Author Archives: Mark Polishuk

Blue Jays Designate Todd Redmond For Assignment

The Blue Jays have designated right-hander Todd Redmond for assignment, as per a team press release.  Infielder Ryan Goins has been recalled from Triple-A in a corresponding move.

Redmond had gotten off to a rough start in 2015, posting a 16.62 ERA in 4 1/3 innings of work, allowing five walks to four strikeouts in that brief stretch.  Originally claimed off waivers from the Orioles in March 2013, Redmond posted league-average numbers for Toronto as a fill-in starter in 2013 and then was a solid relief arm (3.24 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 2.22 K/BB rate) over 75 innings for the Jays last season.  He held right-handed batters to a .242/.287/.360 slash line last year, though lefty batters had a much heftier .834 OPS against Redmond.

As per the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker, Redmond is one of three players currently in ‘limbo,’ along with the Nationals’ Xavier Cedeno and the Yankees’ Matt Tracy.


International Notes: Bonus Pools, Dodgers, Cubs

Yesterday, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel looked ahead to the 2015-16 international signing period by looking at several of the top prospects expected to land large bonuses on or after July 2.  Today, McDaniel is back with the second part of his piece, this time examining how particular clubs are going to approach this next round of international spending.  For reference purposes, here are the 2015-16 international bonus pools for each team, as compiled by Baseball America.  If a team exceeds its pool, they have to pay a 100% tax on any overage and are prohibited from spending more than $300K to sign any player in the 2016-17 and 17-18 international periods (provided that the current rules aren’t altered in the next collective bargaining agreement).

Some of the highlights of McDaniel’s latest work, focusing on the teams most likely to exceed their bonus pool and face that two-year penalty…

  • The Dodgers are, unsurprisingly, the only team McDaniel lists in the “(almost) anything is possible” category.  By not signing Yoan Moncada, the Dodgers retained their ability to spend freely in the 2015-16 market, and it seems the team will go far beyond its $2.02MM bonus pool limit.  The Dodgers are rumored to already have agreements in place with Yadier Alvarez (for $16MM), Dominican center fielder Starling Heredia ($3MM) and Dominican shortstop Ronny Brito ($2MM).
  • The Cubs‘ previous ban on signings of more than $250K will expire on July 2, and the team is reportedly already planning to again exceed its international budget.  McDaniel lists seven players who have deals in place with Chicago, the most expensive of which is a $2MM bonus for Dominican shortstop Aramis Ademan.
  • The Rangers are another club coming off a ban, and “they’re at least thinking long and hard about” exceeding their pool limit again, though McDaniel hears from rival scouts that Texas’ international planning may have “got a bit of a late start” due to A.J. Preller and Don Welke leaving for the Padres.  Three rumored agreements should put the Rangers roughly at their approximate $4.586MM bonus pool already, and the club is still checking in on other high-priced talent.
  • The Royals have a shot at staying under their bonus limit if they trade for some extra space, though it looks like Kansas City will probably slightly exceed their pool (a little over $2.07MM).
  • The Blue Jays also seem likely to slightly go over their spending pool (roughly $2.324MM) and it could be entirely for the sake of their much-rumored agreement with Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  McDaniel believes Toronto’s agreement with Guerrero is worth $4.4MM and he hasn’t heard any news that the Jays have any other deals lined up with other prospects, though he figures they’ll sign one or two other notable players “to make the most of going over.”  While fans now associate exceeding the bonus limit with extreme cases like the Yankees or Red Sox, McDaniel notes that most clubs who exceed their pools are like the Jays, who fit the model of a team who “found a couple players they really like in a year they didn’t have a ton of money to spend.”
  • Since they had hoped to sign Moncada and thus be facing a penalty for the 2015-16 signing period, the Padres seemingly don’t have any deals lined up.  McDaniel considers them a “wild card” due to Preller’s aggressiveness.

Bullpen Notes: Stammen, Ramirez, Martin

The Nationals relief corps took another blow yesterday when righty Craig Stammen was placed on the 15-day DL with stiffness in his right forearm.  Stammen will undergo an MRI soon and he told reporters (including CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman) that he is at least somewhat worried that it could be a more serious elbow injury.  Nats GM Mike Rizzo also told the media, including Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, that the club is going with internal bullpen options for the time being.  Rafael Martin and Taylor Jordan were called up to replace Stammen and the recently-designated Xavier Cedeno, and Martin made an impressive MLB debut Wednesday, recording five strikeouts over two innings of work against the Red Sox.

Here are some more bullpen items from around baseball…

  • Cubs righty Neil Ramirez could also be facing some bad injury news, as he left Wednesday’s outing after just three pitches with a shoulder problem.  Ramirez will undergo an MRI today, ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports.  The reliever’s status has a bigger-picture impact on the rumored promotion of top prospect Kris Bryant on Friday.  If Ramirez needs some DL time, the Cubs could promote a reliever and continue with a 13-man pitching staff rather than call up Bryant and thin out an already heavily-worked bullpen.
  • Right-hander Cody Martin is off to a strong start, and the Braves rookie reliever tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that he is partially motivated by the fact that Atlanta didn’t protect him in the Rule 5 Draft last winter.  “That was tough, but I knew I belonged [on the roster] and belonged in the big leagues….I took it as a challenge to prove them all wrong, especially all the teams that didn’t pick me in the Rule 5 Draft,” Martin said.  “It all worked out pretty good. I’m where I need to be right now.”
  • Arquimedes Caminero enjoyed a strong Spring Training and earned a spot in the Pirates bullpen.  As Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes, the hard-throwing Caminero might be another reclamation success story for Bucs pitching coach Ray Searage, who encouraged the righty to simplify his delivery.  The result has been the fastest average fastball in the game this season, as Caminero is averaging 98.9 mph according to Fangraphs’ measurements.


Yankees Interested In Braves’ Jose Peraza

11:22am: A Braves official tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link) that the prospect of the club trading Peraza is a “complete fabrication.”

8:26am: The Yankees have been scouting Braves second base prospect Jose Peraza, former Major League scout Jeff Wren (brother of ex-Atlanta GM Frank Wren) reports via Twitter.  According to George A. King III of the New York Post, the Yankees have informed the Braves about their interest in Peraza, and King notes the Yankees are presumably interested in Peraza as a potential long-term answer at second.

Peraza, who turns 21 on April 30, was originally signed by the Braves for a $350K bonus out of Venezuela in 2010.  He has steadily climbed through Atlanta’s farm system and broke out with a .339/.364/.441 performance over 499 plate appearances (304 at the high-A level, 195 at Double-A) in 2014.  Speed is Peraza’s calling card, as he went 60-for-75 in stolen base attempts last season and is 178-for-220 in steals over his minor league career.

That big 2014 season earned Peraza a spot in several major top-100 prospect lists, albeit within a wide range.  ESPN’s Keith Law had Peraza as high as #24 in his preseason rankings, while MLB.com had him 39th (and first among Braves prospects), Baseball America had him 54th and Baseball Prospectus ranked Peraza in the 92nd slot.

It’s worth noting that Peraza is a natural shortstop and only became a primary second baseman last year, as the Braves shifted him since Andrelton Simmons has the position locked down at the MLB level.  The 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook praised Peraza’s hands and quick release and believed “he should be able to remain” at either middle infield position as he develops.

With this in mind, it’s possible the Yankees could see Peraza as a potential answer at shortstop rather than second base.  Both positions are rather up in the air for the club — Didi Gregorius has gotten off to a slow start both offensively and defensively, while veteran Stephen Drew is considered a placeholder for either Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela.  Refsnyder, however, has had defensive problems while Pirela is recovering from a concussion, King notes.

King speculates that New York could offer a package of two prospects for Peraza, one of whom could be catcher Gary Sanchez.  The Yankees seem set on John Ryan Murphy as their catcher of the future in anticipation of Brian McCann‘s eventual shift away from behind the plate, leaving Sanchez possibly expendable.  Sanchez was himself a highly-ranked prospect prior to the 2014 season, which saw him post solid offensive numbers at Double-A, but his defensive prowess is a question mark and “his work ethic and maturity are concerns” according to the MLB.com scouting report.

As for the second minor leaguer in the deal, King doubts the Yankees would move Luis Severino, the club’s top pitching prospect.  I agree with King — Severino and Peraza are roughly on the same level of value, so moving Severino and more would command a higher return than just Peraza.

That said, New York would certainly have to offer something significant to convince the Braves to part with Peraza whatsoever.  Atlanta acquired a bit of young middle infield depth in the form of Jace Peterson this offseason, so it’s possible they could be more willing to move Peraza.


AL East Notes: Pillar, Orioles, Garcia, Greene

Kevin Pillar was expected to be the Blue Jays‘ fourth outfielder this season and, until Michael Saunders returned from the DL, only a short-term replacement in left field.  After a hot start both offensively and defensively (including an incredible homer-robbing catch last night), however, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith notes that Pillar is making a strong bid for regular playing time even after Saunders is back.  Given Saunders’ knee injury and recent hamstring issue, I’d guess that he could see some DH time to keep him fresh, opening the door for Pillar to continue playing in left.  Switch-hitting center fielder Dalton Pompey has badly struggled against left-handed pitching in his brief career, so Pillar (a right-handed hitter) could also be used in a semi-platoon situation.

Here’s some news from around the AL East…

  • The Orioles are dealing with several roster questions, and MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko notes that the club’s decisions involve both making the team better in 2015 and also looking ahead to who might fill some holes on the 2016 roster.  Baltimore has 10 players scheduled for free agency this winter, leaving plenty of room to evaluate players for bigger roles, like T.J. McFarland or Mike Wright for a possible rotation spot next year.
  • Also from Kubatko’s piece, the Orioles want to keep Rule 5 Draft pick Jason Garcia as a piece for 2016 and beyond, though keeping him on the roster for all of this season could be tricky.  Garcia also has some interest from other teams, as “at least one member of the organization is convinced that the Rays would claim” the young righty if he was put on waivers.
  • Grantland’s Jonah Keri explores why the Orioles are keeping Kevin Gausman in the bullpen when the promising youngster and former fourth overall pick could be more valuable in the rotation.  One theory Keri has heard is that the O’s are giving their five veterans an opportunity to start in order to showcase them for possible trades, which would then open a space for Gausman.  Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris are both free agents after the season and the O’s would likely love to rid themselves of Ubaldo Jimenez‘s contract, though it’s worth noting that Gausman has thus far struggled (8.31 ERA and a 1:1 strikeout to walk ratio over four innings) in a relief role.
  • The early returns on the Yankees‘ offseason three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Tigers aren’t promising for the Bronx Bombers, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  Shane Greene, who went to Detroit from New York, has yet to allow a run in 16 innings for the Tigers, while Didi Gregorius has had an all-around rough start to his Yankees career.  While it’s still early, one scout tells Sherman that Greene made some strong adjustments and “was the best pitcher he had seen in March.”  Sherman also notes that the Yankees haven’t historically had much success in trades with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski.

Angels Select Adam Wilk’s Contract

Here are the latest minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Angels announced that they selected the contract of left-hander Adam Wilk from Triple-A.  In corresponding moves, Los Angeles sent righty Drew Rucinski to Triple-A to create a 25-man roster spot and moved lefty Tyler Skaggs to the 60-man DL to create a 40-man roster spot.  Wilk pitched two innings for the Halos last night, his first taste of MLB action since 2012 when he was a member of the Tigers.  Wilk pitched in the Korean Baseball Organization in 2013 and for the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in 2014.

Offseason In Review: Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox weren’t quite able to land all of their offseason targets, but they were still one of the winter’s busiest teams.  They look to ride a rebuilt pitching staff and one of the game’s best lineups back to the playoffs.

Major League Signings

Pool-Eligible International Signings

  • Yoan Moncada, IF: $31.5MM signing bonus (plus $31.5MM in overage taxes)

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades And Claims

Extensions

  • Rick Porcello, SP: Four years, $82.5MM
  • Wade Miley, SP: Three years, $19.25MM ($12MM club option for 2018, $500K buyout)

Notable Losses

Needs Addressed

The Red Sox moved quickly to snag the two biggest free agent bats on the market, signing both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez before the end of November.  The switch-hitting Sandoval addresses both Boston’s need for more lineup balance (most of the top Sox batters hit from the right side) and the need for a third baseman, as Will Middlebrooks’ struggles became too pronounced to ignore.

It stands to reason that the Sox might’ve originally explored signing Ramirez to play third base, though his willingness to switch positions led to Ramirez taking over as Boston’s regular left fielder.  Putting Ramirez in left freed up room for Sandoval to play third and star prospect Xander Bogaerts to get another shot as the everyday shortstop.MLB: Boston Red Sox at Philadelphia Phillies

In the short term, acquiring both Sandoval and Ramirez leads to a bit of an overloaded roster for the Red Sox since they’re one of the few teams who can’t easily rotate players through the DH spot (as David Ortiz is still as productive as ever).  In the big picture, however, the Sox were content to load up on as much hitting talent as possible and worry about how position battles shake out later.  The Sox will have quite a bit of roster depth in 2015 at almost every position, which was one of GM Ben Cherington’s primary offseason goals after injuries and underperforming young players hampered last year’s team.

Moving Ramirez to left only further deepened Boston’s outfield glut, though the club lessened their load slightly by trading Yoenis Cespedes to the Tigers as part of a package that brought Rick Porcello to the Sox rotation.  Porcello was scheduled for free agency after the 2015 season before the Sox made a firm commitment to the right-hander by signing him to a four-year, $82.5MM extension.

On paper, Porcello is the kind of pitcher that will fit right in at Fenway Park, as his 52.2% career ground ball rate will help counter the stadium’s notoriously hitter-friendly dimensions.  While Porcello has only posted an ERA better than league-average twice in his six seasons, advanced metrics like xFIP and SIERA paint a friendlier pitcher of his performance in recent years.  The Sox clearly believe Porcello can build on his impressive 2014 campaign, and now they’ve locked up a durable 26-year-old arm through his prime seasons.

The Red Sox acquired and extended another durable innings-eater in Wade Miley, picking up the 28-year-old from the Diamondbacks in exchange for two less-proven starting pitchers in Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.  Boston also turned to the free agent market to sign Justin Masterson to a one-year, $9.5MM deal as the veteran tries to rebound from a tough 2014 season.  Like Porcello, both Miley and Masterson are noted ground-ball pitchers, as are incumbent starters Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly.  Of the five hurlers, Miley’s 48.6% career grounder rate is actually the lowest of the bunch, so Boston is clearly putting a premium on keeping the ball in the park.

The Red Sox re-signed closer Koji Uehara and lefty reliever Craig Breslow, and added a couple of young arms to the bullpen by trading for righty Anthony Varvaro and lefty Robbie Ross Jr. in deals with the Braves and Rangers, respectively.  Alexi Ogando was also signed for a relief or swingman role depending on his health, and if the right-hander is fit after battling several injuries in recent years, he’ll be a boost to the pitching staff in either capacity.

Parting ways with Middlebrooks brought the Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan in a trade with the Padres.  This trade was somewhat overshadowed by Boston’s many other headline-grabbing winter moves, though it has increased in importance now that Christian Vazquez has undergone season-ending Tommy John surgery.  Hanigan will now be Boston’s regular starter, with the newly-acquired Sandy Leon serving as the backup.

While obviously this wasn’t Boston’s ideal situation behind the plate, there might not be much of a dropoff from Vazquez/Hanigan to Hanigan/Leon.  Vazquez was seen as an excellent defensive catcher whose ability to hit at the MLB level was still in question, and Hanigan/Leon are similarly defense-first catchers who either haven’t hit well in a couple of seasons (Hanigan) or have barely seen any time in the bigs (Leon).  There’s also a good chance you’ll see top catching prospect Blake Swihart make his Major League debut this season, as he might just need a bit more Triple-A seasoning before Boston is comfortable calling him up to the Show.

Beyond just adding pieces for 2015, however, the Red Sox also obtained a major future asset by signing Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada to a minor league deal with a $31.5MM bonus, by far the highest bonus ever given to an international amateur prospect.  The Red Sox had already exceeded their signing pool limit for the 2014-15 international signing period and will be limited to $300K-or-less bonuses for the next two signing periods as punishment, so as long as they were comfortable paying the 100% overage on the deal (bringing Moncada’s cost up to $63MM), it was logical to bring in a big international talent now before the penalties take effect.

While $63MM is a steep price for a 19-year-old, it could be worth it given how scouts have raved about Moncada’s ability, comparing him to the likes of Robinson Cano and Chase Utley.  Boston is so deep in infield and outfield talent that they don’t even have an immediate need for Moncada, though since he’ll need at least a season in the minors to develop, at least one position is sure to open up over time.

Questions Remaining

The two biggest pitching names attached to the Red Sox this winter were Jon Lester and Cole Hamels, neither of whom actually ended up in Boston’s rotation.  In Hamels’ case, the Phillies have insisted on at least one of Swihart or Mookie Betts in any deal for the star left-hander, while the Red Sox have been just as adamant that neither top prospect will be moved.

The Sox look even less likely to deal either now given that Betts is the regular center fielder and Swihart could have a more immediate role with Vazquez injured.  While Boston has a deep minor league system, the Phillies have received (and will continue to receive) enough interest in Hamels that it’s hard to see them settling for anything less than an elite young player like Betts or Swihart.

Missing out on Lester has to be a bitter pill for the Sox and their fans considering how the southpaw has been a cornerstone for the franchise for the better part of a decade.  Boston made a six-year, $135MM offer to Lester that was topped by the Cubs’ $155MM offer, and one wonders if Lester would still be wearing the red today had the Sox initially proposed more than their infamous four-year, $70MM extension offer last spring.  Lester has even hinted that five years/$120MM might’ve been enough to keep him had such a deal been offered last spring.

The fact that Boston pursued Lester this winter shows that their stated desire to avoid paying big money to pitchers in their 30’s isn’t quite rock-solid, yet that strategy is on display in regards to their 2015 rotation.  None of the five starters are on guaranteed money beyond their age-30 seasons, giving the Sox flexibility if other options become available or if one of the starters underachieves.

Flexibility for the future, however, could mean uncertainty in the present.  There has been quite a bit of criticism directed at the Sox for the lack of a “true ace” atop their rotation.  Porcello, Miley, Buchholz, Kelly and Masterson combined for only 6.6 fWAR in 2014, and while injuries (particularly for Kelly and Masterson) played a role in that low total, Porcello was the only one who showed any front-of-the-rotation stuff last year.

A staff of innings-eating groundballers might actually be enough to contend given Boston’s solid defense and powerful lineup, though it’s hard to argue that the rotation wouldn’t look better with a Hamels/Lester-caliber pitcher as the No. 1 starter.  If the rotation struggles, expect even more “why didn’t the Sox get an ace?” talk from the Boston fans and media.  In that scenario, the front office will very likely intensify its search for a top-shelf hurler before the trade deadline.

While the Red Sox may give pause before giving a major contract to a pitcher in his 30’s, they clearly have no problem in doing so for a big hitter, which speaks to both the lack of elite hitting talent on the market and the team’s belief that Sandoval and Ramirez will both produce in Fenway Park.  Both players come with some notable baggage; Sandoval’s weight and conditioning was long an issue with the Giants, and Ramirez has averaged only 116 games per year since 2011 due to a variety of injuries.

Putting Ramirez in left is something of a curious move for the Sox, though it might not be a bad one given how he has struggled defensively at both shortstop and third base in recent seasons.  Still, losing Cespedes and adding Ramirez did nothing to alleviate Boston’s outfield surplus.  As the season begins, Ramirez, Betts and Shane Victorino are the starters with Allen Craig, Daniel Nava and super-utilityman Brock Holt as the backups.  Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. have begun the season in the minors, not the ideal place for either a $72.5MM contract or a youngster who entered last year as one of the top prospects in the bigs.

It’s possible this situation could take care of itself, either via injuries (Ramirez, Victorino and Craig are all health question marks) or some of these players simply under-performing.  Castillo and Betts are unproven over a full season, while Nava struggled last year and Bradley has thus far been completely unable to hit Major League pitching.  Also, if one of the infielders gets hurt, that could open the door for Ramirez or Betts to move back to the infield and create playing time for a backup outfielder.

That said, outfield is the still most logical area of surplus for the Red Sox to use as trade bait later this year.  Craig and Victorino are the most probable candidates to be moved, though both will need several weeks of healthy and productive play to prove they’ve recovered from their 2014 injuries.  One would think that Bradley is also likely on the trade market — despite his highly-touted prospect status and excellent glove, the fact that Boston has signed Castillo and shifted Betts to center would indicate that the club has already moved on from Bradley as its center fielder of the future.

Deal Of Note

The Red Sox re-signed Uehara to a two-year deal before free agency even opened, an aggressive move since there were a few whispers that the club could potentially look elsewhere given how Uehara struggled down the stretch in 2014.  In making a two-year commitment to a reliever who just celebrated his 40th birthday, however, the Sox clearly believe Uehara’s late-season slump was largely due to some nagging injuries and not a sign of a decline.

Of course, Uehara hasn’t exactly proved his health to date, as he has begun the season on the DL with a strained hamstring.  If Uehara were to have an extended DL stint or another bout of ineffectiveness during the year, that would be a major blow to a Red Sox bullpen that could already be facing some extra work this year given the shaky rotation.  Uehara’s emergence as an elite closer was one of the planks of Boston’s World Series run, and while nobody expects him to duplicate his phenomenal 2013 numbers, he’s definitely being counted on as the bullpen leader.

Overview

One tends to forget that the Red Sox were actually a last-place team in 2014, given the amount of talent that already existed on the roster and the notable new names that have been added this winter.  Their trip to the bottom of the AL East seems more like a trivial quirk (“Hey, who was the only franchise to go from last place to World Series champions to last place again over a three-season stretch?”) than it does a reflection of a big mountain to climb back to contention — after all, they climbed that mountain just two seasons ago.

Stockpiling all of this position player depth will help the Sox prevent against the inevitable injuries and slumps that will befall at least a few players over the course of 162 games, and it would be a surprise if Boston wasn’t one of the league’s best offenses by season’s end.  After posting an uncharacteristically low team OBP (.316) and slugging percentage (.369), the Sox are looking to get back to their traditional strategy of grinding down opposing pitchers and making them pay with the long ball.

The major question is whether the rotation can hold up its end of the bargain.  If the staff exceeds expectations, the Red Sox could be World Series contenders again.  If the staff is even just average or slightly-below average, that still might be enough for a division run given the big bats and one of the league’s better defenses.  If the starters can’t get on track, however, that will put a lot of pressure on the bullpen and on the lineup to win slugfests every night.  While there don’t seem to any standout rotations within the AL East, Boston can’t afford to be the fifth of five middle-of-the-road pitching staffs.

Personally, I’d be very surprised if the Sox didn’t acquire at least one “proven ace” by midseason just because the rotation seems like such a notable weakness.  It could be Hamels, it could be free agent-to-be Johnny Cueto if the Reds are out of contention, or it could be a starter suddenly made available by a surprise non-contender (similar to how the Red Sox shopped Lester last summer).

Boston has made enough solid acquisitions that the team should be back in the thick of things in the AL East.  To fully complete their attempt at worst-to-first-to-worst-to-first again, however, they may still be one move away.

Photo courtesy of Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports Images


Quick Hits: Lynn, Nationals, Tommy John

The Indians fell two batters shy of a combined no-hitter in today’s 5-1 win over the Astros.  Trevor Bauer (six innings), Kyle Crockett and Scott Atchison (one inning each) kept Houston hitless through much of the game, but Nick Hagadone allowed a one-out solo homer to Jed Lowrie in the ninth to end the bid.  Cleveland’s last no-hitter came on May 15, 1981 when Len Barker threw a perfect game against the Blue Jays.  Here’s some news from around the baseball world…

  • Lance Lynn has brought “exceptional value to the Cardinals,” Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, especially in comparison to what the Red Sox just paid Rick Porcello in an extension; Miklasz considers Porcello an “overrated talent.”  While I agree that Lynn has been a good find for the Cards, I’m not sure his three-year, $22MM extension from earlier this winter is a good comparable for Porcello’s four-year, $82MM extension.  Lynn’s extension only covered his three arbitration seasons while Porcello’s deal was bound to be more expensive since it covered four free agent years, not to mention the fact that Lynn is over 19 months older than Porcello.
  • Ryan Zimmerman thinks the Nationals are well-positioned for long-term success even if they some key players in free agency this winter, he tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.  “I know a lot of the guys in here know there is a good chance that everyone is not going to be back.  If it was up to us, obviously, we want everyone to come back, but that’s not how the business works,” Zimmerman said.  “I think [the front office] has a done a really good job of drafting and getting guys up to take [their] place. I think whether it’s all of them, none of them or some of them, I think we are going to be good for a long time no matter what.”  Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Jordan Zimmermann can all become free agents after the 2015 season.
  • The recent spate of Tommy John surgeries has drawn more attention to the procedure, and ESPN.com’s Stephania Bell delves into the numbers behind these surgeries.  Bell’s piece explores such topics as why TJ operations are becoming more frequent, how the surgery impacts pitchers’ future performance and how Major League Baseball is trying to determine if there’s a root cause to this increase in UCL injuries.

California Notes: Ross, A’s, Padres, Shortstops

The Giants and Padres engaged in an extreme pitchers’ duel on Thursday night, needing a full 12 innings to decide a 1-0 Giants victory.  Pinch-hitter Justin Maxwell‘s RBI single in the top of the 12th proved to be the difference in a game that saw both clubs combine for only 13 total hits.  Here’s some more news from teams from the Golden State…

  • Newly-acquired Athletics outfielder Cody Ross told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jane Lee) that A’s were one of multiple teams who got in touch with him almost immediately after the Diamondbacks released the veteran over the weekend.  Ross saw Oakland as an ideal fit since he wants to play for a contender, and he now sees his release as a positive after he initially felt “blindsided,” “upset” and “bitter” about being let go so suddenly by the D’Backs.
  • Ross also noted that the Giants were one of the teams who had a “little bit” of interest in signing him, and The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea confirms that this was the case, but the team didn’t have an available roster spot.  Ross, of course, played for the Giants from August 2010 through the 2011 season and played a big role in the club’s 2010 World Series title with an MVP performance in the NLCS.
  • With the Padres looking for shortstop help, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron sees the Brewers’ Jean Segura as a realistic trade target.  Cameron speculates that a deal of Segura for Odrisamer Despaigne, Brandon Maurer and one of Alexi Amarista/Clint Barmes could give both teams an overall roster upgrade.  Beyond Segura, Cameron doesn’t see the likes of Troy Tulowitzki, Elvis Andrus, Starlin Castro or Jose Ramirez as plausible San Diego trade targets for a variety of reasons.
  • For the 20th straight season, the Padres have signed Matt LaChappa to a minor league contract, a move that gives the southpaw a regular income and access to health insurance, USA Today’s Ted Berg reports.  Steve Bischeff of the Orange County Register first wrote about LaChappa in 2005, detailing the second-round pick in the 1993 draft suffered a heart attack while warming up before a minor league game in 1996.  A virus around his heart led to a second attack and LaChappa is now confined to a wheelchair, but the Padres have continually renewed his minor league deal every year since the incident.
  • In news from earlier today, the Dodgers acquired Ryan Webb in a trade with the Orioles, while the A’s lost Alex Hassan to the Rangers on a waiver claim.

AL Cental Notes: Nolasco, Tomlin, Medlen

The opening series between the Tigers and Twins could hardly have been more lopsided, as Detroit finished off a three-game sweep with a 7-1 victory today.  The only bright spot for the Twins was that they finally scored a run, after losing the first two games by a combined 15-0 score.  Minnesota will have to turn things around to avoid getting into an early-season hole, as 23 of the Twins’ first 26 games are against division rivals.  Let’s look at some AL Central news…

  • Ricky Nolasco left the team on Thursday to return to Minneapolis and undergo an MRI on his right elbow.  Twins skipper Paul Molitor told reporters (including Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) that Nolasco “felt a little bit of a spike” in his elbow during Wednesday’s start, though it’s too early to tell if this injury is related to the flexor strain that sent Nolasco to the DL last season.
  • In other injury news, Indians righty Josh Tomlin underwent shoulder surgery yesterday.  The procedure will sideline Tomlin for approximately 3-4 months.
  • The hiring of Terry Francona after the 2012 season has brought some much-needed stability to the Indians franchise, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.  Not only has the Tribe improved on the field and locked up several young stars to long-term extensions, they’ve also looked to improve the fan experience (and improve attendance) at Progressive Field by upgrading the ballpark’s amenities.
  • While recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, right-hander Kris Medlen “was intent on finding a team with a strong rehab staff and the patience not to rush him,” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick writes.  Medlen found a two-year deal with a mutual option from the Royals, and he’s received some advice regarding how hip weakness could be impacting his delivery.  Crasnick’s piece includes several insightful comments from Medlen and his former Braves teammate Brandon Beachy (now a Dodger and also trying to recover from his second TJ operation) about their rehab process and some of the public misconceptions about Tommy John surgery as the procedure becomes more commonplace.  For instance, Medlen and Beachy feel that 12 months is too short a realistic recovery time for Tommy John patients, and 16-20 months is a more reasonable estimate to return to full strength.