Daisuke Matsuzaka Rumors

Quick Hits: Morneau, Matsuzaka, Red Sox, Padres

We'll round out the evening with some links from around baseball:

  • With a big night at the plate putting an exclamation point on his torrid run over August, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is drawing increased attention on the trade market, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson reports on Twitter. According to a source, the resurgent Yankees are "back in" on Morneau, which could also increase the pressure on the Orioles to make a move on the veteran slugger. The Yanks are now just one game back of Baltimore, though both clubs have significant ground to gain in both the AL East and Wild Card hunt.
  • Recently-released pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka expects to link up with a new team shortly with the hopes of returning to the big leagues, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. In a series of tweets, Miller quotes Indians GM Chris Antonetti: "We didn't have an immediate opportunity. Dice-K was throwing well in Triple-A and thought he may have a better opportunity." 
  • One team that will not be in on Matsuzaka is the Brewers, reports Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. GM Doug Melvin did say that Dice-K's agent, Scott Boras, had reached out to Milwaukee. "I told Boras I didn't have a spot for him," said Melvin. "We already have six starters for September."
  • Looking ahead at the first base position for the Red Sox in 2014, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says he expects the club to "stay in-house" rather than chasing a new player such as Jose Dariel Abreu. Cafardo opines that the club is most likely to shift Will Middlebrooks to first or employ a platoon of Daniel Nava and Mike Carp. Cafardo finds it less likely that Mike Napoli will be re-signed, but says a big September could lead the club in that direction.
  • Mike Dee, the new president and CEO of the Padres, says that the club is poised to "invest more in the team moving forward," reports MLB.com's AJ Cassavell. Emphasizing that dealing with the team's less-than-perfect TV situation will be "a priority," Dee said that the baseball operations focus will be "to draft well and to develop [the team's] own talent." For his part, GM Josh Byrnes explained that more money did not just mean more big league spending: "Payroll is certainly part of it. But it's also investment spending, whether it's player development, medical or the international side; anything that we can do to give ourselves a better chance to produce talent."

Indians Release Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Indians have granted Daisuke Matsuzaka his unconditional release upon his request, the team announced on Twitter. Cleveland released Matsuzaka near the end of Spring Training, but he worked out a new minor league deal with the team shortly after.

The 32-year-old Matsuzaka posted a 3.92 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 103 1/3 innings for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers this season. He's been particularly effective over his past seven starts, pitching to a 2.17 ERA with a 39-to-8 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings.

This year marks Matsuzaka's first state-side season with an organization other than the Red Sox. Tommy John surgery and a back injury limited him to just 83 innings from 2011-12, and he missed more than a month at Triple-A with a forearm strain. His recent success and the fact that he asked for his release seem to suggest that he could find a Major League opportunity elsewhere.

Indians Re-Sign Matsuzaka, Capps

The Indians re-signed pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Matt Capps to minor league deals, according to a press release.  The pair had been released recently so the team could avoid paying them $100K retention bonuses.  It looks like they'll head to Columbus, providing the organization with veteran depth for the rotation and bullpen.

Indians Release Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Indians report (on Twitter) that they have released pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes (on Twitter) that the Indians will likely try to strike a new deal to keep Matsuzaka in the fold.

The Indians' rotation is expected to contain Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers, and Zach McAllister along with either Scott Kazmir or Carlos Carrasco. A calf injury caused Matsuzaka to fall behind in the team's rotation battle. The Indians informed Matsuzaka last week that he would not make the team, but he has said he intends to remain in the organization anyway.

Matsuzaka is an Article XX(B) free agent, so if the Indians had not released him, they would have had to pay a $100K retention bonus if he had accepted their minor-league assignment.

Matsuzaka posted an 8.28 ERA in 45 2/3 innings with the Red Sox in 2012, with 8.1 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. He signed a minor-league deal with the Indians in February.

Quick Hits: Theriot, Carpenter, Yankees

The Indians have told Daisuke Matsuzaka and Matt Capps that they'd like to keep them in the organization, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Neither pitcher will make the team's Opening Day roster, but Matsuzaka said he intends to remain with the Indians, Hoynes reports. Meanwhile, Capps has yet to decide whether he’ll stay with the Indians or elect free agency.

Here are some more links for Monday…

  • Free agent infielder Ryan Theriot is considering a new career path, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). Schulman hears that the 33-year-old is thinking of becoming an agent.
  • Chris Carpenter doesn’t sound optimistic about pitching at the MLB level again, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports (on Twitter). "I want to, but I don't think I can," Carpenter said, adding that he still feels numbness and weakness. His contract with the Cardinals expires after the 2013 season, and he’s not expected to pitch again.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Dan Martin of the New York Post that he's open to the possibility of acquiring another player before the regular season begins. Cashman also said that he considers the Brennan Boesch deal a low-risk, high-reward signing. "The only downside is wasting time and a small amount of money … Nothing’s been promised to him at all.”

AL Notes: Rays, Dice-K, Indians, Red Sox, Boesch

Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times expressed concern the Rays don't have enough power in their lineup to compete over the long haul. As if to add an exclamation point to Shelton's column, the Rays were stymied this afternoon by Jon Lester of the Red Sox, who was perfect for six innings (79 pitches, 53 for strikes) with six strikeouts. The Rays were on the verge of being the victim of a Spring Training perfect game until an infield single by non-roster invitee Jason Bourgeois with one out in the top of the ninth. In other American League news and notes:

  • One solution to the Rays' power shortage could be Wil Myers, who was sent to Triple-A yesterday. Manager Joe Maddon told reporters, including the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, that he believes the timing of Myers' recall will be a baseball decision and not based on service time considerations in order to avoid an extra year of arbitration eligibility.
  • The Indians have yet to make a decision on Daisuke Matsuzaka even after a meeting this morning between manager Terry Francona and the front office, tweets the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. Francona could speak with Dice-K tomorrow.
  • The Indians will approach Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley about contract extensions at some point this spring, writes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
  • The trade market for Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who will be a free agent after this season, is not good, tweets the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber.
  • "The door's not locked. It may not even be cracked open, but it's not locked, either," a Red Sox source told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com about the chances of Jackie Bradley Jr. making the Opening Day roster.
  • The Yankees only signed Brennan Boesch because he has minor league options remaining, according to ESPN's Buster Olney in his Insider blog (subscription required). Olney added, given the apparent lack of interest in Boesch, the Yankees might have the ability, if he struggles in the next few weeks, to get him through waivers, take him off the 40-man roster, and outright him to the minor leagues. 
  • The Angels have acquired minor league pitcher Mike Cisco from the Phillies for no compensation.  Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com explains the Phillies had an excess of pitching in Double-A and Triple-A and they wanted to make sure he’d go somewhere he’d have an opportunity to pitch. The Angels liked him and have a spot for him in their system.

AL Notes: Royals, Happ, Matsuzaka, Longoria

The Royals will approach their upcoming roster decisions with the goal of preserving "inventory," Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes. That means keeping as many players in the system as possible, which in turn means that players who are out of options will have a better chance of making the team, so the Royals don't risk losing them. The following players are out of options: Bruce Chen, Jarrod Dyson, Jeremy Guthrie, J.C. Gutierrez, Brett Hayes, Luke Hochevar, Elliot Johnson, George Kottaras, Luis Mendoza and Felipe Paulino. Hayes, Kottaras and Adam Moore are battling to back up Salvador Perez at catcher. Since Moore has an option, he will likely return to the minor leagues, and the Royals will choose between Hayes and Kottaras, keeping one while potentially trading or losing the other. The many teams currently on the lookout for catching help will presumably be watching the Royals' situation closely. Here are more notes from the American League.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/03/16/4125791/inventory-is-key-element-for-royals.html#storylink=cpy

AL Notes: Ryan, Porcello, Happ, Indians

Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan had dinner with principal owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson Friday night to discuss his future role with the franchise. Simpson called the meeting "productive" while Ryan remained silent until today when he released a statement through the team. "Over the last week, Ray Davis, Bob Simpson, and I have been in discussion and met in-person. The conversations have been productive, and we have discussed my role as CEO of the organization. We agreed these discussions will continue as we go forward. I am very proud of what the Rangers have accomplished over the last several years, and I believe our preparations for upcoming season are what is important." Sources have told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Ryan could leave after he fulfills his two remaining team obligations: in San Antonio for the Rangers' two exhibition games there March 29-30 and in Houston during the Rangers' season-opening series against the Astros. In other news and notes from the American League:

Quick Hits: Padres, Marmol, Tigers

Teams hoping to trade for Chase Headley will have to wait — at least for a few months. Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told Peter Gammons of MLB Network that San Diego executives have worked hard to assemble an improved offensive team. “We're not breaking it up now," Byrnes said (Twitter links). As Gammons notes, it’s possible the Padres will re-consider their stance in July. Here are some notes from around MLB…

  • Carlos Marmol’s name surfaced in trade talk this week, but said today that he expects to be with the Cubs all year despite the rumors. "I don't believe in anything," he said, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter).
  • Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he intends to keep managing as long as he can, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). "I'm not retiring, whether we win or we don't win," Leyland said. The 68-year-old obtained a one-year contract from the Tigers after leading the team to the World Series.
  • Many of the teams expected to contend in 2013 are already facing significant questions, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com writes. The Tigers (closer), Cardinals (shortstop), Yankees (lineup), Rangers (rotation) and Dodgers (outfield) have issues to address this spring.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka can opt out of his deal with the Indians on March 26th, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).

AL Central Notes: Tigers, Sale, Indians, Morneau

Here's the latest from around the AL Central…

  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski admitted to reporters (including Lynn Henning of the Detroit News) that teams had been calling him about the Tigers' starting pitching depth.  The Rangers reportedly asked about Rick Porcello earlier this week and several teams have shown interest in the right-hander throughout the offseason.
  • Dombrowski and Jim Leyland revealed no new details about the Tigers' closer situation other than saying that rookie Bruce Rondon is still very much a candidate for the job despite struggling in four Spring Training outings.
  • White Sox GM Rick Hahn discussed Chris Sale's extension with reporters (including MLB.com's Scott Merkin) and likes that the team was able to lock up a potential ace at what could end up being a bargain price.  "Obviously this past offseason was a pretty robust one in terms of where the compensation was going. So being able to lock something down before there was further escalation in Chris' market had a lot of appeal to us," Hahn said.
  • Scott Kazmir can opt out of his minor league deal with the Indians if he isn't on their Major League roster by April 2, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (via Twitter).  Daisuke Matsuzaka, another Tribe minor league signing, also has an opt-out date "about the same time."
  • Unless Justin Morneau improves on his 2012 numbers, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities feels the Twins will struggle to get "anything significant" for the slugger in a possible trade, and could have to settle for a trade package similar to what they received for Francisco Liriano last summer.  Morneau hit .267/.333/.440 with 19 home runs in 570 PA in 2012 and is entering his last season under contract with Minnesota.  Mackey also discusses the Twins payroll, various roster decisions and other topics during this chat with fans.