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Baltimore Orioles Rumors
Here’s the latest from the league’s eastern divisions.
- Blue Jays infielder Maicer Izturis may miss the start of the season, reports Jim Hawkins for MLB.com. Izturis, who was competing for the open second base job, is sidelined with a pulled groin. The Jays also lost veteran infielder Ramon Santiago to a broken collarbone last weekend. The injuries have improved the outlook for prospect Devon Travis. He was acquired from the Tigers in exchange for outfielder Anthony Gose. Per manager John Gibbons, if Travis earns the job, he won’t be platooned.
- The Orioles may offer to return Rule 5 pick Logan Verrett to the Mets, speculates Joel Sherman of the New York Post. If they do, Verrett could be included in a trade package for lefty reliever Brian Matusz. The Orioles are shopping their excess pitching per Sherman, with Matusz appearing in the most rumors. Several clubs, including the Mets, are hunting for left-handed relief.
- Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown could open the season on the disabled list, writes Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly. Brown has dealt with Achilles tendonitis for the last couple weeks, and he will be rested for one week. Salisbury also notes that Ben Revere and Odubel Herrera are the only outfielders who are a lock to make the major league roster. Grady Sizemore, owed $2MM this season, has not been impressive this spring. Other options include Darin Ruf, Jeff Francoeur, Brian Bogusevic, Jordan Danks, and Russ Canzler.
- The Mets have optioned left-handed pitcher Steven Matz to minor league camp, writes Marc Carig of Newsday. Matz, along with Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, is on the cusp of a major league assignment. Presently, the Mets are expected to use Dillon Gee in place of Zack Wheeler. Should Gee falter, Matz is a candidate to fill his spot in the rotation. I also heard him discussed as a potential relief ace over the offseason.
Yesterday, we learned the Brewers had re-assigned reliever Jim Henderson to minor league camp. Milwaukee has rescinded the decision and will instead keep him in major league camp, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The move was made for a couple reasons. The Brewers will place him on the disabled list and can backdate the move. It also allows Henderson to maintain “continuity of treatment” with the major league strength and conditioning team. Though he remains in major league camp, he will only pitch in minor league games for the remainder of spring.
- The Mets didn’t discuss Zack Wheeler in trade scenarios this offseason because they believed any deal would be scuttled upon reviewing medicals, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Rival executives were left with an impression that Wheeler was part of a protected core. In actuality, a torn tendon, multiple MRIs, and a PRP injection led the Mets to believe a deal was out of reach. With this information in hand, it’s easy to understand why the club kept Dillon Gee on hand as a sixth starter.
- Angels pitcher Cory Rasmus will miss the next six to eight weeks with a core injury, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The injury, which has bothered him on and off for years, will require surgery. Rasmus was used as a swingman last season, pitching to a 2.57 ERA with 9.16 K/9 and 2.73 BB/9. He was expected to contribute to the bullpen.
- While tests have come back clean, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is expected to open the season on the disabled list, writes Mark Townsend of Yahoo.com. The club is eyeing a 10-month rehab program, which would have Wieters return to action in mid-April. Manager Buck Showalter says hitting negatively affects his rehab, so he won’t be used as a designated hitter while he recovers.
Yankees owner and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner covered a number of topics in a recent chat with Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Among other things, Steinbrenner credited the front office with having “better drafts of late,” naming prospects Greg Bird, Rob Refsnyder, and Aaron Judge as some of the players to show promise. He also addressed the team’s offseason spending, which — while still substantial — was not as extraordinary as it has been at times in the past. Steinbrenner noted that the team still put out a lot of money on the international market even as it missed on Yoan Moncada. He also gave some thoughts on the team’s future intentions in free agency: “I’m not saying we’ll never give another seven-year contract, but going in you know you’re probably only going to get three-four good years out of it. It remains my goal to get under that $189 million (luxury-tax threshold), but it’s not going to happen for at least two more years when these big contracts we have expire. But I’ve continued to say you shouldn’t need $200 million to win a championship.”
Here are some more links from the AL East:
- The Orioles continue to discuss contractual matters with starter Chris Tillman even after agreeing to an arbitration salary for 2015, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. President of baseball operations Dan Duquette said earlier this year that the sides have “mutual interest” in an extension. MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently examined his extension case.
- Meanwhile, Orioles lefty Brian Matusz has seen his name come up in trade rumors. After tossing four scoreless frames today, he acknowledged the chatter, as MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli reports. Matusz is still hoping to line up a starting role, but says he is most focused on providing value in any capacity. “I mean, it’s no secret. I’m well aware of talks and things going on,” said Matusz regarding the possibility of a deal. “But for me all I can control is what I can control. To be able to go out and pitch and get extended and throw all four pitches and mix. Be able to pitch my game is really what it’s all about.”
- Young lefty Daniel Norris seems to have all but established himself as the Blue Jays‘ fifth starter, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports. While veteran Marco Estrada is still considered part of the competition, Kennedy says that it would take a major change to move Norris out of the role now. Both Norris and fellow youngster Aaron Sanchez would stand to put themselves on track to hit arbitration eligibility in 2018 before qualifying for free agency in the 2021 season, if they can hold onto their big league roster spots for all or most of 2015. (Norris 29 days of big league service at present, while Sanchez has 69 days.)
The Orioles got good news on Matt Wieters today, whose elbow X-ray came back clean, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. While his new UCL will obviously handled with care, that is good news for the top catcher in next year’s free agent class.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo still hopes to be able to get enough work in this spring to be ready to make the Opening Day roster, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports. But with the time he has lost to an oblique strain, the outstanding play of Mookie Betts, and the team’s otherwise less flexible group of plausible big league outfielders, it seems that a stint at Triple-A is certainly possible — in spite of his huge salary. Castillo says he “wouldn’t feel bad about that at all if that’s the decision that’s made.” As Lauber notes, Boston’s outfield situation remains a fascinating story line as the season fast approaches.
- Another interesting situation to watch — the Blue Jays staff makeup — is gaining some clarity, as Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports. Aaron Sanchez is highly likely to open in the rotation, according to manager John Gibbons, with Marco Estrada and Daniel Norris still in the mix for the last starting spot. Meanwhile, it appears that fellow youngster Miguel Castro is headed for a slot in the pen. Those much-hyped arms all saw their timelines accelerated when fellow young right-hander Marcus Stroman went down to an ACL tear; he had successful surgery today.
- Meanwhile, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said today on The Fan 590 that the club could still look around for another option at first, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The team currently appears set to utilize Justin Smoak and, potentially, Daric Barton at the position when Edwin Encarnacion is in the DH slot. Given Encarnacion’s back issues, that could be more often than not in the season’s early going. The team’s decisions regarding catcher Dioner Navarro could also factor into things, as he could potentially take a bench role if he is not dealt.
- Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said today that he is still not seeing progress on stadium talks, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Emphasizing that he sees a future for the organization in the greater Tampa area, Sternberg nevertheless expressed frustration with opposition that has been encountered from the St. Petersburg City Council regarding issues relating to the team’s quest to find a new park.
Sandy Alderson’s new biography (Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets, by Steve Kettmann) contains several interesting background tidbits about many of Alderson’s major transactions as the Mets general manager. ESPN’s Adam Rubin runs down some of the highlights, including some alternate trades for Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey, extension talks with Jose Reyes and even a flirtation with Robinson Cano last winter. The book also includes comments from Alderson about the Mets payroll situation, which led to Alderson clarifying his position last week. Here’s some more from the Amazins…
- Perhaps the most timely revelation from the book was that last August, Alderson told Kettmann that Terry Collins’ chances of returning as the Mets’ manager in 2015 stood at roughly 51 percent and “Frankly, for me, that percentage has been eroding.” Alderson was upset that the Mets’ patience at the plate seemed to be dropping, but a meeting with the club’s hitters apparently saved Collins from being fired. Collins is entering the last year of his contract and he’s been rumored to be on the hot seat unless the Mets take a step forward to contention.
- While Zack Wheeler was indeed pitching through pain last season, it was due to a torn tendon in his right elbow, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports. Nothing was thought to be wrong with Wheeler’s UCL until last week’s examination revealed that the right-hander had suffered a tear and would need to undergo Tommy John surgery.
- B.B. Abbott, Wheeler’s agent, told reporters (including Dan Martin of the New York Post) that he has “zero issues whatsoever with how the Mets handled Zack last year or in the offseason.“
- The Mets are only one of several teams interested in Orioles southpaw Brian Matusz, a scout tells Adam Rubin (Twitter link). As teams make roster cuts over the next two weeks, however, “there should be plenty of lefties that shake loose of lesser ilk.” Needless to say, these other left-handed relief options would presumably also come at a much lower price tag than Matusz’s $3.2MM salary.
- The scout also suggests that Marlins left-hander Andrew McKirahan is better than any of the Mets’ internal lefty relievers and would be a good addition to the team if Miami cuts him. McKirahan was selected by the Fish in last December’s Rule 5 draft and must spend the entire season on the Marlins’ 25-man roster or else be offered back to the Cubs.
Jacoby Ellsbury will be kept out of baseball activities for about a week after an MRI revealed a strained oblique, though Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters (including ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews) that the injury is “really mild.” Though the timing of the injury puts Ellsbury’s status for Opening Day in question, Girardi thinks Ellsbury will be able to play when the Yankees open the season on April 5. Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- The Rays are already facing injury issues within their starting rotation, and president of baseball ops Matt Silverman told reporters (including Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune) that the team will explore external options. “Those are conversations that will ramp up in the next couple of weeks as teams figure out what they have, what they need and where there may be some surplus,” Silverman said. If the Rays did acquire another starter, however, Silverman said that pitcher would likely go to Triple-A, as the team will be using its minor league depth to bolster the big league rotation.
- Nolan Reimold was offered minor league contracts by multiple teams but “there is no question [Baltimore] is where I wanted to end up,” he tells MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski. The long-time Oriole is back with his original team after spending 2014 in the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks organizations, and Reimold said that Orioles VP of baseball operations Brady Anderson played a key role in his decision to return to the O’s.
- Blue Jays righty Miguel Castro has looked so good in camp that, in the battle for an Opening Day bullpen role, “there’s not much doubt left that it’s Castro’s job to lose,” MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm writes. Part of this has to due with a lack of relief depth for the Jays, though the 20-year-old Castro has impressed, allowing only two hits in 6 2/3 shutout innings over four outings. Promoting Castro would be a bold move by Toronto, as Castro yet to pitch above the high-A ball level in his three pro seasons.
Here’s the latest from the American League East:
- The Red Sox risk losing a chance to acquire Cole Hamels of the Phillies by waiting to deal for him, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. While it is too early to judge the team’s current rotation, results — and, perhaps more importantly, reviews from rival scouts — have been less than promising.
- Meanwhile, the Red Sox are still “trying to find a trade partner” for first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig, per Cafardo. He notes that the club has assigned several “top pro scouts” to watch the Giants, Padres, and Cubs recently, though it is not entirely clear that all of those clubs could match up on Craig.
- Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will be shut down for about a week after experiencing tendinitis in his surgically-repaired right elbow after his first stint behind the dish, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. Manage Buck Showalter said that he does not see the news as a setback, and indicated that the move was made as an exercise of caution. Wieters’ ability to return to his usually sturdy work with the mask on is critical not only to the team’s hopes this year, but also to his free agent case after the season.
- Reliever Andrew Bailey made his return to competitive action today for the Yankees, with Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees Blog tweeting that Bailey’s fastball sat in the low 90s in his inning of work. Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka continued to show strong form this spring, as Jennings further reports. If both of those arms can prove healthy and effective, the club’s run prevention efforts will obviously receive a significant boost. While Tanaka pitched much of last season before being shut down with a partial UCL tear, Bailey has not thrown a big league pitch since 2013 and represents pure upside for New York.
Here’s the latest from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:
- The Orioles are open to trading Brian Matusz, but the Mets, who just lost fellow lefty Josh Edgin to injury, might not be interested. Rosenthal writes that Matusz’s $3.2MM salary and additional year of arbitration eligibility might be an issue to potential trade partners. That might say more about those teams’ situations than it says about Matusz, however — the Orioles are only on the hook for that money because they chose to tender Matusz this winter, then settled with him. And, of course, the team that controls Matusz would be able to non-tender him next offseason if it wanted. $3.2MM isn’t a bargain for Matusz, but it’s reasonable. Nonetheless, Rosenthal indicates that the Orioles are willing to include cash in a Matusz trade. Matusz has been a reliable member of the Orioles’ bullpen the last two seasons, posting a 3.48 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 51 2/3 innings in 2014.
- With Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez in the big leagues and Francisco Lindor and fellow shortstop Erik Gonzalez on the way, the Indians could soon have a wealth of middle-infield talent from which to trade, Rosenthal writes. They could, at some point, trade a young middle infielder (more likely Ramirez or Gonzalez than Kipnis or Lindor, presumably) for a young pitcher.
- White Sox pitcher Brad Penny nearly signed with the team last year, but chose the Marlins instead. This offseason, he picked Chicago because of a connection to White Sox assistant GM Buddy Bell that dates back to 1999, when Bell managed Penny in the Pan Am Games.
2:42pm: Matusz isn’t the only trade option on the Mets’ radar, tweets Newsday’s Marc Carig, but the team does think that Matusz is someone who could help them.
8:50am: With lefty Josh Edgin slated to miss the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery, the Mets have been scouting Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz, according to Dan Martin and Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The Mets have four internal options to replace Edgin in Scott Rice, Dario Alvarez, Jack Leathersich and Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin (selected from the Twins), but the team is “open to alternatives,” per the report. As the Post duo notes, none of the internal candidates have been particularly impressive thus far in Spring Training.
The 28-year-old Matusz has found a role as a lefty reliever with the Orioles after not panning out as a starter. Baltimore selected him fourth overall in the 2008 draft, but he’s posted a 5.51 ERA in 364 1/3 innings as a starter as opposed to a 3.26 mark out of the bullpen. Over the past two seasons, Matusz has been exceptional against 224 same-handed hitters, holding them to a .192/.251/.314 batting line.
Controllable through the 2016 season, Matusz is earning a not-insignificant $3.2MM after avoiding arbitration for the third time this winter. As a Super Two player, he is eligible for arbitration one more time before reaching free agency. Some have questioned exactly how much financial freedom GM Sandy Alderson truly has. If he is more limited than he has let on to the public, adding Matusz’s salary might be difficult without sending some salary back to the Orioles in the deal.
While some may speculate that Dillon Gee and his $5.3MM salary could be moved elsewhere, the Mets reportedly aren’t likely to trade him for a left-handed reliever, and Gee’s importance to the club has increased now that Zack Wheeler likely needs Tommy John surgery.
Whether or not the Orioles would even trade Matusz is, of course, unclear at this point. The team has a left-handed closer in Zach Britton and other internal lefty options on the 40-man roster, including Wesley Wright, T.J. McFarland and Tim Berry. However, Berry has no big league experience, while Wright and McFarland haven’t been as effective against lefties as Matusz over the past two seasons.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Orioles have released left-hander Mark Hendrickson, tweets MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. The veteran southpaw and former Oriole was in camp on a minor league deal with the hopes of making it back to the Majors for the first time since 2011. Now 40 years old, Hendrickson spent the 2009-11 seasons with Baltimore, working to a 4.80 ERA with 121 strikeouts against 59 walks in 191 1/3 innings of work. In parts of 10 big league seasons, the towering lefty has a 5.03 ERA with 5.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 1169 innings. Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun hears that the O’s may offer Hendrickson a different role within the organization if he elects to retire as a player (Twitter link). Manager Buck Showalter has previously expressed that he feels Hendrickson could make a good pitching coach, per Encina.