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Alejandro De Aza Rumors
TODAY: Boston will pay around $1MM of De Aza’s remaining salary, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal report on Twitter. That’s no small amount, of course, but it does mean that Baltimore retains most of the financial burden going forward.
YESTERDAY: The Red Sox on Wednesday bolstered their outfield depth by acquiring an experienced corner option from the Orioles in the form of Alejandro De Aza, Baltimore announced. The O’s will send cash considerations to the Sox along with De Aza in exchange for Double-A right-hander Joe Gunkel. In order to accommodate De Aza on their 40-man roster, the Red Sox have transferred righty Brandon Workman to the 60-day DL, the club announced.
De Aza, added by the O’s at last year’s trade deadline, is owed $5MM this season, of which about $3.39MM remains. He’s a somewhat curious add for a Red Sox club that is already flush with outfield options and recently picked up fellow lefty-swinging corner outfielder Carlos Peguero in a trade with the Rangers. Boston also has Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez and Rusney Castillo on the roster as its starting trio in the outfield, with veterans Daniel Nava and Shane Victorino on the DL. (One would think that Peguero’s spot could eventually be in jeopardy when one of those veterans is nearing a return.)
The 31-year-old De Aza owns a meager .214/.277/.359 triple-slash in his 112 plate appearances thus far. But his track record is better; over the 2012-14 seasons, De Aza owns an exactly-league-average 100 OPS+ (and, if you prefer, a 100 wRC+). With average offensive production and strong defense, that has made him a solidly regular in the corner outfield.
As I noted when he was designated, the Orioles had ample reason to strike a deal to save what money they could. With more than five years of service, De Aza would have been eligible to reject an outright assignment (assuming he cleared waivers) and thereby become a free agent without sacrificing his rather significant guaranteed salary.
Gunkel is a 23-year-old who was pitching at Double-A in the Boston organization. He rated as Boston’s 26th-best prospect entering the year, per Baseball America, which says that he profiles as a reliever in the long run. Over 18 1/3 innings this year, he’s allowed eight earned runs with 22 strikeouts against eight walks.
That seems like a decent get for the O’s, though we’ll need to learn how much money has changed hands before really evaluating the deal.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the trade (on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Red Sox swung a trade today to acquire Alejandro De Aza from the division-rival Orioles after Baltimore had designated him for assignment, and manager John Farrell explained to Joe Castiglione on the Red Sox Pregame Radio Show the thinking that went into the move. Via WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Farrell explained: “…with Daniel Nava being down, De Aza has been in that role a little bit in Baltimore where he has come off the bench. He’s been a little bit of a platoon player. I’m not saying De Aza is going to come in here and platoon in left with Hanley. But at the same time we’ve got a veteran, a guy who can run, a guy that can play all three outfield positions.” It remains to be seen whether or not De Aza will be a long-term piece for the Sox, but the fact that they surrendered a prospect of any kind of note — righty Joe Gunkel was the team’s No. 26 prospect this offseason, per Baseball America — seems to suggest they’re not looking at him as a mere short-term play.
Elsewhere in the AL East…
- Masahiro Tanaka made a dominant return to the Yankees today, holding the Mariners to a run on three hits and no walks with nine strikeouts in seven innings. As George A. King III of the New York Post wrote last night, however, Tanaka will have a difficult time eliminating the specter of a possible injury that hangs around his head. King writes that the Yankees will have to hope that Tanaka can outperform the struggling CC Sabathia and inconsistent Nathan Eovaldi, because the team’s need for a starter in the event of a Tanaka injury is significant. King spoke to an NL scout who said that Tanaka looked like a No. 3 starter earlier this year, though clearly, the results from this afternoon’s start are highly encouraging for the Yankees.
- Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star chronicles the unlikely journeys taken by right-hander Bo Schultz and first baseman/outfielder Chris Colabello to the Majors. Colabello’s story has received its share of fanfare — and rightfully so, as the longtime independent league star is an admirable picture of perseverance — but Schultz’s tale may be even more improbable. Schultz attended Northwestern University to study journalism, but he made the baseball team as a walk-on outfielder. Schultz received little playing time and quit after his freshman year, but he returned his junior year when there was a need for pitchers and his teammates recalled Schultz’s strong arm. Schultz went undrafted but signed a minor league deal with the A’s, who converted him to a submarine delivery that never panned out. A brief stint with the D-Backs didn’t take, and he’s now trying for the second time to stick in the bigs, this time with Toronto. This brief synopsis leaves out a good bit of detail, so those who are interested will want to check out the piece in its entirety.
- Despite frequently being forced to trade away top-tier pitching due to financial constraints, the Rays continually boast one of baseball’s best pitching staffs, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Brown looks at the manner in which each member of Tampa’s core group of starters was acquired, noting that the club is adept at identifying replacements, but that the culture of the clubhouse is important in maintaining that excellence as well. Chris Archer spoke to Brown about all that he learned from David Price and James Shields before their trades, adding that he and Alex Cobb are among the pitchers who now try to mentor and pass that wisdom onto younger arms.
The Orioles officially announced the signing of Cuban lefty Ariel Miranda yesterday, and executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette sat down with the media to discuss that and other matters, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun was among those to report.
- Regarding Miranda, Duquette said that the team is “hoping he can help us maybe later this year or sometime next year.” He added that Miranda’s bonus checked in below the $800K that the team previously committed to Dariel Alvarez.
- Outfielder Alejandro De Aza has already drawn trade interest since being designated for assignment, per Duquette. “We have some depth on our left-handed hitting side of the roster and we’re going to see if his contract has value with some other clubs,” said Duquette. “There’s a couple of clubs that were interested in him.” The contract is the issue with De Aza, of course, along with the fact that he is not off to a fast start at the plate. De Aza, 31, has enough of a track record to be a strong option for some teams, but he is playing on a $5MM salary this year.
- Dylan Bundy‘s MRI showed nothing more than inflammation in his shoulder, Duquette also said. Needless to say, that’s good news for the O’s and their prized young right, who is still not far removed from Tommy John surgery.
De Aza, 31, was acquired last summer and tendered arbitration over the winter, ultimately receiving a $5MM salary after losing a hearing to the Orioles. That payday represented a fairly significant commitment from Baltimore, but the team has not been rewarded.
Over his first 112 plate appearances on the year, De Aza has slashed .214/.277/.359 with three home runs. He has also stolen two bases, but been caught on two other attempts. Of course, De Aza does have a track record of putting up at least league-average offensive production over full seasons of work.
While De Aza will presumably draw interest, his salary figures to be a major hindrance to a deal. Of course, that same factor also makes him a somewhat unlikely candidate to be claimed off waivers, but with more than five years of service he’d be able to elect free agency (without sacrificing salary) if he cleared. All said, then, the O’s should be motivated to find a deal and save what they can on the contract.
Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has rejected a position within his old organization and will spend the year away from the game, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger writes. “He’s doing fine, but he’s not going to be participating with us,” says GM Terry Ryan. “I talk to him often. He’s doing pretty good, but he wants to take a year off.” Ryan adds that Gardenhire is interested in continuing to manage. The Twins fired him in September after the team had four straight seasons of 70 wins or fewer. Here’s more from the American League.
- Josh Hamilton could be out for up to 12 weeks after having shoulder surgery earlier this month, but the Angels are not actively looking for an outfielder to replace him, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. “If throughout the spring, if we see something that fits for us, like we do any other spring, we’ll certainly pay attention,” says GM Jerry Dipoto. “But it’s not something we are focused on at this point.” The Angels feel that Matt Joyce, Collin Cowgill and Dan Robertson give them enough options to fill Hamilton’s spot until he returns.
- Fellow Angel Albert Pujols could retire before his contract expires in 2021 if his gymnast daughter, Sophia, makes it to the Olympics, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports. The plan for Sophia is to get to the Olympics by 2020. “That might have to be the year I retire,” says Pujols. “You can put that in the paper, because I don’t want to miss it. … Either that, or they’ll have to put me on the disabled list for two weeks.” Of course, that’s still five years away, and Sophia is only nine and will still be too young to compete in 2020 under current rules, so it might be unwise to read much into Pujols’ comments at this point.
- The Orioles considered a multiyear extension for outfielder Alejandro De Aza before figures were filed for De Aza’s arbitration case, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. De Aza says he was not aware of those discussions, but that he would consider an extension. “I’m interested in the opportunity,” he says. “I’m excited about the opportunity here, and I want to be here for a long time.” De Aza, who lost his arbitration hearing yesterday, is eligible for free agency after the season.
The Mariners’ defeat of reliever Tom Wilhelmsen today ended this offseason’s arbitration season. This year, 14 players went to arbitration hearings, with the players winning six times and teams winning eight. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, here are the results.
|Player||Team||Player Amt.||Team Amt.||Player won?|
|Alejandro De Aza||Orioles||$5.650MM||$5.000MM||No|
|Josh Donaldson||Blue Jays||$5.750MM||$4.300MM||No|
|Danny Valencia||Blue Jays||$1.675MM||$1.250MM||Yes|
A few notes:
- Via MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker, only three players (Andrew Cashner, Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin) had hearings last year, so 14 hearings this year marks a dramatic spike. No players had hearings in the 2012-2013 offseason, and seven players did in 2011-2012. The number of hearings this offseason was the most since 2001, although not everyone is convinced this is the start of a trend, according to the Associated Press. ”Just as I didn’t think [2012-2013] was the start of a trend when we had no hearings, I do not think any conclusions can be drawn at this point from the increased number of hearings this year,” says MLB chief legal officer Don Halem.
- The Pirates alone took three players to arbitration, as many as all teams combined in the previous two offseasons.
- Teams will pay the 14 players who went to arbitration $57.925MM next season, saving a total of about $1.5MM versus the midpoints between those 14 players’ proposed figures and those of their teams.
- There appears to be no obvious pattern in which players won and which lost (which isn’t necessarily surprising, since the terms of each arbitration hearing are set ahead of time by the teams and agents who determine the figures, and not by the arbitrators). As CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman notes (via Twitter), better established players (like Josh Donaldson, Neil Walker and Mat Latos) mostly lost their hearings, while players coming off mediocre or poor seasons, like Pedro Alvarez, Mark Trumbo and Mike Minor, won theirs.
- In terms of overall dollar value, Donaldson might be the player most affected by the result of his hearing, which he lost. There was a fairly large gap (over $1.4MM) between his proposed figure and that of the Blue Jays. Donaldson is also a Super Two player in the midst of his first year of arbitration eligibility, and his salary for 2015 could impact his salary in the next three seasons after that.
The Orioles have won their arbitration case against outfielder Alejandro De Aza, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets. De Aza, who had filed for $5.65MM, will make $5MM next season in his last year before free agency eligibility.
De Aza made $4.25MM last season, so his $5MM 2015 salary will represent only a relatively modest raise. He had been in the midst of a disappointing season with the White Sox before arriving in Baltimore after an August trade. A strong stretch run with the Orioles helped save his season, but he still experienced overall declines (some of them admittedly slight) in most offensive categories, hitting .252/.314/.386 with just eight home runs for the season.
Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, the Orioles have now either settled or completed the arbitration process with all 11 of their arb-eligible players. They will pay a total of about $57.5MM to those players, including Chris Davis at $12MM, Bud Norris at $8.8MM and Matt Wieters at $8.3MM.
The Yankees hosted their second private workout for Cuban sensation Yoan Moncada last night, reports George A. King III of the the New York Post. The Yankees like Moncada quite a bit but are a bit leery of the financial commitment it will take to sign the 19-year-old, King adds. He also hears from an international scouting source that the Dodgers could be willing to spend up to $40MM on a bonus for Moncada (meaning an $80MM total commitment after tax), which one scout described to King as “a lot of money for someone to begin at [Single-A].”
Elsewhere in the American League East…
- Orioles GM/executive vice president Dan Duquette spoke to the media on a number of roster-related issues today, and Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com provides a quick rundown of the items discussed. Duquette says the team is still looking to add a reliever, likely on a minor league deal, and he also said there’s little chance of the team avoiding arbitration with Alejandro De Aza, whose hearing is set for tomorrow. Additionally, Duquette revealed that minor league signee Paul Janish had surgery to remove bone spurs from his throwing elbow and will be out six to eight weeks. That news led the team to its now-official minor league deal with Jayson Nix.
- Rays right-hander Kevin Jepsen spoke with Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times about the strange feeling of being traded from the only organization he’s ever known. Traded by the Angels to the Rays for Matt Joyce this offseason, Jepsen, an Arizona resident, describes the peculiar feeling of heading to Spring Training in Florida. Though the transition is jarring, he does have a familiar face in closer Jake McGee, who grew up with Jepsen in Nevada, Topkin writes. The brief look at Jepsen’s transition serves as a reminder of the human element to these transactions that we often take for granted.
- While it’s easy to suggest that the Red Sox should simply trade Shane Victorino, it’s also important for them to maintain some outfield depth, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. Hanley Ramirez has averaged just 116 games over the past four seasons, and Rusney Castillo is still “more potential than certainty.” A healthy Victorino is typically a valuable asset and could be of use in any outfield spot if needed.
- Abraham also spoke to Brandon Workman, who said he’s not the least bit bothered by being moved from the rotation to the bullpen by the Red Sox. “I want to be in the majors,” Workman told Abraham. “You feel terrible when you get sent back to Triple A and this is where I want to be. I’m not worried about anything else.”
Determining a manager’s value to the on-field success of a team is anything but a quantifiable science, but Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com points out one easily identifiable advantage that Buck Showalter has given the Orioles. Showalter, since day one, has “demanded” that his pitchers control the running game by learning to hold runners and quickening their time to home plate in order to give the team’s catchers a chance. “When Buck came I focused on it,” Chris Tillman told Kubatko. “Before I didn’t really pay all that much attention to it. … But once he put the video in front of us and the stats in front of us about runners advancing another 90 feet, as a pitcher that’s everything.” Tillman is perhaps the most extreme example of success in Showalter’s mandate; he’s allowed just two steals in 13 attempts over the past two seasons.
A bit more from Kubatko and more on the Orioles in general…
- If the Orioles are going to add another utility infield option or another relief arm to their Major League Spring Training camp, it’s got to happen within the next few days, Kubatko points out. GM Dan Duquette listed both as items on his wish list on Jan. 31, and pitchers and catchers will report for the Orioles on Thursday of this week.
- The Orioles and Alejandro De Aza seem destined for an arbitration hearing, but there’s little risk for either side in this scenario, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. As Encina notes, the $650K gap — a similar gap to the one that separated the O’s and Ryan Flaherty — means less to De Aza than it would to a player like Flaherty, who had filed at $1.6MM (De Aza filed at $5.65MM to the team’s $5MM). As for the Orioles, they can take some solace in knowing that they’re 9-1 over their past 10 arb hearings under owner Peter Angelos, including 7-0 since hiring general counsel H. Russell Smouse to lead their arbitration proceedings. Encina also writes that in today’s game, players are more used to seeing criticism and having their flaws highlighted — likely referring to the rise of web content and players’ accessibility to potentially negative reports on their game — so there’s lesser risk that a player hearing about his negative traits will be affected in terms of on-field performance.
- Also over at MASNsports.com, Steve Melweski takes a look at Baltimore’s roster questions heading into Spring Training. Though Ubaldo Jimenez can’t be simply handed a rotation spot due to his salary, that salary also means he cannot be written off entirely and does need a fair chance at the rotation. Melewski also opines that J.P. Arencibia and Ryan Lavarnway were brought in for more than the opportunity to compete for the backup job; either could break camp with the team in a larger role, in the event that Matt Wieters needs to open the season on the disabled list. Of Baltimore’s two injured stars, Melewski notes that Manny Machado is more likely to be ready for the opener than Wieters.
Prince Fielder is one of several players whose hoped-for return to past production levels will go a long way toward determining the near-term fate of the Rangers. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News provides an interesting profile of Fielder, who says he is recharged, newly appreciative, and raring to go for 2015.
Here are a few more notes from around the league:
- The Orioles are headed toward an arbitration hearing with outfielder Alejandro De Aza, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Executive VP Dan Duquette explains that the club informed De Aza it had made him its best offer and would take a “file to go” strategy from that point forward. He expressed surprise that the team’s $5MM proposal was not accepted, noting that there had been discussions of a two-year deal as well. De Aza filed at $5.65MM, which actually falls shy of the $5.9MM that MLBTR and Matt Swartz projected. Baltimore’s arbitration strategy was actually the first topic covered by Kubatko in his recent appearance on the MLBTR Podcast.
- MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said today that the league’s investigation into possible tampering by the Cubs into then-Rays manager Joe Maddon is still in progress, as ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers reports. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and Maddon’s agent, Alen Nero, have both insisted that nothing untoward occurred, but it appears that MLB will take its time and cover the matter thoroughly before coming to any conclusions.
- Max Scherzer‘s departure from the Tigers appears to have been all but a formality from the point that he rejected the club’s $140MM offer last spring, as the righty explained to MLB.com’s Jason Beck. Scherzer said that he wasn’t interested in holding contract talks during the season, and that the club was not interested in negotiating when Scherzer’s camp “reached out” over the offseason. Indeed, Scherzer said that both he and Rick Porcello realized some time ago that the club was likely going to undergo a lot of turnover in the coming years, which has indeed been the case.
- As for his choice of the Nationals, Scherzer gave some further details on how the end game went down: “Of the teams that were really down to the end, the Nationals gave me the best opportunity [to win]. So because of that, that’s the recent why I told Scott [Boras] at the end, ‘Let’s just negotiate with the Nationals.'”