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Gerald Laird Rumors
Per the latest iteration of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, players with six years of service time who finished the 2014 season on a 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL but signed Minor League deals over the offseason are entitled to a $100K retention bonus if their new team wishes to assign them to the Minor Leagues. Otherwise, they must be added to the MLB roster or Major League disabled list. Players who do receive the retention bonus are also given June 1 opt-out dates in their Minor League pacts.
MLBTR’s Jeff Todd ran down a list of this year’s Article XX(B) free agents earlier in the month, and we’re now arriving at the juncture of Spring Training where decisions must be made on these players — the deadline will come at 11am CT tomorrow. Many such players have already been released or granted their release today (some will re-sign with the teams that released them, as Chris Perez did in Milwaukee), but here are updates on players who were paid this bonus or learned that they’ve made their respective teams…
- Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets that utility man Kelly Johnson has made the Braves‘ 25-man roster. Johnson inked a Minor League pact that included a yet-unreported base salary. His versatility, the organization’s familiarity with him and the fact that the 32-year-old slashed a hefty .273/.396/.523 with a pair of homers in 54 plate appearances this spring likely all factored into the decision.
- The Nationals will pay left-hander Rich Hill the $100K retention bonus, tweets James Wagner of the Washington Post. The 35-year-old yielded a pair of runs in 7 1/3 innings this spring and will give the Nats some left-handed relief depth. Of course, the Nats also just traded away some lefty relief by dealing out-of-options southpaw Jerry Blevins and his $2.4MM salary to the Mets.
- Padres catcher Wil Nieves has received a $100K retention bonus, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Nieves is still in the running for the team’s backup catching slot, Lin adds. Tim Federowicz was slated to be the team’s backup, but knee surgery has sidelined him for the next several months. The team must make a final call by this Sunday.
- The D-Backs and catcher Gerald Laird and agreed to a five-day extension that will allow him to remain in big league camp, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (on Twitter). Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic adds some clarity, noting that Laird still received the $100K retention bonus but will have the opportunity to fight for a roster spot (Twitter link). The five days will give the Snakes a bit more time to determine whether or not they want to take the veteran Laird north with them to open the season.
- The Blue Jays have paid the $100K retention bonus to both Johan Santana and Munenori Kawasaki, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Both players were on Minor League deals, but Santana didn’t get into a game with the big league club as he continued to rehab from injury. Kawasaki hit .333/.481/.571 in 27 plate appearances but didn’t make the big league roster. He’ll head to Triple-A and wait for a call to the Majors in an organization with which he is quite familiar and where he is quite popular among the coaches and his teammates.
- Right-handers Brad Penny and Jesse Crain both received retention bonuses from the White Sox, Passan also reports (on Twitter). The duo will remain in the Minors in the hopes of a spot opening with the big league club. Penny struggled to a 6.89 ERA in 15 2/3 innings this spring, though little can be gleaned from such a small sample, and he did issue only four walks along the way. Crain, like his former Twins teammate Santana in Toronto, didn’t pitch in a big league game as he continued to rehab from injuries that cost him the entire 2014 season in Houston.
- Both Geovany Soto and Matt Albers, on the other hand, have made the White Sox‘ roster and will be added to the 40-man, Passan reports in the aforementioned tweet. Presumably, Soto will be in the mix for everyday at-bats behind the plate following a strong spring performance. Albers will slot into the bullpen and bring an experienced arm to serve as a right-handed setup option. Soto’s base salary is an unknown, wheres Albers stands to reportedly receive a $1.5MM base for making the club.
The Diamondbacks will sign veteran catcher Gerald Laird to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). Laird is represented by CSE.
The 35-year-old Laird struggled to a .532 OPS with the Braves in 167 plate appearances last season but has been an otherwise serviceable option behind the dish in a backup capacity in recent seasons. Laird batted .281/.350/.373 in 332 plate appearances between the Tigers and Braves from 2012-13 and should have an excellent chance to pick up some playing time in Arizona, given the team’s remarkable dearth of options behind the plate.
The Diamondbacks currently project to have journeyman Tuffy Gosewisch and 21-year-old Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez splitting the bulk of playing time behind the plate. However, Gosewisch is 31 years old and has just a .213/.225/.287 batting line in 179 career big league plate appearances. Hernandez is lauded for his defensive capabilities but has yet to even reach Class-A Advanced; he hasn’t played beyond the Class-A Midwest League.
Given the lack of anything resembling an everyday catcher behind the dish, it was somewhat stunning to hear GM Dave Stewart publicly state that his team wouldn’t further pursue any catchers, though perhaps he meant via the trade market or on Major League deals. Arizona thinks incredibly highly of prospect Peter O’Brien due to his impressive power, but few scouts outside of the D-Backs organization have expressed a belief that O’Brien can handle catcher from a defensive standpoint.
The Dodgers‘ front office shakeup isn’t over yet. As Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles reported first, the Dodgers announced that they have hired Gabe Kapler as their farm director and Padres scouting director Billy Gasparino as their new director of amateur scouting (All Twitter links). Additionally, the team will hire Red Sox special assignment scout Galen Carr, per Saxon, though his role in the Dodgers’ front office is yet unreported. The Dodgers, of course, have already poached Andrew Friedman from the Rays (president of baseball ops) and Farhan Zaidi from the A’s (GM) in addition to hiring former Padres/D’Backs GM Josh Byrnes as their new senior VP of baseball ops. The new-look group is made up of some of the most respected executives from around the game.
Here’s more from the game’s Western divisions…
- On a conference call with Padres season-ticket holders last night, general manager A.J. Preller spoke candidly about the team’s interest in Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas (Twitter link): “We’ve had the chance to see Yasmany Tomas and we’re in the process of determining his value for the Padres. We’re in the game.” San Diego has been said to be one of the front-runners for Tomas, and he’d certainly provide the team with some much-needed offense if he lives up to the hype surrounding him.
- The Rangers will be on the lookout for a backup catcher to pair with Robinson Chirinos this offseason, writes MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Sullivan looks at the crop of free agents and notes that A.J. Pierzynski, Gerald Laird and J.P. Arencibia have all played with the Rangers in the past, but he wonders if the team will spend a bit more money on a name like Nick Hundley rather than bringing in familiar faces.
- The Angels announced today that they have promoted Mike LaCassa to assistant director of player development and promoted Jonathan Strangio to manager of Major League Operations (Twitter link).
Roy Halladay's season (and Phillies tenure) could be ended by his upcoming shoulder surgery, and the veteran right-hander took it upon himself to apologize to Phillie fans before Friday's game. "You feel an obligation to the organization, to your teammates, to the fans to try to go out and pitch. Especially on a competitive team that sells out. For me, that was a big factor," Halladay told reporters (including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer). Halladay hopes to return to the mound in three months though it remains to been how the 36-year-old will respond to the surgery.
Here's the latest from around the division…
- The Marlins' policy against no-trade clauses isn't an insurmountable obstacle to the team's business, opines agent Scott Boras. "I think the no trade policy does affect franchise players. But the number of franchise players in free agency are pretty rare," Boras told reporters (including Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald). "The Marlins in my mind you've got a number of players who like the geographical dynamic of what Miami offers. You've got a footprint now. It's not a wish and a hope."
- The Marlins' injury problems have forced the team to promote prospects like Jose Fernandez, Derek Dietrich and Marcell Ozuna to the Major Leagues earlier than expected, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes. "I don't know if it messes up the plan," president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "You've got to do what you've got to do….Right now, we're so buckled by the amount of injuries to key players. I don't know if we've taken a step back to say, 'OK, is this going to mess up the master plan?' We're trying to make sure Red [manager Mike Redmond] has 25 guys every day, which has been tough."
- Edwin Jackson picked up his first win of the season in the Cubs' 8-2 victory over the Nationals today. Jackson told James Wagner of the Washington Post that he was interested in returning to the Nats last year but the team passed on negotiations after he turned down their one-year qualifying offer. Jackson ended up finding long-term security in the form of a four-year, $52MM deal with the Cubs.
- With Brian McCann back from the DL and Evan Gattis hitting well, the Braves could look to trade catcher Gerald Laird, speculates MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Since this could be McCann's last season in Atlanta, however, Bowman thinks the Braves will keep Laird as a veteran mentor to Gattis in 2014.
- Some other items about the Phillies, Nationals and Mets were covered earlier today by MLBTR's Jeff Todd in an edition of National League Notes.
SATURDAY: Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears the deal is worth $3.3MM total, but he cautions that he doesn't have the exact figure yet (Twitter link).
FRIDAY: The Braves have agreed to sign Gerald Laird to a two-year contract, the team announced. The Braves expect the CSE client to add value in a reserve role.
“Gerald gives us a proven Major League veteran behind the plate,” Braves GM Frank Wren said. “He was high on our list of off-season goals and we are fortunate to acquire a catcher with his level of experience, not only in the regular season, but also in the postseason.”
The 33-year-old catcher hit .282/.337/.374 with two homers in 191 plate appearances for the Tigers last season, his best offensive year since 2008. Laird is a career .244/.303/.359 hitter in the big leagues and has thrown out approximately 27% of attempted basestealers over the last three years.
Laird, 33, hit .282/.337/.374 with two homers in 191 plate appearances for the Tigers last season, his best offensive year since 2008. He's a career .244/.303/.359 hitter in the big leagues and has thrown out approximately 27% of attempted basestealers over the last three years.
This post was originally published on November 15th.
Here's the latest from the home of the American League champion Tigers….
- The Twins might not receive much more than a No. 4 starter in exchange for Josh Willingham, an AL executive tells Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities Radio. "There's no doubt Josh has a very good contract, but I really doubt a team would trade a viable starting pitcher for a guy with a strong bat but who is limited defensively," the executive said. "It's a lot easier to find a left-field or DH-type than to trade a good starting pitcher for one and then have to backfill the rotation spot." The 33-year-old Willingham is owed $14MM through 2014 and posted an .890 OPS last season, but another AL executive says Denard Span is a better trade chip for Minnesota.
- The Orioles have asked the Twins and Royals about Willingham and designated hitter Billy Butler, reports MLB.com's Paul Hagen. Both the Twins and Royals are desperate for pitching and while the O's have some good young arms, I don't think Baltimore has the pitching depth to spare in either the majors or minors.
- The Tigers want to keep backup catcher Gerald Laird but he will probably leave for a team that will give him more playing time, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
- The Tigers are generally active early in the offseason, though FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link) thinks this won't be the case this winter as the club's plans were pushed back by their World Series appearance.
- Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sees Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera as a good trade target for the Cardinals, and he suggests a few young Cards prospects who could go to Cleveland in exchange for the All-Star.
It's been a busy morning for the Tigers, who announced today that they're bringing back Jhonny Peralta, Octavio Dotel and manager Jim Leyland. Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski recently addressed the media, discussing the 2012 team and the Tigers' offseason plans. George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press has the highlights from the briefing (all links go to Twitter):
- The Tigers won't bring back Delmon Young, since they expect Victor Martinez to DH in 2013. Jose Valverde won't return either, according to Dombrowski.
- The Tigers will tender Brennan Boesch a contract, but they're in the process of removing Don Kelly from the 40-man roster. Dombrowski wasn't prepared to discuss the future of non-tender candidate Ryan Raburn.
- The Tigers want to re-sign free agent right-hander Anibal Sanchez, Dombrowski said.
- Free agent catcher Gerald Laird could return, but that's not a sure thing.
- Hard throwing relief prospect Bruce Rondon draws lots of trade interest, according to Dombrowski. "You would not believe the number of clubs that call me about Rondon," the GM said.
- Earlier today John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press took a position by position look at the upcoming offseason for the Tigers.
FRIDAY: The Tigers announced the deal. It's a one-year contract for $1MM, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
Laird, 32, spent the 2009-2010 seasons in Detroit after coming over in a trade with the Rangers. He hit just .232/.302/.358 in 108 plate appearances with the World Series Champion Cardinals this past season, throwing out just four of 20 attempted basestealers. The move allows the Tigers to use Victor Martinez as a full-time DH.
10:23am: The Tigers aren't close to a deal with Shoppach, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (on Twitter).
10:04am: The Tigers are close to signing a catcher, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Free agent Kelly Shoppach is one of the team's targets and Morosi reported earlier in the week that the Tigers are considering Jose Molina, Matt Treanor, Ramon Castro and former Tiger Gerald Laird as possible backups.
Alex Avila will start for the Tigers, who want Victor Martinez's bat in the lineup every day. GM Dave Dombrowski has said the Tigers view Martinez as the team's regular DH and third catcher, which means the team is on the hunt for someone who can spell Avila regularly.