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Chris Young Rumors
The Twins announced yesterday that they will hand the reins in center field over to top prospect Aaron Hicks. The 2008 first-rounder ranked 72nd on Baseball America's Top 100 list and 98th on MLB.com's Top 100. Here's some more on the Twinkies as we draw closer to the end of Spring Training…
- General manager Terry Ryan told MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger that Hicks won the Opening Day job because he doesn't believe in holding players back for service time reasons: "'Can you imagine if we sent somebody out who did what the kid did?' Ryan said. 'And I had to look at [Josh] Willingham, [Justin] Morneau, [Glen] Perkins, [Joe] Mauer and those guys who are trying to win, and I'm going to stop that guy? I just don't believe in that.'"
- Other teams are interested in catcher Drew Butera, who the Twins optioned to Triple-A yesterday, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). However the Twins prefer to keep Butera, who they signed to a $700K contract in order to avoid arbitration this winter. The 29-year-old is just a .183/.232/.265 career hitter but is regarded as a terrific defensive catcher.
- The Twins contacted Chris Young this offseason and had interest in him at one point according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, but an official tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that the team no longer considers him a fit (Twitter link). Young is set to opt out of his contract with the Nationals.
- The Twins were approached by representatives for both Yuniesky Betancourt and Freddy Garcia, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, but the team passed on both players (Twitter links).
- Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez, who signed a minor league deal with the Twins, has all but guaranteed himself a spot on the Opening Day roster, tweets MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. A corresponding 40-man roster move will need to be made in the coming days.
MONDAY: The Blue Jays, Orioles, Twins, Indians, Cubs, Cardinals, Red Sox, Brewers and Mets all have scouts on hand for Young's start against the Astros today, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). However, as he's quick to note, that doesn't necessarily mean that each team is there to scout Young specifically.
For what it's worth, Young was terrific in his outing, scattering two hits, a walk and an unearned run over four innings to go along with a pair of strikeouts.
SUNDAY, 2:10pm: The Pirates are intrigued by Young, tweets the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel. However, Biertempfel wonders whether the Pirates can assure Young he'd be on roster the whole year and, if not, whether or not Young would be interested.
11:25am: The minor league deal that Chris Young signed with the Nationals last month contains an opt-out clause that he can exercise today. However, Young is scheduled to pitch in a Grapefruit League game tomorrow. Dan Kolko of MASNsports tweets that Young is planning on making that start tomorrow and then making a decision. Young says he has received interest from other teams, and it was reported on Friday that Young likely won't make the roster.
The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore adds that the Nationals hope to retain Young and view him as the clear favorite for a rotation spot if one of their starting five were to suffer an injury. Young is interested in staying in the organization in the event that he can't find a Major League job elsewhere.
The 33-year-old Young posted a 4.15 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 115 innings for the Mets last season. However, teams in smaller ballparks will likely be wary of Young's alarming 58.2 percent fly-ball rate. Among pitchers with 100 innings or more, Young's fly-ball rate was far and away the highest in baseball, while his 22.3 percent ground-ball rate was far and away the lowest.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
One Scott Boras client created a tense moment for another today as Prince Fielder lined a ball off the left hand of Stephen Strasburg during a Spring Training game. Strasburg seemed fine after the knock and continuing pitching, finishing the outing with three runs allowed and five strikeouts over six innings of work.
Here's the latest from around the Beltway from both the Nationals' and Orioles' camps…
- Matt Wieters told Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com that he would be open to discusing a multiyear extension with the Orioles but didn't confirm whether any talks had taken place. "At this point, I am getting ready for the year and if something were to ever develop, I'd pretty much tell Scott [agent Scott Boras] to present the information," Wieters said. O's executive VP Dan Duquette said in January that the team would likely approach Wieters about a long-term deal at some point during the offseason, while the catcher said he just wants to focus on playing once Opening Day hits. Wieters has two more arbitration eligible years left and is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
- Jair Jurrjens can't opt out of his Orioles contract until June 15, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (via Twitter). The O's signed the veteran righty to a minor league deal last month.
- The Nationals are internally confident that Gio Gonzalez won't be suspended for his connection to the controversial Biogenesis clinic in Miami, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. MLB is continuing to investigate Gonzalez and other players named in the clinic's records, though last month it was reported that no banned substances were among Gonzalez's alleged purchases from Biogenesis.
- Nationals center field prospect Eury Perez could become trade bait after this season, MLB.com's Bill Ladson opines as part of a reader mailbag. Perez has become expendable with Denard Span in center and other prospects like Brian Goodwin and Michael Taylor also in the mix.
- Nats GM Mike Rizzo hinted to reporters (including Ladson) that Chris Young may opt out of his contract on or before March 24 since there doesn't seem to be room for the right-hander on the Nationals' Major League roster. "We are certainly not going to keep him in the minor leagues if he has a chance at a big league job," Rizzo said. "That's only right. That's how we get these players to come with us under these conditions, because they know we are going to do right by them and treat them well."
- "We'll know what other teams think of him," Rizzo said of utilityman Carlos Rivero, who is out of options. "He is a good, versatile player. He is a guy that could help some teams….We'll see shortly." Rivero, 24, has a .265/.322/.386 line over 3222 career PA in the minor leagues since 2006. Here is the full list of this year's out of options players.
Reliever Matt Capps and starting pitcher Chris Young both signed minor-league deals with new teams this offseason as Article XX(B) free agents, and they both face decisions as the end of spring training nears. Neither is expected to make the 25-man rosters of their new teams, and if they don't, they can become free agents, or they can accept minor-league assignments, which come with $100K retention bonuses and opt-out dates of June 1.
Capps is still in big-league camp with the Indians, but the Indians have informed him he won't be on their 25-man roster. He is unsure whether he will accept an assignment to Triple-A Columbus or catch on with another team, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports. For now, Capps is in limbo. "I've never been in this situation," he says. "I'm not really sure what to think or where to go or what to do. So, I'm just kind of here right now." Unsurprisingly, Capps says he would accept a big-league opportunity elsewhere before reporting to Columbus. Capps pitched 29 1/3 innings with the Twins last season, with a 3.68 ERA, 5.52 K/9, and 1.23 BB/9.
Young may soon be in a similar situation with the Nationals. He can trigger an out clause in his contract on March 24, before his next spring training start, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post notes. [Young's out clause is technically distinct from those of most other Type XX(B) free agents, who must be notified by March 26 whether they will make their clubs' 25-man rosters.]
Like Capps, Young indicates that he would prefer a major-league job elsewhere to a minor-league assignment. "I do feel like I’m a big league pitcher," he says. "To turn down a big league opportunity to go to Triple A is probably not in my best interest." Kilgore lists the Padres, Angels and Twins as possible destinations for Young. Young pitched 115 innings for the Mets last season, with a 4.15 ERA and 6.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. He is an extreme fly-ball pitcher, however, and may not be the best fit in home-run-friendly ballparks.
Here's the latest from around the NL East…
- Cole Hamels wouldn't have signed an extension with the Phillies unless he thought the team would continue to contend, the southpaw tells CBS Sports' Scott Miller. "I was very comfortable with making the decision [to re-sign] because I do know what they're going to do and what it takes to win," Hamels said. "I've experienced it first hand.”
- Chris Young and Micah Owings have both had impressive springs for the Nationals but will be hard-pressed to win jobs on the largely-settled Nats roster, Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com writes. Owings needs regular at-bats to help in his transition from pitching to first base but the Nationals are deep at both first and in the outfield at both the Major League and Triple-A levels. As for Young, he can opt out of his minor league deal with Washington if he isn't on the big league roster by March 24.
- The Nationals' depth is also explored in the latest mailbag piece from MLB.com's Bill Ladson, as he notes that the club wants to hold onto Steve Lombardozzi and Danny Espinosa as backup options.
- Ladson also says the Nationals have no interest in Kyle Lohse unless one of their starting pitchers gets injured, and even then, they would only sign Lohse to a one-year deal. As I noted in my recent examination of the Lohse market, the Nats are a real longshot to sign the veteran righty, and probably wouldn't be considered candidates at all were it not for the club's relationship with Scott Boras, Lohse's agent.
- The Marlins still have a lot of decisions to make about the composition of their 25- and 40-man rosters, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes.
- Earlier today on MLBTR, Ben Nicholson-Smith compiled some Phillies notes and Tim Dierkes continued the Offseason In Review series with a look at the Mets.
TUESDAY: Young's deal would pay him a base salary of $2MM if he makes the MLB roster, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). The deal, which allows Young to opt out on March 24th, could pay Young as much as $3.8MM in incentives if he makes 30 starts and pitches 180 innings.
Young, 33, pitched for the Mets last year. The 6'10" right-hander missed much of the 2010 and 2011 seasons, but returned from a shoulder capsule injury to put together a strong season in 2012. He started 20 games, posting a 4.15 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 115 innings.
The Nationals have a talented rotation led by Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler. Young provides depth along with a number of other pitchers, including Ross Ohlendorf, also a former Princeton student.
MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner told reporters yesterday that he wants to see the Mets follow through on their stated intention of spending more aggressively. "I think everybody would like to see the Mets as a competitive team, and it's going to require a higher payroll,” Weiner said. Here are more NL East-related notes…
- It doesn't appear likely that the Mets will consider Francisco Rodriguez, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports (on Twitter). They had some interest in a reunion with the free agent right-hander earlier in the winter.
- GM Mike Rizzo implied that right-hander Chris Young has an out-clause in his minor league deal with the Nationals, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). It appears that the Nationals need Young’s permission to assign him to Triple-A. Ross Ohlendorf doesn’t have an opt-out, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports (on Twitter).
- Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton told Yahoo's Jeff Passan that he tries not to concern himself with his team's recent change in direction. "What are you gonna do?" Stanton said. "Honestly, what? There's nothing you can do. You express your feelings, and that's about it."
- Another Marlins outfielder, Juan Pierre, told MLBTR correspondent B.J. Rains that he’s pleased to be returning to the Marlins, even as fans express frustration over the team’s offseason moves.
The Nationals are keeping their focus on their short-term chances of contending, owner Mark Lerner said during a chat with reporters (including The Washington Times' Amanda Comak) at the team's Spring Training camp. The club's payroll is now over $100MM and while they don't want to go overboard with spending, “this is a special year," Lerner said. "We have obviously incredible talent and there was a couple parts that [general manager Mike Rizzo] wanted and we said, ‘Do what you need to do,’ and that’s basically how it happened." Lerner said the Nats are concerning themselves with the next three seasons and aren't yet concerned about keeping Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in Washington over the long term. The two young stars are team-controlled through the 2016 and 2018 seasons, respectively.
Here are some more items from the Nats' camp…
- Also from Lerner, he said that he and Rizzo would "talk when the time is right" about a contract extension. "I think this is the place where he wants to make his home and we certainly want him to be here, so I’m sure we’ll come to some understanding at some point in time," Lerner said. Rizzo's contract is only guaranteed through this season but the Nationals hold options on the general manager for 2014 and 2015.
- Kurt Suzuki hasn't talked to management about a contract extension but says he'd love to remain with the Nats beyond this season, MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports. Washington holds an $8.5MM team option on Suzuki for 2014 that right now seems unlikely to be exercised since Wilson Ramos is waiting in the wings at catcher. It's possible the Nationals could decline the option and still re-sign Suzuki at a lower price.
- Also from Ladson (Twitter link), the Nationals had interest in Chris Young during the 2010-11 offseason but didn't sign him after seeing the MRI results of Young's throwing shoulder. Young had another injury-plagued season with the Mets in 2011 but rebounded to make 20 starts in 2012. The Nats signed Young to a minor league deal today.
The Athletics held their A's Fan Fest today with manager Bob Melvin and GM Billy Beane hosting a Q&A session. Here are the highlights:
- Melvin says second base will be an open competition between Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks while Grant Green, the A's fourth-best prospect as ranked by MLB.com, will also receive a hard look, reports MLB.com's Jane Lee (Twitter links).
- Melvin plans to continue with the Brandon Moss/Chris Carter platoon at first base, tweets Lee.
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets the A's will not use any one set lineup because Melvin has multiple options depending on matchups and who's hot.
- Melvin views Coco Crisp as the starting center fielder with Chris Young moving around all three outfield spots, Lee tweets.
- Young says being reunited with Melvin is "like a breath of fresh air." (A's team Twitter feed).
- Melvin calls Yoenis Cespedes one of most talented players in the league and Beane adds he wouldn't be surprised if the 27-year-old Cuban takes it to another level, Slusser tweets.
- Beane is confident Hiroyuki Nakajima will make a successful transition to MLB, tweets Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com. In fact, Beane joked he will have a tougher transition in dealing with the effervescent Japanese shortstop.
- Beane expects their top prospect, outfielder Michael Choice, to open the season in Triple-A, unless something unforeseen happens, according to Pratt (via Twitter).
- The A's are convinced shortstop Addison Russell, last year's first round draft choice, is mature enough to be invited to Spring Training even though it wasn't part of his contract, writes Slusser on Twitter. Slusser adds this is an indication of how much the 19-year-old has wowed the front office.
Free agent outfielder Scott Hairston is choosing between his former team, the Mets, and New York's American League representative, the Yankees. As we await news on Hairston's decision, here are some Mets-related links…
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he'd like to add a starting pitcher of the Chris Young or Carl Pavano ilk, ESPN.com's Adam Rubin reports. “I couldn’t identify who that might be at this point, but that general category of player is probably what we’re looking at,” Alderson said. The Mets have also been linked to Shaun Marcum, though Marcum's asking price could deter the Mets.
- Alderson said the Mets also hope to add at least one veteran reliever before Opening Day, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports. The GM explained that it was a difficult winter to build through free agency. "The free agent market for outfielders was almost as overpriced as the market for starting pitching," he said. "But be that as it may, we're still looking." A trade remains possible, though there are some prospects Alderson wouldn't deal.
- The Mets need outfield depth, but don't expect them to consider Michael Bourn. They would have to surrender their first round pick to sign a free agent such as Bourn, and Alderson confirmed to Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger that the Mets aren’t about to give up their top draft choice. “We’ve very wary of that. It’s not our M.O,” he said.
- Mets scouts have watched Javier Vazquez, McCullough reports. Teams have been watching the right-hander throw in Puerto Rico.