Author Archives: Jeff Todd

White Sox To Pursue Victor Martinez In Free Agency

The White Sox are preparing to make a run at Tigers DH Victor Martinez in free agency, Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com reports on Twitter. Martinez, 35, is playing out the final year of the four-year, $50MM pact he signed to join Detroit before the 2011 season.

Chicago will have an opening for a veteran slugger with both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko playing on expiring contracts. The pair has split duties at the DH position this year, but the switch-hitting Martinez would presumably occupy the role with just one roster spot. Of course, Dunn also provides something of a cautionary tale. He posted a .731 OPS over four years with the White Sox, which actually fell slightly below league average, making his $56MM deal a devastatingly poor investment given his lack of defensive flexibility.

Martinez, of course, proved a better investment than did Dunn, even though he no longer spends time behind the dish. Over three seasons in Detroit (he missed all of 2012), Martinez has put up a .318/.375/.479 slash with 52 home runs. He’s been even more impressive this year, bumping his line up to .327/.395/.555 and swatting a career-best 26 long balls.

In spite of his age, Martinez’s bat will obviously be enticing to many American League clubs. One major wild card remains whether or not he receives a qualifying offer from the Tigers, which could prove a particularly strong disincentive to teams that are not all-in on the immediate future. In that respect, of course, the White Sox represent an interesting suitor, as a move for Martinez would represent a signal that the team believes its contention window was opened.


NL Notes: Howard, Phillies, Venters, Brewers

Here’s the latest out of the National League …

  • The Phillies reversed course on Ryan Howard‘s playing time because the club believes the only way it can salvage anything in return for him is to keep him in the everyday lineup, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Philadelphia hopes that an American League team will bite on Howard over the offseason, especially if he can put up the kinds of numbers (25 home runs, 100 RBI) that would shine up his surface appeal.
  • The word around Philadelphia is that no major changes to the decisionmaking structure will occur while club president David Montgomery is on leave, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Both GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and Ryne Sandberg gave short and simple explanations that the status quo would continue. “We’re not really at liberty to really discuss much more about it,” said Amaro.
  • Braves reliever Jonny Venters will undergo and attempt to return from a third Tommy John procedure, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports on Twitter. Venters was one of the game’s better southpaw setup men over 2010-12, but he would be a rare pitcher to make it back from a trio of UCL replacements.
  • The Brewers are unlikely to make any last-minute moves, GM Doug Melvin tells MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy (Twitter link). Though the club made a claim and tried to acquire Rockies’ first baseman Justin Morneau, Melvin indicated that nothing seemed in the works at this point. “You never know, but probably not,” he said.

Minor Moves: Wilking Rodriguez, Tommy Field

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Not long after inking him to a minor league deal, the Yankees have released righty Wilking Rodriguez, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. Rodriguez, 24, had solid minor league numbers with the Royals, but was set loose when the club acquired Josh Willingham and needed a 40-man spot. He did not make an appearance in the New York system.
  • Days after being designated for assignment by the Pirates, infielder Tommy Field has been outrighted to Triple-A, according to the International League transactions page. Field was claimed by Pittsburgh from the Angles on August 10. On the year, he owns a .286/.357/.428 slash over 387 Triple-A plate appearances.


Royals Designate Bruce Chen For Assignment

The Royals have designated veteran lefty Bruce Chen for assignment, according to a tweet from Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Chen, a 37-year-old native of Panama, is playing on a one-year, $4.25MM deal that includes a $5.5MM option for next season ($1MM buyout).

Chen earned that deal with a strong 2013, in which he posted a 3.27 ERA over 121 innings, including 15 starts and 16 relief appearances. But he has not carried that production forward to 2014. Over 48 1/3 frames — again, evenly split between starts (7) and relief appearances (6) — Chen has allowed 7.45 earned runs per nine.

Of course, Chen’s peripherals remain largely in line with his recent marks: he has struck out batters at a 6.7 K/9 rate that matches exactly his career mean, and has walked slightly fewer batters (3.0 per nine) than he has averaged. Chen’s FIP (4.58), xFIP (4.64), and SIERA (4.43) all suggest that he has been as good or better than in years past, and should be in line for some positive regression.


Angels Outright Dane De La Rosa

The Angels have outrighted right-hander Dane De La Rosa to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, the club announced. The move clears a 40-man roster spot, though no corresponding move has been reported.

As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register notes on Twitter, the move could theoretically be related to a trade. The Halos have not yet announced a starter for Saturday. Among the internal options, only one (Randy Wolf) would need to be given a 40-man spot, and he would not be available if he makes his planned start at Triple-A today.

The Angels added De La Rosa via trade just before the 2013 season, and rode him for 72 1/3 innings of 2.86 ERA ball last year, with 8.1 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. But 2014 was less successful for the 31-year-old, who gave up three earned runs, three hits, and three walks in just 2 1/3 MLB innings. At Triple-A, he has worked to a 5.52 ERA over 29 1/3 frames, with 7.7 K/9 against 5.2 BB/9.


Royals Claim Jayson Nix From Pirates

The Royals have claimed infielder Jayson Nix off waivers from the Pirates, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. Nix was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on Monday.

Nix, 31, has bounced around a good deal this year, and will now join his fourth organization on the season. He brings plenty of positional versatility to the table, though his lifetime .214/.284/.347 triple-slash does not give much reason for significant expectations. On the year, Nix has slashed .133/.188/.173 in 82 big league plate appearances.

Kansas City will look to make use of Nix as a part of its September roster expansion plan, as McCullough tweets that the team may not even activate him until after the end of the month.


Montgomery Takes Leave From Phillies; Gillick To Assume Duties

The Phillies have announced major organizational news, as general owner, president, and CEO David Montgomery will take a leave of absence while continuing his cancer treatment. Montgomery has been in charge of the club since 1997, overseeing the franchise’s rise in the first decade of the new millennium.

Taking over his duties in the meantime will be Hall of Fame former general manager Pat Gillick. The longtime executive has served as a senior advisor to the club since leaving active duty. In a statement, the team said that it “looks forward to [Montgomery] returning to his roles … when he is fully recovered.”

The move comes at a difficult time for a Phillies organization that faces many important questions regarding its on-field product. Philadelphia enters the final month of the regular season in last place in the division, leading to questions about the long-term viability of GM Ruben Amaro Jr. — the former Gillick understudy and successor who was hired by Montgomery.

MLBTR joins those around the game who have offered their best wishes to Montgomery as he works his way back.


Mariners To Sign Christopher Torres

The Mariners have agreed to sign Dominican shortstop prospect Christopher Torres with a $375K bonus, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports (Twitter links). Torres was rated the 18th-best overall international prospect available on this year’s July 2 market by MLB.com.

While Torres’s bonus is nothing to sneeze at, it falls well shy of the $2.1MM that he was reportedly promised by the Yankees before the club backed out of its commitment. New York is said to have been hit with a $20K fine over the situation.

As Ben Badler of Baseball America explained in reporting the dispute, Torres was left in a particularly difficult spot since other clubs had already promised their international pool space to other players. Torres’s trainer also told Badler that the player had previously been offered $1.6MM by Seattle before reaching terms with the Yankees. You’ll want to give Badler’s entire piece a read to understand the ordeal.

According to MLB.com, Torres brings a switch-hitting bat whose hit tool is better from the left side but delivers more power from the right. Defense and speed are his calling cards at present, though he has a large enough frame that he has some projection at the plate.


East Notes: Colon, Castillo, Tanaka, Yanks, Stanton, Phils

It remains to be seen whether the Mets will pull off a deal for veteran starter Bartolo Colon, whose fate will be one of the most-watched storylines over the next few days. Over at Fangraphs, Mike Petriello questions why there has seemed to be such little demand for the righty, concluding that he is likely worth his $11MM salary for next season and could well be an important last-minute upgrade for a contender.

Here’s more from the east …

  • Recent Red Sox signee Rusney Castillo has obtained a work visa in surprisingly short order and is now clear to play, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen whether Boston will expose him to MLB action this year, but that is now a possibility with about a month left to go in the regular season.
  • The Yankees continue to move forward in a fairly high-stakes attempt to rehab Masahiro Tanaka for a return this year, with success meaning a top-end arm down the stretch and failure potentially meaning a delayed resort to surgery. As George A. King III reports for the New York Post, Tanaka continues to pass hurdles, with colleague Ken Davidson writing that today’s simulated game was a significant step towards a return.
  • Recent acquisitions of the Yankees – including Martin Prado, Stephen Drew, and Chase Headley — could hint at a broader strategic shift, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. All of those players have seen action at multiple positions, and Sherman argues that New York could well commit more resources to depth and versatility going forward, essentially putting additional cash behind the strategies of the Athletics and Rays.
  • Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton said that some have misconstrued his recent comments regarding his contractual situation, as Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel reports“There is no answer to what my future is,” he said, explaining that some have over-interpreted his words in either direction. Nevertheless, planned offseason extension discussions are sure to lead to immense scrutiny and speculation.
  • Cole Hamels was just the latest Phillies player to publicly show up manager Ryne Sandberg in some manner, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com explains. Though the skipper downplayed the incident and said he has control of his clubhouse, Salisbury paints a picture of a tense situation in Philadelphia. As Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes, this on-field drama is playing out in the midst of broader leadership questions with the club. Martino says that the “fiercely loyal organization” is facing a difficult choice between that loyalty and the evident need for accountability.

West Notes: Darvish, Giants, Athletics, Diamondbacks

The Rangers and Yu Darvish would be wise to shut down the prized righty, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who says that the “macho baseball culture” that would suggest otherwise is simply wrong. As Passan rightly notes, minor injuries (like Darvish’s, according to reports) can often be a precursor to a more significant problem, and that risk is simply not worth it with Texas playing out a clearly lost season.

Here’s more from the game’s western divisions …

  • Looking ahead to the offseason, the Giants face many impactful and emotionally difficult decisions on pending free agents, GM Brian Sabean said in an interview on The Sports Virus podcast. Emphasizing the club’s oft-noted loyalty, Sabean indicated that monetary constraints would play an important role in how the offseason unfolds (while also seemingly to imply that he could make a run at bringing back Michael Morse). [A]t the end of the year, your starting third baseman, your closer, one of your starters, and your left fielder that you’ve fallen in love with has got a chance not to be back with the team, or you may have to pick and choose due to budget considerations,” he said. “… I don’t remember a year about to end … with those kind of decisions at hand, including keeping it all within a manageable budget.”
  • Athletics GM Billy Beane said that his club’s recent struggles do not change the considerations that led him to deal away Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester, as John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group writes“I’m happy to have Lester’s three wins,” said Beane. “Those are three wins I don’t know we’d have without him.”
  • Diamondbacks hurler Patrick Corbin is likely not to return until June of next year, at the earliest, as Adam Lichtenstein of MLB.com writes. The club is taking a fairly conservative approach with its prized young lefty.
  • Though Arizona surely has plenty of needs to address after a fairly miserable 2014 campaign, one fairly specific desire is to add an on-base machine to the lineup, GM Kevin Towers tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic“It would be nice to have another bat that was not only an offensive player, but somebody who works the count, gets on base and can create more scoring opportunities,” said Towers. The club is looking to find that package in an outfielder, Towers added, and has already begun scouting possible free agent or trade targets. Players like Nori Aoki and Chris Denorfia could fit the profile, says Piecoro.