Chris Nelson Rumors

Quick Hits: Drew, Morales, Nelson, Taveras, Bukauskas

With Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales still unsigned with less than a month to go before the amateur draft, it is looking increasingly plausible that the pair will wait to shed their accompanying draft pick compensation before finding a new club. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter, teams will be able to ink either of the two free agents without giving up a pick as soon as the first day of the draft is completed on June 5. Of course, that is also the point at which their former clubs — the Red Sox and Mariners, respectively — would no longer stand to gain a compensatory choice should they sign elsewhere after declining qualifying offers.

Here’s more from around the league …

  • Reds third baseman Chris Nelson will not exercise the opt-out clause in his contract that came due today, tweets Chris Cotillo of The 28-year-old will continue on with Triple-A Louisville for the time being, though his deal includes another opt-out date a month from now.
  • A rival talent evaluator tells’s Buster Olney (Insider link) that the Cardinals‘ decision on the promotion of star prospect Oscar Taveras is complicated by the team’s defensive issues. In that source’s estimation, Taveras is better suited to the corner outfield than center. The team’s best method of creating space, he opines, would be to deal first baseman Matt Adams and put Allen Craig back in the infield. As Olney notes, Adams would figure to draw plenty of trade interest given his solid bat (career .803 OPS) and lengthy team control (through 2018).
  • 17-year-old high-school hurler Jacob Bukauskas, a potential first-round choice in the upcoming draft, has notified scouts that he plans to attend the University of North Carolina, according to John Manuel of Baseball America. The hard-throwing righty had pitched himself into consideration for selection in the late first or early second round, though some scouts believe he may not be able to stick as a starter. As Manuel notes, the Stone Bridge High School product will not be eligible for the draft again until 2017 if he matriculates at UNC.

Reds Re-Sign Chris Nelson

2:57pm: Nelson's contract contains a May 6 opt-out clause, tweets MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo.

2:28pm: Infielder Chris Nelson, who opted out of his minor league contract with Cincinnati at the end of Spring Training, has re-signed a minor league contract with the Reds and will report to Triple-A Louisville, the team announced on Twitter.

Nelson, 28, enjoyed a strong Spring Training with the Reds, batting .317/.348/.463 with a homer and three walks in 46 trips to the plate. Nelson bounced around to three teams last year, seeing time with the Rockies, Yankees and Angels. The Williams & Connolly client was originally selected by the Rockies with the ninth overall pick in the 2004 draft. Though he hasn't put together an impressive Major League stat line to this point, Nelson has raked at Triple-A, hitting .320/.367/.516 in 205 games. His best season in the Majors was in 2012, when he batted .301/.352/.458 with nine homers in 377 plate appearances.

Chris Nelson Opts Out Of Contract With Reds

Infielder Chris Nelson has opted out of his deal with the Reds and requested his release, reports's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). The 28-year-old hoped to catch on in Cincinnati after shifting between three clubs last season.

Nelson has generally found success in the high minors, and carries a solid prospect pedigree. But last year, Nelson was unable to replicate the .301/.352/.458 mark he put up in a career-high 377 plate appearances in 2012. In 227 total MLB plate appearances, split between the Rockies, Yankees, and Angels, he managed only a .227/.273/.327 triple-slash. 

Reds To Sign Chris Nelson

TUESDAY: Nelson's deal allows him to opt out on March 28 if he has not been awarded a roster spot by that time, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (on Twitter).

MONDAY: The Reds have agreed to a minor league deal with infielder Chris Nelson, reports's Mark Sheldon. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported earlier today that Cincinnati was closing in on a deal with the Williams & Connolly client. Nelson told Sheldon's colleague, Thomas Harding, that he is excited about the opportunity:

"I think it’s a great opportunity, especially being in the National League. I have a chance to be a utility man, and with the double-switches there could be a chance for playing time. It could be a good fit for me."

As Sheldon writes, there will be a familiar face in camp for Nelson, as second baseman Brandon Phillips is at times one of his offseason workout partners. The 28-year-old Nelson slashed .301/.352/.458 in 377 plate appearances with the Rockies in 2012, but that line was propped up by a .374 batting average on balls in play that was predictably not sustainable. Regression in his BABIP and a 29 percent strikeout rate in 2013 saw the 2004 No. 9 overall draft pick's production fall to .227/.273/.327. Though he can handle both second and third base, he's not considered a plus defender at either position.

Nelson will look to catch on as a reserve for both Phillips and third baseman Todd Frazier, though the Reds have reserve options at each position in the form of Skip Schumaker and Jack Hannahan, each of whom is on a guaranteed contract for the 2014season.

Reds Nearing Deal With Chris Nelson

The Reds are nearing a contract with infielder Chris Nelson, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). The Williams & Connolly client split last season between the Rockies, Yankees and Angels.

The 28-year-old Nelson is a former No. 9 overall pick (by the Rockies in 2004) but hasn't displayed that pedigree at the Major League level to this point. Nelson is a career .268/.312/.399 hitter and has experience at both second base and third base, though defensive metrics such as UZR and DRS are down on his work at each position.

Nelson's best season came with the Rox in 2012 when he slashed .301/.352/.458 in 377 plate appearances, but that line was propped up by a .374 batting average on balls in play that was predictably not sustainable. Nelson saw his strikeout rate climb to 29 percent in 2013, and with the drop in BABIP (down to .313), the result was a combined .227/.273/.327 batting line in 227 PAs.

American League Non-Tenders

Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2014 season. We'll run down the list of American League non-tenders here. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR's Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates as well. Also of use will be our Arbitration Eligibles series, which includes Matt Swartz's projected 2014 salaries for all arbitration eligible players.

  • The Orioles announced they've non-tendered outfielder Jason Pridie and minor league starter Eddie Gamboa.
  • The Rays will non-tender reliever Wesley Wright, tweets Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
  • The Red Sox announced that they have non-tendered outfielder Ryan Kalish, Mike Salk of tweets.
  • The White Sox will not tender a contract to pitcher Dylan Axelrod, tweets Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune.
  • The Angels will non-tender pitcher Jerome Williams, tweets  Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The club will also non-tender righty Tommy Hanson and third baseman Chris Nelson, tweets DiGiovanna. J.C. Gutierrez will also be non-tendered, tweets Alden Gonzalez of, though that seemed a given since that he had already been designated for assignment.
  • The Indians have non-tendered outfielder Matt Carson, pitcher Tyler Cloyd, and catcher Lou Marson, the club announced.
  • The Rays are non-tendering outfielder Sam Fuld, a source tells Jerry Crasnick of (Twitter link). Fuld, who will turn 32 in a few weeks, could be a lefty-swinging bench piece for another club, though he slashed only .199/.270/.267 last year in 200 plate appearances for Tampa.
  • GM Brian Cashman says that the Yankees will non-tender infielder Jayson Nix, tweets Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News. The 31-year-old veteran appeared in 87 games for New York last season, putting up a .236/.308/.311 line in 303 plate appearances. The club will also non-tender reliever Matt Daley and infielder David Adams. New York confirmed the moves via press release.
  • The Royals announced that they have non-tendered second baseman Chris Getz. The 30-year-old Getz has tried to hold down Kansas City's keystone spot for several years now but produced just a .246/.299/.314 batting line from 2012-13. Swartz had pegged Getz for a $1.3MM salary in 2014.

AL West Notes: Kazmir, Colon, Angels, Bloomquist

The baseball world is still buzzing over Scott Kazmir's two-year, $22MM agreement with the Athletics. Here's a bit more on that signing as well as the rest of the American League West…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Athletics offered the same two-year, $22MM contract to Tim Hudson prior to his two-year, $23MM agreement with the Giants.
  • That Kazmir signed for two years and $11MM annually speaks to the expectations of Bartolo Colon, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Colon feels he can get multiple years at a higher annual value, according to Passan.
  • Kazmir's agreement firmly takes the Athletics out of the mix for Colon, a source confirmed to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • The Angels remain interested in Bronson Arroyo but the Dodgers aren't really in the mix, a source tells Mike DiGiovanna of (on Twitter). However, the source adds that the market for the veteran hasn't really "heated up" yet.
  • DiGiovanna adds that the Angels are expected to clear more than $10MM in payroll by non-tendering Tommy Hanson, Jerome Williams and Chris Nelson, which should allow them to pursue a free agent starting pitcher (Twitter links). DiGiovanna also mentions that Kevin Jepsen's status is still up in the air at this time and there's no decision on whether or not to tender him a contract.
  • Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that one of the reasons Joe Smith signed his three-year deal with the Angels is that his wife works as a sports radio host in Orange County.
  • In a harsh review of today's Willie Bloomquist signing by the Mariners, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs and the U.S.S. Mariner writes that Bloomquist "is Nick Punto minus all the things that make Nick Punto valuable." As Cameron points out, they're comparable hitters but Punto provides more baserunning and defensive value. However, Seattle paid nearly double the price for Bloomquist that Oakland did for Punto.

Rockies Acquire Yoely Bello To Complete Nelson Trade

The Rockies have acquired left-hander Yoely Bello from the Yankees to complete the trade that sent Chris Nelson to the Bronx earlier this season, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).

Bello, 22, pitched 24 1/3 innings for the Yankees' Rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate this season and posted a 6.29 ERA with 29 strikeouts (10.7 K/9) and 16 walks (5.9 BB/9). Bello will turn 23 this winter and has yet to pitch at a higher level than the GCL. In parts of four seasons between the GCL and the Dominican Summer League, the Dominican native has posted a 3.98 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9.

That the Rockies didn't receive much of a prospect isn't a surprise, considering the trade occured after Nelson had already been designated for assignment. Nelson spent just two weeks with the Yankees, batting .222/.243/.278 with 11 strikeouts and one walk in 37 plate appearances. They would soon DFA him as well, and Nelson would go on to be claimed by the Angels.

Angels Outright Chris Nelson To Triple-A

THURSDAY: Nelson has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Salt Lake, according to Angels director of communications Eric Kay (on Twitter).

MONDAY: The Angels have designated infielder Chris Nelson for assignment in order to clear a 25-man roster spot for Peter Bourjos, who has been reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (on Twitter).

Nelson, 27, appeared in seven games for the Halos but received just nine plate appearances, collecting three singles. The Angels were the third team for which the former No. 9 overall draft pick has played this season, as he also saw time with the Rockies and Yankees before being designated for assignment by each of those clubs as well.

Nelson has significant experience at both second and third base throughout his career and is a lifetime .277/.318/.407 hitter at the Major League level. His best season came in 2012 when he hit .301/.352/.458 for the Rockies in 377 plate appearances. Even though his offensive numbers that season were strong, however, Nelson's defense grades out very poorly according to both Ultimate Zone Rating and The Fielding Bible.

Angels Claim Chris Nelson, Designate Scott Cousins

The Angels have claimed infielder Chris Nelson off waivers from the Yankees and designated outfielder Scott Cousins for assignment, the Angels report (on Twitter). The Yankees designated Nelson for assignment two days ago.

Nelson hit .222/.243/.278 in ten games with the Yankees, who acquired him for a PTBNL or cash two weeks ago after the Rockies designated him for assignment. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2004 Draft.

Cousins has hit .179/.230/.285 in 179 career at bats with the Marlins and Angels. He had appeared in seven games with the Angels so far this year, but received only five plate appearances.