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The Astros are known to be seeking relief help and they might be aiming high. Houston has reached out to Scott Leventhal, the agent for David Robertson, to express interest in the Yankees closer, an industry source told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Still, it’s not known whether the Astros are willing to approach the four-year, ~$52MM deal that Robertson is after. More from the AL and NL West..
- Giants vice president Bobby Evans told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that they have not made a “final offer” to Pablo Sandoval. While Evans would not confirm that their offer on the table is a five-year, $95MM deal as its been reported, he implied that it’s accurate (link).
- The Padres are still receiving inquiries on pitcher Ian Kennedy, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com. Kennedy is in his final year of arbitration eligibility and Matt Swartz projects that he’ll earn $10.3MM in 2015.
- If the Rockies don’t upgrade their rotation, they’re in store for another 90-loss season, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. The Rockies say they’re focused on developing young talent, but their history of developing pitchers has been awful. Juan Nicasio, who was designated for assignment last week, is just the latest example of that.
- While it may seem counter-intuitive, there is some merit to the idea of the Astros paying big money for a top closer, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
- The Reds have signed right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. Cisnero is entering his age 26 season and has a 4.66 ERA, 8.57 K/9, and 4.84 BB/9 in 48 and one-third career innings – all with the Astros. Cisnero was outrighted by Houston earlier in the month and has inked a minor league deal with Cincinnati.
- In the same tweet, Cotillo also reports four other minor league signings. The Mariners re-signed Burt Reynolds, the White Sox inked left-handed reliever Joe Savery, and the Rockies signed right-hander Brett Marshall and left-hander Aaron Laffey. Of the four, Laffey comes with the most major league experience – 487 innings of 4.45 ERA ball. The soft-tossing lefty’s last extended stint in the majors was in 2012. Marshall had a 12 inning cup of tea with the Yankees in 2013 but struggled to a 6.53 ERA with the Reds Triple-A affiliate this season. Savery, a former first round pick, has seen spot work in parts of four seasons. The Phillies tried to use him as a lefty specialist, but he’s actually posted reverse platoon splits.
- The Rockies have also signed pitchers Justin Miller, Jose Ortega, and John Lannan, tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Right-handers Miller and Ortega saw minimal work for the Tigers, where they have posted uninspiring numbers. Lannan is a major league veteran of eight seasons, although he hasn’t seen a full season of action since 2011. He has a 4.18 ERA, 4.70 K/9, and 3.39 BB/9 in 862 career innings.
- The Dodgers have signed infielder Buck Britton to a minor league deal, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Britton, the brother of Orioles reliever Zach, had spent the previous seven years in Baltimore’s system. Last season, the 28-year-old hit .289/.345/.453 in 505 plate appearances split between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, primarily playing second base and third base.
- The Giants have signed infielder Carlos Triunfel and lefty Braulio Lara to minor-league deals, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. Triunfel hit just .223/.256/.330 for hitter-friendly Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014, mostly playing the two middle infield positions. The Dodgers outrighted him in September. The 25-year-old Lara posted a 5.77 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 57 2/3 innings of relief in a 2014 season spent in the upper minors of the Rays’ system.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- A number of additional minor league signings have been reported on the MLB.com transactions page. Among the more notable moves: The Reds added first baseman Josh Satin along with second baseman Ivan De Jesus. Righty Logan Kensing and shortstop Juan Diaz have agreed to terms with the White Sox. And five catchers are off the board: Griff Erickson (Padres), Koyie Hill (Phillies), Sebastian Valle and Miguel Perez (Pirates), and Guillermo Quiroz (Giants).
- Other signings, via MLB.com: righty Caleb Clay and outfielder Nick Buss (Diamondbacks); lefties Ryan Verdugo and Jim Fuller (Athletics); third baseman Jefry Marte (Tigers); righty Daniel Turpen, third baseman Heiker Meneses, and shortstop Argenis Diaz (Twins); righty Bryce Stowell and first baseman Allan Dykstra (Rays); first baseman Travis Mattair and righties Justin Jackson, Jairo Heredia, and Jake Brigham (Braves); outfielder Javier Herrera (Giants); righty Leuris Gomez (Rockies); righty Michael Lee (Blue Jays); third baseman Jonathan Galvez (Yankees); righty Paul Clemens (Phillies).
- The D’Backs have agreed to terms on a minor league deal and a Spring Training invite with infielder/outfielder Jamie Romak, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweeted today. The 29-year-old Romak, a client of Taurus Sports’ David Sloane, made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2014 and collected his first hit in the Majors. The former fourth-rounder is a lifetime .258/.324/.474 hitter at Triple-A.
- The Orioles announced the signings of infielder Paul Janish, right-hander Terry Doyle and outfielder Quincy Latimore to minor league contracts and invitations to big league Spring Training. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo was the first to tweet Janish’s agreement, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com had previously reported that the team was working on a deal with him. Janish is the only one of the bunch that comes with MLB experience; the 32-year-old defensive specialist is a career .214/.284/.288 hitter in 1206 plate appearances between the Reds and Braves.
- The Nationals announced that they have signed right-hander Bruce Billings to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 29-year-old Billings pitched four innings for the Yankees last season and split the season between the Yankees and Dodgers organizations. Overall, the veteran posted a 5.27 ERA with 6. K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings.
- Outfielder Xavier Avery has inked a minor league deal with the Tigers and will receive a Spring Training invite as well, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The 24-year-old Avery spent last season with the Mariners after being acquired from the Orioles in the 2013 Mike Morse trade. Avery hit .275/.344/.413 with 10 homers and 31 steals, appearing at all three outfield spots for Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014.
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A pair of rival executives described Padres GM A.J. Preller as “all over the map” when asked by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Preller, Rosenthal writes, is furiously exploring both trade and free agent possibilities to boost his new club’s offense. According to Rosenthal, Preller was in contact with the Braves about Jason Heyward prior to their trade with the Cardinals, and he’s also called on Jay Bruce and Matt Kemp in addition to showing legitimate interest in Pablo Sandoval. One of Preller’s colleagues estimated to Rosenthal that the San Diego GM has had “baseline discussions” on at least 200 players this offseason. Suffice it to say, Padres fans should likely expect some form of significant move in Preller’s first offseason at the helm.
Elsewhere in the division…
- Trade talks regarding Miguel Montero have not escalated significantly since Russell Martin came off the board and signed with the Blue Jays, reports the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro (the Montero portion comes at the bottom of the article). However, the D’Backs have spoken to the White Sox, Cubs and Dodgers about Montero, who is owed $40MM over the next three seasons.
- MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets that Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart was recently in the Dominican Republic, and senior vice president of baseball operations De Jon Watson is in Mexico scouting some of the top international teens on the market. The D’Backs are hoping to make waves on the international front soon, he adds.
- The Rockies are still interested in re-signing Brett Anderson to a more team-friendly deal than the $12MM option they declined, tweets the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders. However, the Royals and Astros are interested in adding Anderson under similar circumstances, he adds.
- Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans said on KNBR radio yesterday that his team is very interested in both Yasmany Tomas and Yoan Moncada (via Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle). However, Evans wouldn’t commit one way or another when asked if his club had the money to sign both Tomas and Sandoval.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Brett Anderson | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Colorado Rockies | Houston Astros | Jason Heyward | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | Matt Kemp | Miguel Montero | Pablo Sandoval | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Yoan Moncada
Midnight EST is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com lists the notable prospects who are newly Rule 5 eligible. Of course, the decision whether or not to protect a player has as much to do with roster flexibility and his expected ability to stick on a big league roster for a full season as it does the player’s overall prospect value.
We’ll keep tabs on the day’s 40-man additions here, and you can also check Baseball America’s running updates, which includes breakdowns of the players added.
- The Rays have yet to announce their full list of roster moves, but Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper tweets that second baseman Ryan Brett will be added to the 40-man.
- Following their trade with the Dodgers, the Rays announced that they have added Brett (as Cooper tweeted), right-hander Matt Andriese, left-hander Grayson Garvin, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Justin O’Conner to the 40-man roster.
- The Dodgers announced that lefty Adam Liberatore, acquired in the trade with the Rays, has been added to the 40-man roster.
- The Astros have made one final 40-man roster move, announcing the addition of right-hander Michael Feliz. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper was among those to express surprise that Feliz had not previously been added to the roster, with some executives telling him they’d be shocked if Feliz wasn’t the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Twitter link).
- The Rangers announced that they’ve added righties Luke Jackson and Jerad Eickhoff, infielder Hanser Alberto and catcher Jorge Alfaro to the 40-man roster.
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The Rockies have designated righty Juan Nicasio for assignment, the club announced. Projected to earn $2.4MM through arbitration by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, the 28-year-old proved too costly a gamble for new Colorado GM Jeff Bridich.
Nicasio should draw interest around the league given his big arm, even if it has never quite all come together for him. Odds are he will clear waivers, as that price tag is substantial for a player who owns a career 4.85 ERA.
Of course, Nicasio’s future role remains a question mark. He had started in all 55 of his MLB appearances heading into this year, but transitioned to the bullpen after a rough early going. He proved better in that capacity, posting stronger overall run prevention (3.48 ERA vs. 5.92 ERA as a starter) and better metrics across the board.
MONDAY, 9:14pm: The Rockies aren’t the mystery NL team, The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders reports (via Twitter).
1:47pm: The D’Backs have interest in Hellickson, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link). However, it’s not clear that Arizona is in or has had any advanced talks with the Rays.
9:27am: The Rays are moving toward dealing right-hander Jeremy Hellickson to an unknown National League team, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Times (via Twitter). A deal is likely to get done this week, Sherman adds.
Hellickson, who turns 28 next April, was limited to 63 2/3 innings in 2014 as he recovered from January surgery to remove loose bodies from his throwing elbow. The 2011 AL Rookie of the Year pitched to a 2.95 ERA in a stellar rookie season, but he’s never graded out well when looking at sabermetric indicators such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA. Each of those three metrics pegs Hellickson between 4.34 and 4.38, suggesting that his strong work early in his career was a bit of a mirage, likely propped up by a BABIP south of .260 and a strand rate north of 80 percent.
Over the past two seasons, Hellickson has an even 5.00 ERA in 237 2/3 innings. On the plus side, he’s bumped his K/9 to 7.2 over those past two seasons and dropped his walk rate to 2.7 per nine — both of which are improvements over the marks he posted early on in his career.
Though Hellickson has struggled recently and never graded out that well from a sabermetric standpoint, there’s plenty of upside to be had from an acquiring team’s standpoint. He’s still in his prime and was ranked among the game’s Top 10 prospects by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus prior to his promotion to the Majors. The Scott Boras client can be controlled through the 2016 season and is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn a very reasonable $3.9MM in 2015.
Though the Rays dealt Cesar Ramos to the Angels last week, a Hellickson deal would be the first significant move by new Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman and newly minted VPs Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom. The Cubs, Rockies, Giants, Pirates and Braves could all make some sense for Hellickson, and it’s of course worth speculating that new Dodgers president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman is interested in re-acquiring the right-hander.
Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa says he has hired Ed Lewis to take charge of the team’s analytical department, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal reports on Twitter. Lewis is an old friend of La Russa’s who does stock market analytical work, the head D’backs baseball man tells Costa. The question whether and how the Arizona ballclub would incorporate analytics into its operations has been a topic of interest since even before La Russa’s hiring, and it will be interesting to see what this latest front office addition means for the team’s intentions.
Here are a few more stray notes from the National League:
- The Mets do not have any near-term intentions to approach second baseman Daniel Murphy about a contract extension, GM Sandy Alderson tells ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. At the same time, the team is “reluctant” to deal him away at present, said Alderson. That could change, of course, if the club adds a new shortstop or otherwise adds offense, per the report.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says that deciding whether to deal stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez is “not just a casual type of process” for the club, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports. Calling them “marquee” players, Bridich said it could be that other teams will not be willing to give up a haul that meets that lofty standard given both players’ injury issues. “We may or may not find out in the coming weeks,” he said. “Nothing of substance has taken place, so here we are.”
- The Cardinals have “payroll muscle” at their disposal, GM John Mozeliak tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Though the team has no intentions of spending its money just to put it to use, Mozeliak says it will do so in the right circumstances: “You’re definitely right in the assessment that we do have resources. If adding a year or adding a higher [average salary] means a deal, yes, we’re capable of doing that as long as it stays within the parameters of being rational.”
- Deciding to deal a high-performing veteran is a difficult decision in many circumstances, none more so than for a team that intends to contend. That is the strategic choice facing the Nationals, who have several top players entering their final year of team control. As I noted about ten days ago in my offseason outlook for the Nats, the concept of a trade (most likely involving Zimmermann) has to at least be entertained, particularly if a young middle infielder was part of the return, and GM Mike Rizzo sounds willing to consider anything. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post argues, quite validly, that this is not the time to be viewing the pitcher as an asset to be optimally leveraged, but rather an opportunity to push for the present (comfortable with the knowledge that a qualifying offer would still be available). Drew Fairservice of Fangraphs, meanwhile, proposes that the Nats should move the righty as a means not only of setting up for the future but also possibly addressing present needs (namely, second base).
The front office shuffling of the NL West continued today with another pair of moves. The Dodgers will hire Scott Bream away from the Tigers to be their new pro scouting director, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Padres announced that they’ve promoted regional supervisor Mark Conner to director of scouting. The 38-year-old Conner joined the Friars in 2010 as an amateur scout and was the scout responsible for signing the highly touted Matt Wisler.
Here’s more from the NL West…
- New Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi declined to give a firm answer when asked by Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times whether or not the team will tender a contract to A.J. Ellis. However, Zaidi offered strong praise for Ellis’ leadership and relationships with the pitching staff. “…it’s clear he’s a big part of this team and a big part of the preparation and comfort level for the pitchers,” Zaidi told Hernandez.
- In a second tweet, Saxon notes that Brandon Morrow is a name to keep an eye on for Dodgers fans. As Saxon points out, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has had success turning starters with dynamic arms and transitioning them to the bullpen. Of course, it’s not clear if he is open to ‘pen work. Morrow indicated late in the season that his preference was to be a starter.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that the team “absolutely, 100 percent” needs to upgrade its rotation. Bridich said the club is keeping all avenues open to acquire pitching talent. One possibility that may intrigue Rockies fans is Jeremy Hellickson, whom the Rays are said to be discussing with an NL club. However, Saunders hears from a Major League source that the Rockies aren’t targeting Hellickson at this time, although they have shown past interest.
Scahill, 27, totaled a 4.80 ERA in 15 innings with the Rockies this season and has pitched to a 4.42 ERA in 57 frames with the Rockies over the past three years. He’s averaged 5.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in the Majors while featuring solid life on his fastball — an average of 94.4 mph.
The Pirates selected Carle in the 10th round (299th overall) of the 2013 draft. At the time, Baseball America wrote (subscription required and recommended) that he’d previously run his heater up to 94 mph with good sink, but that velocity declined in his final college season before being drafted. He throws from a three-quarter arm slot, per BA, with a fringy slurve and changeup. Carle has pitched well in two seasons with the Pirates organization, though he’s also a college arm that has only been tested against Class-A pitching, so the numbers may be a bit deceiving. Still, he’s posted a 3.26 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 187 2/3 innings as a professional.