Author Archives: Mark Polishuk

Latest On The Twins’ Managerial Search

Here’s the latest news on the Twins’ hunt for Ron Gardenhire’s replacement…

TODAY

  • The Twins have had no contact whatsoever with Maddon, reports Berardino, whose report indicates that expected cost may be a factor. A source in Maddon’s camp tells Berardino that the former Rays manager would have welcomed the interest but would probably be looking for a team with a clearer route to competing in the near term.

YESTERDAY

  • Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo had his second interview with the Twins today, according to Derek Wetmore and Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.  Lovullo’s first interview went well, and past rumors had seemingly narrowed Minnesota’s choices down to Lovullo, Paul Molitor and Doug Mientkiewicz.
  • New market addition Joe Maddon is not in the mix for Minnesota, the report adds. Molitor seems to be the favorite for the job at this point, per Wetmore and Wolfson.
  • The Twins have yet to ask the Royals for permission to interview bench coach Don Wakamatsu, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.  It could be that the Twins have already decided upon the aforementioned finalists, or they could simply be waiting until Kansas City’s postseason run is over.

Gammons’ Latest: Sandoval, Hochevar, Stanton

There have been several memorable performances this postseason, “but Madison Bumgarner has not only helped write this October’s script, he wins the Oscar for best actor,” Peter Gammons writes.  Bumgarner’s phenomenal work in the playoffs (only six earned runs allowed in 47 2/3 IP) has already earned him a spot in baseball history, though the Royals still have a chance to get the last word in the World Series.  In a separate piece on his Gammons Daily website, Gammons shares a few news items…

  • A member of the Giants ownership group “said there is a swelling thinking” that the Red Sox will sign Pablo Sandoval as a free agent this winter.  “The bigger the stage, the better he plays.  He would love Boston,” the Giants official said.  San Francisco is no small stage itself, of course, and rival general managers tell Gammons that they think the Giants will re-sign their star third baseman.
  • One GM predicts that Luke Hochevarwill be a big item this winter” in free agency.  The former No. 1 overall draft pick struggled as a starter in the majors but had a fantastic season out of the Royals bullpen in 2013.  Hochevar missed all of 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and, if healthy, would be a nice under-the-radar pickup for teams looking for relief help.
  • Gammons believes the Marlins can’t trade Giancarlo Stanton before his contract expires at the end of the 2016 season.  “If they do, owner Jeffrey Loria’s credibility will take such a further hit that he may have to sell for the Marlins to ever be accepted,” Gammons writes.  I’m not necessarily sure this would be the case — if Stanton makes it clear he won’t sign an extension with the club, Miami fans obviously wouldn’t be happy, but they’d understand that a trade would be a logical move for the Marlins to get a big return.

Coaching Notes: Braves, Jays, Aldrete, Rays

Here’s the latest coaching news from around the majors…

  • In addition to Seitzer, the Braves have announced the hiring of Jose Castro as the assistant hitting coach.  Castro, 56, has worked as a minor league hitting coach or coordinator with the Expos, Marlins, Padres and Mariners from 1990-2010 and served as the Cubs’ quality assurance coach last season.
  • The Braves have hired Kevin Seitzer as their new hitting coach, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports.  The hiring could be officially announced as soon as today.  Seitzer served as the Blue Jays‘ hitting coach in 2014, meaning Toronto now has a vacancy to fill.  Seitzer also previously worked as a hitting coach with the Royals (2009-12) and Diamondbacks (2007).
  • Seitzer and the Blue Jays couldn’t settle on a new contract, which led Seitzer to explore options elsewhere, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports.  The Jays are now looking for a new hitting coach in addition to a new bullpen coach, though the rest of the coaching staff is under contract for 2015.
  • The Athletics have hired Mike Aldrete as their new bench coach, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, with the hiring expected to be announced today.  Aldrete, a Bay Area native, spent the last three seasons as the Cardinals‘ bench coach and four seasons prior to that as St. Louis’ assistant hitting coach.
  • The Rays don’t know who their next manager will be, but they’re planning on keeping their current coaches, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes.  A new manager will usually add some of his own staff, but that won’t be the case with the Rays, who want to ensure continuity regardless of who manages next year.  Topkin points out that could be good news for bench coach Dave Martinez, who could be a candidate for the managerial job.


Second Baseman Andy Ibanez Leaves Cuba

Andy Ibanez, a 21-year-old second baseman, has left Cuba in pursuit of a Major League contract, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports.  The 5’10”, 183-pound, right-handed hitting Ibanez is believed to have left Cuba sometime before September 21, which was the start of the Serie Nacional season.

Baseball America recently ranked Ibanez eighth on their list of the best prospects still in Cuba, with Badler writing that Ibanez “doesn’t have any premium tools or star upside, but his value lies in being steady in all phases while playing in the middle of the diamond.”  He posted a .267/.377/.435 line over 280 PA last season and won a Gold Glove in his 2011-12 rookie year.  Badler figures that Ibanez would start his Major League career at high-A or Double-A ball.

Since Ibanez has only three seasons of experience in Serie Nacional, he’ll be subject to the 2014-15 international bonus pools.  If Ibanez can get cleared to sign before the 2014-15 signing period ends on June 15, Badler thinks this could give the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays an advantage in signing him since those clubs have already exceeded their pool limits (and thus they don’t have to worry about spending more on new signings).  Those overages will prevent the three teams from signing any bonus pool-eligible players for the next two years, however, so the AL East trio will be out of the running for Ibanez if he isn’t a free agent by that June 15 date.


AL East Notes: Markakis, Cespedes, Hamels

The Orioles have spoken to Nick Markakis‘ agent and will continue contract discussions this week, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports.  Markakis is expected to hit free agency when the O’s decline their half of a $17.5MM option on the outfielder’s services for 2015.  “Both sides want to get a deal done, but….A hometown discount has its limits,” Kubatko writes.  Indeed, Markakis will draw a lot of interest on the open market, with MLBTR’s Steve Adams predicting Markakis will find a three- or four-year deal worth between $39-$48MM (depending on whether the Orioles extend a qualifying offer).

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • The Red Sox had some preliminary talks with Adam Katz, then Yoenis Cespedes‘ agent, about a four- or five-year extension, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports.  Since then, however, Cespedes changed his representation to Roc Nation Sports and is expected to look for a longer-term deal, making it more likely that the Sox explore trading him this winter.  Beyond contract reasons, Boston could look to move the outfielder because, as a source tells Madden, Cespedes “marches to his own drum and the [Red Sox] coaches all hate him.”
  • The Red Sox could use Cespedes as a trade chip for starting pitching, and Madden speculates that the Mets line up with the Sox as trade partners.  Boston is also “exploring” what the Phillies would want for Cole Hamels, though Philadelphia isn’t interested in Cespedes.
  • Ex-Rays manager Joe Maddon spoke with Fangraphs’ David Laurila in September (before the current drama surrounding Maddon’s opt-out) and discussed why pitching and defense are dominating the sport. Beyond the PED crackdown, Maddon pointed out that quite a bit of recent significant sabermetrics work has been focused on pitching and defense, rather than offense.  Maddon also said driving a starter out of a game no longer presents the opportunity it once did, as “You see a lot of 95-plus out of the pen now, and some of those guys have quality secondary pitches. I think it’s become easier to build bullpens, and it’s rare a team has a bad one.”
  • Maddon also suggested speed might become a more crucial part of the game than it has been in the recent past, when homers and walks became the blueprint for offensive production.  The Red Sox, however, are one team that plans to stick to its offensive philosophy, GM Ben Cherington tells Laurila. “We know we need to build a better offense, but we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Cherington said. “If we can see pitches and get on base, and still hit for power and hit with runners in scoring position, I still think that’s a formula to score runs.”

Royals Notes: Zimmer, Beltran, Sveum

After last night’s Game Five loss, the Royals have now faced a 3-2 deficit in all three of the franchise’s World Series appearances.  In 1980, K.C. was eliminated by the Phillies in Game Six and in 1985, the Royals (who were actually down 3-1) came back to defeat the Cardinals and win the Series.  While we wait for Tuesday night’s game, here are some items from Kansas City…

  • Top Royals prospect Kyle Zimmer has left the Arizona Fall League with a shoulder issue and will see Dr. David Altchek, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. MLB.com ranks Zimmer the No. 2 prospect in the Royals organization and the No. 47 prospect in the game. Baseball America, meanwhile, ranked Zimmer No. 26 overall in its midseason list. Zimmer had opened eyes in the AFL, with ESPN’s Keith Law writing (Insider-only) that Zimmer and the Pirates’ Tyler Glasnow were the best pitching prospects he’d seen. Zimmer missed most of the 2014 season with shoulder troubles, so his current issues aren’t new.
  • The Royals heavily pursued Carlos Beltran last offseason and offered the veteran slugger a three-year deal with a fourth-year option, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  Kansas City’s offer would also have paid Beltran more than the $45MM he received from the Yankees on a straight three-year deal.  (Last winter, ESPN’s Buster Olney noted that state tax differences between Missouri and New York would’ve meant Beltran would’ve taken home more money with the Royals’ contract, even if the total dollar value was less than $45MM.)  In the end, however, Beltran ended up signing with the Yankees because, in part, he playing for a big-market team would help his chances for the Hall of Fame.
  • Royals hitting coach (and former Cubs manager) Dale Sveum is still interested in managing, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “I’m not holding my breath. It’s just the nature of the beast,” he says. “If somebody calls, they call.” Sveum says he doesn’t worry about having lost the Cubs job now that he’s in the World Series with Kansas City. “It definitely doesn’t hurt,” he says. “We all do this for this, no matter what capacity you’re in.”

Left-hander Kwang-Hyun Kim To Be Posted

SK Wyverns of the Korean Baseball Organization have announced that they will post left-hander Kwang-Hyun Kim this offseason, according to a report from the Yonhap news agency (tip of the cap to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net for passing the news along).  Kim initially expressed interest in pitching in North America prior to the 2014 season, and he now has the necessary seven seasons of KBO service time to qualify for posting.

Kim, 26, posted a 3.42 ERA over 28 starts this season, finishing in the top five in ERA, wins and strikeouts amongst the league’s pitchers.  It was a rebound year for Kim, who went through some injury issues from 2011-13 following an impressive start to his KBO career, as he was named the league’s MVP in 2008.  The southpaw pitched for South Korea in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and fared poorly, allowing nine runs in only 3 1/3 innings of work.  Kurtz has compiled a YouTube playlist of some Kim highlights for a better look at the lefty’s pitching style.


AL Central Notes: Tomas, Tigers, 2014 Draft

SungWoo Lee, the diehard Royals fan from South Korea whose visit to Kansas City earlier this summer made headlines around the sports world, is on his way back to watch his favorite team compete in the World Series.  The Royals have gone 40-20 in the regular season and playoffs since Lee first arrived in the United States on August 5.  Lee’s very first game at Kauffman Stadium was a matchup between the Royals and (talk about karma) the Giants on August 9, which was won by K.C. as part of a three-game sweep.

As Kansas City prepares for its first World Series game since 1985, let’s take a look around the AL Central…

  • The Twins have yet to schedule a private workout for Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets, and there have been “no serious talks, just brief ones” between the club and Tomas’ representatives.
  • Emilio Bonifacio, Luke Gregerson, Brandon McCarthy, Andrew Miller and Colby Rasmus are five free agents who could be fits for the Tigers‘ bullpen, center field and No. 5 starter needs this offseason, Mlive.com’s James Schmehl opines.
  • The Indians and Royals top Baseball America’s list of teams who had the best 2014 draft, based on how the prospects selected in June have thus far performed in their young pro careers.  A number of AL Central prospects appear in the follow-up lists based on player performance, with Royals lefty Brandon Finnegan‘s name appearing multiple times — no surprise there, given that Finnegan has already reached the majors and has thrown some key bullpen innings for K.C. during the postseason.

Yoenis Cespedes Switches Agents

Red Sox left fielder Yoenis Cespedes has switched agencies and is now being represented by Roc Nation Sports.  The agency welcomed its newest client via the Roc Nation Twitter feed.  CAA’s Brodie Van Wagenen will be handling the baseball side of Cespedes’ representation, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier tweets, similar to other Roc Nation clients like Robinson Cano and Rusney Castillo.

Roc Nation was linked to Cespedes as far back as July 2013, when the agency was rumored to be courting the outfielder.  While the agency founded by Jay Z isn’t even two years old, it already represents a number of major names from the sports world, including Cano, Castillo and C.C. Sabathia.  Under the Roc Nation banner, Cano and Castillo both notably signed contracts that were above industry expectations.

Cespedes only has one year remaining on the four-year, $36MM deal he originally signed with the A’s prior to the 2012 season.  He has reportedly not given much consideration to signing an extension with the Red Sox, which has led to speculation that the Sox could look to trade him this winter.  Whether he stays in Boston or not, Cespedes is clearly looking ahead to a big payday on his next contract.

Cespedes had previously been represented by WMG’s Adam Katz, who has now lost two high-profile clients within the last few weeks after Nelson Cruz joined Relativity Sports.

For agency info on over 1,700 players, check out MLBTR’s oft-updated agency database.  Agents: if you’ve got a 40-man roster player or top prospect whose representation is not correctly noted, we welcome corrections at mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.


Cardinals Notes: Lynn, DeWitt, Matheny

Lance Lynn and the Cardinals have both said they’re open to discussing a contract extension for the righty this winter, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  Lynn will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, and he’s built a strong case for himself by posting a 2.74 ERA in 2014 and averaging 194 IP, 8.7 K/9 and a 2.64 K/BB rate over his first three full seasons in the St. Louis rotation.  As Goold notes, Lynn could be the latest in a series of core Cardinals players who the club has extended before hitting their arb years or free agency.

Here’s some more from the 19-time National League champs…

  • Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt tells Goold that the organization plans to increase payroll and is “forecasting fairly significant increases in the next three to five years.”  The spending increase was planned to coincide with several younger players (Lynn, Shelby Miller, Matt Adams, etc.) reaching arbitration eligibility within that same time span.  Additional money could also be spent to bring new talent into the team via trades or free agency, as DeWitt said “we would have the capacity for an additional core player or players depending on their quality, their compensation, and our need.”  The Cardinals’ payroll has ranged from roughly $109MM to $116MM over the last four seasons, and Goold speculates that number could jump to around $130MM in the next few years.
  • GM John Mozeliak made it clear that the team is very happy with Mike Matheny, and Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch considers it “ludicrous” for critics to suggest a change at manager despite some questionable tactical decisions from Matheny during the NLCS.
  • Mozeliak also said that Oscar Taveras isn’t going to be traded, and that the star prospect’s underwhelming first season “is not the end of the world. If anything, it’s a blessing in disguise” since now Taveras knows what is needed to perform at the Major League level.  On the other hand, Miklasz writes that Matheny “isn’t a fan” of Taveras and wonders if the Cardinals might be tempted to explore trades for the outfielder this winter.
  • Also from Miklasz, he feels relief depth, upgrades at the backup catcher and backup middle infielder spots and a right-handed hitting platoon partner for Adams are all logical winter goals for the Cardinals.