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Twins GM Terry Ryan is “doing well” after his bout with throat cancer, writes MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. The 61-year-old still is experiencing various forms of discomfort, but has completed radiation and is back at full force in the Minnesota front office.
Here’s more out of the American League:
- The Tigers will not pursue Torii Hunter after inking Victor Martinez and trading for Anthony Gose, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters today, including George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. “I called and said it just didn’t look like it was going to fit the way the club was getting put together,” Dombrowski said. “Thanked him for everything. Absolutely love him. If something changes where we make some changes for one reason or another, that we’re not anticipating, we would still be open. It’s just probably not much of a fit right now.” Hunter indicated in an Instagram post that he still intends to play in 2015.
- The Blue Jays recently met with free agent lefty Andrew Miller, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. Miller figures to be a highly sought-after relief weapon. Toronto has definite pen needs, as Nicholson-Smith’s colleague, Shi Davidi, told me on this week’s podcast, and as MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk wrote in previewing the club’s offseason.
- Free agent utility man Emilio Bonifacio is receiving interest from his former teams, including the Blue Jays and Royals, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com tweets. (Cotillo also lists the Cubs as a team with possible interest.) Bonifacio should have his pick of situations given his versatility and place on the market.
- The Red Sox have promoted Mike Rikard to become the team’s scouting director, according to a tweet from Clint Longenecker, formerly of Baseball America. He replaces Amiel Sawdaye, who will be promoted to a vice president role, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (via Twitter). Longenecker himself is moving on to join the Indians, Baseball America’s John Manuel tweets.
The Indians are kicking the tires on a familiar name, as Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports they’ve reached out to Justin Masterson about a potential return. The Indians are likely interested in Masterson only on a one-year deal, which, as Hoynes notes, may be the preferred option for Masterson anyway. Masterson pitched through a number of injuries last season, and if he’s healthy in 2015, he could be a prime rebound candidate and position himself for a much nicer deal on the open market in 2015-16.
More from Hoynes and more from the AL Central…
- Hoynes also refutes previous reports that the Indians would have some interest in buying low on Ubaldo Jimenez. Though Jimenez had one of his best seasons in Cleveland under pitching coach Mickey Callaway, the organization isn’t interested in trying to fix the inconsistent righty.
- Both Aaron Crow and Tim Collins are non-tender candidates for the Royals, but Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports (via Twitter) that the team is still considering tendering each a contract due to a lack of MLB-ready replacement options.
- In his latest Twins Inbox, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports that the Twins began their search for a pitching coach with at least 30 names and seem likely to go outside the organization to fill the role. He also discusses potential free agent targets for the Twins, noting that the team is expected to pursue second-tier starting pitcher options such as Brandon McCarthy and Jason Hammel or bounceback candidates such as Masterson and Brett Anderson. Bollinger also expects the Twins to sign a corner outfielder, though he notes Torii Hunter‘s desire to play for a contender basically rules out a return to Minnesota.
The Phillies have inked left-hander Elvis Araujo to a major league deal, the club announced today. The towering lefty never moved past the Double-A level with the Indians, but was hard to score on at that level and has looked good in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Araujo, 23, has struggled with control at times in his minor league career, including over his 21 Double-A frames, over which he walked 15 batters. But he did miss bats, posting a career-high 9.0 K/9 at both the High-A and Double-A level last season.
The southpaw nevertheless drew enough interest to warrant a major league pact, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets. It could be that his time this winter in his home country turned some heads. As the Phillies note in their release, Araujo has struck out eight and given up just three hits in seven frames thus far.
Kershaw was a unanimous winner, with Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright finishing second and third, respectively. Madison Bumgarner finished in fourth place (obligatory caveat: votes were due before the postseason commenced), while Jordan Zimmermann, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Doug Fister, Jake Arrieta, Craig Kimbrel, Stephen Strasburg and Henderson Alvarez rounded out the ballot. The award marks Kershaw’s third Cy Young in four seasons.
Kluber, a breakout star with the Indians, edged out Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who finished second. Kluber received a total of 169 points in the voting, while Hernandez received 159. Rounding out the ballot were Chris Sale, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, David Price, Phil Hughes, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Kluber posted an 18-9 record with a 2.44 ERA, 10.3 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 48 percent ground-ball rate in 235 2/3 innings.
The Royals have yet to begin extension talks with manager Ned Yost, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports. “There’s a progression in the offseason. There’s a sequential way we’re doing things. Right now, we’re focused on other things,” GM Dayton Moore said, in reference to the team’s roster. Whenever negotiations take place, there’s no doubt Yost will eventually get a fresh new contract from the team in the wake of the Royals’ unexpected postseason performance. Here’s the latest from the AL Central…
- Also from McCullough (Twitter links), a group of Royals officials are en route from the GM Meetings to organizational meetings in the Dominican Republic where they could watch Yasmany Tomas work out. The Royals are a recently new addition to the list of teams interested in Tomas, though McCullough says K.C. has “scouted Tomas extensively, but quietly, leading up to this winter.”
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn will listen to other teams’ offers for Alexei Ramirez as he would for any player, though Hahn tells reporters (including Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune) that the Sox aren’t looking to trade their shortstop. “Being strong up the middle is the priority for any good club, and we don’t intend to take a step back there,” Hahn said. “We’re open-minded and we have depth in the area, so it’s reasonable to hear his name out there. I get that, but it’s certainly not something we’re pursuing on our end or are eager to convert on.”
- The Tigers have been talking to Joel Hanrahan about a minor league contract, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via Twitter). Hanrahan signed a one-year, $1MM Major League deal with Detroit in May but didn’t pitch at all last season as he suffered a setback in his recovery from May 2013 Tommy John surgery.
- Scott Bream is staying in his current position as the Tigers director of pro scouting, Turner Sports’ Scott Miller tweets. The Dodgers had reportedly been on the verge of hiring Bream to join their front office.
- Twins righty Ricky Nolasco‘s three-team no-trade clause has been updated for this offseason, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (Twitter link). All three teams are “big-market” AL clubs, so Berardino speculates that the Yankees and Red Sox are included.
- The Twins have hired Gene Glynn as their third base coach, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).
- The Indians could look for small upgrades rather than a big splash in free agency, GM Chris Antonetti told reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman). “I think what we would look for from the free-agent market is something to complement our roster,” Antonetti said. “I don’t think we are going to be in the free-agent market to add a cornerstone player.”
The Blue Jays, Brewers, Cubs and Indians are the four teams on Justin Upton‘s revised no-trade list, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports (via Twitter). Upton’s contract allows him to block deals to four teams per year, and since his deal is up after the 2015 season, there have been whispers that Atlanta could explore trading Upton this winter. One team notable by its absence on this year’s list is the Mariners; when Upton was with the Diamondbacks, he vetoed a deal that would’ve sent him to Seattle in January 2013. Here’s some more from the Braves camp…
- President of baseball operations John Hart denied a Joel Sherman report that the Braves were shopping Evan Gattis, calling it “absolutely inaccurate.” Hart told the media (including David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) that “we are coming in with the idea that we don’t have to trade anybody. We have not made a call (to see if a team is interested in any player). We have received calls on people; we haven’t had any conversations yet.”
- Hart said the Braves will look to add starting pitching this winter, though they’ll look at the “B tier and down” rather than any of the big names on the free agent market. If Atlanta did acquire a higher-caliber, it would likely be in a trade. “Money could be freed up; there’s a lot of different dynamics there,” Hart said. “But from where we sit today, that would be the sort of level that we would be looking at.”
- The Braves could be interested in re-signing Aaron Harang, though Hart said the team will wait to see how Harang’s market develops. In a Free Agent Profile of Harang, MLBTR’s Zach Links predicted the veteran righty would find a two-year, $14MM deal this winter.
The rumor train has a majority of free agents linked to the Cubs in some way, but the club may take a restrained approach, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. GM Jed Hoyer hedged against the idea of a “supercharged offseason,” saying “that’s probably overstated.” Hoyer notes that it behooves agents to connect their clients with deep pocketed teams. However, Chicago won’t pass on an opportunity that makes sense, which means a deal with Russell Martin, a front line starting pitcher, or virtually any other free agent could still in the cards. My own perspective: in sales there is a saying – “undersell and over-deliver.” It’s possible Hoyer is preparing fans in case the bidding for Martin or their other top targets exceeds reason.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (via Twitter) that seven teams are interested in Torii Hunter including the Twins and Royals. Hunter has also been strongly linked to the Tigers in recent weeks. The 39-year-old outfielder has been remarkably consistent throughout his 17 year career. Teams presumably view Hunter as a corner outfielder or designated hitter. One team that isn’t in on Hunter is the Mets, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday.
- In an interview airing Monday for MLB Network, Ichiro Suzuki will announce his intention to play in 2015, writes Chad Jennings of LoHud.com. Ichiro admits he’s unsure where he’ll suit up, since it depends on a team having a need for a 41-year-old outfielder. Given the relatively thin outfield market, there should be plenty of opportunities for a player who hit .284/.324/.340 in 385 plate appearances.
- The Indians shouldn’t trade Francisco Lindor just because he might fail to reach his ceiling, writes Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group in his latest Hey, Hoynsie. The 21-year-old acquitted himself well in Triple-A, even if the performance wasn’t phenomenal. Lindor is generally viewed as a top 10 prospect by scouts, so his trade value is significant. My own take: while the Indians have Jose Ramirez at the major league level, there’s no reason to force a deal based on that modicum of depth. Either player could be moved to another position when the time comes. Moreover, as a budget conscious franchise, the Indians can’t simply deal Lindor for just any established star. They would need to identify another relatively inexpensive target like Josh Donaldson.
The Indians announced that they have agreed to a two-year contract extension with manager Terry Francona that runs through the 2018 season. Francona’s new contract also contains club options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Francona’s previous four-year contract with the Indians ran through the 2016 season, but the Indians will now have as many as four additional years of control should they choose. Francona just wrapped up his second year as Cleveland’s skipper, and in his two years on the job he’d led the team to 92 wins and a Wild Card playoff berth in 2013 as well as a solid 85-win campaign in 2014.
Best known for his role as Boston’s manager during their curse-ending World Series run in 2004 and their follow-up World Series victory in 2007, Francona has spent a total of 14 years as a big league manager. In that time, he’s posted a 1206-1062 record and taken home AL Manager of the Year honors. Somewhat surprisingly, his first Manager of the Year Award didn’t come until 2013 — his first with Cleveland.
Francona is regarded by executives, coaching peers and players as one of the most respected managers in the game. He’s the type of established and admired skipper that is an asset in luring free agents to come to a team. “You don’t bring a guy like this over here if you don’t plan on winning,” Nick Swisher said to reporters at the press conference to announce his signing.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Indians announced today that they have outrighted catcher Chris Gimenez off the 40-man roster and re-signed right-hander Tyler Cloyd to a minor league deal with an invite to big league Spring Training.
Gimenez, 32 in December, batted .241/.313/.328 in 116 plate appearances for the Rangers and Indians this season. The journeyman backstop has seen Major League action with Texas, Cleveland, Tampa and Seattle in parts of six seasons at the big league level, totaling a .210/.297/.302 batting line. He’ll have the option to hit the open market and should draw interest from teams in need of catching depth, especially given this year’s thin crop of free agent catchers.
Cloyd, 27, spent the year in the rotation at Triple-A Columbus after being claimed off waivers from the Phillies around this time last year. He pitched to a 3.89 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 166 2/3 innings in his first year with the Cleveland organization.
The Indians announced that outfielder J.B. Shuck has been claimed off waivers by the White Sox.
Shuck, 27, posted a solid season with the bat in 2013 with the Angels but struggled to repeat those numbers in 2014. After hitting .293/.331/.366 last year, he mustered just a .145/.168/.209 batting line between the Angels and Indians this year. Defensive metrics were very high on Shuck this season, though they saw his work in the outfield corners as average to below average overall in 2013.
In parts of four seasons at the Triple-A level, Shuck is a .302/.381/.384 hitter. He’ll provide the White Sox with some lefty-hitting depth in the outfield — an area in which the team is currently thin.