Baltimore Orioles Rumors
Kyle Lohse may not sign with a team until after the first-year player draft takes place in June, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. required). Where might Lohse sign? Bowden writes that the Rangers are the most likely destination if he signs before Opening Day, while the Brewers, Orioles, Angels, and Reds are also candidates. Here are more links from around MLB...
- Recently released infielder Bobby Crosby will look to continue his comeback with an MLB team, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. The Brewers released Crosby yesterday after determining that his chances of making the Opening Day roster were slim, but agent Paul Cohen said his client aims to continue playing.
- MLB owners are moving toward eliminating the pension plans of non-uniformed employees, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has opposed the idea, which will be put to the vote in May. Most owners now want to abolish the pension plan, Rubin reports. This would affect front office executives and scouts, among others.
- Miguel Tejada has already asked about managing the Dominican Republic team at the next World Baseball Classic in 2017, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. "We'll see," said Moises Alou, the general manager of the Dominican team. Tejada, a veteran of 15 MLB seasons, last played at the MLB level with the 2011 Giants.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
We'll track the latest minor moves here...
- Righty Dan Cortes has signed with the Diamondbacks, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports on Twitter. The one-time top-100 prospect last pitched in 2011 for the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate, tossing 39 innings and logging a 5.08 ERA, before he sat out the 2012 season.
- The Cardinals have released right-handed relief pitcher Adam Reifer after previously outrighting him off of the team's 40-man roster, Eddy further tweets. Reifer, 26, spent the last two seasons at Triple-A Memphis and last year posted a 4.90 ERA over 64 1/3 innings.
- The Red Sox acquired minor league first baseman Mike Flacco from the Orioles for cash considerations, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (on Twitter). The Orioles could get a player to be named instead of cash, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports (on Twitter). Flacco, the brother of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, spent the 2012 season at Class A and Double-A. The 26-year-old posted a .214/.284/.330 batting line with eight home runs in 396 total plate appearances last year. The Orioles originally selected him in the 31st round of the 2009 draft.
Some notes from baseball's East divisions...
- This is a "unique year" for five Red Sox who may become free agents after the season, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. As Joel Hanrahan, Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Mike Napoli look ahead to the prospect of facing the open market, they are adhering to the mantra that, as Ellsbury put it, "nothing changes." The Boston center-fielder explained: "Every year I've played for something. I've never had a guarantee. For me, it's the same as it has been the last three years, going through arbitration. For me, it doesn't change my approach. It doesn't change how I go about the game. It doesn't change my work ethic."
- Front office staff, like players, face immense pressure to perform. As reported by Michael Anft of PressBoxOnline.com, Orioles GM Dan Duquette has seen his share of success and failure over the years, and last year began to find redemption in Baltimore. "I learned a lot from the experience in Boston," said Duquette, including the need to be "more accessible" and to "have more fun with it."
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson told Mark Hale and Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post that he has interest in signing Ike Davis to an extension that would cover the first baseman's three arbitration seasons. Alderson said that he would "keep an eye on" that possibility, though he noted that it "has to work for both sides." Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com opines that Billy Butler's extension with the Royals could be a good comp.
Here are today's minor transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the page...
- The Phillies re-signed infielder Andres Blanco to a minor league contract, Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports. The club released Blanco a few weeks ago. Blanco last played in the majors in 2011 and he has a career .634 OPS in 654 PA over six seasons with the Rangers, Cubs and Royals. He spent last year with the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate.
- The Mets recently released and quickly re-signed right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, Eddy reports. The move was just "procedural," according to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin (via Twitter), as the Mets needed to "correct something in [Hawkins'] contract." Hawkins, 40, signed his original minor league deal with the Mets in January.
- The Athletics signed middle infielder Antonio Lamas to a minor league deal, Eddy reports. John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reported the A's were close to signing Lamas last month. Lamas, 23, has a .307/.350/.437 line over 1504 PA for Monclova of the Mexican League since 2008. He was primarily used as a shortstop but he played 100 games at second base in 2012.
- The Orioles signed left-hander Clayton Tanner to a minor league deal, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Tanner, a third-round pick of the Giants in the 2006 draft, has a career 3.85 ERA, 2.11 K/BB and 6.6 K/9 in 182 games (123 starts) over seven seasons in the Giants' and Reds' minor league systems. O's executive VP Dan Duquette tells Kubatko that the team scouted Tanner when he pitched for Australia during the World Baseball Classic.
- The Twins have signed first baseman/outfielder Curt Smith to a minor league deal, Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens tells Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (Twitter links). Smith has a 1.008 OPS in 24 ABs for the Netherlands in WBC play, helping lead the Dutch to the tournament semi-finals. Smith was originally a 39th-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2008 and he has a .301/.341/.461 line in 1703 career minor league PA in the Cards' and Marlins' systems.
Jack Zduriencik is still the right person to serve as the Mariners' GM, Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times contends. Brewer points to a strong farm system (which includes the likes of Taijuan Walker, Mike Zunino, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton) as evidence that Zduriencik's plan is working. The Mariners have only had one winning season since Zduriencik was hired, however. "I can't say that I'm happy, can't say that I'm satisfied at all," Zduriencik said. "Because, at the end, it's about the finished product at the big-league level and all of these kids becoming what you want them to become." The M's finished 75-87 in 2012. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- The Red Sox clubhouse feels "eleventy-billion times better" than it did in 2012, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald. The team's decision to replace Bobby Valentine with John Farrell is part of that, Tomase argues, but so is the fact that new additions Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Joel Hanrahan, David Ross, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew weren't around during the Red Sox's ugly 2012 season.
- Napoli will be an impact hitter for the Red Sox in 2013 because he will no longer catch, Michael Silverman argues, also in the Boston Herald. "Now there’s more of a flow to everything," Napoli says. "It’s a tough position — catching and good-hitting catchers are tough to find. It’s just a grind — a grind that I do miss, but I don’t miss." Napoli caught in 72 games for the Rangers last year, but the Red Sox signed him to an incentive-laden one-year deal for 2013 with the plan that he would play first base, where, Silverman writes, he has looked "nimble and sure-handed" this spring.
- The Dodgers "do not appear close" to trading one of their starting pitchers, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Since the Dodgers cannot ship Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano or Ted Lilly to the minors without those players' consent, teams may simply wait for the Dodgers, who don't have roster space for all their starting pitching, to become more desperate. The Orioles, Brewers and Pirates "have expressed interest" in the Dodgers' surplus arms, Shaikin notes, but the Rangers are not a likely trade partner.
GM Brian Cashman explains how the Yankees nearly traded Mariano Rivera for shortstop Felix Fermin in spring of 1996, as noted by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. To describe the deal as "franchise-altering" would be an enormous understatement, since it would have affected not only Rivera but also then-rookie Derek Jeter.
Cashman, then an assistant GM, says that then-owner George Steinbrenner was concerned about entrusting Jeter with the starting shortstop job, and "it was a fight to convince The Boss to stand down" and avoid trading Rivera or Bob Wickman to the Mariners for Fermin. "And it wasn't because we knew what we had in Mo or Wickman," Cashman says. "It was, we had committed to go with young Jeter, and thankfully we didn't do that deal." As it turned out, Jeter won the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year award, Rivera finished third in Cy Young balloting, and the Yankees won their first World Series title since 1978. The Mariners, meanwhile, released Fermin in April, and he only ended up posting 19 more plate appearances in the majors. Here are more notes from throughout baseball.
- David Robertson tops the list of potential Yankees closer candidates once Rivera retires at the end of the season, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports. Joba Chamberlain and David Aardsma are also possibilities, Berry says. The Yankees have an entire year to choose a successor, however.
- The Orioles are on the lookout for catching depth, report Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com and Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Matt Wieters is, clearly, entrenched as Baltimore's starter, and Taylor Teagarden will likely serve as his backup, but the Orioles are concerned about their depth beyond those two. The only other catcher on their 40-man roster is Luis Exposito, although manager Buck Showalter is also curious about new addition Luis Martinez, who spent much of 2012 with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock. With Wieters and several other options in the fold, it seems unlikely the O's will make a major move for a catcher, despite what Kubatko calls their "sloppy" play behind the dish this spring. Dubroff suggests that Eli Whiteside of the Rangers, Miguel Olivo of the Reds and Chris Snyder of the Nationals might be possibilities.
- The Dodgers' Aaron Harang says he isn't worried about rumors that he'll be traded, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes. "I don't even think about that," says Harang. "We know [scouts are] in the stands. I look at them as fans as well. I'm not worried about that." The Dodgers have a surplus of starting pitching, and Harang currently doesn't have a clear shot at a rotation job. The Brewers and Orioles could be potential suitors for Harang.
The Orioles are among the teams eyeing Aaron Harang, and he’s not the only Dodgers starter who has captured the attention of Baltimore’s decision makers. The Orioles are also scouting trade candidates Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (on Twitter).
The Orioles’ rotation presently consists of Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman. A number of others, including Jair Jurrjens, are in competition for the final spot in manager Buck Showalter’s rotation.
Lilly, 37, started just eight games in 2012, missing most of the year with neck and shoulder injuries. He'll earn $12MM in 2013, the final season of a three-year deal with the Dodgers. Capuano posted a 3.72 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 198 1/3 innings in 2012. Like Harang and Lilly, he's in the final guaranteed year of his contract and doesn’t have a guaranteed spot in the Dodgers' rotation. Harang started 31 games for the Dodgers last year, posting a 3.61 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 179 2/3 innings. He’ll earn $7MM in 2013 and his contract includes a $7MM mutual option with a $2MM buyout for 2014.
MLBTR’s offseason in review series is just getting started, but the AL East is now complete. Click here to see how the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles navigated their respective offseasons. Here are some more links from the division...
- The Red Sox aren't close to bumping up against MLB's luxury tax, as Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com shows. With commitments in the $163MM range, the Red Sox have $15MM separating them from the $178MM threshold.
- Ichiro Suzuki explained to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post that he wanted to re-sign with the Yankees because of the team's focused emphasis on winning. “Those are things that I wanted in a clubhouse and on a team, and I didn’t know that it existed,” Ichiro said. “I kind of had given up hope that I would find that ideal clubhouse, kind of how I felt how about a clubhouse should be. And I was able to find that last year, and that was here.”
- In a video blog Davidoff explains that Brian Cashman's recent misadventure won't stop him from doing his job as the Yankees' general manager. Cashman broke his right fibula and dislocated his right ankle after jumping out of a parachute to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project two days ago.
- Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner are among the ten most powerful people in baseball, Tom Verducci writes at SI.com. Commissioner Bud Selig tops Verducci's list.
- The Orioles like what they see from Jair Jurrjens this spring, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. Jurrjens, who signed a minor league deal with Baltimore this past offseason, is one of 13 Orioles pitchers competing for a rotation spot this spring.
Scouts from the Brewers and Orioles watched as Aaron Harang pitched in a minor league game today, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Harang, who doesn’t have a clear role on the Dodgers’ pitching staff at this point, pitched three scoreless innings. The 34-year-old appears to be a likely trade candidate given his team’s pitching depth.
Harang started 31 games for the Dodgers last year, posting a 3.61 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 179 2/3 innings. The 34-year-old will earn $7MM in 2013 and his contract includes a $7MM mutual option with a $2MM buyout for 2014.
The Brewers and Orioles have relatively young rotations that include considerable uncertainty, so it’s not surprising to see these clubs linked to Harang. Both Milwaukee and Baltimore expressed interest in free agent starters this winter but ultimately stuck with mostly internal options. Teams such as the Indians, Twins, Pirates and Mets were linked to Harang earlier this offseason.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that even though the 2013 Red Sox may not knock your socks off, they could still be extremely effective. In theory, Boston could have used their wiggle room on the likes of Josh Hamilton, Adam LaRoche, and Cody Ross. Instead, the club's shopping spree yielded Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Stephen Drew, and Ryan Dempster. However, the BoSox have set themselves up for bigger things in the long run and they could still be competitive in '13. Here's more from Cafardo..
- The Red Sox, Nationals, Yankees, Orioles, and Brewers had major interest in free agent pitcher Javier Vazquez before knee surgery put his season in jeopardy. “Never say never,” said a major league source close to the hurler, “but we won’t see him in the immediate future.”
- One AL executive cautions not to rule out the Tigers as a major player for the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton when the time comes. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has strong ties to the Marlins from his time with them and may have the chips to get a deal done. Detroit could use third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos, outfielder Avisail Garcia, righty Rick Porcello, and others to entice Miami.
- One NL executive says that he is envious of the position that Robinson Cano finds himself in. “He’s going to have the Yankees and the Dodgers offering him a record amount of money,” said the exec. GM Brian Cashman says he has already offered a “significant” contract, but there's no reason for the Scott Boras client to take the deal when considering how much the Dodgers may be willing to bid.
- Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur had the worst WAR among everyday players last season, but at age 29, he feels that he is just entering his prime. It appears that the Royals would be willing to move him and his strong arm in the outfield could attract interest.