Author Archives: Zach Links

Dodgers GM Talks Brandon McCarthy, Brian Wilson

The Dodgers’ major overhaul continued today when they officially signed right-hander Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal worth a reported $48MM.  Few doubt McCarthy’s ability and those who put a great deal of faith in his sabermetric numbers are excited about what he can do in 2015 and beyond.  However, the length of the 31-year-old’s pact gave pause to some people due to his injury history.  Not only did the Dodgers take a risk with McCarthy – they doubled down by agreeing to sign Brett Anderson to a one-year, $10MM contract.  Earlier today I asked Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi about the club’s willingness to roll the dice on those pitchers.

There’s a risk-reward calculation that all teams make.  Teams always have to consider these things with pitchers and [Dodgers head trainer] Stan Conte has been very involved in our process as far as histories and health risks go,” said Zaidi, who did not mention Anderson by name as his deal is not yet official.  “Going forward with any pitcher now, it’s part of the cost-benefit analysis.  You could have a guy who pitched 200-plus innings in the last four years that has a really bad elbow and that could go at any moment. Conversely, you could have a guy who has an injury history that you feel may be over the hump,”

With Brandon and the other pitcher we’re evaluating, we’re trying to figure out how they’ll perform in 2015 and beyond.”

Zaidi, of course, is familiar with McCarthy and Anderson thanks to their time together with the A’s. He had nothing but praise for McCarthy, saying that there was no other pitcher in Oakland that he felt more comfortable with on the mound.  Zaidi had a tremendous amount of confidence in the right-hander, he said, due to his “intelligence and attention to detail and game planning” as well as his command.

The Dodgers GM sounds equally confident in the status of McCarthy’s shoulder.  Zaidi believes that those issues will be in the past thanks to a new offseason routine that calls for additional upper body work.  The “proof is in the pudding” when it comes to McCarthy, who managed to add an extra 2 miles per hour to his fastball late in his career.

Midway through the conference call, reporters were informed that Brian Wilson was designated for assignment to make room for McCarthy on the roster.  I asked Zaidi if Wilson was struggling this winter in his effort to get back to his old form.

We’ve been keeping tabs on him in the offseason and this was not a move we made out of any medical concern.  It was more related to performance and it’s a position where we had to make a move because we had a surplus,” Zaidi explained.

It appears that recent bullpen additions like Joel Peralta, Juan Nicasio, and Chris Hatcher have leapfrogged Wilson, leaving him without much of a role to play in Los Angeles in 2015.  Their newest addition, meanwhile, will be counted on to serve as the fourth starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu.


AL Notes: Rios, Mariners, Rangers, Murphy, Twins

Here’s the latest from the American League:

  • With Melky Cabrera off the board, Alex Rios remains on the Mariners‘ radar, tweets Bob Dutton of The News Tribune. Cabrera agreed to a three-year contract with the White Sox yesterday, which should pay him roughly $14-$14.5MM per season.
  • MLB.com’s Greg Johns entertains other scenarios (both external and internal) in which the Mariners can fill their vacancy in right field.
  • The Rangers have $10-12MM in financial flexibility remaining; but, because of the health questions surrounding their core players, they could sit on that cash until midseason when they will have had time to gauge what kind of team they really have, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
  • Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes wonders if Indians outfielder David Murphy is more of a platoon player at this stage of his career and believes a reader’s proposed trade of Murphy to the Mets for Ohio native Jon Niese would favor the Indians.
  • The White Sox have filled many holes with their high-profile acquisitions this offseason, but right field, second base, third base, and catcher remain areas of concern, opines Jim Margalus of South Side Sox.
  • The Twins have invested heavily in the free agent market this offseason and last because payroll was shed and there’s optimism over the performance of Minnesota’s young core, writes 1500ESPN.com’s Phil Mackey.

AL East Notes: Red Sox, Rasmus, Craig, Blue Jays

With research revealing the strike zone has dropped by the diameter of a baseball over the last few years, the Red Sox have targeted pitchers and hitters who can control that area of the plate, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval is one of the best lowball hitters in the game. Hanley Ramirez, meanwhile, is a lifetime .346 hitter in the lower third of the zone. On the pitching side of the equation, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Justin Masterson are all above average in ground ball/fly ball ratio, with Masterson (1.33) standing as one of the most extreme examples in the game.

Elsewhere out of the American League East:

  • The Orioles are being pushed to take Colby Rasmus on a one-year deal, tweets Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. Earlier today, we learned the Cubs have met recently with Rasmus and are one of several teams to show interest in the free agent center fielder.
  • MLB.com’s Richard Justice profiles Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig as an overlooked trade candidate, noting the 30-year-old, who has been hobbled by foot injuries the last two years, is a driven and serious man obsessed with putting his career back on track. The Marlins and Brewers have been linked to Craig so far this offseason.
  • With Melky Cabrera coming to terms with the White Sox, the Blue Jays will receive a compensatory pick after the first round, lessening the blow of forfeiting the 18th overall selection for signing Russell Martin, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.


AL Central Notes: Cabrera, Viciedo, Scherzer, Tigers

Melky Cabrera didn’t receive any four-year offers, so he chose to play in his preferred Eastern half of the country and sign a three-year pact with the White Sox, tweets Enrique Rojas of ESPN.com (link in Spanish). Cabrera became the latest splashy acquisition for the White Sox late last night joining Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Adam LaRoche, and Zach Duke in an effort to bring the club from 73 wins in 2014 to contention in 2015.

Here’s more on the White Sox and the rest of the AL Central Division:

  • The White Sox‘s acquisition of Cabrera could pay off for Jose Abreu, writes JJ Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com.
  • The White Sox are sure to trade Dayan Viciedo after signing Cabrera and Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter) wonders if the Mariners could be a possibility. The Mariners were interested in signing Cabrera, but lost out when the White Sox offered $42MM over three years.
  • Tigers assistant GM Al Avila told Jim Duquette of SiriusXM (via Twitter) the club has had “no conversations” with Max Scherzer‘s camp. Last week, an industry source told MLB.com’s Jason Beck even though Scott Boras has openly said the Tigers won’t receive a chance to match an opposing team’s final offer for the hurler, Boras will, in fact, give owner Mike Ilitch a chance to match “at least as a professional courtesy.”
  • The Tigers have long coveted Yoenis Cespedes and would have made a stronger bid for him in 2012 had Victor Martinez not suffered a season-ending knee injury in January of that year, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Tigers President/CEO/General Manager Dave Dombrowski says right-hander Alex Wilson, acquired from the Red Sox along with Cespedes, is not just a throw-in but will compete for a bullpen spot in Spring Training, reports Fenech in a second article.

Cafardo On Hamels, Astros, Howard, Craig

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that teams second guessing themselves is just a regular part of the offseason.  A lot of folks are second guessing the A’s, but manager Bob Melvin has confidence in GM Billy Beane.

We’re looking to get a little bit younger, yet if you want to look back to the end of 2011 and leading into 2012, we traded our last three All-Stars in [Trevor] Cahill[Andrew] Bailey, and [Gio] Gonzalez and we ended up winning the division,” said Melvin. “We’re looking to compete again. This isn’t something where we’re breaking it down and moving in a different direction. The players that we’re getting back we like. There’s always a balance here for us in that we have to look down the road. We lost quite a bit of talent the last couple of years, making some trades. Billy is about as good as it gets as far as being able to handle that balance and keep us competitive currently, yet also having to look down the road for the future.”

More from today’s column..

  • The Astros are a sleeper team in the Cole Hamels chase, Cafardo writes.  The Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, and Rangers are also interested in the Phillies left-hander, but Houston could join the bunch and the Giants may also be in if they can’t land James Shields.
  • The Phillies are trying to get teams interested in Ryan Howard, and a team source indicated to Cafardo that they are willing to pay a great majority of his contract to move him.  Howard is owed $60MM between 2015 and 2017, including a buyout.  The Rays and Orioles have DH needs and he could theoretically fit the bill.
  • Both the Marlins and the Brewers have active interest in Red Sox first baseman Allen Craig.  Craig, 30, had some strong years with the Cardinals before joining the Red Sox at last year’s deadline.
  • Agent John Boggs says that he’s having “discussions with several cubs” about client Ichiro Suzuki, though no deal is imminent at this time.
  • Dan Uggla’s agent, Terry Bross, was trying to market his client for a comeback at the Winter Meetings.  Cafardo hears that a lot of the 34-year-old’s decline may have had to do with an undetected concussion.

Jung-ho Kang Rumors: Sunday

Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang is set to be posted on Monday and is said to have interest from the Athletics, Giants, Mets, and several other clubs.  The A’s and Mets would presumably be interested in Kang at shortstop.  The Giants, meanwhile could use Kang at either third or they could shift Joe Panik to the hot corner and use Kang at second.  We’ll keep track of the latest on the 27-year-old here..

  • Many at the winter meetings felt that Kang is seeking a deal in the neighborhood of $24MM over three years, writes Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.  Internally, the Mets appear to be split on Kang.  Some scouts fear that Kang will not be able to play shortstop at the major league level and question whether his offense will translate. The Mets could use the kind of production that Kang put up in the KBO but they’ve also said that they’re willing to head into spring training with Wilmer Flores as their starting shortstop.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Orioles, Angels, Montero

On this date in 1985, Roger Maris died at the age of 51 after a two-year battle with lymphatic cancer.  Maris, who set a long-standing record of 61 home runs in a season and won two MVP awards, was never inducted into the Hall of Fame, with some saying that he did not have the career numbers to enter Cooperstown.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..

Please send submissions to Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.


2014 Rule 5 Draft Results

Each year, Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings conclude with the Rule 5 Draft. For those who are unfamiliar with the event, MLBTR offers an in-depth description, but here’s a quick overview.

Players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren’t on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed. Teams draft in the reverse order of the previous season’s standings but aren’t required to make a selection. If they do choose a player, they pay his former team $50K and must keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25K.

The results from the major league phase:

  1. Diamondbacks select Oscar Hernandez from the Rays.
  2. Rockies select Mark Canha from Marlins (later traded to Athletics for Austin House and cash considerations).
  3. Rangers select Delino DeShields Jr. from the Astros.
  4. Astros select Jason Garcia from Red Sox (later traded to the Orioles for cas considerations).
  5. Twins select J.R. Graham from the Braves.
  6. Red Sox select Jandel Gustave from Astros (to be traded to Royals, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, via Twitter).
  7. White Sox did not make a selection.
  8. Cubs select Taylor Featherston from Rockies (later traded to Angels for cash considerations).
  9. Phillies select Odubel Herrera from Rangers.
  10. Reds did not make a selection.
  11. Marlins select Andrew McKirahan from Cubs.
  12. Padres did not make a selection.
  13. Rays did not make a selection.
  14. Mets select Sean Gilmartin from Twins.
  15. Braves select Daniel Winkler from Rockies.
  16. Brewers did not make a selection.
  17. Blue Jays did not make a selection.
  18. Yankees did not make a selection.
  19. Indians did not make a selection.
  20. Mariners select David Rollins from Astros.
  21. Giants did not make a selection.
  22. Pirates did not make a selection.
  23. A’s did not make a selection.
  24. Royals did not make a selection.
  25. Tigers did not make a selection.
  26. Cardinals did not make a selection.
  27. Dodgers did not make a selection.
  28. Orioles select Logan Verrett from Mets.
  29. Nationals did not make a selection.
  30. Angels did not make a selection.

Full Story | Comments | Categories: Newsstand | Rule 5 Draft

Twins “Pushing” To Sign Ervin Santana

THURSDAY: Minnesota is prepared to offer Santana a contract in the neighborhood of four years and $50MM, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  The Royals and Giants are among the other teams involved in the Santana chase.

WEDNESDAY: The Twins are “pushing to get [a] deal” with free agent right-hander Ervin Santana, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter link).  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) hears that the Twins have made an offer to Santana, though he cautions that the offer alone doesn’t indicate that a deal is close.

For what it’s worth, Twins GM Terry Ryan won’t even confirm that the Twins have interest in the free agent hurler, as Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweets.  He says that any news of a deal (or, presumably, a near-deal) is news to him.

Santana, 31, pitched to a 3.95 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 42.7 percent ground-ball rate in 196 innings of work in 2014.  While his ERA rose, metrics such as FIP (3.39) and xFIP (3.47) felt Santana had his best season since 2008.

Earlier today, we learned that the Giants are talking with Santana now that they have lost out on their top target, Jon Lester.  The veteran is said to love “pitching in the cold,” so Minnesota might prove to be a solid fit for him.


Nationals Rumors: Desmond, M’s, Detwiler, Clippard

The Nationals and Mariners have discussed Ian Desmond on several occasions but talks between the two teams have yet to really gain traction, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  Washington likes Brad Miller, so conceivably the young shortstop could be part of a larger package the M’s would send back to D.C.  Here’s some more about the Nationals…

  • Jordan Zimmermann has been drawn more trade attention than Desmond this week, according to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi.
  • The Nats are actively discussing Ross Detwiler and Tyler Clippard with multiple teams, Rosenthal tweets.
  • The Nationals still want a second base upgrade and they’re talking with lots of teams about Clippard and Jerry Blevins, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter).
  • The Nationals have inquired on Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, but it appears like a long shot to pry him away, according James Wagner of the Washington Post.
  • Jed Lowrie would appear to be a fit for the Nationals but there doesn’t appear to be anything happening on that front, Wagner writes.
  • General Manager Mike Rizzo has said throughout the winter that Anthony Rendon could slide to second base should they acquire a third baseman.  While some rolled their eyes at the notion of moving Rendon away from his natural position, people around the Nationals tell Wagner that they are indeed looking at third baseman and if there is a good one to be had, Rendon would be shifted to second.
  • The sense from teams that asked the Nationals about Clippard is that Washington wants better than a low-tier prospect and trading him wouldn’t be simply to dump his $9MM salary, according to Wagner.