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On this date in 2005, the Mets signed Carlos Beltran to a seven-year, $119MM contract. Beltran enjoyed some tremendous seasons and endured some difficult moments with the Mets, who traded him to San Francisco last summer. Here are today's links…
- An extra wild card team is far from a sure thing for 2012, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark, as "big scheduling obstacles remain" to be worked out before baseball can expand its playoffs for this fall.
- Tony La Russa has been "informally offered" Joe Torre's old job as MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations, reports USA Today's Bob Nightengale (via Twitter). La Russa has given no indication that he is interested in the job.
- Magglio Ordonez intends to play in 2012, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports. The free agent outfielder is making progress in his recovery from right ankle surgery.
- Kerry Wood said on the Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 that there's "nothing new" to report on his near-deal with the Cubs.
- Dan Johnson, the unlikely hero of the Rays’ exhilarating comeback in the final game of the regular season, tells Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he’s still looking for a job.
- Dodgers scout Carl Loewnstine continues working as he battles bone cancer, Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes. Loewnstine will be honored this weekend at a banquet benefiting the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation in California.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and David Laurila of FanGraphs discussed the role of information in the decision making process of an MLB front office.
- The Red Sox don’t expect to offer guaranteed deals to free agent pitchers, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. The asking price for Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt is dropping, but those pitchers aren’t likely to sign in Boston, Heyman writes.
Here are today's minor moves…
- The Braves signed outfielder Jordan Parraz to a minor league deal with an adjusted big league salary, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The deal includes an invitation to Spring Training
- Dan Johnson, who was outrighted earlier today, has elected free agency, according to the Tampa Tribune (on Twitter).
- Utility player Pete Orr re-signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (on Twitter). The deal includes an invitation to Spring Training.
- The Blue Jays signed 16-year-old right-hander Jesus Tinoco out of Venezuela, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. Meanwhile, the Reds signed 16-year-old righthander Soid Marquez.
- Here's a note for the diehard transactions fans out there: the Blue Jays actually released Adam Loewen, tweets Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star (the team announced that it had outrighted Loewen this morning). The Blue Jays would have interest in re-signing Loewen to play at Triple-A if he doesn't find a better offer. Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets that Loewen became a six-year minor league free agent.
- The A's signed right-hander Edgar Gonzalez to a minor league deal, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The 28-year-old appeared in one game with the Rockies in 2011, but spent most of the season at Triple-A. He posted a 5.00 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 133 1/3 innings for the top affiliates of the Rays and Rockies.
The latest outright assignments from around MLB…
- The Rays might not have made the playoff were it not for Dan Johnson's heroics in the final game of the regular season, but he's no longer on Tampa Bay's roster. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Rays outrighted Johnson to Triple-A (Twitter links). The first baseman can elect free agency.
- The Mariners announced that they outrighted left-hander Anthony Vasquez to Triple-A. The 25-year-old posted a 8.90 ERA with 4.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 29 1/3 innings for Seattle in 2011. Vasquez must accept the assignment.
- The Blue Jays announced that they outrighted outfielder Adam Loewen and reliever Jesse Carlson off of their 40-man roster. Loewen, the fourth overall selection in the 2002 draft, successfully completed the transition from left-handed pitcher to outfielder in 2011. He posted a .306/.377/.508 line with 46 doubles at Triple-A before appearing in 14 games with the Blue Jays.
- Carlson, 30, spent the 2011 season on the disabled list after experiencing arm soreness in Spring Training and undergoing season-ending rotator cuff surgery in May. Carlson would have been arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason and his projected salary of $700K made him a clear non-tender candidate.
TUESDAY: Johnson cleared waivers and accepted a Triple-A assignment, reports Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.
FRIDAY: The Rays have designated Dan Johnson for assignment according to a team press release. Rob Delaney was also optioned to Triple-A, and the moves free up roster spots for Justin Ruggiano and J.P. Howell.
Johnson, 31, hit just .115/.179/.167 in 84 plate appearances this year. Though his left-handed bat seemed serviceable, Johnson lost his starting job and has only appeared in six games this month. The Rays signed Johnson before the 2010 season and saw him post a .343 OBP with seven homers in 140 plate appearances despite a .198 batting average.
On this date in 1919, Babe Ruth hit his first career grand slam to help the Red Sox beat the Browns. Oh yeah, and he pitched a complete game. Here’s the latest from around the league on the anniversary of the Babe’s big day…
- The Phillies placed Shane Victorino on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain and called up outfielder Domonic Brown from Triple-A, the team announced.
- By waiting a month, the Phillies could have ensured themselves that Brown would finish the 2011 season with less than a full year of service time, but their focus is clearly (and rightfully) on winning games now.
- The Padres are close to announcing a 20-year TV deal with Fox that will provide the team with $25-30MM per season, according to John Maffei of the North County Times.
- Teddy Cahill of Baseball America lists draft-eligible prospects with connections to current and former big leaguers and others around the game.
- Dan Johnson, who was designated for assignment earlier today, told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he's "kind of numb," but open to remaining in the organization if he clears waivers.
The Rays find themselves in a difficult position as the 2011 season approaches. Forced to cut payroll, they've lost Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, (presumably) Rafael Soriano, and most of their bullpen to free agency, and traded Jason Bartlett as he approaches his final arbitration year.
Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times looks at some of the issues left to be addressed as the Rays begin bargain shopping this offseason:
- The Rays have added some bullpen pieces in Joel Peralta, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, J.P. Howell, and Rule 5 pick Cesar Cabrel, but they'll still need someone to pitch the ninth and probably the eighth, Topkin opines. He lists some potential candidates as Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel, Kevin Gregg, Trevor Hoffman, Grant Balfour, and Chad Qualls as options. Remember, the Rays also have Jake McGee.
- There's not much in terms of affordable names for the Rays on the market. Some clarity will be brought to the issue once Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee sign. Topkin mentions Casey Kotchman as a speculative option. Dan Johnson is a fallback if the team can't find an upgrade.
- Johnson is also a backup plan at designated hitter, but the Rays have options at designated hitter, with Johnny Damon, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Jason Giambi on the market.
The latest on the Rays, who are looking to re-build their bullpen and acquire a hitter or two:
- The Rays have progressed toward a deal with J.P. Howell, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter). The team non-tendered the lefty last week.
- The Rays avoided arbitration with Dan Johnson and agreed on a 2011 salary of about $1MM, according to Topkin (Twitter links).
- The Rays and O's were discussing a trade that would have sent Jason Bartlett to Baltimore for a package similar to the one the Orioles sent to Arizona for Mark Reynolds, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (Twitter link).
- Cardinals GM Joh Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he's not looking to acquire middle infielders, so a Barlett trade seems highly unlikely.
- Rays President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Topkin that he wouldn't be surprised if he ends up making a trade or two this week (Twitter link).
2:31pm: Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman confirmed the promotion of Blalock in a blog post by Topkin.
Friedman insists that the move has nothing to do with Blalock's contract situation and potential opt-out clause. The club, he says, talked during Spring Training about re-evaluating things at this point in the season.
He added that Dan Johnson, currently in Triple-A Durham, was also considered for promotion. The 30-year-old has been posting even stronger numbers than Blalock, hitting .311/.382/.647 with 11 HRs.
10:52am: The team has yet to confirm the move, but it appears that Hank Blalock will join the Rays for today's game against the Mariners according to Heath Baywood at DRaysBay. Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times backs up the report.
Earlier this week Scott Boras indicated that Blalock would exercise the opt-out clause in his contract if he wasn't called up within a week. The two-time All Star hit .349/.405/.505 with Tampa's Triple-A affiliate, though oddly enough he hit lefties better than righties. That could easily be a function of limited at-bats, however.
Tampa Bay has two open spots on it's 40-man roster, but they will need to clear a 25-man roster spot for Blalock. Topkin says that it remains to be seen if this is the end of the Pat Burrell era, even though he's hitting just .202/.292/.333 this year. Either way, the Rays are the hook for his $9MM salary this season.
Links for Tuesday…
- I joined Jeff & Jeff on KNFS 590 St. Louis today; click here to listen to audio.
- Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald tweets that the Red Sox signed 22-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Padron to a minor league deal with a $350K bonus. Cuban Ball Players has a bit on Padron here.
- SI's Jon Heyman tweets that the Royals will join the Mariners in the Jarrod Washburn bidding. Heyman first made the Royals-Washburn connection on January 11th, but nothing much came of it.
- Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times spoke to Orlando Cabrera, Tony Reagins, and Walt Jocketty about the decline in multiyear free agent contracts.
- Rays first baseman Dan Johnson cleared waivers and accepted a Triple A assignment, tweets Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
- Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun feels that Orioles catcher Chad Moeller is unlikely to accept a minor league assignment now that the team has chosen Craig Tatum to back up Matt Wieters.
- Aroldis Chapman is expected to begin the season in the minors, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs praises the Rockies for their player development, but questions their offseason tweaking. For more on that topic, check out our Rockies offseason in review.
- Rich Hill, recently reassigned to Triple A, can elect free agency around June if he's not in the Majors according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Rays signed first baseman Dan Johnson to a one-year, Major League deal worth $500K, writes Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. The Rays sold Johnson's rights to the Yokohama BayStars about a year ago, and the 30-year-old hit .215/.330/.462 in 382 plate appearances in Japan in 2009. He's got a career line of .248/.343/.420. Most his big league time came with the A's from 2005-07.