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George Kottaras Rumors
The Indians have signed catcher George Kottaras, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. It's a minor-league deal, but Heyman writes that it's likely the Indians will promote Kottaras soon. Kottaras is represented by All Bases Covered.
The Cubs acquired Kottaras from the Royals in November, then released him last week after he lost their backup catcher battle to John Baker. Kottaras hit .180/.349/.370 in 126 plate appearances with the Royals last season.
The Indians currently have just two catchers on their 40-man roster, Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana, and Santana is currently slated to play mostly third base. The team could option fellow third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall to make room for Kottaras in the short term, although they would have to make additional moves once Michael Bourn and Jason Giambi return from injury.
Baseball was back in Montreal yesterday, with the Mets and Blue Jays squaring off at old Olympic Stadium. Of course, its former occupant — the Expos — now plays its games in Washington, DC. It is good to see the ballpark filled once again with fans donning caps featuring the team's classic logo. Jared Diamond and Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal take a look at the latest on the possibility of baseball landing back in Montreal on a more permanent basis. Here are some notes from the National League:
- The Phillies are easing into their use of analytics, as a supplement to traditional scouting writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. But statistical analysis has already informed several decisions, such as the signing of Roberto Hernandez. "Our scouts and our analytics people looked at the middle-of-the-road, back-end starters," said GM Ruben Amaro Jr., "and we felt like he would be a good choice for us." Philadelphia likes his ground-ball rate and believes his sky-high HR/FB% will come back down to earth. The team also hopes to join the trend of utilizing shifts.
- In a lengthy profile of Cubs president of baseball ops Theo Epstein, ESPN The Magazine's Tim Keown writes that the 40-year-old is full of optimism about his organization's direction. One key change in Chicago has been the flow of information, which has been modernized under Epstein's direction. "The currency of the draft is information," Epstein says. "Scouting information, statistical information, makeup information, medical information. In each of those buckets, we have to drill deeper if we want to have an advantage." And while some of the strategic maneuvering to secure draft picks is now no longer possible, Epstein says that does not change the other key input in acquiring young talent. "Now you're left only with how well you can scout," he says. "It's gone from strategy and scouting to just scouting."
- One veteran that the Cubs probably had higher hopes for is catcher George Kottaras, who was released on Wednesday. The 30-year-old has a handful of suitors, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com, and is trying to decide on the best opportunity.
- The Braves are not only hoping to do something new with their planned ballpark, by building it in conjunction with a mixed-use development, but will buck the trend of putting new baseball parks downtown, writes Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The piece offers a nice discussion of the preliminary plans, which include designing the park's exterior in a "transparent" manner that will allow it to remain integrated into the overall development project.
The Cubs have requested release waivers on catcher George Kottaras, reports Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (via Twitter). He had been picked up for cash from the Royals earlier in the offseason, and would have been owed $1.075MM for the coming season.
The 30-year-old backstop had a .180/.349/.370 line in 126 plate appearances last year. He has a lifetime mark of .214/.324/.406. For what it's worth, the Oliver projection system actually likes Kottaras to be an above-average MLB regular if he was given a full season of plate appearances.
11:43pm: The Rangers are scouting the Cubs, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports, and perhaps not just because of Kottaras. The Cubs also have infielders Darwin Barney and Donnie Murphy. The Rangers like Barney better, Sullivan writes.
4:50pm: In the wake of Soto's injury, the Rangers are considering acquiring George Kottaras of the Cubs, Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com tweets. Kottaras currently projects to back up Welington Castillo in Chicago, but the Cubs are reportedly considering rostering John Baker instead. Kottaras, 30, hit .180/.349/.370 in 126 plate appearances for the Royals last year. In response to Soto's injury, the Rangers have already signed Chris Snyder to a minor-league deal.
The Rangers also looked at Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks today, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel tweets. As Haudricourt notes, Weeks' $11MM salary could be an impediment to a trade. Weeks hit .209/.306/.357 in 399 plate appearances with the Brewers last year.
12:08pm: Texas has checked in with several clubs with catching depth, including the Yankees, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Though Francisco Cervelli may be available, Olney says that there does not appear to be a fit between those two clubs.
10:50am: The Rangers have had trade talks in a bid to add depth at catcher and/or second base, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. The expected starters at those two spots — catcher Geovany Soto and second baseman Jurickson Profar — are each expected to miss ten to twelve weeks to open the year.
While it would be pure speculation to guess at possible trade partners in this kind of scenario, we can look at the available free agent pool for other alternatives. With the list growing as final roster decisions are made, Texas could look to players like Tony Abreu, Ronny Cedeno, or Cesar Izturis for the middle infield. Meanwhile, available catching options include recently-released players like Ramon Hernandez, Chris Snyder, and Yorvit Torrealba.
Of course, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote yesterday, it could be that the greater concern is with the state of the rotation. That is all the more true now, with this morning's report (via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News) that ace Yu Darvish will miss his Opening Day start and undergo an MRI to determine the cause of his stiff neck.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
With tonight’s non-tender deadline looming, several players figure to not only be tendered contracts but agree to their 2014 salaries prior to 11pm CT. We’ll run down the players to avoid arbitration with their respective clubs in this post, and remember that you can track the progress on all arbitration eligible players by using MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker. For a reminder on the projected salaries for each of these players, check out Matt Swartz’s projections in MLBTR’s Arbitration Eligibles series.
- The Nationals announced they’ve avoided arbitration with righty Ross Ohlendorf, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Ohlendorf’s deal will guarantee him $1.25MM and can reach $3MM via incentives that can be achieved as a starter or reliever, per the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with utility infielder Donnie Murphy, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com (via Twitter), agreeing to a one-year, $825K pact that includes incentives.
- The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Steve Pearce for $850K, tweets Rosenthal.
- The Padres have reached terms with pitcher Eric Stults on a $2.75MM deal to avoid arbitration, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He had been projected by Swartz to earn $3MM through arbitration. Unlike most arbitration deals, tweets Rosenthal, this one will be guaranteed. Also getting a guaranteed deal from the Padres, per Rosenthal, is righty Tim Stauffer at $1.6MM.
- The White Sox have avoided arbitration with catcher Tyler Flowers with a $950k contract, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- The Athletics have avoided arbitration with righty Fernando Rodriguez, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Rodriguez, who is represented by Metis Sports Management, LLC, will earn $600K plus award bonuses, MLBTR has learned. The A’s will tender contracts to its remaining arb-eligible players, Slusser notes via Twitter.
- The Indians have avoided arbitration with relievers Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood, the club announced. Each player will earn $560k, tweets Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, which falls below their respective projections from MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.
- Newly-acquired catcher George Kottaras has reached agreement on a one-year, $1.075MM deal to avoid arbitration with the Cubs, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The contract includes incentives, according to Heyman. A left-handed batter, Kottaras managed only a .180 batting average last year, but got on base at a .349 clip in addition to posting a .370 slugging mark in his 126 plate appearances.
- The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Nolan Reimold, sources tell Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (link to Twitter). The 30-year-old will get a one-year, $1.025MM deal that includes incentives. Reimold lost most of the last two seasons to injury, but has a career .252/.327/.439 slash in 1,056 plate appearances dating back to 2009. His salary will be guaranteed, tweets Connolly.
- The Phillies have avoided arbitration with infielder Kevin Frandsen, the club announced. Frandsen will receive a one-year, $900k deal that includes performance incentives. Last year, Frandsen had a .234/.296/.341 slash line in 278 plate appearances. The deal is guaranteed, Rosenthal tweets.
- The Braves announced that they have avoided arbitration with infielder Ramiro Pena and left-hander Jonny Venters (Twitter link). Pena, 28, batted a solid .278/.330/.443 in 107 PAs this season before shoulder surgery ended his season. Venters’ contract was first reported two weeks ago and is said to be worth $1.625MM.
- MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with Don Kelly by agreeing to a one-year, $1MM contract for 2014. Kelly will turn 34 in February and batted .222/.309/.343 in 2013 — all numbers that are nearly mirrored by his career .229/.290/.344 batting line. He is represented by LSW Baseball.
- The Pirates have avoided arbitration with Chris Stewart, according to Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal (on Twitter). Barbarisi reports that the trade sending Stewart to Pittsburgh was actually in place on Friday but was also contingent on Stewart agreeing to a new contract with the Pirates. Stewart, a client of James A. Kuzmich, PLLC, agreed to his new contract today, thereby finalizing the trade. He projected to earn $1MM, per Swartz.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Stewart | Cleveland Indians | Detroit Tigers | Don Kelly | Donnie Murphy | Eric Stults | Fernando Rodriguez | Frank Herrmann | George Kottaras | Jonny Venters | Kevin Frandsen | Nolan Reimold | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | Ramiro Pena | Ross Ohlendorf | San Diego Padres | Steve Pearce | Tim Stauffer | Transactions | Tyler Flowers | Washington Nationals
3:12pm: The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan tweets that the Cubs will send cash to the Royals for Kottaras, who will compete for the backup job in Spring Training.
Kottaras, 30, hit .180/.349/.370 in 126 plate appearances for the Royals in 2013. Kottaras has outstanding plate discipline and power for a catcher, as evidenced by his career 14 percent walk rate and .192 isolated power mark. He struck out in 33.3 percent of his plate appearances in 2013, however, and has whiffed at nearly a 23 percent clip throughout his career.
Kottaras, 30, hit .180/.349/.370 in 126 plate appearances for the Royals in 2013. Kansas City recently signed catcher Francisco Pena to a big-league deal, adding him to the 40-man roster. That gave them four catchers on their 40-man: Kottaras, Pena, Salvador Perez and Brett Hayes. Kottaras had a projected 2014 salary of $1.2MM and was a non-tender candidate.
SUNDAY: The Angels are said to like Chris Snyder and Ramon Hernandez with ex-Angel Bobby Wilson, in camp with the Yankees, an interesting possibility, tweets Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times. MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez adds Rod Barajas and Wil Nieves, both with the Diamondbacks, and Brett Hayes and George Kottaras, both with the Royals, as other possibilities.
FRIDAY: The Angels "have been out looking for a backup catcher," tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
The team entered the spring hoping that former high-end prospect Hank Conger would lay claim to the back-up spot behind starter Chris Iannetta. As Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times explored back in February, the team was also considering two journeymen, John Hester and Luke Carlin. Still young at 25 and offering a natural complement to Iannetta's right-handed bat, Conger seemed the obvious choice if he could move past his history of inconsistency and injury.
Despite Conger's excellent start on the offensive side of the plate this spring, however, he has struggled behind the dish. While manager Mike Scioscia has previously expressed confidence that Conger would rein in his wildness in the throwing game, Conger made three errors with his arm last Sunday. Entering his final option year, the Angels could elect to allow Conger to work out his issues back in Triple-A Salt Lake. For their part, Hester and Carlin have limited track records at the major league level and are sporting anemic batting lines in pre-season action.
If the Halos are unwilling to let Conger test his arm in a real game, the club may be looking at limited options for an upgrade. A glance at MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker reveals Matt Treanor as the lone unsigned, free agent backstop. Barring a more significant trade, the Angels could consider dealing (or scouring the waiver wire) for a more established option as teams like the Diamondbacks and Rockies decide which of their veteran catching options will make their opening day rosters.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
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.
- Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ is unhappy with the possibility of beginning the season in the bullpen or at Triple-A Buffalo, and he will "probably" speak to GM Alex Anthopoulos about it, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reports. Happ got bumped from the Jays' rotation plans when they traded for Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey this offseason.
- Indians pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched three innings in a minor-league game on Saturday, but he's running out of time to make the team, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. Matsuzaka left his previous start after one inning with a calf injury. Matsuzaka is a Type XX(B) free agent, so the Indians have to decide by March 26 whether to add him to their 25-man roster. If they don't, Matsuzaka can ask to be released, or can accept a minor-league assignment with a $100K retention bonus and an opt-out date of June 1. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that the Indians will likely go with a rotation of Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers, Zach McAllister and Scott Kazmir, in which case Matsuzaka wouldn't make the team.
- Evan Longoria is aware of the big expectations associated with the six-year, $100MM contract extension he signed with the Rays in November, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "It's an insane number," says Longoria. "I feel the same way that I felt with the last contract, but there's just, I don't know if there could be more of a desire, but there is still obviously a strong, strong desire to live up to it."
Kottaras hit nine home runs and posted a .211/.351/.415 batting line in 209 plate appearances last year. Oakland acquired the 29-year-old from the Brewers for Fautino De Los Santos in July. He'll earn $1MM in 2013 and will remain under team control as an arbitration eligible player through 2015.