Author Archives: Zach Links

Adam Wainwright Out For Season With Achilles Tear

TODAY: Wainwright has a torn Achilles and will miss the year after undergoing surgery, GM John Mozeliak tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link).

YESTERDAY, 11:41am: Cards GM John Mozeliak told KMOX Sports (on Twitter) that he “would imagine” that the injury is season-ending, but the team will wait for official word on Monday.

9:58am: The Cardinals confirmed (on Twitter) that Wainwright suffered an Achilles injury.

9:00am: Wainwright will see a doctor on Monday and receive a prognosis then, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

8:30am: The expectation is that Adam Wainwright is done for the season after suffering an Achilles injury last night, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  The Cardinals pitcher has yet to undergo an MRI, however.

Wainwright suffered his injury in the fifth inning of Saturday night’s game against the Brewers as he was running out a pop-up.  Wainwright, who has pitched four scoreless innings, was running to first when he came up lame after hurting his left ankle, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.  The veteran left the park in a walking boot and was stunned by the freak injury.

I’ve never had anything down there to compare it to.  I’m thinking what in the heck just hit me. I thought the catcher’s mask must have hit me. Or the bat must have hit me. It was crazy,” said Wainwright. “I wasn’t even going that hard. I just popped it up. I saw that it was in play so I started to run and my foot just shut down on me. It’s in the back of my ankle. Everything right now is all speculation. I’ve not got my hopes up or down.”

Wainwright was doubly disappointed because, as he told reporters, he felt the best he had all year heading into Saturday night.  If Wainwright is in fact done for the year, it’ll be the second time in his career that he has suffered a lost season.  The 33-year-old (34 in August) missed the entire 2011 season thanks to Tommy John surgery.

Through four starts this season, the three-time All-Star has posted a 1.44 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9.  For his career, Wainwright has pitched to a 2.98 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.


Minor Moves: Snyder, Dykstra, Redmond, Roberts

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Orioles will sign corner intfielder Brandon Snyder to a minor-league deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Snyder, 28, had agreed to a deal with the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in March. He hit .206/.284/.444 in 141 plate appearances with the Red Sox’ Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate in 2014. He last appeared in the big leagues with the Red Sox in 2013 and had previously had cups of coffee with the Orioles and Rangers. The Orioles made him the 13th overall pick in the draft ten years ago.
  • The Rays have outrighted Allan Dykstra, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. Dykstra playing first base for much of April, but he became superfluous when James Loney returned from the disabled list. The 27-year-old Dykstra hit .280/.426/.504 for the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season, drawing 84 walks in 439 plate appearances.
  • The Blue Jays outrighted right-hander Todd Redmond to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Redmond, who was designated for assignment April 16, struggled to start 2015 allowing eight runs (all earned) in a pair of relief appearanes (covering 4 1/13 innings) with five walks and four strikeouts.
  • The A’s have signed infielder Ryan Roberts to a minor league deal and have assigned him to Triple-A Nashville, tweets the Sounds’ play-by-play announcer Jeff Hem. Roberts, who was in camp with the Royals before being released in March, made a cameo appearance with Boston in 2014 and batted just .105/.227/.105 in 22 trips to the plate during eight games. Over his nine-year career, the 34-year-old has slashed a much more acceptable .243/.320/.388 for the Red Sox, Rays, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Blue Jays.
  • The Marlins have outrighted left-hander Grant Dayton to Triple-A, per the club’s transactions page. The 27-year-old was designated for assignment Friday to create room on the 40-man roster for catcher Jhonatan Solano, whose contract was purchased when the Marlins placed Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the paternity list.
  • The Mets signed free agent second baseman Brooks Conrad to a minor league contract, according to the International League transactions page.  Conrad signed a minor league deal with the Padres in January of last year after spending some time in Japan and joined their major league team later in 2014.  He spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A, slashing .278/.349/.529 with 18 homers in 337 plate appearances. In a limited sample size of 34 major league appearances in 2014, however, he couldn’t produce the same results, and he was released in August.
  • Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, Eric Surkamp (White Sox), Grant Balfour (Rays), Eury De La Rosa (A’s), Steve Tolleson (Blue Jays), Xavier Cedeno (Dodgers), and Logan Verrett (Rangers) are still in DFA limbo.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Owings, Balfour, Blue Jays

On this date in 2006, Julio Franco became the second oldest player to steal a base at the the age of 47, as Leo Panetta of NationalPastime.com writes.  In 1909, Arlie Latham, who played two games at second base for the Giants, swiped a sack at the age 49.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..



Cafardo On Hamels, Soriano, Red Sox

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe credits Phillies GM Ruben Amaro for his offseason signing of Aaron Harang.  The veteran right-hander has been one of the best pitchers in baseball through the first month of the season after coming to Philly on an affordable one-year, $5MM deal (Harang spoke with MLBTR last month about joining the Phillies).  While it’s been tough for Amaro to find the right deal for Cole Hamels, a few more good starts may net him a prospect for Harang.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • There have been no calls on Hamels regarding a trade since the last week of March, a Phillies source tells Cafardo.  Recently, Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote that rival evaluators believe the pitcher wants out of Philadelphia.  Through four starts this season, Hamels has pitched to a 3.75 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9.
  • Rafael Soriano has returned to the Dominican Republic for workouts as he awaits an MLB opportunity.  We learned yesterday that the Twins are among the teams interested in Soriano. The Tigers and Blue Jays would also make sense as potential landing spots for the reliever. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com recently reported that there has been contact between agent Scott Boras and the Mariners regarding Soriano and the Pirates, Indians, and Dodgers could be “logical suitors.”
  • The Red Sox have received kudos from around baseball for signing right-hander Alexi Ogando as a free agent and many teams are now kicking themselves over not signing him. “They’ve used him so well at the beginning of the season, biting off as much as he can chew and slowly but surely increasing to high-leverage situations,” said one National League scout. “He’s got some real action on his fastball and electric stuff at times. He’ll occasionally leave a pitch over the plate, but this is like a bonus guy. A lot of teams missed the boat and the Red Sox were one of the few teams willing to offer a major league deal.”
  • When asked if he’d ever want to be a manager, Red Sox special assistant Jason Varitek told Cafardo, “Maybe someday. Not right now.”  Varitek wants to watch his kids grow up before possibly pursuing such a role.

Dodgers To Sign Mike Carp

The Dodgers have signed first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).  Carp’s deal will be worth $1MM if he reaches the major league team.

Carp was previously with the Nationals but elected free agency on April 6th after declining a minor league assignment.  The 28-year-old lost a spring battle for a left-handed-hitting bench role to Clint Robinson, who enjoyed a big spring. Carp had underwhelming numbers in Grapefruit League action, meanwhile, following a 2014 season in which he slashed just .175/.289/.230 in 149 plate appearances.

It was not long ago that Carp looked like a rather useful player and he’ll look to get back on track in sunny Los Angeles.  In 2013, with the Red Sox, he took 243 turns at bat and his .296/.362/.523 with nine home runs.  Combined with a productive 2011 campaign in Seattle, sandwiched around a less useful campaign, Carp was expected to play an important role in Boston’s championship defense.


Q&A With Phillies Prospect Aaron Nola

In a draft class that featured several high-quality pitchers at the top, LSU ace Aaron Nola was viewed as one of the very best and universally regarded as the most major league ready of any of them.  Scouts were impressed by Nola’s poise, maturity, and (perhaps most importantly) his pinpoint accuracy and multiple teams in the top ten were connected to the hurler, but the Phillies were the club that pounced at No. 7.  Back in June, Nola spoke with MLBTR as a part of of our Draft Prospect Q&A series.  Recently, we checked in with Nola as he was gearing up for the 2015, a season that could see his big league debut.

Zach Links: When the Phillies drafted you last summer, there was immediately talk of you quickly making a path to the big leagues since you were so polished. Did the Phillies indicate to you last summer that you could be bumped up to the majors rather quickly?

Aaron Nola: They didn’t really say exactly that. They didn’t really say much in terms of that.  For me, the way I look at it is, whenever they want me up, its their call.  Wherever they put me, my focus is going to be where I am and play to to the best of my ability.

Aaron Nola

ZL: Some folks were surprised that the Phillies didn’t have you in major league camp for the entirety of the spring.  Were you expecting to be in big league camp for the whole thing, as opposed to just a bit at the end?

AN: They just told me that they were going to send me to minor league camp and I was okay with that.  I had fun, I had a good time.

I knew a lot of guys there and there’s a good group of guys there and it was pretty cool pitching against the Yankees that one time.  I was around guys in the clubhouse and getting to watch what they do and how they play the game, it was a really good and really educational experience.

ZL:  Alex Rodriguez offered up some really high praise after facing you in spring training, telling reporters (including Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News), that you had a “good arm” and “a bright future” that “the Phillies should be very excited” about.  [Nola allowed a single to Rodriguez in their first meeting, but struck him out with a changeup the next time around.]  What was your reaction to that?

AN: I was just thinking that was pretty cool. We all know what he’s done in his career, he’s an unbelievable player and just watching him step in the box and the battle going on, it was surreal.  Growing up we were just watching that guy on TV all the time and I was always hoping that one day I would pitch against him, so that was pretty cool.

ZL: Did you have any jitters when he stepped into the box?

AN: Maybe a little bit. I wasn’t too nervous coming in because it wasn’t the first time I pitched in front of a crowd like that.  We pitched in front of some huge crowds at LSU.  If there were any butterflies, they went away when I stepped on the mound because everything felt normal for me.  I think some minor jitters sometimes are good, in a way.

ZL:  The Phillies landed you at No. 7 but there were a number of teams connected to you, including the Twins at No. 5. Did you see the Phillies as your most likely landing spot on draft week, or did you see anyone else as the frontrunner?

AN: I just kind of told myself at that point that I was focused on my season at LSU and the games we were playing at that time.  At that point, I was blessed and honored to be in that situation, to know that I’d probably be called in the first round wherever I go.  I couldn’t control any of that, and I didn’t know where I’d end up when I was watching on TV.

It was an honor that the Phillies picked me, that day is something that I’ll always cherish and remember.

ZL: How has your daily preparation changed from this time last year to today? What kinds of things do the Phillies have you doing differently?

AN: I’m not doing anything different, really.  What the Phillies have me doing is pretty much what I’ve done before.  The only difference I’m pitching more often.  I’m getting out on the mound more and more and I’m pretty accustomed to that at this point.

ZL: When we spoke last year, there were some scouting reports questioning your 3/4 arm slot. Have the Phillies tinkered with that at all?

AN: No they have not.  It’s the same slot I’ve always done.  I’ve never thrown a pitch another way and always thrown in that arm slot.

ZL: The Phillies were zeroed in on their veterans for a long time and playing for the here and now, but they seem to be focused on building on younger talent now. Are you excited to be part of the youth movement in Philly?

AN: Everyone there, they’re all great guys and I got to know them really well, or at least have good relationships with them.  I’ve been hanging out with them a lot this year and I can tell you that they play the game the right way and work really hard.

I think those guys are great and their stars have been at the top of the game for years.  They have had unbelievable careers and I don’t know what is going to happen but they’re working so hard this spring.  I’m excited to work my way up to that level and play alongside them.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Orioles, Anthopoulos, Pirates

On this date in 1999, Cal Ripken Jr. landed on the disabled list for the first time in what was, at that point, a 19-year career, due to a back injury. Ripken had already voluntarily ended his likely unbreakable streak of 2,632 consecutive games played, though the DL trip served as evidence that baseball’s Iron Man was at least mortal. Ripken would eventually become a first-ballot Hall of Famer, of course, appearing on 98.53 percent of ballots after a career that saw him hit .276/.340/.447 with 431 home runs, a Rookie of the Year Award, two MVPs, eight Silver Sluggers, a pair of Gold Gloves and 19 consecutive All-Star nods. We’ll stick with an Orioles theme to kick off this week’s look at the baseball blogosphere…

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


Inside The Christian Yelich Extension

If the mammoth Giancarlo Stanton deal didn’t totally convince fans that the Marlins were serious about winning, then the Christian Yelich deal was the clincher.  After an offseason that included inking Stanton to a 13-year, $325MM deal, signing Michael Morse, and pulling off multiple high-impact trades, the Marlins locked up the talented young outfielder on a $49.75MM, seven-year deal.

The two sides first began discussing parameters for a pact shortly after the 2014 season ended.  Once the Marlins took care of their top priority, a new long-term deal for Stanton, they were ready to go full steam ahead with Yelich.  At first, the Marlins casually reached out to agent Joe Longo to let him know that they wanted to work towards getting a deal done.  Then, some initial figures were thrown out and it was clear that a sizable gap had to be bridged. For starters, Miami pitched a deal that was similar to Starling Marte‘s six-year, $31.5MM extension with the Pirates.

You arrive at deals different ways.  You look at comps and you also think about the player and his skill set and how if you wait year-to-year in arbitration what those years would look like with consistent production,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill told MLBTR.  “It made sense to us.  That area was where we felt like we would like to try to get something done.”

While Longo could, on some level, understand the comparison between the two players, he felt that Yelich’s future earning potential called for something even more lucrative.  What Longo could pretty much agree with, however, was the length of Marte’s contract.  As Longo put it, “the framework of the deal was okay, but the numbers didn’t line up for us.”

Both sides were very much on the same page when it came to that length since the Marlins never seriously considered a deal that was shorter or longer.  Hill explained that he’s not really a fan of contracts that only go through arbitration years and when it comes to a pre-arbitration player, he feels that a longer deal can always be achieved later on.

For a while, the Marlins were hoping to replicate Marte’s exact contract structure: a total of six seasons with two additional option years.  Longo, meanwhile, preferred a six-year deal with one option year, which would have allowed Yelich to explore the open market before the age of 30.  Eventually, the two sides reached a compromise on that point when the Marlins proposed that they would guarantee the 2021 season rather than leaving it as an option.

Even though that initial dollar figure was less than what Yelich’s camp was hoping for, Longo says he didn’t come away from that conversation disappointed.

Negotiations have an ebb and flow to them.  Ultimately, Christian was okay with waiting on an extension and waiting to see what could come in future years.  Really, it’s a positive thing when your employer likes you and in baseball sometimes just getting an offer of an extension feels good, because that’s a good review of what you’ve been doing,” Longo explained.  “I went back to Christian and I told him what the numbers were but I explained that A, They’ve never done anything like this before and B, he’s a unique player and there aren’t a lot of comps out there for him, so we had to be patient and take just the start of the conversation as a positive.”

Early on in the talks, Longo made a point to cite the advanced stats that supported Yelich’s production over the last two years.  Yelich’s slash line and Gold Glove award were pretty good indicators of what he can do, but they were reinforced by his tremendous walk rate (10.6% in 2014) and UZR/150 (10.2 in ’14).

The advanced metrics were also very key to the Marlins’ side of things, not just in negotiations but in their overall evaluation of Yelich throughout the process.

Everything played a part for us,” Hill said.  “When you talk commitment you want to make sure it’s the right person, the right player, the right skill set, and the right talent and you want to make sound decisions.  I don’t think there was anyone in our office who didn’t believe that this was the right thing to do for Christian.”

As the talks progressed, the discussions of stats became a little less pronounced and the two sides began to come a little bit closer on the dollar figure.  Early on, Yelich was hopeful that a deal could be worked out, but he was also mentally prepared to continue on the arbitration path, at the advice of Longo.  As Longo chatted with Hill and David Samson, the proposal of a $31.5MM guarantee slowly climbed up into the $40MM range.  That was still shy of what Yelich was hoping for, but at that stage he felt that he had to at least consider what they were pitching in order to gain financial security for himself and for his family.  The outfielder wanted to see where things would go, but he also asked that the talks cease before Opening Day to avoid any distractions.

Towards the end of spring training, the two sides shook hands on a sizable deal that will keep Yelich in Miami through 2021 and, possibly, 2022.  The $49.75MM guarantee isn’t surprising to anyone who paid attention to what the 23-year-old did last season, but it’s the kind of money that was once reserved mostly for power hitters.  In fact, Yelich’s deal is the second-biggest deal ever for someone in his service class, topping the likes of Ryan Braun and Anthony Rizzo.  Hill is familiar with the precedent there, but that didn’t mean much to him when it came to Yelich.

We totally understand the marketplace and how these young players have been compensated historically.  We just believe that he’s a great talent and a complete talent.  When you look at what he can do now offensively and what we think he’ll grow into as he matures as a hitter, the deal made sense to us,” explained Hill.

Of course, Yelich is not the first player without a major power bat to land a big deal in recent years.  Around this time last year, the Braves signed defensive-minded shortstop Andrelton Simmons to a seven-year extension with $58MM in guaranteed money.  And, just recently, Josh Harrison and Juan Lagares both got significant guarantees, albeit not on the same tier as Yelich and Simmons.  Longo saw Yelich’s deal as yet another indication that teams across the majors, not just the Marlins, are putting emphasis back on defense and other areas of the game that might have been a bit undervalued.

Yelich’s well-rounded skill set, upside, and age gave the Marlins plenty of reason to want to tack on additional years of control.  As Longo stressed during the talks, Yelich carries himself with tremendous poise for someone his age – not just on the field, but off the field as well.  While some players choose to sit back and let their agent handle all of the back-and-forth contract talks, the 23-year-old took an active role in discussions with the Marlins’ front office.

I think it was very unique for a player at his age,” the agent said.  “Usually, the older they get, the more they participate in the process.  Certainly when you get a guy who has been through an arbitration year, it causes a client to learn more about the business of baseball.  But, the fact that he’s never been through the arbitration process and participated as much as he did, that was very impressive at 23 and I think that was part of the reason the Marlins targeted him.  His level of maturity, how smart he is, how well he understands the game, and the business of the game all played a role.”

In the days leading up to the agreement, Yelich met a few times with Samson to discuss his long-term future with the franchise.  The Marlins already knew that they were dealing with an older soul in the young outfielder, but he reminded them of his all-around maturity over the course of the spring.

His plate awareness and strike zone awareness is definitely beyond his years.  You look at his natural feel for the strike zone and his knowledge of the game and he’s been that way as a person from the day we drafted him in 2010,” Hill said. “He’s quiet, he’s focused, and he has a desire to excel at his craft to play in baseball.  He’s not about flair, he’s not about the limelight, he just goes out and gets the job done.”

Now, with his deal in hand, the understated Yelich can focus on what he does best without having to think about his contract situation for several years.


Quick Hits: Bryant, Cubs, Hamilton

The Mariners were a trendy pick to win big in 2015, but so far they’re off to a weak start.  For his part, manager Lloyd McClendon thinks that all of the team’s tough losses will help prepare them for later on in the season.

Like I told the guys the other day, and this is real important: Everybody’s giving the American League title, the pennant, to the Seattle Mariners, and we’re going to hoist the trophy, we’re going to the World Series. And yeah, that’s great,” McClendon said, according to MLB.com’s Doug Miller.  “But in between, there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears, some heartaches, some adversity that you’ve got to go through, and you’ve got to be built for it. And you’ve got to handle it. And if you’re lucky, in the end you’ll be able to hoist that trophy.”

Here’s more from around the majors..

  • Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com spoke with Cubs execs about what went into their decision to draft Kris Bryant No. 2 overall in 2013.  “It was clear [that Bryant, Stanford pitcher Mark Appel, and Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray] were going to go in the top three. As an organization, we knew we needed pitching but philosophically we felt like taking hitters at the top of the draft was the safer bet. Also, at picking at No. 2 it was hopefully our one shot at picking that high in the draft. Going hitter was safer,” GM Jed Hoyer explained.
  • Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com attempted to peg what kind of impact we could see Bryant make in his rookie year for the Cubs.  Mayo writes that he’s undoubtedly ready to make his mark at the big league level and, unsurprisingly, scouting directors raved about his overall upside. “He’s an exceptional player and talent,” one director said. “He has the chance to be one of the top hitters in baseball over the next 10 to 15 years.”
  • Angels bench coach Dino Ebel and manager Mike Scioscia had dinner with Josh Hamilton on Wednesday night and Ebel told reporters, including Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (via Twitter), that the meeting “went well.”  It remains to be seen how the Hamilton situation will play out in the wake of owner Arte Moreno’s comments.

NL East Notes: Braves, Peraza, Gee

Bartolo Colon did it all to help lead the Mets past the Marlins for their sixth straight win, Howie Rumberg of The Associated Press writes. Colon not only pitched the Mets past Miami, he hit a tying sac fly for his second RBI in two starts. Here’s more from the NL East..

  • Braves assistant GM John Coppolella made it clear that he has no interest in moving top prospect Jose Peraza, despite the Yankees’ apparent interest, Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes.  “We have no interest whatsoever in trading Jose Peraza,” Coppolella said. “Teams scout top prospects all the time, as we do other team’s top prospects. It was just a case where one of their scouts was sent to watch one of our guys.”  The soon-to-be 21-year-old has steadily climbed through Atlanta’s farm system and broke out with a .339/.364/.441 performance over 499 combined minor league plate appearances in 2014.
  • The Mets are still eager to trade Dillon Gee, and they view Rafael Montero as likely to take Gee’s spot, according to major league sources that spoke with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.  Gee could be moved at anytime if a need arises elsewhere.  If they can’t move him, Montero will take his spot in the rotation, barring injury or regression. According to sources, there is no debate that Montero will get the first opportunity, before prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.
  • Luis Garcia, who was out of baseball three years ago, has become one of the steadiest arms in the Phillies bullpen, writes Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  The 28-year-old has allowed two hits and two walks in his five innings this season.