- Twins, Brian Dozier Making Progress On Extension
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- White Sox Great Minnie Minoso Passes Away
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Chicago White Sox Rumors
The White Sox announced today that they have promoted Jeremy Haber, who was previously assistant to general manager Rick Hahn and will now bear the title of assistant GM. The 31-year-old Haber led negotiations on the team’s five-year, $21MM extension with Jose Quintana last offseason, says Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter), and he also leads salary arbitration negotiations. CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes profiled Haber last offseason, noting an impressive educational background but little experience in the baseball world. Haber has a B.A. in political science from Brown as well as an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Haber was initially hired as an intern with the Red Sox after a series of blind emails to teams in search of a front office opportunity, and he’s since helped in the White Sox’ hiring of hitting coach Todd Steverson in addition to making player acquisition recommendations for Hahn and the rest of the Chicago front office.
More from the American League:
- Huston Street tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that he and Angels GM Jerry Dipoto have begun swapping text messages to figure out a time when they can have more serious extension discussions in the near future. Street, who acts as his own agent, has said he wants to get a new contract worked out in Spring Training and made no attempt to hide the fact that he’s eyeing something between the four-year, $36MM deal inked by Andrew Miller and the four-year, $46MM contract signed by David Robertson. He did say he envisions a new contract overriding his current one-year deal, so he’s essentially looking for three new years.
- Ryan Ludwick told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that multiple teams for which he had played in the past expressed interest in bringing him back this offseason, though he declined to specify which teams. The Rangers are clearly one, as the now-36-year-old signed a minor league pact to return to Texas, where he made his big league debut 13 years ago. “It’s cool knowing that teams are willing to take you on,” Ludwick said Sunday. “I guess that means I’m somewhat of a decent guy.” The Rangers will hope that in addition to being a “somewhat decent guy,” Ludwick will bring the offense he showed as recently as 2012, when he hit .275/.346/.531 with 26 homers in just 472 plate appearances for the Reds. He’s also played for the Cardinals, Indians, Padres and Pirates.
- Replacing Nelson Cruz‘s production will not be straightforward but may yet be possible for the Orioles, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com writes. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette explains that the current roster not only has power across the board but does so with generally well-rounded players. And, as he notes, the team will never “grab a lot of headlines in the offseason,” as would have been needed to bring Cruz back or replace him with a single player. “We pick up players year round,” said Duquette. “We don’t do it all in the offseason.”
Minnie Minoso, the first black MLB player in Chicago and considered one of the greats in White Sox history, has died. The Chicago Tribune reports an autopsy showed Minoso suffered a tear in his pulmonary artery caused by “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” Per police and family, Minoso was on his way home early Sunday morning from a friend’s birthday party when he took ill. He was found unresponsive in the driver’s seat of his car with no signs of trauma.
“We have lost our dear friend and a great man. Many tears are falling,” White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement (Twitter links). “When you talk about the top players in the AL in the 1950s, you talk about Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Minnie Minoso.”
President Barack Obama, a noted White Sox fan, offered his condolences (Twitter link). “For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always will be “Mr. White Sox.” Minnie may have been passed over by the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, but for me and generations of black and Latino young people, Minnie’s quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could.”
Minoso had failed to receive enough votes from the Golden Era Committee to be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame despite posting four top-5 American League MVP finishes, being a seven time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, the 1950 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up, and ending his 17-year career, which began in 1949 with the Indians and culminated in two at-bats with the White Sox in 1980 at the age of 54, with a line of .298/.389/.459. Minoso was a trailblazer, as he is considered the first Latin American superstar. Hall of Famer Orland Cepeda called Minoso “the Jackie Robinson for all Latinos; the first star who opened doors for all Latin American players. He was everybody’s hero. I wanted to be Minoso. (Roberto) Clemente wanted to be Minoso.”
Minoso, whose number 9 has been retired by the White Sox, teamed with Cubs legend Ernie Banks, who passed away himself in January, as one of the game’s top goodwill ambassadors, not just for the City of Chicago, but for all of baseball. “I’m proud of everything,” Minoso said of his career (as quoted in the Chicago Tribune article). “I’m proud to be a baseball player.”
Minoso is survived by his wife, Sharon, two sons, Orestes Jr. and Charlie, and two daughters, Marilyn and Cecilia. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Top 2014 White Sox draft pick Carlos Rodon could receive more attention in Spring Training with ace Chris Sale out with an avulsion fracture, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. Chris Beck, Scott Carroll, Brad Penny and Francellis Montas could also get extra looks. GM Rick Hahn emphasizes, however, that the timing of Rodon’s eventual promotion to the big leagues will be dictated by how ready he is, not by a vacancy in the rotation. After racing through the minor leagues and getting all the way to Triple-A after signing last year, Rodon appears close to being ready, although he only has a total of nine minor-league outings under his belt. Here’s more from the American League.
- The terms of Josh Hamilton‘s likely suspension following his relapse are, clearly, secondary to the relapse itself, and what’s most important is Hamilton’s recovery. MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez notes, though, that the impending suspension could have implications for the Angels‘ payroll. The team will save about $126K for every day Hamilton is suspended. They’ll also save the prorated portion of the Hamilton contract’s $25MM average annual value against the luxury tax threshold. It’s probably too late for them to use any of that money on free agents, but Gonzalez notes that they could spend it on players they add in-season. Gonzalez also writes that Hamilton’s suspension would begin at the start of the season, when he could still be rehabbing from shoulder surgery.
- Barry Zito will appear in his first game action since 2013 when he faces the Cubs in Cactus League action on Thursday, MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes. Zito is in camp on a minor-league deal with the Athletics after taking a year off following the Giants’ decision to decline his 2014 option. “I have a fresh perspective,” he says. “I’ve got my passion back, and I just want to continue to work hard and go out and enjoy competing. I guess you could say I’m competing against all these guys, but for me, it’s more about competing against myself.”
The White Sox have announced that star pitcher Chris Sale has suffered an avulsion fracture in his right foot, sustained Friday in an accident at his home. (GM Rick Hahn says Sale sustained the injury while unloading his truck, according to CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes on Twitter.) Sale is expected to be out three weeks. That means he should return to pitching before the start of the season, although it remains to be seen how the timing of the injury will affect his preparations. The White Sox say they’ll evaluate whether Sale will be ready for Opening Day once he undergoes more tests. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- Most of the Cubs‘ top picks from their 2010 draft haven’t panned out, but the team could still get good value from several of their later-round picks, including Matt Szczur, Dallas Beeler and Eric Jokisch, the Associated Press writes. “I was the first one out of the draft class to be called up, and everyone seemed to follow after that,” says Beeler. “I felt like I got the ball rolling for everybody on that. That was a good feeling.” Beeler and Jokisch got good results in their first exposure to the big leagues last season, although neither are likely to make the team out of Spring Training after the Cubs added pitching talent this offseason.
- Pitcher Gavin Floyd says he signed with the Indians in part because he felt manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway could help him, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Also, Floyd liked the Indians’ chances of winning and welcomed a return to the AL Central, with which he became familiar as a member of the White Sox from 2007-2013. Floyd has also been limited the past two years due to arm injuries, and the Indians have a fairly good track record of getting the most from bounce-back pitchers like Scott Kazmir and Carl Pavano. After missing much of the 2014 season with a broken bone in his elbow, Floyd has been pitching off a mound in Spring Training.
Major League Baseball has let teams know the bonus pool values for the 2015 amateur draft, and Baseball America’s John Manuel has the full list of what each team can spend on players taken in the first 10 rounds. The Astros have the highest bonus pool (at a bit more than $17.289MM) in part because they received the second overall selection as compensation for not signing Brady Aiken with the No. 1 pick last summer — Houston has both the second and fifth overall picks in the 2015 draft. As noted earlier today, the 2015-16 international draft pool values were also determined and revealed by Baseball America’s Ben Badler.
Here’s some more from around the game…
- Huston Street and the Angels haven’t begun yet talks about an extension during Spring Training, he tells MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link). Street said he wanted “a week or so to settle in first” at camp and then the two sides would start negotiating. The closer is known to be looking for a new deal comparable to the contracts signed by David Robertson and Andrew Miller this offseason.
- The Indians are still interested in adding Dayan Viciedo but only on a minor league contract, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Hoynes reported on the Tribe’s interest in Viciedo two weeks ago, though Hoynes felt Viciedo would more likely opt for a team who could offer him a Major League deal and a clearer path to playing time.
- Melky Cabrera was already intrigued by the White Sox since his wife loves Chicago, though the outfielder wasn’t totally sold until he saw the team’s winter moves, Cabrera told CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes. When GM Rick Hahn approached Cabrera earlier in the offseason, he was more skeptical since he wanted to play for a contender. Cabrera “really wanted to win,” Hahn recalled. “(He said) ‘But with all due respect are you guys really in a position to win and am I really a difference maker for you?’ ”
- With Michael Saunders sidelined for several months, the Blue Jays are lacking in solid left field replacement options, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes. Nicholson-Smith lists several internal and external candidates who are flawed (or unlikely to be pursued) for one reason or another. The Padres‘ Will Venable is cited as perhaps the best trade candidate for the Jays’ LF hole, though even he isn’t a perfect fit.
- The Mariners are putting a lot of faith in Logan Morrison to be healthy and productive this season, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes, given Morrison’s injury history and Seattle’s lack of depth at the first base position.
Joe Blanton, who is in Spring Training with the Royals on a minor league deal this year, missed the game more than he thought he would upon briefly retiring in 2014, writes ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Blanton spent his year off with his wife and three children, but he tells Crasnick that he felt he owed it to himself to take one more shot at the game. “It was nice being home with my family,” Blanton explains. “But the window is small. I’ve done this my whole life. I’ve put a lot into it, so why not see what’s left? I felt like it was almost an injustice to myself to just step away like that.” Blanton recognizes that there may not be an immediate path to the Major League roster in Kansas City and is open to pitching at Triple-A. “I didn’t play in 2014, and 2013 was a terrible year,” says Blanton. “That’s two years of basically nothing — no good work or no playing at all. So I’m kind of starting back at square one, really.”
Some more news and notes from Blanton’s new division, the AL Central…
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says that Joba Chamberlain turned down more lucrative offers from other clubs to return to Detroit, according to MLB.com’s Jason Beck (Twitter links). Talks between the two sides picked up over the past few days and came together last night, Beck adds. “He really wanted to come back,” Dombrowski said.
- Non-roster invitees Jesse Crain and Matt Albers could be significant boosts to the White Sox bullpen if healthy, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. Crain is already further along than he was in an injury-plagued 2014 season in which he spent the entire year on the disabled list. He tells Merkin that he’s already throwing off a mound with just one day between sessions, which is something he didn’t do at all last year. As for Albers, Merkin interestingly notes that he nearly signed with the White Sox last offseason but instead chose to sign with the Astros, where he missed nearly the entire year after tearing a muscle in his shoulder.
- Glen Perkins called the first day of Spring Training under new Twins manager Paul Molitor the most mentally intensive first day of camp he’s ever had in his career, writes Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. Molitor worked with pitchers and catchers to outline the ways in which the Twins need to improve on holding runners to help limit the running game, specifically focusing on tendencies throughout the staff that other teams exploited in 2014. Perkins spoke highly of Molitor’s baseball acumen and teaching ability, and Mackey writes that Molitor’s wealth of knowledge and attention to detail could boost the Twins’ on-field product if he’s able to communicate everything effectively.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- Righty David Herndon has signed a minor league deal with the Brewers, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com tweets. The 29-year-old, who is trying to reach the bigs for the first time since 2012, has been significantly limited by injuries over the last several seasons. Over 117 total MLB frames from 2010-12, Herndon owns a 3.85 ERA with 5.8 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9.
- Third baseman Josh Bell has signed a minor league deal with the Padres, agent Josh Kusnick announced on Twitter. Formerly a top prospect with the Dodgers and one of the top 40 prospects in baseball (per Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus), Bell spent much of last season in Korea, hitting .267/.345/.433 with the LG Twins. Those numbers are a near-mirror image of his career line at Triple-A, where he’s batted .267/.355/.451 in 1402 plate appearances.
- Right-hander Gonzalez Germen has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Iowa by the Cubs, tweets the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. Germen, who has been designated for assignment a stunning four times this winter, will finally know which organization he will be a part of come Spring Training. He’ll be invited to Major League camp, per Gonzales.
- Reds left-hander Ismael Guillon has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, reports MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon (on Twitter). Guillon was designated for assignment when the team signed Burke Badenhop over the weekend. Guillon, who turns 23 years old today, has been a mainstay on Cincinnati’s Top 30 prospects list (per Baseball America), topping out at No. 9, but he’s struggled to a 4.82 ERA over the past two seasons at multiple Class-A levels. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel recently ranked him 21st among Reds farmhands, noting that one scout called him a “pull your hair out” type of guy due to his wild inconsistencies.
- The Giants have signed lefty specialist Clay Rapada to a minor league contract, reports Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (via Twitter). Yankees blogger Robert Casey first reported the news recently on Twitter. Rapada, 34 in March, has just two Major League innings over the past two seasons but has an excellent track record of dominating left-handed hitters. He’s held opposing lefties to a .164/.255/.231 batting line in 257 big league plate appearances, but righties have tattooed him at a .345/.464/.611 clip. Rapada held lefties to a .639 OPS in Triple-A last season, but righties got to him for a 1.134 OPS.
Third baseman Nick Delmonico, who was released by the Brewers last week, has latched on with the White Sox on a minor league deal, tweets Eddy. If Delmonico’s name looks familiar, it’s because he was the player the Brewers received from the Orioles in exchange for Francisco Rodriguez in 2013. Formerly one of Baltimore’s top prospects, Delmonico was suspended last summer for amphetamine usage. The 22-year-old has yet to climb higher than Class-A Advanced, where he is a .241/.332/.417 hitter in 500 plate appearances.
- Eddy also tweets that the Red Sox have signed right-hander Jess Todd — not to be confused with MLBTR scribe Jeff Todd — to a minor league contract. Todd, originally drafted by the Cardinals, was traded to the Indians alongside Chris Perez in return for Mark DeRosa back in 2009. Now 28 years of age, Todd has little MLB experience (28 1/3 innings) but does boast a strong track record at Triple-A, where he’s worked to a 3.62 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 380 1/3 innings.
10:17am: Albers will earn $1.5MM if he makes the Major League roster, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links). The White Sox were one of five clubs to make him an offer, Drellich adds.
10:05am: The White Sox and right-hander Matt Albers are in agreement on a minor league contract, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The SSG Baseball client recently worked out for as many as 12 teams and hit 91 mph on the radar gun after missing nearly all of the 2014 season with shoulder issues.
The 32-year-old Albers has been excellent when healthy over the past three seasons. In that time, he owns a 2.63 ERA with 5.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 59.4 percent ground-ball rate. That ground-ball rate likely appeals to the White Sox, who play their home games in a particularly homer-friendly environment.
White Sox relievers posted baseball’s third-worst ERA in 2014 (4.38), and GM Rick Hahn and his staff have made revamping the relief corps a priority this offseason. Adding David Robertson on a four-year, $46MM contract was the most significant move toward that effort, but the team has also added Zach Duke on a three-year, $15MM contract and brought back Jesse Crain on a minor league deal as well. In-house options to fill out the White Sox bullpen include righties Jake Petricka, Daniel Webb, Javy Guerra and Zach Putnam as well as lefties Dan Jennings and Eric Surkamp.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was a guest on MLB Network’s Hot Stove earlier this morning and spoke with hosts Ron Darling and Fran Charles to discuss his team’s aggressive offseason (video link). Chicago, of course, has added Jeff Samardzija via trade in addition to signing David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, Zach Duke, Emilio Bonifacio and Geovany Soto.
Here are some highlights from Hahn’s appearance as well as another White Sox item…
- Chicago’s plan goes back to the 2013 trade deadline, Hahn said. “…The die was cast on that season being a disappointment fairly early on,” he explained, “which gave us the opportunity to take a step back and assess where we needed to go as an organization and areas we had to get better.” The Sox flipped Jake Peavy for not only Avisail Garcia but top prospect Francellis Montas, whose stock has soared since the deal. That trade, as well as the trade of Alex Rios, freed up enough cash for the Sox to add Jose Abreu last winter, and his immediate impact helped the team decide to make a push this winter.
- Early in the offseason, Hahn sat down with owner Jerry Reinsdorf, president Kenny Williams, manager Robin Ventura, pitching coach Don Cooper and hitting coach Todd Steverson to assess the state of the organization. The “marching orders” from Reinsdorf after that meeting “were to go out and put us in a position to contend,” Hahn explained, noting that Reinsdorf did not want to waste the primes of players such as Abreu, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
- One reason that the club added LaRoche, according to Hahn, was that Abreu “ran out of a gas” a bit down the stretch. The team is hopeful that by giving Abreu a little more time at DH and using LaRoche at first base on those days, Abreu can sustain his production throughout the year. Abreu hit only five homers over the final two months of the season, and he posted a relatively pedestrian (by his standards, anyhow) .799 OPS over the final 21 games of 2014. That, of course, could be nothing more than a small sample size, though the lack of home runs could be seen as a sign of fatigue.
- Asked by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports/MLB Network whether the state of the division impacted the Sox’ aggressive push (referring to the fact that the Tigers and Royals are seen by some as worse than they were in 2014). “We don’t look around and see the team that won the AL Championship in Kansas City or the team that’s won the division the last four years in Detroit as necessarily coming back to the pack,” Hahn replied. Rather, he explained, the decision was more about a belief that the White Sox are in a position where they can reach the same level as those clubs and contend for a division title.
- Non-roster invitee Tony Campana suffered a torn ACL in a recent training session and will likely miss the entire 2015 season, the Sox announced on Twitter. It’s a tough break for the 28-year-old speedster, who was looking to make the club as a fourth outfielder after posting a solid .277/.336/.340 batting line in Triple-A with the D-Backs and Angels last season.
The White Sox and Brewers have had the best and worst offseasons, respectively, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The White Sox were aggressive but conservative in spending their financial flexibility and did well by not surrendering any top prospects to acquire Jeff Samardzija. The Brewers, meanwhile, are not good enough to compete in the NL Central now or in the near future and should have either made a big play for a free agent like James Shields or turned over the roster on a grander scale than just trading Yovani Gallardo.
Elsewhere in baseball:
- If the Marlins are unable to further upgrade their rotation, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro advocates the club signing Francisco Rodriguez, not to supplant closer Steve Cishek but to solidify the back end of their bullpen. Frisaro tweeted the Marlins could apply their arbitration savings of $1.265MM (achieved with the Mike Dunn extension and in winning the Mat Latos arbitration hearing) towards signing Rodriguez. Earlier today, Frisaro reported the Marlins have contacted K-Rod’s agent, Scott Boras.
- GM Jeff Bridich sees the free agent signing of Kyle Kendrick and the acquisition of David Hale as updgrading the Rockies‘ rotation, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. “I certainly feel like the depth has been addressed to a certain degree,” Bridich said. “We were involved in both free agency and trades. Again, we have a good sense of what Kyle Kendrick is and what he can do. I think he has proven himself. With the acquisition of somebody like Hale … I think there is upside there.“
- MLB.com’s Terence Moore profiles Dusty Baker, who would “like to have another chance to manage, because the only thing lacking in my career is” a World Series ring, but is content if he never receives that opportunity.
- Cuban infielder Alejandro Ortiz has petitioned for free agency and is expected to hit the market soon, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The 24-year-old, who possesses speed and a good glove, played five seasons in Serie Nacional, so he is exempt from counting against a team’s international signing bonus pool.