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Brandon Finnegan Rumors
While it may seem curious to some that the Royals are adding relief arms such as Franklin Morales because of the perceived strength of their bullpen, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes that the bullpen isn’t as deep as the team would like. The Royals are hoping for a return to form from Luke Hochevar, but he’s less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery. Tim Collins and Louis Coleman each posted FIP marks of 4.80 or higher with poor strikeout-to-walk ratios, and other candidates such as Rule 5 pick Jandel Gustave, journeyman Joe Paterson and reclamation projects Ryan Madson and Joe Blanton offer little certainty. While 2014 top pick and late-season bullpen weapon Brandon Finnegan is an option, the club still wants to develop him as a starter, which likely means more time in the minors.
Here’s more from baseball’s Central divisions…
- Finnegan, for his part, tells McCullough that he would prefer to open the season with the Royals as a reliever than go back to the minor leagues as a starting pitcher (Twitter link). Of course, it’s not surprising that he’d prefer to remain with the Major League club any way that he can, however, as McCullough points out, it’s also not his decision. Certainly, Finnegan’s long-term value to the club would be increased were he able to make it as a starting pitcher, and he may not have to wait that long for a shot, as Jeremy Guthrie can become a free agent next winter.
- While some players will admit that a trade suits them best when their path to playing time becomes obscured, Welington Castillo tells Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that he hopes to remain with the Cubs even after their acquisitions of Miguel Montero and David Ross (Twitter link). Castillo looks to be an expensive and perhaps superfluous third catcher at this stage, and there have been some indications that the 27-year-old may find himself with a new team before Opening Day.
- Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette argues that the Pirates should have found a way to avoid arbitration with Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez and Vance Worley rather than ending up in hearings that resulted in a savings of a mere $50K. While Cook is accurate that the money saved was minimal, GM Neal Huntington explained via email that the team’s goal was “to simply explain why the club’s submitted salary is a more accurate salary for the player based on other comparable past and current players than the player’s submitted salary.” I’d add that teams feel a sense of responsibility to the rest of the league to manage arbitration salaries, as the arbitration process is based largely on statistical comparables.
- Reds lefty Sean Marshall has had a minor setback in recovery from his June shoulder surgery and isn’t throwing from the mound yet, he tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. However, Marshall is pleased with how his offseason has progressed and isn’t concerned about having to slow things down a bit. The 32-year-old has pitched just 24 1/3 innings since signing a three-year, $16.5MM extension with Cincinnati, though he was among the game’s elite left-handed relievers the three seasons prior (2010-12).
Phil Hughes‘ excellent season with the Twins has been a bright spot in an otherwise bleak season for Minnesota, and his final start on Wednesday had plenty of significance. Hughes whiffed five hitters and walked none, giving him an 11.63-to-1 K/BB ratio on the season — a new Major League record. However, it rained in Minneapolis for a little over an hour after the eighth inning, causing Hughes’ start to end even though he had thrown just 96 pitches. That caused Hughes to fall an unthinkable one out shy of a $500K bonus — an incentive he would have triggered upon reaching 210 innings. As Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweeted after the game, manager Ron Gardenhire said Hughes will not pitch in relief this weekend in order to reach the $500K bonus — meaning that poor weather (Hughes also had a Sept. 13 start rained out) will likely cost him half a million dollars. Hughes told Bollinger that he was very aware of what he needed to do Wednesday in order to secure his final contractual incentive but took the terrible luck in stride, saying, “Some things aren’t meant to be.” Hughes did earn $250K worth of bonuses for reaching both 180 and 195 innings, bringing his 2014 salary to $8.5MM.
More from the AL Central…
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Chris Iott of MLive.com that the Tigers had scouts on hand to see Yasmany Tomas in the Dominican Republic this past Sunday, but he wouldn’t tip his hand as to whether or not his club was scheduling a private workout with the slugger. The Rangers and Phillies have both had private workouts with Tomas, who was the subject of MLBTR’s first Free Agent Profile of the upcoming offseason. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes pegged Tomas for seven years and $105MM — a contract that would be a record-setter in terms of total guarantee and average annual value for a Cuban player.
- While the White Sox figure to add to their bullpen this offseason, Jake Petricka has carved out a role as future member of the group, writes Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. The 26-year-old Petricka has seen time in the closer’s role this season, converting 14 of 18 save opportunities and pitching to a 2.88 ERA in 72 innings. While he doesn’t have an elite strikeout rate (6.9 K/9), his 63.9 percent ground-ball rate ranks fifth among qualified relievers. Fellow right-hander Zach Putnam — he of a 1.98 ERA in 54 2/3 innings — also figures to be a bullpen cog for the South Siders going forward, Kane notes.
- Though he was only drafted three and a half months ago, Brandon Finnegan has emerged as a bullpen weapon for the Royals, and assistant GM J.J. Picollo tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that the team won’t rule out Finnegan breaking camp with the team in 2015. The team’s ultimate vision is to use Finnegan as a starter, so it’s more likely that he begins next year at Double-A or Triple-A, McCullough notes. Still, the team plans to replace James Shields internally, writes McCullough, and Picollo refused to put any hard limitations on Finnegan’s trajectory: “I don’t think it’s out of the question that he would start (the season) in the major leagues. … I’m not saying it’s what we’re going to do. But he’ll be given an opportunity to win a job on the team.”
Newly-signed Royals first round draft pick Brandon Finnegan will start his pro career at Class A+ Wilmington, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. The Royals project Finnegan will only pitch about 45 or 50 pro innings after pitching for TCU this season, but the start at Class A+ could indicate that the Royals hope Finnegan will be in the big leagues in a relatively short period of time. “I just have confidence in myself,” says Finnegan. “Now, I’m not 6-4. I’m only 5-11. But I feel like I’ve got the stuff that’s good enough to pitch in the pros right now.” Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- The Indians need to add a good starting pitcher more than they need a good hitter, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. Corey Kluber has excelled, but the rest of Cleveland’s rotation hasn’t been nearly so helpful — three pitchers who started the year in the rotation are now either in the bullpen or Triple-A.
- New Pirates pitcher Ernesto Frieri looks forward to playing in a new league and division, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. “Maybe this is going to be good for me because it was a little bit of a struggle for me in the American League West,” Frieri said. “When you’re in one league for a while, hitters get to know you, and they make adjustments. I’m pretty confident everything is going to change over here.” The Pirates acquired Frieri on Friday for another struggling reliever, Jason Grilli.
- Bucs GM Neal Huntington tells SiriusXM’s Jim Bowden (via Twitter) that the Pirates don’t have “glaring holes” but will still try to upgrade where possible. The Pirates’ offense has been about average and just added Gregory Polanco to fix its hole in right field. The Bucs’ pitching is perhaps questionable, but the Pirates have had a recent series of strong performances from starters like Jeff Locke and Vance Worley to aid what had been a weak rotation.
The Royals have announced that they’ve signed No. 17 overall draft pick Brandon Finnegan. MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets that Finnegan will receive the full bonus pool allotment of $2,200,600.
Finnegan, a junior lefty from TCU, was ranked the No. 15 draft prospect by MLB.com, No. 18 by Baseball America and No. 24 by ESPN’s Keith Law. MLB.com notes that he throws 93-95 MPH and has what could be a good slider. He also uses a changeup, although he might stop throwing the pitch if he ends up in the bullpen.
Finnegan could end up as a closer in the long term — he’s undersized at 5’11”, and MLB.com notes that there are questions about his durability. Finnegan also missed a few weeks in April and May with shoulder tightness. But he has excellent stuff. The Royals could use him as a starter, but Callis notes that he could make it to the big leagues quickly as a reliever.