Author Archives: Mark Polishuk

Blue Jays Sign Johan Santana To Minors Deal

FRIDAY: Santana will receive a $2.5MM base salary if he’s in the big leagues, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (Twitter links). The deal also includes $2.05MM in incentives for games started (up to 25) as well as $2MM in roster bonuses. He has an April 28 opt-out date, and it’s not likely he’ll be ready by Opening Day, tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

THURSDAY: The Blue Jays have signed veteran left-hander Johan Santana to a minor league contract with an invitation to their big league Spring Training camp, according to a team press release.  Santana is represented by Peter Greenberg of the Legacy Agency.

Santana hasn’t pitched in either the majors or minors since 2012, as he has been sidelined by both left shoulder capsule surgery (his second such procedure in three years) and, most recently, a torn Achilles tendon last June while on a minor league deal with the Orioles.  Santana returned to make some appearances in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason and drew interest from multiple teams, including the Padres and Yankees, though his Venezuelan outings were limited by shoulder soreness.

Given his checkered injury history and the fact that Santana turns 36 in March, it’s hard to see this as anything more than a depth signing for Toronto.  It’s worth noting, however, that the last time Santana was healthy (the first few months of the 2012 season), he still gave the Mets several quality starts, including a no-hitter.

The Jays’ rotation depth was thinned by a few offseason trades, leaving rookie top prospect Daniel Norris as the projected fifth starter behind Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Marcus Stroman and Drew HutchisonAaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada are likely the two top backup options should Norris struggle, though since the Jays are aiming to have both pitchers in the bullpen, a veteran option like Santana could come in handy.  The Jays have been looking for relief pitching depth as well, though according to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (Twitter link), Santana is being looked at by the team as a starter.


Quick Hits: Draft Pools, Street, Viciedo, Melky

Major League Baseball has let teams know the bonus pool values for the 2015 amateur draft, and Baseball America’s John Manuel has the full list of what each team can spend on players taken in the first 10 rounds.  The Astros have the highest bonus pool (at a bit more than $17.289MM) in part because they received the second overall selection as compensation for not signing Brady Aiken with the No. 1 pick last summer — Houston has both the second and fifth overall picks in the 2015 draft.  As noted earlier today, the 2015-16 international draft pool values were also determined and revealed by Baseball America’s Ben Badler.

Here’s some more from around the game…

  • Huston Street and the Angels haven’t begun yet talks about an extension during Spring Training, he tells MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link).  Street said he wanted “a week or so to settle in first” at camp and then the two sides would start negotiating.  The closer is known to be looking for a new deal comparable to the contracts signed by David Robertson and Andrew Miller this offseason.
  • The Indians are still interested in adding Dayan Viciedo but only on a minor league contract, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets.  Hoynes reported on the Tribe’s interest in Viciedo two weeks ago, though Hoynes felt Viciedo would more likely opt for a team who could offer him a Major League deal and a clearer path to playing time.
  • Melky Cabrera was already intrigued by the White Sox since his wife loves Chicago, though the outfielder wasn’t totally sold until he saw the team’s winter moves, Cabrera told CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes.  When GM Rick Hahn approached Cabrera earlier in the offseason, he was more skeptical since he wanted to play for a contender.  Cabrera “really wanted to win,” Hahn recalled. “(He said) ‘But with all due respect are you guys really in a position to win and am I really a difference maker for you?’ ”
  • With Michael Saunders sidelined for several months, the Blue Jays are lacking in solid left field replacement options, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes.  Nicholson-Smith lists several internal and external candidates who are flawed (or unlikely to be pursued) for one reason or another.  The PadresWill Venable is cited as perhaps the best trade candidate for the Jays’ LF hole, though even he isn’t a perfect fit.
  • The Mariners are putting a lot of faith in Logan Morrison to be healthy and productive this season, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes, given Morrison’s injury history and Seattle’s lack of depth at the first base position.

Latest On The Marlins’ Bullpen Search

Even though Francisco Rodriguez is now off the market, the Marlins aren’t likely to pursue Rafael Soriano or Phil Coke on Major League contracts, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports.  The Fish may be done with their bullpen shopping altogether, Frisaro writes, as they’re happy with the number of power arms they already have in camp and the money they intended to spend on Rodriguez could now be saved for in-season upgrades, if necessary.

As previously reported, the Fish had some interest in Coke if he was willing to take a minor league deal.  The lefty has reportedly received minor league offers from multiple teams, however, so the Marlins would have competition if Coke were to give up his search for a big league contract.

As for Soriano, he’s never been linked to the Marlins on the rumor mill this season, despite the fact that he and Rodriguez (a known Miami target) share some on-paper similarities as veteran relievers with closing experience.  The Marlins already have a closer in Steve Cishek but, as Frisaro notes, the team was looking for someone to handle the ninth on days when Cishek wasn’t available.

Despite some concerns from scouts about Soriano’s stuff, the veteran reliever has still drawn some interest this offseason.  Soriano has been linked to the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Rockies and Brewers in rumors, though the latter two clubs have since addressed their bullpen needs.



Minor Moves: Cedeno, Thompson, Accardo

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

  • The Giants signed shortstop Ronny Cedeno to a minor league contract, according to the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page.  Cedeno appeared in nine games with the Phillies in 2014, spending the large majority of his season at the Triple-A level for Philadelphia and Arizona.  Over his 10 years in the majors, Cedeno has a .245/.289/.353 career slash line over 2792 plate appearances, seeing a few seasons in a starting or platoon role for the Cubs and Pirates.
  • The Athletics moved right-hander Taylor Thompson to the 60-day disabled list due to a strain in his throwing shoulder, the team announced.  In a corresponding move, Thompson’s 40-man roster spot will be filled by the newly-acquired Chad Smith.  Thompson, 27, made his Major League debut last season, throwing 5 1/3 innings out of the White Sox bullpen.  The A’s selected him off waivers from the White Sox in November.
  • The Diamondbacks signed righty Jeremy Accardo to a minor league deal, as per the PCL’s transactions page.  Accardo, an eight-year Major League veteran, last appeared in the bigs in 2012 and has since pitched in Mexico, Venezuela, the Independent League and for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate.

NL West Links: Rosario, McKenry, D’Backs

Wilin Rosario or Michael McKenry could be traded before Spring Training is over, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines, as the Rockies look for ways to solve their catching surplus behind starter Nick Hundley.  Manager Walt Weiss said that he doesn’t plan to use three roster spots on players who can only catch, so the club’s plan to give Rosario some time at first base could be a solution.  Colorado has explored trades for Rosario this offseason but if they hold onto him, he’d hold the edge on a roster spot over the out-of-options McKenry.

Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • The Diamondbacks will have approximately $19.02MM in combined pool money for the 2015 draft class and the 2015-16 international signing period, though their international spending will be greatly limited due to overage in the 2014-15 period.  Given how Arizona’s pool is the second-highest of any team’s, Baseball America’s Ben Badler opines (via Twitter) that the D’Backs made a “questionable” decision to “handcuff themselves” in the international market until 2017 by going over their current pool limit to sign Yoan Lopez.
  • Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler was “pleasantly surprised” that GM A.J. Preller was able to make so many major trades this winter, though club ownership went into the offseason knowing changes had to be made.  “We knew we had to re-energize the community,” Fowler told reporters, including the Associated Press. “I think last year was sort of the beta test for us: OK, this is not working. It was time….After looking at our numbers in terms of attendance and looking at the interest in the marketplace, we felt we had to do some investment spending.”
  • From that same chat with reporters (including MLB.com’s Corey Brock), Padres president/CEO Mike Dee said that the club isn’t too disappointed over not landing Yoan Moncada.  “We would have loved to have had him, but we now have flexibility we might not have had [in future international spending],” Dee said.
  • Rick Renteria has been offered a number of jobs since being fired as the Cubs’ manager earlier this winter, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, including a return to the Padres.  Though Renteria is reportedly going to take a year away from baseball, manager Bud Black has been “trying to get him to pop over to Peoria [where the Padres train] and get back involved with us.  I’m trying to get him back in as soon as possible, just to help us out to whatever extent he wants to help out.”  Before being hired by Chicago, Renteria managed and coached in the Padres’ organization for a decade, including six seasons on Black’s coaching staff.
  • Yasmani Grandal‘s strong pitch-framing metrics were a big reason the Dodgers acquired him in the Matt Kemp trade, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes.

NL East Notes: Murphy, K-Rod, Yunel, Braves

News broke earlier today that the Mets weren’t planning to discuss extending Daniel Murphy‘s contract, and Newsday’s Marc Carig has some more details on the team’s decision.  Murphy rates as a below-average second baseman and the Mets are worried he’ll inevitably have to be moved to a corner infield position.  While Murphy hits well for a second baseman, the Mets don’t believe he has the bat necessary for third base or first base, not to mention the fact that David Wright and Lucas Duda have those positions covered for at least the next few seasons in New York.  The Mets also aren’t likely to make Murphy a qualifying offer, unless he enjoys a huge year.

Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • Also from Carig’s piece, he hears from two rival executives that Murphy will draw a lot of interest on the free agent market.  “There will be a nice line of suitors for him.  Some will want the bat and accept the below-average glove if necessary.  He’s young enough, the bat is strong enough to warrant a multi-year [deal],” one official said.
  • The Marlins made a multi-year offer to Francisco Rodriguez before he agreed to terms with the Brewers, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports (on Twitter). However, McCalvy spoke to one of K-Rod’s teammates and was told that Rodriguez “likes it a lot” in Milwaukee and was hoping to return to the club. The amount that was offered to Rodriguez isn’t known, though previous reports had indicated Miami was comfortable with something in the two-year, $10MM range.
  • Yunel Escobar wasn’t happy to be traded away from the Rays, nor was he pleased about moving from shortstop to second base, James Wagner of the Washington Post writes.  The veteran infielder changed his mind after discussions with Nationals management, however, and is looking forward to playing for a contender.  “I want to help them win a World Series. If the missing piece is me playing second base, then I’m here for anything,” Escobar said.
  • Non-roster invitees in camp on minor league deals could play a significant role in the Braves‘ plans this year, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Asked about the team’s collection of NRIs, manager Fredi Gonzalez listed Eric Stults, Jose Veras, Matt Capps, Brady Feigl, Kelly Johnson, Eric Young and John Buck as players with a legitimate chance, noting that he was probably leaving a few out. Gonzalez seemed particularly excited about Young. “I think the world of Eric Young,” Gonzalez said. “He can really bring a different dynamic that we haven’t had here since Michael Bourn, leading off against right-handed pitching or whatever you want to do. So that’s an exciting non-roster invitee, really.”
  • In NL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, we shared some Phillies notes.

International Notes: Bonus Pools, Alvarez, Olivera

The bonus pools for the 2015-16 international signing period have been determined, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports, providing the full list of dollar figures.  While the Diamondbacks have the largest bonus pool (just under $5.394MM) of any team due to their league-worst record in 2014, Arizona is unable to sign any pool-eligible player in both the coming signing period and the 2016-17 period for more than $300K.  The D’Backs, Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Angels all face this penalty since they exceeded their 2013-14 spending limits, though as Badler notes, the five teams can trade the individual slot values that make up their new pools.

Here’s more about some of the game’s top international prospects…

  • Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez held a showcase for scouts today, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports (Twitter link).  While past reports suggested Alvarez’s camp hoped to have the 18-year-old under contract to a team before the current int’l signing period ends, Sanchez reports that Alvarez isn’t eligible to sign until the 2015-16 international signing window opens on July 2.
  • Sanchez adds (via another tweet) the Rangers to the long list of teams who have already been rumored to be interested in Alvarez, and he notes that more clubs are sure to join the list.  The Rangers (and Cubs) were restricted from spending more than $250K on international prospects in 2014-15 due to overspending in the 2013-14 period, but they’ll again be able to spend more freely on July 2.
  • The Angels are also interested in Alvarez, Ross Newhan of the NewhanOnBaseball blog tweets.  If Alvarez isn’t able to sign until July 2, however, this will surely eliminate the Angels from contention since the righty will command a far higher bonus than $300K.
  • The Twins had scouts present at today’s Alvarez showcase, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com
  • Hector Olivera discusses his health history, his decision to leave Cuba, his transition to American baseball and more as part of a wide-ranging interview with Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required).
  • Olivera missed over a full season of Cuban baseball while recovering from a blood clot in his left biceps, and when he returned, he spent most of his time at DH rather than second base.  This has raised some concern with MLB scouts who wonder if Olivera is able to regularly play in the field, but as Olivera explained to Badler, his extended DH time wasn’t related to his blood issues.  “The reason was we got disqualified early (from playoff contention).  The manager and I talked about giving the younger kids a chance to play. So I asked him to just DH me and play the younger guys,” Olivera said.
  • New Red Sox signee Yoan Moncada speaks to Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel (audio link), noting that his preference would be to play second base in the majors.  “[My] baby is second base,” Moncada said via a translator, though he’ll play any position the Sox ask him to play.  Of course, second base doesn’t seem like a likely option for Moncada in Boston given the presence of Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts blocking him at the position.

Royals Sign Franklin Morales

FEB.20: Morales’ deal pays him $1.85MM with an additional $850K available via incentives, if he is on the Major League roster, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

FEB. 19: The Royals have signed left-hander Franklin Morales to a minor league contract, the team announced on its official Twitter site.  Morales is represented by the Boras Corporation.

Morales posted a 5.37 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 1.54 K/BB rate over 142 1/3 innings with the Rockies last season.  Ostensibly the team’s emergency starter, Morales ended up making 22 starts (out of 37 overall appearances) thanks to all of the injuries in Colorado’s rotation.  This unexpected amount of action was surely a big reason for Morales’ inflated numbers, especially the additional exposure to right-handed hitters — righty bats had a .923 OPS against Morales last season, while left-handed hitters managed only a .699 OPS.

Given his large career splits (.624 OPS vs LHB, .844 OPS vs. RHB), Morales could be a valuable bullpen weapon if he’s limited to facing mostly lefty bats.  If he makes the Royals’ roster, pitching at Kauffman Stadium could also be a boon for Morales after spending his entire career at hitter-friendly Coors Field and Fenway Park.  Morales has only a 40% ground ball rate over his career and his HR/FB rate ballooned to a career-high 15.9% last season.

While the Royals’ bullpen is arguably the best in the game overall, their relief corps is short on left-handed options other than Tim Collins.  Top prospect Brandon Finnegan worked out of the bullpen during Kansas City’s playoff run last year, though the club would obviously prefer to keep him as a starter for the sake of his long-term development.  Of the other southpaw relievers in camp (including Brian Flynn and Joe Paterson), Morales has the most experience and he could even take the odd start if the Royals were in a pinch.  K.C. had also recently shown interest in veteran relievers Phil Coke and Alfredo Aceves.


Quick Hits: Bochy, Navarro, Moncada, Profar

Giants manager Bruce Bochy underwent a medical procedure to insert two stents into his heart and is now resting comfortably in a Scottsdale hospital, according to a team press release.  “Following his physical yesterday, the Giants medical staff was monitoring Bruce Bochy’s heart after he experienced some discomfort,” according to the statement.  The skipper is scheduled to be released on Friday and he’s already sent texts to CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (both Twitter links) saying that he’ll be back in camp in a couple of days.  We at all MLBTR wish Bochy all the best in his recovery.

Here’s some news from around baseball…

  • The Blue Jays aren’t actively discussing a Dioner Navarro trade with any other teams, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports (via Twitter).  Earlier this week, I examined Navarro as a trade candidate since Russell Martin has taken over the starting catcher’s job in Toronto.
  • A rival executive believes the Yankees are the top contender to sign Yoan Moncada, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports in a roundup of the Moncada market.  The Yankees aren’t keen, however, on paying a bonus in the $40-$50MM range, which is what some sources say Moncada will probably receive.
  • With Jurickson Profar likely to miss another full season due to shoulder injuries, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wonders if this could spell the end of Profar’s time with the Rangers.  It’s hard to believe Texas would consider non-tendering a former top-ranked prospect Profar when he’s eligible for arbitration next winter, yet Grant is right in noting that the Rangers might just move on with Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor in the middle infield.
  • Left-hander Joe Beimel is reportedly hoping to land a multi-year contract, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets.  Beimel reportedly had three teams interested in him in late January, though one of those clubs (the Mariners) looks to be out of the running.  Though Beimel had a solid season with the M’s in 2014, it’s hard to see him landing more than a one-year deal at this stage of the offseason given his age (he turns 38 in April) and injury history (missing all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery).
  • Also from Dutton, the arbitration hearing between the Mariners and Tom Wilhelmsen will take place on Friday.  The reliever is one of just three remaining players with outstanding arb cases, as per the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker.  Wilhelmsen is looking for $2.2MM for his 2015 contract while Seattle has countered with a $1.4MM offer.

NL East Notes: Coke, Mets, Fister, Hamels

The Mets won’t be signing Phil Coke, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports.  The team was reportedly interested in the left-hander earlier this winter, but according to Rubin, the Mets decided in December that they wouldn’t be signing any relievers to Major League contracts this offseason.  They have stuck to that plan, adding the likes of Buddy Carlyle, Duane Below and Scott Rice on minor league contracts.  Several teams have offered Coke minor league deals with Spring Training invitations, but the veteran southpaw is still looking for a Major League contract.

Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • Also from Rubin, he has the full list of Mets players who are out of options: Wilmer Flores, John Mayberry, Jenrry Mejia, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Cesar Puello, Ruben Tejada and Carlos Torres.  According to Rubin, all of these players are expected to make the Mets’ roster except for Puello.
  • Carlyle and Alex Castellanos have out clauses in their Mets contracts for early June, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports (Twitter links).  Carlyle also has an out clause that he can exercise on Opening Day.  The two players each signed minor league deals with New York earlier this winter.
  • Doug Fister is entering his last year under contract with the Nationals, but the righty tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that he isn’t looking ahead to his free agency but rather just concentrating on the coming season.  “I’m wearing this jersey right now. That’s the most important thing. I’m a National through and through. I’m proud of it. If it looks like I can stay here, great. If not, I’ve just got to make sure I get my job done, be part of the team I’m part of,” Fister said.  The right-hander is just one of several high-profile Nats players who are slated for free agency after 2015, including Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann and Denard Span.
  • The top four teams who seem like the best fits for Phillies ace Cole Hamels are listed by MLB.com’s Jim Duquette.  In order, the Red Sox, Cardinals, Padres and Cubs comprise Duquette’s list.  All four clubs have been linked to Hamels on the rumor mill, though none may be willing or able to provide the Phillies with the top-tier prospects they would need to make a deal.