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Andy Dirks Rumors
This is the second back operation in as many years for Dirks, as his prior surgery (and a couple of hamstring injuries during rehab) limited him to just 14 minor league games during 2014. Dirks hit .276/.332/.413 in 1063 plate appearances with the Tigers from 2011-13, hitting slightly better against right-handed pitching (career .751 OPS) than lefty pitching (.721 OPS).
The Jays claimed Dirks on waivers from the Tigers in October then non-tendered him to avoid paying him a projected $1.6MM (as per MLBTR’s Matt Swartz) in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Toronto then re-signed Dirks to a minor league deal in January. Were it not for his back problems, Dirks looked like a solid contender to win a part-time role with the Jays this season as a left-handed bat who could contribute in left field, DH or in a pinch-hitting role.
Three more Cuban players — first baseman Lazaro Alonso, infielder/outfielder Osniel Madera, and catcher Yoel Rojas — have left the country, reports Baseball America’s Ben Badler. The 19-year-old Alonso and the 29-year-old Madera should draw interest from MLB teams, according to Badler. Alonso was hitting .299/.436/.494 in 110 plate appearances with more walks (20) than strikeouts (19) at the time he defected. Madera has played both corner outfield positions as well as third base and second base in his career, and he was hitting .319/.390/.469 in 187 PA this season.
Some more notes from around the league…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post looks at the Padres‘ offseason and wonders if the team has added star power while sacrificing the cohesion that is typically necessary to for a roster to succeed. Though the team has right-handed power in spades, the Padres lean far too much to the right, with only two left-handed bats projected in their lineup, neither of whom brings much with the bat (Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso). The team also lacks a logical lead-off hitter and will field not just a questionable outfield defense but also take a significant step back in pitch-framing, going from a combo of Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera to Derek Norris and a yet-undetermined backup. So much focus has been placed on San Diego’s remade offense, Sherman writes, that few have pointed out the fact that the Padres also allowed their fewest runs ever in 2014 — a feat that won’t likely repeat given the factors laid out here.
- Designated hitter/outfielder Luke Scott worked out for clubs in southern California last week, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweeted. The former Orioles/Astros/Rays slugger spent some time in the Korea Baseball Organization last year and enjoyed success in 130 plate appearances, hitting .267/.392/.505. Scott, 36, is a career .258/.340/.481 hitter and is eyeing a return to the Majors. While a minor league deal is almost certainly all that would be in the cards at this stage, he’s always shown respectable power and could be a reasonable add for a team looking for some left-handed pop off the bench.
- Outfielder Andy Dirks, who signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays this offseason, will report to the team’s minor league Spring Training camp instead of Major League camp, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (the Dirks note gets a brief mention at the bottom of the story). Dirks, who missed all of 2014 recovering from back surgery, is still rehabbing and has again been delayed in his recovery. A healthy Dirks could be a nice addition to the Toronto bench, as he’s an able defender in left field and a lifetime .276/.332/.413 hitter.
- In similar fashion, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic notes at the end of an article on Addison Reed that the D-Backs watched right-hander Chad Gaudin throw a bullpen session last week. The 31-year-old Gaudin didn’t pitch in 2014 as he recovered from neck surgery, though the swingman has a career 4.44 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and a 42.4 percent ground-ball rate. Gaudin’s last big league action came with the 2013 Giants, and he pitched quite well, notching a 3.06 ERA (3.34 FIP, 4.00 xFIP) in 97 innings. He made a dozen starts and 18 relief appearances that season. GM Dave Stewart tells Piecoro that Gaudin is a consideration in the team’s search for pitching depth.
The free agent market for Max Scherzer has been anything but traditional, writes MLB.com’s Mike Bauman. As Bauman notes, the dearth of clubs that have acknowledged interest in Scherzer is particularly peculiar, as is the fact that there have been little to no leaks of serious interest. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Insider required) spoke to a number of GMs, assistant GMs, managers, players and agents trying to pin down Scherzer’s market. As Bowden writes, while he often came up empty, that doesn’t necessarily mean much, as Scherzer is an ownership-level decision, and not all owners don’t always keep the front office in the loop. Beyond that, many owners consider Scherzer’s exorbitant price tag a final option of sorts and will only relent once it becomes clear that a potentially more affordable alternative — e.g. a trade for Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann or Johnny Cueto — is not possible. Bowden lists the Tigers, Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, Nationals, Marlins, Giants and Blue Jays as theoretical fits, noting that he doesn’t expect the latter two would make an offer. The Tigers are still the favorites in Bowden’s eyes, while multiple Yankees officials would “love” to have Scherzer (despite the club’s public and private denials). He adds that the Nationals could conceivably sign Scherzer if they move Zimmermann and/or Ian Desmond for younger pieces, knowing each has just one remaining year on his contract and has rebuffed the team’s previous efforts at working out a long-term deal.
Some more free agent notes from around the league…
- In addition to the Braves and Orioles, the Giants are also a potential fit for outfielder Nori Aoki, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. To this point, the Giants have yet to address their left field hole and have had a largely quiet offseason — though not for lack of trying. The Giants made serious pursuits of both Pablo Sandoval and Jon Lester, but after missing out on each have acquired Casey McGehee via trade and re-signed Jake Peavy.
- Speaking of the Giants‘ quiet offseason, MLB.com’s Chris Haft points out that history has shown the team is capable of adding help even as late in the offseason as mid-January. As Haft points out, both Aubrey Huff and Bengie Molina were mid-January signs back in 2010. He opines that a reunion with Ryan Vogelsong — whom Haft notes very much wants to return to San Francisco — makes so much sense that it’s surprising it hasn’t happened at this point. Though there’s some understandable frustration from Giants fans, Haft notes, there’s plenty of time for an addition or two.
- The Athletics will be among the clubs to watch Hector Olivera‘s upcoming showcase in the Dominican Republic, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who finds a matchup between the two sides very plausible. Adding Olivera to the fold would allow the team to play Ben Zobrist in the outfield, with Marcus Semien manning shortstop and Olivera at second. Olivera, 29, still needs clearance from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and Major League Baseball before he can sign.
- Everth Cabrera was scheduled for a readiness hearing Wednesday of this week, but his attorney has requested a continuance until March 23 due to pending trial matters in another case, reports Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. As such, Cabrera’s jury trial is now set for April 13 (depending on the outcome of the readiness hearing). Cabrera faces up to a year in jail time if he is convicted with a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. The delay in the hearing is particularly poor news for Cabrera, who had hoped to ink a big league deal at some point this offseason.
- Lastly, a pair of minor free agent notes: Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that the Twins never made an effort to re-sign Anthony Swarzak before he signed with Cleveland today, while MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers did make Andy Dirks an offer after he was non-tendered by Toronto. However, Detroit’s acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes led Dirks to return to the Blue Jays, where he felt he had a better opportunity to make the team and pick up more at-bats.
1:40pm: The Blue Jays have announced the signing of Dirks to a minor league deal.
1:28pm: The Blue Jays and outfielder Andy Dirks are in agreement on a minor league contract with an invite to big league Spring Training, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Toronto originally claimed the Frontline Athlete Management client off waivers from the Tigers in October but non-tendered him in December rather than pay a projected $1.6MM salary via arbitration.
The 28-year-old Dirks missed the entire 2014 season after his recovery from back surgery progressed slower than expected. He also suffered a hamstring injury while rehabbing his back, causing him to miss the final leg of the season.
When healthy from 2011-13 with the Tigers, Dirks proved himself to be a highly capable defender in the outfield corners, particularly in left field, where he spent most of his time. A career .276/.332/.413 hitter in 1063 plate appearances, Dirks, at his best, can provide league-average offense and solid glovework. Though his career average and on-base percentage are similar versus both right- and left-handed pitching, Dirks has shown more power against righties in the Majors. He can give Kevin Pillar some competition to serve as Toronto’s fourth outfielder and could find himself in a larger role if the highly touted but inexperienced Dalton Pompey proves unready to hold down an everyday center field job.
The Marlins are looking for a left-handed bat that can spell their outfielders and do some pinch hitting. Their search, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, has now led to a couple of new names: Andy Dirks and Will Venable.
The Blue Jays non-tendered Dirks back in December instead of keeping him on board for a projected $1.6MM. The left fielder, who didn’t make a major league plate appearance in 2014, slashed .276/.332/.413 between 2011-2013 for the Tigers. He grades out as an excellent defender in left field, having compiled 16 Defensive Runs Saved and an UZR/150 mark of +5.1 in 1569 innings in left field.
Venable, 32, has come up quite a bit in trade rumors over the last month and change with the Orioles among the teams that have been linked to him. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune recently said that it seems more and more likely that the Padres will hang on to him, but one has to wonder if the Marlins’ interest could change things. Venable is due to earn a reasonable $4.25MM in 2015.
The Marlins are also looking into Ichiro Suzuki and Nate Schierholtz as fourth outfielder options. When word of that came out last week, our own Steve Adams speculated that Dirks and Venable could be considerations for Miami.
Each player had been obtained within the last three months or so at minimum cost to Toronto. It would appear that the club was keeping them on hand to create some options, but that it has decided to go in another direction.
As Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca explains, the move certainly sets the table for more action out of Toronto, which now has only three outfielders on its 40-man roster. And that is before addressing the team’s needs in the pen and at second.
The trio will deliver some cost savings back to the Jays, of course. Mayberry ($1.9MM), Smoak ($3MM), and Dirks ($1.6MM) combined for a projected tab of about $6.5MM. That should be enough space for one or two good to very good relief arms, and moving Dioner Navarro‘s salary might create yet more breathing room.
The Cubs‘ decision to replace Rick Renteria with Joe Maddon seems “a little dirty,” but the baseball world will go on, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. The Rays believe the Cubs tampered with Maddon while they had him under contract, and others in the game aren’t happy that Maddon’s situation led to Renteria’s firing. Rosenthal notes that if MLB can prove the Cubs tampered, the Rays could demand a promising young player in compensation, maybe even a player as talented as Javier Baez or Addison Russell. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- GM Dave Dombrowski says the Tigers would have retained outfielder Andy Dirks in 2015 if they knew he would be healthy, Tom Gage of the Detroit News tweets. Dirks platooned with Matt Tuiasosopo in left field for the Tigers in 2013, but he missed the entire 2014 season with back and hamstring issues, and the Tigers lost him on waivers to the Blue Jays today.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti doesn’t believe Jason Giambi will be a good fit for the team’s roster next season, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets. Giambi will be 44 in January, and he hit .133/.257/.267 in limited duty in 2014, so it’s no surprise that the Indians might move on. Terry Francona has called Giambi a “manager-in-waiting,” so Giambi’s next move could involve coaching.
- The Indians have made a variety of front office moves, Hoynes tweets. Ross Atkins will be Cleveland’s new vice president in charge of player personnel, with Carter Hawkins becoming director of player development and Paul Gillispie the director of pro scouting.
The Blue Jays have claimed outfielder Andy Dirks off waivers, the Tigers announced via press release.
Dirks, 28, was expected to serve as Detroit’s primary left fielder this season in a platoon with Rajai Davis, but a back injury required surgery and wound up costing him the entire year. Dirks has a solid career slash line of .276/.332/.413, and he grades out as an excellent defender in left field, having compiled 16 Defensive Runs Saved and an UZR/150 mark of +5.1 in 1569 innings in left field.
With Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus both hitting the open market, Dirks makes for a very nice add to the team’s outfield depth if he can return to health in 2015 and beyond. He’s projected to earn $1.63MM in his first time through arbitration this offseason, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and he can be controlled through 2017 via the arb process.
Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks suffered yet another setback in his return from back surgery i a rehab game on Sunday, according to James Schmel of MLive.com. Dirks sustained the second hamstring injury of his rehab assignment, and while the results of a Tuesday MRI have yet to be disclosed, it’s looking unlikely that he will play for the Tigers at all this season, writes Schmel. There are just 13 games remaining in the minor league regular season, and Dirks may not have enough time to rehab and prepare himself to suit up for the reigning AL Central champs this year.
Here’s more from baseball’s Central divisions…
- Much has been made of the Cubs‘ plan to pursue top-of-the-rotation arms this offseason, but GM Jed Hoyer said to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times this weekend that a veteran position player is a priority as well. “…[T]here’s a lot of positions on the field that we want to dedicate to the guys that are here or to young players,” said Hoyer. “But I do think it’s important to have some veteran guys with good approaches that these guys can lean on… … It’s certainly something we want to find.”
- Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton was originally placed on the disabled list for a hip issue, but he has now been diagnosed with a sports hernia, he told reporters, including Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). Morton will try to return in 2014, but that doesn’t appear to be a certainty, and even if he does, offseason surgery remains a possibility.
- Twins top prospect Alex Meyer is right where he should be in regard to the team’s projected innings limit, GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Ryan will watch Meyer’s final home start of the year next week but is not ready to concretely say that the flamethrower will receive a September call-up. The Twins would need to add Meyer to the 40-man roster to do so, but as Berardino notes, that would happen following the season in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft anyway. Meyer ranked on the midseason Top 50 prospect lists of ESPN’s Keith Law, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com, placing as high as 12th overall (on B-Pro’s list).
- Following the Reds‘ recent four-game losing streak — each of which featured the bullpen blowing a lead — John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer opines that it’s time to shift the focus to 2015. Fay examines the club’s chances of contending and writes that they won’t be big players on the free agent market, as is typically the M.O. of owner Bob Castellini. Fay also notes that the Reds debated moving a starting pitcher at the non-waiver trade deadline, but Castellini wouldn’t sign off on a sale. Fay feels that a starter, such as Johnny Cueto or Mat Latos, could become trade bait in the offseason with the Reds in need of a bat.
We already know that the 2013-14 free agent market has featured incredible spending levels, but what does that mean for how teams value a win (above replacement)? Dave Cameron of Fangraphs breaks down the cost of a projected win for each player that signed a major league deal. The results show that teams have spent at levels that, depending upon what discount rate and precise methodology is employed, value an expected win at between $5MM and $7MM. In a follow-up piece, Cameron observes that, at least for players who are expected to be regular contributors, the spending shows a non-linear escalation of the price of a win (i.e., teams are paying a premium to lock up high-WAR players). Then again, says Cameron, one team — the Yankees — bid on all and signed most of the top (3+-win) players who were on the market, which could have skewed the results. Be sure to read both pieces for all the details on this fascinating topic.
Here are more notes from around the league:
- The Yankees' rash of spending may have pushed him to the periphery of the team's roster, but Ichiro Suzuki is not changing his approach, writes Dave D'Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger. "Whatever my role is here — whether I'm a starter or not — my preparation never changes," said Ichiro. "Every day I'm going to do the exact same thing regardless of what my role will be. … If I was the type of player who changes the way I prepare myself, I wouldn't be the player I have been."
- Outfielder Andy Dirks of the Tigers will undergo back surgery and is expected to be out of action for three months, reports the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). Dirks had been expected to be the left-handed-hitting side of a left field platoon with Rajai Davis. GM Dave Dombrowski indicated that the club hopes to rely on its internal options — including Davis, the switch-hitting Steve Lombardozzi, and left-handed swinging Don Kelly — to fill the void, James Schmehl of MLive.com reports. "We think we have some good candidates," said Dombrowski, "but we'll just have to wait and see. I don't want to proclaim that to be 100 percent, but we do have some people that we feel have the chance to play a bigger role for us."
- After coming over as the key piece in the Mark Trumbo deal, 22-year-old lefty Tyler Skaggs is a key to a high-priced Angels club, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. "He's very important to our season, very important to our future," said GM Jerry Dipoto. "Tyler, being that he's the youngest and least-experienced of our starters, it's an important spring for him to take that next step and establish himself at the major league level."