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The Astros christened the Astrodome 50 years ago today with the first regular season game played in the Eighth Wonder of the World, remembers Bob Hulsey of The Astros Daily. Twenty-two NASA astronauts threw out the ceremonial first pitch, but Philadelphia shutout Houston 2-0 behind Dick Allen‘s home run, the first regular season long ball hit in the Astrodome, and Chris Short‘s four-hitter.
In American League news and notes from today:
- The Rays have been trying to trade outfielder David DeJesus because of his salary and a lack of a clear-cut role on the team, but John Jaso‘s wrist injury changes that for now, tweets the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. DeJesus blasted a three-run home run for the Rays this afternoon and is hitting .545 (6-for-11) with a 1.454 OPS on the young season.
- Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman sees an upside to the club having a MLB-leading nine players on the disabled list, writes Topkin. “We knew we would be calling upon our depth, and that call has come sooner than we expected,” said Silverman. “The bright side of this is that we’re going to get a chance to see some of these (replacement) players and get a better look at them, and we’ll be even better off when our players return from injuries.” Topkin notes the Rays have nearly one-third of their payroll (nearly $25MM) on the DL and six of the organization’s top ten starting pitchers.
- Royals right-hander Kris Medlen threw curveballs off the mound this week for the first time since undergoing his second Tommy John surgery and plans to return to Phoenix for rehab outings in May, tweets Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has penned a lengthy column that’s chock full of Hot Stove related items as the season gets underway. First and foremost, he chronicles the Braves‘ trade of Craig Kimbrel at length. Heyman spoke to president of baseball ops John Hart, who candidly told Heyman that the team took a hard line of refusing to trade Kimbrel unless Melvin Upton Jr. was involved in the deal. “We were not going to separate Kimbrel and trade him by himself,” Hart told Heyman. Atlanta reached out to the Cubs, Astros, Dodgers and Padres, among others, this winter in an effort to move Upton, and despite the Dodgers’ bullpen needs, they weren’t willing to add Upton’s contract to that of Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, having already shed Matt Kemp‘s contract. The Padres trade didn’t heat up until about four days before it was agreed upon, Heyman writes, with Hart even remaining in Orlando to finish negotiations rather than fly with the team to Miami at the end of Spring Training. Hart credited assistant GM John Coppolella for doing much of the legwork and his creativity in getting the trade finalized.
More highlights from Heyman’s article (though the entire piece is well worth your time)…
- While some reports late in Spring Training indicated that the Phillies would be willing to eat up to $50MM of the remaining $60MM on Ryan Howard‘s contract, two GMs tell Heyman they hadn’t heard that figure. One of those GMs was of the belief that the Phillies’ top offer was to pay about $35MM, which, Heyman speculates, may have been a large reason that the Royals opted to sign Kendrys Morales for two years and $17MM rather than pursue a Howard trade.
- Speaking of the Royals, Heyman hears that the team is open to pursuing a second extension with catcher Salvador Perez and would be happy to make him a Royal for life. Heyman notes that some in the organization even have some sympathy for Perez, whose five-year, $7MM contract is widely considered the most team-friendly deal in all of baseball. Perez’s deal contains three startlingly low club options valued at $3.75MM, $5MM and $6MM for the 2017-19 seasons — two of which would have been free-agent seasons beginning at the age of 28.
- The Marlins tried to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter after the catcher’s first season on a three-year, $21MM pact was a struggle, but his salary was too great a deterrent. The Marlins presumably feel that top prospect J.T. Realmuto could step into the catcher’s role in the not-too-distant future.
- The Tigers are believed to be at least monitoring Rafael Soriano‘s workouts at the Boras Sports Training Institute in Miami, per Heyman. However, Soriano has seen his stock suffer not only due to ineffective innings late int he 2014 season but also due to perceptions about his personality and negative clubhouse impact. At least one club that was taking a hard look at late-inning relievers ruled out Soriano entirely due to that perception, Heyman reports.
- The Reds felt the odds of extending Johnny Cueto prior to Opening Day were so slim that it’s not even clear if they made a formal offer, writes Heyman. Cueto is seeking a figure in the range of $200MM following Max Scherzer‘s mammoth contract this offseason, he adds. Heyman also opines that David Price would probably be selling himself short if he took much less than $200MM from the Tigers at this point as well.
- Anecdotally, Heyman tells the story of how Cody Ross‘ career began when he was sold to the Marlins from the Reds in exchange for “cash considerations” of precisely one dollar. Former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky spoke to Heyman about the deal, explaining that they didn’t have room on the Cincinnati roster back in ’06 but genuinely wanted to get Ross into the best possible position to have a chance at a Major League roster spot. Ross has gone on to earn more than $52MM in the game of baseball.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | B.J. Upton | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | Cody Ross | Craig Kimbrel | Detroit Tigers | Houston Astros | Jarrod Saltalamacchia | Johnny Cueto | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | Newsstand | Philadelphia Phillies | Rafael Soriano | Ryan Howard | Salvador Perez | San Diego Padres
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Astros outfielder Alex Presley has cleared waivers and is now deciding whether to accept his outright assignment, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). He is expected to accept the assignment in order to retain his $1MM salary, per the report. Righty Alex White has also cleared waivers and has been assigned to Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets.
- Veteran righty Matt Capps has re-signed with the Braves, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports on Twitter. The former Nationals closer had been with the club this spring but was released. Capps, 31, gave up two long balls in his only two innings of work, and has thrown just 12 professional innings over the last two seasons.
- The Mariners have loaned lefty Rafael Perez to Mexico’s Quintana Roo Tigers, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets. Perez, 32, was once a mainstay in the Indians’ pen and owns a 3.64 ERA over 329 big league innings. His peripherals declined, however, and he has not pitched in the big leagues since 2012. Perez has put up strong numbers in the upper minors over the last two years, however, and even returned to working as a starter last year.
- Former top draft pick Josh Smoker has signed with the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. The 26-year-old, who washed out of the Nationals’ system, is said to be working back into the mid-90s with his fastball.
TUESDAY: White has been placed on outright waivers, Drellich reports.
SUNDAY: The Astros have designed right-hander Alex White for assignment, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. Between this move and designating Alex Presley for assignment earlier this week, Houston now has two 40-man roster spots for Roberto Hernandez and Joe Thatcher.
White was selected by the Indians as the 15th overall pick of the 2009 draft and was formerly a high-rated prospect, ranked as high as 47th in Baseball America’s preseason list of the top 100 prospects in the sport prior to the 2011 season. He has struggled over 149 Major League innings with Cleveland and Colorado in 2011-12, posting a career 6.03 ERA with 6.09 K/9, and 4.58 BB/9 and he also missed all of the 2013 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
White and Presley are two of the four players currently in “DFA limbo” according to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker. The two Astros join the Yankees’ Austin Romine and the Tigers’ Chad Smith in awaiting their next assignment.
APRIL 7: Houston is seeking outright waivers on Presley, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets. That means that a trade could not be arranged, leaving Presley open for the taking by any club willing to absorb his contract.
If Presley is not claimed, he would likely remain within the Houston organization as Triple-A depth. Though he could elect free agency because he is a Super Two player, Drellich tweets, that would mean giving up his guaranteed salary.
APRIL 1: The Astros have designated outfielder Alex Presley for assignment, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports on Twitter. While the club would like to keep him, they may attempt to work out a trade, McTaggart tweets.
Presley saw 271 plate appearances with Houston last year after being claimed off waivers. He slashed just .244/.281/.346 with six home runs and five steals. Playing mostly in the corner outfield, Presley was unable to stay above the replacement line. His work at the plate showed more of the same this spring.
Presley should draw interest from teams looking for some versatility. He is out of options, of course, meaning that a team would have to give him an active roster spot in claiming him. Presley also comes with a $1MM salary in his first year of arbitration eligibility (as a Super Two).
Rafael Soriano is talking with multiple teams at the moment but doesn’t appear close to signing, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Soriano is still looking for a team as Opening Day approaches despite a largely successful season with the Nationals in 2014. Some scouts felt, however, that his stuff deteriorated late in the season, and Soriano did indeed lose his grip on the closer’s role in September. The last team connected to Soriano was the Twins, though team officials have since downplayed their interest. Here’s some more from around baseball…
- The Astros are looking to add another starting pitcher, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.
- Also from Heyman, he opines that the recently-released Wandy Rodriguez could be of interest to the Phillies. Rodriguez almost joined the Phils earlier this winter but failed a physical, which led him to sign with the Braves instead.
- While the relationship between Josh Hamilton and the Angels seems strained at best, the two sides “like it or not…are stuck with each other,” ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his latest Insider-only piece. Hamilton’s big contract, lack of production and off-the-field issues make him virtually impossible to trade, while Hamilton will likely have to accept a reduced role when he returns to the club.
- The Nationals are facing the most pressure of any team in baseball this season, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes in his rundown of the top 12 teams who have a particularly big need for strong results in 2015.
The Padres have returned Rule 5 pick Jandel Gustave to the Astros, Houston announced. Gustave will open the year in Double-A.
The right-hander was originally a Rule 5 selection of the Red Sox, but had his rights dealt to the Royals. He was then claimed off waivers by San Diego. Today’s move will bring his travels to an end, at least for the time being.
Gustave, a raw 22-year-old with a huge fastball, was never really expected to stick with the Padres. Though he has shown the ability to rack up strikeouts at a useful pace in the low minors, Gustave has yet to prove he can keep the ball in the zone — let alone that he can consistently retire major league hitters.
Indians GM Chris Antonetti declined to comment on the Corey Kluber negotiations with reporters (including MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian) today, though he reiterated that the team has “a clear preference” to conclude any contract talks before Opening Day in order to “minimize distractions” for the players. The chances of an extension before Opening Day “are said to be less than great” according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, though FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that “some progress” had been made between the two sides.
Here are some more items from around the baseball world…
- The Tigers are thought to be more eager to keep David Price on a long-term extension than they were Max Scherzer last year since Price has a better track record of durability, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Still, three sources tell Heyman that the two sides aren’t close to an agreement that would keep Price in Detroit beyond this season.
- Reliever Mike Adams will not report to Triple-A as planned and has left the Dodgers, Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter link). Moura suggests that Adams may be on the verge of retirement. After struggling through two injury-plagued seasons, Adams signed a minor league deal with Los Angeles last month.
- Hector Olivera and Jose Millan Fernandez, the Dodgers‘ two recent high-profile Cuban signings, are still awaiting visas and have yet to come to the United States, Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times writes.
- Jon Singleton faced some criticism from fellow players for signing a five-year, $10MM extension (with three club option years) with the Astros before ever appearing in a Major League game. Given the slow start to Singleton’s career, however, Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards believes Singleton’s decision is looking better and better. Singleton struggled through his rookie season and will begin 2015 in the minors, yet had he not signed that extension, he would only have earned roughly $540K instead of the $3.5MM he’s guaranteed in 2014-15. There’s also still plenty of time for Singleton to develop into a quality big leaguer and for this deal to become a bargain for Houston.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels and new manager Jeff Banister talk to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News about what went into Banister’s hiring and how the Rangers view the modern relationship between the front office and the clubhouse.
Late last night, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle followed up on his report that the Astros‘ exact draft pool is unknown because two players after the 10th round received bonuses north of $100K. Per Drellich, 14th-round pick Nick Tanielu and 15th-round pick Connor Goedert each received bonuses of $200K — $100K above slot for each of them. As such, Drellich writes in a separate piece that the team’s final $616,165 offer to fifth-rounder Jacob Nix was virtually every dollar they had available to offer without losing future draft picks.
Here’s more from the game’s Western divisions…
- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon confirmed to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune that both right-hander Taijuan Walker and left-hander Tyler Olson have made the team’s Opening Day roster (Twitter link). Walker’s inclusion on the 25-man roster is significant, as with 142 days of service time under his belt, he’ll almost certainly be a Super Two player two offseasons from now. The 25-year-old Olson, on the other hand, was in camp as a non-roster invite and will need to be added to the 40-man roster.
- Freddy Garcia‘s Minor League contract with the Dodgers does contain an opt-out clause, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, although the exact date of that opt-out remains unknown. Also pertaining to Garcia, Han Lee of Global Sports Integration has passed along Garcia’s Taiwanese stats to MLBTR. The veteran righty pitched to an 11-9 record with a 3.19 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 1.1 BB/9 and a 1.19 WHIP in 161 innings of work while pitching overseas in 2014.
- Though the D-Backs have named their starting rotation, Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes that Archie Bradley has been so impressive that the Snakes may have to re-think at the last minute. Bradley fired six shutout innings Wednesday, including 5 2/3 no-hit innings, and after the game, manager Chip Hale told reporters: “We’ve named our five, but he’s pushed the envelope all the way down to the last possible chance he had. He’s looked great. We’ll have to sit down and evaluate everything.” Bradley could also begin his first full season in the Majors in a bullpen role, serving as a long man to get acclimated with the big leagues, Hale indicated.
The Astros announced that they’ve traded infielder Gregorio Petit to the Yankees in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
The 30-year-old Petit returned to the Majors for the first time since 2009 last year, batting .278/.300/.423 with a pair of homers in 100 trips to the plate. Petit has never much in the Majors outside of that sample, or in Triple-A for that matter, though he does bring some defensive versatility to the table, as he is capable of handling second base, shortstop or third base. The addition of Petit could be tied to the fact that the Yankees learned earlier today that Brendan Ryan will likely open the season on the disabled list after suffering a calf strain.