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Links from the NL East…
- There's little question within the Mets organization that Travis d'Arnaud will become the team's starting catcher at some point this year, Mike Puma of the New York Post writes. However, d'Arnaud will start the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, barring an injury. By keeping d'Arnaud in big league camp, the Mets are running the risk that he'll get injured and start picking up MLB service time while on the disabled list, Michael Baron of MetsBlog.com notes.
- The Braves front office doesn't seem concerned about the possibility that their lineup will strike out often in 2013, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. Martino also discusses the re-branding of the Braves in the post-Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox era. “We like talent,” one Braves person said.
- Don't be surprised if Mike Minor of the Braves and Domonic Brown of the Phillies are among the players who break out in 2013. ESPN.com's Keith Law includes these players on his list of former top prospects poised for big performances in the coming season.
In 2008, Kyle Lohse waited until March to sign and landed in the place he'd call home for five seasons — St. Louis. Spring Training is underway again, and Lohse again remains unsigned. However, unlike 2008 when he had a career 4.82 ERA, Lohse is coming off a 3.11 ERA over his past 399 1/3 innings. ESPN's Buster Olney talked to a longtime MLB evaluator who says in addition to draft pick compensation, AL teams are wary of Lohse's poor AL track record. The evaluator also added that teams shy away former Cardinals pitchers, as they often struggle to find success elsewhere (Twitter links).
More from around the Majors…
- Phillies ace Cliff Lee told Jayson Stark of ESPN that he was "baffled" by the way the Rangers treated Michael Young in his final years with the team. Lee called Young the "perfect teammate" and the "heart and soul" of the Rangers team. "…in my opinion, you want guys like Michael Young around," said Lee, who was reunited with his former teammate after the Phillies traded for him this winter.
- Both Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins have offered strong praise for Phillies prospect Domonic Brown this Spring, writes David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News. Murphy opines that both players feel this is the time to finally give Brown a chance to be an everyday Major Leaguer.
- Michael Weiner, the exeutive director of the MLB Players Union, spoke with reporters (including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca) about drug testing and the possibility of more severe punishment for players who have been discovered to have multiple offenses in the past. Weiner discusses the fine line between representing players who are subject to discipline and attempting to enforce a clean game. Weiner also says that after Spring Training, there will be discussions about whether or not the new qualifying offer system is working as intended, given the damage to Lohse's market.
- Former Twins, Rangers and Astros minor leaguer Mark Hamburger has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive on two instances for recreational drug use, according to Baseball America's Matt Eddy. Hamburger, a free agent after being released by Houston earlier this month, would have to serve out his suspension upon signing with a new team.
Padres starter Edinson Volquez is eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, but his preference is to sign an extension with San Diego, says Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Before considering a new contract, the Padres want to see Volquez improve his control, Center notes. Volquez allowed 105 walks in 2012. Here are more notes from around baseball…
- The Dodgers' surplus of starters is yet another factor working against Kyle Lohse as he tries to find a suitable deal this winter, rival officials tell Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). Teams looking for pitching can pick up the phone and call the Dodgers to ask about Chris Capuano or one of their other available starters. Lohse is obviously a stronger option, but he's also more expensive and teams have less flexibility than they did earlier this winter.
- Pitcher Kyle Davies agreed to a minor league deal with the Twins that does not include an invite to big league camp, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. The 29-year-old owns a career 5.59 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 across seven big league seasons.
- New Indians outfielder Michael Bourn says that the offseason market for his services took a turn for the worse after the Twins traded not one, but two center fielders in Denard Span and Ben Revere, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reports. The trades of Span and Revere took the Nationals and Phillies out of the market for a center fielder. "I was looking at that like, ‘Man, are you serious?' Those were two teams I pretty much thought would be fighting for me," Bourn says.
- The Phillies discussed trading Domonic Brown to the Astros this offseason, Jon Heyman reports (on Twitter), but the Phils, still low on talent in the outfield, are reluctant to deal him. The former top prospect is current competing for time in left field with the Phillies.
- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons hints that the club might turn to Josh Thole or Henry Blanco, rather than J.P. Arencibia, to catch R.A. Dickey, Richard Griffin of TheStar.com reports. The Jays will go with a personal catcher for Dickey, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm notes. Arencibia wants to catch for Dickey, but Thole and Blanco both caught Dickey and his knuckleball when Dickey played for the Mets.
As players, coaches, and front office personnel begin to arrive in Florida and Arizona for Spring Training 2013, let's take a look at the news and notes from the National League:
- The Phillies were surprised Ben Revere was available and, in fact, it was the Twins who brought his name up in trade talks after dealing Denard Span to the Nationals, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer's Bob Brookover.
- Within the same article, Brookover writes the struggles of Domonic Brown were one reason the Phillies were forced to alter their offseason blueprint. "We were hopeful that Domonic would lock down one of those corner outfield spots," GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He did not do that. He still may do that…but we can't necessarily count on that to happen. Because of that, then we were kind of filling all three outfield positions."
- MLB.com's Mark Sheldon provided additional contract details for some of the players the Reds have signed within the last month including right-hander Logan Ondrusek, who has more than two dozen different escalators, incentives, and bonuses written into the two-year deal he signed last month.
- Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio, and Jeff Francis are near locks for the first four slots in the Rockies' starting rotation leaving Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich, Tyler Chatwood and Chris Volstad jockeying for the fifth spot, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.
- MLB.com's Thomas Harding tweets the candidates for the Rockies' rotation change daily, but the final two spots could come down to Nicasio, Pomeranz, and Chatwood.
- Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations, envisions the recently signed Chone Figgins in a Alfredo Amezaga-type role, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel. Amezaga played every position, except pitcher and catcher, during his four-year stint in Miami.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Ben Revere | Chone Figgins | Chris Volstad | Christian Friedrich | Cincinnati Reds | Colorado Rockies | Domonic Brown | Drew Pomeranz | Jeff Francis | Jhoulys Chacin | Jorge de la Rosa | Juan Nicasio | Logan Ondrusek | Miami Marlins | Philadelphia Phillies | Ruben Amaro Jr. | Tyler Chatwood
5:25pm: The deal appears to be a longshot to happen, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The Phillies were uninterested in Soriano when first presented with the possibility but warmed up to it enough to consider it.
4:31pm: The Phillies have discussed a deal with the Cubs that would net them Alfonso Soriano in exchange for Domonic Brown, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, the Phillies might be more inclined to sign a free agent, such as Cody Ross or someone else.
The Cubs are believed to be willing to pay $26MM of the $36MM remaining on Soriano's deal if they can get quality prospects in return. The Phillies like Soriano offensively but have reservations about his defensive play, despite his improvement last season. Soriano, who will turn 37 next month, hit .262/.322/.499 with 32 home runs in 615 plate appearances.
Ross would be a better fit for the Phillies' budget than fellow free agent outfielders Nick Swisher and Josh Hamilton. Earlier today we learned that the Mets have kicked the tires on Ross, but would be unwilling to make a commitment to him beyond two years. The Phillies, Braves, Mariners, Red Sox, Yankees, and Orioles have all been linked to Ross so far this offseason.
Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels created a stir last night by admitting he hit Nationals rookie Bryce Harper intentionally. Though Harper didn’t publicly express frustration at being hit, GM Mike Rizzo fired back at Hamels this morning. The details and other NL East-related notes…
- Rizzo called Hamels' act the most "classless, gutless" thing he's seen in his career, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school,” Rizzo said. “He’s fake tough." I’d recommend reading Kilgore’s entire piece for the details.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports points out that Hamels won't be signing with the Nationals next offseason and writes that Rizzo will be lucky if he is not reprimanded for his comments.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com notes that there's "nothing doing" with respect to an extension for Hamels (Twitter link).
- Morosi expects Harper to stay in the Major Leagues for good, since he's played too well to be sent down to the minor leagues (video link).
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Rizzo's comments were an overreaction to legitimate old school play from Hamels (video link).
- Bill Ladson of MLB.com suggests the Nationals may make a trade instead of relying on Xavier Nady and Roger Bernadina in left field (Twitter link).
- Jim Callis of Baseball America hasn't given up on Phillies prospect Domonic Brown despite his struggles. Brown could still hit for a high average with 20 homers per season to go along with plus speed and arm strength, Callis writes.
Earlier today we heard that the Nationals are discussing a contract extension with Ryan Zimmerman and that the agent for Cole Hamels doesn't think Jered Weaver's five-year $85MM deal is that relevant for his client. Here are some more notes on the NL East, starting with Hamels’ teammates in Philadelphia…
- GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said on MLB Network Radio that the Phillies are operating carefully because they’re up against the luxury tax, Jim Bowden tweets.
- Amaro said Ty Wigginton will play first base regularly until Ryan Howard returns from the disabled list, Bowden tweets. Jim Thome will also get occasional starts at first.
- Amaro said he expects to platoon John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix in left field, Bowden tweets. Unless Domonic Brown wows his bosses in Spring Training, he’ll head to the Phillies' Triple-A club.
- There’s an expectation that the Marlins will try to trade Juan Carlos Oviedo, and the reliever told Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he’s mentally prepared for a deal. “It's a business,” he said. “I'd like to stay in Miami, but those are things they decide.”
- Many baseball people still view the Nationals as the favorite to sign Prince Fielder, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.
The latest on Athletics lefty Gio Gonzalez, a 26-year-old who is under team control through 2015…
- Talks between the Phillies and A's on Gonzalez were brief, tweets Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group. Stiglich says the A's didn't like Domonic Brown enough as a centerpiece.
- The Blue Jays are one of 12 teams in on Gonzalez, reports Susan Slusser (Twitter links).
- Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News hears from multiple sources that the Rangers inquired on Gonzalez, but moved on after the A's asked for Martin Perez, Mike Olt, and Leury Garcia.
- The D'Backs were kicking the tires on Gonzalez but don't expect it to go any further, a source tells Nick Piecoro. Jon Paul Morosi would be shocked if Gonzalez is not traded by Opening Day.
- The A's will not trade Gonzalez at the Winter Meetings, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post, as they're using their Dan Haren haul as parameters and no one has come close yet. Four years ago, A's GM Billy Beane acquired Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland, and Greg Smith from the Diamondbacks for Haren and Connor Robertson.
- The Phillies are definitely out on Gonzalez now, tweets Danny Knobler. They would have dealt Kyle Kendrick or Joe Blanton had they acquired him.
- The A's seek players with zero or little big league experience for Gonzalez, tweets Danny Knobler.
- The Diamondbacks are pushing hard to acquire Gonzalez, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Danny Knobler tweets that the Tigers inquired but did not like a price tag that included Jacob Turner, while the Phillies don't look like a match. Ken Rosenthal says the Nationals, Tigers, Reds, D'Backs, Phillies, and Marlins are pursuing Gonzalez.
- There is some buzz about A's reliever Craig Breslow being of interest to the Phillies as well, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- The Phillies and Athletics discussed a package deal involving Gonzalez and outfielder Domonic Brown, tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network and ESPN.com.
Tim Dierkes and Luke Adams contributed to this post.
Some news from the NL East…
- "Folks seem to think the Nationals are going to make [a] big play for C.J. Wilson," tweets Jon Heyman from Sports Illustrated. Heyman thinks the Nats will offer Wilson a contract worth around $75-80MM. In August, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes thought Wilson could fetch a $100MM deal this winter given the lack of quality starters in the free agent market, but Wilson's postseason struggles will probably prevent him from that nine-figure contract.
- Dealing Domonic Brown or keeping him in the minors in 2012 would be a short-sighted move for the Phillies, argues CSNPhilly.com's Casey Feeney.
- "With supply seemingly exceeding demand" on the free agent closer market this winter, the Mets can look beyond the biggest names (Heath Bell, Francisco Rodriguez, Ryan Madson and Jonathan Papelbon) and still find a solid closer at a reasonable price, writes Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Rubin also says the Mets are looking for another left-handed reliever to pair with Tim Byrdak, as the club worries that Danny Herrera will become less effective as opponents become more familiar with him.
- The Marlins haven't discussed moving Hanley Ramirez away from shortstop or asking Ramirez about a position change, club president David Samson tells MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- From that same piece, Samson says the Marlins will be "very active" this winter with their expected rise in payroll. "We're going to be very aggressive, but we're not going to be foolish," Samson said. "That's the key. When you raise your payroll, you've got to do it smartly, because if you don't, you are losing 90 games at a higher payroll."
- The Braves haven't yet decided if they will exercise Eric Hinske and Nate McLouth's 2012 options, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. McLouth's $10.65MM option will certainly be bought out for $1.25MM, that's a no-brainer. As for Hinske, he's a useful reserve — he can play first base and both corner outfield spots, and he had a .754 OPS against right-handed pitching last season. Hinske's option is worth just $1.5MM so my guess is Atlanta brings back the former AL Rookie of the Year.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. talked to reporters today at Citizens Bank Park, and David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News has the transcript. Highlights:
- If the Phillies don't re-sign closer Ryan Madson, Amaro will go outside the organization for a replacement, he told reporters including MLB.com's Todd Zolecki today. Madson, a Scott Boras client, could be a tough sign. Amaro said he talked to Madson yesterday, and the righty is excited about free agency. The Phillies can at least get a couple of draft picks as a consolation prize. Heath Bell, Jonathan Papelbon, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Frank Francisco, Joe Nathan, and Francisco Rodriguez are also on the free agent market.
- Amaro said he'd like Domonic Brown to spend another full season in Triple-A (Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer with the tweet). Brown, one of the game's top prospects prior to the season, hit .245/.333/.391 in 210 plate appearances in the Majors this year. Most of Brown's starts came prior to the team's acquisition of Hunter Pence. Amaro says Brown has some work to do in left field, a position that will be an "open competition" for the 2012 Phillies.
- Amaro does not think Ryan Howard's torn Achilles tendon will impact the team's offseason moves.
- Free agent signings are more likely than trades.
- The Phillies are still discussing Roy Oswalt's $16MM option internally. Amaro says that "might be a tough one." The Phillies' front office has also internally discussed extending Cole Hamels.
- The Phillies' payroll is expected to be similar to this year's.