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Houston Astros Rumors
The Astros are among the clubs “looking at” righty Kevin Correia, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Houston is still looking to add depth to the back of its rotation after missing on Ryan Vogelsong, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported yesterday.
Correia’s most recent work does not inspire much confidence. But he does have a track record of logging innings, a fairly clean medical sheet, and the ability to generate groundballs at a league-average or better clip.
The 34-year-old pitched to a 5.44 ERA over 154 frames last year with the Twins and Dodgers. He has put up triple-digit innings tallies annually since 2007, and registered an average of 178 with a 4.19 ERA over 2012-13.
For the Astros, the Evan Gattis deal took away one possible starting piece in Mike Foltynewicz, as did last year’s Jarred Cosart swap. Even with Dan Straily now in the mix, uncertainty over Brad Peacock‘s timetable certainly seems to leave room for another arm.
Of course, there are several other clubs that are in a similar position. While Correia is hardly the most exciting option available, his market is yet another reminder that plausible big league starting pitchers are rather a rare commodity.
News out of the AL and NL West..
- The Astros have had an eventful offseason, but it sounds like most of the heavy lifting has been done already, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. “I don’t know if we’re going to sign anybody on a major league deal, but there’s possibilities we’d bring another pitcher on the NRI (non-roster invitee) basis,” General Manager Jeff Luhnow said.
- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki isn’t stressing out about the constant trade talk surrounding him, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. “In this game you never get relaxed,” Tulowitzki said. “Anything can happen. I’ve heard a few people say, ‘As soon as I thought that I was going to stay somewhere, that’s when I got traded.’ So I won’t go there. Whatever they do, they do. Whatever happens, happens.” At this stage of the offseason, it seems unlikely that the shortstop will be moved, but he says that he’s prepared for any possibility. Tulowitzki is currently rehabbing a surgically repaired left hip labrum.
- The Padres pulled the trigger on the Matt Kemp blockbuster thanks in large part to Logan White and his knowledge of the player, as Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego writes. “He had some good insight into Matt Kemp — the person, the makeup,” Padres VP of scouting operations Don Welke said of White. “One of the things he does that fits in with what A.J. [Preller] and I do is getting to know the person, background and family — going into all that. He’s very good at that.” White, whose current priorities include filling out his pro scouting staff, likely will have a significant role in the Padres’ international efforts going forward.
“Just because we didn’t win doesn’t mean it didn’t work out,” insisted Bautista. “It helped build a core for our team. And the last two years we’ve added to that core. I think the players really appreciate the commitment that [General Manager] Alex [Anthopoulos] has made to building our team.”
Here’s more from today’s column..
- One prominent baseball official feels that free agent pitcher James Shields has not been marketed properly by his camp. Few doubt Shields’ talent, but some have the notion that he isn’t a strong postseason pitcher. Meanwhile, a few executives suspect that the Blue Jays could become interested in his services if the club can convince Rogers Communications to shell out the money. At present, however, Toronto only has the budget to allow for a bullpen upgrade or two.
- Over the weekend, David Price reiterated that he would “absolutely” consider a long-term deal with the Tigers. Entering his walk year, Price doesn’t want to eliminate a big-market team from contending for his services, Cafardo writes. Still, it’s believed he’ll hit free agency and go elsewhere.
- With the Astros losing out on Ryan Vogelsong, they might turn their sights to comparable free agents such as Chris Young, Kevin Correia, and Kyle Kendrick.
- Recently, Cafardo asked Orioles manager Buck Showalter if he’d be interested in being a GM, which was a tough question for him to answer given that Dan Duquette is still with the O’s. Still, Showalter is already involved in personnel decisions and if Duquette leaves, Cafardo writes that he’d be at the helm along with talent evaluator Brady Anderson and a new GM. Recently it was reported that the O’s have a list of candidates for the job if it opens up and that includes names like Ned Colletti, Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya, and Kevin Towers.
Here’s the latest from baseball’s two Texan clubs.
- The Astros have asked third baseman Matt Dominguez to prepare to play first base, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Last week’s trade for Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily has pushed Dominguez into a competition for the third base job, and the club is hoping to get more flexibility out of the former prospect. Dominguez, 25, will compete with Jon Singleton and Evan Gattis. To Dominguez’s favor, he could form a traditional platoon with the left-handed hitting Valbuena. Both Dominguez and Singleton have options, giving the Astros roster flexibility.
- Houston is still looking for a starting pitcher, tweets Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. The club will probably target a NRI. Per Drellich (also Twitter), it’s not the end of the world if the club doesn’t find somebody. The club does seem to have plenty of rotation depth, with Straily looking like the sixth starter.
- The Rangers are hunting for relief help, reports Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. In particular, the club would like to add a left-handed reliever to supplement Robbie Ross, Michael Kirkman, and Alex Claudio. As GM Jon Daniels points out, there aren’t many lefties remaining in free agency – MLBTR lists only seven. We learned earlier today that the Rangers were uninterested in re-signing Neal Cotts.
The Astros nearly signed Ryan Vogelsong, but after Vogelsong took his physical with the Astros, he went another direction and re-signed with the Giants. Vogelsong later said he “really wasn’t comfortable with what was going on” with the Astros, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle notes. Vogelsong’s agent, Dave Meier, later said Vogelsong simply meant he wasn’t comfortable with the fact that negotiations were falling apart. Vogelsong also later added that his wife wanted to stay in San Francisco. As Drellich notes, though, Vogelsong’s phrasing was odd, and it’s unclear exactly why the two parties weren’t able to agree on a deal. “[E]verything that’s happened to me this offseason — and one of these days I’ll tell you guys all about it, when we’re all sitting around having a couple beers 10 years from now when I’m done playing — and you’ll go, ‘There’s no way that happened,’ and I’ll say ‘Yup,’ and you’ll understand what I’m talking about,” Vogelsong says. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- The Mariners could still re-sign outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to a minor-league deal, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. “He wants to give it a shot,” says assistant general manager Jeff Kingston. “Full disclosure, there are some veteran non-roster players we’re still talking to, and we probably will add a few more here before the start of camp.” The 31-year-old Gutierrez hit .248/.273/.503 in 2013, hitting a remarkable ten home runs in 151 plate appearances, but he missed the 2014 season with gastrointestinal issues.
- Athletics closer Sean Doolittle has a slight rotator cuff tear in his throwing shoulder, MLB.com’s Jane Lee notes. He is not expected to be ready to pitch to start the season (Twitter links). Doolittle dominated for the A’s in 2014, posting a 2.73 ERA with a ridiculous 12.8 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9 in 62 2/3 innings. The newly acquired Tyler Clippard, who had 32 saves with the Nationals in 2012, could perhaps get save opportunities for however long Doolittle is out.
Earlier today, the Twins avoided arbitration with Jordan Schafer by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.55MM. We’ll keep track of the remainder of today’s smaller moves to avoid arb here in this post (with all projections courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)…
- First baseman Mitch Moreland has reached agreement on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration with the Rangers, the club announced in a press release. Moreland will earn $2.95MM with the chance at $25K in bonuses, Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports on Twitter. Moreland filed at $3.35MM and the team countered at $2.75MM, with the 29-year-old landing just below the midpoint but just above his $2.8MM projection. After struggling to a .246/.297/.347 slash in just 184 plate appearances and missing significant time to ankle surgery, Moreland and his employer will hope for better things in 2015.
- The Astros and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal that will pay the Octagon client a salary of $1.0625MM, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Gonzalez, who filed for $1.4MM and received a $900K counter-offer from the team, settled for somewhat less than the $1.15MM midpoint between the figures, though he did still top his $1MM projection by about $60K. The former Rule 5 pick enjoyed his best season as a big leaguer in 2014, batting .277/.327/.400 with six homers, although defensive metrics were split on his work at short. Ultimate Zone Rating pegged him at four runs below average, while Defensive Runs Saved thought he was four runs above average. With Gonzalez’s case settled, the Astros are done with their arbitration class this offseason.
- The A’s have avoided arbitration with infielder Eric Sogard by agreeing to a one-year, $1.075MM contract, tweets Heyman. Sogard filed at $1.425MM, while the A’s countered at $900K, as can be seen Sogard, 28, batted .223/.298/.268 with a homer and 11 steals in 329 plate appearances last season. Known more for his glove than his bat, Sogard played his usual brand of excellent second base defense for 721 innings, and he also filled in at shortstop a bit, chipping in 108 innings there. The Octagon client will receive $75K more than his $1MM projected salary. Oakland still has some work to do in arbitration, as the team has yet to reach an agreement with right-handers Tyler Clippard and Jarrod Parker as well as lefty Fernando Abad.
Note that you can monitor the arb situations of each team/player using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.
3:22pm: The Giants and Vogelsong are working toward a one-year deal, and it seems likely to happen, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
THURSDAY, 11:07am: The Giants are in “active discussions” with Vogelsong, tweets Crasnick, though nothing is completed.
9:54am: The Astros have not been told that Vogelsong has decided to sign elsewhere, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). Houston appears to be waiting and watching at the moment, per the report.
WEDNESDAY: While yesterday it looked like Ryan Vogelsong was on the verge of signing a one-year deal with the Astros, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports now reports that the right-hander has “shifted course” and is in serious discussions with the Giants about a reunion (Twitter link). Earlier today, MLB.com’s Chris Haft wrote that San Francisco remained in contact with the 37-year-old Vogelsong.
Vogelsong spent the 2011-14 seasons in San Francisco, pitching to a 3.74 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 657 2/3 innings and winning a pair of World Series rings along the way. Those numbers were skewed somewhat by an injury-shortened 2013 campaign that saw Vogelsong post a 5.73 ERA in 103 1/3 innings, but he rebounded to a 4.00 ERA over the life of 184 2/3 innings in 2014.
The Giants appear to have a full rotation with Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Jake Peavy and Tim Lincecum all in the fold, plus excellent swingman Yusmeiro Petit waiting in the wings as a safety net. However, both Cain and Hudson are on the mend from surgery, while Lincecum has deteriorated over the past three seasons and Petit has never thrown more than 117 innings in the Majors.
Wilin Rosario‘s name has come up quite frequently in trade talks this winter, but Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes that it now appears likely that the Rockies will hold onto Rosario heading into the 2015 season. GM Jeff Bridich explained to Saunders that he feels Rosario possesses the athleticism and work ethic to add first base and corner outfield to his repertoire, and he’ll still likely see some time behind the dish.
Here’s more from Saunders’ piece and more regarding other clubs in baseball’s Western divisions…
- Charlie Blackmon has also been a popular name on the rumor mill of late, but Saunders hears that the Rockies haven’t initiated any trade talks regarding Blackmon. While they’ve talked to several teams over the past few months, they’ve been on the receiving end of those calls rather than openly shopping Blackmon.
- Saunders also notes that a trusted Major League source informed him that the Rockies “unequivocally did not make [James] Shields an offer,” thereby squashing some speculation that it was Colorado who extended the previously reported five-year, $110MM offer.
- The Astros‘ deal with Ryan Vogelsong looks to have fallen through, with the Giants reportedly making a serious run at re-signing the righty, but Houston GM Jeff Luhnow indicated earlier today that the team could still add another starting pitcher but is likely set from an offensive standpoint, per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (All Twitter links). Luhnow also did not rule out trading away more of his own players. It seems like the Astros may not be quite done shaping the 2015 roster.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with Luhnow about the Astros‘ abundance of strikeout-prone hitters, and Luhnow explained that the team is OK with the trade-off of strikeouts for power. “We probably will have a few strikeouts because of the types of players that we have,” said Luhnow, “but the flipside of that equation is we’re going to produce a lot of runs with those types of players. It’s up to our hitting coach to work on them to figure out when’s the right time to go for it and when to put the ball in play, and (manager A.J. Hinch) to figure out the lineup, so we don’t kill rallies by stacking up more than two or three of these guys at a time.”
- More from Drellich, who adds some additional Astros notes in a late-night roundup, noting that Luhnow doesn’t expect to resolve the team’s only outstanding arbitration case (that of Marwin Gonzalez) in the near future. He also adds that the Astros’ acquisition of so many strikeout-prone hitters wasn’t due to a philosophy or belief that Houston knows something about strikeouts that other clubs do not; it just happened that the power bats they targeted came with strikeout issues.
- In a piece for FOX Sports, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines the changes in Yovani Gallardo‘s arsenal of pitches over the past few seasons and wonders if the Rangers can receive better results from the 28-year-old by trying to revert him to his previous ways. Gallardo has switched from pitching primarily off a four-seam fastball to throwing significant amount of two-seamers. The results, Cameron notes, has been an increase in grounders and a decrease in strikeouts. However, Cameron theorizes that part of the thinking behind the conscious shift from Gallardo was that Milwaukee catchers excel at expanding the bottom half of the strike zone. Meanwhile the Rangers ranked 29th in team ground-ball percentage in 2014 and typically emphasize four-seamers over two-seamers. Cameron wonders if the change in scenery could cause Gallardo’s strikeout rate to rise, which could pay significant dividends for Texas.
- Logan White is invigorated by his transition from Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting to Padres senior adviser/professional scouting director, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock. White spoke at length about the differences between working on the amateur side of the game and working the pro side and the aggressive approach that the Padres will be taking to scouting: “We’re going to see anyone and everyone in pro baseball. We’re going to get after it on the back fields, make sure we know the makeup of these guys, talk to coaches, watch BP and early work. … Some of the best decisions you make is because you work a little harder, not because you’re smarter than everyone else.”
11:08am: The deal is official, per Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake (via Twitter). To create roster space, the club designated righty Gonzalez Germen, who was acquired only yesterday.
9:40am: The Rangers have agreed to a deal to acquire backstop Carlos Corporan from the Astros, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter. Corporan was designated for assignment yesterday to create roster space for the signing of Colby Rasmus. Righty Akeem Bostick is headed to the Astros in return, Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram tweets.
Corporan, 31, is set to earn $975K in his first season of arbitration eligibility. That means that he’ll come with two more years of control. His role was occupied by trade acquisition Hank Conger, and the presence of the younger Max Stassi rendered Corporan a largely redundant piece for Houston.
The switch-hitter should, however, be more useful for a Rangers club whose big league options included Robinson Chirinos, who had never even seen 100 plate appearances in a big league season before last year, along with largely untested 23-year-old Tomas Telis and minor league non-roster invite Chris Gimenez.
Last year, Corporan put up a .235/.302/.376 slash and six home runs over 190 trips to the plate. That line is fairly representative of Corporan’s offensive profile in the majors: low-average, low-OBP, solid power. In a backup role in Houston, he has rated out as a reasonably capable option behind the dish.
Bostick, 19, was a (below-slot) second round pick out of high school in 2013. He seems a nice return for a player who was in DFA limbo, though Corporan’s market was surely active before he technically lost his roster spot. Bostick struggled to a 5.18 ERA in 92 Class A frames last year, though that may have been a somewhat aggressive assignment. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs included him at the tail end (27th) of his recent list of the most promising Rangers prospects, explaining that Bostick has plenty of raw talent but is in need of refinement.
11:15pm: Drellich tweets that a deal with Vogelsong would be for one year, if it is ultimately finalized.
TUESDAY, 8:42am: Vogelsong and the Astros are nearing a deal but are still addressing the final details of the arrangement, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick.
MONDAY, 10:44pm: Vogelsong is in Houston presently, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26. He declined comment on his situation with the club, per Berman.
6:07pm: Vogelsong is a “realistic option,” but nothing is expected to be wrapped up tonight, Drellich tweets.
5:40pm: The Astros are in “serious discussions” with free agent righty Ryan Vogelsong, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reported earlier today that Houston was not done with its roster, noting that a pitching addition was possible and that Vogelsong was a player the club had confirmed interest in.
Houston added some rotation depth today by dealing for a package that included former MLB starter Dan Straily. But the team is obviously still looking for innings.
Vogelsong, 37, has been a steady presence at the back of the Giants’ bullpen since re-emerging with a stunning season back in 2011. Though his results have been up and down, he has averaged 164 frames per year of 3.74 ERA ball, to go with a 3.92 FIP on the back of 7.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. And it is worth noting both that Vogelsong has posted fairly consistent regular season velocity figures (and was able to amp up his fastball into the mid-90s during the postseason.