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Alex Gonzalez Rumors
The Astros have loaned massive first baseman Japhet Amador to the Diablos Rojos of the Mexican League, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Amador was signed away from his new club this past August, and appeared at both Triple-A (where he has struggled mightily) and the Arizona Fall League (where he slashed .284/.286/.507). As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle explains (Twitter links), Amador’s contract had a clause that required the team to decide by May 3 whether to purchase his contract, and the team was not going to do so. Nevertheless, Amador’s agent, Oscar Suarez, says that there is some hope that the 27-year-old could return to the Houston organization (possibly with another AFL stint). Here’s more from the American League:
- While talks have been put on hold with the season well underway, the Red Sox seemingly remain quite interested in keeping Jon Lester in the fold, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter. “Every effort is going to be made to make sure that Jon remains in a Red Sox uniform,” said manager John Farrell. “We’re hopeful that takes place.”
- The Tigers‘ trade for Alex Gonzalez raised some questions at the time it was made, and that only increased as he struggled and was ultimately released. MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes that the deal was unquestionably a miss, but says that GM Dave Dombrowski took a calculated risk based on the assessments of the same scouts that have supported other risks that worked out for the club. Another stop-gap acquisition at short is unlikely at this point, Beck adds.
The Orioles are in Boston for a wraparound series with the Red Sox culminating tomorrow on Patriots' Day. Mike Seal, the agent for J.J. Hardy is in Boston this weekend, but the Orioles shortstop says it's not for extension talks. "He's here because his wife is running in the marathon, so he came out for this series to watch his wife run," Hardy told reporters, including MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. "There's been nothing. My agent's here now and he hasn't said anything to me the last month or so. There's been no contact. Usually, he gives me the 'still nothing.' I think it's even past that now to where it's like, he doesn't even need to tell me."
Elsewhere around baseball this Easter Sunday:
- Tigers President/CEO/General Manager Dave Dombrowski couldn't wait any longer to see if Alex Gonzalez would turn things around, writes Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press.
- A reader asked John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) if there's any chance the Reds might go after Gonzalez in light of Zack Cozart's struggles. That's doubtful, in Fay's mind, because Gonzalez doesn't offer much range at the shortstop position. Fay, in a second tweet, also doesn't see the Reds signing Joel Hanrahan.
- In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe speculates, after impressing teams in his latest audition, Hanrahan could hold out for a Major League contract. The veteran worked out for 18 clubs and impressed with the depth of his secondary pitches.
- There's no guarantee Ike Davis will see another 32-home run season with the Pirates; but, if it happens, the Mets will be reminded about it frequently, writes David Lennon of Newsday. However, the Mets finally decided on a course of action rather than have uncertainty at first and they must be prepared to live with the fallout.
- Davis is eager to play more often as a member of the Pirates, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It was pretty negative over there [with the Mets] for me for a little while," Davis said. "Hopefully, I can come here and hear some positive energy and start building forward and start playing better."
- Did the Indians make a mistake by not keeping Aaron Harang? The veteran pitched seven hitless innings for the Braves on Friday, but Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer defends the Tribe's decision. The 36-year-old, he notes, didn't set the world on fire last season and his release allowed the Indians to see what Carlos Carrasco can offer as a starter.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Tigers acquired Gonzalez in late March in exchange for utility player Steve Lombardozzi, who was shipped to the Orioles less than four months after arriving in Detroit as part of the Doug Fister deal. With Lombardozzi in Baltimore, the Fister deal amounted to Detroit receiving left-handers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray plus a few weeks of Gonzalez. The Tigers had hoped the 37-year-old would serve as a capable replacement for shortstop Jose Iglesias, but his spotty defense and lack of range left much to be desired.
"We thought we'd take a little chance on it," Tigers President/CEO/General Manager Dave Dombrowski told reporters, including MLB.com's Jason Beck. "We thought it was something worth taking the gamble. As we had a chance to watch him, had a chance to get a feel, we just didn't see it getting better, so we thought, with the emphasis on defense for us at shortstop, we thought it was important to get someone who had a little bit more range."
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports notes (via Twitter) the Tigers will pay Gonzalez $1.1MM for only nine games. In that small sample size of 32 at-bats, Gonzalez slashed .167/.219/.233. For his career, Gonzalez owns a .245/.290/.395 line across 16 big league seasons.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Lombardozzi, 25, hit .259/.278/.338 in 307 plate appearances for the Nationals last year, appearing at second base, left field, and third base. He was traded to the Tigers in December along with Robbie Ray and Ian Krol for Doug Fister. Lombardozzi is a Maryland native whose father spent parts of six seasons in the Majors. The move gives the Orioles added infield depth in light of third baseman Manny Machado starting the season on the DL. The Orioles added Triple-A depth yesterday with their waiver claim of David Adams.
Gonzalez, 37, was in Orioles camp as a non-roster invitee. Gonzalez had signed a minor league deal with Baltimore in January, and put together a strong line in 30 spring plate appearances. Gonzalez provides another option for the Tigers for the injured Jose Iglesias, who will begin the season on the DL and will miss likely significant time with stress fractures in both shins. The Tigers acquired infielder Andrew Romine from the Angels two days ago.
The Tigers' return for Fister, already seen around the game as light, takes a further hit with Lombardozzi being swapped for an expendable player like Gonzalez.
Gonzalez has seen just over 200 plate appearances for the Brewers over the past two seasons. He was off to a nice start to the 2012 campaign when a knee injury ended his year. He struggled to a .177/.203/.230 line in 118 plate appearances last year before Milwaukee cut ties.
The Brewers acquired third baseman Juan Francisco from the Braves for minor league lefty reliever Tom Keeling, announced the teams. Additionally, the Brewers announced they've asked for waivers for the unconditional release of infielder Alex Gonzalez, while recalling second baseman Scooter Gennett and optioning Mike Fiers.
The Braves designated Francisco for assignment last Thursday to open a roster spot for Alex Wood. Francisco, 25, hit .237/.281/.420 in 320 plate appearances spanning 2012-13 for Atlanta. They had acquired him in an April 2012 trade with the Reds for reliever J.J. Hoover. Signed out of the Dominican Republic by Cincinnati in 2004, Francisco hit the prospect radar a few years later. Baseball America praised his arm and big raw power, questioning his aggressive approach at the plate. Francisco has played only third base in the Majors, and has played a handful of minor league games at the outfield corners and at first. In the short-term, though, GM Doug Melvin indicated on WSSP SportsRadio 1250 that Francisco will play first for the Brewers. Looking ahead, Francisco could be a viable replacement at the hot corner if the Brewers trade Aramis Ramirez this summer.
Keeling, 25, was drafted out of Oklahoma State by the Brewers in the 18th round in 2010. In 17 relief frames at Double-A this year, he has a 3.18 ERA, 10.1 K/9, and 5.3 BB/9, with one home run allowed. According to MLB.com's Mark Bowman, "Keeling is a future bullpen piece who could get to Atlanta in 2014. He's hit 93 on the gun and occasionally uses a sideam delivery." Baseball America's J.J. Cooper paints a less rosy picture, tweeting, "Keeling is a fringy potential left-handed reliever with a below average fastball, OK slider."
Gonzalez, 36, signed a Major League deal worth $1.45MM in February. His release came after a .177/.203/.230 line in 118 plate appearances. A shortstop by trade, Gonzalez spent more time this year at the infield corners due to injuries to Corey Hart and Ramirez. Gonzalez had ACL surgery on his knee a year ago and battled a hamstring injury about a month ago. He lost playing time to Yuniesky Betancourt, who hit six home runs in April. The Brewers will be on the hook for Gonzalez's salary this year, less a pro-rated portion of the league minimum should he sign elsewhere.
Gennett, 23, was added to the Brewers' 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. The 5'9" second baseman was ranked eighth among Brewers prospects by Baseball America prior to the season. He's a free-swinging line drive hitter with some surprising doubles power, wrote BA. They added that he has some rough edges to smooth out defensively, with an average arm and range. Gennett was hitting .297/.342/.376 in 221 plate appearances at Triple-A, and MLB.com's Adam McCalvy suggests he will push Rickie Weeks for the team's starting job at second base. At the least, some kind of platoon situation is possible, since Gennett bats left-handed and Weeks right-handed.
It was on this day in 1986 that Rollie Fingers chose his mustache over the Reds. The veteran closer was offered a Spring Training invite by the Reds on the condition that Fingers shave his famous handlebar in order to meet with the team's facial hair policies. Fingers turned the deal down and instead retired, ending his 17-year Major League career and paving the way for his eventual induction into the Hall of Fame.
Here's the latest from around the NL Central…
- The Cardinals exchanged figures with Alex Gonzalez this offseason but couldn't come to terms, and the veteran shortstop instead signed with the Brewers, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports. The Cards' best offer was a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $1MM plus another $1MM if Gonzalez made the roster, which couldn't top Gonzalez's deal with Milwaukee. A dozen teams scouted Gonzalez's offseason workout sessions, with the Red Sox and Dodgers showing particular interest in the 36-year-old.
- Steve Hammond, Adam Wainwright's agent, is out of the country for the next 10 days so there won't be any immediate extension talks between Wainwright and the Cardinals, B.J. Rains of St. Louis 1380 AM Radio reports (via Twitter). We heard on Monday that both sides were keeping the lines of communication open about a new contract for the ace right-hander.
- Dontrelle Willis talks to CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney about his career, his short-lived retirement, his controversial exit from the Orioles organization and his return to the Cubs on a minor league contract.
- The Pirates are desperate for success but ESPN's Buster Olney notes that the team must weigh the short-term benefit of a winning season against the long-term costs (both developmentally and financially) of calling up young starters Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith noted earlier today that the Pirates could prevent Cole from gaining Super Two eligibility by delaying his callup until mid-June.
The latest links from the NL Central…
- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle deserves to keep his job, but hasn’t yet earned an extension in the view of Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Pirates have officially extended Hurdle, a move that “seems unnecessary” to Morosi given the Pirates’ late-season struggles in 2011-12.
- Talent evaluators are doubtful Shin-Soo Choo can provide average center field defense, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports. Bowden, the former GM of the Reds, suggests Jay Bruce would shift to center field if Choo struggles. The Reds acquired Choo from the Indians in a three-team trade earlier this winter.
- Alex Gonzalez has played 13,207 2/3 innings of defense at the MLB level, and all of them have been at shortstop. Yet Gonzalez could play at first base this year, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports. The Brewers, who signed Gonzalez to a one-year deal earlier this month, have two injured first basemen in Corey Hart and Mat Gamel. Manager Ron Roenicke said he hopes Gonzalez embraces a utility role with the team. “If he’s wanting to play a long time, then he needs to be a utility man that can play all positions,” Roenicke said.
The Brewers have officially signed free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a one-year, Major League contract. Gonzalez, a client of agent Eric Goldschmidt, will obtain a $1.5MM guarantee and could earn an additional $1MM in incentives.
Gonzalez played for the Brewers in 2012, but appeared in just 24 games after signing for $4.25MM. The Brewers placed Gonzalez on the disabled list with an ACL tear in early May, and he didn't play again. Before hitting the disabled list, the 35-year-old posted a .259/.326/.457 batting line in 89 plate appearances. In general, Gonzalez has been a low-average, low-OBP hitter with some power and a steady glove throughout his 14-year MLB career.
Gonzalez provides the Brewers with an experienced alternative to Jean Segura. Segura, 22, joined the Brewers in the Zack Greinke trade last summer and hit .264/.321/.331 in 163 late summer plate appearances with Milwaukee.
Today, the Brewers are hosting Brewers On Deck, their annual winter fan festival. Here's the news being made at the event:
- Owner Mark Attanasio says there's always a chance the Brewers could enter the bidding for free agent starter Kyle Lohse, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "It’s a function of size of contract, length of contract." Attanasio said. "Kyle had a phenomenal two seasons the last two seasons. We just have to see if that fits in our overall scheme." Attanasio refused to specifically say if the team has spoken with Scott Boras, Lohse's agent.
- Manager Ron Roenicke indicated Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada are locks for the starting rotation leaving Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers, and Chris Narveson vying for the other three spots, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Roenicke questioned whether Narveson, who underwent rotator cuff surgery last May on his throwing shoulder, will be ready for camp; but, assistant GM Gord Ash said everything is great with the left-hander and he is not behind schedule, reports Haudricourt.
- Roenicke touted the team’s rotation depth, arguing the five starters at the beginning of the season don’t have to be the same five at the end, writes McCalvy. Roenicke referred to options like recently signed free agent reliever Tom Gorzelanny, who has experience as a starter, and prospects Tyler Thornburg and Hiram Burgos.
- Earlier today, we learned the Brewers are seeking first basemen in light of Corey Hart's knee surgery on Friday, which will force him to miss the first two months of the season. Mat Gamel, Hart's replacement, himself underwent knee surgery last May. Assistant GM Gord Ash said Gamel was examined today and "he is ready to go," Haudricourt tweeted.
- Melvin did say he is talking to a couple of free agent infielders, reports McCalvy on Twitter. Haudricourt opines it sounds like shortstop Alex Gonzalez is still in play (Twitter link). Gonzalez played 24 games for the Brewers in 2012 before his season was cut short by knee surgery.
- The Brewers will lose the only catchers on their 40-man roster, Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, to the World Baseball Classic. Haudricourt stumped Roenicke when he asked the manager about the catching depth chart. "Don't ask me that question because I don't know," said Roenicke. "I want a guy that's going to be with us to be working with these (pitchers), to get them locked in. We're not going to have our two guys there talking to them all the time. So it's going to be difficult. There isn't (an obvious No. 3 catcher)." The Brewers will have five non-roster catchers in camp who have a combined six games of big league experience.