Author Archives: Aaron Steen

Astros Outright Chia-Jen Lo

The Astros have outrighted reliever Chia-Jen Lo to their Triple-A club after the right-hander cleared waivers, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Lo was already pitching at Triple-A, but the move takes him off Houston's 40-man roster.

Lo tossed 19 1/3 innings out of the bullpen for the Astros last season, posting an ERA of 4.19. He struck out 7.4 batters per nine innings but allowed a 6.1 BB/9. The 28-year-old has a strong track record of missing bats in the minors, averaging an even 10 strikeouts per 9 over 129 career innings there.

The Astros now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.


NL Notes: Puig, Braun, Cubs

Writing for ESPN The Magazine, Dan Le Batard observes that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig's controversial off-the-field behavior isn't so different from other young Hispanic players who have had to grow up in the limelight. Some were quick to criticize the 23-year-old after he showed up late to batting practice on Friday. "We love rags-to-riches stories," Le Batard writes. "But rarely, in any walk of life, does it happen as fast and as extremely as it does to the Hispanic ballplayer — to go from soap stealing to multimillionaire in a flash." Here are more NL links:

  • Nerve damage at the base of Ryan Braun's thumb continues to hobble the Brewers outfielder, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. "The analogy is if you touch a hot stove, no matter how badly you want to keep your hand there, the natural reaction will be to take your hand off it," Braun said. "That's kind of what happens every time I make contact."
  • The Cubs made headlines today after acknowledging that they were seeking minority partners to support renovations for Wrigley Field, but selling such shares isn't so uncommon in professional sports, David Haugh writes for the Chicago Tribune. The Diamondbacks and Mets are among clubs who have recently sought minority ownership.

Indians Extend Yan Gomes

The Indians have officially agreed to a six-year, $23MM extension with catcher Yan Gomes that includes two option years, as first reported by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). The agreement will cover two pre-arbitration seasons, as well as three arbitration years and a year of free agency (with two more free agent seasons under team control through the options). Gomes is represented by Players Edge Sports Management.

The two club options are valued at $9MM (2020) and $11MM (2021), reports MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). Gomes will receive a $500K signing bonus, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links), and will earn the following annual salaries: $550K (2014), $1MM (2015), $2.5MM (2016), $4.5MM (2017), $5.95MM (2018), and $7MM (2019). The options can each increase by $3MM apiece based on escalator provisions, and come with a $1MM buyout. 

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Gomes enjoyed a nice season in 2013, slashing .294/.345/.481 in part-time play. However, he'll serve as the club's primary catcher in 2014 now that Carlos Santana has been converted to a third baseman. The 26-year-old did significant damage against left-handed pitchers last season, punishing them to a .327/ .376/.558 line, but his .336 wOBA against righties suggests he's more than just a nice platoon backstop. Advanced defensive metrics have also liked his work behind the plate.

If Gomes can replicate his 2013 numbers as the club's No. 1 catcher in 2014, the deal has the potential to bring major surplus value to the Indians. In just 88 games in 2013, Gomes generated more than 4 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference. And while not as club-friendly as the five-year, $7MM deal with three club options that catcher Salvador Perez agreed to with the Royals in 2012, Gomes' average annual salary of $3.83MM means there's limited risk here for the Indians.

The Brazilian catcher joins an increasingly crowded list of players who have been extended this offseason with between one and two years of service time. However, that list contains an outfielder, three starting pitchers and a shortstop. Instead, the most comparable deal on the books for Gomes' extension is that of his teammate, Santana. The Indians' new third baseman inked a five-year, $21MM pact early in the 2012 season. While Santana has the edge in yearly salary, Gomes' extra guaranteed year makes his deal the largest ever given to a pre-arb catcher.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



NL Notes: Dodgers, Giants, Braves

MLB.com's Terence Moore profiled Stan Kasten, the legendary sports executive who has built his reputation by turning around struggling franchises. As Braves president from 1986 through 2003, Kasten hired Hall of Famer Bobby Cox and helped build the organization that won a record 14 consecutive division titles. He now helms the Dodgers. Here are more late-night NL links:

  • Josh Beckett has won the Dodgers' fifth starter job, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports. He had been competing with lefty Paul Maholm. The announcement makes Maholm's one-year, $1.5MM deal with the Dodgers all the more puzzling. Though not one of this winter's top available starters, few would have projected that the lefty would end up with a deal that didn't even guarantee him a rotation job. 
  • Ben Haber of MLB.com examined how adjusting a pitcher's mechanics can turn around their career. Giants' reliever Javier Lopez struggled with an over-the-top delivery early on, but has carved out a long career in the bullpen after switching to a sidearm motion, Haber notes.
  • Braves reliever Cory Gearrin may require Tommy John surgery, The Atlanta Journal Constitution's David O'Brien tweets. GM Frank Wren says there is "ligament involvement" in the injury to the right-hander's elbow, leading the club to place him on the disabled list. In what appear to be related moves, the Braves added pitchers Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas to their Opening Day roster earlier this evening.

Everett Teaford To Play In Korea

Left-hander Everett Teaford has signed a $500K contract with the LG Twins of Korea Professional Baseball, MyKBO.net tweets. The deal includes incentives.

Teaford has spent his entire career with the Royals since being drafted by the club in 2006. Kansas City largely used the 29-year-old as a swingman in his sporadic big league appearances from 2011-2013. Over that period, which included eight starts, Teaford logged 106 innings and posted a 4.25 ERA. He has presumably been released by the Royals.

The LG Twins inked third baseman Josh Bell earlier in the offseason.


Minor Moves: Watanabe, Poythress, Laffey, Berger

We'll round up today's minor moves here:


Trout, Moreno, Agent Discuss Deal

Craig Landis, Mike Trout's representative at LSW Baseball, responded to critics of his client's new six-year, $144.5MM extension today. Some have said Trout could have argued for a contract in the $300MM range, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times notes, while rival agents contend the outfielder would have benefited from a year-to-year approach to arbitration. Landis emphasized Trout's youth and the security the contract provides in defending it this weekend. "We’re not like the other people," he commented. "We feel that Mike is going to do well … [w]hat Mike was trying to accomplish was some financial security, but also keeping the door open for whatever may happen down the road."

  • Landis also broached the idea of a lifetime contract in negotiations, but it didn't get any traction, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.
  • For his part, Trout believes the deal's six-year length is "perfect," the LA Times' Mike DiGiovanna tweets. "The owner put [a] big number out there like $33MM [and] it's hard to turn down," Trout said.
  • Angels owner Arte Moreno says six years was the minimum the Angels were comfortable with, and that the club would have preferred a seven- or eight-year contract, according to the Orange County Register's Jeff Fletcher (Twitter link). Many have focused on the overall guarantee in analyzing Trout's deal, but these comments suggest the length of the deal — and thus the age at which Trout will be able to reach free agency — was a major factor in negotiations.

Kershaw To Open Season On Disabled List

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has been placed on the disabled list, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Hyun-jin Ryu is now slated to start the club's home opener on Friday, Shaikin adds (via Twitter).

Kershaw has struggled with inflammation of a back muscle this spring, though he was able to start the team's first game of the season, which was held in Australia against the Diamondbacks. The move likely stems from an abundance of caution after the Dodgers inked the lefty to a seven-year, $215MM extension this winter. Commenting on the move, manager Don Mattingly offered that the club merely aims to protect Kershaw from himself, according to another Shaikin tweet.

However, the decision has to be cause for at least some concern. Kershaw indicated as recently as Wednesday that he planned to start the April 4 matchup with the Giants, but that duty now falls to Ryu.


Brewers Sign Narron To Minor League Deal

The Brewers have inked catcher Connor Narron, the son of bench coach Jerry Narron, to a minor league deal, tweets MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Narron will report to extended Spring Training.

The 22-year-old was drafted in the fifth round in 2010 by the Orioles, and has topped out at the high-A level thus far. 


Jose Iglesias Expected To Miss Most Of 2014

MONDAY: Iglesias tells reporters, including MLB.com's Jason Beck, that he has been diagnosed with stress fractures in each shin, but he believes he can play at some point this season (Twitter links). Beck tweets that Iglesias will see a specialist tomorrow, which will give Detroit a better idea on his timeframe for a return.

MLB Network Radio's Jim Duquette first reported (via Twitter) that Iglesias' injury had worsened from shin spints to stress fractures earlier this morning.

SUNDAY, 1:09pm: Iglesias will need "extended rehab" for months and possibly the entire season, a source with knowledge of the injury tells the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo (via Twitter). Meanwhile, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters, including Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, he feels for Iglesias, who played for him last year, but was "aware (the shins were an issue) to the extent we had to monitor. We had to get him off his feet because he felt some pain and soreness there."

11:22am: The Tigers are sending Iglesias for a third opinion, but GM Dave Dombrowski says that the shortstop will definitely start the year on the DL, reports Tom Gage of the Detroit News (Twitter links). Initially, at least, the team will look to fill in for Iglesias internally, said Dombrowski.

SATURDAY: Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias will miss most of the 2014 season with a shin injury, Jim Bowden of ESPN tweets, citing a player close to Iglesias. The injury has fueled speculation that the Tigers will now pursue Stephen Drew, Bowden notes.

Iglesias hit just .259/.306/.348 for the Tigers in 46 games after arriving in a trade with Boston in 2013, but is widely regarded as one of the game's top defensive shortstops. The Tigers were relying on Iglesias to serve as the cog in a more defense-oriented infield, so replacing him at this point in the offseason will be a challenge. Drew likely represents the simplest option for doing so.

Drew, 31, hit .253/.333/.443 with typically strong defense at short for the World Champion Red Sox in 2013, but his 124 games played was his highest total since 2010. The Scott Boras client managed just 79 games in 2012 and 86 games in 2011. That fragility is likely one major factor in his continued availability. Another, of course, is the draft pick compensation Drew is tied to after declining a qualifying offer from the Red Sox. If the Tigers do sign him, they'll lose what is currently the 23rd pick in the 2014 draft. Forfeiting that pick could be a tough pill for Detroit to swallow. GM Dave Dombrowski has managed to avoid doing so thus far this offseason, with his major acquisition, second baseman Ian Kinsler, coming via trade rather than free agency.

However, Detroit ultimately has few alternatives if the goal is replacing Iglesias with an impact player. Indeed, this situation — team with playoff aspirations loses middle infielder to injury late in Spring Training — seems to be precisely what Boras has waited for.

Mariners infielder Nick Franklin is another possibility. The 23-year-old's name has appeared frequently in trade rumors since the Robinson Cano signing, and as the owner of less than a year of service time, he'd pair with third baseman Nick Castellanos to give the Tigers two talented, cost-controlled infielders. On the other hand, Dombrowski may be hesistant to hand two starting infield jobs to unproven players in a season in which the Tigers expect to contend for a championship.