Andy LaRoche Rumors
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.
Some links for Saturday evening as the cold weather makes its way back to the Northeast..
- Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall told Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic that the team will "spend the money necessary to sign the players that are the best players out there when our turn comes," referring to the draft. The D'Backs hold two of the first seven picks after failing to sign sixth overall pick Barret Loux last year.
- Before landing with the Athletics on a minor league contract, Andy LaRoche drew interest from the Red Sox and Indians according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).
- Astros outfielder Hunter Pence tweeted that he found the arbitration process to be fascinating but is glad to have it in the rear view mirror. Earlier today, Pence won his arb case, meaning that he'll earn $6.9MM in 2011.
- The Diamondbacks' 2011 payroll should be in the low $60MM range, managing partner Ken Kendrick told Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (via Twitter).
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels doesn't sound too upset about the status of his relationship with Michael Young in this tweet from Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram.
- White Sox slugger Adam Dunn is ready to embrace his new role in Chicago, writes Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Former Yankees prospect Zach McAllister is looking forward to a new start with the Indians, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
9:24pm: Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Alvarez has been officially called up. The prospect got the news after Indianapolis' game on Tuesday night. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that Alvarez will be in the lineup against Chicago on Wednesday.
6:55pm: Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Pedro Alvarez, the No.2 overall pick in the 2008 Amateur Draft, could make his major league debut for Pittsburgh before the end of the week. Langosch reports that Alvarez is in the lineup tonight for Triple-A Indianapolis, and could be called up as soon as Wednesday for that evening's White Sox/Pirates game. One might think the Bucs might announce Alvarez's first game in advance to sell a few extra tickets either against the Sox or when the Indians come to town for a weekend series.
Alvarez will play every day at third base for the Pirates, thus making current baseman Andy LaRoche into a backup or utilityman; Langosch notes that LaRoche has already been taking grounders at second base in preparation for his new role. With Neil Walker locked into the second base job, LaRoche (who was a well-regarded prospect him not too long ago) could be made available to a team looking for an infield backup. The Bucs would certainly have an easier time moving LaRoche than they would dealing Akinori Iwamura's big contract.
2:04pm: Tejada told a Spanish-speaking AP reporter that he's willing to play any infield position, according to Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN.com. Arangure Jr. cites Tejada's road numbers (.283/.313/.395) and fading defense and suggests that the infielder will have to accept a one-year deal with a low annual salary.
12:50pm: Slusser now says Tejada's representatives contacted the A's, not the other way around. The chances of a reunion don't sound great.
She says the A's inquired on Andy LaRoche a while ago, only to hear that the Pirates wanted Ryan Sweeney and Gio Gonzalez in return. Slusser suggests the A's would like to acquire a high-quality young infielder to play third or short. Failing that, the team could turn to a bargain free agent.
11:42am: The A's would consider adding an infielder who can play third base, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Two of the options they're considering are former A's Miguel Tejada and Adam Kennedy. The A's have contacted Tejada's agent and the sides could work a deal out if Tejada lowers his asking price.
After hitting .315/.340/.455, Tejada may be reluctant to sign at a discount and is apparently looking for a two-year $16MM offer. The Twins and Orioles are possible fits for the former AL MVP.
The A's also like Kennedy, but would prefer to add a player with experience at short. The infielder, who turns 34 this weekend, hit .289/.348/.410 in nearly 600 plate appearances last year. His defense was below average at second and third, according to UZR/150. We heard earlier in the week that Kennedy was Plan D or E for the A's.