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Colorado Rockies Rumors
Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:
- The Rockies have selected the contract of reliever John Axford and moved pitcher Tyler Chatwood to the 60-day disabled list, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. That the Rockies would add Axford isn’t surprising — when they signed Axford to a minor-league deal last month, MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted that it was likely Axford would make the team. Axford’s addition to the 40-man is significant, given that he’s set to make $2.6MM in the Majors, with the possibility of making up to $1.5MM more with incentives. Axford posted a 3.95 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9 in 54 2/3 innings with the Indians and Pirates last season, offering his usual blend of strikeout stuff and control troubles.
- The Rangers have signed right-hander Mark Rogers to a minor league contract, tweets EPSN’s Jerry Crasnick. Rogers, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft by the Brewers and a top 100 prospect by Baseball America in 2005 and 2006, has seen his career derailed by shoulder injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome. The 29-year-old made two appearances last year for the Mariners‘ Triple-A affiliate before being released. He then hooked on with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League making 18 starts with a line of 4.17 ERA, 4.6 K/9, and 6.2 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings. Rogers’ last MLB action came in 2012 with the Brewers.
Wilin Rosario or Michael McKenry could be traded before Spring Training is over, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines, as the Rockies look for ways to solve their catching surplus behind starter Nick Hundley. Manager Walt Weiss said that he doesn’t plan to use three roster spots on players who can only catch, so the club’s plan to give Rosario some time at first base could be a solution. Colorado has explored trades for Rosario this offseason but if they hold onto him, he’d hold the edge on a roster spot over the out-of-options McKenry.
Here’s some more from around the NL West…
- The Diamondbacks will have approximately $19.02MM in combined pool money for the 2015 draft class and the 2015-16 international signing period, though their international spending will be greatly limited due to overage in the 2014-15 period. Given how Arizona’s pool is the second-highest of any team’s, Baseball America’s Ben Badler opines (via Twitter) that the D’Backs made a “questionable” decision to “handcuff themselves” in the international market until 2017 by going over their current pool limit to sign Yoan Lopez.
- Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler was “pleasantly surprised” that GM A.J. Preller was able to make so many major trades this winter, though club ownership went into the offseason knowing changes had to be made. “We knew we had to re-energize the community,” Fowler told reporters, including the Associated Press. “I think last year was sort of the beta test for us: OK, this is not working. It was time….After looking at our numbers in terms of attendance and looking at the interest in the marketplace, we felt we had to do some investment spending.”
- From that same chat with reporters (including MLB.com’s Corey Brock), Padres president/CEO Mike Dee said that the club isn’t too disappointed over not landing Yoan Moncada. “We would have loved to have had him, but we now have flexibility we might not have had [in future international spending],” Dee said.
- Rick Renteria has been offered a number of jobs since being fired as the Cubs’ manager earlier this winter, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, including a return to the Padres. Though Renteria is reportedly going to take a year away from baseball, manager Bud Black has been “trying to get him to pop over to Peoria [where the Padres train] and get back involved with us. I’m trying to get him back in as soon as possible, just to help us out to whatever extent he wants to help out.” Before being hired by Chicago, Renteria managed and coached in the Padres’ organization for a decade, including six seasons on Black’s coaching staff.
- Yasmani Grandal‘s strong pitch-framing metrics were a big reason the Dodgers acquired him in the Matt Kemp trade, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes.
Tonight is the 87th Academy Awards ceremony and a pre-eminent Oscar prognosticator is Rockies reliever John Axford, who was a perfect 18-for-18 last year and 32-for-33 the past two years. Now, Axford, who graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in Film and Television, is offering predictions in all 24 categories, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding and Gemma Kaneko. “I didn’t do all the categories last year, and some people were a little upset by it,” Axford admitted. “This year I’m going all the way, to see what happens. This year, since I got so much stuff last year about it, I did them all.”
And the winner is…
- Axford and the rest of the bullpen will be key to the Rockies‘ 2015 season, opines The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders.
- Brandon McCarthy, who inked a four-year contract with the Dodgers worth $48MM, expected to re-sign with the Yankees during the five-day signing window after the conclusion of the World Series, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. “It’s so stupid, but you feel like an actor,” said McCarthy. “You sound so pretentious and stupid saying it, but you’re like, ‘someone showed me attention.’ You play your whole life for people to say nice things. And one team is being aggressive, and one team is just kind of hemming and hawing about it.” McCarthy added he “certainly would have had a long discussion about” accepting a three-year deal from the Yankees, if one had ever been offered.
- The signing of Yoan Lopez signals the Diamondbacks‘ new emphasis on the Latin American market, according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. “I do think it’s an area we can impact and continue to get better and grow,” said Arizona’s Senior Vice President De Jon Watson. “It subsidizes your amateur draft. If you’re able to churn out players from the Latin American market, it definitely gives you strength in volume.“
The Rockies have defeated catcher Wilin Rosario in the sides’ recent arbitration hearing, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. Rosario will, accordingly, take home $2.8MM rather than his filing figure of $3.3MM.
Colorado may have been able to sway the panel by pointing out Rosario’s defensive shortcomings and relatively poor 2014, because it drove the price down a fair sight shy of the $3.6MM that MLBTR/Matt Swartz had projected. Rosario has consistently received rather poor defensive marks (see, e.g., Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs), and pitch framing metrics have not been kind (Baseball Prospectus; Stat Corner). That put an even less promising spin on Rosario’s below-average .267/.305/.435 slash, which was good only for a park-adjusted 86 wRC+.
Of course that kind of offensive production is still not bad at all for a catcher. And Rosario, who battled injuries last year, has shown the ability to do much more. Still just 25, Rosario slashed .282/.314/.507 and hit 49 total home runs over just 892 plate appearances from 2012-13.
In addition to saving half a million dollars against the alternative scenario in the binary arbitration decision, Colorado gets the added benefit of holding down Rosario’s earnings for the following two years of eligibility. The slugger will need to earn his playing time this year, though he may be afforded additional turns at bat by slotting in at first base or even the corner outfield.
Former Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd has joined the MLB Network as a studio analyst, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. O’Dowd resigned from his post after 15 years at the helm of the Rockies last October and was replaced by understudy Jeff Bridich, who worked with O’Dowd for 10 years prior to the switch.
Here’s more on the Senior Circuit’s Western Division…
- Saunders also conducted a Q&A with Rockies skipper Walt Weiss and discussed, among many things, the club’s offseason and Weiss’ role in constructing the roster. Asked about his role in shaping the roster, Weiss said that he “certainly spent a lot of time” not only with Bridich, but with others in the front office. “I enjoyed it,” Weiss added. “We talked about how passionate we are about certain things, as it relates to our club and the game in general. There was a period there where we worked to build a working foundation for now and the future.” Beyond that, Weiss expressed excitement over Bridich’s sharing of his player development background, which gave the manager an even better grasp of the team’s minor league system and future.
- The Diamondbacks are preparing for an arbitration hearing with outfielder Mark Trumbo, reports MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. Arizona filed at $5.3MM after Trumbo submitted a $6.9MM figure, leaving a fairly substantial gulf. With one more season of eligibility to come, and Trumbo’s 2016 salary built off of whatever base he ends up with this year, the stakes are that much higher.
Minor league coaches and instructors earn relatively meager salaries, reports Fangraphs’ David Laurila. The minimum salary for one club is $30K while multiple sources pegged the top end (for long-time managers and coordinators) between $150-175K. One source told Laurila the Marlins pay poorly while the Braves are among the most generous (“That’s why Miami has a lot of turnover and Atlanta doesn’t.“). Another reason Laurila cites for the low pay is the number of people who want those minor league positions with one front office executive saying his club receives between 300 and 400 resumes per year.
Here’s the latest news and notes from the National League:
- The Cardinals have the payroll flexibility and the prospects to either extend a player like Jason Heyward or acquire a high-profile contract like that of Cole Hamels, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Within the same article, Goold notes GM John Mozeliak has fielded calls this winter on out-of-options players like infielder Pete Kozma and left-hander Sam Freeman.
- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he is not concerned about being on the hot seat as he enters the final year of his contract. “I know I’ve got a contract this year and I’ll try to do the best I can. I can’t control what happens with that. I just plan to get the guys playing well, and hopefully we’ll get off to a good start again and we’ll see what happens.“
- Despite the dramatic overhaul of their roster, the Padres have plenty of questions to address this spring, Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego writes.
- Nick Groke of The Denver Post takes a position-by-position look at the Rockies in 2015. This offseason, the Rockies put a heavy emphasis on improving their depth across the board.
MLBTR sends our condolences to the family and colleagues of Alison Gordon, who passed away today at age 72. Gordon covered the Blue Jays for the Toronto Star from 1979 to 1983, becoming the first woman to work as a full-time beat writer covering an MLB club, as well as the first female member of the Baseball Writers Association Of America. The Star’s Brendan Kennedy has a fuller examination of Gordon’s career and her influence on countless female sportswriters.
Some news items from around the game…
- GM Jeff Luhnow said the Astros could add “perhaps another reliever but not another starter at this point,” Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter). The Astros added to their rotation depth earlier today by signing Roberto Hernandez, and the team could be closing in on a deal with left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher.
- The Rangers are another team with a “strong interest” in Thatcher, as well as another lefty bullpen arm in Phil Coke, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link). Coke recently threw for Texas.
- The arbitration hearing between Addison Reed and the Diamondbacks is scheduled for Friday unless the two sides can reach an agreement before then, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich discusses the team’s offseason and his own hiring in an interview with Woody Paige and Les Shapiro of the Denver Post’s Sports Show (video link).
- Critics may claim the Phillies haven’t done enough to move their high-priced veterans this offseason, though Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News feels the Phils have a right to be cautious given the scope of their rebuild.
- “Patience,” is how a Phillies executive responded when asked by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal if the club was frustrated by the lack of quality offers for Cole Hamels. Both Rosenthal and the executive feel more trade opportunities could open up as teams’ needs change due to Spring Training injuries.
- The Blue Jays and Indians don’t appear to be in on any of Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano or Joba Chamberlain, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden writes. The Tribe has less of a pressing need at the back of their bullpen given Cody Allen‘s emergence last season, while the Jays may also not specifically be looking for closing help, though they are looking at bullpen upgrades.
- The Dodgers‘ hiring of Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi to run the front office is the top transaction of the 2014-15 offseason, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron opines. Three other Dodgers moves appear in Cameron’s list of the winter’s top 10 moves, and he calls them “probably the scariest organization in baseball” now that their financial resources have been augmented by Friedman/Zaidi’s creative maneuvers.
In an excellent piece for Baseball Prospectus, Jeff Quinton examines how the Padres went from uninteresting to potential contenders without spending too heavily or parting with top prospects Hunter Renfroe, Austin Hedges, Matt Wisler or Rymer Liriano. As Quinton notes, the Padres took an indiscriminate approach to adding players this offseason, focusing on overall value delivered rather than team need. The Padres could have claimed their outfield was full after adding Matt Kemp, for example, but proceeded to add further value by acquiring both Justin Upton and Wil Myers. Similarly, one could have said the team was set at both catcher and starting pitcher and should have focused on the infield, but they added value in areas that weren’t seen as traditional areas of need. By doing so, the Padres didn’t put themselves in situations where they were forced to overpay because the other team knew San Diego desperately needed the player in question. Rather, the team sought general value and therefore found more buyer-friendly markets, Quinton speculates.
Here’s more on the National League West…
- Aaron Hill tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he’s feeling good heading into Spring Training and thinks he has a few good years at second base left in him. Hill wouldn’t blame his 2014 struggles on injuries, even though he dealt with several, instead saying that he began to press after his initial struggles. As Piecoro notes, the D-Backs‘ ideal scenario would have Yasmany Tomas handling third base with Hill playing well at second base. While such an outcome would obviously improve Arizona’s on-field performance, it would perhaps more importantly make Hill, who is owed $12MM in each of the next two seasons, a considerably more tradeable asset.
- The Rockies‘ addition of Kyle Kendrick allows them to work top prospects Jon Gray and Eddie Butler into the rotation more slowly rather than rushing them to the Majors, writes the Denver Post’s Nick Groke. Gray, Butler and trade acquisition David Hale join several in-house candidates to give the Rox better depth than they had in 2014 when they used a club-record 15 pitchers, Groke notes. He points to the fact that Franklin Morales — the team’s “emergency starter” — ranked second on the team in innings as an example of how problematic depth was in 2014. Additionally, Groke notes that Morales, who is still a free agent, probably won’t return to the Rockies.
- In a notebook piece, Groke’s colleague Patrick Saunders touches briefly on a point of frustration for some Rockies fans — the fact that the team did not make a run at James Shields or any other top starters despite a clear rotation need. Saunders notes that the only way the Rockies will ever add a top flight starter under owner Dick Monfort is via trade, as they’d have to grossly overpay a free agent to come to Coors Field, and Monfort “is never going to hand out big money to a free agent pitcher.”
The White Sox and Brewers have had the best and worst offseasons, respectively, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The White Sox were aggressive but conservative in spending their financial flexibility and did well by not surrendering any top prospects to acquire Jeff Samardzija. The Brewers, meanwhile, are not good enough to compete in the NL Central now or in the near future and should have either made a big play for a free agent like James Shields or turned over the roster on a grander scale than just trading Yovani Gallardo.
Elsewhere in baseball:
- If the Marlins are unable to further upgrade their rotation, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro advocates the club signing Francisco Rodriguez, not to supplant closer Steve Cishek but to solidify the back end of their bullpen. Frisaro tweeted the Marlins could apply their arbitration savings of $1.265MM (achieved with the Mike Dunn extension and in winning the Mat Latos arbitration hearing) towards signing Rodriguez. Earlier today, Frisaro reported the Marlins have contacted K-Rod’s agent, Scott Boras.
- GM Jeff Bridich sees the free agent signing of Kyle Kendrick and the acquisition of David Hale as updgrading the Rockies‘ rotation, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. “I certainly feel like the depth has been addressed to a certain degree,” Bridich said. “We were involved in both free agency and trades. Again, we have a good sense of what Kyle Kendrick is and what he can do. I think he has proven himself. With the acquisition of somebody like Hale … I think there is upside there.“
- MLB.com’s Terence Moore profiles Dusty Baker, who would “like to have another chance to manage, because the only thing lacking in my career is” a World Series ring, but is content if he never receives that opportunity.
- Cuban infielder Alejandro Ortiz has petitioned for free agency and is expected to hit the market soon, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The 24-year-old, who possesses speed and a good glove, played five seasons in Serie Nacional, so he is exempt from counting against a team’s international signing bonus pool.
Let’s round up the day’s minor moves:
- Rockies lefty Yohan Flande has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, the club announced. Flande lost his roster spot to make space for the signing of Kyle Kendrick, but could be one of the first men up if a big league rotation spot opens.
- The Rockies have also added outfielder/first baseman Josh Vitters and right fielder Jeremy Barfield on minor league deals, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports on Twitter. Still just 25, Vitters came into the league as the third overall pick in the 2007 draft, but struggled mightily in a brief MLB stint and had a rough go last year at Triple-A as he suddenly experienced a huge increase in his strikeout rates. Barfield, the 26-year-old son of longtime big leaguer Jesse, had always been an outfielder but began working as a left-handed reliever last year in the A’s system. He racked up 10.6 K/9 but allowing nearly seven free passes per nine at High-A while also slashing .261/.387/.394 in 173 Double-A plate appearances.
- Another player looking to move to the mound is former first baseman Jeff Malm, who signed a minor league pact with the Angels, according to reports from Eddy (via Twitter) and MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link). The left-handed former Rays prospect failed to crack the .700 OPS mark in his last two campaigns and will hope for a new start as a pitcher.
- Lefty Luis Perez is headed to the Blue Jays on a minor league pact, Eddy tweets. Perez missed all of 2014 with injury, but does have 112 big league innings under his belt from the 2011-13 campaigns, all with Toronto. He owns a 4.50 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over his MLB time.