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Here are today’s minor moves from around the league:
- Veteran southpaw Rich Hill has agreed to a minor league deal with the Nationals, the club announced. Hill, who has appeared in parts of ten MLB seasons, will receive an invite to big league camp. Soon to turn 35, Hill has long been effective against lefties but rather susceptible to opposite-handed bats, with good strikeout numbers in recent years offset by a hefty accumulation of free passes.
- Former top Phillies prospect Tyson Gillies has signed a minor league deal with the Padres, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Philadelphia released Gillies over the summer while he was in the midst of a tough .214/.270/.289 run at Triple-A. Now 26, the center fielder was a part of the 2009 deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners.
- The Rays have released former first-round pick Josh Sale, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. The outfielder hit .238/.313/.344 in 361 plate appearances for Class A+ Charlotte in 2014 before being suspended in August for drug use. He also received a 50-game suspension for drug use in 2012 and was suspended by the Rays in 2013 following an incident at a strip club.
- The Tigers have signed righties Ryan Perry and Ross Seaton and first baseman Bobby Borchering to minor-league deals, Eddy tweets. Detroit drafted Perry, 28, in the first round in 2008, and he pitched for three seasons in their bullpen from 2009-2011. He also appeared with the Nationals in 2012 before struggling in Washington’s minor-league system in 2013 and 2014. The 25-year-old Seaton was a third-round pick of the Astros in 2008. He got through the lower levels of Houston’s system fairly quickly despite low strikeout rates, but struggled to establish himself in the Astros’ Triple-A rotation. Borchering, 24, was the 16th overall pick in the 2009 draft, and he headed from the Diamondbacks to the Astros in 2012 in the trade that sent Chris Johnson to the desert. He struggled that year at the Double-A level and hasn’t yet made it back yet, hitting .238/.324/.333 in 71 plate appearances at Class A+ Lancaster last season.
- The Diamondbacks have signed lefties Erick Threets and Trevor Reckling, Eddy tweets. Threets, 33, appeared in parts of three seasons with the Giants and White Sox from 2007 through 2010. He pitched in Mexico last season and last appeared in affiliated ball when he posted a 2.79 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in a 2012 season spent in Triple-A with the Athletics and Dodgers organizations. Reckling, a former Angels draftee, pitched in independent ball in 2013 and did not pitch in 2014.
- The Dodgers have signed outfielder Travis Witherspoon, Eddy tweets. The athletic Witherspoon was once on the 40-man rosters of the Angels and Mariners. The 25-year-old hit .252/.338/.448 in the friendly hitting environment of Class A+ High Desert in 2014, mostly playing center field.
The Nationals haven’t managed to avoid the possibility of losing key members of their team due to free agency, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports. The Nats could be without Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Doug Fister after the season because they haven’t managed to sign those players to long-term deals that delay free agency. That might not be entirely their fault, Svrluga suggests — they tried to sign all three players. In the meantime, though, they have another wave of core players (Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon) to whom they could turn their attention. Strasburg, Harper and Rendon are all represented by Scott Boras, who does not generally like long-term deals for pre-free-agency players. Some of his clients, such as Jered Weaver and Carlos Gonzalez, have signed them, however. Here are more notes from the National League.
- Yunel Escobar wasn’t happy to have been traded away from the Rays to the Athletics and then from the Athletics to the Nationals, and he also wasn’t happy he’d have to move from shortstop to second base, the Post’s James Wagner writes. Escobar has changed his mind since then, however. “They’ve reached the playoffs two of the last three years,” says Escobar. “I want to help them win a World Series. If the missing piece is me playing second base, then I’m here for anything.” Escobar says certain aspects of playing second base, like turning double plays, are “confusing,” but says that he’ll improve that them with practice.
- Baseball is full of incredibly disappointing free-agent contracts, but Matt Holliday‘s current seven-year, $120MM deal with the Cardinals isn’t one of them, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “I really wanted it to work out great for both sides,” says Holliday. “A lot of times with a long-term contract, you hear ‘They hope to get a couple of good years out of it.’ My goal from the day I signed was to get to the end of the contract and have everybody feel really good about it.” Holliday’s defense has slipped since signing, but he’s maintained a high standard offensively, and with just two years (plus an option) left on the deal, it looks like the Cardinals are going to get more than their money’s worth.
- When Cuban righty Yoan Lopez signed with the Diamondbacks, he joined the organization he rooted for as a child, Carlos Torres Bujanda writes for Baseball America. “Since I was a kid, I followed the D-backs when Randy Johnson was on the team,” says Lopez. “To see the games or check the stats I had friends who worked in hotels with Internet access. They download the games so I can watch later, or see the numbers.” Lopez adds that he’s happy the Diamondbacks also signed another Cuban player this offseason, Yasmany Tomas.
Here are the latest minor transactions from around the league, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Giants signed shortstop Ronny Cedeno to a minor league contract, according to the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page. Cedeno appeared in nine games with the Phillies in 2014, spending the large majority of his season at the Triple-A level for Philadelphia and Arizona. Over his 10 years in the majors, Cedeno has a .245/.289/.353 career slash line over 2792 plate appearances, seeing a few seasons in a starting or platoon role for the Cubs and Pirates.
- The Athletics moved right-hander Taylor Thompson to the 60-day disabled list due to a strain in his throwing shoulder, the team announced. In a corresponding move, Thompson’s 40-man roster spot will be filled by the newly-acquired Chad Smith. Thompson, 27, made his Major League debut last season, throwing 5 1/3 innings out of the White Sox bullpen. The A’s selected him off waivers from the White Sox in November.
- The Diamondbacks signed righty Jeremy Accardo to a minor league deal, as per the PCL’s transactions page. Accardo, an eight-year Major League veteran, last appeared in the bigs in 2012 and has since pitched in Mexico, Venezuela, the Independent League and for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate.
Wilin Rosario or Michael McKenry could be traded before Spring Training is over, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines, as the Rockies look for ways to solve their catching surplus behind starter Nick Hundley. Manager Walt Weiss said that he doesn’t plan to use three roster spots on players who can only catch, so the club’s plan to give Rosario some time at first base could be a solution. Colorado has explored trades for Rosario this offseason but if they hold onto him, he’d hold the edge on a roster spot over the out-of-options McKenry.
Here’s some more from around the NL West…
- The Diamondbacks will have approximately $19.02MM in combined pool money for the 2015 draft class and the 2015-16 international signing period, though their international spending will be greatly limited due to overage in the 2014-15 period. Given how Arizona’s pool is the second-highest of any team’s, Baseball America’s Ben Badler opines (via Twitter) that the D’Backs made a “questionable” decision to “handcuff themselves” in the international market until 2017 by going over their current pool limit to sign Yoan Lopez.
- Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler was “pleasantly surprised” that GM A.J. Preller was able to make so many major trades this winter, though club ownership went into the offseason knowing changes had to be made. “We knew we had to re-energize the community,” Fowler told reporters, including the Associated Press. “I think last year was sort of the beta test for us: OK, this is not working. It was time….After looking at our numbers in terms of attendance and looking at the interest in the marketplace, we felt we had to do some investment spending.”
- From that same chat with reporters (including MLB.com’s Corey Brock), Padres president/CEO Mike Dee said that the club isn’t too disappointed over not landing Yoan Moncada. “We would have loved to have had him, but we now have flexibility we might not have had [in future international spending],” Dee said.
- Rick Renteria has been offered a number of jobs since being fired as the Cubs’ manager earlier this winter, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, including a return to the Padres. Though Renteria is reportedly going to take a year away from baseball, manager Bud Black has been “trying to get him to pop over to Peoria [where the Padres train] and get back involved with us. I’m trying to get him back in as soon as possible, just to help us out to whatever extent he wants to help out.” Before being hired by Chicago, Renteria managed and coached in the Padres’ organization for a decade, including six seasons on Black’s coaching staff.
- Yasmani Grandal‘s strong pitch-framing metrics were a big reason the Dodgers acquired him in the Matt Kemp trade, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- The MLB.com transactions page lists a few new minor league deals. Infielder Cody Ransom has joined the Diamondbacks after spending some time in Japan last year. Ransom, 39, has seen action in eleven big league seasons, though he has broken the 100 plate appearance barrier only twice — in 2012-13, oddly enough. Ransom played well in that late-career run, putting up 505 plate appearances with a .207/.301/.414 slash and twenty home runs over those two seasons.
- The Padres signed utilityman Mike McCoy. Now 33, McCoy has yet to pass the 400 plate appearance barrier at the big league level and has struggled at Triple-A in the last two seasons, but does have a better prior track record.
- Catcher Robinzon Diaz, 31, is joining the Brewers on a minor league deal. Diaz last saw MLB action back in 2008-09 and has bounced around the upper minors since. In parts of eight seasons at Triple-A, Diaz has slashed .278/.305.387.
- The Dodgers will sign right-hander Chad Gaudin to a minor league deal, and he will be a non-roster invitee to Major League Spring Training, tweets MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. The 31-year-old Gaudin sat out the 2014 season as he recovered from neck surgery but was quite good with the 2013 Giants, working to a 3.06 ERA (with a 3.34 FIP and 4.00 xFIP) in 97 innings. Gaudin has experience as both a starter and a reliever in parts of 11 Major League seasons — the bulk of which have come with the Athletics. He has a lifetime 4.44 ERA with 7.1 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and a 42.4 percent ground-ball rate in 836 1/3 Major League innings. Gaudin also worked out for the division-rival Diamondbacks recently.
D-Backs right-hander Yoan Lopez doesn’t mind one bit that fellow Cuban (and fellow Yoan) Yoan Moncada quickly broke his record $8.27MM bonus, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Rather, Lopez is pleased to see Moncada continue a trend of Cubans realizing their dreams to play in the Major Leagues. Manager Chip Hale tells Morosi that Lopez has impressed the organization with his work ethic, charisma and explosive fastball. And while he may no longer hold the record for largest bonus for an international amateur, Morosi notes that the 22-year-old Lopez stands a much better chance of getting to the Majors in 2015 than Moncada. (Morosi’s piece also contains an amusing anecdote from Lopez detailing his dominance over now-teammate Yasmany Tomas in Cuba.)
Here’s the latest on the Diamondbacks…
- The Diamondbacks will not be afraid to eat bad contracts in order to take their best group of 25 players to Opening Day, CEO Derrick Hall told reporters, including Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (Twitter link). The D-Backs currently have a number of bad contracts, most notably including Trevor Cahill (owed $12.5MM including the buyout on next year’s option) and Cody Ross (guaranteed $10.5MM including his own buyout). Aaron Hill‘s remaining two years and $24MM also seem steep, though it’s tougher (for me, at least) to envision a scenario in which Hill is let go. (Though the team could always eat some money in a potential trade of Hill.)
- MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert also has some notes from Hall (in these four tweets). Hall said that the team is comfortable with a payroll in the $90-91MM range, but they’re currently north of that mark (presumably including Lopez’s bonus) and may have to get “creative” to find flexibility. That could mean moves at the end of Spring Training, or the budget could grow with increased ticket sales if the team gets off to a good start. Hall emphasized, however, that the D-Backs are not looking to move players at this time.
- Hall also said that while the D-Backs have previously had a policy against including performance bonuses in contracts, they may be open to adjusting that line of thinking in the future.
- For those who missed it earlier this week, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported that the team’s new TV deal is worth more than $1.5 billion and contains an equity stake in FOX Sports Arizona. However, as Hall explained to Piecoro, the D-Backs’ offseason spending — they invested heavily in Lopez and Tomas — was made under the assumption that a new deal would be reached, so the effects of that new contract won’t be seen immediately.
FEB. 23: The total value of the contract is now believed to exceed $1.5 billion, and it also contains an equity stake in the network, Piecoro writes in a followup piece. Piecoro spoke to D-Backs CEO Derrick Hall, who said that while the team stands to benefit financially, there won’t be a sudden increase in spending late in the offseason. The Diamondbacks have been spending this offseason under the assumption that this deal would be completed, Hall explained. While there’s a signing bonus with the contract, increased rights fees won’t kick in until next year.
Hall called the contract “game-changing” for his team, adding: “It puts us on par with a lot of our colleagues. Any increase in revenues, as we’ve said in the past, will go directly toward our (organization). It will help the franchise. It will help the product on the field.”
FEB. 18: The Diamondbacks and FOX Sports Arizona have agreed to a new television contract that is believed to be worth more than one billion dollars in total, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
Arizona’s current television contract, which expires at season’s end, has an average annual vaue of about $31MM per year, Piecoro notes. He adds that the new contract is believed to at least triple that amount. It’s unclear how much the total value of the contract is, because the length of the deal isn’t currently known, but club officials have recently said they were discussing lengths in the 15- to 20-year range. Piecoro reports that there are indications that the new deal is indeed in line with those previously discussed parameters, which would suggest the total value is at least $1.4 billion.
Piecoro writes that the impact on the team’s payroll isn’t immediately known, though as he points out, the increased revenue won’t vault the D-Backs into the division-rival Dodgers’ financial stratosphere. The Dodgers’ TV deal averages out to roughly $334MM annually, according to a Forbes report from March 2014, trailing only the Yankees, whose annual revenue from the YES Network averages out to about $385MM.
Recent examples of this type of mega-contract include the Rangers, Mariners and Phillies, each of whom have AAVs in excess of $140MM, per Forbes. Piecoro notes that since the Rangers signed their 20-year, $1.7 billion deal in 2010, nearly a third of the teams in the league have inked similar contracts. Per Forbes, the previous top 10 television revenues belonged to the Yankees, Dodgers, Phillies, Rangers, Angels, Mariners, Mets, Red Sox, Giants and Padres.
It should be noted that the increased revenue won’t necessarily be distributed evenly over the duration of the contract. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd pointed out last year in assessing the Phillies’ new television contract, Philadelphia’s TV revenue did not immediately jump to the $100MM average of their 25-year, $2.5 billion agreement. Rather, the increase was built in incrementally, with a three- to four-percent annual bump slowly building over the course of the deal. Jeff estimated that the Phillies’ first year under the new contract produced roughly $65MM in revenue (before factoring in equity stake and ad revenue), and it’s very possible that the D-Backs’ new contract is structured in a similarly incremental fashion. So, while the roughly $60MM discrepancy between the AAVs of contracts old and new may cause D-Backs fans to envision an enormous spending spree next winter, the team’s $92MM payroll may increase in a more gradual sense than those mean figures would initially suggest.
Tonight is the 87th Academy Awards ceremony and a pre-eminent Oscar prognosticator is Rockies reliever John Axford, who was a perfect 18-for-18 last year and 32-for-33 the past two years. Now, Axford, who graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in Film and Television, is offering predictions in all 24 categories, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding and Gemma Kaneko. “I didn’t do all the categories last year, and some people were a little upset by it,” Axford admitted. “This year I’m going all the way, to see what happens. This year, since I got so much stuff last year about it, I did them all.”
And the winner is…
- Axford and the rest of the bullpen will be key to the Rockies‘ 2015 season, opines The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders.
- Brandon McCarthy, who inked a four-year contract with the Dodgers worth $48MM, expected to re-sign with the Yankees during the five-day signing window after the conclusion of the World Series, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. “It’s so stupid, but you feel like an actor,” said McCarthy. “You sound so pretentious and stupid saying it, but you’re like, ‘someone showed me attention.’ You play your whole life for people to say nice things. And one team is being aggressive, and one team is just kind of hemming and hawing about it.” McCarthy added he “certainly would have had a long discussion about” accepting a three-year deal from the Yankees, if one had ever been offered.
- The signing of Yoan Lopez signals the Diamondbacks‘ new emphasis on the Latin American market, according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. “I do think it’s an area we can impact and continue to get better and grow,” said Arizona’s Senior Vice President De Jon Watson. “It subsidizes your amateur draft. If you’re able to churn out players from the Latin American market, it definitely gives you strength in volume.“
Veteran infielder Nick Punto, who had agreed to a minor league pact and a Spring Training invite with the Diamondbacks, will not report to D-Backs camp and is “shutting it down” for the 2015 season, manager Chip Hale told reporters, including FOX Sports Arizona’s Jody Jackson (Twitter links). Hale stressed that Punto isn’t retiring, but the 37-year-old has decided for the time being that he’d prefer to spend more time with his family.
A gifted defender at second base, third base and shortstop, Punto has never been known for his bat, but he slumped to one of the worst seasons of his career in 2014, hitting .207/.296/.293 in 224 plate appearances for the A’s. He still played enough for a $2.75MM vesting option to trigger, but the Athletics elected to release him when in need of a roster spot in December.
In a 14-year career between the Twins, Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals, Red Sox and A’s, the affable Punto is a .245/.323/.323 hitter in 3,734 plate appearances. His best season came with the 2006 Twins, when he hit .290/.352/.373 with excellent defense at all three of the aforementioned infield positions (primarily at third base, however).
Via Jackson’s colleague, Jack Magruder (on Twitter), Hale said the D-Backs have no intention to add another veteran infielder for depth purposes.
Outfielder Mark Trumbo has won his arbitration hearing against the Diamondbacks, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Trumbo will earn a $6.9MM salary, which is significantly higher than the $5.3MM figure submitted by the club coming off an injury-shortened campaign. Trumbo’s agents at Wasserman Media Group did well to handily top the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, who had pegged him for a $5.7MM salary.
Trumbo, 29, will receive a sizable $2.1MM raise despite missing roughly half the 2014 season. (Conversely, the team’s $5.3MM figure called for a raise of just $500K.) Though his first season with the D-Backs was shortened, he did post solid power numbers, hitting 14 homers and driving in 61 runs in just 88 games (362 plate appearances). While he rated as a sub-replacement-level player due to a .293 OBP and some particularly unsightly grades from defensive metrics, arbitration places greater emphasis on baseball card numbers like homers and RBIs than more modern statistics.
This marks Trumbo’s second trip through the arbitration process, and he’ll look to stay on the field for the entirety of the 2015 season and continue to post strong power numbers in hopes of an even more substantial raise next winter. He’s arbitration eligible one more time before becoming a free agent following the 2016 season. Arizona originally acquired Trumbo in a three-team trade that sent left-hander Tyler Skaggs to the Angels and center fielder Adam Eaton to the White Sox.