Author Archives: Mark Polishuk

Brewers Sign Neal Cotts

It’s been no secret that the Brewers were on the lookout for bullpen help, and they’ve added an arm to their relief corps, announcing the signing of left-hander Neal Cotts to a one-year contract today. The Pro Star Management client will reportedly receive a $3MM guarantee.

Cotts, 35 in March, comes with a lengthy injury history but has been healthy for the past two seasons and clearly showed he was healthy enough to pass Milwaukee’s physical.  Between Tommy John surgery and four surgeries on his right hip, Cotts missed three full seasons from 2010-12 before re-emerging with the Rangers in 2013.  Upon returning to the mound, Cotts delivered a 2.84 ERA, 3.12 K/BB rate and 9.3 K/9 over 123 2/3 innings and 131 appearances out of the Texas bullpen over the last two seasons.

The Brewers have been focused on bullpen additions in recent weeks, and they’ve been rumored to be exploring options like trading for Jonathan Papelbon, signing Rafael Soriano or re-signing former closer Francisco Rodriguez.  With only four career saves, of course, Cotts doesn’t project to be Milwaukee’s ninth-inning answer and looks to be in line for more of a setup role.  Cotts is also something of a reverse-splits pitcher (left-handed batters have a career .753 OPS against him, while righty batters have only a .703 OPS) so he doesn’t fit the usual mold of a lefty specialist.

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the agreement (Twitter links). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted the financial details.


Quick Hits: Joba, Beachy, Eovaldi, Clippard

Rather than throwing touchdowns for the Patriots, could Tom Brady have instead had a career throwing out baserunners for the Expos?  MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro looks back at how Montreal selected Brady (then a catcher at Serra High School) in the 18th round of the 1995 draft, even though it was widely known that Brady was going to play football at Michigan.  “I think he would have been a pro,” said scout John Hughes, who evaluated Brady for the Expos.  “He had all the intangibles. He could throw, left-handed power. There is no reason to think this guy couldn’t have been a big league catcher.”  While every New England sports fan breathes a sigh of relief that Brady stuck to the gridiron, here are some more notes from around baseball…

  • Joba Chamberlain has rejected multiple offers because he simply didn’t want to pitch for the teams that offered him those deals, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports.  He’s considering a one-year deal with a modest base salary and incentives, as his hopes for a two-year contract have likely gone by the wayside.  There is still some question about Chamberlain’s makeup amongst league executives, and one exec told Rosenthal that the Tigers‘ lack of interest in re-signing Chamberlain “alarmed him” given Detroit’s need for bullpen help.
  • Though Brandon Beachy was reportedly considering multiple offers and was thought to be close to signing a new contract earlier this month, his agent Rob Martin tells Ken Rosenthal (all Twitter links) that the right-hander will wait a bit longer.  “Brandon has decided not to sign a contract at this time. With each day his arm is getting stronger and he’s feeling even more confident about his progress,” Martin said.  “Thus, he is going to continue with his throwing program and make a decision closer to Spring Training.”
  • The Marlins were linked to Wade Miley earlier this winter, and now ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) reports that the Marlins thought they were in agreement with the Diamondbacks on a Miley-for-Nathan Eovaldi trade.  Arizona pulled out of the deal, however, and Miami instead dealt Eovaldi to the Yankees while the D’Backs sent Miley to the Red Sox.
  • Also from Olney, there is some speculation in rival front offices that the Nationals‘ trade of Tyler Clippard might’ve been motivated by more than just a desire to move salary, especially since Washington just signed Casey Janssen to a healthy contract.  It’s possible the Nats could see “red flags” about Clippard’s future production that aren’t obvious to most observers, especially given that Clippard had another strong season in 2014.

West Links: Luhnow, Reimold, Angels, Dodgers

In an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link), Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said his club had looked at signing Kevin Correia and Kyle Kendrick.  Houston’s interest in Correia was reported earlier this week, while Kendrick has been linked to the ‘Stros as another potential fit to fill out the back of their rotation.  Luhnow also stated that the Astros had been looking at other similar starters with Major League experience.  Here’s some more from both the AL and NL West divisions…

  • The Athletics have checked in on free agent outfielder Nolan Reimold, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets.  The Indians and Orioles are also known to be interested in Reimold, and Dan Duquette said earlier today that the O’s have extended an offer for Reimold to return to Baltimore.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was non-committal about the idea of his team pursuing any of the top arms available in next year’s free agent market, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes.  Payroll space could be an issue given how (according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts) the Halos have over $128MM committed to only seven players for the 2016 season.
  • With Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson both set for free agency after 2016, Gonzalez wonders if the Angels could sign a major starter and then use Weaver or Wilson as trade bait, similar to how the Nationals signed Max Scherzer and now have the depth to explore trading Jordan Zimmermann or Doug Fister.  There were rumors earlier this winter that the Angels were already shopping Wilson, though Dipoto issued a denial.
  • Sergio Santos will earn $1MM if he makes the Dodgers‘ Major League roster, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports (via Twitter), plus another $3.05MM is available in incentives.  Santos signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last month.
  • The Dodgers are committed to rebuilding their minor league system and thus are wary about exceeding their international bonus pool to sign Yoan Moncada, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick writes.  While L.A. is very interested in Moncada, any team that wants to sign the Cuban phenom would have to greatly exceed their bonus pool to do so, and thus be limited to international signings of $300K or less for the next two international signing periods, or until July 2017.  Of course, several teams have employed the strategy of exceeding the pool limit to load up on premium international talent during one signing period — the Red Sox, Angels, Rays, Yankees and Diamondbacks already face that $300K limit during the 2015-17 international signing market.
  • The Diamondbacks hired former slugger Joe Carter as a special assistant to GM Dave Stewart, the team announced.  Carter and Stewart were teammates in Toronto in 1993-94, both playing major roles in the Blue Jays’ 1993 World Series title.


AL East Notes: A-Rod, Red Sox, Hendrickson

It’s been a busy day around the AL East, as the Blue Jays made a pair of minor league signings, Dan Duquette spoke about his situation and other Orioles topics, and we collected some Rays notes.  Here’s some more from around the division…

  • The MLBPA would support Alex Rodriguez if the Yankees attempt to withhold his $6MM contract bonus for tying Willie Mays on the all-time homer list, Dan Martin of the New York Post reports.  “The union would challenge any breach of contract with the union,” a source close to the MLBPA tells Martin. “A player can’t be punished again for something he’s already been punished for.”  The MLBPA’s argument is that A-Rod is being further penalized for his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal, while the Yankees intend to argue that the homer bonuses are based around marketing and Rodriguez’s diminished reputation around baseball has negated any celebration of the milestone.
  • “In some ways, the importance of ‘No. 1 starters’ has been devalued by the sheer quality of arms, in general, in today’s run-squelching environment, and mid-inning matchup play has increased the prominence of the bullpens,” MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince writes in an examination of how the Red Sox may not need a proven ace atop their rotation.  Boston could model itself after the Orioles, whose recent success has been based around defense, relief pitching and big hitting rather than a superb rotation.  On the other hand, Castrovince notes that the Sox could make a move for an ace at midseason if necessary, or any of the Boston rotation could still emerge as a true frontline starter as the season develops.
  • The Orioles are “leaning toward” extending a Spring Training invitation to left-hander Mark Hendrickson, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports.  The 40-year-old Hendrickson pitched for the O’s from 2009-11 and hasn’t appeared in the majors since, spending 2013 with the Orioles’ Triple-A team and 2014 in independent ball.  Kubatko notes that the Orioles are interested in hiring Hendrickson as a pitching coach within the organization when he eventually retires.

Rays Notes: Moncada, Moore, Teaford

Here’s the latest from Tampa Bay…

  • Yoan Moncada took part in a private workout for Rays officials at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.  Despite the Rays’ interest in Moncada, it is widely expected that they will be outbid given the widespread interest in the Cuban phenom.
  • Left-hander Matt Moore threw off a mound on Tuesday of this week for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery, reports Topkin. Moore made 15 tosses from halfway up the bullpen mound at Tropicana Field and said the session couldn’t have gone better. Moore says he is targeting a return to the Tampa rotation sometime in June. In the meantime, trade acquisition Nate Karns and prospect Alex Colome should battle to hold down the fifth slot behind Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer.
  • The Rays’ minor league signing of Everett Teaford is yet another example of how the organization focuses on pitchers who throw high fastballs, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes.  Tampa generally either pursues pitchers with rising fastballs or tries to add the pitch to a hurler’s arsenal after the club acquires him, as was the case with Drew Smyly last season.

Duquette On Blue Jays, Snider, Reimold

Before a dinner event at the Orioles’ A-ball affiliate in Aberdeen this evening, executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette spoke to reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko and Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun) about both his own tumultuous offseason and some other hot stove topics.  Here are some of the highlights…

  • Duquette doesn’t discuss ongoing negotiations for players, and that same logic led to his lack of comment about the rumors connecting him to the Blue Jays president’s job, and the discussions between the Jays and Orioles about a possible trade to free him from his Baltimore contract.  “You know, these things happen in baseball. This is rare, but sometimes trades are made for managers, sometimes trades are made for executives and that’s the way it goes,” Duquette said.  “It’s a part of the business. If there’s trade discussions that I have as an executive, I really don’t talk about those publicly, because you never know what’s going to come to fruition and what’s not.”
  • Despite the Toronto situation, Duquette described his Orioles offseason work as “business as usual” and said he didn’t feel it necessary to reiterate his commitment to O’s upper management.  “I’ve always done my job 24 hours a day and to the best of my ability,” Duquette said. “That’s a habit. We’re going to have another good ballclub this year. I’m confident of that.”
  • The O’s have offered Nolan Reimold a contract, Duquette said, though he noted that the outfielder is also receiving interest from other teams.  The Indians are known to be one of the clubs linked to Reimold this winter.
  • Duquette said he is still looking to add a right-handed bullpen arm.
  • The Orioles’ recent acquisition of Travis Snider gives the club added depth both offensively and defensively, Duquette said, and he thinks Snider’s bat is a good fit for Camden Yards.  Duquette and Pirates GM Neal Huntington had originally discussed a Snider deal during the Winter Meetings, though talks were only rekindled a few weeks ago.  “I had stayed in touch with Neal because we were still looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder, so we continued our persistence and Neal made him available,” Duquette said.

Giants Designate Chris Dominguez For Assignment

The Giants have designated third baseman/outfielder Chris Dominguez for assignment, according to MLB.com’s transactions page.  The move clears a spot on the Giants’ 40-man roster for the re-signed Ryan Vogelsong.

Dominguez, 28, made his Major League debut last season, appearing in eight September games and delivering one hit (a homer) in 18 plate appearances.  He was picked by San Francisco in the third round of the 2009 draft and he posted a .269/.309/.436 slash line 2838 minor league plate appearances.

According to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker, Dominguez is one of six players in “DFA limbo,” along with Jose Constanza (Braves), Gonzalez Germen (Rangers), Cesar Jimenez (Phillies), Michael Ohlman (Orioles), and Dayan Viciedo (White Sox).


Phillies Sign Chad Billingsley

6:18pm: If Billingsley reaches all of the performance bonuses in his contract, he can earn another $6.5MM in salary, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.

5:56pm: The Phillies signed right-hander Chad Billingsley to a one-year, $1.5MM contract, the team announced.  The contract also contains performance bonuses.  Billingsley is represented by the Octagon agency.

The two sides were rumored to have a mutual interest in a deal earlier this week, and the signing gives Philadelphia an intriguing buy-low candidate for the rotation.  Billingsley hasn’t thrown a Major League pitch since April 15, 2013 due to both Tommy John surgery and another procedure to repair a torn flexor tendon, and he has only thrown seven total minor league innings over the last two seasons.

As has been the case throughout this offseason, we have attempted to create as much starting pitching depth as possible at both the major and minor league levels,” GM Ruben Amaro said in the Phillies’ press release.  “Given Chad’s track record, we feel he is an excellent candidate to bounce back as a productive starting pitcher.”

Chosen 24th overall in the 2003 draft, Billingsley developed into a durable and successful hurler with the Dodgers, posting a 3.65 ERA, 2.27 K/BB rate and 8.2 K/9 over 1073 1/3 IP from 2007-12.  Billingsley is only 30 years old, so if he’s back to full health, the Phillies may have found a strong rotation piece at a bargain price (even counting his contract bonuses).  Several teams reportedly made offers to Billingsley this winter, and the Diamondbacks were also known to have an interest in the righty’s services.


Phillies Designate Cesar Jimenez For Assignment

The Phillies have designated left-hander Cesar Jimenez for assignment.  The move creates a spot on the 40-man roster for the newly-signed Chad Billingsley.

This is the second time the Phils have Jimenez has been designated for assignment in just under eight months, and he also was outrighted off their 40-man roster in June.  The southpaw signed a one-year deal to avoid arbitration with the Phillies in October.

Jimenez, 30, posted a 1.69 ERA, 1.14 K/BB rate and 4.5 K/9 over 16 relief innings for Philadelphia last season, as well as an impressive 1.45 ERA, 3.07 K/BB rate and 8.3 K/9 in 49 2/3 IP at the Triple-A level.  He joins five other players in “DFA Limbo” according to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.


Minor Moves: Paulino, LaHair, Marjama

Here are today’s minor league transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Red Sox announced the signings of righty Felipe Paulino and 1B/OF Bryan LaHair to minor league deals with Spring Training invites.  Paulino posted an 11.29 ERA over 18 1/3 IP with the White Sox last season, his first taste of MLB action since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.  LaHair also last appeared in the majors in 2012, when he rode a big first half to an All-Star selection but came back to earth after his hot start.  LaHair played in Japan in 2013 and spent last season in the Indians’ minor league system.
  • The Rays acquired catcher Mike Marjama from the White Sox, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter).  Chicago will receive cash or a player to be named later in return.  Marjama was a 23rd-round pick for the Sox in the 2011 draft and the 25-year-old backstop has a .270/.307/.376 slash line over 888 minor league plate appearances.  Marjama has yet to play above the high-A level, and Topkin notes that the catcher isn’t expected to be in the Rays’ Major League Spring Training camp.