Chin-hui Tsao Rumors

NL West Notes: Tsao, Rosario, Padres

The Dodgers are about to sign Taiwanese righty Chin-hui Tsao, who hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2007 and hasn’t pitched professionally since 2009, when he was banned from Taiwan’s top league amidst allegations that he tried to help fix games. MLB has looked into Tsao’s case and allowed the Dodgers to pursue him, and that might be a mistake, Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown writes. Major League Baseball is typically very strict about the appearance of game-fixing (as Pete Rose’s situation suggests), and allowing Tsao to play, even on a minor-league deal, would set a strange precedent. Here are more notes from the NL West.

  • Before today, there were already rumors about the possibility that the Rockies could trade Wilin Rosario, possibly to an American League team. After Colorado agreed to terms with fellow catcher Nick Hundley today, those rumors seemed ever more likely. But ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Rockies are telling interested parties that they will keep Rosario unless they’re blown away. Obviously, that could simply be a negotiating stance on the Rockies’ part. It seems unlikely that the Rockies would begin the season with Rosario, Hundley and Michael McKenry all on their active roster.
  • Of all the extra outfielders in San Diego, it’s not surprising that the Padres traded Seth Smith first, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Unlike some of San Diego’s other surplus outfielders, Smith had value in a trade (as the Padres’ acquisition of a power arm in Brandon Maurer suggests). Also, he was owed $13MM for the next two years despite having no clear role with the team.

Quick Hits: Brewers, Tsao, Toritani

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • The Brewers are on the lookout for outfield depth for their new Triple-A affiliate at Colorado Springs, Tom Haudricourt writes for Baseball America. Jeremy Hermida is headed to Japan to play with the Nippon Ham Fighters, and Caleb Gindl and Eugenio Velez have departed as minor-league free agents. The Brewers also (intentionally) allowed Sean Halton and Kentrail Davis to leave in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. “We have to get to work and sign some free agents,” says assistant GM Gord Ash.
  • The Dodgers are about to sign righty Chin-Hui Tsao to a minor-league deal, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. The 33-year-old played for the Rockies and Dodgers in parts of four seasons from 2003-2007. He has not played pro ball since 2009, when he was banned from the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan after allegations that he helped fix games. Shaikin notes that the Dodgers have gotten the approval of MLB before attempting to sign Tsao. The righty was reportedly throwing in the mid-90s this winter.
  • The Blue Jays¬†and Padres are interested in Japanese infielder Takashi Toritani, reports Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. Toritani, a Scott Boras client, is an unrestricted free agent, so he can sign with any club. The Padres can offer Toritani a chance at the shortstop job, while Toronto’s opening is at second base. He may also opt to remain in Japan where he’s played in 1,444 consecutive games. The 33-year-old has been an on base threat in Japan. He’s hit a healthy .285/.372/.412 over his career. A decision is expected to wait until the new year.

Odds and Ends: Hillenbrand, Tsao, Uehara

Here are some random bits and pieces to hold us over until front offices re-open…

  • Shea Hillenbrand has only received one inquiry this winter – from the Giants.  He probably won’t be earning $6MM again.  Hillenbrand posted a .599 OPS in 267 ABs for the Angels and Dodgers this year.  I thought perhaps that was one of the worst performances of the decade for guys with 250+ ABs.  However it’s only the 49th worst since 2000.  Homer Bush’s 2000 takes the cake – a .524 OPS for the Blue Jays in 297 ABs.
  • The Royals inked Chin-Hui Tsao to a minor-league deal.  Tsao was once considered the Rockies’ best prospect, but he’s been decimated by injuries.  Makes sense for the Royals to throw him a bone though.
  • Koji Uehara re-signed with the Yomiuri Giants for 400 million yen – about $3.57MM.  He’ll turn 33 in April.  A hamstring injury knocked Uehara out of the ’07 season’s first month, denying him free agency this winter.  Now he needs to be active for just eight days to be eligible after the season.  The Giants used him in relief in ’07, perhaps to spite him.  Read more about that and his repertoire in my Q&A with Mike Plugh on Uehara.   
  • John Fay runs down the Reds’ veteran free agent starter options.
  • A-Rod still won’t return Scott Boras’ calls.
  • Jason Churchill names some intriguing, possibly available young hurlers who may be on Seattle’s radar: Scott Olsen, Noah Lowry, Daniel Cabrera, Edwin Jackson, Chris Capuano, Ian Snell, and Anthony Reyes.
  • Nothing is cooking with Brandon Inge, and the Tigers won’t be bringing Sean Casey back.



State Of The Dodgers

The L.A. Daily News’ Tony Jackson has a look at the Dodgers’ upcoming offseason.  You also might be interested in my recent Needs and Luxuries post on the team.  A summary of Jackson’s column:

  • Juan Pierre could be shifted to left field to allow the Dodgers to employ a stronger arm in center field.  It’s odd…teams seem to be souring on last winter’s signings even when they received exactly what everyone expected (Pierre and Jason Marquis, for example).  It’d be different for the Red Sox to sour on J.D. Drew, he played well below expectations in Year 1.  Anyway, Pierre could be moved to accomodate Matt Kemp (perhaps putting Andre Ethier in right), or the Dodgers could pursue a center fielder.  They’ve already been connected to Andruw Jones.
  • The Dodgers perceive third base as a big hole, apparently not willing to give Andy LaRoche another look.  Of course we have to mention Alex Rodriguez.  But how about Mike Lowell?
  • The Dodgers will pass on options for Ramon Martinez and Randy Wolf, but might consider Mike Lieberthal at $1.5MM.  Liebs could earn almost $40K per game next year, not too shabby.
  • L.A. has a couple of non-tender candidates: Mark Hendrickson and Chin-hui Tsao.  Apparently they will keep Hendrickson but cut Tsao loose.