- Ian Desmond’s work in center field has impressed observers, and the Rangers are not ruling out the possibility of retaining him beyond 2016, Rosenthal says. Even if they don’t (and they do have a wide variety of talented young outfielders), Desmond seems like a good bet to land a multi-year deal as a center fielder.
- Some in the Rangers organization felt the recently promoted righty — and former No. 1 overall pick — Matt Bush could help the team out of Spring Training, but since he was only a few months removed from being released from prison, they decided to wait. Bush, who has a long history of alcoholism, will be joined on the road by either his father Danny or Rangers special assistant Roy Silver (who had previously worked with Josh Hamilton).
- It’s unclear what the Cubs might need at the trade deadline, Rosenthal says. A left fielder is one possibility if Jorge Soler can’t get it going and if the Cubs elect to keep Kris Bryant at third. There’s also a chance they could add pitching. They could move Adam Warren from the bullpen to the rotation if needed, but might need to pursue relief help if they did.
- The Red Sox will be better-prepared for the trade deadline than their divisional competition, with a farm system that rates as significantly better than those of the Orioles or Blue Jays.
- Rosenthal also explains why Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes’ domestic violence suspension was shorter than that of an 80-game punishment for PED use. Rosenthal says that, in the eyes of the league, a positive PED test essentially amounts to proof of guilt, but in Reyes’ case, charges against him were dropped and he has never been convicted. Without “formal proof,” MLB can only make a suspension so long.
- Some players want stiffer sentences for players who fail PED tests, especially for players who use PEDs intentionally. While it’s possible there could be small changes to PED penalties, however, Rosenthal says bigger changes aren’t likely.
While the Blue Jays are known for their prolific offense, the most impressive element of their team is their defense, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com argues. Gammons names catcher Russell Martin, second baseman Ryan Goins, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, third baseman Josh Donaldson and center fielder Kevin Pillar as elite-caliber defenders. Manager John Gibbons believes Tulowitzki’s defense is so great that it cancels out the offensive struggles he has had since Toronto acquired him from Colorado last year. “I don’t care if he doesn’t get another hit all season. His defense is that good,” Gibbons told Gammons. “I’ve never seen anyone who can throw from more angles and positions that Tulo. He’s a big man, but he plays like a little guy. His athleticism is beyond belief,” Gibbons continued. Tulowitzki has indeed been a significant defensive asset throughout his career, and he long paired that with excellent offensive skills as a Rockie. The 31-year-old has hit a paltry .119/.224/.262 with a soaring strikeout rate (28.9%) in 49 plate appearances this season, however, which wouldn’t necessarily be concerning if not for a disappointing .239/.317/.380 output in 41 games as a Blue Jay in 2015.
Here’s more from around Major League Baseball:
- Rangers left fielder Ian Desmond has hit a stunningly poor .109/.180/.109 in 50 PAs and put up a league-worst -0.6 fWAR this year. On his difficulties so far, Desmond says (via John Henry of MLB.com), “Obviously, the results aren’t there. I’ve just missed a couple balls. I’ve made some good in-game adjustments. But I’m trying to evaluate my swing on a daily basis and not necessarily rely on results alone.” It’s perhaps worth noting that, in addition to his weak production, Desmond’s hard contact (16.1 percent) and line drive rate (9.7 percent) have plummeted to career worsts in the early going this year. That’s not particularly encouraging after Desmond experienced a stark offensive decline last season, and what he has given the Rangers certainly isn’t what they had in mind when they signed the ex-Washington shortstop to a one-year, $8MM deal in February.
- Nationals outfielder Ben Revere is aiming to return to game action from an oblique injury by his 28th birthday (May 3), he told Bill Ladson of MLB.com. At the very least, Revere would like to resume baseball activities by then. Revere left the Nats’ opener after he felt pain on the right side of his stomach and had difficulty breathing, and the team then placed him on the 15-day disabled list April 6. At 9-1, the Nationals have clearly held their own without Revere, but he could boost an outfield that has gotten little production from players who aren’t named Bryce Harper. Michael Taylor, Revere’s replacement, has compiled a terrible .154/.171/.231 line in 41 PAs and has already accounted for -0.3 fWAR.
- The Indians aren’t ready to activate right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall from the 15-day DL because he hasn’t performed well enough during his minor league rehab assignment, writes Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. “He thinks he’s pretty close to being ready, and I kind of told him that before he went out [for his latest rehab game], that, ’I’m not trying to be harsh or critical, but when you come back, you’re taking somebody’s job, and you need to be ready,'” said manager Terry Francona. Chisenhall, who hit a meager .246/.294/.371 in 362 PAs last year, is currently rehabbing a left wrist injury in Double-A. When he returns, he’ll join an outfield stable that has prominently featured Rajai Davis, Marlon Byrd and Jose Ramirez so far this year.
The Cardinals haven’t called the Braves about shortstop Erick Aybar, tweets Jon Heyman of MLB Network. St. Louis is looking to fill a void at shortstop left by injured veteran Jhonny Peralta. As we heard a few days ago, the Braves have a high asking price for Aybar. Given that he’s under contract for just one more season and declined last year, it’s no surprise St. Louis is exploring other options. Heyman mentions Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada as a cheaper alternative. For their part, the Mets are willing to trade Tejada despite an injury to Asdrubal Cabrera that could cause him to begin the season on the disabled list, per Adam Rubin of ESPN. The club is confident in less experienced depth pieces like Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini.
- Earlier tonight, we heard the Rangers made an offer to Austin Jackson prior to signing Ian Desmond. In an interesting bit of symmetry, the White Sox tried to sign Desmond to play shortstop for north of $4MM, tweets Heyman. The nonspecific nature of the report makes it hard for us to compare the White Sox offer with Desmond’s eventual $8MM payday with Texas. As Heyman notes, the White Sox went on to spend $10MM on Jackson, Mat Latos, and Jimmy Rollins.
- The Tigers are considering rostering three catchers to start the season, writes Aaron McMann of MLive.com. Third string catcher Bryan Holaday is off to a 7-for-11 start to the spring with three home runs, but he’s firmly behind James McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the depth chart. The club has always liked Holaday per GM Al Avila and may want to avoid exposing him to waivers. The availability of Cameron Maybin for the start of the season will affect Holaday’s bid for a roster spot. Maybin is currently sidelined for three to five weeks with a broken wrist.
Star Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista is looking for a contract that will keep him in Toronto into his forties at a $30MM+ AAV, says Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter links), but the 35-year-old is perhaps more willing to negotiate than some of his prior comments would suggest. Previous reports of Bautista’s contract requests have reflected just that kind of asking price while sometimes portraying his stance as being more firm. Jays GM Ross Atkins made clear recently that talks have been amicable, and Heyman adds that Bautista does hope to continue on in Toronto, so it appears there is still some hope that the sides can come together on a new contract for the pending free agent.
Here’s more from the American League:
- Twins righty Ricky Nolasco believes he should remain in the club’s rotation, agent Matt Sosnick tells Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link). Referencing last year’s disappointing, injury-filled campaign, Sosnick suggests that his client “deserves to show the Twins what he looks like without trying to pitch through pain.” If Nolasco is pushed to the pen, says Sosnick, he’d approach the front office to “directly address his feelings of disappointment” and “ask the team about his other options.”
- The initial returns on Ian Desmond in left field appear to be positive for the Rangers, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. He also notes that the Giants had some interest in Desmond earlier in the winter as a super-utility option that would primarily play in the corner outfield, while the Orioles were involved later.
- Mariners lefty Danny Hultzen has suffered a setback in his bid to get back on the bump in a relief role, Shannon Drayer of Seattle’s 710AM ESPN was among those to report on Twitter. He’ll seemingly rest a while as he deals with shoulder stiffness, which hopefully will clear up on its own. It has been a long and difficult road for the 26-year-old, who has dealt with a series of arm issues since he was chosen second overall in the 2011 draft.
- Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon touched 100 mph yesterday and continues to show good form in camp, as Aaron McMann of MLive.com reports. After a disappointing end to the 2015 season, in which he was asked to leave the organization due to his lack of effort, Rondon has drawn positive reviews so far this spring. “He’s been good,” said skipper Brad Ausmus. “He’s done his work, he’s taken his non-pitching fundamentals seriously. He’s put in the effort and he’s looked strong so far on the mound.”
Ian Desmond’s path to the Rangers all began earlier in the offseason, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The club let him know that they would have interest on the off chance that Desmond couldn’t find a multi-year deal and was willing to move to the outfield, says Grant, and that indeed turned out to be the case. “Things can change,” GM Jon Daniels explained. “You have to be prepared. You never know when a domino might fall. If you have any interest in that player, you have to express that early on.” Daniels has also made clear that he doesn’t believe there will be any difficulty in sorting out playing time when Josh Hamilton is ready to return.
Here’s more from Texas and the rest of the American League:
- Rangers co-owner Ray Davis discussed his organization today, and Grant has the story. Most notably, he said that the club can still add payroll for a mid-season addition after signing Desmond. As for that move, he explained: “It was a matter of need and Jon Daniels and Thad Levine finding a way to do things creatively. They came to us and proposed a creative deal. For me, this is a process where nobody other than the baseball people make the player decision. My only role is an economic one. They have a plan and decision they make long before they come to me.”
- Royals catcher Salvador Perez is excited at his new deal and hopes he’ll spend the rest of his career in Kansas City, writes Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. From the team’s perspective, despite a team-friendly contract already being in place, it made sense to swing another deal. “We went into Salvy’s previous deal with expectations that obviously he was going to be a terrific player,” said GM Dayton Moore. “We’ve always believed in him — as a talent, as a person, as a teammate. And he’s out-performed that contract. He’s an underpaid player in the game.” Noting the sacrifice that Gil Meche made when he left money upon departing the team, Moore explained that the motivation extended beyond pure baseball economics. “You focus on what’s right for Sal,” Moore said. “We’ve said from day one, that we want to create an organization that we’d want our own sons and family to be a part of. Well, Salvy’s family.”
- Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wonders whether other clubs will follow suit in rewarding underpaid players. He cites Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks, Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs, Jose Altuve of the Astros, Chris Sale of the White Sox, Madison Bumgarner of the Giants, and Chris Archer of the Rays as others on team-friendly pacts. From my perspective, most of those players line up more as traditional second extension candidates, in that their teams may well see some value in doubling down on their investments in the way that has occurred in the past for Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria, Ryan Braun, Ryan Zimmerman, and others.
- As for Altuve, the Astros aren’t currently holding extension talks, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Like his friend Perez, Altuve has greatly outperformed his own contract, which would stand to pay him just $25MM if Houston exercises its two options. As Drellich notes, though, Altuve would still stand to hit the market at 29 years of age and probably has a better chance at longevity than does Perez.
- White Sox skipper Robin Ventura says that he envisions Jimmy Rollins making the club out of camp, as Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets. “I expect him to make the team, unless something happens physically where it wouldn’t work,” said Ventura.
Ian Desmond’s winter did not progress as expected, as he landed with the Rangers on a one-year, $8MM deal after turning down a $15.8MM qualifying offer from the Nationals. Even more surprising than the magnitude of the contract was the fact that he’ll be shifting off of the shortstop position in Texas. As Desmond begins preparing to move to left field, at least for the time being, here are some reactions to the signing:
- Desmond seems determined to make the best of the situation, as Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports. He expressed frustration in the impact of the qualifying offer system on his market, but even as he said “it’s clear that something needs to change,” he made equally clear that he won’t let that get in the way of his new opportunity. “I’m extremely excited,” Desmond said. “I’m extremely grateful, also. … As for swallowing my pride and learning a new position, that’s not going to be a problem.”
- From the Rangers’ perspective, too, the move represents — at least in some part — an effort to make the best of a trying situation, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. The injury issues surrounding Josh Hamilton left the team without a clear solution in left field, and now Desmond will be tasked with that job. GM Jon Daniels made clear that Elvis Andrus will be the team’s shortstop, and also that Desmond is slated for regular duty in left — meaning that Hamilton’s own role will be determined when he’s back in action. “This move is about 2016, about adding a winning piece and a winning man,” said Daniels. Meanwhile, Desmond added that he’s long thought about playing in the grass, and is most committed to the same ideals that Daniels described. “I made the decision when the offseason began I wanted to be part of something more than just our names on the back of our jerseys; I wanted to win,” he said. “I felt that if to do that, I needed to move positions, I would consider it.”
- ESPN.com’s Keith Law rates the signing as a rare miss for the Texas front office, arguing that Desmond’s bat isn’t good enough to justify the sacrifice of the 19th overall pick in the upcoming draft. There are a variety of options on hand who might be expected to provide similar overall production, he reasons, citing several traditional outfielders as well as conceivable converts such as Jurickson Profar, Ike Davis, and Joey Gallo. Law does note that there’s some potential value in Desmond’s versatility, including that he could present a theoretical alternative to Andrus at short, as well as the clubhouse presence he brings.
- Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs, meanwhile, sees the sense in the signing for Texas. By his reckoning, Desmond has a reasonable amount of upside, has shown the kind of athleticism and work ethic to believe he’ll turn into a solid outfielder, and could conceivably step in on the left side of the infield or move around the field if a need arises. For Desmond, argues Sullivan, the deal obviously represents a disappointment in light of the reported extension offer he rejected from the Nationals, but that was a justifiable decision at the time.
- The Mets never strongly pursued Desmond, even before they added Asdrubal Cabrera, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). New York “didn’t see the value early,” Heyman writes. The Rays and other clubs were in on Desmond at the end, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Meanwhile, the Orioles checked in on the free agent, but they never made a formal offer, he adds.
- Other organizations did, however, show earlier interest, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. The issue, per the report, may have been that Desmond and his representatives simply held out too long. It’s not entirely clear whether that approach was driven by hopes of getting a significant contract or disinterest in signing in a “super-utility” role, but Olney seems to suggest that some possible avenues to a bigger deal were not taken when they were available.
- It’s not hard to understand why Desmond would have sought a contract and playing situation commensurate with his high overall level of performance, of course, but Olney notes that his new role in Texas may close the door on the possibility of a major future signing as a premium up-the-middle player. It will certainly be interesting to see whether he gets a chance to show his form elsewhere on the diamond. Scouts tell Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post (on Twitter) that Desmond has the athleticism to be an outfielder, but they also feel that he could have stayed at shortstop without issue.
Ian Desmond’s drawn out free agency has come to a close, as the Rangers announced today that they’ve signed Desmond to a one-year contract that reportedly guarantees the longtime National $8MM for the 2016 campaign. Desmond, a client of Sports One Athlete Management, will reportedly serve as the everyday left fielder in Texas despite a lack of experience at the position, and the Rangers indeed announced him an an “infielder/outfielder” in their press release. Right-hander Tanner Scheppers has been placed on the 60-day disabled list in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Desmond.
Critics will be quick to point out that Desmond infamously turned down a seven-year, $107MM extension with the Nationals in the 2013-14 offseason. While Desmond undoubtedly has some financial regrets about doing so, the money he apparently left on the table isn’t quite as much as many would assume at first glance. For starters, that contract included his final two arbitration years with the Nats, during which time he earned $17.5MM anyway. Secondly, the contract was also said to include deferred money (as has been the case with virtually every significant Nationals contract offer in recent history due to their ongoing television rights fees battle), further deflating the value of the deal. While Desmond unquestionably comes out behind for the time being, he’ll hope for a big year in Texas and a significantly better result in free agency next offseason.
Throughout the offseason, there’s been talk that Desmond could draw interest from clubs at a position other than shortstop, though there were a number of obstacles that seemed to be standing between Desmond and an agreement with the Rangers. For starters, Texas has repeatedly been said to be averse to adding further payroll, as they’re already looking at what projects to be a club-record payroll north of $145MM. Beyond that, the Rangers will have to surrender the No. 19 overall pick in the 2016 draft in order to sign Desmond. However, if the Rangers make Desmond a qualifying offer next offseason and he turns it down to sign elsewhere, Texas can recoup a first-round pick.
The Rangers picked up the No. 30 overall selection in the draft when Yovani Gallardo signed with Baltimore, though, so they will still have a relatively high draft pick even after coughing up their top selection for Desmond. In turn, the Nationals will now gain the No. 29 overall selection as compensation for the loss of Desmond, who turned down a $15.8MM qualifying offer at the onset of free agency.
That decision, of course, will be scrutinized as well, though it’s easy enough to see why Desmond would bet on himself in free agency. He finished the season one home run shy of delivering his fourth consecutive 20-homer campaign, displaying rare power for a shortstop. And while Desmond’s overall batting line was dragged down by a dismal first half, he did rebound with a .262/.331/.446 second half, during which he homered a dozen times and stole eight bases. Desmond’s defense also came under fire in 2015, but an abnormally large number of his errors (nine) came within the first two weeks of the season, and his glovework settled down from that point forward. While he’s not an elite defender at short, consensus on Desmond has been that he could handle the position, and his bat has typically overshadowed any defensive questions.
It’s easy to say that Desmond “should” have accepted the qualifying offer with the benefit of hindsight, but looking at the matter from a more objective standpoint, it’s often difficult to tell which free agents will thrive in spite of a qualifying offer and which will be hamstrung by the associated draft pick compensation. For instance, at the time qualifying offers were extended, there was little questioning whether Desmond should accept or reject. Even coming off a down season, many expected that Desmond would still secure a solid multi-year pact; conversely, there was an enormous amount of discussion as to whether or not right-hander Ian Kennedy should accept. Kennedy, like Desmond, had a dreadful run early in the season before righting the ship, but most felt it was a mistake for him to test the open market. In the end, though, he landed a five-year, $70MM contract with an opt-out clause — a staggering contract and a firm reminder that predicting the manner in which a qualifying offer will impact a player is no easy feat.
Desmond, then, will end up as yet another data point in CBA negotiations when the MLBPA and the league address the qualifying offer system in the upcoming wave of collective bargaining negotiations. This offseason, the likes of Desmond, Dexter Fowler and Howie Kendrick were all undoubtedly impacted by the draft picks attached to their names in free agency. In previous winters, players like Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana and Kyle Lohse have each seen their stock dragged down by the qualifying offer as well. There’s a common refrain calling for players to simply accept the qualifying offer, but players spend a minimum of six years (usually more) working toward free agency for the right to no longer be beholden to one-year contracts, and the intent of the qualifying offer was never to drive down the stock of players, but rather to provide teams with compensation for losing their best Major League assets. In that light, the adverse impact on players has indeed been a negative (albeit likely unintended) byproduct.
Earlier this month, we heard that the White Sox, Rays, and Rockies all reached out to Desmond’s camp in recent weeks. In January, the Padres were reportedly giving heavy consideration to signing Desmond before inking Alexei Ramirez. Now, as is often the case with free agents that linger on the market, Desmond will end up with a team that didn’t even appear to be a fit, on paper. However, with Josh Hamilton opening the season on the disabled list, the Rangers saw an opportunity to add a bat with some upside at a relatively low price and will take the chance on Desmond’s glove converting to the outfield at an acceptable level as they look to defend their AL West title.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Rangers have committed about $143MM to their payroll with just three players awaiting contracts, writes Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. Pitchers Alex Claudio, Nick Martinez, and Yohander Mendez are expected to sign split contracts soon. Presently, payroll is about $2MM to $3MM more than the club spent in 2015. In my opinion, there is reason to believe the Rangers will have plenty of in-season payroll flexibility since the team unexpectedly made the postseason last year and should contend again in 2016. However, Grant writes (in a separate article) that payroll is expected to remain flat.
Here’s more from out West:
- The Rangers have held preliminary talks with Ian Desmond, per Grant. The content of those talks related to using Desmond as a super-utility player. The most pressing need is in left field, although having flexibility throughout the infield is always in demand.
- Angels Rule 5 pick Ji-Man Choi could factor into the Angels’ left field competition, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry are expected to form a left field platoon. Choi has struggled to stay on the field in recent seasons, but he’s healthy entering Spring Training. Interestingly, Choi taught himself how to switch-hit during a 80 plate appearance 2016 season. He’s naturally a left-handed hitter.
- Giants right fielder Hunter Pence is dealing with Achilles tendinitis, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. The injury is thought to be minor. Pence spent most of 2015 on the disabled list for three unrelated upper body injuries. San Francisco has solid outfield depth including Angel Pagan, Denard Span, Gregor Blanco, Jarrett Parker, and Mac Williamson. Of course, Pagan and Span are hardly the poster children for good health. Several quality outfielders are still on the free agent market including Desmond, Austin Jackson, and Alex Rios.
- Recent trade acquisition German Marquez is turning heads in Rockies camp, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Marquez, the prospect acquired in the Corey Dickerson trade, throws an easy 95 mph fastball as part of a three pitch repertoire. The 21-year-old former Ray is coming off a 3.56 ERA with 6.73 K/9, and 1.88 BB/9 in 123 High-A innings.
11:02pm: Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets that the Rangers have indeed reached out to Desmond’s camp on what he terms a “fact-finding mission,” but he hears that there have been no substantive negotiations to this point.
Throughout the offseason, there’s been talk that Desmond could draw interest from clubs at a position other than shortstop, though there are a number of obstacles standing between Desmond and an agreement with the Rangers. For starters, Texas has repeatedly been said to be averse to adding further payroll, as they’re already looking at what projects to be a club-record payroll north of $145MM. Beyond that, the Rangers would have to surrender the No. 19 overall pick in the 2016 draft in order to sign Desmond. While that cost isn’t as steep as the draft-pick cost that would face some of Desmond’s other potential suitors (most notably, the Rays), it’s still a definite part of the club’s equation when weighing a run at Desmond. The Rangers picked up the No. 30 overall selection in the draft when Yovani Gallardo signed with Baltimore, though, so they would still have a first-round selection were they to forfeit their top pick for Desmond. That selection wouldn’t move up a spot, however, as the Nationals, who finished with a worse record than the Rangers, would gain a compensatory pick that would slot in ahead of the Rangers’ No. 30 selection.
Desmond endured perhaps his worst full season in the Majors last year, but he did rebound with a .262/.331/.446 second half, during which he homered a dozen times and stole eight bases. As it stands right now, Josh Hamilton is atop the Rangers’ depth chart in left field, but Hamilton is already slated to open the season on the disabled list and is unlikely to be relied upon as an everyday contributor even when fully healthy; given his recent injury history, Hamilton will probably require frequent rest in order to avoid the DL over the course of the season.
The Rangers did add Drew Stubbs on a minor league deal today, creating a bit more depth in their outfield mix, and top prospects such as Nomar Mazara and Lewis Brinson are inching closer to the Majors and could be ready by midseason. Hamilton, additionally, is slated to return to the club in early May, so Texas doesn’t appear to be in dire need of a left fielder — particularly not one that would figure to push the payroll up into the $160MM range for the upcoming season. Learning a new position on the job wouldn’t be an ideal outcome for either the Rangers or Desmond, but at this stage of the offseason, few clubs have definitive openings at shortstop, and the teams that do have such vacancies haven’t expressed significant interest in Desmond, so it’s possible that his eventual team isn’t one that stands out as a readily apparent suitor at the moment.
The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga spoke to a number of GMs to get their takes on how draft pick compensation for his latest piece on Ian Desmond and other players that have been burdened by the qualifying offer. As Svrluga notes, former National Denard Span was able to secure a three-year deal despite playing in just 61 games last season and undergoing hip surgery late in the year. “Whether that pick is there or not is huge,” said Giants GM Bobby Evans, who signed Span to the aforementioned three-year, $31MM contract. “It just comes down to cost vs. benefit: How will that free agent benefit your club in the coming year and years ahead vs. the cost — which is not only financial now. It’s also a prospect. In that way, you have to think of it like a trade.” Svrluga also spoke to Padres GM A.J. Preller, White Sox GM Rick Hahn and Angels GM Billy Eppler, the latter of whom explained that while each club values draft picks slightly differently, every team assigns a monetary value to draft selections and stressed the importance of draft picks.
Some more notes on the infield market…
- With the possibility of a Jose Reyes suspension looming, Rockies prospect Trevor Story has put himself in a position to potentially break camp with the club, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. While service time considerations are often a factor when determining the timing of a player’s promotion to the Majors, GM Jeff Bridich tells Saunders that won’t factor into the team’s decision with Story. “That’s not really a consideration,” said Bridich. “I haven’t thought about that one second. I hope he, and every player, makes all of these decisions difficult.” As Saunders notes, with Story, Daniel Descalso, Christian Adames and Rafael Ynoa all serving as options, the Rox are content with their internal options.
- MLB.com’s Thomas Harding further pumps the brakes on any Desmond/Rockies connection, tweeting that the Rockies haven’t really discussed pursuing a veteran option as an alternative to Reyes, and contact with Desmond’s camp has been minimal, despite prior reports.
- The Mariners are checking in with veteran infielders that could potentially make the club and see some time at shortstop as a backup to Ketel Marte, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Seattle briefly reached out to Jimmy Rollins prior to his deal with the White Sox, Dutton adds. While the Mariners have Luis Sardinas and Chris Taylor as backup options to Marte, neither has much Major League experience, nor does Marte himself, although Marte was somewhat quietly excellent in his rookie season last year.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post feels that the Yankees are making a mistake by relying on Starlin Castro and Rob Refsnyder as backup options to Chase Headley at third base. Neither player has much in the way of experience at the position, he notes, and while Chase Headley played in 156 games last season, he’s played through a herniated disk in his back and would probably be better-suited to play something closer to 130 games per year, in Sherman’s opinion. Sherman lists some options that the Yankees could keep an eye on in Spring Training as teams evaluate players on the fringe of their 25-man rosters. Interestingly, he notes that New York made a minor league offer to Juan Uribe as well before Uribe took a big league offer to serve as Cleveland’s primary third baseman.
- Pedro Alvarez will seemingly wait to if any additional opportunities present themselves during Spring Training before signing, as ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote in yesterday’s blog post (Insider required). Olney texted agent Scott Boras about his client and was met with the following reply: “Waiting for the best situation. As with all valued players the demand increases as spring training begins.” Interest in the defensively challenged Alvarez has been tepid thus far, but spring injuries often do create opportunities for players seeking a home. An injury to a club’s designated hitter or first baseman could create a suitor for Alvarez that doesn’t presently exist.
- The Angels never presented David Freese with a formal offer when the two sides were discussing a potential reunion earlier this winter, reports MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. Rather, the Angels shifted focus on picked up Yunel Escobar, whose fairly modest $7MM salary was a key to his acquisition, writes Gonzalez. Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun expressed some bewilderment that his former teammate hasn’t hooked on with a club yet, praising Freese as a positive not only on the field but in the clubhouse as well. “I don’t really know what’s going on,” Calhoun told Gonzalez. “It’s kind of crazy. … Good player, great in the clubhouse. It’s as surprising to me as it is to anyone around baseball.”