Andy LaRoche Rumors

22 Triple-A Players Elect Free Agency

A total of 22 players that finished the year in Triple-A elected free agency after the end of the regular season according to the transaction pages of the Pacific Coast and International Leagues. All but one of those 22 players (Matt Carson, formerly of the Rays) played in the big leagues this season. Here's the full list:

Dusty Brown (Pirates), Travis Buck (Indians), Armando Galarraga (D'Backs), Jay Gibbons (Dodgers), Edgar Gonzalez (Rockies), Steve Holm (Twins), Wil Ledezma (Blue Jays), Andy LaRoche (Athletics), Felipe Lopez (Brewers), Lastings Milledge (White Sox), Pat Misch (Mets), Pat Neshek (Padres), Mike O'Connor (Mets), Matt Palmer (Angels), Felix Pie (Orioles), Brad Snyder (Cubs), Brett Tomko (Rangers), Wyatt Toregas (Pirates), P.J. Walters (Blue Jays), Randy Williams (Red Sox), and Reggie Willits (Angels).


Athletics Notes: Weeks, Matsui, Anderson, Draft

Jemile Weeks collects walks just like his older brother Rickie, but while the elder Weeks hits for power, Jemile is more of a contact hitter, writes Fangraphs' Jack Moore in his analysis of the two Weeks brothers.  Jemile went 0-for-4 in his Major League debut last night for the A's, leading off and playing second base.

Here are some more items from Oakland, courtesy of Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle

  • "Hideki Matsui's future is cloudy" with the A's, but the veteran may get one more stint of regular playing time to see if he can turn around his disappointing season.  As Slusser notes, Matsui has been a better hitter in the second half of the season (a career .855 OPS after the All-Star break), but the team might not want to wait that long.  I'd suggest Oakland could probably trade Matsui to a contender for a low-profile prospect rather than release him for nothing.
  • Right-hander Graham Godfrey will make his Major League debut in a start against the White Sox on Friday.  The A's will have to make a 40-man roster move to make room for Godfrey and Slusser guesses the team will have to designate someone for assignment.  That is, unless, the A's have already gotten word that Brett Anderson will need Tommy John surgery and he can be moved to the 60-day DL.  Anderson will get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews next week.
  • While the A's are struggling right now, "I don't see Billy Beane pulling the plug in early June no matter how many injuries they've absorbed, or even if Anderson does need Tommy John surgery."  Slusser notes that "Josh Willingham's name is definitely out there" in terms of trade rumors.
  • Oakland's late-round draft picks included Brett Geren (manager Bob Geren's son) in the 42nd round and Shane Boras (son of agent Scott Boras) in the 39th round.  Shane is the second Boras child to be drafted in this year's amateur draft; his brother Trent was taken in the 30th round by the Brewers.
  • Andy LaRoche has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, Slusser tweets.  LaRoche was designated for assignment by the Athletics on Monday.

Athletics Designate Andy LaRoche For Assignment

The Athletics have reinstated Grant Balfour from the paternity list and designated Andy LaRoche for assignment, according to a team release.

LaRoche had served as a part-time third baseman and utility infielder for the A's, earning starts at all four infield positions in the season's first two months. He appeared in 40 games for the team, batting .247/.320/.333 in 104 plate appearances. The 27-year-old ranked among Baseball America's top 20 minor league prospects before both the 2006 and 2007 seasons, but has struggled in the bigs, posting a .642 career OPS across parts of five seasons.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle notes (via Twitter) that the decision to designate LaRoche was made in part because infielder Adam Rosales is so close to returning from his right foot injury. LaRoche tells Slusser (Twitter link) that he hopes another team will have interest in him for a major league role.



Quick Hits: Diamondbacks, LaRoche, Pence, Young

Some links for Saturday evening as the cold weather makes its way back to the Northeast..


Athletics Sign Andy LaRoche To Minor League Deal

The Athletics have signed Andy LaRoche to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training according to the team's Twitter feed. The 27-year-old elected free agency after being designated for assignment by the Pirates back in November.

Adam's younger brother went to Pittsburgh in the Manny Ramirez trade, and is a .224/.304/.338 hitter in a little over 1,200 big league plate appearances. Oakland tried to upgrade their third base situation by signing Adrian Beltre this offseason, but LaRoche will have to overcome Kevin Kouzmanoff to land the job. In addition to the hot corner, he has also played first and second bases in his young career. 


Andy LaRoche, Delwyn Young Elect Free Agency

Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young elected free agency today after clearing outright waivers, MLBTR has learned.  LaRoche, Young, and Zach Duke were designated for assignment by the Pirates ten days ago, with Duke being traded to the Diamondbacks on Wednesday.

MLBTR pegged all three as non-tender candidates on November 2nd, so infielders LaRoche and Young are just reaching free agency a few days early.  Both former Dodgers prospects struggled to hit at the Major League level, but they're on the right side of 30 and can play multiple positions.


Pirates Designate Duke, LaRoche, Young

The Pirates have designated Zach Duke, Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young for assignment, according to a team press release.  The moves do not come as a surprise, as MLBTR pegged all three as non-tender candidates earlier this month.

Following a season where he posted a 5.72 ERA in 29 starts, Duke was seen as a non-tender candidate given that he could've earned a $5MM salary through arbitration this winter.  In six seasons in Pittsburgh, Duke delivered a 4.54 ERA in 160 games (all but one of them a start) with a 1.92 K/BB ratio and a 4.7 K/9 rate.  Duke was an All-Star in 2009, has a couple of solid seasons under his belt and is left-handed, so it's likely he'll find work at the back end of another team's rotation.  MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch reports that the Pirates tried to negotiate a new deal with Duke and also explored trade possibilities before finally designating the southpaw.

LaRoche joined the Pirates as part of the big Manny Ramirez/Jason Bay three-team deal in July 2008.  He was Pittsburgh's regular third baseman in 2009 but became expendable after the Bucs called up Pedro Alvarez to man the hot corner.  Once seen as a promising infielder in the Dodgers organization (he was ranked 19th among all major league prospects by Baseball America in both 2006 and 2007), LaRoche has a .224/.304/.338 line in 1228 career plate appearances with L.A. and Pittsburgh.

Young is another former Dodger prospect who joined the Bucs in April 2009.  Young has an impressive career OPS of .876 in eight minor league seasons, but has never been able to find regular playing time at the major league level.  His line in two seasons with the Pirates: .255/.312/.393 in 595 plate appearances, with time spent at second base, third base, and the outfield corners.


Odds & Ends: Messenger, Martin, LaRoche, Branyan

Some links for Veterans Day…

  • MLBTR echoes commissioner Bud Selig's thoughts on the death of a legendary Mariners broadcaster: “All of Baseball is terribly saddened … by the tragic news that Dave Niehaus, the voice of the Seattle Mariners, has passed away."
  • Randy Messenger has agreed to a deal with the Hanshin Tigers, according to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. The five-year MLB veteran pitched for the Mariners in 2009.
  • Three former White Sox employees were indicted on federal fraud charges yesterday, according to Melissa Segura of SI.com. They allegedly accepted $400K worth of signing bonuses intended for Latin American prospects.
  • Russell Martin's agent repeated to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times that the catcher wants to play for the Dodgers in 2011. There's been extensive speculation that the Dodgers could non-tender or trade Martin.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington told MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch that Andy LaRoche has to prove his worth to the Pirates, who are attempting to determine the best way to maximize the 27-year-old's value.
  • Russell Branyan has left Dan Lozano and is now represented by ACES, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).

Cardinals Interested In Andy LaRoche

The Cardinals have interest in Andy LaRoche and are eyeing the infielder as a possible trade target, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Cardinals recently found out that David Freese will miss the rest of the season, but they've been getting by at the hot corner with Felipe Lopez and (for one game) Allen Craig. For the Cardinals to acquire LaRoche from their division rivals, every NL team with a worse record than St. Louis would have to let LaRoche slip through waivers.

The former top prospect has just a .223/.290/.299 line this year after a solid 2009 season. LaRoche has spent most of his major league career at third base, though he has played a handful of games at second. He earns $450K this year and will go to arbitration for the first time this winter. The Pirates have LaRoche under team control through 2013.


Third Base Options For The Twins

The Twins are a good team, but it's in spite of the production they're getting at the hot corner. Ron Gardenhire's third baseman have combined to hit just .213/.283/.280 with a pair of home runs. Nick Punto and Brendan Harris each have slugging percentages below .300, so the Twins recently called on top prospect Danny Valencia. That move gives the Twins more power than the Punto-Harris combination, but it doesn't assure them of anything. Let's take a look at the Twins' options as they try to get some offense from their third basemen:

  • Hope that Valencia hits - Baseball America named Valencia an untouchable before last year's trade deadline, and ranked him sixth among Twins prospects heading into the year. At that point, Valencia had a promising bat, but was an inconsistent defender because of "subpar concentration and footwork." Valencia, 25, has hit .323/.364/.323 since arriving in the majors in early June, so his bat is no sure thing either.
  • Call up the Red Sox - Ken Rosenthal reported over the weekend that the Twins' field staff would like to add Mike Lowell, though the front office has concerns about his durability. The $7.1MM remaining on Lowell's 2010 salary would also be an obstacle.
  • Trade for an Oriole – The Twins could call the Orioles about Miguel Tejada (.676 OPS, $6MM salary) or Ty Wigginton (.854 OPS, $3.5MM salary). Tejada is playing third for the O's and Wigginton has spent most of his career at the hot corner and has recent experience there.
  • Ask about LaRoche – There's no room for Andy LaRoche in Pittsburgh, now that the Pedro Alvarez era has begun. LaRoche has just a .232/.295/.316 line, but the 26-year-old posted a .731 OPS and played solid defense last year. 
  • Turn to the free agent market - Joe Crede defended well and hit 15 homers for the Twins in 2009. However, he had back, shoulder, hand, knee and hamstring issues last year and hasn't faced MLB pitching since.
  • Hope that the Blue Jays keep slumping – There's no guarantee that the Blue Jays keep slumping or that they'll have interest in moving Jose Bautista if they do fall out of contention. Those 18 homers and the fact that Bautista doesn't become a free agent until after 2011 mean the Jays could ask for a highly-touted prospect or two. It wouldn't be the first time the Twins picked up a former Blue Jay with power to play third; the club added Tony Batista back in 2006.