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Colby Lewis Rumors
It’s definitely not the race the Rangers hoped to be leading in late August, but Texas is currently in position to land the first overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft. As you can follow on MLBTR’s Reverse Standings, the Rangers currently have the game’s worst record at 52-81, narrowly putting them “ahead” of the Rockies (53-80), Diamondbacks (55-78) and Astros (57-78). Houston, of course, is in line for two top-five draft choices since the team is already guaranteed the #2 pick in 2015 as compensation for failing to sign first overall selection Brady Aiken this past summer.
Here’s the latest from Arlington…
- Colby Lewis wants to return next season and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News figures the team wouldn’t hesitate to re-sign him aside from the troubling issue of Lewis’ struggles at Globe Life Park. Lewis has a 7.17 ERA in 13 home starts this season, as opposed to a 3.69 ERA in 11 road starts. Overall in 2014, Lewis has a 5.44 ERA in 137 1/3 innings, though ERA predictors such as FIP (4.35), xFIP (4.30) and SIERA (4.15) indicate that he has been unlucky this year, possibly due to a .365 BABIP. The veteran right-hander returned to action this season after being sidelined since July 2012 due to injuries, and his minor league deal with Texas is up after the season.
- The Rangers have long been interested in Orioles right-handed pitching prospect Parker Bridwell and have attempted to acquire him several times over the last three years, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports. Bridwell, 23, was a ninth-round draft pick in 2010 and currently has a 4.51 ERA, 2.03 K/BB rate and 136 strikeouts over 135 1/3 IP at the high-A ball level this season. Though Bridwell’s career numbers are nothing to write home about, Kubatko thinks the O’s should put him on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft since “he’s also got some of the best stuff in the organization.”
- Also from Evan Grant, manager Ron Washington says that Adam Rosales is performing well enough to be considered for a utility role in 2015. Rosales has started at all four infield spots for Texas this season and is enjoying by far his best season with the bat, posting a .907 OPS in 80 plate appearances. Rosales is eligible for arbitration for the third and final time this offseason.
SATURDAY: McCutchen has accepted the Rangers' outright assignment to Triple-A Round Rock, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets.
WEDNESDAY: McCutchen has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. As McCutchen has been outrighted previously, he will have the option of electing free agency.
MONDAY: The Rangers have designated right-hander Daniel McCutchen for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for fellow righty Colby Lewis, Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake announced (on Twitter).
The 31-year-old McCutchen tossed 2 1/3 innings for the Rangers, allowing a pair of earned runs on four hits (one homer) and a pair of walks without a strikeout. McCutchen, who is of no relation to last year's National League MVP, has a career 4.81 ERA with 4.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 191 Major League innings between the Pirates and Rangers. The former 13th round pick has a sound minor league track record, with a 3.75 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 441 frames.
Lewis, 34, will be on the hill tonight for the Rangers after a lengthy rehab process from multiple injuries. The longtime Ranger underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor mass tendon in July 2012 and looked to be on the mend in 2013 before a hip injury led to surgery and sidelined him for the entirety of that season. He last appeared on a Major League mound in 2012 and had pitched to a solid 3.93 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 506 1/3 innings with the Rangers since returning to the big leagues from Japan in 2010.
Texas has seen its rotation devastated by injuries to Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and an early ailment to Yu Darvish (he's since returned), so a healthy Lewis could be a much-needed shot in the arm as they look to prevent the A's from a third consecutive AL West Division Championship.
On Sunday, Yu Darvish became the fastest starting pitcher ever to reach 500 strikeouts, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan notes. He struck out the first two batters he faced on Sunday, hitting 500 whiffs in just 401 2/3 innings. Kerry Wood previously had the record with 404 2/3, and behind him were Mark Prior with 421 2/3 and Stephen Strasburg in 426 1/3. Wood and Prior's struggles to stay healthy are an indication that 500 quick strikeouts provide no guarantee of future success, but Darvish's accomplishment is still an impressive one. Darvish finished fifth in the AL in strikeouts in his 2012 rookie season, and topped the league with 277 last year, the most of any pitcher in a single season since Randy Johnson had 290 in 2004. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Pablo Sandoval and the Giants continue to negotiate an extension, and they have recently exchanged figures, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets. The two sides are optimistic a deal can be struck, Olney notes, but they aren't yet close to one. Last week, it was reported that Sandoval had allowed his agent, Gustavo Vasquez, to continue negotiating a deal after the start of the season. At last check, the two sides were far apart, with Sandoval's camp wanting to use Hunter Pence's five-year, $90MM deal as the model for an extension for Sandoval, and the Giants offering three years and $40MM.
- The Rangers will soon need to decide what to do with Colby Lewis, who can opt out of his contract on Thursday, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. Lewis pitched five innings for Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday. Joe Saunders, meanwhile, took a line drive to the foot while starting for the big-league team on Friday. The Rangers have Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez and Robbie Ross scheduled to pitch in their upcoming series against the Red Sox. It's not clear who will pitch on Friday against the Astros.
- Three to five teams are interested in free agent starting pitcher Randy Wolf, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. The Mariners released Wolf before the season amidst a dispute regarding a 45-day advance-consent release the team wanted Wolf to sign before adding him to its roster. Wolf missed the 2013 season after having Tommy John surgery.
Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez has a torn UCL and may require Tommy John surgery, Hernandez's agent Jason Hoffman tells FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). Hernandez is getting a second opinion but if the original diagnosis is confirmed, the right-hander will miss the entire 2014 season. Since coming to Arizona in December 2010 as part of the Mark Reynolds trade, Hernandez has posted a 3.42 ERA, 3.17 K/BB and 10.8 K/9, though he struggled a bit last season due to an inflated home run rate. Losing Hernandez would further hurt the Arizona pitching staff, which also lost Patrick Corbin to an UCL tear earlier this month.
Here are some more notes about pitchers whose roster status is in question…
- Francisco Cordero has been told by the Red Sox that he isn't making the Opening Day roster, so the veteran reliever is now deciding whether to go to Triple-A Pawtucket or leave for another team, WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports. While Cordero doesn't officially have an opt-out clause in his minor league deal with the Sox, the two sides have an agreement that Cordero would be released if he finds a job elsewhere.
- Colby Lewis can opt out of his minor league deal with the Rangers on April 10, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Lewis was brought back on a minors contract after missing the entire 2013 season recovering from hip-resurfacing surgery, and the Rangers have been easing him back into action during Spring Training.
- If the Phillies are in need of another 40-man roster spot, GM Ruben Amaro said that Miguel Alfred Gonzalez could end up on the 60-day DL, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Gonzalez was officially placed on the 15-day DL (backdated to March 21) today due to tendinitis in his right shoulder.
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.
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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.