Colby Lewis Rumors
We'll keep tabs on the day's minor moves here:
- The Royals announced a series of minor league signings, including for third baseman Brandon Laird, outfielder Paulo Orlando and right-hander Wilking Rodriguez. Laird, 26, is the younger brother of Gerald Laird and joins the Royals from the Astros, where he received major league playing time in 2013. Orlando, 28, is re-upping with the Royals after six seasons in the organization. The 23-year-old Rodriguez will transition to the Royals after seven seasons in the Rays' farm system. He has a career 3.90 ERA, mostly as a starter, but has never reached Double-A.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America has updates on a number of clubs' minor league signings. Among those with MLB experience (with links to Twitter): The Rockies will return Bobby Cassevah and Matt McBride, and have added righty Greg Burke. Headed to the Tigers is righty Jhan Marinez, while Gorkys Hernandez and Edinson Rincon will stick with the Royals organization. The Phillies have brought back shortstop Andres Blanco. And the Dodgers inked utility infielder Brendan Harris. Other clubs with new signings include the Orioles, Reds, Marlins, White Sox, and Athletics.
- The Cubs have signed outfielder Casper Wells, according to a tweet from Eddy. The team also added righties Paolo Espino and Carlos Pimentel, along with shortstop Jeudy Valdez. Wells got 102 plate appearances with three different clubs last year, posting a meager .126/.186/.147 line that is perhaps understandable given his constant movement and scant playing time. In 2012, over 316 plate appearances with the Mariners, Wells was good for a .228/.302/.396 slash.
- In addition to bringing back righty Benino Pruneda and catcher Jose Yepez on minor league deals, the Braves have added former Phillies backstop Steven Lerud, tweets Eddy. Lerud appeared in nine games for the Phils between 2012-13. At Triple-A last year, he had an interesting .217/.353/.311 line over 219 plate appearances, as he drew nearly as many walks (35) as he had hits (39).
- Cutting ties with a major international acquisition, the Nationals have released righty Yunesky Maya, Eddy tweets. Washington saw little return on its $6MM investment in Maya, who had been outrighted off of the club's major league roster early in the 2013 season. After struggling in two brief call-ups in 2011-12, Maya's last stint with the Nats was even more regrettable. In his only MLB appearance of the 2013 season, Maya retired one batter in the bottom of the tenth before surrendering a walk-off home run to Pablo Sandoval.
- The Cubs have released outfielder Dave Sappelt, tweets Eddy. As Eddy notes, Sappelt was one of the pieces -- along with lefty Travis Wood and second baseman Ronald Torreyes -- picked up by Chicago in the deal that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati. The 26-year-old Sappelt has a .251/.301/.343 slash line in 274 plate appearances spread over the 2011-13 seasons. He has spent most of his time in Triple-A over that time frame, and posted a sub-.700 OPS in each of his two years at Iowa.
Lewis had been a nice MLB comeback story before missing 2013 to have hip surgery. Now 34, Lewis posted a cumulative 3.93 ERA in eighty starts over 2010-12, including 8.1 K/9 against just 2.4 BB/9.
His new deal calls for him to make $2MM if he ends up in the bigs, and contains up to $4MM in additional incentives, according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com (via Twitter).
In a special piece for Gammons Daily, Jamey Newberg examines the Rangers disappearance from the international free agent market from 2000 to 2005 and explains how re-entering that market in the middle of the last decade has saved the franchise. Martin Perez signed in 2007 for more money ($580K) than any Rangers international signee had received since 2000. Yesterday, he signed a four-year extension that could total seven years and $32.55MM based on a trio of club options. Here's more on the Rangers...
- Newberg's piece above was inspired by an observation made by Nick J. Faleris of Baseball Prospectus (No. 11 on the list to which I've linked). Faleris points out the savvy nature of the Rangers' 2013-14 international spending spree. The Rangers blew past the new CBA's imposed cap for international free agents on the first day and will face harsh penalties that prevent them from spending more than $250K on a single international free agent next summer. However, starting in next year's international signing period, the penalty for the type of overages the Rangers took on this year doubles. In other words, any team that copies Texas' strategy will have its spending limit handcuffed in the summer of 2015 and the summer of 2016. The Cubs, of course, employed a similarly aggressive method in July.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels addressed reporters, including MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, earlier today on a number of topics. Daniels said the team is receiving a number of calls on Mitch Moreland from teams that consider him a buy-low candidate. However as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweeted, Daniels doesn't feel Moreland's power is something he can give up on (Twitter link).
- Also from Sullivan's piece, Daniels said the team has made an offer to right-hander Colby Lewis (presumably a minor league deal), and they've been in contact with Nelson Cruz's agent, Adam Katz. The Rangers fully expect Cruz to decline his qualifying offer.
- Daniels says the Rangers are willing to disucss their middle infield depth with other clubs. Other teams still have high regard for Jurickson Profar, he added.
- ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett also has some intel from Daniels' morning comments. Durrett reports that the team has internally discussed position switches for some of their infielders but has yet to approach any players with the idea.
- Regarding the team's budget, Durrett quotes Daniels: "We have the ability to make the club better. I don’t know that we’re going to be the biggest spenders, but I don’t really want to be. I don’t think that’s the way to build it anyway."
Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis will undergo surgery to remove bone spurs from his hip that have hampered him for multiple seasons, general manager Jon Daniels told reporters (including Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) via conference call today.
Daniels said that he would "absolutely" like to have Lewis back with the Rangers in 2014. Lewis told the group that he wants to pitch next season, and the torn flexor tendon in his right arm that's kept him off the field since last July has healed completely.
The 34-year-old Lewis revived what looked to be a lost career with a pair of stellar seasons in Japan from 2008-09. He signed a two-year, $5MM contract with a $3.25MM option that proved to be a tremendous bargain for the Rangers. Following last year's season-ending injury, Texas signed him a to a one-year, $2MM extension that clearly didn't pay off, as Lewis hasn't thrown a pitch at the Major League level in 2013.
In 506 1/3 innings for the Rangers from 2010-12, Lewis pitched to a 3.93 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. He had issues with the long ball in that time, as his 35 homers allowed in 2011 were the most in the American League. I'd imagine that the ceiling for Lewis on the upcoming free agent market would be a similarly small guarantee to the one he received for 2013 and plenty of incentives, but he could have to settle for a minor league deal as well.
Having dropped their last five games, the Astros own a .256 winning percentage, easily the worst in baseball. Their new division rivals, the Rangers, are at .632, tied for second in baseball. The two numbers are not unrelated, as the Rangers have won five of six contests against the Astros. The latest on the two Texas clubs:
- The Astros announced yesterday that president and CEO George Postolos resigned. Postolos' role with the Astros had little to do with baseball operations, unlike some other team presidents. Postolos "specializes in franchise acquisition," wrote Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, and his skill set no longer matched with the job description. One of Postolos' tasks involved carriage agreement negotiations, trying to get the Astros and Comcast Sportsnet Houston into Houston homes. CSN Houston is available in "only about 40 percent of Houston's 2.2 million TV homes," writes David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.
- Asked on ESPN's Galloway & Company show yesterday if he has any interest in the Astros' new job opening, Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan replied, "I don't think so." Ryan has not been in contact with Astros owner Jim Crane. There was some springtime drama about Ryan's role with the Rangers, which was resolved in April.
- The Astros are running "extended evaluations" at all three outfield positions, writes Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. J.D. Martinez, Robbie Grossman, and Jimmy Paredes will hold the starting spots for now, with Justin Maxwell to regain center field when he returns from a fractured left hand. The Astros have already moved Chris Carter to first base and jettisoned Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez, though Martinez cleared waivers and remains in the organization.
- Carter, a 26-year-old acquired from Oakland in February as part of the Jed Lowrie trade, is tied for fifth in the league with nine home runs. He also leads all of baseball in strikeouts, however.
- 33-year-old Rangers righty Colby Lewis, a free agent after this season, "has been diagnosed with a mild case of tendinitis in his right triceps muscle" according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Lewis last pitched in the Majors on July 18th of last year, before undergoing flexor tendon surgery. His current issue is not related to the surgery, and Lewis could make another rehab start next week after receiving an anti-inflammatory injection.
- Rangers long reliever Derek Lowe told Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he didn't pass the "stats test" when hunting for an offseason job, explaining he leans toward the human element. Apparently mixing stats and scouting, as all teams do, Lowe commented, "If you pump my numbers into the system compared to, let’s say, Tanner Scheppers, of course his stuff is going to outscore my stuff, I’m not naive. He’s a young kid who throws 98 mph with a great breaking ball. Listen, I know I don’t pass the test."
Here are a few notes from the American League ...
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that his squad is simply "not good right now." He notes that, with so much going wrong, "it's awfully hard to look at one area or one person and say, that's the cure." After investing huge money in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, the club was only able to afford a pitching corps that sits near the bottom of the league in all of the major, comprehensive pitching statistics. And, of course, neither Pujols nor Hamilton has performed as expected. The team admittedly entered the year "thin after the 25-man team and the 12-man staff," according to Dipoto, and that lack of depth was tested so much that the team was forced "to start drilling for oil." Now, in a comment that Heyman describes as being "perhaps ominous," Dipoto says that the team is left waiting to see what happens as players come back from the DL: "As we get healthy, we'll have a better chance to assess where we are."
- So far, the best free agent signing of 2013 has been the unexpected Mark Reynolds, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Indeed, Reynolds is tearing the cover off of the ball for the Indians. After tonight's game, he sports a .291/.367/.645 slash with eleven home runs, which he has accomplished in part by lowering his strikeout rate to a level (25.0%) that is well below his career average (32.3%). Whether or not he keeps up this pace, he appears very likely to substantially outperform his one-year, $6MM deal. Certainly, the Orioles are likely regretting the decision to non-tender Reynolds, who would be an unquestioned upgrade at the club's disastrous DH spot.
- Pitcher Colby Lewis of the Rangers, a prospective 2014 free agent, began his rehab assignment this evening with a two-inning appearance in Triple-A. According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter), Lewis stretched his 45-pitch limit over just two innings as he labored through a 32-pitch second and ultimately let in three runs. As MLBTR's Steve Adams recently explained, Lewis could earn himself a multi-year contract if he shows teams that his past durability can be counted on once more going forward. In an injury-shortened 2012, the 32-year-old Lewis put up a 3.43 ERA over 105 innings and registered 8.0 K/9 against just 1.2 BB/9.
12:55pm: Lewis can earn up to $4MM in incentives based on games started and active service time.
11:59am: The Rangers and Colby Lewis have agreed to a one-year contract extension for 2013 according to John Blake, the team's Executive Vice President of Communications (on Twitter). Lewis' deal is worth $2MM in guaranteed money plus incentives, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (on Twitter). The Octagon client had been on track for free agency this coming offseason, but he's on the 60-day disabled list and hasn't pitched since July.
Lewis, 33, signed a two-year, $5MM contract with the Rangers in January of 2010 after pitching in Japan for two years. The deal worked out well for the Rangers, who exercised their 2012 club option for Lewis after the guaranteed portion of the two-year deal expired.
The right-hander has started 16 games for this year's Rangers team, posting a 3.43 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 in 105 innings. However, he last pitched on July 18th and is expected to miss the remainder of the 2012 season and the beginning of the 2013 season with a torn flexor tendon. From 2010-12, Lewis posted a 3.93 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 506 1/3 innings with Texas.
Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.
On this date three years ago left-hander Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game against the Rays with an impressive effort punctuated by the most memorable catch of Dewayne Wise's career. Here are today's links...
- Colby Lewis is expected to miss the rest of the season for the Rangers with a torn flexor tendon in his right arm, according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. It seems logical that this will accelerate the Rangers' desire to add a starting pitcher. They've been linked to names such as Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels, and have very enticing trade chips thanks to their deep minor league system.
- Cubs lefty Paul Maholm told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that it'd be "ironic" for the Pirates to want him back at the deadline after letting him walk as a free agent (Sulia link). Maholm's next two starts are scheduled to come against his former teammates.
- The Padres’ asking price for Chase Headley remains high, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). The Pirates have discussed the third baseman with the Padres, according to Olney. The A's are interested, but remain reluctant to part with top prospects, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- Evan Longoria’s reign as the most valuable trade chip in baseball has ended, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs writes. Longoria still figures prominently on Cameron’s list of baseball's top assets, as expected.
- Agent Bobby Barad has joined Excel Sports Management, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal reports. Barad, formerly of TWC Sports Management, represents players such as Lance Lynn and Jerry Blevins. Check MLBTR’s Agency Database for updated data on which agents represent which players.
The Rangers head into their Sunday night matchup against the Angels with an ailing starting rotation. The Rangers have scratched Roy Oswalt from his start tomorrow and Colby Lewis is scheduled to have his forearm examined tomorrow before he's given the green light to make his scheduled start on Tuesday. The Rangers don't believe Oswalt's injury is serious, but he and Lewis can both wind up on the disabled list, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Elsewhere from the AL and NL West:
- Despite their rotation woes, the Rangers' chief trade deadline goal is to add bench depth, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.
- With the signing of Carlos Quentin completed earlier today, the Padres are now turning their attention to closer Huston Street. Miller tweets talks are ongoing, but nothing is close right now.
- The Giants are not considering Rick Ankiel to fill their need for a power bat off the bench, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Baggarly says the Giants crave a right-handed bat at both corner infield spots and the outfield.
- Add the A's to the list of team interested in the Padres' Chase Headley, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
The Rangers "might prefer" to keep some of the extra arms on their pitching staff rather than make a trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Scott Feldman, Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe are cited as Rosenthal as the expendable members of the Rangers staff but they look likely to remain in Texas unless relievers Robert Ross or Tanner Scheppers perform well enough in Spring Training to earn jobs, which could convince the club to deal one of their veterans.
Most of the Rangers' rotation and bullpen jobs are set, and the presence of Alexi Ogando as a swingman gives Texas some backup if one of the starters falters. This leaves Feldman, who has battled both injuries and ineffectiveness since his breakout 2009 campaign. Feldman did pitch well in limited action in 2011 --- a 3.94 ERA and 2.20 K/BB ratio in 32 innings. The right-hander will earn $6.5MM this season and the Rangers hold a $9.25MM club option on him for 2013 that looks almost certain to be bought out (at a cost of $600K).
Feldman, Uehara and Lowe all drew trade buzz over the winter, with the Red Sox showing interest in the two relievers, and Uehara using his limited no-trade clause to reject a proposed deal to the Blue Jays. Uehara has posted better numbers than Lowe over the last three seasons but turns 37 in April and is earning $4MM in 2012; Lowe is eight years younger and a cheaper option at just $1.7MM.
Rosenthal notes that the Rangers received calls about Colby Lewis during the offseason as well, but the club preferred to keep the right-hander due to his durability (200+ IP in each of the last two seasons). It's no surprise Texas wanted to keep Lewis since their rotation, while deep and promising, has several question marks --- Matt Harrison and Derek Holland aren't yet completely proven entities as reliable starters, Neftali Feliz is transitioning to starting from the bullpen and Yu Darvish is making his debut to North American baseball.