Cincinnati Reds Rumors
Mark Teahen has been returned to the Diamondbacks from the Reds due to an issue with his physical, according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon (on Twitter). Matt Andrews, the broadcaster for Cincinnati's Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, first reported that Teahen was returning to the Diamondbacks organization (Twitter link).
On Tuesday, the two sides agreed to a deal that would send Teahen to the Reds for cash or a player to be named later. Teahen is hitting .211/.318/.254 through 85 plate appearances for Triple-A Reno thus far. The former supplemental round pick hit .287/.354/.455 for the Royals to 2006-07 but hit just .255/.315/.390 over the next four seasons. He spent the 2012 season with the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate and signed a minor league deal with the D-backs this offseason.
We'll keep track of today's minor moves here.
- The Reds acquired infielder/outfielder Mark Teahen from the Diamondbacks for cash or a player to be named later, according to the D'Backs. Teahen, 31, was hitting .209/.321/.254 in 81 Triple-A plate appearances after struggling offensively in the Washington organization at that level last year. He was drafted in the first round by the A's in 2002 and spent five seasons with the Royals, hitting 18 home runs in '06.
- The Dodgers have signed pitcher Aaron Laffey to a minor-league deal, Chris Cotillo of CLNS Radio reports. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has confirmed the signing. Laffey has been designated for assignment by the Mets and Blue Jays so far this season, and he elected free agency yesterday instead of accepting an outright assignment from the Jays. Laffey has appeared in five big-league games so far this year.
- Rangers minor-leaguer Randy Wells has retired, FOX Sports Southwest's Anthony Andro reports (on Twitter). Wells, 30, finished sixth in NL Rookie of the Year balloting in 2009, when he was with the Cubs. He appeared in 98 big-league games, mostly with Chicago, posting a 4.08 ERA, 5.9 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. He made five starts in 2013 for the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock.
- The Mariners have signed outfielder Corey Patterson to a minor-league deal, MLB.com's Greg Johns reports (on Twitter). Patterson will report to extended spring training. Patterson, 33, hit .251/.285/.410 for the Brewers' Triple-A team in Nashville in 2012. He has played for the Cubs, Orioles, Reds, Nationals, Brewers, Blue Jays and Cardinals.
Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo has been hit by an incredible nine pitches already, which, combined with a very discerning eye at the plate, has lead to an MLB-best .523 OBP. SB Nation's Rob Neyer opines that the Reds correctly assessed that the gap between Choo's offense and Drew Stubbs' offense would outweigh the defensive downgrade. While Choo won't keep this pace up, Neyer points out that Reds leadoff men combined for a .254 OBP last season, making the addition of Choo a worthwhile move.
Choo currently ranks third on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, and a career-year in terms of OBP would certainly help keep him near the top of that list. Here's more from around the league...
- MLB.com's Lyle Spencer writes that Miguel Cabrera was nearly traded to the Angels prior to the 2007 trade that sent him to the Tigers. Cabrera himself told Spencer that he thought he was being traded to Anaheim. The Angels and Marlins discussed Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders in the deal as well as young infielders Howie Kendrick and Brandon Wood. Ultimately, Cabrera said that he thinks he wound up in Detroit because the Tigers were more willing to take on Dontrelle Willis and his $7MM salary.
- Former Athletics left-hander Dallas Braden implied via Twitter that he could be entertaining a comeback attempt. Braden, now 29 years old, made just three starts in the 2011 season and hasn't pitched since thanks to a pair of shoulder surgeries. Braden famously threw a perfect game against the Rays on May 9, 2010 with his grandmother in attendance.
- The Mariners' offensive woes present the "biggest crisis of the Jack Zduriencik era," writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. While he concedes that it's a small sample, Zduriencik made several moves to bolster the lineup this offseason but the Mariners find themselves in 29th place in nearly every offensive category. The collapse of Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero -- who were supposed to be the team's young core -- is a major setback in Zduriencik's blueprint.
The Cubs held a press conference today to discuss their $500MM plan to "save Wrigley Field and invest in the city." The deal has not been finalized, but an agreement has been reached with the city of Chicago. "If this plan is approved, we will win the World Series for our fans and our city," said owner Tom Ricketts. Elsewhere in baseball's central divisions:
- The Twins recalled one of their best prospects today from Triple-A, promoting outfielder Oswaldo Arcia and placing Wilkin Ramirez on paternity leave. Arcia, a 21-year-old from Venezuela, was ranked the 41st best prospect in the game by Baseball America and placed 59th on Keith Law's list for ESPN. Arcia seems unlikely to stick, with Ramirez due back in three days.
- Another top central division prospect may have his service clock started soon, as John Fay of Cincinnati Enquirer says the Reds "will likely call up left-hander Tony Cingrani from Triple-A to make [Johnny] Cueto's next scheduled start." Cueto is on the DL with a strained right lat muscle, and the Reds limited to Cingrani to two innings in his Sunday Triple-A start. Cueto will miss three or four starts, Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters today.
- "I think he has a chance to be a true No. 1," a scout tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports regarding Twins prospect Alex Meyer. The Twins acquired Meyer from the Nationals straight up for Denard Span in November.
- Though Cardinals GM John Mozeliak and Rangers GM Jon Daniels have not discussed swapping Oscar Taveras and Jurickson Profar, ESPN's Jim Bowden continues to advocate this potential "challenge" trade. Bowden admits that his first trade as Reds GM was a challenge trade in its own right, as he dealt Paul O'Neill and a minor leaguer to the Yankees for Roberto Kelly. Concludes Bowden, "True, that O’Neill-for-Kelly deal will haunt me to my grave, but it was the gutsiest trade I’ve ever made."
We'll track today's minor transactions here:
- The Reds have signed Italian amateur pitcher Davide Anselmi, George Von Benko of MLB.com notes. Anselmi, who was born in 1995, plays in the Unipol Bologna organization. The news of his signing with the Reds appears to have been broken by the Italian website GrandeSlam.net.
- The Angels have designated outfielder Scott Cousins for assignment in order to make room on their 40-man roster for Michael Roth, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports (on Twitter). Cousins, 28, posted 175 at bats for the Marlins from 2010 through 2012, hitting .183/.231/.291.
- Righty D.J. Mitchell has cleared waivers and will become a free agent, reports Larry Stone of the Seattle Times (on Twitter). The Mariners had designated Mitchell for assignment to clear space for Endy Chavez. Mitchell, who turns 26 next month, appeared in four games for the Yankees in 2012. New York shipped him to Seattle in July, along with Danny Farquhar, for Ichiro Suzuki.
Jay Bruce had some interesting comments on the state of free agency in a piece authored by MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. Bruce noted that the extension boom will lead to greater team continuity, recalling the Reds' famed Big Red Machine. "Of course," he said, "if you had that today, you might have a $600MM payroll." Bruce continued: "Fortunately for us, the dollars have become so large that even when you're signing deals with your team early, they're still close to market. I understand the competitive market and not pushing the market down for players coming after you. I respect that, and that's a big part of keeping things on the up and up on our side. But I don't think that guys are just signing anything put in front of them. There's so much information out there that if you do any due diligence at all, you're going to understand [what's fair]."
- Right-handed starter Chad Billingsley appears set to return to the Dodgers for a Wednesday start, reports Quinn Roberts of MLB.com. With lefty Ted Lilly also making minor league rehab starts, the Dodgers will again have to shuffle their rotation. Los Angeles moved one of their surplus starters earlier today when they shipped Aaron Harang to the Rockies for Ramon Hernandez.
- The Astros are all-in on rebuilding, with a payroll that barely exceeds the $20MM the team has set aside for draft spending, writes Phil Rogers of the Boston Herald. GM Jeff Luhnow is preaching not "patience," but what he calls "discipline." According to Luhnow: "We all feel a sense of urgency to get this to the endpoint as quickly as possible. But to do that, we have to be disciplined about how we implement (our plan). That means not doing things that are going to give us an extra win or two this year at the expense of an extra five wins two or three years down the road."
- Robinson Cano's agency swap is an admission that the contract pressure is getting to him, opines Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Madden feels that Cano wants to get his big pay day but also doesn't want to have it hanging over him.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Today's minor moves...
- Reds infielder Jason Donald cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A, according to the International League transactions page. He'd been designated for assignment on Sunday. The 28-year-old hit .277/.365/.441 in 296 Triple-A plate appearances last year.
- The White Sox added righty Jason Berken to their Triple-A roster, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Berken, 29, tossed 19 2/3 big league innings in 2012, mostly for the Cubs, but was removed from their 40-man roster in October. For the Orioles' Triple-A club, he posted a 3.50 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 0.63 HR/9 in 144 innings last year. Four years ago, Baseball America explained that Berken can throw strikes with any of his four pitches, but doesn't have swing-and-miss stuff.
- The White Sox also released outfielder Stefan Gartrell, tweets Gonzales. Gartrell had signed a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp. The 29-year-old hit .251/.335/.452 over 472 plate appearances last year for the Braves' Triple-A affiliate.
The Reds were one of baseball's most complete teams in 2012 -- as evidenced by their first-place finish in the NL Central -- but they entered the offseason needing to address some holes in the outfield.
Major League Signings
- Jonathan Broxton, RP: three years, $21MM.
- Jack Hannahan, IF: two years, $4MM. Club option for 2015.
- Manny Parra, RP: one year, $1MM.
- Ryan Ludwick, OF: two years, $15MM.
- Todd Redmond, SP: one year, $490K.
- Total Spend: $41.49MM.
- Jacob Constante, P: $730K.
Notable Minor League Signings
- Corky Miller, Miguel Olivo, Emmanuel Burriss, Cesar Izturis, Clay Hensley, Mark Prior, Jeff Stevens,
Trades and Claims
- Acquired OF Shin-Soo Choo and IF Jason Donald in a three-way deal for OF Drew Stubbs and SS Didi Gregorius.
With Ryan Ludwick hitting free agency and Drew Stubbs was coming off a season in which he batted just .213/.277/.333 with a 30.5 percent strikeout rate, Cincinnati needed to bolster its outfield. They did just that by re-signing Ludwick to a two-year deal and swinging a trade to acquire Shin-Soo Choo from Ohio's other team -- the Indians.
General manager Walt Jocketty gave up Stubbs and shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius in a three-team deal with the Tribe and the D-backs to land Choo, who will man center field and hit leadoff for the Reds. Cincinnati also received infielder Jason Donald in the trade, though he's since been designated for assignment.
Scott Rolen's departure cleared the way for Todd Frazier to take over as the team's everyday third baseman. Frazier finished third in last year's Rookie of the Year voting and posted a solid .273/.331/.498 batting line with 19 homers. He's unlikely to match Rolen's defensive value, but he's an upgrade at the plate.
The offensive upgrade shouldn't be understated. The Reds finished with 669 runs in 2012 -- just ninth in the National League and 21st in Major League Baseball. A full season of Frazier, the addition of Choo and a full, healthy season Joey Votto should help the team top last season's mark handily.
The Reds had little work to do on the pitching front. The team only had one game that wasn't started by Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo or Mike Leake in 2012. That honor went to Todd Redmond, whom they signed to a one-year Major League contract worth just over the league minimum. Cincinnati would ultimately designate Redmond for assignment to make room for Manny Parra, who landed a one-year deal of his own to bolster the bullpen.
Jack Hannahan was brought in on a two-year, $4MM contract. While he should provide solid corner defense for the Reds, I'm not sure a multiyear deal for a player of his ilk was necessary. The price is admittedly fairly insignificant, but Cincinnati has never been a deep-pocketed team and comparable defensive specialists like Brandon Inge signed minor league deals.
While Choo and his robust on-base percentage are more than capable of handling the leadoff position, there's less certainty about his ability to play center field at this point in his career. Choo entered 2013 with just 83 career innings in center field, and all but eight of those came in 2006 or earlier. The Fielding Bible rated his right-field defense at -12 runs last season, and UZR/150 thought he was worse, giving him a -15.8 mark. Choo's glove will have to show improvement while playing a tougher position to keep Cincinnati's outfield from being labeled a defensive liability.
The Reds have another question mark in the outfield thanks to the cartilage tear found in Ludwick's shoulder that forced him to go under the knife earlier today. Cincinnati gave the veteran a two-year, $15MM deal - the first multi-year pact of his career - and will now have to get by without his bat for an indefinite period of time. The 34-year-old posted a .275/.346/.531 batting line with 26 home runs in 472 plate appearances for the Reds in 2012.
Shortstop remains a potential area of weakness as well. Zack Cozart filled the spot last year but posted just a .246/.288/.399 batting line. Cozart held his own defensively (9.3 UZR/150; +12 runs per The Fielding Bible), but the team could seek an upgrade if Cozart's bat doesn't or defense takes a step back. With Gregorius now in Arizona, Cesar Izturis is likely the team's primary backup plan in the event of an injury.
Deal of Note
It seemed all offseason long that the Reds' plan was to use Aroldis Chapman in the starting rotation. That line of thinking was punctuated by a three-year, $21MM contract for Jonathan Broxton, who would presumably inherit the ninth inning.
Instead, Chapman has been placed back in the ninth inning, making Broxton one of baseball's highest-paid setup men. His $4MM salary in 2013 isn't prohibitive, but he'll earn $7MM in 2014 and $9MM in 2015 -- a sizeable commitment to a team that prior to 2013 had never had an Opening Day payroll greater than $87.8MM. By the year 2015, Cincinnati will be spending a combined $15.5MM on setup men, between Broxton and Sean Marshall (assuming Chapman is still closing).
The Reds will once again enter the season with a strong rotation led by Cueto, Latos, Bailey, Arroyo and Leake. The Broxton signing, while questionable, shortens the bridge to one of the game's truly elite closers. Votto, Choo, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips will anchor what should be an improved lineup, health permitting. Jocketty and his staff have added to a strong offensive core and should be among the favorites in the National League Central once again in 2013.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Outfielder Ryan Ludwick injured his right shoulder in the Reds' season opener and will need surgery. The Reds could promote Derrick Robinson or Denis Phipps to take Ludwick's place on the roster, Jon Fay of Cincinnati.com writes. Chris Heisey will take the bulk of Ludwick's playing time in left, so that makes an option like prospect Donald Lutz somewhat unlikely, since the Reds might prefer that he play every day. The Reds appear to have enough depth to avoid pursuing an option from outside the organization. Ludwick re-signed with the Reds for two years and $15MM in December. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Pitcher Shaun Marcum is on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, and the Mets will need to add another starting pitcher, ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin contends (on Twitter). Chris Young, who pitched 115 innings for the Mets in 2012, is a free agent after being released by the Nationals, but the Mets did not appear interested (Twitter link) in Young several days ago, and as yet there have been no indications that Marcum's injury changes their stance.
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers guarantees his team will win at least 90 games, Dan Bickley of AZCentral.com reports. "In 2011, I put down 85 and we won 94. Last year, I had 89 (wins) and we won 81," Towers says. "But I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve got a pretty good idea. I guarantee it’s going to start with a nine." The Diamondbacks are coming off an offseason filled with what Bickley calls "debatable, combustible maneuvers," including the trades of Justin Upton and Trevor Bauer.
The Dodgers received an epic performance from their young ace today, as Clayton Kershaw hit his first career home run for what turned out to be the game-winning run. Oh, and he also tossed a complete-game, 4-hit, 94-pitch shutout. Will L.A. regret not completing an extension over the spring if the lefty sticks with his stated intention not to negotiate during the season?
- Shortstop Justin Sellers went from darkhorse roster candidate to Opening Day starter, and now figures to see a lot of action, writes Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Manager Don Mattingly seems inclined to prioritize defense at short until Hanley Ramirez returns: "We want to be able to catch it. And we're willing to sacrifice offense to do it."
- In spite of their massive payroll, the Dodgers will be relying on several "unheralded" players in addition to Sellers, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Luis Cruz, Mark Ellis, and A.J. Ellis all occupy key positions on the field and in the locker room, even if they aren't in line for the lion's share of the team's salary and press.
- The Reds' Opening Day lineup reveals the club's roster stability, writes David Jablonski of the Dayton Daily News. Of today's starters, only third baseman Todd Frazier and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo were not penciled into the lineup card this time last year.
- Unfortunately for the Reds, the club already needs to replace one of those returning starters for some time. Outfielder Ryan Ludwick suffered a dislocated right shoulder during today's game, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Ludwick re-signed with Cincinnati this past offseason, agreeing to a two-year, $15MM deal (with a mutual option for 2015) after a strong 2012 campaign. Chris Heisey replaced Ludwick after the injury. While Heisey went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, he did make this nice grab and prevented a go-ahead, inside-the-park home run for Peter Bourjos by backing up the center fielder Choo.
- The Orioles are deeper this year than last, and Executive VP of Operations Dan Duquette feels his rotation in particular is deep enough that the team "could probably make a trade," writes Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. As he now heads a "more established club," Duquette aims "to create some urgency for today" while also working to ensure "a steady stream of players coming up through the Minors."