Author Archives: Zach Links

East Notes: Phillies, Zimmerman, Porcello

The big fish are off the market, but the Marlins are still looking to pick up a couple of notable relievers.  Miami is interested in signing Phil Coke to a minor league deal and they’re still open to inking Francisco Rodriguez.  Signing Coke to a minor league deal might not be a reality, however.  The 32-year-old is seeking a $2MM guarantee and is getting interest for a major league deal, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. More from the AL and NL East..

  • Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee won’t be winning any championships in Philadelphia this season, but they could help the Phillies win one down the road, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes.  Both players have been involved in trade rumors, of course, but it’s likely that they’ll start the season with the team and get moved sometime before the July 31st trade deadline. “Sometimes trades take two years to do, sometimes they take seven minutes,” GM Ruben Amaro said recently.  Amaro recently indicated that as many as eight teams have kicked the tires on Hamels and four have made “real” offers.
  • With five years and $74MM left on the contract extension he signed in 2012, Ryan Zimmerman may no longer be the face of the Nationals‘ franchise, but he’s still one of the team’s most important players, as Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider writes. This season, his ability to make a permanent position switch at the age of 30 may go a long way towards determining how far the Nats can go in 2015 and beyond.
  • Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald looked at Rick Porcello, who has the unique opportunity of becoming a free agent before his 27th birthday.  Boston is still without a true ace and the right-hander is being counted on by many to fill that role.
  • On Saturday, our own Mark Polishuk looked at Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro as a trade candidate.

Central Notes: Kang, Twins, Tigers

The Pirates‘ signing of Jung Ho Kang didn’t represent a big expenditure in terms of today’s baseball dollars but it was a pretty big deal for a historically budget-conscious Pirates team, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes.  Still, the Bucs have one of the smallest payroll in all of baseball.  This year, the Pirates will have doubled their payroll in a six-year span and could still rank in the bottom third of MLB.  The Pirates will continue to receive additional spending money via revenue sharing and television money from MLB’s central fund, which allocates each team with a chunk of money from the league’s national television deals.  As for their own TV deal, team president Frank Coonelly called the Pirates’ local deal “competitive,” and suggested that the team will continue to be forward-thinking in terms of acquiring talent.  “I think our foray into the South Korean market this offseason is an example that we can’t sit still,” Coonelly said. “We’ve got to continue to look to see where the next horizon is and be first on the next horizon if it’s feasible for us.” More from the Central divisions..

  • A Twins official told Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter links) not to put too much stock into the idea that the Twins are still after a right-handed bat. That’s something they could explore, but it probably wouldn’t come until late March.   With that said, the Twins are actively scouring the free agent market and have interest in making minor league depth signings.
  • There are questions abound when it comes to the Tigers, including their new-look rotation which features only two starters who were in the starting five at the beginning of the 2014 season, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes.
  • As spring training approaches, Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wonders which version of A.J. Burnett the Pirates are getting in 2015.  The 38-year-old struggled mightily with the Phillies last season and he hopes to get back to the form he exhibited in Pittsburgh in the previous two years.  For his part, Burnett says he’s healthy from a hernia injury that nagged him throughout the 2014 season.
  • After Travis Snider was shipped to the Orioles, Nesbitt wonders who the Pirates‘ fourth outfielder will be.  Recently, GM Neal Huntington listed about eight names who could fill that void, including the recently-signed Corey Hart.

Cafardo On Hamels, Papelbon, Twins

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranked every manager in baseball.  Giants skipper Bruce Bochy took the top spot for his ability to get great production of of good, but not great, talent.  After that, Bochy, Buck Showalter, Joe Maddon, Terry Francona, and Bob Melvin round out Cafardo’s top five.  The bottom of the list doesn’t necessarily feature baseball’s “worst” managers as the first-timers are automatically the lowest ranked.  More from today’s column..

  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said last week that four teams made real offers for Cole Hamels and Cafardo hears from a major league source that one of those clubs was the Red Sox.  From talking with various sources, Cafardo senses that the package Boston offered was heavy on the major league side, trying to avoid giving up any of their top prospects.  Of course, the Phillies are insistent on prospects, and if they don’t get them now they’ll wait until the deadline when teams are a little more desperate.
  • There may be a mystery team out there kicking the tires on Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.  The Phillies are still optimistic that they make a deal happen somewhere, even though the Brewers talks haven’t unfolded as expected.
  • The Twins and Indians are looking for a right-handed bat and Cafardo wonders if Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig could be a fit.  With Shane Victorino in the fold and Bryce Brentz in the minors, Cafardo wonders when Boston will try and clear up the logjam.
  • Chad Billingsley could also be trade bait for the Phillies if he gets off to a good start.  A couple of scouts tell Cafardo that they see Billingsley as an effective 150-160-inning guy at the back end of a rotation.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Alomar, K-Rod, Lamb

On this date in 1990, Major League Baseball locked out its players after the two sides were unable to come to terms on a new Basic Agreement. Ultimately, commissioner Fay Vincent was able to get both sides on the same page and a new deal was hammered out on March 19th. Much of spring training was lost and Opening Day was pushed back by about a week, but, of course, things could have been a whole lot worse.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..

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


Reds, Todd Frazier Agree To Two-Year Deal

The Reds and Todd Frazier have avoided arbitration with a two-year, $12MM deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Frazier will receive $4.5MM in 2015 and $7.5MM in 2016, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon tweets. Frazier is a client of CAA Sports.

Frazier had filed for $5.7MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility, with the Reds countering at $3.9MM, according to MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker. With $4.8MM as the midpoint between those two figures, $12MM for this year and next accounts for what would have been a fairly typical arbitration-year raise for 2016, to the $7MM range. After the contract ends, Frazier will be under Reds control for one more year, and he will be eligible for arbitration after 2016.

Frazier, who will turn 29 next week, was one of the Reds’ top performers in the team’s tough 2014 season. Frazier hit .273/.336/.459, led the team with 29 homers and played in his first All-Star Game. He also received good marks for his defense at third base, posting an above-average UZR at the position for the third straight season.

With Frazier’s case now settled, the only remaining Reds player with a pending arbitration case is closer Aroldis Chapman.


Marlins Have Reached Out To K-Rod

The Marlins have reached out to agent Scott Boras regarding Francisco Rodriguez, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com (on Twitter).  Nothing is imminent on that front, but the club could circle back to K-Rod at some point as they look to bolster their bullpen.

It has been speculated for some time that Miami could go after Rodriguez and earlier today, GM Dan Jennings hinted to Jim Bowden of SiriusXM that he is considering the veteran.  Miami isn’t alone in that pursuit, however, as the Blue JaysPhillies, and Brewers are among the clubs that have been connected to him.

The Brewers are looking at Rodriguez as a fallback if they cannot work out a trade with the Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon.  Rodriguez pitched to a 3.11 ERA with 9.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 57 saves in 193 2/3 innings for Milwaukee.  The 33-year-old arguably stands as the best closing option available on the open market, but things have yet to come together for him.  His fate seems to be tied somewhat to the outcome of the Papelbon situation – the Brewers view him as their Plan B and the Phillies seem likely to pursue K-Rod if Papelbon is moved.


Marlins Notes: Shields, Haren, Fernandez

The latest out of Miami..

  • When asked if he’s in on James Shields, Marlins GM Dan Jennings told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) “you never know if you’re still in it or not in it until someone signs him.”  At present, however, it would seem that the Marlins are on the outside looking in with the Padres viewed as the favorites and the Cubs still lurking.
  • Jennings added, “We have had internal discussions about [Shields] and all other free agents… we’ll see in the next few days where he goes,” (via MLB Network Radio on Twitter).
  • Jennings told Bowden (on Twitter) that Dan Haren is preparing for Spring Training and looking forward to being a member of the Marlins.  Haren reportedly has been hoping for a trade that would keep him closer to his family in California.  At one time, Haren seemed to be considering retirement over spending the season in Miami.
  • Jennings said that the timetable for Jose Fernandez to take the mound is between June 15th and July 15th (via Bowden on Twitter).
  • Joe Frisaro of MLB.com (on Twitter) opines that the Marlins’ next step should be to try to sign Rafael Soriano or Francisco Rodriguez on the cheap.  When asked by Bowden (link) about possible interest in the relievers, Jennings didn’t tip his hat much, saying that he’s “always looking to add.”  Jennings added that he’s exploring potentially bringing “one or two more guys to camp,” according to MLB Network Radio (on Twitter).

Cafardo On Vazquez, Cabrera, Papelbon

Yankees GM Brian Cashman feels that the potential is there for a big year, but he’s not guaranteeing the AL East title or anything of that sort, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  “We have a lot of talent,” he said. “Like other teams, we have some ifs. If we get good comebacks and our rotation stays healthy, if our team stays healthy, we’re a good team.”   Additions like Andrew Miller will be counted on for production, but the Bombers will really hope for some vintage performances from guys like Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, and embattled third baseman Alex Rodriguez.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • The Phillies continue to insist on Blake Swihart in any deal for Cole Hamels and there’s been no movement to ask instead for Christian Vazquez.  The Red Sox, meanwhile, refuse to part with their top young catcher.  Cafardo suggests the Phillies could have a better chance of working out a deal with the Padres as they are more open to moving catching prospect Austin Hedges.
  • There are no substantive talks between the Mets and Everth Cabrera‘s camp at the moment as they seem committed to Wilmer Flores.  It was reported earlier this winter that the Mets had interest in the former Padres shortstop.  A major league source with knowledge of Cabrera’s situation indicated to Cafardo that he has made great strides personally.
  • Cafardo writes that the Blue Jays remain interested in Phillies reliever Jonathan Papelbon.  A report from earlier this month characterized the Blue Jays as a “major long shot” to land the closer due to financial reasons.
  • General Managers around the league can’t stop raving about 19-year-old Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada.   “He could be the next Robinson Cano/Chase Utley, but more Cano. That’s the kind of potential bat we’re talking about,” one National League talent evaluator said.  An NL GM told Cafardo that Moncada “may be better than [Yasiel] Puig or [Jose] Abreu or [Yoenis] Cespedes or [Jorge] Soler.”   Meanwhile, one GM tells Cafardo that the middle infielder would still require some minor league seasoning before breaking into the majors.
  • There’s a good amount of interest in Brandon Beachy for when he’s finally ready to sign.  The 28-year-old owns a lifetime 3.23 ERA over 46 big league starts, with a 3.34 FIP, 3.54 xFIP, and 3.39 SIERA.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Sanchez, Orioles, Pineda

On this date in 2006, Johnny Damon took out a full page ad in the Boston Globe to thank Red Sox fans after signing with the rival Yankees, according to Leo Panetta of NationalPastime.com.  Damon, who was beloved in Boston, took a great deal of heat after inking a four-year, $52MM deal with the Bombers.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogopshere..

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


AL Notes: Shields, Samardzija, Moncada, Rangers

James Shields, the top free agent still available, has lost his leverage and is in the worst possible spot as most teams have exhausted their payroll space and are more willing to identify reasons to dismiss an available player, opines ESPN’s Buster Olney in an Insider piece (subscription required). The longer a premium free agent like Shields remains unsigned, Olney notes, the more his negotiating strategy and leverage position are picked apart. Along those lines, a National League GM tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, “It’s hard to project a team would go five years.

In today’s news and notes from the American League:

  • Agent Mark Rodgers told MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette (audio link) he will listen to any overtures from the White Sox to extend Jeff Samardzija, but his client will most likely find out what his “ultimate value is in the open market, which is what free agency is all about.
  • The Tigers hosted a private workout for Yoan Moncada, reports Lynn Henning of the Detroit News. MLB.com’s Jason Beck adds the workout was held last week at the team’s facility in Lakeland. Both Henning and Beck believe this was simply due diligence on the Tigers’ part because of the signing bonus Moncada will command.
  • In today’s mailbag, a reader asks Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer why the Indians allowed J.D. Martinez to slip through their fingers and join their divisional rivals last year. The Tigers, he explained, needed depth in the outfield late in Spring Training. The Tribe, on the other hand, had more than enough with David Murphy, Ryan Raburn, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and Michael Brantley. At the time, they didn’t know Raburn would struggle and both Swisher and Bourn would be hindered by injuries.
  • Matt Harrison told reporters, including Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News, he expects the Rangers to place him on the 60-day disabled list to open the season. Harrison also acknowleged a minor setback in his rehab, but the issue had to do with his mechanics rather than his health.
  • Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar told reporters, including FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro, he is pleased with the results his throwing program has had on his right shoulder. Profar, who is slated to take some dry swings from the right side this week, said his goal is to play in all of Texas’ Spring Training games.
  • In a nod that today is Super Bowl Sunday, Rangers GM Jon Daniels confirmed Russell Wilson will participate in the club’s Spring Training camp, Andro tweets. To illustrate the quarterback’s love of baseball, Rodgers, who also represents Wilson, told MLB Network Radio (audio link), if Wilson could figure out a way to play both sports, he would.