Baltimore Orioles Rumors
Orioles pitcher Zach Clark was recently outrighted to Double-A Bowie. While he's there, he'll "experiment" with the knuckleball, the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly notes. He'll work with Hall of Famer Phil Niekro on Thursday. Clark joins Zach Staniewicz and Eddie Gamboa as knuckleball pitchers in the Orioles system. Here are more notes from the American League.
- As of Wednesday, Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. will have been in the minor leagues for 20 days this season, which ensures that he will not become a free agent after 2018, Alex Speier of WEEI.com notes. Bradley broke camp with the Red Sox, but they optioned him to Triple-A Pawtucket April 18 after a 3-for-31 start to his big-league career. Bradley is currently hitting .303/.400/.349 in Triple-A, but he's currently on the minor-league disabled list with biceps tendinitis.
- The Yankees have around $80MM worth of players rehabbing at their minor-league complex in Tampa, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News reports. Alex Rodriguez ($28MM), Mark Teixeira ($22.5MM), Curtis Granderson ($15MM) and Kevin Youkilis ($12MM) are all rehabbing, along with Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda. (Derek Jeter, who is still in a walking boot, is not.) "We've got a team here," says Cervelli. "I could be the catcher."
- After signing a non-guaranteed deal with the Mariners this offseason, Jason Bay is embracing his role as a complementary player, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. While other clubs offered him more playing time, the veteran came to find that he enjoyed the challenge of earning his place on the team.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The 27-year-old Taiwanese import signed a three-year, $11.388MM contract with the Orioles prior to the 2012 campaign and played an integral part in the team's surprising playoff berth. Chen made 32 starts and racked up 192 2/3 innings, averaging 5.5 strikeouts and 3.0 walks per nine innings pitched, which was good enough to earn him a fourth-place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Chen isn't the only young pitcher that Boras has added to his clientele this year. Back in February, Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez hired Boras as well. For information on more than 1700 players, check out MLBTR's Agency Database.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that it would be a shame if David Ortiz can't stay healthy given his level of production so far this year. Even as he seems locked in at the plate, he's not in perfect health. “I’m seeing the ball and hitting the ball good,” the 37-year-old said. “I just keep going out there, seeing and hitting the ball. I’m keeping it simple right now. I’m not trying to do too much and the hits are falling. And some hits get taken away. I’m still not 100 percent down there [pointing to his legs].” Here's more from today's column..
- Right-hander Jake Peavy is on the disabled list again, but he’s going to be very much in demand before the trading deadline if the White Sox start selling off. “He’s a great fit for a team like [the Orioles],” said one National League GM. “They’re looking to add that veteran, battle-tested pitcher to really finish off their staff and that Peavy type would be ideal.” The only problem is that the money might deter them. Cliff Lee of the Phillies would also be an ideal guy, but he too is pricey.
- Teams are still monitoring Javier Vazquez's recovery from knee surgery because he could be talked into pitching again and could be a solid mid-rotation starter. Vazquez was in winter ball and wanted to come back to the majors, but the knee issue seemed to put that to rest. For the right contract, however, he can have a change of heart.
- Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire doesn’t have a contract for next year, but he is earning one with Minnesota’s better-than-expected start. With the pitching staff performing well and the lineup exceeding expectations, don’t be surprised if he gets a mid-season extension.
- Hanley Ramirez is signed through 2014, so the Dodgers may eventually move Dee Gordon to second base, unless they feel they can sign Robinson Cano as a free agent after the season. The Dodgers are unlikely to pick up their $5.75MM option on Mark Ellis.
The Orioles designated pitcher Zach Clark for assignment today to make room for Freddy Garcia, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (on Twitter). The 29-year-old Clark made just one appearance for the O's this year, his first in the big leagues, allowing three earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings of work.
The club also outrighted catcher Luis Exposito to its Triple-A affiliate after the catcher cleared waivers, Kubatko further tweeted. Exposito was designated for assignment after the club acquired Chris Snyder to replace the injured Taylor Teagarden.
Let's start the weekend up with a poll. As MLBTR's Steve Adams noted recently, two young stars (Adam Jones and Miguel Montero) signed significant extensions during May of 2012. While there have not been significant rumblings about any similar deals recently, the Jones and Montero deals both sprung up with relatively little advance buzz: Jones said he was not aware of any talks with the Orioles just a month before his six-year, $85.5MM deal was inked. And the build up to Montero's five-year, $60MM extension consisted largely of the Diamondbacks' acknowledgement that the team was open to in-season negotiations.
Jones had one year of arbitration eligibility remaining when he signed, while Montero would have become a free agent at the end of the year. Both were relatively young (26 and 28, respectively) and fairly well established as above-average players at premium defensive positions. And each had been with their teams for all or virtually all of their big league careers.
With those deals in mind, let's take a look at some generally comparable position players who could be positioned for similar deals. We will not include Robinson Cano, as he is at a different level of performance and contract extension, along with being somewhat older. Anyhow, we already asked MLBTR readers what they think about the likelihood of a Cano extension. Likewise, we'll leave out Chase Headley, given his recent comments. (Also, MLBTR readers just weighed in on a possible Headley extension, with the majority believing a trade was more likely than an extension.)
The Nationals' Ian Desmond, 27, has continued to build off of his emergence last year. He sports a .296/.311/.530 line, although he has also registered seven early errors. The shortstop has spent his entire career in the former-Expos organization, and is poised to hit the open market in 2016. We know the Nats are open to negotiating an extension with Desmond, and the Elvis Andrus signing provides a relevant (albeit imperfect) point of reference.
Orioles' catcher Matt Wieters is another obvious candidate. He will turn 27 later this month, and is looking at free agency in 2016. Ongoing negotiations between Wieters and the O's are seemingly at a simmer, but could pick up at any time. While Wieters is off to a bit of a slow start, slashing just .224/.297/.388 to date, he also probably had less to prove this season than Desmond.
Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox, 29, is similarly situated to Montero. He has played his entire career in Boston, but is set to become a free agent after the season. While the center fielder has not returned to his MVP-level 2011 season, when he exploded for 32 home runs, he has bounced back from his injury-shortened 2012. Thus far, his batting line (.286/.338/.405) and league-leading steal totals (11) are right in line with his strong 2008-2009 seasons. While both player and team appear interested in discussing an extension, Ellsbury's representation by Scott Boras -- and the possibility that he could significantly raise his value with an injury-free 2013 -- could make a deal unlikely.
Jason Heyward of the Braves is two years from free agency at just 23 years old, but as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes notes, the cost-conscious Braves could look to extend him. Heyward is currently on the DL after undergoing an appendectomy, and has had a poor start to the year. Nevertheless, he has established himself as few big leaguers have at his age.
Austin Jackson, the Tigers' center fielder, is a young 26 and still two years from free agency. He is also a client of Scott Boras. But his strong early track record could make him a target for Detroit to try and lock up early. With so many big-money free agent deals on the books, it could make sense for the Tigers to try and save on Jackson by guaranteeing him money in advance. Jackson is off to another good start, putting up a .293/.356/.407 line to go with five steals.
After receiving his work visa, former star closer Francisco Rodriguez is set to begin his comeback with the Brewers, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports. Rodriguez had been working out in extended spring training while waiting for the visa. The Brewers signed Rodriguez to a minor-league deal in mid-April. They have until May 17 to decide whether to promote him or allow him to become a free agent. Rodriguez appeared in 78 games for the Brewers in 2012. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- If the struggling Phillies don't move up in the standings, they could be very active on the trade market in July, MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince writes. Chase Utley, Michael Young and Delmon Young are all free agents after the season, Castrovince notes, and there's also the possibility the Phillies could begin trade talks involving Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins or Jonathan Papelbon. If the Phillies begin trading stars, Castrovince says, it's unlikely manager Charlie Manuel will return next season. "I don't envy any GM, especially on a big-market team, because you have to compete and you have to attract those big names or not let them leave," says Cole Hamels. "When you're not winning, you're always going to chase it until you win again and can breathe a little bit."
- Lee, in particular, could be on the move if the Phillies falter, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. Martino quotes an executive from another team who says, "If they're not in it, you think [Ruben Amaro Jr.] won't move Lee again?" Martino notes that Lee's contract (the Phillies owe him a minimum of $62.5MM after 2013) could make a trade tricky, however.
- The Orioles could designate utilityman Yamaico Navarro for assignment when Freddy Garcia is added to the roster Saturday, CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff speculates (on Twitter). Other possibilities for opening a roster spot involve sending Taylor Teagarden or Brian Roberts to the 60-day DL. Navarro is hitting .276/.359/.434 for Triple-A Norfolk.
The Prospect Rumor Roundup returns for a second week with a look back at the biggest trade of the offseason...
With Toronto almost 10 games out of first place at the beginning of May, and with the bandwagon already set ablaze by fickle fans, it's safe to say that this is not the type of start to the year that the Blue Jays front office was expecting. The organization orchestrated two key trades during the 2012-13 offseason, which brought a number of high-profile veterans north of the border, including R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio. A month into the season, those five players have accumulated a combined 0.3 fWAR (Wins Above Replacement).
With arguably a top five minor league system prior to the deals, Toronto mortgaged a good deal of its future for a chance to win now. While the veterans are struggling, the majority of the prospects -- no longer under the Jays' control -- are thriving in their new digs.
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud reportedly came close to winning a big league roster spot out of spring training with the Mets. He was assigned to Triple-A where six of his nine hits went for extra bases. He also added 12 walks before going down with a broken foot. He'll miss about eight weeks, but veteran catcher John Buck is holding down the fort in the Majors. D'Arnaud was added to the 40-man roster in November 2011 and is currently in his second of three option years, so he'll have to establish himself in the Majors by the end of the 2014 season to avoid being sent through waivers to be demoted to the minors.
One of three top young arms in Toronto's system prior to being dealt to the Mets, Noah Syndergaard has a 3.24 ERA in five High-A ball starts. He's been even better than it appears, though, as he allowed seven of his nine earned runs on the year in just one start. Jonathan Raymond of MiLB.com recently spoke to the prospect's A-ball pitching coach to learn more about his approach. The Texas native is eligible for the Rule 5 draft in 2014 so he'll have to be added to the 40-man roster after next season to avoid being snatched away from the Mets.
Outfielder Wuilmer Becerra suffered a scary injury last year in rookie ball when he was hit in the face during an at-bat, ending his season after just 11 games. The 18-year-old was originally signed out of Venezuela for $1.3MM and was considered one of the top Latin amateur free agents in 2011. He's currently playing in extended spring training and should be assigned to a short-season club in June.
Adeiny Hechavarria was signed out of Cuba by the Jays and has taken over the starting shortstop gig in Miami, although he's currently on the disabled list. His offense hasn't kicked in yet but he's playing steady ball in the field and is known for being a plus defender capable of providing a ton of value with his glove alone. Hechavarria's traditional three option years expired at the end of 2012 but he was granted a rare fourth option year for the 2013 season, so he can be sent down to the minors this year -- if need be -- without being exposed to waivers.
Like Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino was a member of Toronto's top pitching trio. The Florida native has enjoyed his time in the Miami Marlins organization despite an inconsistent year to date and has a 3.60 ERA in five starts in the High-A Florida State League. Nicolino's adjustment to his hometown organization was recently outlined by Guy Curtright at MiLB.com. He doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2014 season. I recently spoke with Marlins Director of Player Development Brian Chattin, who said the organization was happy with all the players they acquired. "Nicolino has shown an above-average changeup and a mature approach to his development," he added.
An injury to outfielder Jake Marisnick kept him on the sidelines until this past weekend. After spending 55 games at the Double-A level in 2013, he got his feet wet back in High-A ball before moving back to Double-A. He has plus defensive skills but a front office contact within the Jays organization told me during the offseason -- shortly before the big trade -- that he's still getting used to some adjustments made to his batting stance and swing mechanics. Chattin told MLBTR, "[Jake has] excellent makeup, he's a well-above-average athlete, impressive defender in center field and has the tools to be an impact major leaguer." Marisnick will have to be added to the 40-man roster this coming November to shield him from the Rule 5 draft.
The lesser known name of the group of prospects sent to Miami, Anthony DeSclafani arguably has had the most success of the four players. The University of Florida alum has a 0.44 ERA with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 20.2 innings pitched. A reliever with inconsistent results in college, the organization is trying to stretch him out as a starter in pro ball. "Anthony has thrown strikes and lived at the bottom of the zone in each of his starts," Chattin told MLBTR. "We are allowing him to use his curveball in addition to his slider/fastball/changeup combination. He has confidence in his curveball and is using it well as a complement to the rest of his arsenal." Like Nicolino, DeSclafani has to be added to the 40-man roster after the 2014 season.
Prospect Tidbits: With the recent success of 2012 National League Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey, the knuckleball is enjoying renewed popularity. Orioles minor leaguer Eddie Gamboa is attempting to become the next successful big league knuckleballer. Benjamin Hill of MLB.com explained that the pitching prospect received some guidance from Hall of Famer Phil Niekro during spring training. Gamboa said that he's currently throwing his new pitch about 50 percent of the time in game situations, much to his surprise. Said Gamboa:
"I always put up okay numbers, enough to keep getting a job again but not enough to get a promotion... My game was stuck... The knuckleball was always something that I had practiced just in case, but I didn't think that just in case was going to be this year."
A talented two-way player in high school, Stetson Allie signed with the Pirates for a $2.25MM bonus in 2010 and began his career on the mound. When he was unable to harness his control (29 walks in 26 innings in 2011), the organization took a huge gamble by shifting the strong-armed prospect to first base. It took a year of struggling to find his footing but Allie is finally tapping into his plus raw power and has eight home runs in 24 A-ball games. Mike Newman of FanGraphs.com recently watched the Pirates prospect play and he also spoke with Allie, as well as Pittsburgh's assistant general manager Kyle Stark.
The Orioles have designated catcher Luis Exposito for assignment in order to make room on their 40-man roster for catcher Chris Snyder, MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli reports. The Orioles acquired Snyder from the Angels on Sunday, and it appeared likely that Snyder, rather than Exposito, would be the backup to Matt Wieters while Taylor Teagarden was out with a thumb injury.
Exposito, 26, made his big-league debut with the Orioles in 2012, playing in nine games. He hit .218/.259/.273 for Triple-A Norfolk this year, after hitting .268/.326/.420 there in 2012.
Right-hander Freddy Garcia has informed the Orioles that he will remain with the organization through May 14, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). The 36-year-old right-hander had a clause in his minor league contract that would have allowed him to opt out following his most recent start.
Garcia has been sharp through five starts for Triple-A Norfolk this season, pitching to a 2.67 ERA with 21 strikeouts against two walks through 33 2/3 innings. He has 344 Major League starts to his credit, totaling a 4.15 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. Garcia was a candidate to make a spot start for the Orioles last week, but that opportunity was given to Josh Stinson, who struggled mightily against the Blue Jays.
Prior to the season, Buck Showalter said the team planned to give Garcia five or six minor league starts before deciding how to use him. Presumably, if Garcia were to opt out of his deal on the new date, he'd draw interest from other teams given his experience and strong 2013 results.
In a poll of over 13,000 MLBTR readers, 9.72% ranked the Rays' Andrew Friedman as the best GM in baseball (technically his title is executive vice president of baseball operations). Friedman ranked behind only the Athletics' Billy Beane, who received 13.65% of the vote. Other notes from all five AL East clubs:
- Aside from the obvious factor of money, a chance to win is what compelled free agents to sign with the Red Sox during the offseason, writes WEEI's Rob Bradford. Left fielder/designated hitter Jonny Gomes relished the fact that the team's core players had something to prove, saying, "The opportunity to play in Boston with these guys having a chip on their shoulder was what I signed up for." At 18-7, the Red Sox have the best record in baseball with about 85% of their season remaining.
- The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are 9.5 games behind the Red Sox with a 9-17 record. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs finds it unlikely the Jays will be one of the expected handful of clubs to play around .600 ball from here on out, which is what they'd reasonably need to do for a shot at a wild card. Furthermore, Cameron notes, "The mid-season trade deadline gives teams with slow starts less time to fully realize their natural regression, since they have to make a buy-or-sell decision when April represents 25-30% of their season, not 16% as it will at season’s end."
- "I'm not sure if the Rays feel like he's polished enough to join the club just yet," writes MLB.com's Bill Chastain in reference to top prospect Wil Myers, while noting the right fielder's solid .309/.402/.457 line in 97 Triple-A plate appearances to date.
- Veteran righty Freddy Garcia has been named the International League pitcher of the week, notes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Having made five starts, Garcia now has the ability to opt out of his minor league contract with the Orioles. Rather than Garcia, 25-year-old Zach Britton is getting tonight's start in Seattle.
- "Plans are in the works" for Hideki Matsui to sign a one-day contract to ceremoniously retire a Yankee, writes George A. King III of the New York Post. Matsui spent his first seven MLB seasons with the Yankees, compiling a .292/.370/.482 batting line with 140 home runs.
- 26-year-old Yankees righty Phil Hughes posted his third consecutive quality start yesterday against the Blue Jays. Hughes, who turns 27 in June, projects to be the youngest established free agent starter after this season. One alternative for teams that prefer young starting pitchers is South Korea's Suk-min Yoon, a Scott Boras client who was born a month after Hughes and will be eligible for free agency after the season.