better from top to bottom. He adds that he hopes Gardenhire is the Twins' manager for years to come, and that in three years people are surprised there was even a debate.
The Tidewater Mets may just be the best team you've never heard of, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. With B.J. Upton and David Wright manning the left side of the infield, Ryan Zimmerman was forced to split time at second (with Mark Reynolds), and Justin Upton was relegated to bench duty. Of course, those Mets were a high school travel club. Now, through a combination of the draft, extensions, free agency, and trade, all of those players (excluding Reynolds) are stars on their respective National League East clubs.
- The New York Mets could be buyers at the trade deadline whether or not the club is in contention, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. With Davidoff expecting an active in-season trade market, he says that the Mets could target big bats such as Carlos Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Chase Headley, Giancarlo Stanton, Carl Crawford, Josh Willingham, and Alfonso Soriano. As this outfielder-heavy list suggests, and MLBTR noted earlier today, the Mets appear to be interested in acquiring a premier outfielder.
- One way or another, Mets fans should prepare for life without a hot-hitting John Buck, writes Daniel Nelson of MetsmerizedOnline.com. If the backstop fails to cool off and return to his historical levels, Nelson believes that the club will likely try to flip him for young talent.
- Aaron Harang threw 180 innings last year, logging a 3.61 ERA. In 2011, he tossed 170 innings with a 3.64 ERA. Yet the Rockies dumped him to the Mariners right after he was offloaded by the Dodgers. The reason is simple, according to Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner: Harang's worsening walk and strikeout rates make him "basically a worse version of Jon Garland." Of course, Garland joined the Rockies when Seattle let him walk rather than promising a rotation spot.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik addressed the Harang trade, saying that the deal was motivated in large part by Erasmo Ramirez's health issues, tweets Shannon Drayer of ESPN Radio Seattle. The Seattle GM also noted that, if the 34-year-old Harang is not yet ready to start, he will work out of the bullpen until another starter moves there permanently, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com and Drayer. (Twitter links.)
The Mariners added rotation depth today, offically acquiring veteran Aaron Harang and cash from the Rockies for minor league reliever Steven Hensley. The Mariners also announced they've designated Kameron Loe for assignment to open a 40-man roster spot for Harang.
The Rockies acquired Harang and $4.25MM from the Dodgers for catcher Ramon Hernandez last week, and then immediately designated Harang for assignment. Harang earns $7MM this year and has a $2MM buyout after the season, and the Rockies will send money to the Mariners to cover most of that. The Rockies will save more than $2MM with the series of trades, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Harang, 35 next month, posted a 3.61 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 0.70 HR/9, and 38.6% groundball rate in 179 2/3 innings for the Dodgers last year. His peripheral stats from 2012 suggest an ERA close to 5.00. This isn't the Harang of his Reds glory days, when he pitched 230 innings a year with around four strikeouts for every walk. Harang will likely replace Blake Beavan in Seattle's rotation. Hensley, 26, posted a 6.27 ERA, 5.3 K/9, 4.8 BB/9, and 1.21 HR/9 in 37 1/3 Triple-A innings last year.
Loe, 31, signed a minor league deal with the Mariners in February but allowed six home runs in 6 2/3 innings to start his season.
The Mariners and Rockies last matched up on a trade in December 2010, when Colorado acquired Jose Lopez for Chaz Roe. More recently, a pitcher jumped from the Mariners to the Rockies when Jon Garland exercised his opt-out clause to leave the Mariners in March and signed with Colorado.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the trade was close. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.