Chris Young Rumors

Quick Hits: Rockies, Bloomquist, Castillo, Colabello

The Rockies are in the midst of an awful 45-70 season, but a strong offseason could help turn them around, Paul Swydan of FanGraphs writes. Swydan argues that the Rockies should let Michael Cuddyer, Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Anderson depart via free agency, then spend the savings on Russell Martin and on a couple of ground-ball-throwing, mid-grade free agent pitchers, like Justin Masterson and Francisco Liriano. Non-tendering Jhoulys Chacin and dealing for Jon Niese would also help improve the Rockies’ rotation. Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • Mariners utilityman Willie Bloomquist will miss the remainder of the season with a microfracture in his right knee, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Bloomquist is making $2.8MM in the first year of a two-year deal, and he hit .278/.297/.346 in 136 plate appearances this season.
  • Austin Jackson‘s departure in the David Price deal could make the Tigers especially likely to sign Cuban 2B/OF Rusney Castillo, MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets. The addition of Price brought them another top-flight starting pitcher but created an opportunity to improve in their outfield. Castillo has also been connected to a huge number of other teams, holding private workouts for many of them.
  • Chris Colabello may be near the end of the line with the Twins, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. The Twins recently optioned Colabello to Triple-A Rochester, and after a .229/.282/.380 performance in 220 plate appearances with them this season, he could soon be designated for assignment. Colabello is a great story — he spent seven seasons playing independent baseball before signing with the Twins as a 28-year-old and making it to the big leagues at 29. But as a 1B/OF/DH type who hasn’t hit much, he’s struggled to get established in the big leagues.
  • GM Sandy Alderson says the Mets‘ recent moves, including designating Chris Young for assignment and replacing him by promoting Matt den Dekker, do not suggest that his team is giving up on the 2014 season, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. The Mets will find playing time for den Dekker and more of it for Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Wilmer Flores. “I’ve tried to be honest with myself about that,” says Alderson. “And I have not concluded that this is a step back from competition.” The Mets remain on the outer fringes of the playoff race, seven games back of the last Wild Card spot. Of course, given that Young, for example, was hitting .205/.283/.346 before he was designated, it’s not likely that someone like den Dekker is even a downgrade, and Niewenhuis and Flores are supplanting underperforming players (Eric Young Jr. and Ruben Tejada) as well.

NL East Notes: Young, Nola, Turner

The Mets could jettison struggling outfielder Chris Young in the next week to ten days, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Young, signed before the season to a one-year, $7.25MM deal, has hit just .206/.284/.348 in 286 plate appearances, and cutting him could create opportunities for the younger Matt den Dekker (who’s hitting .331/.403/.533 in hitter-friendly Triple-A Las Vegas) to play every day. Here are more notes from the NL East.

  • The list of 2014 draftees off to hot starts to their pro careers includes former LSU pitcher Aaron Nola, the No. 7 overall pick by the Phillies, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo writes. Nola got off to a great start with Class A+ Clearwater and pitched well in his first start at Double-A Reading. Mayo notes that the sample sizes for 2014 are all very small at this point. (Also, stats for players in the lower minors can be very difficult to interpret.) But it’s not uncommon for players to get off to hot starts in their first pro seasons and then continue that success into the following year, just like Cubs slugger Kris Bryant has.
  • Jacob Turner‘s impending departure from the Marlins serves as a reminder that the trade with the Tigers that brought him to Miami hasn’t worked out so well, Dave Tepps of the Palm Beach Post writes. Turner hasn’t worked out, and Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn have struggled to establish themselves in the Majors (although Flynn, who has pitched fairly well at the Triple-A level, may still have a future). Meanwhile, the Marlins gave up Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante, who both played well in Detroit, with Sanchez emerging as a mainstay in a terrific Tigers rotation.

NL Notes: Iglesias, Mills, Martin, Young, Billingsley

Here’s the latest out of the National League …

  • The Reds are interested in Cuban free agent pitcher Raisel Iglesias, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America (via Twitter). A team official told Badler that a deal was not in place at this time, however. Badler recently reported that the righty was granted an extended signing window by MLB, and will be free to sign through July 1 without being subject to international spending limitations.
  • Brewers righty Brad Mills has an opt-out provision in his minor league deal that was triggered on Sunday, but can only be exercised if he has an offer from a team that would put him on its 25-man roster, reports Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mills, 29, has impressed at Triple-A, with a 1.56 ERA and 9.2 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 through 75 innings (including 12 starts). As Rosiak notes, however, Milwaukee seems relatively uninterested in using him at the big league level at present.
  • If the Pirates decide to open extension talks with catcher Russell Martin, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review estimates that it could take a three-year, $39MM offer to make a deal. Martin, who signed a two-year, $17MM pact to come to Pittsburgh, has posted a strong .275/.409/.400 line this year, which is the best pace he’s carried since his excellent 2006-08 seasons with the Dodgers. In the intervening five years, Martin has averaged a .234/.332/.370 triple-slash, though he has consistently earned stellar defensive ratings. After Martin, pickings are fairly slim on next year’s free agent market for backstops, with players like Kurt Suzuki, A.J. Pierzynski, Geovany Soto, and Nick Hundley leading the way.
  • The Mets have no intention of releasing struggling outfielder Chris Young, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. Young has posted a meager .196/.283/.313 line in 185 plate appearances since joining the club on a one-year, $7.25MM pact. While the team would like to be able to deal him, presumably eating some salary to make that happen, a team official tells Rubin that New York does not expect to find much of a market for his services.
  • As expected, Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley will undergo season-ending surgery on his right elbow, reports Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. It seems all but certain that the club will opt to pay Billingsley a $3MM buyout rather than picking up his $14MM option for 2015. The veteran hurler tells Saxon that the rehab is expected to be “about six months,” and that surgery offered him the “best chance to pitch next year.”


NL Notes: Diamondbacks, Mets, Zimmerman, Purke

As previously reported, before hiring Tony LaRussa, the Diamondbacks considered other candidates to slot in atop the club’s baseball operations structure or to take over directly for Kevin Towers as general manager. One candidate was former Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who notes that it is likely (but not certain) that Beinfest would have slotted into the GM role. Arizona also spoke with Braves advisor John Hart, says Rosenthal, though that was purely for purposes of dispensing advice.

Here’s more from Arizona and the rest of the National League:

  •  The April 2012 shoulder injury to then-Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young had widespread ramifications both for player and club, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Young, who had been off to a hot start that season, has never really been the same since. And the injury also led to then-teammate Justin Upton playing through a thumb injury. Upton’s step back that year, which could well have been injury-related, ultimately played a role in his departure, Piecoro observes.
  • If Young’s current team — the Mets – want to improve its offensive performance, the club needs to boost its spending, opines ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). With David Wright and Curtis Granderson eating up much of the team’s payroll space at its current spending levels, which reduces the team’s flexibility to add talent creatively without increasing its budget.
  • Confirming recent suggestions, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Nationals are planning to rotate Ryan Zimmerman between third, first, and left field when he returns from the DL. In addition to increasing the club’s ability to optimize the deployment of its position players, Washington hopes that Zimmerman’s future value to the team will see a boost from increased flexibility. The one-time stalwart at the hot corner, who has seen his defensive performance wane with shoulder issues, is in the first year of a six-year, $100MM extension that was agreed to before the 2012 season.
  • Nationals prospect Matt Purke will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (via Twitter). The 23-year-old lefty has largely disappointed since the Nats gave him a $4.15MM bonus in 2011 to sign out of TCU. As Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com notes on Twitter, Purke — who signed a big league deal — will be out of options by the time he recovers from the procedure.

AL West Notes: Perez, Young, Nady

Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez could be headed to the disabled list with elbow inflammation, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. That’s another potential blow to a Rangers team that has struggled to keep its starters healthy. The Rangers’ rotation currently includes Yu Darvish, Robbie Ross, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis along with Perez. Three other potential starters, Derek Holland, Joe Saunders and Tanner Scheppers, are on the DL. Here are more notes from the AL West.

  • Randy Wolf and the Mariners had a falling-out this spring over Wolf’s refusal to sign a 45-day advanced-consent relief form that would have allowed the Mariners to cut Wolf within the first six weeks of the season without paying his full year’s salary. Chris Young signed one, though, and he appears to have none of the issues Wolf did, MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby reports. “A club can release you at any point,” Young says. “That just protects them financially if you don’t perform. … I was confident I’d be successful. You can’t [go in preparing] for the worst.” Young has posted a 2.63 ERA in 37 2/3 innings so far with the Mariners, although with only 4.3 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9.
  • The Padres recently designated outfielder Xavier Nady for assignment, and he just elected to become a free agent. The Mariners could be interested in him, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News-Tribune tweets. The 35-year-old appeared in 22 games for San Diego, his first big-league stint since 2012. He played at the Triple-A level in 2013, hitting .296/.360/.456 in 495 plate appearances divided between Omaha and Colorado Springs.

Mariners Sign Chris Young, Designate Bobby LaFromboise

TODAY: Young agreed to an advance consent clause, tweets Dutton, which is somewhat notable because it was Seattle's demand for such a provision that led Randy Wolf to request his release.

YESTERDAY 5:31pm: Young gets a $1.25MM guarantee, reports Dutton. Performance bonuses could tack on an additional $3.475MM if maxed out, which would occur at 28 starts and 180 innings.

11:14am: The Mariners have officially signed starter Chris Young and designated Bobby LaFromboise for assignment to create space, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (via Twitter). After recently parting with veterans Randy Wolf and Scott Baker, Seattle had a clear need for starting pitching.

Young, 34, appeared to be rejuvenated this spring, spending camp with the Nationals after undergoing thoracic outlet surgery on his shoulder. The towering righty has not appeared in the bigs since 2012, but threw to a 3.48 ERA in 10 1/3 spring innings. In his last MLB turn, Young threw to a 4.15 ERA in 115 innings with the Mets.

Meanwhile, LaFromboise is a 27-year-old lefty who has seen only ten chances to make a big league appearance, all in a brief stint in the Mariners pen last year. He has put up some solid numbers in the upper minors in recent seasons, working to a 3.39 ERA in 61 innings at Triple-A last year and putting up a 1.36 mark in 66 1/3 innings at Double-A and Triple-A in 2012. LaFromboise has averaged better than nine strikeous and less than three free passes per nine innings in both of the last two years.


Nationals Release Jamey Carroll, Chris Young

The Nationals have released veteran infielder Jamey Carroll, Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com tweets. They have also released pitcher Chris Young, tweets MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko.

Carroll, 40, collected 249 plate apppearances with the Twins and Royals last season, hitting a meager .211/.267/.251. He signed a minor-league deal with the Nationals in January. Young, 34, last appeared in the big leagues in 2012 with the Mets. He pitched sparingly in the Nats' system in an injury-plagued 2013 season.


NL Notes: Corbin, Guerrero, Young, Francisco, Matsuzaka, Fowler

MLBTR's own Charlie Wilmoth has just released a new book. Titled "Dry Land," the volume traces the Pirates and their fans through the club's historic losing streak and recent renaissance. Be sure to check out this post for more details and how you can order a copy. On to the links:

  • In two expected moves out of the NL West, Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks underwent Tommy John surgery today, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert tweets, while the Dodgers optioned Alex Guerrero to Triple-A, as MLB.com's Ken Gurnick tweets.
  • The Nationals have received trade interest from three or four clubs in starter Chris Young, who has an opt-out in his contract this coming Thursday, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The 33-year-old has had an impressive spring, but seems unlikely to crack the Nats' rotation. 
  • The Pirates have no interest in signing Juan Francisco if he clears waivers, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. We learned earlier today that the team had chosen to go with Travis Ishikawa over Andrew Lambo as its left-handed bat at first.
  • For the Mets, giving Daisuke Matsuzaka a $100K bonus is in large part a strategic effort to protect the club in the event that Jon Niese is unable to make his first start, explains ESPN.com's Adam Rubin. This way, the team can rely on both Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia if the need arises, or can simply pick between them for the fifth starter slot.
  • The Rockies are better off without center fielder Dexter Fowler because he "isn't tough enough," opines Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. (Fowler, of course was dealt to the Astros. As presented in my offseason review for the club, I have a different take on the subject of Fowler's departure from Colorado.) Though Kiszla initially credited Fowler with having "the determination to grind through pain" in mid-August of last year, he apparently adjusted his analysis after the 28-year-old missed twenty games late in the season with ongoing hand and wrist injuries. Manager Walt Weiss effectively pushed Fowler out of town, says Kiszla, because the latter "was not the kind of player Weiss needs on a team that must grind out victories in the National League West." Apparently referring obliquely to Fowler, Weiss emphasized the need for players "to compete and grind and play with grit," while assistant GM Bill Geivett explained that the manager "has got to feel comfortable in the weapons he has to attack the other team." 

Quick Hits: Tigers, Pirates, Hill, Young

Fans shouldn't be angry over players' multimillion-dollar salaries, CBS Sports' Dayn Perry writes. That Albert Pujols is paid hundreds of millions of dollars to hit a baseball might seem frivolous, but exorbitant salaries for ballplayers and entertainers have been part of our culture for some time. "You might as well lament the tides of the ocean," Perry writes. Also, ticket prices aren't caused by high player salaries, but by demand. Fans are willing to pay high ticket prices (as they do even to college sporting events, where players are unpaid), so teams charge high ticket prices.  Here's more from around the big leagues.

  • Given the tone of the Tigers' press release on the Max Scherzer negotiations, it might not be a good time for Scott Boras to bring up Stephen Drew with the Tigers, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. The Tigers have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for the free agent shortstop but the club's unusual step of issuing a press release on the end of talks with their star pitcher might indicate some soured relations between them and the top agent.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says his offer for Scherzer was the most he has ever offered a player that has been turned down, tweets Tom Gage of the Detroit News.  For his part, Scherzer says he wants to stay in Detroit long term (link).
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) notes that one of the big talking points on the Prince Fielder trade was that it freed up money for the Tigers to sign Scherzer.  With a new deal for Scherzer currently off the table, Passan wonders if Detroit might shift their attention to Miguel Cabrera.
  • After winning 94 games and advancing to the NL Division Series last season, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wonders if the Pirates are candidates for regression this season.  Despite losing free agents A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau, the Pirates didn't make any splasy moves to replace them this winter. 
  • Left-hander Rich Hill can opt out of his deal with the Red Sox on May 15th, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.  
  • Agent Jon Fetterolf has left Williams & Connolly and is now running sports practice for the Zuckerman Spaeder firm, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.  
  • Right-hander Chris Young, ostensibly in the competition for the Nationals’ fifth starter spot, can opt out of his minor league contract if the Nationals do not add him to the 25-man roster by Thursday, a person familiar with the contract told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


Mets Notes: Young, Shortstops

Earlier today, the Mets inked outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25MM contract, marking their first Major League signing of the offseason. Here's more on Young and some other Mets-related issues…

  • GM Sandy Alderson flew to Houston to meet with Young personally last week and promised him regular playing time, though maybe not in center field, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).
  • ESPN's Keith Law breaks down the signing, calling Young an "imperfect fit" for the Mets (Insider subscription required and recommended). Young hasn't been the same since injuring his shoulder last April, writes Law, pointing out his .203/.282/.375 slash line since that time. In order to mitigate the risk of a replacement-level offensive performance from Young, Law argues that a team should be playing him in center field says. But for the Mets, he notes, Juan Lagares is too defensively gifted to move.
  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, meanwhile, sees things somewhat differently. He argues that Young "will likely go down as one of the best free agent signings of the off-season," even though his contract landed at the same dollars, but only half the years, of that predicted through Fangraphs reader crowdsourcing. Noting that Young suffered from a low BABIP last year, and arguing that his past platoon split may not be as much of an issue as some believe, Cameron says that this contract compares favorably to those given last year to Cody Ross (three years, $26MM), Ryan Ludwick ($15MM over two years) and Jonny Gomes ($10MM for two seasons).
  • Mike Puma of the New York Post reminds that the Mets' offseason shopping list has consisted of two bats, a starting pitcher and a reliever. Young likely qualifies as one of those bats, and Puma wonders if the Mets have backed off their pursuit of Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta due to their asking prices (Twitter links). Peralta is said to be seeking a surprising $56-75MM guarantee.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.