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Chicago White Sox Rumors
Though he receives only a $2.2MM guarantee, recently-signed Twins righty Tim Stauffer can earn significantly more through incentives, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Stauffer can max out his deal at a total of $3.95MM ($1.75MM bonus) if he makes 55 appearances in the coming season. He can earn $250K bonuses upon his 15th, 18th, 21st, 24th, and 27th appearances, land $100K for the 45th time he takes the hill, and nab another $250K at number fifty-five.
Here’s more from the central divisions:
- The Brewers and Indians are among the teams on the market for late-inning relief help, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Neither team intends to “spend big,” however, Rosenthal adds. Several established pen arms remain available through free agency.
- We heard yesterday that righty Scott Baker had interest from five clubs that were offering minor league deals. The Reds are one of the teams pursuing the veteran, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, whereas the Twins are not involved.
- The White Sox could still cut Dayan Viciedo loose this spring after agreeing to avoid arbitration, writes SB Nation’s Jim Margalus, but the club would still be on the hook for a portion of his $4.4MM salary. Margalus breaks down recent instances of such scenarios, but explains that the actual cost to teams (as well as the presence or results of any grievance proceedings) remains largely unknown publicly. At this point, a spot as a bench bat seems the likeliest outcome, though a trade is still possible.
The White Sox have avoided arbitration with Dayan Viciedo by agreeing to a one-year, $4.4MM pact, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin tweets. That represents an exact match to the projection of MLBTR and Matt Swartz, with Viciedo’s sturdy home run tallies serving to boost his arb value.
Viciedo, 25, has seen regular playing time for Chicago over the last three years. Last season represented his low-water mark in terms of offensive production, as he dropped from an approximately league-average overall output to a .231/.281/.405 slash that left him with a 92 OPS+. Of course, Viciedo delivered a familiar blend of power, strikeouts, and on-base struggles, and should at least return to being a generally average bat if his BABIP (.261) rebounds.
That being said, Viciedo’s overall value has been held down significantly by rough defensive work. Playing mostly in the corner outfield, Viciedo has consistently registered negative scores in the view of UZR (-7.9 UZR/150 for his career) as well as DRS (-19 lifetime runs saved). And as with the offensive side of the equation, last year saw a notable downturn.
In the aggregate, then, Viciedo landed well below replacement level last year. On the positive side, he is just 25 and possesses undeniable power that plays at the MLB level. It remains to be seen what role Viciedo will play on a rebuilt White Sox roster, and he could still be traded, but it is apparent that Chicago is loath to give up on him.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league, with the most recent updates at the top.
- The Royals have signed pitcher Roman Colon, outfielder Brandon Jacobs and third baseman Alex Liddi, and they’ve re-signed outfielder Mitch Maier, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. The 26-year-old Liddi, who appeared with the Mariners in the 2011 through 2013 seasons, is perhaps the most interesting of those, although he’s coming off a .207/.286/.355 season at Double-A and Triple-A in the Dodgers and White Sox systems.
- The Royals also outrighted infielder Ryan Jackson to Triple-A Omaha, per the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Kansas City had previously designated Jackson for assignment to clear space for Edinson Volquez. Jackson missed most of last season (which he spent in the Padres organization) with a wrist injury. The 26-year-old has a career minor league line of .268/.338/.363.
- The Braves have signed outfielder Joe Benson and lefty reliever Leyson Septimo, Eddy tweets. Benson, 26, hit .264/.364/.410 with Double-A Jacksonville in the Marlins system in 2014. The 29-year-old Septimo, who appeared in the big leagues with the White Sox in 2012, pitched in 2014 with Southern Maryland in the Atlantic League. There, he issued ten walks in 6 2/3 innings, continuing to have the control problems that have persisted throughout his career.
- The White Sox have re-signed outfielder Michael Taylor and signed third baseman Andy LaRoche, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. Chicago acquired Taylor from the Athletics last June, and the 29-year-old hit well for Triple-A Charlotte down the stretch to finish the year with a .275/.371/.437 minor league line in 512 plate appearances. LaRoche, a former top prospect with the Dodgers and Pirates and the brother of current White Sock Adam LaRoche, spent most of the past two seasons with the Blue Jays’ Triple-A club in Buffalo, where he hit .248/.309/.396 in 2014. The White Sox also signed first baseman Chris Jacobs, a 26-year-old who played for Class A+ Rancho Cucamonga in the Dodgers system last year.
- The Red Sox have signed outfielder Blake Tekotte, Eddy tweets. The 27-year-old Tekotte, who has appeared in the big leagues in past years with the Padres and White Sox, hit .249/.320/.439 in 340 Triple-A plate appearances last season in the White Sox and Diamondbacks systems.
- The Cubs have signed righty Andres Santiago, according to Baseball America’s Minor League Free Agent Tracker (via the Tennessee Smokies’ Andrew Green on Twitter). Santiago, 25, pitched for the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga last season, posting a 4.47 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 129 innings. Green points out that Santiago no-hit the Cubs’ Smokies team last season.
- The Cubs have also added catcher Taylor Teagarden and righty Jorge De Leon, Eddy tweets. The 31-year-old Teagarden hit .303/.403/.579 in 211 plate appearances with the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season. De Leon, 27, posted a 3.01 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 68 2/3 innings in the Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City bullpens in the Astros system in 2014, also making eight appearances in the big leagues.
Danks, not to be confused with older brother and longtime White Sox left-hander John, saw 132 plate appearances over 51 games with Chicago last season and is a career .227/.303/.326 hitter in 386 Major League plate appearances. The younger Danks has played all three outfield spots in his big league career and has generally positive marks in just over 500 innings in center field, although that’s obviously a small sample upon which to pass judgment. Though he’s never established himself in the Majors, the 28-year-old has a solid .267/.352/.430 batting line in 1945 PA at the Triple-A level.
9:00am: Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3MM in 2015, and the option is valued at $4MM with a $1MM buyout.
8:36am: Bonifacio’s contract also contains a club option for the 2016 season, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
Bonifacio, a client of agent Gene Mato, will give the White Sox another option at second base following the trade of Marcus Semien to Oakland. Currently, Micah Johnson and Carlos Sanchez figure to battle for that spot, though the 29-year-old Bonifacio could conceivably land the gig outright if Chicago would like its pair of prospects to gather additional playing time in the minors before seeing regular big league at-bats.
If Johnson or Sanchez is the preferred choice out of Spring Training, the Sox will have a highly versatile utility player on their hands in Bonifacio at a reasonable price for someone that can handle a wide array of positions. The switch-hitting Bonifacio played second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions between the Cubs and Braves last season, batting .259/.305/.345 with 26 steals in 426 plate appearances along the way.
The addition of Bonifacio continues a busy offseason for White Sox GM Rick Hahn and his staff. The South Siders have already added free agents Melky Cabrera, David Robertson, Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke in addition to swinging a trade for former A’s/Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija. That’s $132MM in free agent spending, and if MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s $9.5MM projection for Samardzija holds true, it’ll total out to $141.5MM in total spending — $53MM of which will be on the books for the 2015 season. Beyond that, the ChiSox have added a number of notable names on minor league contracts this season, including veteran righty Brad Penny, outfielder Tony Campana and catcher George Kottaras.
White Sox second base prospect Micah Johnson will have a chance to earn a starting job this spring, but he has bigger plans for his baseball career, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Johnson has his eyes on an eventual GM job when his playing career is concluded. He’s continued his studies while in the minors and plans to attend law school after his playing career is complete. Current GM Rick Hahn agrees that Johnson could fit in as a manager or GM. Per Hahn, “Micah is one of those guys who has that high off-the-field potential.”
- The A’s won’t become a surprise contender in the bidding for Max Scherzer or James Shields, writes Jane Lee of MLB.com. We all know about the payroll constraints facing Oakland. As Lee points out, the A’s have a solid rotation in place as it is, with Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir manning the front lines.
- Even if the A’s had reached the World Series, Lee thinks we would have seen GM Billy Beane complete many of the same offseason trades. Beane “sensed the club was regressing” when he went out to acquire Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester. With eight free agents outgoing, there was an overarching need to restock.
- The Red Sox met with free agent starter James Shields during the winter meetings, but no substantive talks have occurred, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN. While there’s an obvious use for a front line starter in Boston, the club is clearly taking its time feeling out the market. The Sox are expected to be competitive in the AL East, but an ace could put them over the top.
ESPN’s Buster Olney is the latest analyst to complete an analysis of Max Scherzer‘s market. In his team-by-team breakdown, Olney doesn’t uncover any blatantly obvious match. There are a handful of teams who can theoretically afford the Scott Boras client, but none of them feel pressure to ink an ace. An offseason injury to an existing ace could change Scherzer’s market – as it did with Prince Fielder a few years ago. Then, Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez injured himself while training, opening a need for the club. Detroit remains the default guess for Scherzer’s landing spot, but it’s beginning to feel like something unplanned is necessary for the market to move forward.
- Rays trade candidate Ben Zobrist makes sense for either Chicago club, writes Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago. There are the geographical coincidences – Zobrist is a Eureka, Illinois native and is represented by Chicago-based agent Alan Nero. There is history – Zobrist has played his entire career for Cubs manager Joe Maddon. More to the point, there is a need. Zobrist’s versatility would improve either club, although they both would lean upon his ability to play multiple positions rather than handing him a steady home.
- Delmon Young‘s physical is scheduled for Wednesday, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. It was reported on December 24 that Young and the Orioles had agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM deal with $750K in incentives. The deal will be officially announced after the physical.
We at MLBTR would like to extend our condolences to the friends and family of Bill Kearns, a veteran Mariners scout who passed away last night at age 94. Kearns was hired by the Mariners prior to their debut 1977 season and has been with the franchise for its entire history. A World War II veteran and former Brooklyn Dodgers minor leaguer, Kearns’ long career in baseball led him to scouting jobs with the Dodgers, White Sox and Royals before eventually joining the M’s. In a statement from the team, Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik said “Bill was a gentleman, in the finest sense, and represented his family and the Mariners in a first-class manner. And he was an excellent scout, a true ambassador of the Mariners and the game of baseball. Bill was one of the most positive people I have ever met. He will be missed.”
Here’s some more notes from around the league as 2015 is now upon us…
- Left-hander Luis Avilan‘s name had recently come up in trade talks, though now that the Braves have traded another southpaw in Chasen Shreve, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman wonders (Twitter link) if Atlanta could keep Avilan in the fold. Earlier today, the Braves sent Shreve and David Carpenter to the Yankees in exchange for Manny Banuelos.
- Zduriencik and Seth Smith discussed the recent trade that brought Smith to the Mariners in a conference call with reporters (including Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune). The extension that Smith signed with the Padres last summer was a factor in the trade, as Zduriencik noted that “one of the things we tried to stay away from was giving up talent for one-year returns…I think you’re getting a player who can be with you for at least the next three years.”
- With Craig Breslow‘s physical scheduled for Monday, the Red Sox will face a tough decision in opening up a spot for the reliever on their 40-man roster, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes. Dan Butler, Tommy Layne, Zeke Spruill and Drake Britton are potential candidates to lose their 40-man spots, with Bradford citing Britton as maybe the most vulnerable because he’s out of options. There’s also “a very real scenario” where Boston makes a trade to free up roster space.
- A number of recent Orioles news items and rumors are recapped by MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko, including the new information that the O’s would like to sign a right-handed reliever, possibly on a minor league deal.
- Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi recently said his team won’t be making any other major starting pitching signings, which worries Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times since he feels the rotation lacks depth beyond the top three of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu. On the other hand, Dilbeck wonders if Zaidi’s statement was tactical, similar to how the GM denied that Dee Gordon was being shopped just before Gordon was dealt to Miami.
- In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Tony Blengino describes Adam LaRoche signing with the White Sox as “a perfect marriage of club, player, ballpark and contract.” Using analyses of LaRoche’s swing and U.S. Cellular Field’s park factor, Blengino thinks the veteran first baseman could challenge for the AL homer crown if he stays healthy.
It’s been a little over two years since the Marlins and Blue Jays completed the mega-trade that sent $163.75MM in major league veterans north of the border for a bundle of prospect joy. The Marlins were roasted for the decision at the time, but it’s looking wiser by the day, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Not only did the move clear much needed payroll (since used on Giancarlo Stanton), it also accounts for a lot of the top talent in the organization. In addition to Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Justin Nicolino, the Fish netted seven more players using pieces traced to the original trade with the Jays.
- Brewers prospect Devin Williams is now represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Williams was the Brewers second round pick in 2013, and Heyman adds he’s one of Milwaukee’s top 10 prospects. Williams, 19, pitched to a 4.48 ERA with 8.95 K/9 and 2.71 BB/9 in the rookie level Pioneer League.
- The White Sox are still looking into trading outfielder Dayan Viciedo, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Needs include bullpen and bench depth.
- The ongoing Max Scherzer saga could greatly affect the Tigers in 2015, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Per Beck, the Tigers are likely to let Scherzer walk if another club shows heavy interest. If he continues to float on the market as he is now, there will be increasing pressure to bring him back. Owner Mike Illich is known for his penchant to reward players who have performed well in Detroit.
- Left field is an obvious hole for the Rangers, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The internal candidates are Michael Choice, Ryan Rua, and Jake Smolinski, but don’t be surprised if additional depth is added. The club is also expected to add a catcher to compete with Robinson Chirinos.
- Shortstop continues to be a glaring flaw on the Mets roster, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Last year, the club was unsuccessful upgrading over Ruben Tejada. This time, Wilmer Flores is the guy on the hot seat, with Tejada still in the picture too. My own take: unless the Mets can pinch Troy Tulowitzki, they’ll enter the season with Flores and Tejada. In the grand scheme of major league shortstops, neither projects to be terrible. Meanwhile, if they wanted Stephen Drew, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to acquire him over the last 14 months.
Here’s the latest from Joel Sherman of the New York Post:
- The Blue Jays, Athletics, Cubs, White Sox and Angels are interested in Stephen Drew to play second base but don’t want to pay his $9MM-$10MM asking price, Sherman writes. There’s concern that Drew’s poor 2014 season marks the beginning of a serious decline. “Fine, you want to say June and July [last year] were spring training for him, well, how about August or September? There was never a time in which he looked like a major league hitter,” says one executive. The Yankees could have interest in him, but want to commit to Didi Gregorius at shortstop and could have concern Drew would provide an easy distraction from those plans, even if he’s signed as a second baseman. Earlier this month, we guessed Drew would get a one-year, $7MM deal.
- The Royals signed Alex Rios this offseason even though Rios rejected a trade to Kansas City last summer, Sherman says. The Rangers tried to trade Rios to the Royals, but Rios requested that Kansas City exercise his 2015 option as a condition of the deal. The Royals said no, so Rios used his no-trade clause to stop the trade. Rios thus spent the entire season with the Rangers, refusing a chance to join a team in the midst of a playoff race.
- There have already been rumors of the Padres trading Wil Myers to Philadelphia in a Cole Hamels deal, and Sherman writes that San Diego would, in fact, consider dealing Myers, who they might feel isn’t good enough defensively to handle center field.