Author Archives: Charlie Wilmoth

AL Notes: Fields, Holt, Hamilton

Center fielder Roemon Fields went undrafted out of college and spent the summer of 2013 working in a mall and delivering mail, but a former coach’s invitation to play in the World Baseball Challenge led to him being signed by the Blue Jays, Shi Davidi writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). Roemon’s brother Anthony urged him to play. “He kept telling me, ‘Just go,’ and I kept telling him, ‘I think I’m done with baseball. I gave it a try in college,'” says Fields. “I hadn’t hit in months, hadn’t thrown, went out there and I guess played pretty good.” Now that Fields is in the Jays’ system, it’s unclear whether he’s a prospect, but if he does get to the big leagues, it will probably be due in large part to his speed — he stole a remarkable 48 bases in 328 plate appearances in short-season Vancouver last year, leading the Jays to promote him all the way up to Class A+ Dunedin this season. Here’s more from around the American League.

  • GM Ben Cherington says the Red Sox want to draft and develop more players like the versatile and effective Brock Holt, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. “There are guys who are good players and talented but have a harder time staying productive if they’re moving around in the field a lot and there are other guys who seem able to do it, and Holt’s one of those guys, clearly,” says Cherington. “(Holt’s skillset) has always been important, but with the challenges everyone faces of keeping teams and players healthy through a season and getting through the grind, those guys are becoming more and more important.” Cherington notes that it’s crucial to get players rest, so players who can man several positions while hitting reasonably well are especially valuable. The Red Sox are considering the possibility of drafting a player this June, likely after the first round, who they might develop with the goal of turning into the next Holt. So far this season, Holt has played second base, shortstop, third base, left field and center field while getting 14 hits in his first 33 at bats.
  • The Rangers likely represent Josh Hamilton‘s last clear chance of reestablishing himself in the big leagues, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale writes. The Rangers appear likely to be getting Hamilton at such a steep discount that he can be a good value for them even if he’s just a bench player. Meanwhile, though, they’ll also have to try to help him as he battles addiction issues that have now caused problems at several points in his career.

Minor Moves: Snyder, Dykstra, Redmond, Roberts

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Orioles will sign corner intfielder Brandon Snyder to a minor-league deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Snyder, 28, had agreed to a deal with the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in March. He hit .206/.284/.444 in 141 plate appearances with the Red Sox’ Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate in 2014. He last appeared in the big leagues with the Red Sox in 2013 and had previously had cups of coffee with the Orioles and Rangers. The Orioles made him the 13th overall pick in the draft ten years ago.
  • The Rays have outrighted Allan Dykstra, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. Dykstra playing first base for much of April, but he became superfluous when James Loney returned from the disabled list. The 27-year-old Dykstra hit .280/.426/.504 for the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season, drawing 84 walks in 439 plate appearances.
  • The Blue Jays outrighted right-hander Todd Redmond to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Redmond, who was designated for assignment April 16, struggled to start 2015 allowing eight runs (all earned) in a pair of relief appearanes (covering 4 1/13 innings) with five walks and four strikeouts.
  • The A’s have signed infielder Ryan Roberts to a minor league deal and have assigned him to Triple-A Nashville, tweets the Sounds’ play-by-play announcer Jeff Hem. Roberts, who was in camp with the Royals before being released in March, made a cameo appearance with Boston in 2014 and batted just .105/.227/.105 in 22 trips to the plate during eight games. Over his nine-year career, the 34-year-old has slashed a much more acceptable .243/.320/.388 for the Red Sox, Rays, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Blue Jays.
  • The Marlins have outrighted left-hander Grant Dayton to Triple-A, per the club’s transactions page. The 27-year-old was designated for assignment Friday to create room on the 40-man roster for catcher Jhonatan Solano, whose contract was purchased when the Marlins placed Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the paternity list.
  • The Mets signed free agent second baseman Brooks Conrad to a minor league contract, according to the International League transactions page.  Conrad signed a minor league deal with the Padres in January of last year after spending some time in Japan and joined their major league team later in 2014.  He spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A, slashing .278/.349/.529 with 18 homers in 337 plate appearances. In a limited sample size of 34 major league appearances in 2014, however, he couldn’t produce the same results, and he was released in August.
  • Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, Eric Surkamp (White Sox), Grant Balfour (Rays), Eury De La Rosa (A’s), Steve Tolleson (Blue Jays), Xavier Cedeno (Dodgers), and Logan Verrett (Rangers) are still in DFA limbo.

Cardinals Likely To Replace Wainwright From Within

News of Adam Wainwright‘s potentially season-ending Achilles injury has already led to speculation about the Cardinals trading for an ace like Cole Hamels. But GM John Mozeliak says the team’s first move will be to try to replace Wainwright from within, according to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “If you get into May and early June and you don’t feel like the internal options are the solution you were hoping for then you might have to look outside,” says Mozeliak. Triple-A pitchers Tyler Lyons, Tim Cooney and Zach Petrick could all be short-term options to fill Wainwright’s spot in the rotation. Marco Gonzales and Jaime Garcia, who are both hurt, could help later on.

Mozeliak adds that he’s not optimistic about Wainwright’s injury. “I don’t like to speculate until you have the full information, but if you ask me how I feel … not good,” he says. “All those rumors floating around seem to have some validity to them.”

It makes sense that the Cardinals would turn first to internal depth options, if only because it’s relatively rare for teams to make major trades so early in the season. Using their own pitchers for the next month or two would allow the Cardinals time to assess how much those pitchers can help and how strong their team is. Lyons, Cooney and Gonzales, at least, do have track records that suggest they can help in the short term, while Garcia is a wild card due to his injury history.



NL Notes: Nationals, Padres, Guerrero

Unexpectedly, the Nationals are off to a poor start the season, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman notes. After adding Max Scherzer to an already potent roster this offseason, the Nats looked like World Series favorites. But they’re 7-12 so far, struggling both with their hitting and their fielding, and their clubhouse seems “close to dead,” as Heyman puts it. Here’s more from the National League.

  • Former Padres assistant GM and current Astros manager A.J. Hinch is impressed with his former team’s moves, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. “Oh, I watched,” Hinch says of a Padres offseason in which they added James Shields, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel and others. “I was reminded often about what was going on, you know. And I was a fan of what they were doing. It was a little bit of a different philosophy, little bit of a different payroll and that added some big names to the roster.” Hinch essentially served as the Padres’ GM after they fired Josh Byrnes and before they hired A.J. Preller, and during that time, the Padres went in a direction quite different from where they’re heading now, trading veterans like Chase Headley, Huston Street and Chris Denorfia.
  • Alex Guerrero has been brilliant for the Dodgers so far this season, hitting five home runs in just 11 games while looking better than expected on defense. But the Dodgers are still working on finding him playing time, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes. The team indicates that, in addition to third base, they could also give Guerrero some time in left field, where Carl Crawford has struggled. Guerrero isn’t the most obvious fit for the Dodgers’ roster, but they had no choice but to have him break camp with the team, due to a clause in his contract that would have allowed him to become a free agent if they hadn’t. So far, though, he’s played so well that the reasons he’s on the roster don’t matter.

AL East Notes: Yankees, Uehara, Rays

The entire AL East has had troubles with starting pitching so far this season, Peter Gammons writes. Heading into play today, the division had only produced 34 quality starts in 90 games. Gammons feels the Yankees‘ strong bullpen and ability to upgrade their roster via the trade market this summer could make them the favorite in the division — they have plenty of Double-A talent they could trade, and they have the ability to afford an additional expensive starting pitcher. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • Koji Uehara‘s struggles Saturday night raise questions about whether the Red Sox made the right move in re-signing Uehara and letting Andrew Miller leave for the Yankees last offseason, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. The Red Sox gave Uehara two years and $18MM, a commitment that Cafardo notes surprised some observers, given Uehara’s injury issues and his play down the stretch last year (and, presumably, given the fact that he’s 40). Miller, meanwhile, got twice that amount from the Yankees and has pitched well so far. It is perhaps worth noting, though, that Uehara has six strikeouts and no walks in 4 1/3 innings thus far this season. Worries about him might be somewhat premature.
  • The Rays have been successful so far this season despite serious troubles with injuries, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain writes. Last offseason and the start of this season have been a test for president of baseball operations Matt Silverman, who has now had to deal with losing his manager and with having 12 players (including Drew Smyly and James Loney, who have since returned) on the disabled list at once.

Rangers, Angels Reach Agreement On Hamilton Deal

SATURDAY 4:54pm: The Angels and Rangers have agreed to the deal, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The deal still needs to be approved by the MLBPA and by MLB, however. There are no specific indications that will be a problem, but approval might not be as automatic, particularly in the union’s case, since Hamilton has reportedly agreed to forgo salary in the trade.

12:46pm: Hamilton would receive a significant buyout if he were to excercise his opt-out, Rosenthal tweets. That makes sense — if not for a buyout, there would be few scenarios in which it would make sense for Hamilton to opt out of the $30MM he’s set to make in 2017.

12:02pm: The Rangers will take on less than $7MM of Hamilton’s contract, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, meanwhile, writes that the Rangers will pay $2MM-$3MM. Hamilton will eat about $6MM of the contract himself, according to Grant, since he can make up at least some of the difference due to the fact that Texas does not have a state income tax. That means the Angels could still save $8MM-$13MM. Hamilton will also receive an opt-out clause after 2016.

FRIDAY 7:15pm: The talks are still “complex” and “volatile” and remain incomplete, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). If the deal is completed, the Rangers will take on less than $15MM and will not send any players to their division rivals.

Multiple reports indicate that the lack of state income tax in Texas is playing a role, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeting that Hamilton will cede some pay to make the deal work. Hamilton’s gains through tax avoidance would, presumably, even things out (to some extent, at least) on his end.

If the proposed transaction is indeed one in which the Rangers would assume some of the contract without sending anything in return, and in which Hamilton would give up some guaranteed money, it is not hard to see the complexities. Both the league and union would surely want to take a close look at a deal of that nature.

6:16pm: The Rangers will pick up about $15MM of Hamilton’s salary, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Los Angeles will pay the remainder of the $83MM that he is owed.

6:10pm: The deal “has been agreed to” though there remain several “ancillary” matters to be addressed, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

5:31pm: The Rangers are nearing a trade to acquire Josh Hamilton, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports on Twitter. There is still “legal work” remaining before the deal can be finalized, but Sullivan says an announcement could come Monday.

The details of the arrangement remain unknown, but Shin-Soo Choo is not involved in the prospective trade, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Choo had at least appeared to be a plausible piece to be included in a deal given his huge salary and rather pronounced struggles.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that Texas would either need to have virtually all of Hamilton’s salary covered — or, would add him if and when he negotiates a release. Indeed, per another Shaikin tweet, some cash savings for the Angels may the only substantial element in the deal.

Hamilton, 33, has disappointed in Los Angeles since inking a five-year, $125MM contract before the 2013 season. He has slashed .255/.316/.426 in a Halos cap, a useful enough line but hardly enough to justify his contract. Injuries dogged Hamilton last year, who is still working back from offseason shoulder surgery.

Of course, Hamilton earned that sizeable contract with his play in Texas, where he produced at a .305/.363/.549 clip for five seasons while swatting 142 long balls. Though he did not end his stint with the team on the best off terms, Hamilton will forever be associated with the Rangers — the place where he became a star.


International Notes: Fanning, Capitales, Atkins

Jim Fanning, the first general manager of the Montreal Expos, has passed away at age 87, as Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun notes (on Twitter). Fanning played briefly for the Cubs as a catcher in parts of the 1954 through 1957 seasons, but he was better known for the career he built after he was through as a player. He assembled the original 1969 Expos team, beginning with the 1968 expansion draft, and, during his tenure, acquired Expos greats like Rusty Staub, Ellis Valentine, Gary Carter and Andre Dawson. After Charlie Fox replaced Fanning in 1976, he continued to work for the Expos, eventually taking over as manager in 1981 in time for their first and only playoff appearance. Later in his career, he worked in the Rockies and Blue Jays organizations. In 2000, he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Here are more notes on baseball throughout the world.

  • The Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League have announced (link in French) that they will have four Cuban players this season, via an agreement with the Cuban government. Those include outfielder Yuniesky Gourriel, the son of the legendary Lourdes Gourriel and the the brother of star Yulieski Gourriel and the promising Lourdes Gourriel Jr. Outfielder Alexei Bell, shortstop Yordan Manduley, and pitcher Ismel Jimenez will also join the Capitales. It’s unclear whether any of them are big-league talents, although it’s worth noting that the Can-Am League (from which, for example, the Twins signed Chris Colabello) will make it easier for scouts for affiliated teams to see them.
  • Former Cubs and Astros pitcher Mitch Atkins has signed with the Lamigo Monkeys in Taiwan, J.M.G. Baseball announces (via Twitter). The 29-year-old Atkins last appeared in the big leagues in 2011. He pitched much of the last two seasons in the Braves organization, also pitching in independent ball and in winter ball in the Dominican.

Blue Jays Release Ricky Romero

The Blue Jays have released lefty Ricky Romero, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets. Romero will make $7.5MM in the last year of a $30.1MM contract he signed in late 2010. He will receive a $600K buyout for 2016.

Romero, the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft, was once a promising young starter. His best year was 2011, when he posted a 2.92 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 225 innings and finished tenth in AL Cy Young balloting. The following season, though, was a huge step backward — he had a 5.77 ERA and led the league in walks, then had elbow surgery after the season.

After that, Romero never returned to form. He spent much of 2013 in the minors, and the Jays outrighted him in June and then again in October. A knee injury ended his 2014 season after nine minor-league starts, and he had not yet pitched in 2015. According to Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star (via Twitter), Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says that since Romero was in the last year of his deal and was not close to being able to help, there was no reason for the team to keep him.


Rays Designate Allan Dykstra For Assignment

The Rays have designated first baseman Allan Dykstra for assignment, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The move clears space for pitcher Everett Teaford, whose contract the Rays selected from Triple-A Durham.

Dykstra collected the first 38 plate appearances of his big-league career with the Rays this season, hitting .129/.289/.226 before being optioned to Durham when James Loney returned from injury. The 27-year-old Dykstra is now in his eighth season in the minors and could be on his way out of his third organization despite a first-round draft pedigree and consistently impressive-looking minor-league stats. He hit .280/.426/.504 in 439 plate appearances with the Mets’ (admittedly hitter-friendly) Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season.


Ben Zobrist To Have Knee Surgery

Athletics utilityman Ben Zobrist confirms that he will have arthroscopic knee surgery, which likely means he will be out four to six weeks, Joe Stiglich of Comcast SportsNet California writes (via Twitter). That Zobrist would have surgery seemed increasingly likely earlier today, when the A’s placed him on the disabled list and promoted infielder Max Muncy to take his place on the active roster.

Via the Bay Area News Group’s John Hickey (on Twitter), Zobrist says he’s hopeful he can return by the start of June, giving the A’s four more months of regular-season baseball with him before he becomes a free agent. But the injury limits the amount of time the Athletics have to recoup the investment they made this offseason when they sent top prospect Daniel Robertson (along with big-leaguer John Jaso and another prospect, Boog Powell) to Tampa Bay for Zobrist and Yunel Escobar. Zobrist had been very durable before this season, having played 146 or more games in every year since 2009.