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Brett Hayes Rumors
As the trade deadline approaches, the Royals will be in the market for bench pieces and possibly a right fielder to replace incumbent Nori Aoki, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. While the team’s scouts have been spotted watching several starters who are expected to be available, McCullough indicates that the front office’s focus is on other needs.
While Kansas City has suffered from less than optimal performances from other positions — second, third, and designated hitter chief among them — the players occupying those slots enjoy firmer commitments from the club. Omar Infante just inked a four-year deal; Mike Moustakas was a key organizational prospect who is still young; and Billy Butler is nearing the end of a large extension.
Meanwhile, Aoki has had an underwhelming run in Kansas City since coming over via trade. Set to reach free agency at the end of the year, the 32-year-old owns a .263/.326/.324 trple-slash through 292 plate appearances. After posting 3+ rWAR seasons in his first two years in the league, Aoki has dipped below replacement level, with advanced metrics also disliking his defensive work. McCullough cites Marlon Byrd of the Phillies and Seth Smith of the Padres as possible targets.
As for the bench, McCullough says that backup catcher Brett Hayes and utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco are both susceptible to being replaced. While neither has seen much action (36 and 49 plate appearances, respectively), that also shows that they are providing little function in reserve.
The Royals have announced via press release that they have avoided arbitration with catcher Brett Hayes by agreeing to a one-year deal. Hayes will make $630K with another possible $20K in performance bonuses, according to the Associated Press. Hayes is a client of TWC Sports.
Hayes, 30 next month, batted .278/.278/.611 with a homer in 18 plate appearances for the Royals in 2013. The longtime Marlin batted .233/.279/.480 in 298 plate appearances for the Royals' Triple-A club last season, and his 17 homers at the Triple-A level were the second-most from any catcher in the Pacific Coast League. That speaks to the pop Hayes has in his bat, as does his career .154 isolated power mark (slugging percentage minus batting average).
MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected Hayes to earn $900K in 2014. He will have competition in the form of Francisco Pena and Ramon Hernandez in Spring Training, but Hayes figures to be the primary backup for Salvador Perez.
Today's minor moves from around the league…
- The Athletics have outrighted Hiroyuki Nakajima off their 40-man roster, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Nakajima will remain with Triple-A Sacramento, where he has spent the entire season. The Japanese infielder signed a two-year, $6.5MM deal with Oakland in December and posted a .282/.336/.368 line in 324 minor league plate appearances.
- The Padres purchased the contract of catcher Chris Robinson from Triple-A Tucson, the team announced. In corresponding moves, Nick Hundley was put on the paternity list and Jason Marquis was transferred to the 60-day DL. Robinson, 29, was dealt from Baltimore to San Diego in June. The London, Ontario native was a third-round pick of the Tigers in the 2005 draft and has a .275/.320/.355 line in 2326 PA over nine minor league seasons.
- The Royals have outrighted catcher Brett Hayes to Triple-A Omaha, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Hayes, 29, was designated for assignment after appearing in just three big league games for Kansas City this season. He's batted .231/.280/.441 in 68 Triple-A contests and is a career .219/.366/.364 hitter in 146 games at the Major League level — all of which came with the Marlins prior to his brief stint with the Royals.
- With Hayes having been outrighted, just two players are currently in DFA limbo: Ryan Roberts of the Rays and Elliot Johnson of the Royals. Both were designated for assignment yesterday.
The Royals announced that they have designated catcher Brett Hayes for assignment. The move will allow KC to activate fellow backstop Salvador Perez from the seven-day disabled list.
Hayes, 29, saw just three games of big league action (all last week) before being DFA'd. The catcher has a .219/.266/.364 slash line across parts of five major league seasons and a .252/.294/.398 in five Triple-A campaigns.
SUNDAY: The Angels are said to like Chris Snyder and Ramon Hernandez with ex-Angel Bobby Wilson, in camp with the Yankees, an interesting possibility, tweets Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times. MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez adds Rod Barajas and Wil Nieves, both with the Diamondbacks, and Brett Hayes and George Kottaras, both with the Royals, as other possibilities.
FRIDAY: The Angels "have been out looking for a backup catcher," tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
The team entered the spring hoping that former high-end prospect Hank Conger would lay claim to the back-up spot behind starter Chris Iannetta. As Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times explored back in February, the team was also considering two journeymen, John Hester and Luke Carlin. Still young at 25 and offering a natural complement to Iannetta's right-handed bat, Conger seemed the obvious choice if he could move past his history of inconsistency and injury.
Despite Conger's excellent start on the offensive side of the plate this spring, however, he has struggled behind the dish. While manager Mike Scioscia has previously expressed confidence that Conger would rein in his wildness in the throwing game, Conger made three errors with his arm last Sunday. Entering his final option year, the Angels could elect to allow Conger to work out his issues back in Triple-A Salt Lake. For their part, Hester and Carlin have limited track records at the major league level and are sporting anemic batting lines in pre-season action.
If the Halos are unwilling to let Conger test his arm in a real game, the club may be looking at limited options for an upgrade. A glance at MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker reveals Matt Treanor as the lone unsigned, free agent backstop. Barring a more significant trade, the Angels could consider dealing (or scouring the waiver wire) for a more established option as teams like the Diamondbacks and Rockies decide which of their veteran catching options will make their opening day rosters.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
The Royals will approach their upcoming roster decisions with the goal of preserving "inventory," Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes. That means keeping as many players in the system as possible, which in turn means that players who are out of options will have a better chance of making the team, so the Royals don't risk losing them. The following players are out of options: Bruce Chen, Jarrod Dyson, Jeremy Guthrie, J.C. Gutierrez, Brett Hayes, Luke Hochevar, Elliot Johnson, George Kottaras, Luis Mendoza and Felipe Paulino. Hayes, Kottaras and Adam Moore are battling to back up Salvador Perez at catcher. Since Moore has an option, he will likely return to the minor leagues, and the Royals will choose between Hayes and Kottaras, keeping one while potentially trading or losing the other. The many teams currently on the lookout for catching help will presumably be watching the Royals' situation closely. Here are more notes from the American League.
- Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ is unhappy with the possibility of beginning the season in the bullpen or at Triple-A Buffalo, and he will "probably" speak to GM Alex Anthopoulos about it, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reports. Happ got bumped from the Jays' rotation plans when they traded for Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey this offseason.
- Indians pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched three innings in a minor-league game on Saturday, but he's running out of time to make the team, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. Matsuzaka left his previous start after one inning with a calf injury. Matsuzaka is a Type XX(B) free agent, so the Indians have to decide by March 26 whether to add him to their 25-man roster. If they don't, Matsuzaka can ask to be released, or can accept a minor-league assignment with a $100K retention bonus and an opt-out date of June 1. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that the Indians will likely go with a rotation of Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers, Zach McAllister and Scott Kazmir, in which case Matsuzaka wouldn't make the team.
- Evan Longoria is aware of the big expectations associated with the six-year, $100MM contract extension he signed with the Rays in November, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "It's an insane number," says Longoria. "I feel the same way that I felt with the last contract, but there's just, I don't know if there could be more of a desire, but there is still obviously a strong, strong desire to live up to it."