Brett Tomko Rumors

Minor Moves: Tomko, Burres, Aceves, Paxton

Here are today’s minor league transactions from around baseball, with the latest moves at the top of the post…

  • Veteran Brett Tomko has found a new home with the Rockies on a minor league deal, reports Robert Murray of Sports Rumor Alert. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter link) also cites a source saying that the 41-year-old righty is headed to Colorado Springs. Tomko, who was recently set loose by the Royals, last threw in the bigs in 2011 with the Rangers. He owns a 4.65 ERA over 1,816 career innings with ten clubs, much of them as a starter.
  • Pitcher Brian Burres has also signed a minor league deal with the Rockies and will join their Triple-A affiliate, reports Mike Ashmore of MyCentralJersey.com (via Twitter). MLBTR reported back in May that Burres, most recently of the independent league Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, was drawing interest. The 33-year-old owns a 5.75 ERA through 358 1/3 career MLB frames.
  • Alfredo Aceves has accepted his outright assignment to Triple- A rather than electing free agency, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Aceves was designated for assignment last week and outrighted to Triple-A on Sunday.
  • The Mariners moved southpaw James Paxton to the 60-day disabled list in order to open a 40-man roster spot for Ji-Man Choi, the team announced.  Paxton has already spent more than 60 days on the DL while recovering from shoulder inflammation.  Choi will return to Double-A action after serving a 50-game PED suspension.
  • The Mets selected the contract of catcher Taylor Teagarden on Sunday, the team announced.  Teagarden will replaced the demoted Travis d’Arnaud on New York’s 25-man roster.  For making the Major League roster, Teagarden will earn $725K, as per the minor league deal he signed with the Mets in January.  The 30-year-old Teagarden posted a .950 OPS in 127 PA at Triple-A Las Vegas, a notoriously hitter-friendly park.
  • The Angels released outfielder Chevy Clarke, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports.  Clarke was picked in the first round (30th overall) of the 2010 draft as a high schooler, but he has yet to play above the high-A level, hitting .219/.306/.337 with 23 home runs over 1542 career PA.
  • Also from Eddy, the Diamondbacks released right-hander Eric Smith.  Originally taken by Arizona in the second round of the 2009 draft, Smith posted a 5.10 ERA over 429 minor league innings (65 starts, 77 relief appearances).  Smith was hit with a 50-game suspension last season for taking a drug of abuse, his second such violation.
  • The Rangers released right-hander Chris Schwinden last week, as announced by the team’s Triple-A affiliate (via Twitter).  Schwinden was hit hard in three starts for Round Rock, posting an 11.25 ERA over 12 innings.  The 27-year-old pitched 29 2/3 innings for the Mets in 2011-12 and has pitched for five different organizations (plus an independent league team ) since the start of the 2012 season.

Minor Moves: Horst, Tomko, McClendon

Here are the day’s notable minor moves …

  • Phillies lefty Jeremy Horst has cleared outright waivers and accepted his assignment at Triple-A, the club announced today. Horst, 28, was designated two days ago to clear 40-man roster space. He has pitched to a 4.35 ERA (8.3 K/9 vs. 7.0 BB/9) across 20 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year.
  • 41-year-old righty Brett Tomko has been released by the Royals, according to the PCL transactions page. Tomko, a 14-year MLB veteran, had worked to a 3.80 ERA in 47 1/3 Triple-A innings (including eight starts) since hooking on with Kansas City.
  • The Rockies signed righty Mike McClendon, according to the MLB transactions page. McClendon, 29, tossed 48 2/3 MLB innings over 2010-12 with the Brewers, working to a 3.88 ERA with 6.5 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 overall. He had been playing with the independent league York Revolution this year after spending 2013 with Colorado’s Triple-A affiliate.
  • With Horst no longer on the list, MLBTR’s DFA Tracker now features Vin Mazzaro of the Pirates, Justin Marks of the Royals, and Jose Veras of the Cubs as players in DFA limbo.

Royals To Sign Brett Tomko

The Royals and right-hander Brett Tomko have agreed to a minor league contract, according to a tweet from Tomko's brother, Scott. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that Tomko will earn $510K if he makes the big league club. Tomko is represented by Full Circle Sports Management. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Tomko, who was clocked as high as 93 mph in a bullpen session today, is willing to pitch at Triple-A and did not receive any opt-out clauses in his deal.

Tomko hasn't pitched in the Majors since a brief 17 2/3 inning stint with the Rangers in 2011. The former second-round pick has accumulated 1816 innings at the Major League level, pitching to a 4.65 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 42.1 percent ground-ball rate.

MLBTR's own Zach Links talked with the 40-year-old Tomko earlier in the offseason about his comeback bid. Said Tomko at the time: "I'll keep lacing it up until someone rips the uniform off of my back and says 'You're done.'"

The Royals' rotation is crowded with James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas and Bruce Chen as locks with Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy and Wade Davis as candidates for the fifth slot. The bullpen took a blow recently when Luke Hochevar learned that he needs Tommy John surgery, but Kansas City still has plenty of options with Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera, Louis Coleman, Donnie Joseph and Chris Dwyer all representing options for manager Ned Yost. Whichever two of Ventura, Duffy and Davis do not make the rotation could be slotted into the bullpen as well.



NL West Links: D’Backs, Tanaka, Dodgers, Tomko

The Diamondbacks competed against some of MLB's largest markets for Masahiro Tanaka but ended up as one of the finalists for the Japanese righty.  FOX Sports Southwest's Jack Magruder and MLB.com's Steve Gilbert have the details from managing partner Ken Kendrick, team president Derrick Hall and GM Kevin Towers on how the Snakes courted Tanaka.  Though Tanaka ultimately signed with the Yankees, Kendrick feels the D'Backs "declared ourselves as committed to making a very significant offer to someone who can be a difference-maker to our club….The agent world understands that if we like a player, we will go after him. I don't think that's a bad thing."

Here's some more from around the NL West…

  • Towers reiterated that the team would still look to add "a top-of-the-rotation type guy" if one became available, and the general manager noted that more trade possibilities could open up with Tanaka now off the market.  That said, Towers and Hall said they were satisfied with their current pitching options and that their pursuit of Tanaka was a special case.  Magruder reported earlier today that Arizona wasn't planning to pursue other free agent starters given their high price tags.
  • The Diamondbacks' current TV rights contract expires after the 2015 season, and since the team expects to earn more TV money in its next deal, Hall felt the Snakes could afford to spend extra on Tanaka.  "This is not money that we had this past year or in the past," Hall said. "It's an anticipated increase in revenues. It was banking on the fact that — and it's been out there — that our television situation is going to change dramatically. With that, we were able to spread our wings a bit."
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and several team scouts attending a private workout with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, Baseball America's Ben Badler reports.  Badler profiled Castillo, a right-handed hitting outfielder with experience at second and third base, last month.  The 26-year-old may be months away from signing with a team, as he still to go through all of the procedural work required of Cuban players to reach the majors.
  • The Dodgers were "not anywhere close" in the bidding for Tanaka and were outbid by "a decent amount" by both the Yankees and Cubs, two sources tell Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.  While the Dodgers were obviously impressed enough with Tanaka to offer him a $100MM+ contract, "they're not convinced Tanaka is all that," Shaikin writes.  Since they didn't see Tanaka as a true ace and the Dodgers weren't desperate for pitching, they weren't willing to get into a bidding war.
  • Along these same lines, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon argues that the Dodgers don't need to pursue the likes of Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo or other free agent starters since they could have a surplus of pitching if Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett are healthy.  Zach Lee and other minor league arms are also on hand for rotation depth.
  • Veteran right-hander Brett Tomko threw for the Padres earlier this offseason, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link).  Tomko is attempting a comeback and recently told MLBTR's Zach Links that he had spoken with at least 10 other Major League clubs, as well as a few Asian teams.  For more on Tomko's comeback, check out Links' interview with the 40-year-old righty.

Brett Tomko On His Comeback Bid

Brett Tomko enjoyed a long career in Major League Baseball that included pitching in big games and stops in the postseason.  While some athletes in his position – accomplished professionally with a young family – would choose to relax and enjoy post-retirement life, the 40-year-old is enthusiastic about his bid to return to the bigs in 2014.

The veteran says he has every reason to be confident, because he's been counted out before and proved the naysayers wrong.  In the midst of his 100th career win late in 2009, he suffered a pinched nerve that caused him to lose feeling from his elbow to the middle of his hand.  When doctors jammed needles into Tomko's right arm as part of a nerve test to assess the damage, he didn't feel them.  The next year, the veteran pitched in the lower levels of the A's minor league system and got shelled by "18 and 19 year olds" as he couldn't get his fastball above 83 mph.  

He eventually got his velocity back, however, and hooked on with the Rangers in 2011 where he pitched in Triple-A after some time on the varsity squad.  He spent the bulk of 2012 with the Reds' Triple-A affiliate, but during his final start of the year, he dislocated his right shoulder.  Now, after a year of independent ball, Tomko says he's anxious to show MLB what he's capable of.

"I was basically told by a lot of doctors that I'd never pitch again and that kind of made me appreciate things more," Tomko said. "It gave me a new perspective on baseball and how great it was that I got to play for the last 18 years and how much I enjoyed playing.  I enjoy everything about the process: traveling to new cities, the competition..there's nothing I really don't enjoy about it."

Tomko is offering clubs more than just a positive attitude, though that's probably also a selling point, as he says that he's willing to pitch in Triple-A and eager to help young pitchers improve.  This offseason, the veteran has lost 20 to 25 pounds and has gotten his fastball up to the 90-93 mph range.  By his account, Tomko, who turns 41 in April, says that he feels as good as he did when he was 25.  He also played some winter ball for the first time in his professional career, spending a month in the Dominican Republic where he stifled big league hitters with regularity.

While in the Dominican, scouts from numerous teams – including the Mariners, Indians, Red Sox, Marlins, Nationals, Dodgers, and Mets – all spoke with Tomko and expressed varying degrees of interest.  The veteran has also chatted with the Angels and Yankees and will be throwing for the Orioles on Friday.  A few Asian clubs also approached him during his stint in the DR, and while he'll consider those opportunities, he says he would prefer a good Triple-A opportunity with a big league club.  Tomko says that agent Larry O'Brien will set up a formal audition for multiple clubs at the end of January or in the first week of February if he hasn't signed with a club by that time.

Tomko is taking it all one step at a time, but he's more than open to pitching beyond 2014 if the opportunity presents itself.  

"Physically, if I still feel as good as I did when I was younger, then I could see [pitching in 2015 and beyond].  I'll keep lacing it up until someone rips the uniform off of my back and says 'You're done.'" Tomko said.  "I tell my family all the time, I'd never go out there and embarrass myself, and if my stuff suffers or isn't the same or if my pitches have gone to the dumps, I'm done.  I feel like I can look in the mirror at any point and say it's been a good run, but I don't feel like I'm done.  I'm not throwing 95 or 96 [mph] like when I was 25 or 26, but I'll take 93.  If I was throwing 84, I'd say it's time to shut it down."

No matter what, Tomko says he wants to stay involved in baseball and would be open to different opportunities when he's done pitching, including coaching and serving as a TV analyst.  However, he's not thinking about any of that right now.

"I'd definitely want to stay in the game in some avenue, whether it's being with an organization in a role where you still help the young kids…I'm game for anything.  But, right now my focus is playing and pitching and working out.  I have the same mindset every year.  This February I'm going to be in camp somewhere and ready to pitch."


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Free Agent Notes: Brewers, Williams, Gaudin, Figgins, Tomko

With the signings of Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds to minor league deals, the Brewers seem likely to spend roster spots on both of the veterans. "[First base] is a position where we may have to mix and match with Overbay, Reynolds, Juan Francisco," GM Doug Melvin told MLB.com's Dick Kaegel"We've got numbers now to work with and guys can come into camp and be competitive. … I didn't think we'd be able to sign both Reynolds and Overbay, but sometimes the situation with two guys doing it, you might get some production." 

Let's have a look at some notes on a few other free agents who are likely to end up with one-year or minor league deals:

  • The Phillies are not pursuing Jerome Williams at present in spite of prior interest, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Philadelphia does, however, have an offer out to a swingman whose identity is not presently known, according to Cotillo. (Twitter links.)
  • About a half-dozen teams are "in on" pitcher Chad Gaudin, who is expected to reach agreement soon, reports Cotillo (via Twitter). Last we checked in on Gaudin, the Phils were being floated as a possible landing spot.
  • Red Sox scouts actually were in attendance to watch infielder Chone Figgins work out last week, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo had recently reported to the contrary. The 35-year-old signed with the Marlins last spring, but did not make it out of camp with the organization.
  • Righty Brett Tomko, who is reportedly on the comeback trail at age 40, will throw for the Orioles on Friday, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. As MLBTR's Zach Links noted on Twitter, Tomko has received interest from multiple clubs and is said to be throwing in the low-90s.

Half Dozen Teams Interested In Brett Tomko

About a half dozen clubs have expressed interest in right-hander Brett Tomko, tweets MLBTR's Zach Links. The 40-year-old will throw for teams within the next few weeks either in California or Arizona, Links reports.

Tomko is open to a bullpen role and is willing to go to Triple-A and mentor pitching prospects, which, according to Links (via Twitter), should help him land a job. Links notes, in a separate tweet, potential suitors will evaluate Tomko at his throwing session, but won't make a decision until late in camp based on the depth of their pitching staffs. 

Tomko, who impressed during his stint in the Dominican League, spent the 2013 season with the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League. He made 19 starts (two complete games) compiling a 4.98 ERA, 6.5 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in 124 2/3 innings. Tomko's last MLB appearance was eight games in 2011 coming out of the Rangers' bullpen. During his 14-year Major League career, Tomko has posted a 4.65 ERA, 6.0 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 in 367 games (266 starts).   


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Quick Hits: Tomko, Rockies, Turner, Twins

Brett Tomko, who impressed with his pitching in a recent stint in the Dominican Republic, is working out in California and plans to audition for clubs in late January, a source tells MLBTR's Zach Links. The veteran is healthy and hitting 90-92 mph on the gun with his fastball to go along with a solid changeup and cutter. Tomko is seeking a minor-league deal with an invite to big-league spring training. If he doesn't make the 25-man roster out of the gate, he's willing to go to Triple-A as an insurance policy to either start or pitch out of the bullpen. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • If you've ever wondered how salaries work for non-Japanese players in Japanese baseball, NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman has a handy chart. Former top MLB players like Andruw Jones and new Rakuten Golden Eagle Kevin Youkilis have salaries that top $3MM. Former MLB regulars who weren't stars, like Casey McGehee and Nyjer Morgan, tend to make in the $1MM-$3MM range, while good Triple-A players and fringe big-leaguers like John Bowker and Fred Lewis make between $400K and $1MM.
  • The Rockies deserve a B- grade for their offseason so far, opines Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post (on Sulia). Renck notes that the Rockies haven't acquired a catcher like Carlos Ruiz (who ended up re-signing with the Phillies). He also suggests the Rockies ought to also try to add another starting pitcher. Juan Nicasio, Jordan Lyles and Christian Friedrich are currently their main fifth-starter possibilities behind Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood.
  • The Twins have "checked in" on free-agent infielder Justin Turner, although their level of interest is unclear, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson tweets. Wolfson notes that Turner is connected to Twins special assistant Wayne Krivsky, who drafted Turner in 2006, when Krivsky was the GM of the Reds.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


Minor Moves: Rodriguez, Hamilton, Tomko, D’Backs

Today's minor moves, courtesy of Baseball America's Matt Eddy..

  • The Braves have signed left-hander Daniel Rodriguez out of the Mexican League, reports Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 27-year-old owns a 2.54 ERA in 117 innings this season, and has led the league in strikeouts in each of the past three years.
  • The Cardinals have released Mark Hamilton, reports MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch (on Twitter). The 28-year-old put up a .231/.340/.419 line with 15 homers in 359 Triple-A plate appearances this season.
  • The Diamondbacks signed right-hander Brett Tomko.  The 39-year-old was released by the Reds earlier this month after posting a 3.78 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 12 Triple-A starts.
  • The Diamondbacks also signed third baseman Matt Mangini, who was recently released by the Rays.  Mangini was with Tampa Bay's Triple-A affiliate but has been assigned to Double-A Mobile.  The 26-year-old had a cup of coffee in the majors with the Mariners in 2010.
  • Tigers outfielder Don Kelly cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Toledo.  Kelly was outrighted after being DFA'd on August 3rd.
  • The Twins released right-hander Eric Hurley, who elected free agency from the Angels last month.  The 2004 first-round pick was once viewed as a high-ceiling prospect but has yet to appear in the majors since a five-game stint with the Rangers in 2008.

Minor Moves: Sanches, Reds, McPherson

The latest minor moves… 

  • Sanches wasn't unemployed very long. Christopher Dabe of The Beaumont Enterprise reports that the right-hander has signed with his hometown Astros.
  • The Phillies released right-hander Brian Sanches, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Philadelphia outrighted Sanches to the minor leagues late last month.
  • The Reds released veteran right-hander Brett Tomko, according to the team's assistant director of media relations, Jamie Ramsey (on Twitter). Tomko had been pitching at Triple-A.
  • The White Sox signed Tommy Manzella to a minor league contract, according to the transactions page at CBSSports.com. Manzella, who was the Astros' Opening Day shortstop in 2010, has spent the last two years in the minors. The 29-year-old played for affiliates of the Brewers and Diamondbacks this year, posting a .229/.308/.271 batting line in 295 plate appearances.
  • The White Sox released Dallas McPherson from their Triple-A team, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports (on Twitter). The former top prospect posted a .253/.335/.463 line with Charlotte this year after re-signing with the White Sox organization this past offseason.