Brandon Belt Rumors
- The Rangers aren't looking for a centerfielder as they believe that Julio Borbon will be okay after suffering an elbow injury, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It's not realistic to expect the club to land a starting pitcher either as there isn't much out there.
- Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. denied a report saying that he's close to selling the team, writes Stephen Goff of Examiner.com.
- Left-hander Dennys Reyes told Alex Speier of WEEI.com that he is healthy after dealing with a forearm strain at the end of last year. Earlier today the Red Sox purchased the veteran's big league contract.
- More teams are structuring deals to guard against major injuries to their star players, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- As Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reminds us, chances are that back-of-the-rotation won't be the one the Yankees finish the season with.
- Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that the team's bullpen isn't finalized (Twitter links). "We've still got a few things in the works," said Dubee, which Zolecki says could mean a trade, waiver claim, or an internal option.
- Henry Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Bruce Bochy confirmed that Pat Burrell will be the Giants' Opening Day left fielder, meaning Brandon Belt is likely headed back to the minors. Check out Tim Dierkes' recent look at Belt's service time situation.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reminds us that 40-man roster space (or the lack thereof) can often serve as the tie-breaker when teams make roster decisions with non-roster invitees near the end of Spring Training (Twitter link).
A week ago I wrote that a player's free agency could be delayed a year by calling him up on April 11th or later, making it impossible for him to accrue more than 171 days of service time. It turns out that I was only partially correct.
The April 11th date only applies if the player is not on the 40-man roster right now. For example, Brandon Belt could be promoted by the Giants on April 11th or later and his free agency would be delayed until after the 2017 season, because he is not currently on the 40-man. One related note - if he was called up exactly on that date, and thus fell one day short of the 172 needed for a year of service, his agent would probably file a grievance. There's also the possibility of a one-game playoff allowing him to pick up that extra day of service time anyway. So it makes sense to leave a little space.
What about a player who is on the 40-man roster, such as the Orioles' Zach Britton? In that case, the player needs to be optioned to start the season and spend at least 20 days on optional assignment in order to not get the service time back. So a 40-man roster player can earn either 162 or fewer days of service, or a full year. The Orioles will have to wait until April 21st or later with Britton, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun indicated today.
The Giants have a pair of out of options position players on the bubble in Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa. According to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News, "Schierholtz could be the easiest and most likely to be dealt. Perhaps soon."
Schierholtz, a right fielder, is trying to break into an outfield that already features more expensive players such as Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Pat Burrell, Mark DeRosa, and perhaps Aaron Rowand. And don't forget top prospect Brandon Belt, who could force Aubrey Huff to left field or play there himself. Just for good measure, Ishikawa is playing a little outfield this spring.
The 27-year-old Schierholtz has failed to produce in 758 scattered big league plate appearances. He has, at least, shown the ability to hit for average, power, and a strong contact rate in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Going back to the Baseball America 2008 Handbook, Schierholtz "plays a strong right field and has an above-average, accurate arm." He would have been a more interesting player for the Royals to try in right field than Jeff Francoeur, and could make sense for the Phillies currently.
Trading Rowand would alleviate the Giants' outfield logjam slightly, but Baggarly says there's nothing cooking on that front. Rowand is a release candidate in my mind, unless there's a team willing to pick up a couple million bucks of the $24MM owed to him for 2011-12.
Baggarly notes that both Schierholtz and Ishikawa could be on the outs if Belt makes the team. On Friday, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the situations of Rowand, Ishikawa, and Schierholtz will not be big factors in the Belt decision. Belt's service time might be a consideration, not that the team would admit that publicly. If the Giants can survive the season's first nine games without Belt, they can delay his free agency by a year.
The latest on the Giants as they take on the rival Dodgers for the last time this spring...
- The Giants agreed to sign Dominican left-hander Adalberto Mejia for $350K, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. The 6'3" pitcher has a loose arm and can reach 92 with his fastball.
- As Badler points out, the Giants are spending more aggressively on the international market than they did in 2010; they signed Dominican right-hander Simon Mercedes earlier this month.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggests that Giants prospect Brandon Belt is too good to be denied a major league job.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he is prepared to open the season with Belt on the roster if he believes that will make the team better. "I think we're all more open-minded now because he's played a lot, and because of that, has faced front-line pitching," Sabean said.
Some news about the defending World Series champs and their division rivals...
- The Padres "remain open" to the idea of signing another Major League starter, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. This is just pure speculation, but of the five hurlers on Luke Adams' list of pitchers that could benefit from the NL, three (Jeremy Bonderman, Bruce Chen and Kevin Millwood) are still available and would likely be open to the idea of pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
- Brandon Belt "has a legitimate chance" to win an everyday job playing first base or left field in San Francisco, writes MLB.com's Chris Haft. Belt, who turns 23 in April, has just one minor league season to his name, but he hit .352/.455/.620 in 595 plate appearances for the Giants' Class A, Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.
- Pablo Sandoval has lost 17 pounds training with former Olympic decathlete Dan O'Brien and plans to lose more weight before the start of Spring Training, Rich Aurilia tells Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Sandoval was threatened with a demotion to the minors by GM Brian Sabean unless the "Kung Fu Panda" improved his conditioning this offseason.
- The Rockies' big extensions with Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki put more pressure on the team's minor league system to produce low-cost, quality players, writes Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post.