Author Archives: Mark Polishuk

Quick Hits: Marlins, Parra, Pederson

Ichiro Suzuki earned $400K in bonus money for reaching the 300-plate appearance threshold last week. As per the terms of Suzuki’s one-year, $2MM deal with the Marlins, Suzuki will earn an additional $400K for every 50 PA past 300, up to 600 plate appearances. Between Marcell Ozuna‘s demotion and injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, Suzuki has seen quite a bit more playing time than expected this season. With 332 PA after today’s action, Ichiro looks well on his way to adding at least another $800K to his 2015 salary, though he could lose some at-bats to younger outfielders once the rosters expand. Here’s more from around the league as we wrap up the weekend…

  • The Marlins are considering lowering the walls and bringing in the fences at Marlins Park, team president David Samson tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.  The stadium has finished at or near the bottom of the Park Factor home run rankings since opening in 2012.
  • The Reds placed Manny Parra on the DL today with bicep tendinitis in his left shoulder, the third time the southpaw has hit the DL this season.  John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) thought that Parra would be a good trade candidate for the Reds, but that’s now an impossibility with him on the DL until at least September 4th.  Parra has been solid when healthy, posting a 3.24 ERA and 3-to-1 K/BB rate over 25 innings and pitching well against both left-handed and right-handed batters.  He drew some trade interest prior to the July 31 deadline though that buzz was scuttled by an earlier DL stint.
  • Joc Pederson has lost his job as the Dodgers‘ everyday center fielder, manager Don Mattingly told reporters (including ESPN’s Mark Saxon).  Enrique Hernandez will take over in center for the time being.  Pederson enjoyed a huge start to his rookie season but has been in a protracted slump since early June, hitting just .168/.328/.298 with six homers over his last 259 PA.
  • In July of this year, Mike Morse went from the Marlins to the Dodgers to the Pirates.  Morse admits that he was hoping for a return to the Giants, but he’s happy with how everything turned out, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.  “If there was one place at the time I would have wanted to go, it was the Giants, not knowing that I’d get an opportunity here in Pittsburgh,” said Morse, who entered today with an .821 OPS over 25 PA as a Pirate. “Now that I see everything here, it’s awesome.”
  • Ian Kinsler wasn’t thrilled at the time of the deal that sent him from the Rangers to the Tigers, but he now tells Katie Strang of ESPN.com that the change of scenery worked out for the best.  “It’s a good place to be. There’s no hidden agenda,” Kinsler said. “The owner is all in, the [former] general manager, Dave Dombrowski, was all in. [Current] general manager Al [Avila] is the same way. There’s no difference between behind the scenes and in your face.”

NL West Links: Betancourt, Venable, Hall

The Dodgers‘ losing streak extended to five games after dropping a 3-2 result to the Astros today.  It was another rough outing for the struggling Los Angeles bullpen, as Kenley Jansen blew a save by allowing Houston to tie the game in the ninth, and Chris Hatcher picked up the loss after giving up a 10th-inning walkoff homer to Jason Castro.  Entering Sunday, Dodgers relievers had combined for a 6.00 ERA since the All-Star break, the second-worst bullpen ERA of any club in the second half.  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • Rafael Betancourt was designated for assignment by the Rockies earlier today, and the veteran reliever told reporters (including MLB.com’s Thomas Harding) that he’s at peace with the fact that his 12-year career could be over.  He isn’t too optimistic about another team picking him up, saying “I don’t see any team that’s a contender right now that is looking to” acquire a struggling 40-year-old.  Betancourt may be a little hard on himself; several ERA indicators (3.32 FIP, 4.27 xFIP and 3.67 SIERA) show that he’s pitching much better than his 6.18 ERA would imply, and his velocity, strikeouts and walk rates are around his career averages.  Betancourt has been hurt by a .328 BABIP and a stunningly low 52.6% strand rate over his 39 1/3 innings of work.
  • The Dodgers declined to claim Will Venable on trade waivers, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.  Los Angeles is rather deep with outfield options but, as Morosi notes, the Dodgers could’ve used Venable in center with Joc Pederson struggling.  The Dodgers were hardly alone in passing on Venable, who went through waivers and then garnered interest from several teams.  The Padres dealt Venable to the Rangers last week.
  • The Diamondbacks are eager to make an impact in Japan both marketing-wise and in terms of player acquisitions, team president Derrick Hall told Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times.  “For us, we’ve always looked to be identified with someone in Japan.  We’re still hoping to find that talent one day,” Hall said.  “It’s a dream of mine personally to have a Japanese player in a D’Back uniform, as well as a Mexican-born player who can have an impact. Because I’ve seen what a difference that makes having grown up and cut my own teeth in the Dodgers organization all those years. Of course I was around during the time of Nomo-san and Nomomania and that was electric.”
  • Hall, Tony La Russa, Randy Johnson and Luis Gonzalez recently traveled to Japan on a goodwill tour on the Diamondbacks’ behalf, and while they weren’t specifically there to scout players, they did see Kenta Maeda and Shohei Otani pitch in NPB action.  Arizona was one of several teams linked to Maeda last offseason before the righty decided to re-sign with the Hiroshima Carp.  Maeda could be posted this winter, while Otani is just 21 and it’ll be at least a few seasons before the Nippon Ham Fighters consider making him available to North American teams.  Hall said the D’Backs are “going to be aggressive” on signing talent they believe in, though given the large fees involved in signing top-flight Japanese talent, “it makes it more difficult for teams like us in smaller markets.  When we write that big a check, we cannot miss. We’ve gotta be right.”

Injury Notes: Sabathia, Hardy, Wright

An update some some notable players who will be joining or leaving the disabled list…

  • C.C. Sabathia lasted just 2 2/3 innings in today’s start before leaving due to pain in his right knee.  The veteran lefty will at least be shut down for a while, though Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including MLB.com’s Grace Raynor) that he presumed Sabathia will need a DL stint “just because he walked off the field without even throwing another pitch.”  Sabathia underwent surgery on that same knee in 2014 and has been bothered by pain for much of this season, which could partially explain his rough 5.24 ERA over 135 2/3 innings.  The Yankees had planned to expand to a six-man rotation upon Michael Pineda‘s impending return from the DL, though those plans are on hold with Sabathia sidelined.
  • The Orioles announced that shortstop J.J. Hardy has been placed on the 15-day DL with a left groin injury, and he’ll undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.  Hardy, who also missed all of April with a strained shoulder, has hit only .220/.251/.313 in 353 plate appearances this season, his first under a three-year, $40MM extension signed last October.  Ryan Flaherty will likely handle shortstop duties while Hardy is out, though the O’s also have Paul Janish at Triple-A.
  • The Mets plan to activate David Wright from the disabled list prior to Monday’s game against the Phillies.  Southpaw Dario Alvarez has been optioned to Triple-A to make room for Wright on the active roster, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports.  Wright was originally placed on the DL in April with a strained hamstring but he was discovered to have the much more serious condition known as spinal stenosis.


Minor MLB Transactions: 8/23/15

Today’s minor moves, with the newest transactions at the top of the post…


Mariners Designate Fernando Rodney For Assignment

The Mariners have designated former closer Fernando Rodney for assignment, the club announced following Saturday’s loss to the White Sox.  In corresponding moves, the M’s also optioned righty Danny Farquhar to Triple-A, called up southpaw Roenis Elias and purchased the contract of right-hander Logan Kensing.

Thanks in large part to a 1.42 HR/9 (more than double his career average) and his lowest K/9 total (7.6) in four seasons, Rodney posted a 5.68 ERA over 50 2/3 IP this season, a performance that cost him his job as the Mariners’ closer.  It’s probably unlikely that Rodney will be claimed or traded during his DFA period given that he already cleared revocable trade waivers last week.  Rodney is still averaging 94.8mph on his fastball (same as last season) so it’s possible another team could look to sign the 38-year-old veteran as bullpen depth before the rosters expand on September 1.

The Mariners are responsible for the approximately $1.5MM in salary still owed to Rodney for the remainder of the season, except for the pro-rated portion of the minimum salary should Rodney sign elsewhere.  The right-hander signed a two-year, $14MM free agent deal in the 2013-14 offseason and performed extremely well in the contract’s first year, posting a 2.85 ERA, 10.3 K/9 and 2.71 K/BB rate over 66 1/3 innings en route to a league-best 48 saves.  Rodney and his new agents will undoubtedly point to his 2012-14 dominance when the righty looks for a new contract in free agency this year, though obviously this year’s numbers will greatly diminish his market.

Kensing has spent the last two seasons with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, and he has a 2.30 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 2.56 K/BB rate over 31 1/3 innings this season.  Kensing has appeared in just one Major League game since 2009, pitching two-thirds of an inning for the Rockies in 2013.


West Notes: Shoemaker, Holland, Padres, Cain

The Angels demoted righty Matt Shoemaker to Triple-A today, capping off what has been a disappointing season for the 28-year-old.  Coming off an impressive 2014 rookie campaign, Shoemaker has been inconsistent this year, and his rough last two outings (13 ER in just 7 1/3 combined innings) apparently convinced the Angels that he needed a breather in the minors.  Shoemaker has a 4.76 ERA over 117 1/3 innings this season, though advanced metrics — such as a 3.80 SIERA, 4.01 xFIP, 8.1 K/9 and 3.5 K/BB rate — suggest he’s pitched better than his ERA indicates.  Shoemaker’s demotion leaves the Halos with a four-man rotation for now; right-hander Nick Tropeano is probably a good bet to be promoted, as he’s already made a couple of spot starts for Los Angeles this season.

Here’s some more from both the AL and NL West divisions…

  • The Rangers will decide tomorrow whether Derek Holland will be activated from the DL and start on Wednesday, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes.  Holland told reporters that he felt good after a full bullpen session today, and he is ready to make just his second appearance of 2015.  Holland has played in just seven games in 2014-15 due to knee surgery, back spasms and a shoulder injury, the latter being responsible for his current DL stint.
  • The Padres didn’t move any of their big names prior to the July trade deadline and ESPN’s Christina Kahrl believes the team may similarly stand pat in August.  Dealing away controllable young players wouldn’t have helped the team contend in 2016, and veterans like Ian Kennedy or Joaquin Benoit wouldn’t have brought premium prospects back in return.  As for bigger-name veterans, Justin Upton may not have netted more than the first-round pick the Padres would obtain when Upton rejects a qualifying offer and possibly leaves in free agency this winter.  As for James Shields, Kahrl points out that the righty had a long wait on the open market last winter, so teams who passed on Shields then may not be eager to give up prospects to acquire him now.
  • It took a lot of work to get Colin Rea to the majors, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes in a profile of the rookie right-hander’s growth from being a lightly-regarded project of a prospect to a Padres starter.
  • The moving and organizational switches that come with being a pro ballplayer can be especially hard for a player’s family, the Arizona Republic’s Zach Buchanan illustrates in an interview with Taylor Ray (wife of Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray) and the wives of several other D’Backs players.
  • Mike Leake‘s return from the DL this week will force the Giants to make a pitching roster move, and CSNBayArea.com’s Alex Pavlovic writes that bumping Matt Cain from the rotation is an option the club is considering.  Cain has struggled through an injury-plagued season, posting a 6.05 ERA in only 41 2/3 innings.

NL East Notes: Ozuna, Marlins, Collins, Utley

Marcell Ozuna‘s 33-game stint in Triple-A was “like a jail” to the outfielder, as he tells Adam Zuvanich of the Miami Herald.  The Marlins demoted Ozuna in July ostensibly due to his early-season struggles, though agent Scott Boras believed the Fish were keeping Ozuna in the minors to deny his client MLB service time and prevent his arbitration eligibility.  “I know what happened when they sent me down. I knew that’s coming,” Ozuna said.  “I don’t go there for work, because they know me. I don’t need the work. One for 36, 1 for 100, every big-league player has it. I have it and everybody has it.”  Ozuna rejoined the Marlins this weekend after Christian Yelich went on the disabled list.

Here’s more from Miami and elsewhere around the NL East…

  • Some in the Marlins front office want to keep Ozuna rather than explore trades for him this offseason, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reports, though “at least one prominent Marlins person is open” to moving the outfielder.  Ozuna drew trade interest from several teams (including the Indians) prior to the deadline.
  • Also from Jackson’s column, he writes that the Marlins want to wait until after the season to make their intended managerial change so that they know the full pool of candidates before making a decision.  This will allow the team to include any current managers in their search should those skippers be fired; Jackson cites the Dodgers’ Don Mattingly as an example.  Jackson adds that there’s no front-runner for the job, though previous managing experience will be an important criteria.
  • Mets manager Terry Collins isn’t concerned about his contract status, telling Newsday’s Steven Marcus that he has “no idea” if the club will discuss an extension with him while the season is still going.  “I’m telling you, I don’t think about it. I think about playing golf in November. That’s the only thing on my mind right now,” Collins said.  Collins’ deal expires at the end of the season though the Mets hold an option on his services for 2016.  A team spokesman tells Marcus that the Mets will “address [a possible extension] at the proper time,” which I would presume refers to after the season is over.
  • Assuming the Mets make the postseason or fall just short, Matthew Cerrone of Metsblog.com suspects the team will exercise their 2016 option on Collins and extend his deal through the 2017 season.  It would “border on disrespectful,” Cerrone feels, if the Mets didn’t have Collins extended before next Spring Training given how the skipper has exceeded expectations since being hired as somewhat of a transitional manager.
  • The Mets need to acquire yet another bullpen arm to address their still-struggling relief corps, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines.
  • Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin admitted that it’s difficult to find playing time for trade candidate Chase Utley, as Andrew Gruman of MLB.com writes.  “I mean, yeah, we like ‘Ut’. It is an issue for me, because I have to try to play everybody, and the guys that deserve to play, like [Cesar] Hernandez and so forth, I want them to play. But I want Utley to play, too. It is not an easy task for me, but we’ll do what we can,” Mackanin said.
  • Nationals assistant GM Doug Harris is profiled by James Wagner of the Washington Post.  Harris oversees the club’s farm system and manages the Nats’ pro scouting department in addition to other duties, and is seen as a potential future general manager by many around baseball; just earlier today, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo tabbed Harris as a contender to be the Brewers’ next GM.

Royals Sign Wandy Rodriguez, Joba Chamberlain To Minors Contracts

The Royals have agreed to terms with left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and right-hander Joba Chamberlain on minor league deals, the team announced (via Twitter).  Robert Murray of Baseball Essential tweeted yesterday that Rodriguez was joining the Royals.  Rodriguez is represented by WMG, while Chamberlain is represented by Excel Sports Management.

Rodriguez, 36, posted a 4.90 ERA over 86 1/3 innings with the Rangers this season before being released by the team a few weeks ago.  ERA indicators (4.41 SIERA, 4.30 FIP, 4.35 xFIP) indicate that Rodriguez’s 4.90 ERA is perhaps a bit inflated by his .328 BABIP.  The southpaw owned a 3.20 ERA through his first 11 starts with Texas before his performance dipped, lowlighted by a pair of particularly rough outings against the A’s and Yankees (15 ER in a combined five innings).

Though he’ll currently be slated as minor league depth, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Rodriguez promoted to Kansas City’s rotation.  Rodriguez’s modest 1.0 fWAR for 2015 tops every Royals starter except for Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez, so the lefty could be an option if the Royals want a change from the inconsistent Yordano Ventura or the struggling Jeremy Guthrie. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted at the time of Rodriguez’s release, the Royals had a need for a veteran depth arm given their recent loss of Jason Vargas to Tommy John surgery.

Chamberlain posted a 4.09 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and a 3.00 K/BB rate over 22 bullpen innings for the Tigers this season before he was released in July.  He signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays but opted out on Friday after a brief but rough stint at Triple-A Buffalo.  Chamberlain may be little more than a pure depth signing for K.C. given how the Royals already boast perhaps the game’s best bullpen.


Minor MLB Transactions: 8/16/15

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

  • The Braves purchased the contract of right-hander Peter Moylan from Triple-A Gwinnett prior to today’s game, and the Australian tossed two-thirds of an inning in the 2-1 win over the Diamondbacks.  This was Moylan’s first Major League outing since 2013; the 36-year-old has been plagued by injuries over the last five years, most notably missing all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery.  Moylan signed a minor league deal with Atlanta this past March and he’s posted a 3.14 ERA over 28 2/3 Triple-A innings.
  • Amidst a flurry of call-ups and DL placements today, the Angels purchased the contract of shortstop Ryan Jackson from Triple-A.  To create a 40-man roster spot, C.J. Wilson was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.  Jackson joined the Angels organization in May after being dealt from Kansas City for Drew Butera, and he has hit .293/.371/.373 in 363 plate appearances for Triple-A Salt Lake City.  Jackson’s big league experience consists of 25 PA with the Cardinals in 2012-13.
  • Right-hander Taylor Thompson has cleared waivers and been outrighted to the Athletics‘ Triple-A affiliate, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports (Twitter link).  Thompson, who’s been limited to just 8 2/3 minor league innings this season due to a shoulder injury, was designated for assignment on Friday.
  • While Thompson is now out of “DFA Limbo,” nine players are still awaiting their next assignment.  Check out the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker to keep track of their status.

Giants, Others Have Made Offers To Phillies For Chase Utley

TODAY, 9:55pm: Other clubs have also made offers to the Phillies for Utley, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports, though he notes that it does not appear any trade is imminent. It’s not yet known which other specific clubs have formally offered up packages for the second baseman.

8:21pm: San Francisco has made an offer for Utley and is “just waiting to hear” whether it will be accepted, GM Bobby Evans tells Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). Evans said that he doubts a deal will be completed tonight.

We heard earlier this evening that Utley wants certain assurances regarding playing time before he’ll waive his no-trade rights. It’s not clear what Utley is seeking or what the Giants would be willing to do in that regard, though Evans has seemingly suggested that he is looking more for a part-time addition.

YESTERDAY: The Phillies and Giants are discussing a trade that would send Chase Utley to San Francisco, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports (on Twitter).  The two teams are discussing specific names of prospects, which is an indication that the talks are at least fairly advanced.

Utley cleared waivers yesterday, and can now be freely traded to any club he wishes, provided he okays the move by waiving his no-trade protection.  It has been suggested that Utley could be particularly open to coming to San Francisco given that his family’s offseason home is in the Bay Area, not to mention the more obvious fact that he’d be joining the defending World Series champions in a pennant race.

The Giants’ interest in Utley surfaced when Joe Panik hit the DL with an ongoing back problem.  Utley could fill in at second and then, once Panik returns, shift into either a bench role or a part-time role at first base (though since both Utley and Brandon Belt are left-handed hitters, it wouldn’t be a perfect fit).

While a very small sample size, Utley has hit .412/.389/.588 over 18 plate appearances since his return from the disabled list.  Despite the very poor numbers Utley posted over the season’s first few months, the longtime Phillie’s apparent health and his career track record has generated trade interest from the Giants, Yankees, Cubs and Angels.