Baltimore Orioles Rumors
The 27-year-old Brach was somewhat surprisingly designated for assignment last week. Brach pitched to a 3.19 ERA in 31 innings for the Padres in 2013, striking out 31 batters in the process. Though he has swing-and-miss stuff, Brach's control has typically been problematic, and that was on display in 2013, as he walked 19 batters in those 31 frames. Still, Brach owns a career 3.70 ERA and 10.1 K/9 rate (117 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings), so if he can improve upon his career 5.1 BB/9 rate, there's hope that he can be an effective big league reliever.
Orioles executive vice president feels that Brach gives the team another option in the sixth or seveth inning and praised his fastball and forkball (MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko reporting on Twitter). Kubatko also notes that Brach has a minor league option remaining.
Jones, 23, struggled through 123 1/3 innings at Double-A Bowie in 2013, pitching to a 5.84 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. A former ninth-round pick by the Orioles, Jones entered the season ranked 18th among Orioles prospects, according to Baseball America. BA noted that the O's are hopeful that after working with Jones to add a changeup, he can develop into a No. 3 or 4 starter, but his stuff probably plays better in the bullpen. In a relief role, Jones' fastball touches 96 mph and works well with an 82-84 mph slider that he struggles to command but is an above-average pitch at times.
Teams have asked the Blue Jays about Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he hasn't "entertained the idea" of trading either player. Bautista hit .259/.358/.498 with 28 homers in 2013 and saw his season end early after being shut down due to a hip issue. Encarnacion had a solid campaign, posting a slash line of .272/.370/.534 with 36 home runs. Bautista is owed $14MM annually through 2015 with a club option for the same amount in 2016 while Encarnacion will make $19MM through '15 with a $10MM club option for '16. Here's more out of the AL East...
- The Yankees are refusing to punt and are living for today with their Brian McCann signing, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. McCann's lefty pull power should provide a huge boost in 2014 (and probably '15 and '16), but beyond that is a mystery.
- Within the same article, Sherman writes that the Yankees are now more upbeat about the chances of Hiroki Kuroda returning. There remains a chance that the veteran pitcher decides to play in Japan next season.
- The McCann agreement allows the Yankees to take their time developing Gary Sanchez, their top prospect per MLB.com, knowing McCann will eventually move to first base or they can use him as a trade chip, tweets the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand.
- Feinsand, in a second tweet, sees the backup job coming down to Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli with Chris Stewart being non-tendered. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz estimates the arbitration eligible Cervelli and Stewart will each earn $1MM.
- Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders how McCann's new $85MM deal with the Yankees affects the Orioles' Matt Wieters. Wieters’ offensive numbers aren’t as good, but he is is two years younger than McCann and Scott Boras will certainly dig up data to show that Wieters is deserving of more money.
- Meanwhile, Alex Speier of WEEI.com looks at what McCann's deal might mean for Red Sox free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty is now the best avaialble free agent catcher and his market should now start to take shape.
- A combination of familiarity and affordability led to Jose Molina returning to the Rays, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Financial terms of the yet-to-be-completed deal are not yet known, but Topkin writes that it's unlikely that he received more than the $3.3MM total he made the last two seasons.
- The Orioles won't re-sign Tsuyoshi Wada, according to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. The O's declined their club option on Wada earlier this month; but, at the time, the door was said to be open for a minor league deal in Baltimore.
- The Orioles need to be creative in wringing the most value out of Jim Johnson, writes the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina. Encina dangles the idea of moving Johnson, who MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects to receive $10.8MM in arbitration, into the rotation, but that begs the questions of whether starting is a good fit for the 30-year-old right-hander and who will step in as closer.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
It's a weak market for catchers now that the Yankees have taken Brian McCann off the board, an article by Bradley Woodrum of Fangraphs shows. While teams such as the Red Sox, Rockies and Rangers are still in the market for backstop help, the best remaining option, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, will bring a large platoon split to the lineup of whichever team signs him. Here's the latest from around the AL, as a busy evening on MLBTR draws to a close:
- The Royals have had no talks about Billy Butler with any team, a source tells Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
- In an article for the Detroit Free Press, John Lowe considers the impact of the Ian Kinsler deal on the Tigers' lineup. Much depends on whether the front office believes prospect Nick Castellanos is ready to hit in the big leagues, Lowe writes. If so, he could take the third base job, allowing Miguel Cabrera to slide back to first base.
- FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets that Kinsler's agent, Jay Franklin, says the Tigers are indicating they'll play Kinsler at second base. Given this and the team's other priorities, signing Robinson Cano is likely a long shot at this point, Rosenthal says (via Twitter).
- Mike Napoli says he "wouldn’t see why not" when asked about the possibility of returning to the Red Sox in 2014, Rob Bradford writes in an article for WEEI.com. A recent end-of-season MRI showed that the avascular necrosis in Napoli's hips isn't an issue at the time, according to the article.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com considers how the Yankees' signing of McCann could affect potential negotiations between the Orioles and Matt Wieters over an extension. The O's must try to figure out "to what extreme [Wieters agent Scott] Boras will attempt to trump the McCann deal," Kubatko says.
- The Orioles are among clubs with interest in Tomo Ohka, tweets NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman, citing a report from Sanspo. The 10-year big league veteran is trying to make it back to the majors as a knuckleballer.
- The Prince Fielder trade shows that the Rangers are getting creative in their offseason quest for bats, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes. Texas is hesitant to forfeit a first-round draft pick to sign a player such as Jacoby Ellsbury, as the team will already be limited on the international side of the amateur talent market after greatly exceeding their bonus pool this past summer.
- Shipping Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals sets the Angels up with an outfield of Mike Trout in center, Kole Calhoun in right and Josh Hamilton in left, Mike DiGiovanna says in an article on the trade for the Los Angeles Times. As DiGiovanna notes, the trade also reunites David Freese with Albert Pujols, his teammate in 2011 with the Cardinals.
- Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times wonders how the Angels will fit two starters into their offseason budget after acquiring Joe Smith, Freese and Fernando Salas (Twitter link).
We'll keep tabs on the day's minor moves here:
- The Royals announced a series of minor league signings, including for third baseman Brandon Laird, outfielder Paulo Orlando and right-hander Wilking Rodriguez. Laird, 26, is the younger brother of Gerald Laird and joins the Royals from the Astros, where he received major league playing time in 2013. Orlando, 28, is re-upping with the Royals after six seasons in the organization. The 23-year-old Rodriguez will transition to the Royals after seven seasons in the Rays' farm system. He has a career 3.90 ERA, mostly as a starter, but has never reached Double-A.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America has updates on a number of clubs' minor league signings. Among those with MLB experience (with links to Twitter): The Rockies will return Bobby Cassevah and Matt McBride, and have added righty Greg Burke. Headed to the Tigers is righty Jhan Marinez, while Gorkys Hernandez and Edinson Rincon will stick with the Royals organization. The Phillies have brought back shortstop Andres Blanco. And the Dodgers inked utility infielder Brendan Harris. Other clubs with new signings include the Orioles, Reds, Marlins, White Sox, and Athletics.
- The Cubs have signed outfielder Casper Wells, according to a tweet from Eddy. The team also added righties Paolo Espino and Carlos Pimentel, along with shortstop Jeudy Valdez. Wells got 102 plate appearances with three different clubs last year, posting a meager .126/.186/.147 line that is perhaps understandable given his constant movement and scant playing time. In 2012, over 316 plate appearances with the Mariners, Wells was good for a .228/.302/.396 slash.
- In addition to bringing back righty Benino Pruneda and catcher Jose Yepez on minor league deals, the Braves have added former Phillies backstop Steven Lerud, tweets Eddy. Lerud appeared in nine games for the Phils between 2012-13. At Triple-A last year, he had an interesting .217/.353/.311 line over 219 plate appearances, as he drew nearly as many walks (35) as he had hits (39).
- Cutting ties with a major international acquisition, the Nationals have released righty Yunesky Maya, Eddy tweets. Washington saw little return on its $6MM investment in Maya, who had been outrighted off of the club's major league roster early in the 2013 season. After struggling in two brief call-ups in 2011-12, Maya's last stint with the Nats was even more regrettable. In his only MLB appearance of the 2013 season, Maya retired one batter in the bottom of the tenth before surrendering a walk-off home run to Pablo Sandoval.
- The Cubs have released outfielder Dave Sappelt, tweets Eddy. As Eddy notes, Sappelt was one of the pieces -- along with lefty Travis Wood and second baseman Ronald Torreyes -- picked up by Chicago in the deal that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati. The 26-year-old Sappelt has a .251/.301/.343 slash line in 274 plate appearances spread over the 2011-13 seasons. He has spent most of his time in Triple-A over that time frame, and posted a sub-.700 OPS in each of his two years at Iowa.
Jhonny Peralta appears to be receiving a good amount of interest out of the AL East as the Orioles now have interest in him in addition to the Yankees, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The O's like Peralta as a left fielder whereas the Yankees, presumably, view Peralta as insurance at shortstop and third base.
Peralta won't come cheap - teams like the Mets expected the former Tigers veteran to command a two-year deal, but he's currently seeking a three-year, $45MM+ pact. It may seem like a lofty goal for a player who missed 50 games due to ties to the Biogenesis scandal last season, but because Peralta offers a solid bat at a typically light-hitting postiion, he came in at No. 21 on Tim's Top 50 Free Agents list for this winter. However, it remains to be seen if the O's value him enough at left field to outbid one of the several clubs interested in using him at his natural position.
Peralta slashed .303/.358/.457 with 11 homers in 448 plate appearances for the Tigers in 2013. He picked up some limited experience in left field in the final three games of the regular season and in the playoffs. The temporary move to the outfield was necessitated by the Tigers' acquisition of Jose Iglesias to fill the void at shortstop when Peralta was suspended.
Peralta wouldn't have to serve as a left fielder for the duration of his entire contract were he to theoretically sign with the O's; shortstop J.J. Hardy is a free agent after the 2014 campaign, so Baltimore could use Manny Machado at third or short and Peralta at the other position in 2015 and beyond.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Here are today's minor moves from around the league...
- The Yankees have outrighted infielder Corban Joseph, according to the International League transactions page. Joseph made his big-league debut in 2013, collecting seven plate appearances. He spent much of the season at Triple-A Scranton, where he hit .239/.329/.383 in 213 plate appearances.
- The Indians have signed lefty reliever Mike Zagurski to a minor league deal, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets. Zagurski pitched in the Pirates, Yankees and Athletics organizations in 2013, posting a 3.04 ERA with a ridiculous 14.0 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 53 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. He did, however, get shelled in 6 1/3 big-league innings.
- The Orioles signed infielder Sharlon Schoop and outfielder Ronald Bermudez to minor league contracts, according to a team release. Schoop last played in the minors in 2012, when he was in the Royals organization. He is the brother of Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop. Bermudez hit .261/.299/.329 in stints at Double-A and Triple-A in the Red Sox organization in 2013.
- Infielder Brandon Snyder has re-signed what appears to be a minor league deal with the Red Sox, the infielder tweeted himself the other night. Snyder collected 52 plate appearances with the Sox in 2013, hitting .180/.212/.360.
- The Rays announced yesterday that they have agreed to a minor league deal with right-hander Sam Runion. The 25-year-old Runion, a client of Dishman Sports Group, was the Royals' second-round pick in 2007. He has a career 3.41 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 at Double-A and reached Triple-A for the first time in 2013. Runion converted to a relief role full-time in 2010 and has enjoyed success since, yielding just eight homers and posting a 3.80 ERA in 170 1/3 frames.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed Yamaico Navarro to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training (Twitter link). The Wasserman Media Group client appeared in eight games for the Orioles last season and slashed .267/.354/.418 at Triple-A.
- The Nationals inked righty Daniel Stange to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter link). The 27-year-old posted a 4.52 ERA in 65 2/3 Triple-A innings with the Angels and also made it into three big league games for the Halos in 2013.
- The Dodgers announced that they've signed former No. 4 overall pick Daniel Moskos to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Now 27 years old, Moskos spent last season with the White Sox' Triple-A affiliate, pitching to a 4.97 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 15 walks in 29 innings of relief.
- The Dodgers also signed Clint Robinson to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reported earlier in the week. The 28-year-old first baseman split the 2013 campaign between the Blue Jays' Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, slashing .254/.353/.421 with 13 homers.
- The Mets announced that they have signed right-hander Miguel Socolovich to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training (Twitter link). The 27-year-old Venezuelan fired 11 1/3 one-run innings for NPB's Hiroshima Carp last season and owns a career 2.99 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 129 1/3 Triple-A innings. He has some brief Major League experience, having allowed 11 runs in 16 1/3 innings between the Cubs and Orioles in 2012.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
Curtis Granderson is "a serious part" of the Yankees' offseason plans, GM Brian Cashman told George A. King III of the New York Post. Cashman told King that the Yankees remain interested and don't consider Granderson to be a fallback option by any means. Signing Granderson would likely mean the team would look to move Ichiro Suzuki, King adds. Here's more on the American League East.
- The Red Sox and David Ortiz made an agreement at the time of his last signing that the two sides wouldn't negotiate an extension until the completion of his current deal, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets that the Red Sox consider Dioner Navarro to be a fallback option if the free agent market doesn't break their way, but not a primary target.
- The Yankees are a good fit for Omar Infante, opines MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (Twitter link). Tim wonders if the Yankees, who reportedly don't want to wait for Robinson Cano before pursuing other free agents, should just strike quickly and snatch Infante up.
- Matt Wieters and Chris Davis of the Orioles are both Scott Boras clients, and they're both two years away from free agency. That means the Orioles need to determine what they plan to do with each player, MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski writes. What to do with Davis might be particularly tricky, since his 2013 season was so dramatically different from his past performances.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (Twitter link) that the club still likes Bronson Arroyo, even after signing Tim Hudson. "Bronson Arroyo is not out of our picture," Evans said. The Giants made a two-year, $23MM commitment to Hudson yesterday. Here's tonight's look around the majors..
- Kelvin De La Cruz is out of options, so the Orioles must be planning on having him in their big league bullpen, tweets Tim Dierkes of MLBTR. The O's won't be able to remove him from the 40-man roster without him passing through waivers, and they signed him to a Major League deal despite his lack of MLB experience.
- In his latest mailbag, Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that while the Braves will certainly make every attempt to move Dan Uggla and a piece of the $26MM he is owed over the next two seasons, they understand it will not be easy. Teams that can't afford to sign top second baseman Robinson Cano can look into signing Omar Infante or trading for the likes of Ian Kinsler or Howie Kendrick.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News says that the Mets should be serious players for Cano. The Mets met with Cano's agents, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jay-Z, last night, but all indications are that they won't be in the mix for his services.
- Catcher Henry Blanco, 42, is looking to play one more season, Tim tweets. The veteran is likely to have a career in coaching once he's through playing. Blanco saw 50 games of big league action for the Blue Jays and Mariners last season.
The 27-year-old Escalona pitched to a 5.67 ERA with 6.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 39.9 percent ground-ball rate in 46 innings for the Rockies in 2013. The Venezuelan hurler hasn't had much big league success but has averaged 94.2 mph on his heater over the past two seasons.
It's worth pointing out that Escalona had pitched to a 3.38 ERA with a strong 27-to-7 K/BB ratio through his first 32 innings. On June 9, he allowed three runs in one-third of an inning and hit the disabled list with elbow inflammation. That injury likely contributed to the sky-high 10.93 ERA he posted over his next 14 frames before being designated for assignment.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette explained to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com that Escalona has been starting in the Venezuelan Winter League and has added a third pitch -- a split-fingered changeup -- that scouts have raved about. Kubatko quotes Duquette: "We feel like he's developing pitches that he needs to be successful in the big leagues. He's got a weapon for left-handed hitters now," (Twitter links).
Escalona has a 2.10 ERA with a 25-to-11 K/BB ratio in 34 1/3 innings in Venezuela this winter. He is the second bullpen piece that Duquette has signed to a Major League deal this week, as the team also picked up lefty Kelvin De La Cruz on Monday despite the fact that he has no Major League experience. With the Escalona signing, the O's now have 33 players on their 40-man roster.
After looking at the Red Sox earlier this evening, let's check out the rest of the American League East..
- General Manager Alex Anthopoulos says the Blue Jays haven’t had recent talks with Josh Johnson and gets the impression that he has better options elsewhere, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Earlier today it was reported that Johnson is down to three or four teams with the Pirates among the finalists and Tim Dierkes learned that all of those clubs are in the National League.
- Nick Markakis is among the Orioles in need of a better 2014 campaign, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Markakis was plagued with injuries in 2012 and struggled in 2013, even though he played a full season. If he's going to turn things around, 2014 - his walk year - might be the time to do it.
- Anthopoulos acknowledged that he had dialogue with Carlos Ruiz's agent and "liked the player" in an interview on Sportsnet 590, BN-S tweets. The Phillies re-signed Ruiz to a three-year, $26MM deal earlier this week.
- Yankees president Randy Levine denied conspiring with MLB to run Alex Rodriguez out of the game or to personally benefit financially if his 211-game suspension is upheld, a source familiar with his testimony told Wallace Matthews and Matt Ehalt of ESPNNewYork.com.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (video link) looks at Matt Wieters' future with the Orioles.