Brett Tomko Rumors

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.

NL Central Notes: Burnett, Madson, Kvasnicka

Let's celebrate perhaps the last year of a six-team NL Central with spring training links for all the clubs…

  • Pirates infielder Gustavo Nunez, who was taken from the Tigers in December's Rule 5 draft, was placed on the 60-day DL with a right ankle injury, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  Side effects of the move: the Pirates buy some time before deciding whether to put Nunez on the 25-man roster, and a 40-man roster spot is opened for new acquisition A.J. Burnett.
  • The Burnett acquisition creates competition at the back end of the Pirates' rotation, writes Biertempfel.  He believes Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens will battle for the last spot, if everyone is healthy.  Burnett talked to reporters this morning.  One interesting news tidbit was his comment that one ever asked him about a potential Angels trade, though he confirmed he's not interested in the West Coast for family reasons.  Unprompted, Burnett debunked the rumors about his wife's transportation preferences, saying with a smile, "She loves to fly."
  • Ryan Madson's $8.5MM commitment with the Reds is spread out over three budgets, explains ESPN's Buster Olney: "$2MM during the 2012 season, $2MM in deferred salary on Nov. 1, 2012 — which is the start of the 2013 budget — and another $2MM in deferred salary, without interest, on Nov. 1, 2013, at the outset of the 2014 fiscal year. In the middle of that, they have a $2.5MM buyout on an $11 million option for 2013."  On the topic of his one-year deal, Madson told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, "I take it as motivation to show people again, to prove that it's real.  It's unfortunate it's that way but I'm not complaining. I'm very happy. I'm very privileged to have this opportunity, and I just want to run with it and show people that I will be OK."
  • Righty Brett Tomko always wanted to come back to Cincinnati, he told John Fay of the Enquirer.  Tomko said it's taken two years to recover from a 2009 pinched nerve.
  • The Astros could have a new player at all nine positions for Opening Day 2012 compared to '11, writes Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.
  • Astros 2010 supplemental first-round pick Mike Kvasnicka is moving back to catcher from third base, tweets Levine.  Kvasnicka was recently ranked 25th among Astros prospects by Baseball America.
  • "I'm not one to look back with animosity, however people or fans want to view my time there," former Cubs GM Jim Hendry told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.  Hendry noted that it was "just nice" to be wanted by the Yankees, "the most storied franchise in sports."  He's now with the Yankees as a special assistant to GM Brian Cashman, and isn't worrying about becoming a GM again.
  • "They always say contract years turn out to be great years," Brewers starter Chris Narveson mentioned to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum are entering contract years, while Randy Wolf has a $10MM club option for '13 with a $1.5MM buyout.
  • Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright refuses to put a limit on his innings following 2011 Tommy John surgery, he told MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, but she notes that GM John Mozeliak has said 200 frames is likely out of the question.

Reds To Sign Brett Tomko

The Reds have agreed to sign right-hander Brett Tomko to a minor league deal, MLBTR has learned. The 14-year veteran split the 2011 season between the Rangers and their Triple-A affiliate.

Tomko appeared in eight games for the Rangers last year, posting a 4.58 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9 in 17 2/3 innings. The 38-year-old Paragon Sports International client also pitched 108 1/3 innings for Texas' top affiliate, starting 18 games. Tomko broke in with the Reds in 1997, spending three seasons in Cincinnati before being traded to Seattle in the Ken Griffey Jr. deal.


22 Triple-A Players Elect Free Agency

A total of 22 players that finished the year in Triple-A elected free agency after the end of the regular season according to the transaction pages of the Pacific Coast and International Leagues. All but one of those 22 players (Matt Carson, formerly of the Rays) played in the big leagues this season. Here's the full list:

Dusty Brown (Pirates), Travis Buck (Indians), Armando Galarraga (D'Backs), Jay Gibbons (Dodgers), Edgar Gonzalez (Rockies), Steve Holm (Twins), Wil Ledezma (Blue Jays), Andy LaRoche (Athletics), Felipe Lopez (Brewers), Lastings Milledge (White Sox), Pat Misch (Mets), Pat Neshek (Padres), Mike O'Connor (Mets), Matt Palmer (Angels), Felix Pie (Orioles), Brad Snyder (Cubs), Brett Tomko (Rangers), Wyatt Toregas (Pirates), P.J. Walters (Blue Jays), Randy Williams (Red Sox), and Reggie Willits (Angels).