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Baltimore Orioles Rumors
The Orioles officially announced the signing of Cuban lefty Ariel Miranda yesterday, and executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette sat down with the media to discuss that and other matters, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun was among those to report.
- Regarding Miranda, Duquette said that the team is “hoping he can help us maybe later this year or sometime next year.” He added that Miranda’s bonus checked in below the $800K that the team previously committed to Dariel Alvarez.
- Outfielder Alejandro De Aza has already drawn trade interest since being designated for assignment, per Duquette. “We have some depth on our left-handed hitting side of the roster and we’re going to see if his contract has value with some other clubs,” said Duquette. “There’s a couple of clubs that were interested in him.” The contract is the issue with De Aza, of course, along with the fact that he is not off to a fast start at the plate. De Aza, 31, has enough of a track record to be a strong option for some teams, but he is playing on a $5MM salary this year.
- Dylan Bundy‘s MRI showed nothing more than inflammation in his shoulder, Duquette also said. Needless to say, that’s good news for the O’s and their prized young right, who is still not far removed from Tommy John surgery.
De Aza, 31, was acquired last summer and tendered arbitration over the winter, ultimately receiving a $5MM salary after losing a hearing to the Orioles. That payday represented a fairly significant commitment from Baltimore, but the team has not been rewarded.
Over his first 112 plate appearances on the year, De Aza has slashed .214/.277/.359 with three home runs. He has also stolen two bases, but been caught on two other attempts. Of course, De Aza does have a track record of putting up at least league-average offensive production over full seasons of work.
While De Aza will presumably draw interest, his salary figures to be a major hindrance to a deal. Of course, that same factor also makes him a somewhat unlikely candidate to be claimed off waivers, but with more than five years of service he’d be able to elect free agency (without sacrificing salary) if he cleared. All said, then, the O’s should be motivated to find a deal and save what they can on the contract.
Major League Baseball denied statements of a Cuban official indicating that the Orioles were set to play the Cuban national team in Havana this year, as Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. The league is clearly interested in forging ties with the neighboring country, but is also proceeding quite cautiously given the still-uncertain political situation.
- Recently-recalled Orioles catcher Steve Clevenger says that he primarily focused on improving his defense during his minor league stint to open the year, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Of course, he also put up some impressive numbers at the plate. Discussing the move manager Buck Showalter made clear that Clevenger is playing as much for next year — when the team will see Matt Wieters reach free agency — as for this one, when Wieters will likely force him back to Triple-A. “I try to be blunt to a fault about what they need to do when they’re there,” Showalter said. “I talked about continue to be engaged with the pitcher and catching and throwing. I said, ‘You’re going to be out of options next year, you’re going to control all this.’ I said, ‘Try to present yourself for us and everybody else in the game as good as possible. Go down there and lead the league in hitting.'”
- Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury could miss a month or more with his knee injury, skipper Joe Girardi told reporters, including NJ.com’s Ryan Hatch. While the club has received excellent production from Chris Young and can also use Slade Heathcott in center to spot him and take the platoon advantage, a prolonged absence from Ellsbury is a major hit to New York. On the plus side, the Yankees ought to have a handle on Ellsbury’s progress well in advance of the trade deadline.
Lavarnway, 27, bounced around the waiver wire this winter before settling with the O’s. He has received just 32 plate appearances, hitting safely just three times. Once a top-100 prospect, Lavarnway has failed to regain his former promise. Now, he’ll likely need to show real improvement in the minors — whether in the Orioles organization or elsewhere — before receiving another chance at MLB action.
Meanwhile, the Orioles will take another look at Clevenger, 29, who has put up excellent numbers at Triple-A this year (.352/.413/.451, 11 walks vs. 10 strikeouts). He offers a left-handed bat to pair with current starter Caleb Joseph as the club awaits Matt Wieters‘ return from injury.
With two years and 58 days of MLB service entering the year, Clevenger would reach a third year of service (and arbitration eligibility) if he stays in the bigs the rest of the way, but another demotion could well leave him shy of the mark. So long as he sticks on the big league roster for 86 days, the minimum required for Super Two status, he’ll likely be arb-eligible next year.
Rays first baseman James Loney is headed to the DL for the next four to six weeks with a broken finger, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. While the 31-year-old has not exactly been tearing things up at the plate, he is a particularly difficult player for Tampa Bay to replace. As Topkin explains, the club’s 40-man roster does not admit of any ready options at Triple-A. That could lead the Rays to look outside the organization, he suggests, with players in DFA limbo (Casey McGehee, Travis Ishikawa), on the open market (Kila Ka’aihue), or possibly available via trade (Garrett Jones) seeming like potential options. Both McGehee and Ishikawa will, presumably, ultimately be exposed to waivers, though both come with significant salary commitments ($4.8MM and $1.1MM, respectively). The Giants could be motivated to strike a deal involving one of those players if Tampa is willing to take on some cash.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Blue Jays star Jose Bautista is still struggling to deal with painful shoulder inflammation, as Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes. Bautista says he appreciates the difficulties in lineup construction that the injury has caused, but made clear that he is doing all he can by taking on DH duties. The team’s upcoming interleague stretch and Bautista’s own pain levels were factors in the decision to treat him with a cortisone shot, per the report. It’s an interesting piece that delves into many of the day-to-day matters that have a significant impact on a player over the course of a season, but which often go underappreciated.
- Struggling badly hitting from the right side, Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval is seriously considering facing opposing southpaws from the left side of the box, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. “There’s conversation at various points about that. He’s even initiated it at times,” said manager John Farrell. “But until that change is made, that’s something that certainly will include him in that process.” Certainly, it’s interesting to see player and club contemplating such a move just a few months into a five-year, $95MM contract.
- Joe Kelly and the rest of the Red Sox rotation have all been consistently inconsistent, as Britton writes. The up-and-down performances across the staff have put the club in a tough position, making it difficult to pull the trigger on a move to try another option. “There’s no decision here in this moment,” Farrell said of Kelly’s rotation status. “He’s shown us the ability to go out and work deep in a ballgame. There’s no denying the stuff. It’s a matter of consistent location with his fastball.”
- Top Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy has been scratched from his start today after experiencing stiffness in his right shoulder, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports. While it’s far from clear that there is cause for alarm — the team says it hopes Bundy is simply suffering from tendinitis — Bundy has already been forced to rehab back from Tommy John surgery. Another highly-rated young arm, Hunter Harvey, has dealt with more obviously concerning injury issues. The club’s future hinges in no small part on the health and development of those two players, along with the equally-hyped Kevin Gausman.
Though the Rays are just 24-21 for the season and 5-5 over their last 10 games, they’ve vaulted into first place in the AL East as the division’s only winning team. The Yankees have lost 10 of their last 11 games to drop to an even 22-22 while the Red Sox (21-23), Orioles (19-22) and Blue Jays (20-26) are just struggling to get back to the .500 mark. Here’s the latest from the struggling division…
- Orioles reliever Brian Matusz was ejected from Saturday’s game with the Marlins for having a foreign substance on his arm, and now the southpaw has been suspended for eight games, Major League Baseball announced today. Matusz is appealing the suspension. As Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun notes, the suspension comes at an inopportune time for the O’s, as their pitching depth will already be tested due to a stretch of 14 games in 13 days (thanks to a double-header). Left-handed batters have only hit .185/.214/.296 this season against Matusz, who has a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings. The eight games matches the length of the suspension handed out to Brewers lefty Will Smith for a similar offense last week.
- Masahiro Tanaka told reporters (including Dan Martin of the New York Post) that he is “not gonna make a change” to his pitching style in the wake of forearm and wrist injuries, but admits that he is “going to have to oversee my body a little bit better.” Tanaka’s health has been of great concern since it was revealed that he had a partially-torn UCL last summer, and despite a couple of DL stints since, the Yankees still hope their ace can avoid a longer-term stay on the injured reserve. Tanaka will make his second minor league rehab start on Wednesday.
- J.P. Arencibia is trying to stay optimistic as the catcher continues his pro career for the Rays‘ Triple-A team, he tells Sportsnet’s Greg Mercer. Arencibia goes into detail about how he felt he didn’t deal with the pressure of being an everyday player with the Blue Jays, and also about his surprise at being released by the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate earlier this season.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.
- The Nationals have released first baseman Kila Ka’aihue, according to the International League transactions page. The former Royal and Athletic was hitting .194/.314/.328 with Triple-A Syracuse after playing in Japan in 2014 and part of 2013. Ka’aihue has hit .221/.305/.382 in parts of four big-league seasons, the last of which came last year.
- The Orioles have announced that they’ve selected the contract of righty Chaz Roe and optioned lefty T.J. McFarland to Triple-A Norfolk. To clear space for Roe on their 40-man roster, they moved lefty Wesley Wright to the 60-day DL. The Orioles played 13 innings against the Marlins yesterday, so Roe gave them a fresh arm. He pitched two scoreless innings today. The 28-year-old had a 2.19 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 24 2/3 innings for Norfolk.
- The Red Sox have placed Shane Victorino on the 15-day DL with a calf strain and selected the contract of utilityman Jeff Bianchi. Bianchi played parts of three seasons with the Brewers from 2012 through 2014, playing second, third, shortstop and both outfield corners. He had been hitting .302/.373/.340 in 61 plate appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket.
The Orioles have agreed to a deal with Cuban lefty Ariel Miranda, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. It will be a minor-league contract, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (also on Twitter). The deal will is contingent upon a physical.
The 25-year-old Miranda pitched for seven seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, most recently posting a 3.24 ERA, 9.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 13 starts with Mayabeque and Isla de la Juventud in 2013. Due to Miranda’s age and experience, his signing will not be subject to rules regarding international bonus pools. He is listed at 6-foot-3 and 168 pounds. Beyond that, there isn’t much information available in English about Miranda, although Sanchez listed him as a free agent to watch in February. Miranda had reportedly established residency in Haiti and was training in the Dominican Republic, according to Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald. Ebro also notes that Miranda is represented by Praver Shapiro.
The Phillies have indeed been talking about a deal involving outfielder Ben Revere with the Angels, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. With Philadelphia moving Cody Asche to a corner role and presumably prepared to give Domonic Brown another shot at the big league level, Revere figures to find himself without a role. Revere is earning a relatively steep $4.1MM salary in 2014 and will be eligible to be tendered arbitration contracts each of the next two seasons.
A bit more from the NL East…
- Commissioner Rob Manfred left little doubt where he stands on the still-pending legal dispute between the Nationals and Orioles regarding television fees, as Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal reports (Twitter links). “Sooner or later MASN is going to be required to pay those rights fees,” said Manfred of the increased payouts awarded to the Nationals by the league’s Revenue Sharing Decisions Committee. Technically, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is the plaintiff in the lawsuit; it is jointly owned by both clubs but controlled by Baltimore, which holds a majority share. That validity of that panel’s decision is the immediate matter at issue in the suit.
- Danny Espinosa has been a pleasant surprise for the Nationals, but his turnaround is due more to a lack of trying too hard than to any intentional adjustments, as James Wagner of the Washington Post writes. While Espinosa spent the spring hitting exclusively from the right side of the plate, he returned to a switch-hitting approach during the season and has suddenly thrived from the left side. The 28-year-old middle infielder is playing on a $1.8MM contract this year, and can be controlled for two more years via arbitration. Washington gained an extra season of arb control when it demoted him early in 2013. Espinosa has long been talked about as a trade candidate, but with Anthony Rendon injured and Ian Desmond struggling in his final contract year, that increasingly seems unlikely — despite the fact that Espinosa’s value is higher now than it has been in some time.
Longtime MLB veteran Bruce Chen joins the show to talk about his decision to bring an end to a distinguished career after throwing more than 1,500 big league innings over 17 seasons. Though he ended his career with the Indians, Chen saw action with eleven big league teams — most prominently, the Royals, Orioles, and Braves. The consummate crafty lefty, Chen has a fascinating story both personally and as a ballplayer.
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