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White Sox executive Kenny Williams says baseball needs personalities like that of former manager Ozzie Guillen, Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago writes. “I think it misses personality and characters and a guy who has had as much success as he has and has much baseball knowledge as he has and has a desire to be in uniform and should be in uniform somewhere,” says Williams. “Hopefully he gets another chance to show it.” Williams and Guillen had their differences when Guillen was with the White Sox, of course. The White Sox allowed Guillen to depart for Miami, where his tenure as manager of the Marlins was brief and unfortunate. He hasn’t managed since, although he’s expressed interest in returning. He now is an analyst for ESPN and ESPN Deportes. Here are more quick notes from around the Majors.
- Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart sees pitching as the key to improving the franchise’s fortune, the New York Times writes. “Everything depends on pitching,” says Stewart. “So as quickly as our young pitchers can mature is going to determine whether we contend or don’t. I know we’re going to hit and catch the ball. Those things are givens.” The Diamondbacks’ emergence will thus depend on young pitchers like Jeremy Hellickson, Rubby De La Rosa, and Archie Bradley, who makes his big-league debut today.
- The Red Sox received inquiries about outfielder Daniel Nava this spring, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe tweets. The team declined to trade Nava despite a surplus in their outfield, however, feeling that Nava was more valuable in a Red Sox uniform than on the trade market.
Red Sox manager John Farrell says the club will start veteran Shane Victorino in right field if he’s healthy, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Farrell added that Victorino is “full go,” indicating that only a setback could change those plans. With Hanley Ramirez the obvious starter in left field, that could mean Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo will compete for the center field job. Others like Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley, Brock Holt, and Daniel Nava appear thoroughly blocked in the outfield. Here’s more from the AL East.
- Dustin Pedroia is healthy and ready to go, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. My take: a healthy Pedroia means that Betts and Holt are also blocked in the infield. Should everybody remain healthy, some kind of trade looks all but inevitable. Several players like Betts, Castillo, and Holt still have options, so the club can stow some major league quality talent at Triple-A if necessary.
- The Rays lost great talent this offseason, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Executive Andrew Friedman tops the list of 13 impactful losses. His departure is mitigated by the presence of Matt Silverman. Rounding out the top five poignant losses include Ben Zobrist, Joe Maddon, Joel Peralta, and bench coach Dave Martinez.
- Blue Jays top draft pick Max Pentecost has undergone shoulder surgery, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca. Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure. Pentecost, a catcher, is expected to resume throwing in about three months.
- The Blue Jays continue to be faced with three big questions, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. They include the identity of their closer, second baseman, and fifth starter. Brett Cecil and Aaron Sanchez are expected to compete for ninth inning duties, although Sanchez could factor in the rotation battle too. Other candidates to start include Marco Estrada and prospect Daniel Norris. Second base will probably go to Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins, or prospect Devon Travis.
- The Yankees are right to allow beleaguered veteran Alex Rodriguez to attend camp, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. It’s surprising to see other writers suggest the club swallow the $61MM remaining on Rodriguez’s contract without at least giving him a chance to provide some value. If he fails to remain healthy, the club can also recoup part of the money via insurance.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Aaron Sanchez | Alex Rodriguez | Allen Craig | Boston Red Sox | Brett Cecil | Brock Holt | Daniel Nava | Daniel Norris | Dustin Pedroia | Maicer Izturis | Marco Estrada | Max Pentecost | Mookie Betts | New York Yankees | Rusney Castillo | Shane Victorino | Tampa Bay Rays | Toronto Blue Jays
Arbitration settlements will continue to trickle in over the coming months, and we’ll be tracking them in our Arbitration Tracker as well as on a daily basis in posts such as this. Here are the day’s minor arb settlements, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz…
- The Red Sox announced that they have avoided arbitration with outfielder Daniel Nava, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Nava will receive a $1.85MM salary. Nava had filed at $2.25MM, while the team countered with a $1.3MM offer. His salary is a bit north of the $1.775MM midpoint between the two figures and just $50K shy of his $1.9MM projection. The 31-year-old Nava enjoyed a solid season at the plate last year but saw a precipitous decline in power, hitting just four homers en route to a .270/.346/.361 batting line. That represents roughly league-average production (100 OPS+), but is also a far cry from his excellent .303/.385/.445 batting line and 12 homers in 2013.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe shares some news and opinions in his latest reader mailbag piece…
- The Rays aren’t looking to trade Alex Cobb, as they see the right-hander as a building block piece. Cobb is under team control through the 2017 season and is only arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter; as Cafardo notes, Tampa only tends to move its stars when they get too expensive.
- Cafardo believes the Red Sox will acquire an ace-level pitcher before Opening Day. Given all of Boston’s other winter moves, “it makes no sense to do all they’ve done…and not go after the ace” to top everything off, Cafardo writes, especially since the Sox have the prospect depth to make a trade happen and already might be over the luxury tax threshold.
- One of those potentially available aces is Cole Hamels, who the Red Sox have been connected to in rumors but “there haven’t been substantiative talks lately.” Cafardo speculates that Boston could be waiting for the Phillies‘ asking price to drop, and the Sox have already turned down one offer that would’ve cost them both Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart.
- Besides getting an ace pitcher, Cafardo also predicts the Red Sox will add another reliever (possibly a hard-throwing lefty) and trade one of Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava or Allen Craig before the season begins. In Craig’s case, Cafardo believes the Sox won’t deal him until they see if he’s productive in Spring Training, as Craig is a valuable bat if healthy.
Team chairman Tom Werner and COO Sam Kennedy have no regrets over how the Red Sox handled their extension talks with Jon Lester, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports, even though the lack of progress led to Lester being traded to Oakland at the deadline. Kennedy felt that there wasn’t anything to regret since the negotiations were amicable on both sides, though Werner wished more talks had taken place. “I don’t want to go back too much, but let me just say that we expected a little more dialogue back and forth than happened. But I’ll take our share of responsibility in that,” Werner said. Both executives said the Sox would look to rebuild the rotation for 2015, and Kennedy hinted that the team’s alleged distaste for long-term deals for pitchers in their 30’s isn’t necessarily as rigid as believed.
Here’s some more from Fenway Park…
- Daniel Nava received some trade interest from the Giants at the July deadline, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. This is just my speculation, but I wonder if San Francisco could pursue Nava again this offseason if Mike Morse isn’t re-signed. The Tigers and Royals were also rumored to be in on Nava last summer.
- Cafardo’s piece breaks down the Red Sox roster and examines who the team should consider trading. Mookie Betts, for instance, seems to be “the Red Sox prospect teams want most in a deal” according to conversations with rival scouts, yet Cafardo feels Betts’ talent and versatility makes him too valuable a piece to move.
- David Ross isn’t sure if he’ll be back in Boston next season or even if his career could be over, the veteran catcher told reporters (including John Tomase of the Boston Herald) yesterday. Ross will be 38 on Opening Day 2015 and he’s been a non-factor at the plate for the last two seasons, though his defense and ability to mentor pitchers and young players in general is greatly respected. John Farrell said Ross is under consideration to return to the Sox next year, and Ross could make sense as a veteran backup to Christian Vazquez.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington chatted with reporters just minutes ago and it’s no surprise to hear his admission that the club was not expecting Xander Bogaerts to struggle to this extent in 2014 (via Tim Britton of The Providence Journal on Twitter). Still just 21, Bogaerts has slashed .226/.293/.339 in 472 plate appearances this season. Earlier this week, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote that the struggles of Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. have left many around the game wondering how good each player truly is. Here’s more out of Boston..
- Peter Gammons (Twitter links) cautions not to read much into waiver trade bites on Bogaerts, Clay Buchholz, Brock Holt, Joe Kelly, Yoenis Cespedes, Christian Vazquez, Burke Badenhop, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks, Daniel Nava, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara.
- Cherington said that he won’t be resistant to trade prospects this off-season, “for the right guy,” tweets Jason Mastrodonato of The Springfield Republican. He added that the club has never been opposed to dealing prospects, but such decisions are “contextual,” tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- The GM wouldn’t give much on the team’s interest in Rusney Castillo. “We are one of many teams interested. That’s all I’ll say,” the GM said, according to Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at some of the recently suggestions put forth by Red Sox chairman Tom Werner to help make the game more marketable to young people.
“Too many people are leaving games in the sixth and seventh innings because they can’t watch 3½-hour games, so they’re leaving the game at the point where the game should be getting exciting,” Werner said. “You wouldn’t make a 3½-hour movie. The NFL makes changes almost on an annual basis. They’re considering making the extra point from 35 yards rather than from the 8-yard line… I respect tradition, but I don’t revere it.”
Among Werner’s ideas: instituting a pitch clock, limiting the number of times a batter can step out of the box, and putting a cap on the number of catcher and pitching coach visits to the mound. More from today’s column..
- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson could be on the hot seat and there has been a lot of speculation about Joe McEwing, a third base coach with the White Sox, or Mike Aldrete, the bench coach for the Cardinals. If Gibson is canned it would mark Tony La Russa‘s first big decision but GM Kevin Towers would also likely to have a say.
- In a chat with Cafardo, David Ross spoke glowingly of the amenities or “little things” that the Red Sox do for their players and Cafardo wonders if that could keep Jon Lester in Boston beyond this season. Lester’s family was always taken care of the team’s traveling secretary and while other teams can offer similar services, the consensus among players who have been multiple places is that Red Sox and Yankees are the teams that offer more to their players.
- Ross tells Cafardo that even though there have been no contract talks with the Red Sox yet, he would like to return. Boston would certainly love for him to keep working with Christian Vazquez, but Ross’s recent bout with plantar fasciitis has slowed him. Ross is finishing up a two-year, 6.2MM deal.
- Daniel Nava drew interest from the Tigers and had interest from the Royals before they traded for Josh Willingham, but he has yet to be put on waivers. It’s not a certainty that he’ll clear and but the Red Sox will likely put him on revocable waivers later in the month to see what type of interest he’ll get. The Sox’ outfield looks crowded next season with Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino, Yoenis Cespedes, Mookie Betts, and Brock Holt all in the mix so it makes sense to see what can be had for Nava.
- In a separate tweet, Cafardo reports Nava, Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara, and Will Middlebrooks have been placed on revocable waivers.
Though Daniel Nava has yet to be placed on waivers, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, he’s already begun to draw trade interest from the Royals and Tigers as the AL Central frontrunners each search for a bat to add to their lineup (Twitter link).
The 31-year-old Nava is hitting just .248/.327/.310 this season, but he carries a significant platoon split and would likely see his overall numbers improve were he to face only right-handed pitching. Nava is a switch-hitter by trade, but his lifetime .207/.287/.300 batting line as a right-handed hitter is unimpressive, to say the least. However, he boasts a .289/.384/.422 triple-slash in his career as a left-handed hitter and is slashing .276/.360/.346 from that side of the dish in 2014. Beyond that, Defensive Runs Saved is a fan of his career work at both outfield corners. Ultimate Zone Rating doesn’t like his glove in left field but has been positive regarding his work as a right fielder.
The Royals could look at Nava as a upgrade (both offensively and defensively) over veteran Raul Ibanez, who has batted a paltry .193/.233/.386 in 60 plate appearances since returning to the team. While Nava’s struggles from the right side make it seem counterintuitive to suggest that he could form a platoon with Nori Aoki, Kansas City could make such an alignment work. Nava could receive the bulk of playing time against right-handed pitching because Aoki, despite being a lefty swinger, has much better career numbers versus southpaws. He’s hit lefties at a .337/.410/.404 clip in 2014 and a .311/.363/.396 clip since jumping from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball to the Major Leagues.
Detroit’s interest in Nava isn’t entirely surprising, given the fact that Andy Dirks sustained a setback in his rehab from back surgery last week (as reported by MLB.com’s Jason Beck). Dirks reportedly strained his left hamstring, and the Tigers aren’t sure when exactly he will be able to get back into games. As such, Nava presents a solid option against right-handed hitters with solid corner outfield defense — a skill-set not dissimilar to that of Dirks. He could pick up some of Torii Hunter‘s at-bats against right-handed pitching, as the veteran outfielder has seen his numbers against right-handers decline (along with his once highly regarded defense). Hunter is hitting just .257 with a .294 OBP against righties this year, though his .438 slugging percentage and 181 isolated power mark against them are both plenty respectable.
As it stands, the Royals would have first crack at Nava on waivers, as they’re a half-game behind the Tigers in what has become a surprisingly tight AL Central race. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Nava would make it to either club, as he would first need to go unclaimed by the Rangers, Astros, Red Sox, Twins, White Sox, Rays, Indians, Yankees, Blue Jays and Mariners — in that order — to reach either AL Central contender. Nava will be arbitration eligible for just the first time this winter and is under control through the 2017 season, so it’s certainly possible that a different AL club would have interest in claiming him. The Indians, for example, who are just five and a half games back in the division, could claim Nava simply to block their rivals from acquiring him. There’d be little risk for Cleveland, given Nava’s modest $557K salary in 2014.
The injury bug has struck the Red Sox again. Mike Carp, who replaced the injured Mike Napoli at first base, under went a CT scan today and it revealed a broken foot, tweets Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. The injury will set off a series of roster moves with Stephen Drew ready to join the club in Cleveland tomorrow. MacPherson tweets the Red Sox will place Carp on the disabled list and and recall Daniel Nava. Garin Cecchini, who made his MLB debut today when Dustin Pedroia was ejected and went 1-for-2 with a RBI double, told reporters (including Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com) he will have dinner with his parents and then report to Triple-A Pawtucket. Prior to the announcement of Carp’s injury, the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber outlined how the Red Sox could juggle playing time with the addition of Drew.
Elsewhere in baseball’s East divisions:
- The Marlins acquired right-handed reliever Bryan Morris from the Pirates earlier in the day and the team is already being criticized for the move. Fangraph’s Dave Cameron opines Morris is a below replacement level pitcher and giving up the 39th pick in the draft for him (an asset worth several million dollars) is “beyond crazy” (Twitter links).
- Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio agrees with Cameron tweeting Morris is not worth past number 39 picks like Lance Lynn (Cardinals), Anthony Ranaudo (Red Sox), and Joey Gallo (Rangers).
- Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill defended the trade to reporters, including the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez. “We had a need,” Hill said. “It was in our bullpen. We were looking for the piece that was the right fit for us in terms of controlling, not just short-term, but long-term, and [Morris] had the stuff to help our club as well.“
- Hill also said the trade “is the first piece” as he attempts to strengthen the second-place Marlins. “I don’t think we’re finished in trying to improve our club. We’re still trying to make as many improvements as we think we can to help this team.“
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com chronicles the development of Red Sox right-hander Rubby De La Rosa from a prospect who had trouble harnessing his potential to the pitcher who tossed seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts Saturday night.
- Right-hander Luis Ayala, who opted out of his minor league deal with the Orioles yesterday, will pitch in Mexico, tweets MASNsports.com’s Rock Kubatko.
In yesterday's Insider-only column, ESPN's Buster Olney broke down the budget problems facing the Orioles this offseason. The team has interest in signing Chris Davis and Matt Wieters to long-term deals, but both are Scott Boras clients and each is just two years removed from free agency. According to Olney, the O's tried to strike up extension talks for Wieters in Spring Training 2013 and were met with a counter-offer in the range of Joe Mauer's eight-year, $184MM deal with the Twins. Coming off the worst offensive season of his career, the price for a Wieters extension is likely down, but that contractual demand shows that the two sides "are speaking a different languague in negotiations," as Olney puts it. More from Olney and the rest of the AL East below…
- Rival executives feel that Jim Johnson represents "the most painless cut" the Orioles could make in order to ease their payroll constrictions, Olney wrote. I agree that for a team with a tight payroll, Johnson's $10.8MM projected salary is too steep a price to pay despite his strong ground-ball and ERA numbers.
- MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski weighs in on Johnson in response to Olney's piece, writing that the decision to non-tender Johnson "would be a bombshell" that he simply cannot picture. Melewski points out that in addition to being one of the team's best arms, Johnson is a leader in the clubhouse and has the complete trust of manager Buck Showalter.
- Even after reaching an agreement to bring Brendan Ryan back into the fold in 2014, the Yankees are still pursuing free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports noted within his report on the Ryan signing. The fit seems a curious one at this point, as the Yankees seem to have bigger needs in the rotation and have already committed $12MM to Derek Jeter.
- Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger writes that the Yankees are expected to meet with Robinson Cano's camp this week. McCullough's piece also includes the highlights from a recent Brodie Van Wagenen appearance on MLB Network Radio. Van Wagenen, the CAA agent who is partnering with Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, said that Jay-Z will be "intimately involved in all areas" of Cano's contract negotiations.
- The Red Sox are likely to dismiss any trade proposals offered to acquire Daniel Nava this offseason, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. As Bradford writes, Nava's ability to play either corner outfield position or even first base gives GM Ben Cherington and his staff the flexibility to cast a wide net of free agent targets. Shane Victorino could play center field with Nava taking one corner outfield spot and Carlos Beltran occupying the other, and he also keeps them from having to get into a bidding war to retain Mike Napoli, Bradford points out in a pair of hypothetical scenarios.