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In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe checked in with Max Scherzer, who is missing former teammate Rick Porcello. Scherzer, of course, left the Tigers in free agency to sign with the Nationals in January. Porcello, meanwhile, was shipped from the Tigers to the Red Sox in December. Scherzer still texts a lot with Porcello, and they have had conversations about free agency.
“He understands the business of the game really well and what teams are trying to accomplish,” said Scherzer. “As most players, he’s motivated by winning as well. What works is going out there and having one motivation and that’s winning. And those things will take care of themselves.”
Cafardo has talked with a few baseball executives who believe Porcello will walk from the Red Sox and do exactly what Scherzer did – go to the highest bidder. Here’s more from today’s column..
- The Rockies tried to trade Jhoulys Chacin but couldn’t find a buyer, so they released him last week. The 27-year-old was a victim of Coors Field, where his ERA was 4.21 as opposed to a much more palatable 3.24 on the road. Cafardo writes that the Red Sox, Dodgers, Rays, and Blue Jays have been looking for a veteran starter and may be considering him.
- Braves people insist that they will not entertain a deal for closer Craig Kimbrel, but a few executives expect that Atlanta will be thinking differently if they are out of contention at the trade deadline. The Braves are eyeing 2017 as their relaunch, so Cafardo doesn’t see the need for them to hang on to a top closer like Kimbrel in the interim.
- Dan Uggla has an April 1st opt-out on his minor league deal with the Nationals and his play this spring is giving GM Mike Rizzo something to think about, but roster space is an issue. If Uggla doesn’t make the cut in Washington, Cafardo suggests that the Angels, Braves, Orioles, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Padres, and Rays could all justify bringing him aboard.
Here are the day’s minor transactions from around the league…
- Baseball America’s Matt Eddy delivers a series of recent releases. You can check his always-useful Twitter feed for the full run, but the highlight is probably the Royals‘ release of lefty Noel Arguelles (Twitter link). A high-profile signee out of Cuba back in 2009, the 25-year-old was hit hard in Double-A last year after switching full-time to a relief role. He was brought as a minor league free agent, but Kansas City has apparently seen enough.
- Eddy also tweets that the Rays have parted ways with two of the team’s seven supplemental first-rounders from 2011, shortstop Brandon Martin and outfielder James Harris. Both players are still just 21 years of age, but neither has mastered the lower minors or even reached the High-A level.
- The Cubs have released left-hander Jeff Lorick, per the team’ transactions page. The 27-year-old Lorick was a 20th-round selection back in the 2009 draft and spent the 2014 campaign (his age-26 season) at Double-A Tennessee, where he worked to a 4.52 ERA in 63 2/3 innings of work. Lorick struggled as a starter in the Class-A Advanced Florida State League in 2011, but he’s always missed a good number of bats when working as a reliever. However, he’s also walked more than four hitters per nine innings and has yet to reach the Triple-A level.
- The Marlins have released second baseman Alfredo Lopez, also via the team transaction page at MLB.com. The 25-year-old batted .216/.298/.263 at Double-A in 2014 and had spent most of the 2015 spring working in Minor League camp. Lopez has hit well in the lower minors (.300 average, .384 OBP in Class-A Advanced) but stalled in Double-A and has very limited experience at the Triple-A level.
- The Rockies released outfielders Jared Simon and Brian Humphries as well as infielder Matt Wessinger, per the MLB transaction page. Simon, a 2010 sixth-round pick, and Humphries, a 14th-rounder in 2011, each spent last season with Double-A Tulsa and OPSed south of .700. Wessinger is perhaps the most notable, as he was a fifth-rounder as recently as 2012, but he batted just .214/.278/.295 at Class-A Advanced in 2014.
Here’s the latest from around the NL West…
- While Carlos Gonzalez specifically stated that he wanted to stay with the Rockies, Troy Tulowitzki somewhat tellingly only said “I want to win here” when asked by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale if he wanted to stay with the club. The Rockies discussed Tulowitzki with a few teams this winter (including the Mets), a process that GM Jeff Bridich said the star shortstop was kept fully informed about, even though there wasn’t much to discuss. “We had conversations this winter, and Tulo has an understanding what we’re thinking….We talked to teams, but there really is nothing that came close to being done,” Bridich said.
- Justin Maxwell can opt out of his minor league deal with the Giants if he isn’t on the club’s Major League roster by Tuesday, March 31, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The 31-year-old Maxwell is battling for a reserve outfield job and said he hasn’t decided what his next step will be if he’s told he isn’t making the roster.
- While the Padres have come up short in high-profile pursuits of Yasmany Tomas, Hector Olivera and Yoan Moncada, that doesn’t mean the club hasn’t been busy on the international signing front. In a profile of Padres international scouting director Chris Kemp, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports that the team has signed 12 international players between the ages of 16-19 are close to deals with several others. Of particular note is right-hander Starlin Cordero, who is already throwing at 94 mph at age 16 and only two months after being converted to pitching from the outfield.
- Diamondbacks catching prospect Peter O’Brien has played back-to-back games in the outfield, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. O’Brien was having problems throwing the ball back to the mound in games earlier this month and he since hasn’t been back behind the plate. Dubbed as the D’Backs’ catcher of the future by GM Dave Stewart and others within the organization, many scouts have questions about O’Brien’s long-term future behind the plate (even aside from his throwing issue).
- In NL West news from earlier today, Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times discussed the Dodgers with Jeff Todd on the MLBTR Podcast…Jeff also asked MLBTR’s readers to rank the Dodgers‘ many notable offseason moves…I profiled Juan Uribe as a possible trade candidate…the Padres claimed righty Jandel Gustave off waivers from the Royals…the Mets are checking in on both the Rockies and Dodgers as part of their search for relief pitching help.
4:46pm: The Mets are also intrigued by Rockies left-hander Rex Brothers, writes Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. A team official told Rubin at the Winter Meetings that Brothers was of interest to the Amazins, and that interest is apparently still alive. The 27-year-old Brothers will earn $1.4MM this year after a down season in 2014. Last year, he struggled to a 5.59 ERA as his control spiked and he posted a career-worst 6.2 BB/9 rate.
Brothers was excellent, however, from 2011-13, especially when considering his home park. In that time, he notched a 2.82 ERA with 11.2 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 out of the Colorado ‘pen. He’s had a good Spring Training thus far and is under team control through 2017. Brothers has a career 2.40 ERA on the road compared to a 4.51 mark at Coors Field.
As Rubin notes, the Rox also have southpaw Boone Logan, though his contract seems especially prohibitive for the Mets; Logan is owed $5.5MM this year and $6.25MM in 2016.
4:01pm: The Mets are “keeping an eye on” three Dodgers left-handed relief options — J.P. Howell, Paco Rodriguez and Adam Liberatore — in case any of the three become available, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles (via Twitter).
The Mets have a known need for a bullpen lefty following Josh Edgin‘s Tommy John surgery and have been connected to Baltimore’s Brian Matusz on multiple occasions this spring. Of course, Matusz sounds to be more available than any of the three Dodger southpaws, based on Saxon’s wording.
Howell would seem to have a spot in the Dodgers’ bullpen locked down, as the former Ray has posted a 2.19 ERA over the past two seasons with Los Angeles and is entering the second season of a two-year, $11.25MM contract signed following a strong first year with the Dodgers. Besides that fact, Howell is slated to earn $4MM this season, and the Mets reportedly aren’t even comfortable with Matusz’s $3.2MM salary, so it’s hard to envision a great fit with Howell.
Rodriguez and Liberatore, however, could conceivably be more available, and neither would cost much more than the Major League minimum in terms of salary. Rodriguez, 23, was the Dodgers’ second-round pick in 2012 and reached the Majors that same season. However, despite a strong 2013 followup to his brief 2012 cameo, (2.32 ERA, 10.4 K/9, 3.1 BB/9), Rodriguez saw just 14 regular-season innings with the Dodgers last year. Rodriguez struggled to a 4.40 ERA in Triple-A’s hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in 2014 and was slowed by a strained shoulder muscle as well. With just one year, 120 days of MLB service time, Rodriguez likely wouldn’t be arbitration eligible for another two years, making him an understandably appealing target.
It’s unclear how the new front office views Rodriguez, but the old regime clearly had some concerns over his readiness. The former front office invested significantly in free agent relievers last winter (including Brian Wilson and Chris Perez — neither of whom panned out) and quickly optioned Rodriguez to Triple-A after a rough patch in late April. New president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, GM Farhan Zaidi and VP Josh Byrnes may have more faith in Rodriguez and be reluctant to part with him.
As for Liberatore, the Dodgers only acquired him this offseason. The 27-year-old had previously been with the Rays, so it was hardly surprising to see Friedman pull both Liberatore and Joel Peralta from the Rays organization in a trade with his former colleagues. Liberatore is older for a prospect, but he has exceptional numbers at the Triple-A level, where he’s worked to a 2.40 ERA in 146 1/3 innings. His most impressive work came in 2014, when he worked to a 1.66 ERA with 11.9 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 65 innings.
For what it’s worth, both Liberatore and Rodriguez have had excellent Spring Training campaigns, combining for 13 innings of scoreless relief. That likely doesn’t mean much, and considering the fact that both have Minor League options remaining, there’s no pressure for the Dodgers to move either, even if they don’t break camp in the bullpen. Also to be considered is the fact that relief help is a need for the Dodgers themselves, particularly in the wake of an injury to closer Kenley Jansen that may only sideline him through mid-April but could leave him on the shelf into mid-May. The Dodgers have a number of contracts they’d like to shed (e.g. Alex Guerrero, Erisbel Arruebarrena) but the Mets would hardly seem to be in a financial position to sweeten the pot by taking on some salary in a trade.
Venezuelan players are having trouble living at home in the offseason due to unrest there, Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today writes. Cubs catcher Miguel Montero tried going to Venezuela this winter but was only able to stay five days. “I would go from the place where I was trying to get my passport to the house and back. That’s it,” Montero said. “There are safety concerns anywhere in the world, but you watch the news about Venezuela and more people have been killed there than in Afghanistan.” Many Venezuelan stars, like Felix Hernandez and Miguel Cabrera, have established permanent homes in the U.S., with others trying to become permanent U.S. residents. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Rockies should consider using a sort of starter platoon system, with some starters pitching in Denver as much as possible and some regularly pitching on the road, to help combat the Coors Field effect, FanGraphs’ Mike Petriello writes. To make the plan work, the Rockies might need a sixth starter, and they would have to frequently shuttle pitchers back and forth from Triple-A. The plan would give a starter like Jorge De La Rosa, the rare pitcher who seems to thrive at Coors Field, more chances to pitch there. Petriello looks through the Rockies’ schedule and comes up with a way to allow De La Rosa to make 20 of 34 starts at home. It now appears likely that De La Rosa will begin the season on the disabled list, so he won’t actually be able to make 34 starts, and the Rockies’ rotation probably has enough immediate concerns heading into the season that it can’t try something this experimental right now. But it’s an interesting idea.
- Didi Gregorius is earning over-the-top praise in Yankees camp, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. “[Gregorius] has made plays from the hole, from his back foot, throwing the ball 90 mph across the diamond from his back foot. You don’t see that,” says Alex Rodriguez. “It also makes it a lot easier for your third baseman to play third base.” (The rest of the A-Rod quotes alone make Rosenthal’s article worth reading — Rodriguez talks about Gregorius like a scout, complete with repeated references to a variant of the 20-to-80 scouting scale used to evaluate ballplayers. Also check out the sidebar, in which Rodriguez describes how shifts changed the game just in the year he was suspended.) As Derek Jeter‘s replacement, Gregorius has big shoes to fill, but he’s getting great reviews so far, at least defensively.
- Four teams have shown interest in Chacin, who the Rockies released over the weekend, 1500ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets. (The Twins, who are in Wolfson’s market, are not among them.)
- The release of Chacin helps clear the way for less experienced pitchers like Jon Gray, Eddie Butler, Christian Bergman and David Hale, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. Of course, Chacin himself is just 27, but manager Walt Weiss says the Rockies can’t worry about whether they cut bait too early. “You can’t get caught up in that,” he says. “It’s happened probably thousands of times in the history of this game, and it’s going to happen thousands more. It comes down to, are you willing to make a baseball decision based on where you’re at, at that point in time?” Harding also notes that the Rockies have an insurance option in John Lannan, who agreed to a minor-league deal with the team in November.
- Chacin’s release increases the burden on veteran Rockies starters Jorge De La Rosa and Kyle Kendrick, Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes. De La Rosa is currently dealing with a groin strain. “We need him,” says Kendrick of De La Rosa. “He’s a big key to our rotation, to our team. The sooner we get him back, it’s going to be better for us.”
The dark side of Venezuelan baseball players reaping the riches of their profession is their family members, who decline to move permanently to the United States and remain in Venezuela, become targets of kidnappers. Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News chronicles the kidnapping attempt made on the brother of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus last year. Fortunately, Andrus provided his brother’s family with armed bodyguards and they thwarted the attempt after being fired upon and struck in their bulletproof vests. “This happens with everybody who has family there,” said Andrus. “It’s easy for them to kidnap people and ask for money. And everybody knows how much money the players make. They can Google it. It’s just not safe. You have to take steps. It was pretty shocking, for sure.”
In other news and notes from baseball’s West divisions:
- The Diamondbacks will not alleviate their outfield surplus by trading Mark Trumbo, reports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. “We are not moving Trumbo,” GM Dave Stewart said. “Trumbo is a proven bat. Tough to move him for an unknown.” Stewart went even further with the New York Post’s Joel Sherman (Twitter link) telling the scribe he will not trade any of his outfielders because he values the depth.
- The Rockies are to be commended for releasing Jhoulys Chacin because a team must change direction if a player isn’t performing and the right-hander wasn’t, tweets Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.
- The Angels enter 2015 with the most financial flexibility they have had in four years, but will wait until mid-season to decide if or how to spend that payroll, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. The Angels’ most likely area of need is second base with Gonzalez naming the Phillies‘ Chase Utley, the Reds‘ Brandon Phillips, the Diamondbacks‘ Aaron Hill, and the Mets‘ Daniel Murphy as possible targets.
- The Dodgers‘ pitching depth is sorely being tested in the wake of the team shutting down Hyun-jin Ryu with shoulder inflammation, notes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick.
- Andre Ethier tells Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com he isn’t monitoring trade rumors online or with his agent and he isn’t counting the number of scouts in attendance at the Dodgers‘ Spring Training games. Ethier has said he is open to a trade and the club is reportedly willing to eat as much as half of the $56MM remaining on the outfielder’s contract to facilitate a swap, but have yet to find any takers.
- Carlos Quentin asked to see some reps at first base in an attempt to earn more at-bats with the Padres, which could also make him more attractive to other teams, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock.
- Peter Gammons of DailyGammons.com opines some have been cynical of San Diego’s offseason overhaul, but a healthy and productive Matt Kemp can become the poster person of this new age for the Padres.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Aaron Hill | Andre Ethier | Arizona Diamondbacks | Brandon Phillips | Carlos Quentin | Chase Utley | Cincinnati Reds | Colorado Rockies | Daniel Murphy | Elvis Andrus | Jhoulys Chacin | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mark Trumbo | Matt Kemp | New York Mets | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Texas Rangers
The Rockies have granted right-hander Jhoulys Chacin his unconditional release, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The Rockies and Chacin had agreed to a one-year, $5.5MM deal to avoid arbitration back in January. The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders tweets Colorado will save $4.14MM by releasing Chacin now.
“It’s obviously a difficult decision to make,” Rockies GM Jeff Bridich told Root Sports Rocky Mountain (transcript courtesy of MLB.com’s Thomas Harding). “With what has transpired here in camp, and the way things have gone just from a pitching standpoint, a competition standpoint, that looking at it, Jhoulys didn’t have a spot on our club.”
The move comes one day after Chacin allowed four runs on seven hits during three innings of work against the Dodgers. “I’m surprised,” Chacin told Nick Groke of The Denver Post. “I didn’t expect it at this time, but now I have a chance to find something else. But my heart will always be with the Rockies.”
Chacin, who was battling for a spot in the Rockies rotation, saw his 2014 campaign cut short after only 11 starts and 63 1/3 innings (5.40 ERA, 6.0 K/9, and 4.0 BB/9) because of right shoulder inflammation. It was just two seasons ago the 27-year-old put together a mark of 3.47 ERA, 5.7 K.9, and 2.8 BB/9 while throwing 197 1/3 innings (31 starts) for the Rockies. With teams like the Rays looking for starting pitching reinforcements, it would not be surprising for someone to take a flyer on Chacin even though, as noted in a second Saunders tweet, he is struggling to regain his velocity. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets the Rangers will discuss Chacin, but are unlikely to sign him.
Here are today’s minor transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the post…
- The Rockies have released left-hander Buddy Boshers, according to their official website’s transactions page. Boshers, signed to a minor league deal in December, threw one perfect inning of relief while in the Rockies’ Spring Training camp. The southpaw’s Major League resume consists of a 4.70 ERA over 15 1/3 innings for the Angels in 2013.
The Rangers acquired Yovani Gallardo in the offseason with the idea that he’d be a mid-rotation starter, but with Yu Darvish‘s injury and Derek Holland‘s shoulder trouble, it looks like the team could depend on Gallardo to start Opening Day, MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby writes. It’s not as if Gallardo can’t handle the assignment, of course, only that Texas’ best laid plans have gone awry. “The guy started five straight Opening Days for Milwaukee,” says GM Jon Daniels. “But it’s not what we had in mind.” Here’s more from the West divisions.
- Former closer Rafael Betancourt is competing for the last spot in the Rockies‘ bullpen, Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes. Last year, the 39-year-old found himself rehabbing in rookie ball after having Tommy John surgery in 2013. That wasn’t an easy assignment for a longtime MLB veteran, either, given that the Rockies’ Grand Junction team is in the Pioneer League, a brutal league for travel. The Rockies re-signed Betancourt to a minor-league deal in the offseason. Groke notes that he’s competing against Brooks Brown, Tommy Kahnle and Jairo Diaz, all of whom have options.
- Dodgers pitcher Brandon Beachy took another step toward returning from his own Tommy John surgery Tuesday, writes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. He threw off a mound, then had a long session in which he worked on his mechanics. The Dodgers signed Beachy in February to a one-year deal with an option, and Gurnick notes that it looks like he could return to action sometime around the All-Star break. The cost of the Dodgers’ option ranges from $3MM-$6MM and will depend on how much Beachy can pitch before the end of the season.