Miami Marlins Rumors
Even though most of Alex Rodriguez's 2014 salary will be wiped out by his season-long PED suspension, the controversial slugger's contract is still ranked as the worst in baseball by Grantland's Jonah Keri. Of Keri's list of the 15 worst contracts in the sport, the Dodgers have four, the Yankees, Angels and Braves each have two and the Reds, Rangers, Phillies, Blue Jays and White Sox have one each.
Here are some items from around the baseball world...
- The Reds and Homer Bailey are "still talking" about a multiyear contract, GM Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "There has not been a lot of progress, but good conversations anyhow," Jocketty said. Bailey's arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 20 and there is a $2.9MM gap ($11.6MM to $8.7MM) between his demands and the Reds' offer for a 2014 contract. This is Bailey's last season under contract with Cincinnati and the two sides are reportedly far apart on a long-term deal. Sheldon suggests that the Reds will be watching the Indians' case with Justin Masterson, as he and Bailey have posted comparable numbers over the last three years and Masterson is also scheduled to be a free agent next offseason.
- The Pirates offered A.J. Burnett a $12MM contract for 2014, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). This obviously fell short of the $16MM Burnett received from the Phillies earlier today.
- The Twins aren't one of the teams interested in Emilio Bonifacio, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter). Bonifacio cleared release waivers and became a free agent earlier today. The Orioles are known to be one of at least nine teams interested in the speedy utilityman.
- Also from Wolfson, a Twins official said that the club "had extensive talks" about Erisbel Arruebarruena but he was judged to be too expensive. The Cuban shortstop agreed to a deal with the Dodgers today that could be worth as much as $25MM.
- The Cubs can afford to be patient in trading Jeff Samardzija, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan argues, as teams may be more willing to meet Chicago's large asking price once the free agent pitching market thins out and teams get more desperate once the season begins.
- Right-hander Josh Roenicke is drawing interest from a "handful of teams" and could be signed soon, a source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Roenicke posted a 4.35 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.25 K/BB rate in 62 relief innings with the Twins in 2013 before being outrighted off Minnesota's roster in November.
- Also from Cotillo, right-hander Blake Hawksworth has retired. Hawksworth posted a 4.07 ERA and 1.85 K/BB over 124 games (eight as a starter) with the Cardinals and Dodgers from 2009-11 before elbow and shoulder injuries derailed his career. Hawksworth has taken a job with the Boras Corporation, his former agency.
- Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed the club's recent signing of Carlos Marmol with Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
- Luis Ayala chose to sign a minor league deal with the Nationals since they (as the Expos) were the franchise that originally signed him and he still has many friends in the organization, the veteran reliever tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Several teams were linked to Ayala this offseason but the bidding came down to the Nats, Tigers and Phillies.
After seeing a cup of coffee with the Fish back in 2010 as a catcher, Hatcher shed his gear and took to the hill, reaching the bigs again in the very next season from the opposite end of the battery. The double-duty man has produced solid results throwing in the upper minors, but has not found success at the MLB level. Hatcher has thrown just 33 2/3 innings of 7.22 ERA ball over the last three seasons.
32-year-old righty Rich Harden is not retiring, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Though he has not played professionally since 2011, and had a comeback bid with the Twins fall apart last year due to multiple, ongoing injury issues, Harden will apparently give it another go. Harden has been brilliant at times in his career, and owns a lifetime 3.76 ERA over 928 1/3 innings (including 9.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9).
Here are a few more notes to round out the evening:
- One factor in Bronson Arroyo's decision to sign with the Diamondbacks rather than the Orioles, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, was the fact that Baltimore had scrapped deals with Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin over concerns with their physicals. The O's offer was on par with that of the D-Backs: it was for slightly less guaranteed money, but carried a greater third-year option value. While Connolly writes that other factors -- including a preference for the NL West -- certainly played a role, he says that the risk of a deal falling apart at this stage of the off-season weighed substantially in Arroyo's decision-making process.
- The Marlins have made clear that they hope to extend star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, but MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports that Stanton still wants to see what the organization does moving forward. "I want some team security as well," Stanton said. "I'm very pleased with how things panned out for me. But I would like to see it grow. I have my security, somewhat now. I'd like to see a team full of that, which we are going in the right direction." The 24-year-old slugger inicated that he does not expect to engage in talks until after the coming season. "In order for the team to have security," he said. "that doesn't happen in two seconds. That happens over a season or over two seasons. You show me that, and we can get something going."
- A major factor in the rebuilding process of another NL East club -- the Mets -- is the development of young catcher Travis d'Arnaud. Though he struggled at the plate in limited action last year, the backstop comes with an excellent pedigree with the bat. Promisingly, moreover, he also showed signs of adding value in another area, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com: in his short season of work at the MLB level, d'Arnaud flashed outstanding pitch-framing ability.
The choice between the promise of millions of dollars in America and remaining in Cuba isn't a simple one for many Cuban athletes, writes Dan Le Batard in a piece for ESPN the Magazine. Using the experience of his own parents as an example, Le Batard, a Cuban-American, explains that fleeing Cuba to begin life anew in a foreign country can mean leaving behind one's friends and family forever. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez spent two months in a Cuban prison camp after one failed escape attempt, but he tells Le Batard that his first few lonely months in America were worse. Jose Contreras, another Cuban pitcher, had to attend the funeral of his father via cellphone after defecting.
Let's take a look around the AL and NL East:
- The Marlins' roster is coalescing quickly following the Jeff Baker signing, which may leave just one bench position open, notes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Frisaro says Miami's strategy this offseason was to create as much competition as possible. Jake Marisnick, a promising prospect who struggled in his 2013 debut, appears headed for the minors.
- Orioles baseball operations chief Dan Duquette maintains that he's focused on winning now despite his club's quiet offseason, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. "We've been looking for a veteran starter to bolster our staff all winter, and hopefully we'll be able to sign one," Duquette said in a radio interview this week. "Every pitcher that we are involved in, that we're trying to recruit to come to Baltimore, there's four or five teams on each of these pitchers."
- The Yankees are making upgrades to their minor-league complex in Tampa, Fla., including a cafeteria for players and field refurbishments, reports Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News. The Yankees have also added to their player development staff, bringing in more scouts and a statistics guru, following a season that saw struggles up and down their farm system.
The Marlins have designated outfielder Jimmy Paredes for assignment to create roster space for Jeff Baker, the club announced. The 25-year-old utilityman had been claimed in November off of waivers from the Astros.
Paredes saw limited action over the last three years in Houston. In 2013, he put up a .192/.231/.248 line in 135 trips to the plate. Seeing most of his time at Triple-A last year, Paredes was good for a .287/.345/.462 line at that level. He does have some speed as evidenced by his 166 stolen bases over seven minor league seasons, though he is just 11-for-20 in the majors. Primarily a second baseman in the minors, Paredes has seen most of his big league time in the outfield and at third.
The Marlins have agreed to a one-year, $1.25MM deal with reliever Carlos Marmol, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (Spanish language link). The 31-year-old former Cubs closer is a client of Kinzer Management Group.
Sporting a 5.86 ERA after 27 2/3 innings in the midst of his eighth season with the Cubs, Marmol was dealt to the Dodgers for Matt Guerrier in a deal that seemed more about international bonus slot money than the players involved. Yet both Marmol and Guerrier flourished with the change of scenery, and each looks to have a good chance at a job for the coming season. The former threw to a 2.53 ERA in 21 1/3 innings for Los Angeles, though his 11.4 K/9 mark was still offset by a troubling 8.0 BB/9 during that time.
Indeed, the trick for Marmol has never been getting batters to miss his offerings; it has been getting his offerings not to miss the strike zone. He has posted a walk rate of under six-per-nine only three times in his career (2007, 2008, 2011). Meanwhile, he has maintained a career 11.7 K/9 and has only dipped below the 11 K/9 level over one season (last year) since converting fully to relief. Marmol saved 117 games for the Cubs over his tenure, but presumably he will slot in front of Miami 9th inning man Steve Cishek.
11:43am: MLBTR has confirmed that Roe signed a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
7:23am: The Marlins will sign right-hander Chaz Roe, reports MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (on Twitter). Roe, 27, cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Rangers last week. The Sosnick/Cobbe client rejected an outright assignment from the club and elected free agency yesterday. He was said to be deciding between two clubs last night after six teams had shown interest in signing him.
Though he struggled with his command in his Major League debut last season -- he walked 13 batters in 22 1/3 innings -- Roe also posted a solid 4.03 with 24 strikeouts and an outstanding 57.1 percent ground-ball rate. He works primarily with a fastball/slider combination and averaged 91.4 mph on his heater in the Majors last year.
Roe struggled in the minors in 2010, posting a 5.98 ERA with the Rockies' Triple-A affiliated before posting an even more discouraging 6.59 ERA with the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate in 2011. The following season, Roe pitched for the independent league Laredo Lemurs and converted to the bullpen full-time after having spent most of his career as a starter. The shift worked wonders, as he posted a brilliant 1.55 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 55 innings. That led to a minor league deal with the D-Backs, with whom he made his big league debut after posting an even more impressive 1.11 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 at the Triple-A level.
Freddie Freeman's eight-year, $135MM extension with the Braves is a "foreboding barometer" for the Marlins when considering a Giancarlo Stanton extension, writes Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel. Rodriguez points out the similarity in service time for each player, noting that one more strong season would only make it more expensive for the Fish. Stanton already has a large edge in power, though his durability could be questioned in extension talks. More from baseball's Eastern divisions...
- The Orioles will scout Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, an industry source tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The 26-year-old has batted .319/.383/.516 over the past five seasons in Serie Nacional. The speedy Castillo comes with experience at both outfield corners as well as second and third base. The Dodgers are known to have scouted him as well, but he's yet to be cleared by OFAC to sign with a big league club.
- MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski looks at David Lough's long path to the Majors and writes that Orioles hitting coach Jim Presley has been a fan of the 28-year-old since seeing him with the Royals last year. Lough hopes to win the starting left field job in Baltimore this Spring.
- Orioles lefty Troy Patton, who is suspended for the first 25 games of the season, told Melewski that he took Adderall to improve his focus and energy at one point and called it a "stupid mistake." Patton's suspension could have an impact on Brian Matusz, Melewski continues, as the team was looking at giving him another crack as a starter. However, without Patton in the bullpen, the O's would be without their two primary lefty relievers to open the year in that case.
- The Mets are still unwilling to commit multiple years to Stephen Drew, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Agent Scott Boras continues to wait out the market, but it's fair to wonder if Boras will have to drag a few "mystery teams" into the mix for Drew.
1:35pm: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Baker will earn $1.6MM in 2014 and $2.1MM in 2015.
1:16pm: The Marlins and Jeff Baker have agreed to a two-year deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The New York Post's Joel Sherman tweets that Baker is guaranteed $3.7MM and has an additional $500K of incentives built into each year of the deal. Baker's agent, Scott Boras, said last night that he was nearing agreements for four of his clients, including Baker.
The 32-year-old Baker slashed .279/.360/.545 in 2013 thanks in large part to his Herculean numbers against left-handed pitching. Baker has never been one to handle same-handed pitching well, and he showed that last season with a .204/.250/.286 line against righties in just 52 plate appearances. However, in his 123 PAs against southpaws, Baker mashed at a .314/.407/.667 clip. In his career, he's a .298/.353/.522 hitter against lefties.
Baker's splits make him a natural platoon partner at first base for Garrett Jones, who the Marlins also signed to a two-year deal earlier this offseason. Baker also comes with experience at second base, third base and both outfield corners, making him a valuable bench piece whose versatility should serve sophomore manager Mike Remond well.
Baker also drew interest from the Giants, Nationals and Rangers at varying points this offseason. The Marlins' willingness to guarantee a second year seems likely to have pushed them to the front of the pack, though that's just my speculation.
Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today; so, according to legend, there will be six more weeks of winter. But, for baseball fans, spring does begin early this year when pitchers and catchers for the Diamondbacks (February 6) and Dodgers (February 8) report one week earlier than the other 28 MLB teams because of their season-opening series in Australia. Here's today's news and notes from the National League:
- Marlins President David Samson told reporters, including MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, the team is still looking to add some depth. "Certainly, you're looking at some potential non-roster invites," said Samson. "We're looking to bring people in to compete, because you just don't know. What we've learned over the years is you have injuries. The more depth you can have going into a camp, the better it is." The Marlins have invited 26 non-roster players to camp and Frisaro notes another reliever or two could be added to that total.
- The Reds have had a lackluster offseason, but still have a good strong core of starting pitching and position players to be very competitive in the NL Central, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com in a readers inbox column.
- Within the same article, Sheldon shot down any notion the Reds would have interest in Ichiro Suzuki citing his age, salary, and defensive limitations.
- Suk-Min Yoon held a workout on the campus of UC-Irvine Friday attended by the Giants and Orioles, per a report from SBS (h/t Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net). Earlier this week, it was reported four clubs had extended offers to the Korean right-hander with negotiations underway with two of those teams. The Twins, Red Sox, and Indians have been linked to Yoon this offseason with varying degrees of interest.