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Grady Sizemore Rumors
The title of the game’s most underrated player has gone to the Rays‘ Ben Zobrist in the past, writes Dave Cameron for FOX Sports, but now belongs to Brian Dozier of the Twins, who has exhibited a similar career trajectory to the late-blooming Zobrist. Showing power that he never carried in the minors, Dozier emerged last year. He has only upped his performance in 2014, with an increasing walk rate, strong defense, and good baserunning combining with that newfound pop to make Dozier one of the game’s most valuable second basemen over the last calendar year. Even better for Minnesota, the 27-year-old will not even be eligible for arbitration until 2016. Certainly, he increasingly appears to be an extension candidate — a possibility that the team has previously explored.
Here’s more from around the American League:
- The Red Sox are considering how to proceed with outfielder Grady Sizemore, who ended the evening with a .218/.293/.336 slash in 133 plate appearances, reports Joon Lee of WEEI.com. Manager John Farrell indicated that a move was not out of the question. “There’s ongoing discussion,” he said, “not just today but for some time. We’re trying to get the best read we can on our guys here. That doesn’t suggest there’s any change imminent.” While Sizemore is set to earn just $750K in base salary on his comeback deal, he does get $250K bonuses for every 25th plate appearance between 225 and 500 as well as for his 60th, 90th, 120th, and 150th day on the roster. As those milestones begin to approach, the team will have increasing incentives to consider alternatives.
- For the division-rival Blue Jays, a move up in the standings only highlights the need to add starting pitching, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. While the results from the rotation have actually been pretty solid, Davidi notes that the staff has failed to go deep into games and still lacks a solid, established group of five starters.
- The struggling Rangers should consider marketing star infielders Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus over the summer, opines Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. While the club has attractive infield prospects rising through the ranks, its rotation looks thin after its recent run of devastating injuries. Adding some young pitching and temporarily shedding salary in advance of a pitching-rich free agent market could better align the club’s resources for a run in 2015, says Morosi.
- In the midst of a difficult stretch at the plate, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has been optioned to Triple-A in favor of Jimmy Paredes. As Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes, the move was not surprising at this point, with the 25-year-old sporting a 152/.223/.320 line. Needless to say, Kansas City will hope that the former top prospect can regain his form with some time in the minors; as Cameron writes on Fangraphs, Moustakas has shown serious contact issues.
- Notably, the demotion comes not long before Moustakas would have passed the key threshold of three years of MLB service (he entered the season with 2.111 to his credit). As occurred last year with Danny Espinosa of the Nationals, Moustakas could see his arbitration and free agent eligibility delayed by a year apiece if he does not make it back to the bigs. The same holds true for Hector Santiago of the Angels, who was recently optioned to the minors after beginning 2014 with 2.024 years of service in the bag.
- With the recent example of Stephen Drew‘s re-signing with the Red Sox, it is time for the Mariners to seriously consider a move to bring back Kendrys Morales, writes Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. The need is now there with Corey Hart joining Logan Morrison on the disabled list, he says, and the club should have the financial flexibility to make it work. Obviously, it is also important to note that the team now has little chance of acquiring a compensatory draft choice arising out of Morales’s decision to decline a qualifying offer. With no obvious alternative suitors for Morales, Seattle should be in a fairly solid position to make a win-win offer.
We covered a couple of Yankees items as part of a New York Notes post earlier today, so now let's take a look around the rest of the AL East…
- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said the team is open to possibly extending the contracts of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes, the GM tells The Toronto Star's Richard Griffin. Bautista (33) and Encarnacion (31) are contracted through 2015 and the Jays have team options on both players for 2016, while Reyes (30) is locked up through the 2017 season. Extensions would take any of the trio well into their late-30's, yet Anthopoulos points to David Ortiz and Carlos Beltran as older players who are still big hitters.
- Also as part of the wide-ranging interview, Anthopoulos discusses his disappointment over the Ervin Santana non-signing, restocking the farm system and more.
- Grady Sizemore will be the Red Sox center fielder on Opening Day, manager John Farrell told reporters (including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald). Star prospect Jackie Bradley was widely presumed the favorite to take over from Jacoby Ellsbury as Boston's new center fielder this season, yet Bradley struggled to hit in Spring Training and will start the year at Triple-A. Sizemore, meanwhile, enjoyed a big spring and proved he was healthy after missing the last two seasons. Sizemore signed a $750K minor league deal with Boston this winter that could be worth as much as $6MM if Sizemore meets all the incentives.
- Farrell said that Sizemore will still receive regular rest in order to keep him fresh. Since this will free up some outfield playing time, FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi wonders if the Red Sox could be in the market for a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play all three OF spots.
- Red Sox sports-medicine coordinator Dan Dyrek played an important part in both convincing Sizemore to sign with Boston and in getting him back in playing condition, Sizemore tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Dyrek was “the first guy who has understood not only how it happened but what caused it and how to fix it and how to prevent it from happening again,” Sizemore said.
- The Orioles plan to have Jonathan Schoop on the Opening Day roster, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets. Schoop will play both second and third base, splitting time with Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Flaherty, respectively. The 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook ranked Schoop as the fifth-best prospect in the Baltimore farm system, and Schoop fought his way onto the 25-man roster thanks to a huge Spring Training.
Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino chatted with Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com yesterday and informed Edes that his club and designated hitter David Ortiz have continued to work on an extension over the past few weeks. Ortiz himself told Edes that things were looking good in extension talks, and Edes feels that there's "little doubt" the two parties will agree on a new contract, perhaps before the end of Spring Training.
More news and rumors out of the AL East as you gear up for the weekend…
- MLB.com's Phil Rogers takes a look at Grady Sizemore's remarkable Spring Training, noting that the former Indians All-Star is improbably closing in on a job as Boston's Opening Day center fielder. Rogers offers several quotes from manager John Farrell, who was the Indians' director or player development when Sizemore was working his way through their minor league ranks.
- Stephania Bell of ESPN.com reports that Dr. Neal ElAttrache has lifted all physical restrictions for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in his rehab from last season's knee injury. Machado has been slowed a bit by mild calf and hamstring strains but is nonetheless free to proceed to the final stages of his rehab. Opening Day is still questionable for the 2013 All-Star, however.
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter was irritated that ESPN received quotes from ElAttrache before the doctor had relayed the information to himself and the team, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Connolly adds that the Orioles might keep Machado playing in minor league games so they can increase the amount of at-bats he gets and also back-date a potential DL stint earlier so that he can be activated before the 15th day of the regular season if ready.
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that he's proud of his scouting and player development departments, as they've taken a bottom-three farm system and progressively improved it. Asked if he felt that the club's core players would be homegrown five years from now, Duquette said, "That is the only way to do it. I don't know any other way to do it."
- After arriving to camp late due to a visa issue, Juan Carlos Oviedo threw a simulated game to live hitters yesterday, according to MLB.com's Bill Chastain. However, Rays manager Joe Maddon still thinks it could be a long-shot for Oviedo to make the club. Said Maddon: "It became obvious, in spite of the fact that he's throwing the ball well, what really comes rushing to your mind is this guy hasn't been pitching in a while. … And so now you're going to rush him back under these circumstances? It might not be a good idea."
How do teams take players from promise to big league production? Grantland's Jonah Keri takes a look at some different developmental approaches for players approaching MLB readiness, most of them from AL clubs. The Twins, for example, advance players based upon their readiness to fill a need at the MLB level, while the Rays pay close attention to service time in a bid to maximize the value of each player asset. Here's more from the American League:
- The Indians are still believed to be discussing an extension with second baseman Jason Kipnis, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. With just two years and 69 days of service, Kipnis will not reach arbitration eligibility until next year (though he received a relatively sizeable $554,900 contract from Cleveland for the coming season). As Hoynes notes, there is an interesting comp in the Cardinals' recent six-year, $52MM extension of Matt Carpenter, an older player with less service (and, on the whole, a less impressive overall track record).
- Grady Sizemore is an increasingly plausible option not just to break camp with the Red Sox, but to beat out Jackie Bradley Jr. for the center field job, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. He has shown enough for the club (and, perhaps, Sizemore) to dare to dream, even if manager John Farrell is still preaching caution. But the skipper also joined those offering praise for Sizemore's performance thus far in camp. "The fact that Grady's having encouraging signs in spring training is not a bad thing for Jackie Bradley or for anybody," Farrell said. "It means we've got another good player. Grady gives us the potential to build another talented and deep roster."
- Though an achilles tear ended Mark Mulder's comeback bid this year with the Angels, the 36-year-old says that does not mean he is giving up entirely, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. "Barring a setback, or me not being able to pitch with my ankle for some reason, I don't see why not," Mulder said. "My arm's still going to be the same next year."
Here's a quick look in at the American League East:
- With Red Sox outfielder Grady Sizemore progressing towards cracking the team's Opening Day roster, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford provides the details of his incentive-heavy contract. If Sizemore breaks camp, he would earn a $250K bonus and draw a $750K base salary. He can, as previously reported, boost the total value to $6MM if he were to hit all incentives. Here's how: $250K each for reaching 60, 90, 120, and 150 days in the big leagues; $250K for each increment of 25 plate appearances from 225 to 500; and a slate of award bonuses (including $50K for being named AL Comeback Player of the Year).
- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado says that his $519K contract for 2014 is "disappointing," reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Of course, with less than two years of service, Machado had little choice in the matter. The two sides have yet to discuss the possibility of an extension, though Connolly says there are "indications" that talks could take place once the health of the 21-year-old's left knee is more certain. Machado maintains that he would "love to be an Oriole forever," noting that his only wish is "to be treated fairly."
- The Yankees have drawn significant trade interest in backstop Francisco Cervelli, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Among the teams giving the catcher a look is the White Sox. Though the out-of-options, 28-year-old Cervelli figures to have the inside track on the reserve role for New York, the club has several other viable options to back up Brian McCann (as MLBTR's Steve Adams recently explained).
In his column last night, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe discussed several matters concerning the American League East. From a transactional perspective, Cafardo says not to be surprised if David Ortiz asks the Red Sox to break the $20MM barrier in adding a year to his current contract. Here's more from the AL East:
- Early returns on Red Sox outfielder Grady Sizemore are positive, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. Hitting coach Gregg Colbrunn said that his swing has "all the good things you look for" in spite of his long layoff, while manager John Farrell said that Sizmore has been at "full speed" on the bases and in the field. Of course, notes Mastrodonato, the club has maintained that it is mostly focused on gauging whether Sizemore can maintain his health over a draining season.
- We heard earlier today that the Orioles have approached J.J. Hardy about opening extension talks. From Hardy's perspective, the shortstop tells ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, he still has not heard much about how things might shape up. "I don't know how that will all play out," Hardy said. "We'll see. I'm actually going to meet with my agent. And we're going to talk a litle bit about what could happen. And he'll kind of fill me in … because I don't really know much."
- Rays GM Andrew Friedman covered a variety of topics on the MLB Network Hot Stove show (transcript via Cork Gaines of Rays Index). Friedman said that the club still feels it will be tough to hold onto ace David Price for the long haul, but that its "mindset is to enjoy each and every day we have David here and do everything in our power to continue that relationship." The likely ultimate scenario — a trade — could take any form, explained the Tampa GM, whose assessment of the Price situation reflects the franchise's general operating strategy. "[W]e really can't have any hard and fast rules about anything," said Friedman. "So we have to be really prepared and nimble. The more prepared you are, the easier it is for you to react more quickly when things pop up. And that's what we have to do is to remain very fluid and not ever get into a situation where we have to make a certain move. But to continue to kind of assess the market and figure out when things kind of line up in our time horizon of what makes the most sense for us to sustain success."
- While the Yankees' money surely played a substantial role in landing Masahiro Tanaka, the club did not just rely on making the highest offer, reports Brandon Kuty of the Star-Ledger. With Pacific advisor George Rose leading the charge, the Yanks put together a series of gestures intended to convince him of their longstanding interest in Tanaka and overall experience with Japanese ballplayers.
Via Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio that his team has about a 50/50 shot of adding a significant free agent pitcher. Nicholson-Smith writes that the Jays know the asking prices of pitchers like Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana but aren't prepared to overpay a free agent. Here's more out of the AL East…
- The Yankees are weighing a run at Stephen Drew now that they've blown past the luxury tax threshold, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. A person familiar with the team's thinking told Heyman that a pursuit of Drew would still depend on the price, however. ESPN's Buster Olney reported the other day that the Yankees weren't likely to make any major additions following the Tanaka signing.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com that despite signing Grady Sizemore to a Major League deal, there are no guarantees that the former Indians star will make the Opening Day roster. Cherington didn't rule out a minor league assignment for Sizemore.
- Also from Mastrodonato (on Twitter), Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters at tonight's BBWAA dinner, "We're going to have Jackie Bradley in center field." Mastrodonato adds that Cherington said, "We believe in Jackie Bradley."
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier examines the Red Sox' wealth of pitching depth. Speier writes that while it would seem logical for the Sox to deal from their perceived surplus, the majority of top pitching prospects simply don't pan out. Speier points to a study from Camden Depot's Matt Perez that looks at the history of Baseball America's top prospects, revealing that even in the most successful stretch for those prospects, just over one of four became solid Major Leaguers.
- Asked about his potential grievance with the Orioles at today's press conference, new Rays closer Grant Balfour told reporters, including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times: "I'm not going to comment on it. We'll see what happens. I'm here to stay. I have a contract with the Rays, and anything else that's going to happen on that part will be taken care of, and we'll move forward. That's not going to affect anything I've got going here. I'm moving on. I'm glad to be here, really happy to be here."
Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs took a stab at evaluating Grady Sizemore, who signed yesterday with the Red Sox, but ultimately concludes that there is too much uncertainty to make a projection reasonable. Here are some more notes on Sizemore and another notable signing from yesterday:
- The Reds offered a big league deal to Grady Sizemore and expected to land him, tweets Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "He changed his mind," GM Walt Jocketty told Sheldon.
- Discussing his decision to sign with the Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka expressed excitement with joining the game's most historically prominent club, the Associated Press reports (via the New York Times; video available via MLB.com). "They gave me the highest evaluation and are a world famous team," said Tanaka, who said his goal is to win a World Series in pinstripes.
- One oft-mentioned concern with Tanaka was his heavy usage in Japan. Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker posted Tanaka's actual pitch counts from last season, which he found in an Isao Chiba article from Shukan Baseball. Last year, the hurler threw 2,981 pitches over over 211 innings in 27 starts, or 109.7 pitches per start last year. (He also threw one inning in relief.) For reference, Clayton Kershaw — who is less than a year older than Tanaka — has exceeded 3,000 pitches in each of the last five seasons (last year, 3,428) while averaging around 104 to 105 pitches per start in his last four campaigns.
- The Cubs' final offer to Masahiro Tanaka was for six years and $120MM, a source tells Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com (Twitter link). That amount does not include the $20MM release fee.
- Chicago was competitive in terms of years and dollars, a source tells David Kaplan of CSN Chicago and WGN Radio (Twitter link), but the Cubs refused to include an opt-out after four years. That position certainly seems to make sense from the perspective of the rebuilding Cubs, especially, since much of the allure of Tanaka is in his ability to deliver value at the back end of his contract.
Jon Rauch is close to signing with a team, MLBTR's Zach Links reports (Twitter link). The 35-year-old posted a 7.56 ERA in 16 2/3 IP with the Marlins last season and also made 10 appearances for the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate after signing a minor league contract with the O's in June. Despite his outlier of a 2013 season, Rauch has been a solid right-handed bullpen arm for much of his career, posting a 3.65 ERA, 2.79 K/BB and 7.2 K/9 over 549 2/3 IP from 2004-2012.
Here's some more news as we wrap up a busy Wednesday around baseball…
- The Braves only offered Eric O'Flaherty a one-year contract to remain with the team, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (via Twitter). Though O'Flaherty underwent Tommy John surgery last May and will miss at least part of the 2014 season, he still scored a two-year, $7MM deal from the A's earlier today.
- Yuniesky Betancourt will decide on his new club within the week, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link). Betancourt was drawing interest from several teams, potentially even as a starter.
- Also from Cotillo, there is "strong interest" in right-hander Todd Coffey. At least nine of the 14 teams who attended Coffey's throwing session last week want to see his second session. Coffey is looking to return to action after missing all of 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
- Much of the Indians' success at the plate last season was due to their lineup flexibility and use of bench players, a trait that MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince believes could be somewhat difficult to duplicate in 2014, though Carlos Santana's proposed attempt to play third base would be a great help in that department.
- The Twins didn't have any interest in Grady Sizemore this winter, though the club checked in on him last summer, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter).
- "Another issue with a physical does nothing to enhance the Orioles' reputation in the industry, which is taking a two-fisted beating this winter," Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes in regards to the news that Baltimore's agreement with Tyler Colvin has been delayed due to a problem with the outfielder's physical. Kubatko wonders if the O's could be trying to get Colvin to sign a minor league contract instead of a Major League deal, as the club did last offseason when it wasn't satisifed with Jair Jurrjens' physical.
- The Phillies liked Masahiro Tanaka and engaged in "cursory negotiations" with his representatives, but GM Ruben Amaro told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the team wasn't prepared to go beyond five years to sign the Japanese righty. The Phillies seem likely to go into 2014 with their current pitching options, as they only would've exceeded their payroll limitations for "an exception" like Tanaka.
Earlier tonight, the Red Sox agreed to sign Grady Sizemore to a one-year, $750K deal that could balloon to $6MM if he reaches all of his incentives. The three-time All-Star was once the face of the Indians franchise but thanks to some unfortunate injuries, he hasn't been on the field since 2011. Sizemore finally felt ready to come back and multiple teams came calling this winter when Sizemore's reps at CAA Sports put out word that their client was healthy and ready to return to baseball. The Reds, in fact, seemed right on the cusp of inking him to a contract until earlier today, when GM Walt Jocketty said in a radio interview that a deal wouldn't be happening. However, when I asked Sizemore how close he was to donning a Reds jersey, he downplayed the seriousness of that talk.
"Honestly, I was talking with multiple teams and I was kind of exploring every option that I could," Sizemore said on this evening's conference call. "In the end, I thought the Red Sox gave me the best opportunity to succeed and that's why I went with these guys."
The Red Sox, Sizemore said, have been talking to him since the start of the offseason, but things truly ramped up in the last "two or three weeks." I asked Sizemore what made the Red Sox the most attractive option of any club and he explained that his familiarity with a few members of the Boston staff coupled with the medical game plan that they laid out for him made them the winner.
One might assume that the opportunity to play center field appealed to Sizemore but he says that he didn't have a positional preference, just a desire to get significant playing time. More than anything, Sizemore sounds like a player who is thrilled to finally be on the path back to MLB.
"It's been frustrating. No one likes to deal with injuries and I've had my fair share. Hopefully that's behind me now. I'm just looking forward to moving on and starting the second half of my career."