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Chris Young Rumors
The Nationals will open the season a widely regarded postseason favorite for the first time in franchise history today. Offseason acquisition Denard Span is leading off, and Stephen Strasburg is on the mound. Here's more on the club as we approach Opening Day for a large portion of Major League teams…
- The team is "not even close" to an extension with Ian Desmond, tweets MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Extension talks between the two sides have never been serious, according to Ladson.
- The Nationals remain in contact with Chris Young, who has yet to sign with a new team, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington (on Twitter). "The decision is his," said GM Mike Rizzo. Young opted out of his minor league deal with the Nationals last week in search of a Major League opportunity, but had nothing but the highest of praise for the Nationals organization.
Commissioner Bud Selig weighed in on the Houston Astros' strategy and payroll, saying that the organization has "chosen the path with some very qualfied people" and that he "think[s] they're doing it the right way." ESPN's Buster Olney writes (Insider sub. req'd) that baseball should be more cautious in endorsing what he characterizes as a "strategy to lose." Of course, it remains to be seen how the major league club will compete this season in what figures to be a tough AL West.
- With today's news of a big extension for Adam Wainwright, attention could turn to another ace who could be extended: the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, however, Kershaw does not want to keep negotiations open past spring training and is staying quiet as to whether there has been any progress. Hernandez also notes that Kershaw's agents, Casey Close and J.D. Smart, visited Dodger camp a week ago but were not not actively discussing a Kershaw extension.
- The time is now for the Dodgers to decide what to do with their excess starting pitching, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles TImes. Aaron Harang, for one, may have thrown his last pitch in Dodger blue. While Harang's tepid spring is a deterrent, Dilbeck notes that the righty threw well last season and should draw suitors.
- Chris Young could sign with the Angels, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, who also notes that the Mets are highly unlikely to sign him. The righty is back on the market after opting out of his contract with the Nationals.
- Mariners manager Eric Wedge says a decision between outfielders Casper Wells and Jason Bay will be made soon, leading Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times to posit that Wells could already have been put on waivers. If Wells is indeed put on waivers, he would be an option for the Phillies, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- The Diamondbacks have released Josh Booty, who earned a non-roster invite as the winner of "The Next Knuckler," the team announced on Twitter. The former QB was originally drafted by the Marlins fifth overall back in 1994 before he retired to pursue football, which meant that he was still technically under Marlins control when he joined Arizona for the spring.
33-year-old righty Chris Young is officially a free agent, having been granted his release by the Nationals today. He should sign within a day or two, hears Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, but MLB.com's Bill Ladson says Young is not close to signing with any team. The latest:
- The Mets are in talks with Young, tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN, though Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says the Mets "don't appear to be thinking about" a reunion. Earlier today, we heard that the Mets have "legitimate concerns" about pitcher Shaun Marcum's availability for the season due to a neck issue, based on comments pitching coach Dan Warthen made to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Rubin said the Mets were internally discussing bringing Young back, "but a team insider portrayed it as not the most likely of scenarios," partially because the pitcher's future would be uncertain once all the Mets' starters are healthy.
- The Rangers are not interested in a reunion with Young, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Young has not ruled out a return to the Nationals, tweets Ladson.
- The Blue Jays, Orioles, Twins, Indians, Cubs, Cardinals, Red Sox, Mets, and Brewers had scouts in attendance for Young's start yesterday, tweeted Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, though those scouts were not necessarily there for him.
TUESDAY, 10:22am: Young has been granted his release, according to a tweet from the Nationals.
Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington adds (also via Twitter) that the Nationals will still have 24 hours to add Young to the roster before the paperwork is officially filed. It is Young's preference to stay with the Nationals, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (Twitter link). That seems unlikely, as the Nats recently told Young that he wouldn't make the 25-man roster, but he would be their primary choice should a member of their rotation be injured.
Scouts from several teams were on hand today to watch Young's final Spring Training start for the Nationals, during which he allowed just an unearned run on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts through four innings.
Young signed a a minor league deal with the Nationals in late February after a season in which he posted a 4.15 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 115 innings for the Mets.
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.