Atlanta Braves Rumors
Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:
- The Angels have purchased the contract of infielder Ian Stewart, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The former top prospect, now 28, was brought in on a minor league contract in January.
- Ryan Rowland-Smith will make the Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster, GM Kevin Towers disclosed (via Steve Gilbert of MLB.com). Rowland-Smith was in camp on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old hasn't pitched in the majors since 2010 but was excellent last year for Boston's Triple-A club.
- The Giants announced that right-hander J.C. Gutierrez and infielder Brandon Hicks have been chosen for the Opening Day roster. Hicks had been competing with rookie Ehire Adrianza for a backup infield job, but both have made the team.
- The Braves announced via press release that pitchers Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas have been added to the Opening Day roster.
- Reds manager Bryan Price announced that reliever Trevor Bell and outfielder Roger Bernadina have made the club's Opening Day roster, according to a tweet from the team's Triple-A affiliate. Bell hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011, but threw very well this spring in 8 2/3 innings.
- The Mets are set to add Omar Quintanilla to their Opening Day roster, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Quintanilla figures to serve as the back-up at short. He rejoined the club on a minor league deal after being non-tendered.
- Xavier Nady will break camp with the Padres, tweets AJ Cassavell of MLB.com, and thus will be added to the 40-man roster. The 35-year-old had a solid spring, and will fill in while Kyle Blanks and Cameron Maybin work back from injury.
- The Tigers have purchased the contract of Tyler Collins, the club announced. The 23-year-old, left-handed-hitting outfielder has not played above the Double-A level, but now grabs an Opening Day roster spot for a Detroit club that is without Andy Dirks to start the year. In 530 plate appearances at Double-A last year, Collins put up a .240/.323/.438 line with 21 home runs (and 122 strikeouts against 51 walks).
- The Rangers will add minor league free agent Daniel McCutchen to the roster, according to a tweet from his representatives at Sosnick Cobbe Sports. Texas will need to add the reliever to the 40-man roster in order to activate him.
- Yangervis Solarte will make the Yankees Opening Day roster, tweets Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. Fellow utility infielder Eduardo Nunez, meanwhile, will be optioned to Triple-A to start the year. Solarte earned the position after a torrid spring.
- The Phillies have announced their Opening Day roster, which includes three players -- Tony Gwynn Jr., Mario Hollands, and Jeff Manship -- who must be added to the 40-man. Meanwhile, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has been put on the 60-day DL to create roster space while infielder Reid Brignac and reliever Shawn Camp have been reassigned to Triple-A, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki (Twitter links).
- The Athletics have selected the contract of infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima and optioned him to Triple-A, according to the MLB transactions page. After failing to see MLB action in the first year of his two-year, $6.5MM deal with Oakland, Nakajima was outrighted and ultimately re-signed to a minor league deal.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Baseball was back in Montreal yesterday, with the Mets and Blue Jays squaring off at old Olympic Stadium. Of course, its former occupant -- the Expos -- now plays its games in Washington, DC. It is good to see the ballpark filled once again with fans donning caps featuring the team's classic logo. Jared Diamond and Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal take a look at the latest on the possibility of baseball landing back in Montreal on a more permanent basis. Here are some notes from the National League:
- The Phillies are easing into their use of analytics, as a supplement to traditional scouting writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. But statistical analysis has already informed several decisions, such as the signing of Roberto Hernandez. "Our scouts and our analytics people looked at the middle-of-the-road, back-end starters," said GM Ruben Amaro Jr., "and we felt like he would be a good choice for us." Philadelphia likes his ground-ball rate and believes his sky-high HR/FB% will come back down to earth. The team also hopes to join the trend of utilizing shifts.
- In a lengthy profile of Cubs president of baseball ops Theo Epstein, ESPN The Magazine's Tim Keown writes that the 40-year-old is full of optimism about his organization's direction. One key change in Chicago has been the flow of information, which has been modernized under Epstein's direction. "The currency of the draft is information," Epstein says. "Scouting information, statistical information, makeup information, medical information. In each of those buckets, we have to drill deeper if we want to have an advantage." And while some of the strategic maneuvering to secure draft picks is now no longer possible, Epstein says that does not change the other key input in acquiring young talent. "Now you're left only with how well you can scout," he says. "It's gone from strategy and scouting to just scouting."
- One veteran that the Cubs probably had higher hopes for is catcher George Kottaras, who was released on Wednesday. The 30-year-old has a handful of suitors, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com, and is trying to decide on the best opportunity.
- The Braves are not only hoping to do something new with their planned ballpark, by building it in conjunction with a mixed-use development, but will buck the trend of putting new baseball parks downtown, writes Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The piece offers a nice discussion of the preliminary plans, which include designing the park's exterior in a "transparent" manner that will allow it to remain integrated into the overall development project.
7:17pm: The Braves have announced that Harang has agreed to a MLB deal with the club.
6:09pm: The Braves have agreed to sign pitcher Aaron Harang, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Atlanta had been rumored to be interested in adding another arm after parting with veteran Freddy Garcia earlier today (per MLB.com's Mark Bowman, on Twitter).
Of course, Harang himself was let go by the Indians just hours ago after requesting his release. The soon-to-be-36-year-old had strong results in the spring, though he threw just 9 innings for Cleveland. Last year, pitching for the Mariners and Mets, Harang posted a 5.40 ERA in 143 1/3 innings. Before that, however, he put up two consecutive seasons of 170+ innings and earned run averages just over 3.60. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, advanced metrics pegged his value somewhere in the middle, with FIP, xFIP, and SIERA marks all falling above 4.00 but below 5.00 over the last three campaigns.
The Braves announced today they have given righty Freddy Garcia his unconditional release. Earlier this month, Garcia told MLB.com's Mark Bowman he'd retire rather than return to Triple-A. Garcia pitched in five games this spring, allowing nine earned runs in 17 innings. He would have earned $1.5MM had he made the Braves' Opening Day roster.
Garcia, 37, posted a 4.37 ERA, 5.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 2.02 HR/9, and 41.9% groundball rate in 80 1/3 innings for the Orioles and Braves last year. The Braves lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy this year to Tommy John surgery, and have also placed Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd on the DL. Minor and Floyd hope to be activated in April and May, respectively. The Braves seem to be planning to open the season with a four-man rotation of Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, David Hale, and Gus Schlosser, with Ervin Santana joining the mix around the season's second week.
The Tigers are considering signing first-base coach Omar Vizquel to play shortstop for them -- or not, as ESPN's Jayson Stark reports. But given their shortstop issues, they've discussed it, or at least joked about the possibility of signing the 46-year-old. Vizquel "could probably handle it," says manager Brad Ausmus. "I don't know if he could play 150 games. But he could probably be a platoon shortstop if he got himself in shape. He certainly still has the hands." Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Braves' starting pitcher injuries have put them in a tough spot, but they've proven adept at working their way out of problems like these, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. GM Frank Wren expresses confidence that the Braves can recover from the losses of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. The Braves recently signed Ervin Santana to a one-year deal to patch the hole in their rotation. "Slowly but surely we're getting Santana, [Mike] Minor and [Gavin] Floyd. Then we're back to pretty good depth and pretty good strength," Wren says. Minor and Floyd are working their way back from injury. "By getting Santana, we were able to make the most out of a tough situation."
- J.D. Martinez is optimistic that his release by the Astros today will lead to more opportunities elsewhere, writes MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. "I feel like they have a lot of guys coming up, and if there's not room for me to get at-bats and not room for me to play, it's best to let me go and not try to hold me back, and I commend them for that and I thank them for that," says Martinez.
Though they're in the market for a shortstop, the Mets have zero intention of parting with Noah Syndergaard in able to make a trade happen, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. New York has been connected to both Nick Franklin and the Diamondbacks' shortstop surplus (Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings). One scout that Heyman spoke with said Syndergaard is better than Zack Wheeler. Here are some more NL East items...
- The Braves announced today that Kris Medlen underwent successful Tommy John surgery yesterday, with Dr. James Andrews performing the operation. The Braves will be without Medlen for the season, but the signing of Ervin Santana will help to offset that loss to a degree. Atlanta is currently waiting to learn Brandon Beachy's fate, but Tommy John looks like the probable outcome there as well.
- Cole Hamels threw a 40- to 45-pitch bullpen session this morning and reported that he felt great afterward, reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. Hamels said he feels that his strength is up to 90 percent. He'll face hitters in live batting practice on Saturday and do so once more before getting into game action. At that point, writes Salisbury, he'll need roughly a month to be ready for the season, meaning the loose target for his return is still May 1.
- MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes that Jimmy Rollins wasn't shaken by a report from ESPN's Buster Olney yesterday which stated that some in the Phillies organization feel he needs to be traded as soon as possible. Said Rollins: "It doesn’t matter. I don’t care which way it is tried to be twisted or said, or if it is exactly how it was said, or even if it was said, I can’t be traded." GM Ruben Amaro Jr. called the report "absolute silliness," repeatedly stating that no one in the organization has a problem with Rollins.
- Manny Delcarmen spoke with the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore about his comeback from an elbow injury that has kept him out of the Majors since 2010. Delcarmen said that following the 2010 season, three doctors told him he needed a second Tommy John surgery before Dr. James Andrews said otherwise. Andrews offered Delcarmen a platelet-rich plasma injection and recommended months of rest, cautioning that his velocity was unlikely to return for quite some time. Delcarmen's velocity has slowly returned from sitting at 88 mph when he began pitching again all the way up to 93-95 mph in Spring Training with the Nats. He's likely to open the season in the minors but could see time with the big league club in the event of an injury after an impressive spring, says Kilgore.
A fair amount of ink has already been dedicated to the friction between Jimmy Rollins and new manager Ryne Sandberg this spring, and ESPN's Buster Olney now reports that there's a strong sentiment within the Phillies organization that the team would be better off trading its longtime shortstop as soon as possible (Twitter link). However, as Olney notes, Rollins has 10-and-5 rights (10 years of Major League service and five consecutive with the same team), meaning he has the right to void any trade. Rollins told CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury as recently as yesterday that he has no plans to waive his 10-and-5 rights anytime in the near future: "If we’re in absolutely last place with nowhere to go and change is obviously on the horizon, then at that point I’d think about it. But anything short of a complete disaster, I’m wearing red and white pinstripes." Rollins has already said as much this spring, indicating that he'd like to become the Phillies' all-time hits leader and set some other records with the club (he's currently 60 hits shy).
More Rollins- and NL-East-related items for your Tuesday morning...
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News spoke with team sources from the Mets and Yankees regarding potential interest in Rollins (both could use some infield help). He was told that the Yankees think it would be too awkward to bring in a name that big in Derek Jeter's final season, and the Mets source simply replied, "Don't see it."
- Also from Martino's piece, Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard was reassigned to the minor leagues today, and while he's likely to make his Major League debut in 2014, he probably won't pitch a full season until 2016. Martino reports that Syndergaard is capped around 150 innings this season, and because the team tries to limit starting pitcher increases to 30 innings per season, he'll likely be capped around 180 in 2015.
- Braves GM Frank Wren told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Bowman, that the team plans to revisit the rehab process of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy in an attempt to figure out why each player appears headed for a second Tommy John surgery. Said Wren: "I think we're always evaluating and looking at how we do things and why we do them and do we need to make changes? ... I don't think we'll ever stop researching and analyzing. But I can't tell you today that we feel there is a common link [between Medlen and Beachy] other than that they're wearing the same uniform."
- Jamey Carroll's focus is currently on making the Nationals roster, but he tells Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com that he's intrigued with the possibility of becoming a manager somewhere down the line. Carroll has been suggested as a future manager by many of his former coaches and teammates. He calls the fact that young players have been seeking him out for advice in camp with the Nats "humbling," though he hints that when his playing career is done, he may first take some time with his family before getting back into the game.
MARCH 17: Medlen will undergo the second Tommy John surgery of his career tomorrow, tweets Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Meanwhile, Beachy is headed to Los Angeles for further evaluation after also being seen today by Dr. James Andrews.
Comments from GM Frank Wren certainly made it sound as if Beachy could be headed in the same direction, even if he is holding out hope, as Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. “I think it’s natural for guys to want to exhaust every possibility before they ultimately make that decision that I’m going to have surgery,” Wren said. “Sometimes these decisions aren’t black and white. There’s enough gray that they want just another set of eyes and another impression on what’s being seen.” The possibility of a second Tommy John procedure for Beachy was reported several days ago.
Looking ahead, the Braves could be in a tough spot next fall, when Medlen will qualify for his final trip through arbitration. He avoided arbitration this year by agreeing to a $5.8MM salary, and the resulting high salary floor could make it tough for Atlanta to tender him a contract for 2015. Medlen will not even be nine months into the recovery process at the point at which tender decisions are due. Teams have guaranteed money under similar circumstances -- indeed, the Braves promised Gavin Floyd $4MM to join the club for 2014 -- but the fact that this is Medlen's second UCL replacement certainly increases the risk.
MARCH 12: Medlen told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Bowman (Twitter link), that he has spent the past two days preparing himself for a second Tommy John surgery. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says there is a "high likelihood" that Medlen will need Tommy John. O'Brien relays that Medlen was "angry and in denial" after injuring his arm on Sunday; he threw two more pitches before exiting the game (Twitter links).
MARCH 11: Braves right-hander Kris Medlen received his MRI results Tuesday and consulted with team doctors before GM Frank Wren addressed the media. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was on-hand as Wren revealed to the public that the MRI showed "some involvement in the ligament." However, MRIs on patients that have already undergone Tommy John surgery are difficult to read, and Medlen will therefore undergo further tests and meet with Dr. James Andrews to get another opinion before determining if surgery is required.
While Wren wouldn't comment on specific names, he admitted that the team is exploring the starting pitching market for additional help. O'Brien reports that the Braves have definitely reached out to Ervin Santana as one possibility. Wren called the Braves' mounting pitching injuries "worrisome," though the team believes Brandon Beachy's biceps tightness to be routine for players who have undergone elbow surgeries in the past (per O'Brien's Twitter).
Santana threw a two-inning simulated game yesterday and may wait a day or two before signing, Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported last night. In that report, he added that financial concern is the main deterrent for the Braves, whose primary competition is the Orioles and Blue Jays. Baltimore has offered a one-year, $13MM deal plus incentives, while Toronto is offering one year and $14MM without incentives. The Twins have offered a three-year deal reported to be in the $30-33MM range, but Santana's preference is a one-year deal, as he could essentially guarantee himself roughly that amount over two years by signing for roughly $14MM for this season and getting a qualifying offer next offseason.
The potential loss of Medlen would be a devastating blow for a Braves rotation that already lost Tim Hudson to free agency and could be without Mike Minor for the early portion of April. Atlanta was projected to have a rotation of Medlen, Minor, Beachy, Julio Teheran and Alex Wood to open the season, with Gavin Floyd eventually slotting in once recovered from Tommy John surgery. Now, they may have to turn to Freddy Garcia, David Hale and other internal candidates, which would be less than ideal for a team expecting to contend in 2014.
One of the game's top southpaws has changed representation. Braves lefty Mike Minor has joined Jet Sports Management, MLBTR has learned. Minor was previously with Bo McKinnis. Jet Sports has strong Braves ties, representing Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and Jonny Venters.
Minor, 26, posted a 3.21 ERA in 32 starts in a breakout 2013 campaign. He signed for $3.85MM this year, as he was arbitration eligible for the first time as a Super Two player. Minor is under the Braves' control through 2017, and he'll have three more cracks at arbitration unless he signs a long-term extension. The Braves went on an extension spree in February, locking up Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Craig Kimbrel, Julio Teheran, and Jason Heyward to multiyear deals totaling $280.7MM.
Jet Sports Management, which is headed by B.B. Abbott, had a big addition last summer when agent Andrew Lowenthal joined the company. With him, Lowenthal brought clients such as Charlie Morton, Steve Cishek, Kyle Seager, Daniel Hudson, Joe Panik, David Goforth, and Justin Marks. In addition to the aforementioned players, the agency counts Chris Sale, Rex Brothers, Jonathan Broxton, Wade Davis, Corey Kluber, Devin Mesoraco, Byron Buxton, Zack Wheeler, and Mike Zunino among its clients. For all the latest on MLB player representation, check out our agency database.
The Mets have an interesting problem in Rafael Montero, whose fast ascent through the minors has placed him on the cusp of the big leagues with limited English skills, The New York Times' Tim Rohan writes. Non-native speakers typically see their English progress as they gradually move up the minor league ranks, but by the middle of the 2013 season, Montero was already logging significant time in Triple-A, a little more than three years after signing out of the Dominican Republic. Still, the Mets figure to find a way to make the situation work: Baseball America projects Montero as a potential No. 3 starter with plus-plus command. Here's more from around the National League:
- Reliever Mike Adams looked "close to game-ready" when throwing to hitters on Saturday, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg reports (via Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com). Adams is working back from 2013 shoulder surgery, which shortened the first season of a two-year, $12MM deal with the Phillies.
- Injuries in the rotation have complicated the Braves' attempts to finalize their bullpen for 2014, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
- Daniel Schlereth has a shot at making the Pirates' bullpen, Tom Singer of MLB.com reports. Schlereth hasn't appeared in the majors since 2012 because of shoulder inflammation. The lefty admits that his velocity is down, but says lowering his arm slot had added movement to his fastball.
- MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth rounded up the latest on the Mets earlier today. You can also read his review of the Cardinals' offseason here.