Colorado Rockies Rumors
Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they are not on the team's 25-man roster or the Major League disabled list five days prior to the season.
Free agents who qualify for this distinction are those who have at least six years of Major League service time and had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season, but signed a minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day.
MLBTR has confirmed with MLB that the deadline for teams to decide on these players is today at 11am central time. By the deadline, teams with these players in camp need to decide whether to:
- Add the player to their 25-man roster or Major League disabled list (or agree to do so in writing).
- Grant the player his outright release from the minor league contract so that he may pursue opportunities with other teams.
- Pay the player a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization beyond the deadline and send him to the minors.
Here's the latest news from around the league on Article XX(B) signees and their roster statuses with their respective teams (newest updates on top).
- Delmon Young receives a $100K bonus from the Orioles, tweets Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
- The Rockies have decided to pay righty Nick Masset a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization, rather than releasing him or guaranteeing him an active roster spot, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.
- As posted already, Endy Chavez and Humberto Quintero of the Mariners have been released rather than receiving the roster bonus to be held in the minors.
- The Indians have announced that DH Jason Giambi will be placed on the DL retroactive to March 21, meaning that the team will need to add him to its 40-man roster.
- John McDonald has been added to the Angels' 40-man roster and will be the club's utility infielder on Opening Day, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). The club has already released its three other Article XX(B) free agents.
- The Mets have elected to pay pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka a $100K retention bonus rather than guaranteeing him an Opening Day roster spot or releasing him, the club announced on Twitter. Matsuzaka, who signed as an Article XX(B) free agent, will apparently compete with Jenrry Mejia for the fifth and final rotation slot right up until the start of the season.
- Zach Duke has been informed that he has made the Brewers, tweets MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Duke will be the third lefty (and, potentially, long man) in the pen.
- Earlier today we learned that Jason Kubel would make the Twins Opening Day roster.
MLBTR's own Charlie Wilmoth has just released a new book. Titled "Dry Land," the volume traces the Pirates and their fans through the club's historic losing streak and recent renaissance. Be sure to check out this post for more details and how you can order a copy. On to the links:
- In two expected moves out of the NL West, Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks underwent Tommy John surgery today, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert tweets, while the Dodgers optioned Alex Guerrero to Triple-A, as MLB.com's Ken Gurnick tweets.
- The Nationals have received trade interest from three or four clubs in starter Chris Young, who has an opt-out in his contract this coming Thursday, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The 33-year-old has had an impressive spring, but seems unlikely to crack the Nats' rotation.
- The Pirates have no interest in signing Juan Francisco if he clears waivers, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. We learned earlier today that the team had chosen to go with Travis Ishikawa over Andrew Lambo as its left-handed bat at first.
- For the Mets, giving Daisuke Matsuzaka a $100K bonus is in large part a strategic effort to protect the club in the event that Jon Niese is unable to make his first start, explains ESPN.com's Adam Rubin. This way, the team can rely on both Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia if the need arises, or can simply pick between them for the fifth starter slot.
- The Rockies are better off without center fielder Dexter Fowler because he "isn't tough enough," opines Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. (Fowler, of course was dealt to the Astros. As presented in my offseason review for the club, I have a different take on the subject of Fowler's departure from Colorado.) Though Kiszla initially credited Fowler with having "the determination to grind through pain" in mid-August of last year, he apparently adjusted his analysis after the 28-year-old missed twenty games late in the season with ongoing hand and wrist injuries. Manager Walt Weiss effectively pushed Fowler out of town, says Kiszla, because the latter "was not the kind of player Weiss needs on a team that must grind out victories in the National League West." Apparently referring obliquely to Fowler, Weiss emphasized the need for players "to compete and grind and play with grit," while assistant GM Bill Geivett explained that the manager "has got to feel comfortable in the weapons he has to attack the other team."
The Rockies don't look like a top team this year, but their best-case scenario could get them to the playoffs, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes. That might mean staying near .500 until the summer, adding a bit of talent at the trade deadline, and clearing the way for young pitchers Eddie Butler and Jon Gray to help propel the team into the postseason. That might not be likely for the Rockies, Renck suggests. But it's possible. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- The Astros' recent approach to pre-free-agency extensions (they've discussed them with Matt Dominguez and Robbie Grossman, who lack star upside, as well as Jason Castro and George Springer) is different than most teams', CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. "In the past these deals were limited to the best players in the game," GM Jeff Luhnow says. But that's not the Astros' philosophy. Their approach to extensions is typical of the Astros' outside-the-box view of how to build a team, Heyman suggests.
- The Padres won't pursue starting pitching help from outside, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. They feel they have enough depth with the young starting pitching already in the organization. San Diego, one of many teams dealing with pitching injuries, recently lost Josh Johnson for the first several weeks of the season, and Joe Wieland is now out until the All-Star Break as well.
Baseball personnel believe Billy Beane of the Athletics is the best GM in the game, the New York Post's Joel Sherman writes in a survey of scouts and executives. "He continues to find ways to be ahead of trends," says one scout. Joe Maddon of the Rays and Mike Matheny of the Cardinals got the most votes for best manager, and the Angels' Mike Trout got the most votes for best player. Here are more notes from around the West divisions.
- New Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler doesn't understand Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd offseason comments questioning his passion for the game, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. "I'm still trying to figure out where they're coming from," Fowler says. " 'Passion for the game' - I mean, you see me each and every day. This will never change. So I don't know where that was coming from." Fowler also tells Drellich he didn't know whether O'Dowd was even the Rockies' GM, or whether it was assistant GM Bill Geivett. (O'Dowd runs baseball operations, while Geivett runs big-league operations.) The Rockies traded Fowler to Houston in December.
- Joe Blanton is bracing for an uncertain future with the Angels, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez writes. "Whatever happens, happens," says Blanton. "All I can do is just go pitch and try to make the adjustments in-game and keep working hard." Blanton has $7.5MM plus a $1MM buyout remaining on his contract, and does not have a spot in the Angels' rotation after a miserable 2013 season. The Angels could release him, or move him to the bullpen while they wait for their relief corps to get healthy.
The Rockies made a series of moves this offseason, but seemingly lacked a cohesive strategy and may not be that much better this year than last.
Major League Signings
- Acquired RHP Jordan Lyles and OF Brandon Barnes from Astros in exchange for OF Dexter Fowler
- Acquired LHP Brett Anderson and $2MM from Athletics in exchange for LHP Drew Pomeranz and RHP Chris Jensen
- Acquired OF Drew Stubbs in exchange for LHP Josh Outman
- Acquired LHP Franklin Morales from Red Sox in exchange for IF Jonathan Herrera
To some extent, the Rockies did fill in some areas of need. Indeed, things got started in a sensible enough manner, as the club picked up the options of De La Rosa and Belisle (the latter representing a rarely exercised mutual option) while adding Hawkins on a modest contract to serve as closer. These moves shored up the back of the pen and seemingly set the team up to open the year with two southpaw options in the excellent Rex Brothers and solid Josh Outman (whose 4.33 ERA last year was not as impressive as his 3.25 FIP, 3.62 xFIP, 3.35 SIERA, and shutdown performance against same-handed batters).
Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Earlier in the week, for example, Chone Figgins and Justin Turner were added to the Dodgers' 40-man roster and headed to Australia with the club having won bench roles. We'll be keeping track of minor league signees making their clubs with posts just like this one as the season draws near...
- The Rockies have added catcher Michael McKenry to the 40-man roster, signaling that he will serve as the team's backup catcher this season, the team announced on Twitter. McKenry is 5-for-20 with a homer and three doubles thus far in Spring Training. The 29-year-old's 2013 season was cut short in Pittsburgh when he damaged his meniscus while sliding on the basepaths (he underwent surgery in late July). Originally drafted by Colorado, McKenry broke into the bigs with the Pirates and had his best season in 2012, when he batted .233/.320/.442 with a dozen homers in 275 plate appearances.
The Athletics announced that they've claimed outfielder Kent Matthes off waivers from the Rockies and optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento. Jarrod Parker, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this week, was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster (Twitter links).
Matthes, 27, ranked among the Rockies' Top 30 prospects (per Baseball America) as recently as last winter, when he was 16th on the list. A former fourth-round pick out of Alabama, Matthes has a solid .275/.332/.505 batting line in his minor league career, although he did not reach the Triple-A level until last year -- his age-26 season. As BA notes, a torn patellar tendon, a broken hand and an oblique strain have severely shortened three of his minor league campaigns. However, he was still good enough in 2011 to take home California League MVP honors for batting .334/.378/.642 with 23 homers in 93 games before his hand was broken when it was hit by a pitch.
BA noted in the 2013 edition of its annual Prospect Handbook (highly recommended) that Matthes is an average runner with one of the strongest arms in the Rockies' system and profiled as a solid defender in right field.
The Padres have already taken a hit to their starting pitching depth after losing Cory Luebke to a second Tommy John surgery, and now right-hander Joe Wieland could suffer the same fate. Wieland is scheduled to have an MRI on his sore right elbow today, and Yahoo's Jeff Passan tweeted late last night that there's "significant concern" throughout the organization, with a re-torn UCL being the worst-case scenario. Wieland, like Luebke, spent the 2013 season recovering from 2012 Tommy John surgery. A second Tommy John surgery has become a familiar refrain around MLB of late; Daniel Hudson underwent his second Tommy John last summer, and there's a strong likelihood that Braves hurlers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy will do so as well. D'Backs lefty Patrick Corbin could be headed for his first Tommy John surgery as well.
Here are a couple of other NL-West-related items...
- The Dodgers are currently on the lookout for bench help, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who questions how the club could spent $225MM on payroll but enter the season with such a weak group of reserve players. Rival evaluators in Spring Training consider the Dodgers' bench to be the weakest in the division, says Rosenthal.
- Within that piece, Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers indicated to Mark Ellis early in the offseason that another two-year deal was a possibility. However, Ellis eventually grew weary of the Dodgers' indecisiveness, as they offered a one-year deal after signing Alexander Guerrero. Rosenthal adds that one potential scenario last summer was for the Dodgers to flip Zach Lee to the Angels for Howie Kendrick, then move Ellis to Kansas City for Luke Hochevar, but ownership nixed the Kendrick-for-Lee swap.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes that while the Rockies initially thought right-hander Jordan Lyles would need some time in the minors when they acquired him in the Dexter Fowler trade, Lyles is forcing his way into immediate rotation consideration. He's competing with Franklin Morales for the fifth starter's role, and Lyles could benefit from the fact that Morales has bullpen experience. Manager Walt Weiss told Renck that Lyles is viewed strictly as a starter, so Morales could end up in relief with Lyles in the starting five.
Mets left-hander Jon Niese was removed from his start today after only two innings and 35 pitches with what the club calls left elbow discomfort. Niese had been wearing a neoprene sleve on his left arm the past few days, tweets Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. "It's the Spring Training from hell," Niese told reporters (as quoted by ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin). Niese also said he hyperextended the elbow, which first flared up during an intrasquad game 10 days ago, and has been taking anti-inflammatory medication and undergoing rehab since. Niese added the discomfort is in the back of the elbow, not in the ligament area (the focus of Tommy John surgery). The Mets are flying the 27-year-old to New York tonight with a MRI, his second in less than three weeks, scheduled for tomorrow, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday.
Elsewhere in the National League:
- With the possibility Niese may open the season on the disabled list, Jenrry Mejia could join Daisuke Matsuzaka in the Mets' rotation with John Lannan earning a relief role, according to Rubin.
- The Diamondbacks are another team scrambling to fill a void in their starting rotation in the wake of the news from earlier today Patrick Corbin could be facing Tommy John surgery. GM Kevin Towers, however, plans to use in-house options like Randall Delgado, Archie Bradley, and Josh Collmenter rather than seek a trade immediately, tweets Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com.
- Noah Syndergaard, who remains in the Mets' Major League Spring Training camp, was the key component in last offseason's R.A. Dickey trade, writes Matt Ehalt of the Record. "I think eventually it got to the point where we needed Syndergaard," said J.P. Ricciardi, the Mets' special assistant to the GM. "I think in order to finish it off, we needed a younger, higher prospect to make us say, 'OK, it's worth trading a Cy Young Award winner.'"
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says the team's bullpen depth is "a chance to move a guy that can go help someone else to add a piece," tweets the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Travis Sawchik. Huntington also gave a near-guarantee Edinson Volquez will be in the Pirates' starting rotation, Sawchik tweets.
- Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post contradicts a story from this morning the Rockies are in the market for right-handed bullpen help. A source tells Renck the club prefers to give Chad Bettis or Chris Martin a chance before pursuing a trade.
- Being forced to rush their young pitching prospects to the Majors has come back to haunt the Marlins, as Jacob Turner and Brad Hand (22 and 23, respectively) are now out of options, opines MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- The Dodgers have selected the contract of Justin Turner and will bring Chone Figgins to Australia, reports Dylan Herndandez of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). MLBTR's Tim Dierkes broke the news in February of Turner agreeing to a minor league contract with the Dodgers and now the 29-year-old will make $1MM as a reserve infielder. Figgins, who signed a minor league deal in January and is trying to make the squad as an utilityman, will be one of 30 players the Dodgers are taking on the trip (only 25 will be active on game day).
Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks has suffered "damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow," the club announced today. Tommy John surgery is the initial recommended course of action for Corbin, a source tells the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro (Twitter). The 24-year-old, however, will seek a second opinion and will not be with the team to start the year. Needless to say, the injury could have wide-ranging implications for the club, which has spent big to win and has top prospect Archie Bradley waiting in the wings. Corbin is the most recent in a sudden run of young pitchers facing arm issues, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote earlier this morning, discussing the state of pitching injuries in the game. Here are some more notes from the division, as it gets ready to kick-start the season in Australia:
- The Diamondbacks plan to give Chris Owings the starting shortstop job, reports ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Insider link). Preferring his bat to the glove of fellow youngster Didi Gregorius, Arizona could now be in a position to trade the latter. Gregorius had a solid rookie debut last year, putting up average defensive marks and a .252/.332/.373 triple-slash (along with seven home runs) in 404 plate appearances. Some believe he will have greater defensive value moving forward, making him a fairly attractive piece for teams in need of shortstop help, though Arizona appears determined to command a big return in a trade.
- The Rockies are looking at the trade market for a right-handed setup option, Bowden reports in the same piece. Of course, he also adds that LaTroy Hawkins is likely to cede the closer role to lefty Rex Brothers at some point, which would make Hawkins available (along with Matt Belisle) as a late-inning righty.
- Meanwhile, Colorado "remain[s] concerned with their leadoff spot and center field," both of which were vacated when the team decided to trade Dexter Fowler to the Astros to create payroll flexibility. This report caps off a confusing round of musical chairs for the Rockies. After trading away Dexter Fowler and his $7.35MM salary (along with whatever he'll earn through arbitration next year), the team added an aging Justin Morneau for nearly as much (two years, $12.5MM) and gave situational lefty Boone Logan the third-largest guarantee of any reliever this offseason (three years, $18.5MM). The team then dealt serviceable southpaw Josh Outman for Drew Stubbs, who is now part of a three-man group (including Brandon Barnes, who came in the Fowler deal, and Charlie Blackmon) that will probably form some kind of platoon in center, according to Bowden.
- Of course, Bowden adds, the Rockies also took on salary in adding starter Brett Anderson via trade. He has reportedly been very impressive, looking healthy and throwing like he did before his string of injury issues.
- The Rockies face a number of roster battles that are still too close to call, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The team is not inclined at present to trade away Blackmon or fellow left-handed-swinging Corey Dickerson, though that may become an option at some point.
- We learned earlier this morning that Dodgers catcher Miguel Olivo is seeking his release to pursue opportunities with another club.