Brandon Inge Rumors
Inge, the Tigers' primary third baseman for much of the past eight seasons, was the team's longest tenured player. However, the Tigers didn't have an obvious role for him after signing Prince Fielder and moving Miguel Cabrera to third base. The ever-versatile Inge learned second base this Spring Training, earning praise from his bosses for his defensive work. However, he has just two hits in 20 trips to the plate so far this season and he posted a .548 OPS last year, so the Tigers weren't getting much from him on offense.
Inge, an All-Star in 2009, has two 27-homer seasons to his name. He has considerable MLB experience at third, catcher and center field, plus recent experience as a second baseman. I'd be surprised if teams view him as anything but a third baseman, though. Inge will earn $5.5MM this season and his contract includes a $6MM club option ($500K) buyout for 2012.
Inge made it clear that he wants to continue playing, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com (via Twitter). Any team that signs him would only owe him a pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum for the remainder of the season. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com first reported the news (Twitter links).
The latest rumors from Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (all links go to Twitter)...
- The Tigers have tried hard to interest the Phillies in Brandon Inge without much success. Inge offers steady defense at third and has been learning second base this spring, but he earns $5.5MM in 2012.
- The Phillies tried to re-acquire utility player Jason Donald from the Indians, but Cleveland preferred to keep him. The Phillies drafted Donald in 2006 and sent him to Cleveland in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade.
- Teams inquired on Ubaldo Jimenez this spring, but the Indians don’t have interest in moving him, either.
- Scouts are watching Diamondbacks left-hander Mike Zagurski, since there’s a sense the Diamondbacks might trade him.
It was on this day in 1968 that the Royals officially became the Royals, as the new expansion franchise officially announced its name a year before taking the field. The name was inspired by both the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League and Kansas City's annual "American Royal" horse show.
Here's the latest from the AL Central...
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik "would love" to have Brent Lillibridge but knows the White Sox aren't going to trade him, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- Right-hander Deolis Guerra is the last player from the Johan Santana trade still with the Twins, and Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune looks at how Guerra has revitalized his career after a move to the bullpen.
- Felix Pie and Ryan Spilborghs can each opt out of their minor league contracts with the Indians on April 3, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Fred Lewis, another non-roster invitee, can opt out on June 1.
- Brandon Inge is going through another year of change as he tries to hold onto his spot on the Tigers' roster by moving to second base, writes Scott Miller of CBS Sports.
- Andy Oliver's struggles don't make it any more likely that the Tigers will look outside the organization for a fifth starter, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck. Duane Below and Drew Smyly are still contenders for the job and the Nationals' John Lannan, the most plausible trade candidate, may stay in Washington due to Chien-Ming Wang's hamstring injury.
The Tigers don’t have an established fifth starter, so there’s been some speculation about their interest in potentially available pitchers around the league. However, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski joined MLB Network Radio and said he’s pleased with the ability of the team’s internal candidates.
“You’re always looking to upgrade, but I think for us we’re really looking for one of these youngsters to grab that fifth spot,” he said.
Right-hander Jacob Turner and left-handers Duane Below, Adam Wilk and Andy Oliver are currently competing to start behind Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. Tigers assistant GM Al Avila acknowledged last week that the Tigers will watch other teams' pitchers in case a fit emerges.
Dombrowski said Brandon Inge seems like a natural at second base, where he is in the mix for playing time along with Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago. The GM said Inge’s athleticism makes it seem like he’s been playing his new position for a decade.
Happy birthday to former White Sox farmhand Michael Jordan, who turns 49 years old today. Jordan played one season of Double-A ball with the Birmingham Barons in 1994, hitting .202/.289/.266 in 497 plate appearances. On the strength of those numbers, Jordan was named ESPN's greatest athlete of the 20th century. In hindsight, it's possible ESPN may have also taken Jordan's basketball career into consideration, but you'd have to take that argument up with the gang at MLBTR's new sister site Hoops Rumors.
Here's the latest from around the AL Central...
- Brandon Inge will be given a chance at the Tigers' second base job during Spring Training, manager Jim Leyland told reporters (including John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press). Inge joins Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago in battling for playing time at second. With Miguel Cabrera now playing third, Inge finds himself without a position. Inge has been a strong defensive third baseman throughout his career (a +5.6 UZR/150) but he has never played second during his 14-year professional career.
- Rany Jazayerli thinks the Royals should have acquired at least one more proven starting pitcher this offseason, arguing that such a move could have possibly given Kansas City a shot at the division title.
- Roberto Hernandez (a.k.a. Fausto Carmona) is visiting baseball camps in the Dominican Republic to teach young players not to lie about their identity or true age, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Jorge Brito, Hernandez's agent, didn't say whether these visits were necessary for Hernandez to regain his ability to leave the Dominican and rejoin the Indians.
- MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger gives his thoughts about what the Twins' Opening Day roster could look like.
Happy birthday to right-hander Gavin Floyd, who is 29 years old today. With the number of Floyd trade rumors we've heard this winter, you wonder if this could be Floyd's last birthday as a member of the White Sox. Here's the latest from the AL Central...
- Indians manager Manny Acta told reporters at a Town Hall event today (including MLB.com's Jordan Bastian) that he wants the team to pick up another bat. "I do hope that something happens," Acta said. "Chris [Antonetti] has worked really hard...about trying to acquire a hitter or two. It's not a secret, we need some help offensively." For his part, Antonetti said he was "hopeful that we'll be able to improve the team between now and the start of Spring Training," (all Twitter links).
- The Tigers' nine-year, $214MM contract with Prince Fielder "was an ownership-driven, impulsive deal, which is why the Tigers will contend for a World Series and why the contract makes poor baseball sense," writes Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci.
- John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press recounts the history between Tigers owner Mike Illitch and agent Scott Boras.
- The Tigers apparently have no plans to move Brandon Inge, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. The team sees Inge as a fallback option if Miguel Cabrera can't handle playing third base.
- Denard Span told media (including MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger) he's feeling better after suffering a concussion last July and offered to play a different position if it helps the Twins. Manager Ron Gardenhire, however, said he plans to use Span in his usual center field spot.
- White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf tells Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com that he and Jim Thome have a handshake deal in place for Thome to work for the Sox in some capacity after he retires.
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams said his club is "maxed out" of money for the Major League roster, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Williams "played coy" when discussing Cuban free agents, however --- the Sox are known to be one of Yoenis Cespedes' suitors.
The World Series is tied at a game apiece after the Rangers' thrilling 2-1 victory over the Cardinals tonight. As we look forward to Game Three on Saturday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, here are a few news items to round out the evening...
- The Diamondbacks will receive "a significant level of financial relief – and perhaps total relief" when and if Josh Byrnes becomes the Padres' new general manager, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Byrnes had five and a half years remaining on his contract with Arizona when he was fired on July 1, 2010, but the Snakes could be off the hook for the remaining four years left on that deal should Byrnes get another GM job.
- There is nothing new to report on the Reds' negotiations with Brandon Phillips or Francisco Cordero, Reds GM Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
- Koji Uehara has told people close to him that he wants to return to the Orioles, reports MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. After being dealt to Texas in July, Uehara struggled in the first two rounds of the playoffs and was left off the Rangers' World Series roster. The Japanese right-hander made enough appearances to activate a $4MM vesting option for 2012, so if the O's want Uehara back, the Rangers would probably be happy to unload him.
- The Red Sox have given the Athletics permission to interview pitching coach Curt Young about the pitching coach vacancy in Oakland, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group (Twitter link) reports Young and the A's are already in negotiations. Young served as Oakland's pitching coach from 2004-2010 before going to Boston to replace John Farrell last winter.
- The Tigers have enough money coming off the books this winter that Tom Gage of the Detroit News thinks Brandon Inge's contract could be swallowed if the team can find a better third base option on the trade market. Inge is set to earn $5.5MM in 2012 and the Tigers hold a $6MM club option on their longtime third baseman for 2013.
As the Indians and Tigers continue their battle for the top spot in the AL Central this weekend, let's look at news from all around the division....
- Brandon Inge is back in the Majors after a stint in Triple-A, and he tells MLB.com's Jason Beck and Chris Vannini that he could've left the Tigers after being designated for assignment last month. "I could have said, 'Fine. Release me and I know I could go to probably 20 other teams and play. Especially National League teams, too,' " Inge said. "But I didn't want to. I didn't want to go out like that....if you've been treated well by an organization and your teammates, why would you buck the horse on that one? Just stay there, ride it out."
- Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports chronicles Jim Thome's rise from unheralded 13th-round draft pick to the 600-homer club.
- The White Sox have six minor league pitchers on their 40-man roster who have been continually passed over for Major League call-ups this season, and Larry of the South Side Sox blog investigates why.
- With Jason Kipnis on the DL, the Indians could be in the market for infield help, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Ron Gardenhire discusses the Twins' 2012 rotation and says that Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing could be moved to the bullpen if the club finds other starting options, reports Joe Kieser for MLB.com.
The latest players to clear waivers and be outrighted...
- Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A, tweets the team. He'll accept the assignment and report to Toledo. Inge was designated for assignment on Wednesday. He still has about $7.8MM left on the contract he signed last October.
With nine days remaining before the trade deadline, the biggest trade chips in baseball are arguably Carlos Beltran (latest rumors) and Hunter Pence (latest rumors). Here are some other relevant links from around MLB...
- The Nationals are in greater need of outfield depth than infield help or a catcher, a baseball source tells Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
- The Rays pulled B.J. Upton and prospect Desmond Jennings from their respective games, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (via Twitter). However, Upton says that he has not been traded, tweets Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.
- Rangers pitcher Brandon Webb will undergo surgery on his right shoulder with the intent to pitch again in 2012, according to his agent Jonathan Maurer. This will not be a full surgery of the rotator cuff but it will prevent him from throwing for four months.
- The Tigers would need to eat some salary to move Brandon Inge but teams still believe that the veteran has value, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- The Reds scouted Jason Vargas and Doug Fister when the Mariners visited Toronto this week, a source told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- Indians team president Mark Shapiro said that he expects the club will make a move in the next ten days, tweets Nick Camino of WTAM 1100.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he’s looking for a bat to insert at the top of the order or in the middle of the lineup. However, the Reds are also open to acquiring pitching, either for the rotation or the bullpen. The Reds have lots of depth, but Jocketty says he “hates” trading prospects.
- Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago hears that Hall of Fame executive Pat Gillick is open to a role with the Cubs. Gillick said last week that he's open to taking on a full-time role as a team president at some point in the future.
- MLB talent evaluators tell Alex Speier of WEEI.com that the Red Sox have a number of players whose prospect status is starting to rise and who could become elite prospects within a year. Though the Adrian Gonzalez deal made a major dent in Boston’s farm system, Speier’s sources say the Red Sox still have secondary prospects who could be valuable trade bait this summer. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks and right-hander Anthony Ranaudo are among the organization’s top prospects.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports confirms that the Red Sox have had exploratory conversations with the Royals about Jeff Francoeur.