- Rangers Sign Joe Beimel
- No Extension Talks Between White Sox, Samardzija
- Hunter Pence To Miss 6-8 Weeks With Forearm Fracture
- Hector Olivera May Have UCL Damage
- Orioles Release Suk-min Yoon
- Cubs To Sign Phil Coke
- Orioles, Suk-min Yoon Finalizing Contract Settlement
- Phil Coke “Very Close” To Deal With Unknown Team
- Dodgers Willing To Pay Half Of Ethier’s Contract In Trade
- Joel Hanrahan To Undergo Tommy John Surgery, Released By Tigers
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- Yadier Alvarez Establishes Residency In Haiti
- Minor Moves: Gamel, Carpenter, Solis, Thurston
- NL Notes: Pence, Marlins, Soriano, Tomas, Lopez
- Rangers Sign Joe Beimel
- Royals Sign Casey Kotchman To Minor League Deal
- AL West Notes: Hamilton, Angels, Darvish, Mariners
- MRI Reveals Ligament Damage In Tim Collins’ Elbow
- AL Central Notes: Moss, Collins, Twins, Coke
- Braves, Peter Moylan Agree To Minor League Deal
- Quick Hits: Vogelsong, Royals, Lee, Erasmo
- No Extension Talks Between White Sox, Samardzija
- AL East Notes: Castillo, Yoon, Hoffman, Yankees
- Hunter Pence To Miss 6-8 Weeks With Forearm Fracture
- Mariners Designate Ji-Man Choi For Assignment
- Hector Olivera May Have UCL Damage
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Chicago White Sox Rumors
The White Sox announced that they have signed infielder Gordon Beckham to a one-year, $2MM contract and designated outfielder Dayan Viciedo for assignment in order to clear a space on the 40-man roster. Earlier today, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweeted that a reunion between the Sox and Beckham was a possibility.
Chicago is of course more familiar with Beckham than any other club, having formerly drafted him eighth overall and watched him on their big league roster from 2009 through this past August, when he was traded to the Angels. Beckham never lived up to a strong rookie season and batted a fairly pedestrian .241/.300/.361 from 2010-14. However, the Sox were known to be looking for a utility infielder that can handle left-handed pitching, and Beckham will presumably fill that role with the team.
The White Sox and Viciedo had already agreed to a one-year, $4.4MM contract to avoid arbitration, however that salary is not fully guaranteed. This situation is the same in which Emilio Bonifacio found himself with the Royals last winter, when he was designated after agreeing to a salary. (Coincidentally, Bonifacio had a solid season and signed a $4MM contract to join the White Sox this offseason.) The White Sox are able to cut Viciedo for roughly one sixth of his agreed upon salary at this point, meaning they’ll be on the hook for roughly $733K of that $4.4MM sum, should he ultimately be released. Of course, a team could claim the entirety of Viciedo’s $4.4MM salary on waivers (which seems unlikely) or trade for him, with Chicago kicking in some cash as well.
Viciedo, 26 in March, has never provided much in the way of defensive value and saw his offense slip to a .231/.281/.405 triple-slash in 2014 — his worst full season of production to date. I was a bit surprised to see that the team tendered him a contract, but the Sox likely did so with the intent of flipping him to a club that was still enticed by his right-handed power. However, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets, the Sox tried unsuccessfully to trade Viciedo all offseason. Now, with Melky Cabrera in the fold in left field, Avisail Garcia expected to man right field and Jose Abreu/Adam LaRoche sharing time at first base and DH, there wasn’t a good fit on the roster for Viciedo.
Beckham will join Bonifacio as an option at second base, though he’s also capable of serving as a platoon partner for Conor Gillaspie at third base, shielding Gillaspie from his weakness against southpaws. Should Beckham finally tap into the potential that made him the eighth pick in the 2008 draft, he’d be able to fill in at second base on an everyday basis, with Bonifacio shifting into the role of a super utility player.
Members of the White Sox are excited about GM Rick Hahn’s high-profile offseason, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com writes. “They were busy, worked hard and instilled confidence in the guys that were here,” says Adam Eaton. “It kind of credits (us) that ‘This is a good base, this is the time to stretch it.’” For a 73-89 team, the 2014 White Sox had a lot go right, including excellent performances from starters Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, along with an exceptional rookie season from Jose Abreu and good contributions from Eaton and Alexei Ramirez. Now they’ve added Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke to that talent base. “You go from not expecting anything or not knowing what to expect to now you expect quite a bit and expect success,” says Eaton. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- The Twins believed they had completed two trades that ultimately fell through this offseason, as the players they wanted were traded to other teams, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN reports (Twitter links). Wolfson says he wondered if those trades might have involved Jeremy Hellickson (who went to the Diamondbacks) or J.A. Happ (who headed to the Mariners), but was told no in both cases.
- New Cubs manager Joe Maddon traveled to Puerto Rico to see Javier Baez play winter ball, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat writes, citing a report from the Puerto Rican paper El Nuevo Dia. “He’s trying way too hard,” says Maddon. “I want him to back off. The last thing I want him to do is try to impress me tonight. … I said, ‘Hit a couple singles and, above all, I want to see you smile.’” The 22-year-old Baez’s underwhelming 2014 debut (.169/.227/.324 in 229 plate appearances) was understandable given his youth, although he’ll probably have to improve his strikeout rate before he can make an impact in the big leagues. He’ll compete for a spot in the Cubs’ infield in Spring Training.
With the 2014 free agent class thinning out behind James Shields, Francisco Rodriguez, and Rafael Soriano, the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff takes a look ahead at the 2015 free agent market. Davidoff predicts David Price will sign the richest contract of the class – if he doesn’t ink an extension first. He also predicts Matt Wieters will sneak his way into a big contract while Justin Upton could be seriously hurt by his move to San Diego.
- If Orioles Executive VP Dan Duquette does join the Blue Jays, Baltimore should receive one or two good prospects, opines John Lott of the National Post. However, Lott also figures first round pick Jeff Hoffman is too steep a price. Historically, executives have not cost much in player talent to acquire. Randy Winn represents the best such return, with most trades featuring minor leaguers who barely sniff the majors. Baseball should enforce stiffer costs to front office poaching in Lott’s opinion. Personally, I imagine a punitive but purely financial cost would be the fairest way to approach the problem.
- From the Orioles perspective, the club needs to definitively decide Duquette’s future before their upcoming FanFest, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Both Duquette and owner Peter Angelos do “things at [their] own pace,” so the situation could linger. For what it’s worth, the White Sox diffused the rumors quickly when Ken Williams was in the spotlight. That tells me the Orioles are genuinely open to dealing Duquette.
- With the signing of Geovany Soto, White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers has competition, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Flowers is still penciled in as the starter behind the dish, but the club has plenty of depth with Soto, George Kottaras, Rob Brantly, and Adrian Nieto. GM Rick Hahn mentioned Kottaras as a potential platoon partner for Flowers.
- Alex Meyer, the Twins fourth best prospect and 27th overall per MLB.com, figures to compete to become the club’s fifth starter, reports Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Candidates for the back of the rotation include Mike Pelfrey, Tommy Milone, and Trevor May. Given that he still has options, he’ll have to seriously impress to beat out his veteran counterparts and May.
The Marlins‘ offseason moves position them for a “measured buildup,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Mat Latos has just one year of control remaining, while Martin Prado and Michael Morse have two. And even the post-opt-out portion of Giancarlo Stanton‘s contract is structured so that the Marlins will be able to afford it once they renegotiate their TV deal. This isn’t like the 2011-2012 offseason, when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to long-term deals, only to trade all three. For that reason, Rosenthal writes, the Marlins are unlikely to sign James Shields to a big contract, even though they’ve been connected to him lately. Here’s more from throughout the big leagues.
- After Ichiro Suzuki plays his first game with the Marlins, the Reds will be the last team that hasn’t had a Japanese-born player, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. The Reds did express interest in Nori Aoki this offseason, but they don’t have a strong presence in Japan (although Rosecrans notes that the Reds aren’t the only team that doesn’t). “We do have some people who do cross checking. We don’t have a scout in Japan,” said GM Walt Jocketty. “It’s too costly.”
- The White Sox signed closer David Robertson for four years and $46MM, but GM Rick Hahn says they weren’t the highest bidder for his services, CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes tweets. It’s unclear who the top bidder might have been, although the Blue Jays and Astros were connected to Robertson this offseason.
- GM Jon Daniels said today at Rangers Fan Fest that the team is unlikely to trade for Josh Hamilton, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. The Rangers reportedly discussed a Hamilton deal with the Angels earlier this offseason, although those talks were not in-depth. Also, free agent lefty reliever Neal Cotts is not likely to re-sign with the Rangers, Andro tweets.
The Blue Jays have been graceless in their attempt to replace president Paul Beeston, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun writes. Elliott’s timeline of events begins in early November, when Rogers Communications chairman Ed Rogers contacted the White Sox seeking permission to hire Ken Williams for Beeston’s job, not realizing that Beeston and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf were best friends. Later, Reinsdorf told Williams the Blue Jays were interested in him, and Williams said he already knew, indicating that there had been tampering, according to Elliott. Here’s more on the Blue Jays’ search for a new president.
- Rogers has left behind a “trail of stink-bombs” in attempting to replace Beeston, writes John Lott of the National Post. The Blue Jays could have improved the situation by issuing a joint statement from Beeston and the team indicating his agreement to retire. The Orioles reportedly want more than just first-round pick Jeff Hoffman in return for allowing Dan Duquette to take the Blue Jays job. Hoffman might be too much to give up, Lott writes, but the Blue Jays should have to give up a good young player, or perhaps two.
- If Duquette does leave for the Blue Jays, the Orioles will be fine, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko writes. With Duquette gone, manager Buck Showalter could play a greater role in personnel decisions. Meanwhile, the rest of the Orioles’ front office (including Brady Anderson, Tripp Norton, Gary Rajsich, Brian Graham and John Stockstill) are capable as well, Kubatko argues.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Righty Jair Jurrjens has agreed to return to the Rockies on a minor league deal with a big league camp invite, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports. The 28-year-old righty has never regained the form he showed early in his career with the Braves. Last year, he was hit hard in two big league starts and worked to a 4.54 ERA over 81 1/3 Triple-A frames with the Reds and Rockies organizations.
- The Orioles sent cash to the Braves in exchange for lefty Daniel Rodriguez. Baltimore had tried to nab Rodriguez out of Mexico several years ago, says Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). The 30-year-old came to Atlanta from Saltillo before the 2012 campaign and went straight to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he has generally struggled while working as a starter. The team is likely interested in taking a look at Rodriguez out of the pen, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
- The Rangers have signed righty Ross Ohlendorf to a minor league deal that includes a spring invite, the club announced. Ohlendorf had a quality 60 1/3 inning run with the Nationals in 2013, working to a 3.28 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. That earned him a $1.25MM arbitration deal, but injury derailed his entire 2014 campaign.
- Two former Rangers ballplayers are among the recent moves reported by Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (links to Twitter). The Dodgers have signed righty Ben Rowen, a 26-year-old righty who cracked the Rangers’ pen last year and who has had solid results in the upper minors. And the White Sox signed center fielder Engel Beltre, a defense-first player who has struggled to produce offensively and missed most of last year with a fractured tibia.
- Also via Eddy, the Braves have inked former Angels reliever David Carpenter — not to be confused with the other right-handed reliever by the same team that Atlanta just traded. Carpenter has struggled in limited MLB exposure, but last year put up a 2.17 ERA over 62 1/3 innings, with 8.3 K/9 against 6.4 BB/9, despite pitching in the notoriously hitter-friendly PCL.
Though Johan Santana‘s comeback attempt briefly stalled when he experienced some shoulder discomfort, it appears he’s back on course, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the former Cy Young winner will throw a bullpen session today and is tentatively scheduled to pitch Game 5 of the Venezuelan Winter League finals next week. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (via Twitter) that the Twins will be scouting each of those showings, though his sense is that a return to his former stomping grounds isn’t in the cards for Santana.
More on the Twins and their division…
- Right-hander Phil Hughes told MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger that he was excited to sign a long-term extension with the Twins in December due to the high level of comfort that he felt in his first year with the club. Hughes implied that he entered the offseason hoping to work out a longer deal and was clearly able to do that, signing for an additional three years and $42MM on Dec. 22. However, Hughes noted that he wouldn’t have signed if he didn’t think the team was close to contending in the near future. Minnesota’s enviable farm system and their willingness to spend on veterans, demonstrated by signing Torii Hunter and Ervin Santana this winter, were both factors in Hughes’ decision as well.
- The Indians are showing a great deal of interest in Nolan Reimold, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (on Twitter). Cleveland is trying to sign the former Oriole to a minor league deal, Kubtako notes, though he adds that the Orioles remain in the mix as well. Reimold, 31, has battled significant injuries over the past few seasons but does own a solid .251/.324/.439 batting line in 1134 big league plate appearances.
- Nick Swisher struggled through the worst season of his career last year with the Indians, though many of his struggles were likely attributable to knee problems that plagued him all season. Swisher, who underwent surgery on both knees in August, explained to MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince that his knees were so bad that he literally could not walk to the bathroom at night (Twitter links). He admitted to Castrovince that he wished he’d had the operations sooner, but wanted to play through the pain due to the investment that the Indians made in him. Cleveland inked the Ohio native to a four-year, $56MM pact two offseasons ago.
- At their annual Sox Fest event earlier today, White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters, including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, that bullpen depth and another utility infielder to use versus left-handed pitching were the two primary items remaining on his offseason wishlist (Twitter link). Hahn also said that minor league signee Geovany Soto has a good chance to make the team out of Spring Training, so long as he can show that he is healthy (via CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes).
Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball, with the newest transactions at the top of the post…
- The Mariners signed infielder Shawn O’Malley to a minor league deal and invited the 27-year-old to Spring Training, the team announced. O’Malley made his Major League debut last season, appearing in 11 games with the Angels. A fifth-round pick by the Rays in the 2006 draft, O’Malley has a .258/.351/.338 slash line over 2985 minor league plate appearances.
- The Phillies signed shortstop Tyler Greene to a minor league deal, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports (via Twitter). Greene, drafted 30th overall by the Cardinals in 2005, posted a .645 OPS over 746 PA with the Cards, Astros and White Sox from 2009-13, and he spent last season at the Triple-A level in the Braves’ and Padres’ systems.
- The White Sox signed right-handers Jairo Asencio and J.D. Martin to minor league deals and invited them to Spring Training, the team announced. Both righties spent last season pitching in the Korean Baseball Organization. Asencio posted a 5.34 ERA over 55 2/3 IP with four teams from 2009-13. Martin, drafted 35th overall by the Indians in the 2001 draft, last pitched in the majors in 2010.
- The Yankees signed catcher Eddy Rodriguez to a minor league deal, as per the team’s MLB.com transactions page. Rodriguez has a .235/.286/.386 slash line over 2271 minor league PA, mostly in San Diego’s system, as well as a two-game cup of coffee with the Padres in 2012.
The 33-year-old Crain was in the midst of an incredible season with the White Sox in 2013 when a shoulder injury sidelined him. While it wasn’t believed to be serious at the time, Crain hasn’t thrown a Major League pitch since hitting the disabled list that July. He eventually underwent surgery on his right biceps in order to correct the issue, but recovery from that surgery was slower than expected and he missed all of 2014 after signing with the Astros. (Crain was also traded from Chicago to Tampa while injured in 2013 but didn’t throw a pitch for the Rays, either.)
Crain’s 2013 featured a dominant streak of 29 scoreless appearances, leading to a minuscule 0.74 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 36 2/3 innings of work. He’s always had plus velocity, dating back to his days with the Twins, but Crain began to rely more heavily on breaking balls upon signing with the White Sox prior to the 2011 season, and the results were favorable. In 150 innings with Chicago, Crain pitched to a 2.10 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. GM Rick Hahn and his staff will hope that the talented setup man can overcome his health woes and rediscover that form on a low-risk deal with the Sox in 2015.
As for Carroll, the 30-year-old made his big league debut for the Sox in 2014 and totaled 129 1/3 innings of work, registering a 4.80 ERA with 4.5 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 19 starts and seven relief appearances. He’ll again serve as rotation depth, though the starting five may be tougher to crack this time around. In addition to Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks, the Sox acquired Jeff Samardzija from the A’s this winter and have 2014 No. 3 overall pick Carlos Rodon waiting in the wings as well. Hector Noesi, who outperformed Carroll in 2014, is expected to fill the fifth slot in the rotation to open the season.
The White Sox and catcher Geovany Soto have agreed to terms on a minor league contract for the 2015 season, reports Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. The Kinzer Management Group client will be invited to Major League Spring Training and compete for a 25-man roster spot, Levine adds (Twitter links).
Soto, 32, missed much of the 2014 season as he recovered from offseason surgeries on his left foot and right knee, and a groin injury sidelined him for two weeks in July as well. That trio of physical ailments limited him to just 87 plate appearances between the Rangers and Athletics, though he was expected to handle the bulk of Texas’ catching duties at the onset of the season. Overall, Soto batted .250/.302/.363 with one homer on the year. The former NL Rookie of the Year looked much sharper with the Rangers in 2013 when he batted .245/.328/.466 with nine homers in 184 trips to the plate.
Soto’s performance has fluctuated fairly significantly on a year-to-year basis, but the cumulative sum of his efforts over the past five seasons and over the entirety of his career has been roughly a league-average bat, in terms of OPS+. A lifetime .248/.334/.436 hitter, Soto offers above-average plate discipline and pop for a catcher when he’s healthy, but he does come with a fairly lengthy injury history.
Tyler Flowers currently projects to be the everyday catcher for the White Sox, with 2014 backup Adrian Nieto, waiver claim Rob Brantly and minor league signee George Kottaras all fighting for time behind the dish as well. I’d wager that Soto’s track record gives him a leg up over much of the competition, provided he’s healthy. Ultimately, I could see him overtaking Flowers as the starter, given the fact that Flowers’ .241/.297/.396 batting line was bolstered by an unsustainable .355 average on balls in play. If that number regresses toward his career mark of .308 and Flowers continues striking out at a 35 to 36 percent clip, it wouldn’t be surprising if another starter emerged for the ChiSox eventually.