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Some items from the eastern divisions….
- "You will not see a major move this year," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com about his team's trade deadline plans. Amaro feels the Phils are already good enough to compete and it's just a matter of the club finding its peak form. He also notes that the team has very little payroll flexibility, but "for $170 MM-plus, we should be good enough to be a World Series contender.”
- Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie will be out for two-to-four weeks with a non-displaced fracture in his left hand, tweets Rogers Sportsnet's Arash Madani. Lawrie was tentatively scheduled to make his Major League debut last week before being hit by a pitch in a Triple-A game.
- Jake Fox was put on waivers by the Orioles earlier today and he might get some attention from the Pirates. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes that the Pirates had some interest in Fox during Spring Training, and the Bucs might have need for a catcher since Chris Snyder left today's game with a back injury. (Twitter link)
- The Dan Uggla trade hasn't panned out well for either the Braves or the Marlins thus far, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
Links for Wednesday, as Seattle's Michael Pineda prepares to continue his Rookie of the Year bid against the Orioles…
- Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan noted his daily readership of MLBTR in an interview at the MLB Fan Cave yesterday. Said Hanrahan, "[MLBTR] provides updates for all the transactions in one quick place. I go on there on my phone all the time, because you find out about any deals and transactions. I’m definitely an active reader of that site, but other than that, I don’t really read too many other baseball websites." We're honored to have Joel among the many players who read MLBTR; give him a follow on Twitter here.
- Tip of the cap to White Sox righty Edwin Jackson, who explained to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times that he'll accept bullpen duty if the team decides to remove him from the rotation. The Scott Boras client has a team-first attitude despite his impending free agency.
- Blue Jays righty Dustin McGowan has endured two shoulder surgeries since he last appeared in the Majors in July of '08, but Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports his rehab went well in May and the Jays are now considering using him as a starter again. In other good news for the Jays, top prospect Brett Lawrie tweeted late last night that his hand is only bruised after being hit by a pitch. Prior to that pitch, Lawrie had been slated to make his big league debut Friday.
- Jack Zduriencik's smaller acquisitions are looking good for the Mariners, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. For a look back at our Mariners offseason in review, click here.
It's early, but baseball's toughest division doesn't appear to be getting any easier. The Red Sox, Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays are all within two games of the AL East lead. Here are the latest links from the division…
- Jonathan Papelbon told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he’d like to stay in Boston after the season and break records and win championships with the Red Sox. The prospective free agent says he’ll do what’s best for his family, though there’s more to that than the bottom line. "It's not about the money, it's about going somewhere day in and day out and wanting to be there."
- Jose Bautista reflects on his ascension from hard-throwing college closer to utility player to MLB home run king with MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca that top prospect Brett Lawrie has made the adjustments the Jays asked him to make and is close to Major League-ready (Twitter link). Earlier today, ESPN.com’s Keith Law ranked Lawrie 11th among MLB prospects.
- Orioles utility player Jake Fox told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com that his role is unclear and that he has had trouble timing and recognizing pitches without regular at bats.
Shaun Marcum has been Milwaukee's best starter this year, but Brett Lawrie is doing his best to make Blue Jays fans forget about the pitcher he was traded for. The 21-year-old infield prospect has a .343/.403/.632 line at Triple-A with 12 home runs. GM Alex Anthopoulos and Jeff Blair of Sportsnet Radio FAN 590 discussed Lawrie's hot start and a number of other issues pertaining to the Blue Jays this morning. Here are the details:
- Lawrie has improved his strikeout to walk ratio in Triple-A this month, a development that’s encouraging for the Jays’ front office.
- Super two status is a moving target at the best of times and Anthopoulos points out that over 80% of players who become eligible for arbitration are optioned to the minor leagues at some point. Players like Travis Snider and Brett Cecil don’t have continuous Major League service, which means projecting whether minor leaguers are on track for super two status is mostly futile.
- The Blue Jays have a record of not manipulating service according to Anthopoulos. He points to J.P. Arencibia and Kyle Drabek, both of whom got the call late last year.
- Anthopoulos has been on the phone with a few GMs, but he doesn’t expect trades to kick into high gear until after the draft, which starts June 6th.
- Anthopoulos saw the rumor linking Jose Reyes to the Blue Jays and though the GM declined to comment on another team’s player, he praised the Jays’ current shortstop, Yunel Escobar. “He’s young, he’s everything we want,” Anthopoulos said of Escobar, who is under team control through 2013. “Shortstop is not an area we need to improve. We think it’s a strength.”
Teams like saving money and extending their control over top young players. Why wouldn't they? Having impact players on affordable contracts simplifies a GM's job. As a result, teams call top young players up strategically every season to control their service time and, in doing so, delay their free agency and/or limit their earnings.
Though service time is a consideration all season long, it's most evident at two times: in April and again midseason, around early June. If teams wait until a few weeks after the season has begun to call a prospect up for his MLB debut, the player doesn't collect a full year of service time, which delays his free agency by a year.
The precise date until which teams must wait before calling prospects up varies each year and according to whether players are on the 40-man roster. Now that we're nearly three weeks into the season, even prospects on the 40-man roster can be called up, since they have spent the requisite 20-day period in the minor leagues.
None of the following prospects have big league service time, which means that their teams can call them up at any point and keep them through the 2017 season, if not longer: Dustin Ackley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas, Jesus Montero, Eric Hosmer, Julio Teheran, Manny Banuelos, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles.
On the other hand, Michael Pineda, Zach Britton and Brandon Belt are now in the majors, picking up service time. Because those players are now on MLB rosters, they're currently on track to hit free agency after the 2016 season. However, if their respective teams option them to the minors for 20 days or more, their path to free agency could be slowed as well (that's an immediate possibility for Belt and a long-term one for the pair of impressive rookie hurlers).
That may sounds complicated, but it's the easy part. Later this spring, in late May and early June, the guessing game begins. Teams do not (and can not) know exactly when future cutoffs for super two status will be, so if they want to play it safe and ensure that prospects like Montero and Ackley only go to arbitration three times, they'll want to wait until at least the middle of June before calling them up.
Blue Jays' rookie third baseman Brett Lawrie has been raking this spring but the 21-year-old might not start the year in the majors, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The club might send him to the minors to work on his defense – and to prevent him from becoming eligible for a fourth year of arbitration. Here's more from Rosenthal..
- One scout following the Tigers says the team is deep enough in young outfielders to possibly move one for a starting pitcher. Right now, Brennan Boesch, Clete Thomas, Casper Wells, and Andy Dirks are all vying for reserve spots. Wells appears to be a lock to make the big league roster as he is the only right-handed hitter of the bunch and plays all three outfield positions.
- The Marlins are talking about signing second baseman Luis Castillo once he clears waivers, but they also have in-house options. The club could decide to go with Emilio Bonifacio at second and Omar Infante at third if they choose to demote rookie third baseman Matt Dominguez.
- If the Astros go with Carlos Lee over Brett Wallace at first base they would like to add a left-handed hitting outfielder to platoon with Jason Michaels. However, the club is at the payroll limit and the team's greater need is a replacement for catcher Jason Castro.
- Scot Shields, who announced his retirement today, said on a conference call that he drew interest this offseason before calling it a career. "There were some teams interested, but nothing seemed like the right fit," Shields said.
- A longtime GM tells ESPN.com's Buster Olney that he has heard "less trade talk this spring than in any other year [he has] been on the job" (Twitter link).
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Cardinals are excited about their rotation despite Adam Wainwright's elbow injury. The Cards will go with Chris Carpenter Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Kyle Lohse and Kyle McClellan.
- Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie joined CAA, according to the agency (on Twitter). As MLBTR's newly launched Agency Database shows, CAA also represents Blue Jays J.P. Arencibia and Travis Snider.
- Scouts tell Joel Sherman of the New York Post that they aren't enthusiastic about Jesus Montero's ability to catch in the major leagues.
If you're a fan of top prospects and rookies, then this Quick Hits post is for you. Here are today's links…
- Oakland's 2010 first rounder, Michael Choice, is wowing scouts in Arizona, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Peter Gammons of MLB Network hears from a trusted scout that Choice has the bat speed, strength and athleticism to become a "monster" (Twitter link). Baseball America ranked the 21-year-old third among Oakland's prospects heading into the season.
- One GM says the Royals are so deep in talent that they can still be in it in 2013 if a couple of their top prospects miss, according to Gammons (on Twitter).
- Neftali Feliz has said he's most comfortable closing games, but Rangers GM Jon Daniels says he'll continue stretching the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year out to see if he can make it as a starter, according to Anthony Andro of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram (on Twitter).
- The Giants and last year's NL Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey, agreed to a one-year deal, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. He tweets that the deal is worth $575K. That's about $150K more than the Giants had to give him.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi that Brett Lawrie has looked “very good.” The Blue Jays, who acquired Lawrie for Shaun Marcum over the winter, like the infielder’s work ethic, tools and drive.
Some news about the various beasts of the eastern baseball world…
- Adam Jones doesn't believe the Orioles discussed a multi-year extension with his CAA representation before the two sides agreed to a 2011 contract, the outfielder tells MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli.
- The Red Sox haven't discussed a long-term extension with Clay Buchholz this offseason, reports Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Last September, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith explored what a Buchholz extension might cost Boston.
- Also from MacPherson, he points out that the Red Sox could wind up letting Jonathan Papelbon leave for nothing next winter. Papelbon would have to turn down an arbitration offer from Boston in order for the Sox to receive compensatory draft picks if he signed elsewhere as a free agent. However, by offering arbitration, the Red Sox would be making "a $14-$15MM gamble" that Papelbon wouldn't accept, since he's unlikely to find that much salary elsewhere.
- GM Mike Rizzo discussed several Nationals-related topics during a conference call with reporters today. Mark Zuckerman of the Nats Insider blog has a partial transcript.
- Alex Anthopoulos tells MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm his philosophy about not publicly disclosing whether or not the Jays are negotiating multi-year contracts, be they with Jose Bautista or any player.
- Brett Lawrie tells MinorLeagueBaseball.com's Robert Emrich that he has been working out at third base and believes he will play the position during Spring Training. When Toronto acquired Lawrie in the Shaun Marcum deal, there was speculation to whether Lawrie would stay at second base or be moved to third or even a corner outfield spot. The Jays are, obviously, set at second (at least in the short term) with Aaron Hill.
- In an interview with Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (Twitter link), Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock says his club does not have to deal Joe Blanton or Kyle Kendrick. Proefrock also said the Phillies will look within the organization for right-handed hitting help.
- The Orioles are lacking in Major League third base depth, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
More links for Monday night, as we wonder when and where Cliff Lee will sign…
- Lee's not the only player nearing a decision. Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com hears that Edgar Renteria is close to a decision and leaning toward retuning to the Giants (Twitter link). The World Series MVP has a $1MM offer to return to San Francisco.
- The Brewers have not offered Carl Pavano a formal contract yet, GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Bill James told the Red Sox he expects Carl Crawford to age well, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. James found that players like Crawford, who can play the outfield, get on base and hit for some power, often produce late in their careers.
- Brandon McCarthy, who agreed to a deal with the A's today, says the Mariners expressed interest in him until they signed Erik Bedard, according to MLB.com's Greg Johns (on Twitter).
- The Royals had interest in infield prospect Brett Lawrie before the Blue Jays acquired him from the Brewers, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun (on Twitter).
- MLB executives told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com that the Phillies could trade Joe Blanton if they agree to eat half of the $17MM remaining on his contract through 2012 (Twitter link). The Phillies are considering moving Blanton to create space for Lee.