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Chris Davis Rumors
Everth Cabrera‘s one-year deal with the Orioles is now official, but manager Buck Showalter tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun that even though the former Padre signed a big league deal, he’ll have to earn a roster spot this spring. Cabrera has a minor league option remaining and could head to Triple-A Norfolk if he doesn’t perform well. Showalter acknowledges that there’s some risk in the signing, given Cabrera’s checkered past, but he’s been told good things from people in the NL West. “There’s some upside there for sure,” said Showalter. “…There’s some unknown for me about him. The one division that I’ve constantly got to lean on people that I really trust is the National League West. … There’s just a lot of unknown for East Coast teams.”
A few more Orioles notes…
- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has been granted a therapeutic-use exemption for 2015 for Vyvanse, an ADHD medication that works differently than Adderall, which he was suspended for last season, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Vyvanse is an amphetamine like Adderall, but it lasts longer and is less likely to be abused for non-therapeutic reasons. The 28-year-old says he has responded well to it so far and even prefers it to Adderall.
- General manager and executive VP Dan Duquette spoke with Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com about using his farm system to acquire Major League talent — a tactic he’s employed multiple times since joining the Orioles. Among the higher profile examples are his acquisitions of Bud Norris, Francisco Rodriguez, Andrew Miller and now Travis Snider. Duquette says he feels fortunate to have enough depth that they can use their farm system to produce big league players like Manny Machado and Kevin Gausman but still trade players such as Eduardo Rodriguez for midseason upgrades. Regarding that trade specifically, Duquette admits that he did not want to part with Rodriguez to acquire Miller but realized it was a requirement on Boston’s end of the deal. “And Andrew Miller helped the Orioles get to the playoffs,” said Duquette. “I could argue he was the difference in the first playoff series with the Tigers. What if he was on the other side of the field in the Detroit dugout? What if we didn’t have him to get key outs in that series?” Melewski’s piece is full of quotes from Duquette on the O’s trading tactics and philosophies and is well worth a read in its entirety.
- Showalter chatted with Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com and discussed the team’s somewhat curious decision to give reliever Oliver Drake a Major League deal this offseason. The team wasn’t concerned about him signing elsewhere or being taken in the Rule 5 Draft. Rather, said Showalter, “We get to the point where you don’t care what everybody else might think. If you like him and you want to keep him and you think he can impact you, you put him on the roster… Our people in Double-A and everybody who had him said he’s back, physically good, and was as good a relief pitcher as there was in that league.”
The Orioles have avoided arbitration by agreeing on one year deals with three players, according to reports. Catcher Matt Wieters, corner infielder/outfielder Chris Davis, righty Chris Tillman, and lefty Brian Matusz all have reached terms for 2015.
After missing most of 2014, Wieters will earn $8.3MM in his final year of arbitration, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). That represents a $600K bump over his salary last year, a much lower figure than would have been expected coming into the season. The 28-year-old saw only 112 plate appearances, slashing an impressive .308/.339/.500 in that short sample, before succumbing to right elbow issues that ultimately required Tommy John surgery.
Davis also will receive a much lower raise than seemed likely before 2014, in his case due to performance issues and a late-season suspension. He will take home $12MM, up from $10.35MM last year, per Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz was right on the mark with a $11.8MM projection for the slugger. Davis can also earn bonuses of $150K upon his 500th and 575th trips to the plate and $50K each for an All-Star appearance, Gold Glove award, or Silver Slugger nod.
Tillman, meanwhile, has settled for $4.315MM, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Connolly was first to report (on Twitter) that a deal had been reached. The 26-year-old becomes the second-highest-paid first-time arb-eligible starter in MLB history. As Swartz wrote recently, Tillman seemed likely to come in just under the record, and fall shy of the $5.4MM projection that Swartz’s model produced.
As for Matusz, he will play for $3.2MM next year, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. That constitutes a nice increase over Swartz’s projection of $3.2MM. Soon to turn 28, Matusz was again effective from the pen last year, tossing 51 2/3 frames of 3.48 ERA ball.
The Orioles are still hunting for outfield help, and Delmon Young is “absolutely” still in play, agent Joel Wolfe tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Wolfe says that all discussions with the O’s have been “very positive,” though Kubatko writes that Young’s preference is a multiyear deal, whereas the Orioles are more comfortable signing Young to a one-year deal, perhaps with an option.
Here’s some more from Baltimore…
- The Orioles were also wary about committing multiple years to Michael Morse, Kubatko notes. The O’s had “strong interest” in Morse earlier in the offseason but the veteran found a multiyear deal elsewhere, signing a two-year/$16MM contract with the Marlins.
- In another Kubatko piece, he writes that the acquisition of left-hander Wesley Wright doesn’t necessarily mean the O’s will look to move Brian Matusz since Matusz is more of a lefty specialist. This said, Baltimore does seemingly have a surplus of bullpen arms that could be used as trade bait, and Kubatko speculates that the Padres (with their surplus of outfielders) could be a fit as a trade partner.
- The Orioles have given some consideration to signing Ichiro Suzuki, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes.
- Chris Davis has received permission from Major League Baseball to take Adderall next season, Buck Showalter told reporters (including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun). Davis was issued a 25-game suspension last year for his unauthorized use of Adderall, and he still has one game remaining on his punishment.
- The Orioles will interview Scott Coolbaugh about their vacant hitting coach position, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. Coolbaugh was the Rangers’ hitting coach from 2011-12 and is currently their minor league hitting coordinator.
The Marlins are “determined to upgrade” their first base position and have started looking into the trade market as a means of doing so, according to a report from Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Miami is looking to replace or, presumably, platoon with incumbent Garrett Jones.
Among the players as to whom the Marlins have inquired are Evan Gattis of the Braves and Chris Davis of the Orioles, per the report. The pair of 28-year-olds are in quite different situations, needless to say, but obviously each hold their own appeal. Davis is a left-handed hitter who is coming off a down year and looking to bolster his 50-home run resume in his final season before reaching free agency. Gattis, a catcher who could presumably shift over to first, will not even be eligible for arbitration until next season. He hits from the right side and thus would pair nicely with the left-handed bat of Jones, who remains under contract for one more season.
Miami would be required to part with a valued young arm to land either player, the report suggests. One possibility would be a deal involving well-regarded lefty Andrew Heaney, though of course the Fish are generally well-stocked in rotation prospects.
Miami reportedly made an offer to Adam LaRoche — the market’s best pure first baseman — before he signed with the White Sox. Missing on LaRoche left the market without much in the way of established, recently productive first baseman. Michael Morse remains a candidate to play that position, but the Marlins’ interest is “lukewarm,” per the report.
In a text message to George A. King III of the New York Post, David Robertson says things are “quiet on the front” in terms of a multiyear contract with the Yankees or receiving a qualifying offer from the team. The Yankees are expected to extend the QO to Robertson and the closer is very likely to reject it given the interest in his services. At least six clubs are interested in Robertson this winter, a league source tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
Here’s more from around the AL East…
- The Yankees have begun talks with Chase Headley, CBSSports.com’ Jon Heyman reports. New York has exclusive negotiating rights with Headley until 11pm CT tonight, though it would be quite surprising to see a deal reached before Headley has had a chance to test the thin free agent market.
- Blue Jays southpaw J.A. Happ is “generating lots of interest” in trades, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports. Happ enjoyed a solid 2014 season and had his $6.7MM option for 2015 exercised by the Jays on Friday. With the newly-acquired Marco Estrada now in the rotation mix, Happ could be expendable.
- Earlier today, Sportsnet.ca’s Jeff Blair reported that the Blue Jays have had internal discussions about Russell Martin. In that same item, Blair notes that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos might look to act quickly this offseason rather than wait for deals to develop. The latter strategy left the Jays largely empty-handed last winter. Toronto has already dealt Adam Lind to Milwaukee, a trade that Blair feels doesn’t make much sense for the Jays unless a follow-up move is forthcoming.
- The Orioles don’t seem to have interest in trading or non-tendering Chris Davis, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski reports, though the first baseman will have much to atone for in Baltimore following his disappointing 2014 season.
- Though the Orioles currently have six legitimate rotation candidates on the roster, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko expects the club to add pitching depth by signing at least one veteran to a minor league deal.
- Jay Alou, Yasmany Tomas‘ agent, tweeted that his client worked out at the Red Sox academy in the Dominican Republic over the weekend. While the Sox have had some interest in Tomas in the past, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford hears that the workout was arranged “partly out of convenience, with Tomas needing a place in the area to continue his preparation.” It would be a surprise to see Boston sign Tomas given that the Sox already have an outfield surplus.
- The Red Sox are in need of a top left-hander for the bullpen, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. Bringing back Andrew Miller would be the best option, though he’ll be heavily courted by several teams and the Sox may not be able to win a bidding war.
- Silverman thinks the Red Sox and Burke Badenhop could quickly come to terms on a new contract. The righty reliever posted a 2.29 ERA in 70 2/3 IP with Boston in 2014.
In his latest mailbag piece, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com looks at various facets of the Indians roster. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t predict any sweeping changes for the Cleveland roster. Here’s more from Bastian and around the AL.
- The Indians bullpen seems set behind closer Cody Allen. The club may wish to bring in a few depth pieces to supplement the middle and long relief components. Nick Hagadone, who is out of options, is a likely candidate as the second lefty. Similarly, the rotation will probably to be filled internally. Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin can provide above average depth for a rotation fronted by Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, and T.J. House.
- Had the Indians possessed a better defense, they might have reached the postseason instead of the Royals. However, the club may have solved its woes in-season by promoting Jose Ramirez and moving Carlos Santana to first base. If third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall continues to struggle defensively, Bastian mentions prospect Giovanny Urshela as an alternative.
- Torii Hunter is leaning towards playing in 2015 and would like to return to the Tigers, reports Chris Iott of MLive.com. Hunter labels himself as one of the most consistent hitters in the game. That’s not a bad characterization. Over the past nine seasons, he’s ranged from 13 to 31 percent above average per an advanced stat called wRC+. If you prefer traditional stats, he has always contributed in batting average, power, and run production. The 39-year-old’s defense has declined in recent years. Hunter is prioritizing a World Series championship, however he is unsure if he can accept a reduced role.
- The Orioles have a tough decision regarding Chris Davis, writes Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore. Davis may cost upwards of $12MM in his final year of arbitration according to Dubroff, but the Orioles may not want to pay so much for his no-average, all power profile. They do have an internal alternative in Steve Pearce, but he could be needed in the outfield with Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz potentially departing via free agency. There is seemingly no pathway to return value for Davis short of tendering him and hoping for the best.
12:30pm: Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Davis did not have a TUE for Adderall in 2013 (Twitter links). His previous TUE came earlier in his career than last year’s breakout. As Passan notes, this opens the possibility that Davis’ first positive test (which would only result in a warning) came prior to the 2014 season. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Davis has been diagnosed with ADD in the past but did not apply for a TUE in 2013.
11:32am: Davis did not apply for a therapeutic use exemption from the league this season, tweets Connolly. In a followup tweet, Connolly reminds that a 2012-13 study showed that 122 Major Leaguers had TUEs — 119 of which were for ADD.
“I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Orioles organization and especially the fans. I made a mistake by taking Adderall. I had permission to use it in the past, but do not have a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) this year. I accept my punishment and will begin serving my suspension immediately.”
That Davis has been suspended means that would have had to test positive twice for a banned stimulant such as Adderall.
10:10am: Orioles first baseman Chris Davis‘ season is over as he has been suspended 25 games after testing positive for amphetamines, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. MLB has since confirmed the suspension, which will run through the postseason.
It’s unclear exactly what substance Davis used, but those making the leap to steroids should note that even the usage of fairly common stimulants like Adderall can result in a 25-game suspension (as Troy Patton proved earlier this season). That’s not to excuse Davis, of course, as this is a grave mistake at the worst possible time, and the substances are banned without receiving exemptions from the league.
Baltimore currently leads the AL East by 10 games and will now be without Davis’ game-changing power for the final two-plus weeks and all of the ALDS and the ALCS. The ALCS roster would, of course, have to be set before the series begins, meaning that the Orioles would have to play a man down for the first few games of that series in order for him to be reinstated midway through. It’s highly unlikely that a team would agree to play with 24 men in such an important series, meaning the earliest Davis would likely be eligible to return would be in the World Series, should Baltimore advance to that stage.
Davis is hitting just .196/.300/.404 after his breakout 53-homer campaign last season, thanks in part due to an increased strikeout rate (33 percent) and an abnormally low batting average on balls in play (.242). Baltimore added some depth to its roster late in August by adding Kelly Johnson and Alejandro De Aza via trade, and the emergence of Steve Pearce gives the team another corner bat on which to rely. Nevertheless, the loss of Davis is a big blow to a team that has already lost Manny Machado and Matt Wieters for the season.
From a financial standpoint, Davis’ suspension will cost him about $1.07MM, as he won’t be paid while on the restricted list. He is earning $10.35MM this season as he approaches his final offseason of arbitration eligiblity.
This year more than ever, it seems an enormous number of pitchers have suffered injuries that required Tommy John surgery. That includes big-leaguers like Matt Moore, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Patrick Corbin, A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker, along with potential first-round picks in Jeff Hoffman and Erick Fedde. But as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal notes, the prognosis for pitchers who have Tommy John surgeries is now very good, and teams are much more cautious about diagnosing significant problems than they used to be. MacPherson quotes a number of former big-league pitchers whose experiences would seem wildly out of place today. “Everybody kept thinking, ‘If I had surgery, it might be the end of my career, so I’m going to pitch until it blows, and then that’s the end of my career,’” says former Orioles, Red Sox, Royals and Brewers hurler Mike Boddicker, who pitched in the big leagues until 1993. “It used to be that you had some inflammation — tendinitis. That was the big thing. You had tendinitis. You look some anti-inflammatories, and you’d rest a little bit, and then you’d keep going.” Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Aroldis Chapman‘s return after a stay on the disabled list with a head injury allows the Reds plenty of flexibility in their bullpen, writes Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Chapman’s addition bumps Jonathan Broxton back to a setup role. The Reds have been fortunate in that their starters have worked deep into games, meaning that their bullpen likely won’t be overworked going forward. “There’s just not a lot of opportunities for these guys to come in the fifth or sixth and, sometimes, the seventh inning,” says manager Bryan Price. “We’ve spent a lot of time closing a game with one to two innings of bullpen work.”
- Chris Davis made an appearance for Double-A Bowie on Saturday to rehab his injured oblique, and he feels he’s ready to return to the Orioles, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski tweets. Davis last appeared in a game for the Orioles on April 25, and Steve Pearce has largely handled first-base duties since then.
Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette appeared on Buster Olney’s podcast today and discussed a variety of topics, including Kendrys Morales (Duquette appears around the 27:00 mark). Asked by Olney about the speculation that Morales could help his team, Duquette replied, “We don’t have any plans to add anybody to our ball club right now … Matt Wieters, with the issue he has in with his elbow, is going to take some at-bats in our DH position, so we’re all set. When we signed Nelson Cruz, that pretty much closed the door on that speculation.” Duquette also talked about his team’s strong start to the year in spite of several injuries as well as Manny Machado‘s elite defense. More from that interview and the rest of the AL East below…
- Duquette also fielded questions on the contract status of Wieters and Chris Davis (around the 36:20 mark), noting that the club has twice tried to extend Wieters and once tried to extend Davis as well. “I like Chris and Matt on the ball club, but having said that, we’ve already made that effort, and I’m not really going to be discussing that this year during the season with those players.” Both Wieters and Davis are Scott Boras clients, which makes the task of hammering out a long-term deal a more difficult one, as Boras typically encourages his players to go year-to-year and test the open market.
- Shifting gears from the O’s to the Blue Jays, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm tweets that the main reason behind Juan Francisco choosing to sign in Toronto was a recruiting pitch from Edwin Encarnacion. After Francisco was cut by the Brewers in Spring Training, Encarnacion called his countryman and pitched Toronto, and the result has been a .311/.403/.623 batting line with five homers in 72 PAs for Francisco.
- In a special piece for ESPN New York, Danny Knobler writes that the perception of the Yankees as an “old-school” team is misleading. Knobler spoke with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who called the Yankees “way more [progressive] than people think.” Knobler also points out that the Yankees trail only the Astros in terms of infield shifting this season, a fact that isn’t lost on division rival Joe Maddon. The Rays skipper told Knobler: “They’re exceeding us. It doesn’t surprise me. It disappoints me. I much preferred when they thought we were nuts, that we were bastardizing the game.”