The 36-year-old inked a minor league deal with Houston in February that would have paid him $1.5MM if he made the team’s big league roster. Cotts began the 2015 season with the Brewers before an August trade sent him to the Twins. Between the two clubs, the veteran posted a 3.41 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 63 1/3 innings. Over the course of ten big league seasons, Cotts owns a 3.96 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. The Pro Star Management client held left-handed batters to a .186/.243/.330 slash last year and struggled against right-handers.
The Nationals have released outfielder Reed Johnson, as Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com tweets. The Nats also cut Sean Burnett on Sunday morning, though Burnett had already decided to opt-out of his deal.
Johnson, 39, inked a minor league deal with the Nats in November. The Wasserman Media Group client missed most of the 2015 season with a calf injury and was hoping to show the Nationals what he can do when healthy in 2016. Unfortunately, he was not able to break camp this time around and likely did not want to join the team’s Triple-A affiliate. Johnson owns a career .310/.363/.464 slash line against left-handers and could be a quality outfield depth option for another team.
The Mariners announced that they have designated catcher Rob Brantly for assignment.
Brantly, 26 (27 in July), was claimed off of waivers from the White Sox roughly three weeks ago. In Seattle, Brantly was given an opportunity to vie for the backup catcher job, but the team has ostensibly decided to go with Steve Clevenger as the primary understudy to to back up Chris Iannetta. In parts of three big league seasons (392 plate appearances), Brantly has posted a .225/.286/.317 batting line. In a larger sample size of 753 Triple-A plate appearances, Brantly has slashed .261/.295/.355.
The Marlins announced that they have designated left-hander Brad Hand and outfielder Cole Gillespie for assignment. In related moves, Mike Dunn and Raudel Lazo have been placed on the 15-day disabled list and Carter Capps has been put on the 60-day DL, allowing the team to select the contracts of Craig Breslow, Dustin McGowan, and Chris Narveson.
Gillespie, 32 in June, spent nearly half of the 2015 season on the Marlins’ big league roster. In 157 plate appearances, the outfielder hit .290/.333/.428 with two home runs. Gillespie has also had short major league stints over five seasons with the D’Backs, Giants, Cubs, Mariners, and Blue Jays.
Hand, 26, has spent his entire career with the Marlins organization since being selected in the second-round of the 2008 draft. Over the last five years, Hand has pitched to a 4.71 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 (43 starts, 47 relief appearances). Hand has drawn trade interest in the past, so he might not be in limbo for long.
Now that Breslow has made Miami’s Opening Day roster, he will earn $1.5MM for the 2016 season. To keep up with the whereabouts of Hand, Gillespie, and all of the other players in DFA limbo, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.
The Pirates have designated right-hander John Holdzkom and infielders Pedro Florimon and Jake Goebbert for assignment, as Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets. In related moves, catcher Elias Diaz, right-hander Jared Hughes, and infielder Jung Ho Kang have been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 25th (link). All of these moves will allow Pittsburgh to promote infielder Cole Figueroa, outfielder Matt Joyce, and left-hander Cory Luebke to active roster (link).
Florimon is regarded as a very strong defensive player and was hoping to break camp with the team as a reserve infielder. Even though he provides value with his glove, the 29-year-old’s offense leaves much to be desired. In parts of five big league seasons with the Orioles, Twins, and Bucs, Florimon owns a .199/.262/.295 slash line. In parts of three Triple-A campaigns, he has posted a stronger .252/.317/.366 slash line.
Goebbert, 28, inked a major league pact with the Pirates in November. In 2015, the first/baseman outfielder spent the season with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, where he hit .294/.392/.452 with 10 home runs. Now, Goebbert will look to hook on elsewhere as a left-handed bat off of the bench, though he may have to settle for a minor league deal this time around.
Mariners southpaw Charlie Furbush is undergoing a blood injection therapy to his shoulder in hopes of speeding his recovery, MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports, but he might not return to action for “several months.” Furbush suggested that he could resume throwing in about three weeks’ time, but given his rotator cuff issues last year and continued difficulties, it certainly seems likely that the club will bring him along cautiously.
Here’s more from the American League:
- We checked in earlier today on Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion, as he’s not expected to engage in further contract talks before the season starts. Jon Heyman of MLB Network joins Ben Nicholson-Smith in reporting that there’s nothing scheduled with Encarnacion (Twitter link).
- Heyman also adds on Twitter that Jose Bautista could be willing to consider a four-year arrangement to stay in Toronto, despite his ask of five or even six years in an extension. Of course, that would be at a superstar rate of pay — Heyman suggests $30MM annually. The club, meanwhile, is believed to be interested in a three-year pact that might looking something like the Yoenis Cespedes deal.
- The Athletics could continue to hold contract talks with outfielder Josh Reddick into the regular season, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports. (Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle noted yesterday evening that talks between the two sides were “percolating a little bit.”)While previous indications were that there’d be a deadline at the end of the spring, it appears there’s a willingness to keep talking if negotiations are showing sufficient promise of completion. If a new deal can’t be struck, Reddick will reach free agency after the season. He currently sits at sixth among pending free agents on the pre-season power rankings by MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes.
- Athletics righty R.J. Alvarez underwent a procedure to remove bone chips from his pitching elbow, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Alvarez was roughed up in his twenty MLB innings last year and has yet to harness his command, but has generated some whiffs with his mid-90s fastball and slider combo.
- The Indians have shifted Trevor Bauer into the bullpen to open the season, as Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal was among those to report. That leaves Cody Anderson and the just-extended Josh Tomlin as the four and five starters as things get underway. As Lewis notes, both Bauer and Anderson have displayed significant increases in their fastball velocity this year. Both president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona emphasized that Bauer remains in the rotation picture and will play a significant role — indeed, he had strong results this spring — but it’s certainly an interesting decision on a highly promising player who has yet to fully settle in at the major league level. It bears noting that the 25-year-old is all but certain to qualify as a Super Two after the season, so any loss of innings could have a significant impact on his future earnings.
- Injured catcher Chris Gimenez will suit up for the Rangers on Wednesday in a “last-ditch effort” to make the team, Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram tweets. Gimenez currently appears to be on the outside looking in after the Rangers acquired Bryan Holaday from the Tigers. The catcher will now have to make a big impression on team brass while dealing with an infected left leg.
- At one point, the Tigers would have asked for catcher Brett Nicholas and more for Holaday, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets. However, the Rangers were able to acquire Holaday while hanging on to Nicholas. Instead, they parted only with right-hander Myles Jaye and catcher Bobby Wilson. Meanwhile, Detroit plans on slotting the newly-acquired Jaye in their Double-A rotation, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. In the long term, he says, the club believes that Jaye can be a major league reliever.
When Dave Stewart transitioned from being a successful agent to becoming the GM of the Diamondbacks, he left his agency behind. However, the firm – Sports Management Partners – stayed in the family, as Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic writes. Initially, the plan was for former big-leaguer Dave Henderson to take over SMP, but the firm was left in limbo after his untimely passing, which led to Lonnie Murray taking on Stewart’s roster of clients.
Of course, there are obvious conflict of interest concerns, particularly with SMP clients Chris Herrmann and Enrique Burgos competing for roster spots in Arizona. While the MLBPA has been aware of Murray managing SMP, the commissioner’s office apparently did not know Stewart’s wife was representing players until very recently. For the full story, we highly recommend reading Piecoro’s article.
Here’s more from the West divisions:
- The Padres reportedly sent a scout to watch Pablo Sandoval, but San Diego GM A.J. Preller downplayed the possibility of anything brewing with the Red Sox. “Our pro scouts work really hard to look at all 30 clubs. … That’s the nature of what goes on,” Preller said (Twitter link via Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego). In a twist that surprised many this month, Sandoval is currently competing with Travis Shaw for Boston’s third base job.
- Yasmany Tomas got a $68.5MM deal when he signed with the Diamondbacks, but making the jump was still tough decision for the outfielder as he had to leave one of his children behind, USA Today’s Jorge L. Ortiz writes. “Here you have everything, but in some ways you don’t have anything,’’ Tomas said. “There are times we may be at home and we’re down because we don’t have relatives or neighbors we can talk to and say, ‘Hey, let’s do this.’ In Cuba you always find people out, during the day or night. Money is not everything. You can have all the money in the world and not be happy.’’
- The Rangers traded for Bryan Holaday on Tuesday night in a deal that should strengthen their catching situation behind Robinson Chirinos. The Tigers got right-hander Myles Jaye and catcher Bobby Wilson in the deal.
- On Tuesday night, the Angels acquired right-hander Chris Jones from the Orioles in exchange for minor league outfielder Natanael Delgado and infielder Erick Salcedo.
Jones, 27, was designated for assignment less than a week ago. Now, he has been traded for the third time in his career. As Tim Dierkes noted on Wednesday, Jones was sent by the Indians to the Braves in October 2011 in the Derek Lowe trade. In April 2013, he was traded from Atlanta to the Orioles for Luis Ayala. Last year, Jones made 22 starts and eight relief appearances for the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate. In that span, he posted a 2.94 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9. Jones will help provide rotational depth in Triple-A, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (on Twitter).
Delgado, 20, was ranked as the No. 27 prospect in the Angels’ system after the 2014 season by Baseball America. Delgado signed with the Angels for $280K in 2012 and has tacked on muscle mass and strength since then, per BA. Blessed with “extremely strong hands and above-average bat speed,” Baseball America believes that he’ll have to improve his hitting in order to have value going forward.
Salcedo, 23 in June, has seen time at shortstop, second base, third base, center field, and right field in the minors. The Orioles’ press release indicates that his future will be in the infield, however. Salcedo was ranked as the Angels’ No. 27 prospect after the 2013 season by BA.
The Rangers announced that they have acquired catcher Bryan Holaday from the Tigers in exchange for right-hander Myles Jaye and catcher Bobby Wilson. In a related move, the Rangers have designated left-handed pitcher Sam Freeman for assignment.
The Rangers have been on the lookout for a catcher this offseason and it appears that the asking prices for their more ambitious targets were too high. Texas was connected to Brewers backstop Jonathan Lucroy as well as Padres catcher Derek Norris. A little over a week ago, however, Rangers GM Jon Daniels said that he was prepared to go into the season with the catchers he already had in camp.
“At this point I anticipate both our catchers are in camp,” Daniels said. “We are open if there is a true improvement to the team, but we’re not going to change for change’s sake.”
Now, Daniels has found what he perceives to be a better understudy for Robinson Chirinos. The Rangers will presumably use Holaday as their No. 2 catcher instead of Chris Gimenez, Michael McKenry, or 2010 sixth-round pick Brett Nicholas, who was said to be having a strong spring. Holaday is not as big of a name as Lucroy, but he came at a much lower cost than the Brewers catcher would have and is also more affordable (Lucroy will earn $4MM in 2016).
Holaday was out-of-options and didn’t have a spot in Detroit with James McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia ahead of him. The 28-year-old TCU product has appeared in the majors in each of the last four seasons for the Tigers. Over a combined 282 plate appearances, he owns a .251/.283/.340 slash line. In parts of three Triple-A seasons, he has slashed .245/.305/.339.
Wilson, 32, spent time with the Rays and Rangers in 2015 and didn’t do much with his bat in 147 plate appearances (.189 /.255/.250). Of course, Wilson isn’t known much for his offense and instead has built his reputation as an excellent defensive catcher.
Jaye is a 24-year-old right-handed starter. A former 17th round pick of the Blue Jays in 2010, Jaye pitched to a 3.29 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 26 Double-A outings last year.
Freeman is out-of-options and the Rangers did not have a spot for him on their 40-man roster. The 28-year-old seems likely to get picked up by a team in need of relief help. For his career, Freeman owns a 3.23 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 across four big league seasons.
The Red Sox intend to use Brock Holt as their primary option in left field against left-handed pitching, Ian Browne of MLB.com tweets. That means that high-priced Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo will be battling with Chris Young for playing time against righties. While both could certainly be in the lineup at the same time, manager John Farrell suggested that he sees both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts as more or less everyday options, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. That certainly could leave few options for Castillo, who is looking to make good on the big contract he signed as a free agent out of Cuba.
Here’s a look at more notable roster moves to come from the East divisions:
- It’s “a given” that Juan Lagares and Yoenis Cespedes will both be in the Mets’ lineup against left-handed pitching, ESPNNewYork.com’s tweets. It’s not yet clear whether Michael Conforto or Curtis Granderson will see the lion’s share of time in right field when a southpaw is on the mound, he adds, but the scenario figures to cut into their time. As for Alejandro De Aza, it’s unclear when and how he’ll get action, though a late-spring trade still seems possible.
- Meanwhile, the Mets appear not to have any cause for concern with righty Matt Harvey, who is dealing with blood clots in his bladder but is expected to open the season on the active roster, according to WFAN’s Ed Coleman (h/t to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, via Twitter). Alarm bells were rung after the team announced an undisclosed medical issue for the star hurler, but it seems he’s still in line to take the ball on April 3rd.
- Erasmo Ramirez will start out in the pen for the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter links). He’ll presumably move back into the rotation when the need for a fifth starter arises, but Tampa Bay is set to use four starters for most of the first five weeks of the year.