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Giancarlo Stanton connected on his first homer of the season tonight — a two-run blast off Mets righty Dillon Gee that marked the 155th round-tripper of his career. The home run had particular significance for Stanton, who now moves past Dan Uggla into sole possession of the Marlins‘ all-time franchise home run record. Given his 13-year contract, one can expect that Stanton will occupy the top spot on that list for quite some time.
Another Marlins item and some news from around the division…
- Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto had two hits in the team’s win yesterday and started again on Thursday, and the top prospect could be ticketed for a more significant role on the team moving forward, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Manager Mike Redmond said he spoke with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is earning $7MM in 2015, about the division of playing time already. “I think it’s always a touchy situation anytime you have conversations with guys, and you have to give them a break,” Redmond explained. “…[W]e’re trying to win ballgames. If giving Salty a few extra days here or there helps him and helps us, then it will be worth it.”
- The Nationals have had quite a bit of bad luck in terms of injuries early in the season, but Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweets that GM Mike Rizzo is focusing on internal options to patch up the bullpen. Of course, Janes’ tweet did come prior to the announcement that Craig Stammen may be lost for the season, but the Nats likely were prepared for bad news on Stammen at the time of her tweet.
- Without a left-handed reliever in the bullpen beyond Jake Diekman, the Phillies could use an upgrade in that area but are short on internal options, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. seemingly expressed a bit of frustration that lefty relief option Andy Oliver elected free agency rather than remaining with the club when he didn’t make the Opening Day roster. Zolecki writes that Oliver would’ve been on a short list of potential call-ups, and Amaro spoke candidly about the 27-year-old Oliver’s decision to leave: “We offered him a pretty good deal to come back. He just decided to go somewhere else. I think it was a very foolish move on his part, but that’s OK. He had a choice. He had that right.”
- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez spoke with Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth of MLB Network Radio about the conversations he had with president of baseball operations John Hart prior to the finalization of the Craig Kimbrel trade (audio link). Gonzalez learned of the strong possibility of a trade 48 hours prior to its completion, and he called that time “maybe the toughest two days.” Gonzalez said it was difficult to see Kimbrel leave because of his talent and what he meant to the organization, and he also discussed the conflict he felt as a manager. “I’m going to have to put on two different hats here,” said Gonzalez. “You’re asking me to trade the best closer in the game, and you’re asking me to win ball games and I’m in the last year of my contract. But then you’re telling me the reasons of why we’re doing it and why it’s going to help the organization. … I took a step back and digested for a day and a half — I think it was going to happen whether I said yes or no — but I said, ‘You know what John, this is what’s best for the organization. This is what we have to do.'”
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Rays have signed left-hander Andy Oliver to a Minor League deal, tweets Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. Oliver, 27, was in camp with the Phillies as a Rule 5 pick, and struck out 22 hitters in 12 2/3 innings, but the 11 walks he issued prompted the team to place him on waivers. Oliver was eventually outrighted and elected free agency. The former Tigers prospect also punched out 85 hitters in just 64 relief innings at Triple-A with the Pirates last year, albeit with a problematic 47 walks also coming in that time.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Diamondbacks have optioned Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the team reports via Twitter. The club signed Tomas for $68.5MM over the offseason. He struggled both defensively and offensively this spring. A stint in Triple-A should give him time to adjust to the outfield and improve his plate approach.
- Phillies Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver has elected free agency after he was outrighted, the club announced via Twitter. The hard throwing lefty has struggled with walks throughout his career. That continued this spring with 11 walks and 22 strikeouts in 12 and two-thirds innings. The club also announced on Twitter that they reassigned catcher Rene Garcia, first baseman Russ Canzler, and infielder Cord Phelps to Triple-A.
- Marlins utility infielder Reid Brignac has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. In 905 major league plate appearances, Brignac has a .222/.266/.314 line.
- Athletics pitcher Barry Zito has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Jane Lee of MLB.com. The former star is working his way back from a one-year hiatus. He posted a 4.79 ERA in 20 and two-thirds spring innings. The 37-year-old struck out 14 and walked five. A former ninth overall pick of the A’s, the southpaw struggled after moving across the Bay to San Francisco on a seven-year, $126MM contract. That deal concluded after the 2013 season.
- The Red Sox have released Casey Crosby, Bryan LaHair, and Matt Hoffman per the MLB transactions page. Crosby was once a top prospect with the Tigers, but the 26-year-old lefty has yet to develop command. Lahair, 32, had a nice run with the Cubs in 2012 when he hit .259/.334/.450 with 16 home runs in 380 plate appearances. He spent the 2013 season in Japan and split 2014 between Cleveland’s Double and Triple-A clubs.
- The Phillies have released shortstop Tyler Greene according to the MLB transactions page. Greene, an 11th round pick, was once rated among the Phillies’ best prospects. He missed the entire 2014 season and has never posted a strikeout rate below 33 percent at any level.
- The Giants have released pitcher Edgmer Escalona per the MLB transactions page. Escalona pitched in parts of four seasons for the Rockies, accruing 100 innings. He has a career 4.50 ERA with 6.39 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9.
- The Cubs have released lefty pitcher Francisley Bueno according to the transactions page. The 34-year-old has pitched in parts of four season for the Braves and Royals. The soft tossing lefty has a career 2.98 ERA with 4.92 K/9 and 1.79 BB/9 in 60 innings. He’s a pure platoon pitcher.
- The Braves released former closer Matt Capps per MLB.com. The righty last appeared in the majors in 2012. He has a career 3.52 ERA with 6.53 K/9 and 1.72 BB/9. He’s thrown just 12 minor league innings over the last two seasons – both with the Indians.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Andy Oliver | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Barry Zito | Boston Red Sox | Bryan LaHair | Casey Crosby | Chicago Cubs | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Cord Phelps | Detroit Tigers | Edgmer Escalona | Francisley Bueno | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marc Topkin | Matt Capps | Miami Marlins | Minnesota Twins | Oakland Athletics | P.J. Walters | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | Reid Brignac | Russ Canzler | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Susan Slusser | Tampa Bay Rays | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Tyler Greene
Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the latest moves at the top of the post…
- The Reds outrighted right-hander Dylan Axelrod off their 40-man roster and down to Triple-A, according to the team’s official transactions page. This move will help free up space for one of the several veterans Cincinnati is looking to add to its 40-man roster. Axelrod posted a 2.95 ERA in 18 1/3 IP for the Reds last season and a 4.01 ERA in 103 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level in the Reds and White Sox organizations.
- The Phillies have put Rule 5 Draft pick Andy Oliver on waivers, CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports. If Oliver clears waivers, Salisbury notes that the Phils could try to fully obtain the lefty’s rights from the Pirates in a trade. As a Rule 5 Draft player, Oliver must spend the entire season on a 25-man roster or else be offered back to his original club (Pittsburgh).
- The Giants seem to have released left-hander Travis Blackley, as per the southpaw’s own Twitter page. Blackley tweeted his thanks to the organization for giving him a chance to pitch this spring (on a minor league deal) and used the past tense in describing the Giants as “a very classy organization that I was proud to play for!” Blackley posted a 5.23 ERA over 192 2/3 innings spread over four MLB seasons between 2004-13 with the Mariners, Giants, A’s, Astros and Rangers, and he spent the 2014 campaign pitching in Japan.
- The Twins have released left-hander Wil Ledezma, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (via Twitter). Ledezma, 34, signed a minor league deal with the Twins in December and was looking to reach the big leagues for the first time since 2011.
- The White Sox released outfielder Brian Anderson, CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes reports (via Twitter). The Sox also parted ways with two more veterans according to their team transactions page, releasing right-hander J.D. Martin and infielder Andy LaRoche.
The Mets weren’t a particularly strong team even before losing Zack Wheeler to a torn UCL, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. Losing Wheeler hurt, but the Mets do at least have plenty of rotation depth with which to replace him. Their bullpen is a weakness, and only Juan Lagares stands out for them defensively. “I don’t subscribe to the notion that we’re going to have a lousy defense. I don’t believe that’s the case,” says GM Sandy Alderson. “But at the same time, I don’t assume, nor do I think, all of our success is predicated on being outstanding defensively.” Here’s more from the East divisions.
- The Blue Jays need a closer, but they aren’t a great match for Jonathan Papelbon and the Phillies, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Insider-only). Papelbon’s contract (including his 2016 option, which will vest at 48 games finished) is too expensive and complex for such a deal to make sense. Also, Papelbon has hidden value to the Phillies, in that using him at closer rather than Ken Giles will limit the amount of money Giles will make in arbitration once he becomes eligible.
- Phillies reliever Mario Hollands has elbow discomfort and will have an MRI today, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Hollands says the pain feels about how it felt when he had a flexor strain late last season. When healthy, the lefty posted a 4.40 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in his rookie year in 2014. He might have joined fellow lefty Jake Diekman in the Phillies’ bullpen. An injury to Hollands might further encourage the Phillies to keep Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver, a lefty who has performed well in Spring Training.
It may seem early, but there is less than a month before teams will need to set their final rosters for the start of the season. We often hear about players with opportunities to win jobs, and that is never more true than in the cases of Rule 5 picks, whose new teams have a unique incentive to keep them to start the year. Last year, for instance, three teams kept players on the roster all year and earned their rights going forward: the White Sox (Adrian Nieto), Rockies (Tommy Kahnle), and Brewers (Wei-Chung Wang). Click here for complete 2014 results.
With that in mind, let’s see how things are shaping up for some of this year’s selections:
- First overall choice Oscar Hernandez still appears to be on track to get a chance as the Diamondbacks‘ backup, as MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports. “There are some things to work out,” said manager Chip Hale. “We’re up for the challenge and I think he is, too.”
- Slugger Mark Canha started out ahead of Nate Freiman in the competition for a roster spot given his Rule 5 status, manager Bob Melvin told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle recently (Twitter link). An unfortunate back injury to Freiman only increases Canha’s edge, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports. (It probably does not hurt, either, that Canha is off to a four-for-six start at the plate.)
- Righty Jason Garcia has impressed the Orioles thus far with a smooth delivery and easy velocity, as MLB.com’s Adam Berry recently reported. Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons tweets that the preliminary word is that the O’s are looking for ways to fit him on the roster.
- Right-hander J.R. Graham is making an impression with the Twins, as Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports. Graham worked consistently up to 96 mph in two scoreless innings in his first outing, though he did struggle with command in his first frame. “I’m sure he was a little amped up being a Rule 5 guy,” said skipper Paul Molitor. “But he’s got some velocity. It was good to see him get through two clean innings.”
- An early look at right-hander Jandel Gustave and his high-octane stuff had the Royals contemplating an eight-man pen to fit him on the roster, as MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reported a few weeks back. Gustave has a history of command issues, however, and was roughed up pretty badly in his first outing — though he allowed only one baserunner in his most recent chance.
- The Phillies have two Rule 5 picks in converted outfielder Odubel Herrera and lefty Andy Oliver, and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com recently looked at both players. Herrera is already showing off his tools and would create some valuable flexibility for the team now and in the future, Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley explains.
- Marlins manager Mike Redmond was among those impressed with the first live action from lefty Andrew McKirahan, as Juan Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel writes. McKirahan’s odds increased when the Fish failed to land Phil Coke, though it still seems he’ll have to overcome out-of-options lefty Brad Hand to join Mike Dunn in the bullpen.
- Mets skipper Terry Collins has indicated that prospect Rafael Montero is a long-shot to be added to the pen if fellow starter Dillon Gee ends up there, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets. DiComo noted then that, should Gee in fact work in relief — which seems rather likely — Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin would appear to have an inside track to a pen slot.
- This is not an update, but more a reminder. Braves‘ selection Daniel Winkler is coming off of Tommy John surgery and therefore has quite a unique situation, as J.J. Cooper of Baseball America explains.
Former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins viewed the Dodgers as his number one choice for a new club, writes Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. But if a deal hadn’t been reached, Rollins would have considered a trade to the division rival Mets. Rollins said, “I considered the Mets to be No. 2. They have some arms over there.” Rollins clarified that he’s unsure if he would have ultimately accepted a trade to New York. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweets that the Mets inquired about Rollins in November but were told he would not accept a trade.
- The Phillies are working quickly to evaluate Rule 5 picks Odubel Herrera and Andy Oliver, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. Herrera will start in the outfield and Oliver will pitch an inning of relief as the Phillies take on the University of Tampa in an exhibition Sunday. Neither Herrera, who posted good on-base percentages in the Rangers system, nor Oliver, a hard-throwing but wild lefty from the Pirates organization, expected to wind up with the Phillies. “This is a good opportunity for me,” says Oliver. “I feel like I’m in a better place than where I came from.”
- In addition to Oliver, Phillippe Aumont and non-roster invitee Jeanmar Gomez could make the opening day bullpen due to transactional reasons, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. The Phillies acquired Aumont in 2009 as part of the haul from the Mariners for Cliff Lee. He’s the lone remaining asset from that trade and is out of options. If he does not make the club, he’ll be subject to waivers. Gomez, 27, would have to earn a spot on the 40-man roster, but the club isn’t in a position to pass on viable major league pitchers. He has a 3.28 ERA in 78 appearances over the last two seasons, although his peripherals suggest we should expect something closer to a 4.00 ERA.
With the arrival of a new year comes a new season in Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ contract, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes. The new year guarantees Gibbons’ deal through 2016 and also adds a new option for 2017. Every new year adds a new season in Gibbons’ contract, and GM Alex Anthopoulos created the deal so that Gibbons would never have a lame-duck season on the horizon. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported in September that the Jays would retain Gibbons, who is 157-167 in two seasons on the job. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Nationals acquisition Trea Turner (who will be the PTBNL in the Wil Myers trade) was the best prospect dealt between the Winter Meetings and Christmas, writes John Manuel of Baseball America. Manuel mentions that Padres vice president of scouting operations Don Welke, a close associate of new GM A.J. Preller, came from the Blue Jays organization, which preached that shortstops must have excellent arms. Turner doesn’t, so the Padres probably didn’t view him as a shortstop in the long term (although Manuel does).
- The Phillies hope to help Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver with his control, Jim Salisbury writes for Baseball America. Oliver posted a very high 6.6 BB/9 in 64 innings of relief for the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis last year, but with 12.0 K/9 and excellent velocity. “There aren’t many lefthanders sitting between 94 and 97 (mph) with a good slider,” says pro scouting director Mike Ondo. “Obviously strike one is going to be important, but he’s got two big weapons. If some things come together, we hope we have something.” Ondo adds that the Phillies will use their other Rule 5 pick, Odubel Herrera, primarily as an outfielder.
The Pirates have outrighted Andy Oliver off of the club's 40-man roster, the team announced via press release. Oliver is a 26-year-old southpaw.
Oliver has not seen MLB action with the Pirates, and only made brief appearances with the Tigers in 2010-11. In 124 1/3 Triple-A innings last year, Oliver posted a 4.05 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 8.1 BB/9. Obviously, he'll need to solve those control issues before having a chance at making an impact at the MLB level.
Oliver, 25, was drafted by the Tigers in the second round in 2009. He was once pretty highly-regarded and had a taste of the Majors, but in 2012 his Triple-A walk rate soared to 6.7 per nine innings. Baseball America has described him as "a power lefty who needs to throw more strikes." Oliver had a dust-up with the NCAA in '08, winning a lawsuit against them after he was suspended for having an adviser in talks with the Twins.
Cabrera, 23, spent most of 2012 in Double-A, hitting .276/.342/.367 in 428 plate appearances. He's a high-contact switch-hitter with a questionable arm, wrote BA.