Jair Jurrjens Rumors
The Tigers announced (via Twitter) that they have signed Jair Jurrjens to a minor league contract. Jurrjens declined an outright assignment from the Orioles last week, electing free agency instead. He will join Triple-A Toledo on Friday.
The 27-year-old Jurrjens returns to the team that signed him as an international free agent back in 2003 after a lengthy stint with the Braves and a half season in the Orioles organization. Jurrjens was traded from the Tigers to the Braves along with Gorkys Hernandez in exchange for Edgar Renteria in 2007. From 2008-11 with Atlanta, Jurrjens pitched to a 3.34 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 671 2/3 innings. He finished third in th 2008 NL Rookie of the Year voting and earned an All-Star berth in 2011.
Following a knee injury, however, Jurrjens has been unable to get his career on track. He's thrown just 55 2/3 innings at the big league level over the past two seasons, posting an unsightly 6.63 ERA. In 94 2/3 innings for Baltimore's Triple-A affiliate this season, Jurrjens posted a 4.18 ERA with 4.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9.
Righty Jair Jurrjens elected free agency, announced the Orioles, rather than accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A Norfolk after clearing waivers. Jurrjens had been designated for assignment on Friday, as the Orioles sought a 40-man roster spot for Jairo Asencio.
Jurrjens, 27, agreed to a Major League deal with the Orioles in January worth $1.5MM after being non-tendered by the Braves. After the team expressed concerns with his physical, Jurrjens agreed to a minor league deal the following month. His contract was selected in May, and he bounced up and down until being removed from the 40-man roster on June 30th, at which point he chose not to elect free agency.
Jurrjens, an All-Star with the Braves in 2011, made only two big league appearances this year. At Triple-A he posted a 4.18 ERA, 4.9 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, and 0.48 HR/9 in 94 2/3 innings across 16 starts.
The Orioles announced on Twitter that they have designated right-hander Jair Jurrjens for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Jairo Asencio, who has been called up from Triple-A Norfolk.
The 27-year-old Jurrjens appeared in two games (one start) for the Orioles after agreeing to a minor league contract with Baltimore this offseason, allowing four runs in 7 1/3 innings of work. He pitched well out of the gates for Norfolk but has posted an unsightly 5.32 ERA over his past eight starts for the Tides. In 94 2/3 minor league innings this season he has an impressive 2.3 BB/9 rate but just a 4.9 K/9 rate.
Asencio was acquired from the Brewers in Spring Training for a player to be named later or cash. In 37 2/3 innings for Norfolk this season, he has a 2.15 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9. The Orioles will be the fourth big league team for which the 30-year-old Asencio has pitched. He has compiled 53 1/3 innings of Major League experience betweeen the Braves, Cubs and Indians.
Today's minor moves from around the league...
- Justin Thomas exercised his out clause with the Athletics and is now a free agent, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). Thomas made 16 starts for the club's Triple-A affiliate, posting a 4.48 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
- The Nationals have granted Micah Owings his release from Triple-A Syracuse, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. The former pitcher had been trying to make the team as a position player. He batted .265/.305/.480 with eight homers and played primarily left field in 57 games for the Chiefs this season.
- In addition to the two Rays moves below, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that the team signed recently released right-hander Ramon Ramirez. The 31-year-old was an elite setup ma from 2008-11, posting a 2.77 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 for the Royals, Red Sox and Giants, but he's struggled the past two seasons in San Francisco.
- The Rays have released Triple-A right-hander Will Inman and signed outfielder Evan Frey, the team announced on Twitter. Inman, 26, posted a 6.47 ERA with more walks than strikeouts in 32 innings. Frey is a .271/.369/.357 hitter in 213 career games at Triple-A.
- Jonathan Sanchez has decided against exercising his July 1 opt-out clause with the Dodgers and instead negotiated a new opt-out date, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The lefty signed with the Dodgers in May but only got the opportunity to start two games for Triple-A Albuquerque. Sanchez began the year with the Pirates but didn't last long as he was designated for assignment after just five appearances and an 11.85 ERA.
- Jair Jurrjens has been officially optioned to Triple-A, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles optioned Jurrjens rather than technically designating him for assignment, though he had the right to refuse the assignment. Jurrjens accepted, and will report to Norfolk in 72 hours (All Twitter links).
- Nine players are in DFA limbo: Carlos Marmol (Cubs), Francisley Bueno (Royals), Eric Hinske (D-Backs), Luis Cruz (Dodgers), Alex Liddi (Mariners), Clayton Mortensen (Red Sox), Travis Ishikawa (Orioles), Jeff Francoeur (Royals) and Matt Guerrier (Dodgers).
The Orioles have tweeted they have designated Jair Jurrjens for assignment off the 25-man roster to clear a spot for Brian Roberts. Roberts, who had been on the 60-day disabled list recovering from a right hamstring strain, is in the lineup tonight against the Yankees as the DH batting ninth.
Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports Jurrjens will go on option waivers, but is expected to clear and be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk (Twitter links). Dan Connolly, Encina's colleague at the Sun, tweets Jurrjens, once officially optioned, will have 72 hours to decide whether he will report to Norfolk and writes the right-hander will take that time, but will go. MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko adds Jurrjens could not be optioned because he was on the active roster for only one day and that the Orioles used the same procedural move with reliever Alex Burnett earlier this year (Twitter links). The Orioles, however, lost Burnett to a waiver claim by the Cubs.
Jurrjens has made two appearances for the Orioles this year including 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the Orioles' 11-3 win over the Yankees last night. Jurrjens' other appearance was a start against the Rays on May 18 where he allowed four earned runs and struck out five in five innings. The 27-year-old right-hander, signed by the Orioles to a minor league deal in February, has posted a 4.06 ERA, 5.3 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in 14 starts (84 1/3 innings) at Triple-A Norfolk.
When players with significant Major League experience settle for minor league contracts, it's commonplace for these deals to contain opt-out clauses. If the player hasn't been added to the 25-man roster by a certain point, he can exercise the clause and seek employment with another organization. Such clauses aren't always made publicly available, but here's a list of some of the pitchers who have known opt-out dates that are nearing...
- Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees: Wang can opt out of his contract on May 31. In five starts spanning 31 2/3 innings at Triple-A thus far, the 33-year-old has a 2.84 ERA, 4.3 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9. The Yankees have said they don't feel Wang's minor league success will translate to the Majors just yet, as they want him to rely more on his breaking pitches than just his sinker.
- Tim Stauffer, Padres: Stauffer can opt out of his deal "around June 1," according to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He appeared in just one game for San Diego before needing season-ending surgery but posted a 3.24 ERA in 341 1/3 innings for the Friars from 2009-11. So far in Triple-A, the 30-year-old has a 3.16 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 42 2/3 innings.
- Sean O'Sullivan, Padres: Currently Stauffer's rotation-mate, O'Sullivan has the same opt-out clause in his contract (near June 1) despite being just 25 years of age. O'Sullivan has a 4.19 ERA, 8.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 43 innings for Triple-A Tucson. He's had a rough time in the Majors, however, as evidenced by his 6.13 ERA in 193 2/3 big league innings.
- Jeremy Bonderman, Mariners: Bonderman's opt-out date is June 1, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. Still just 30 years of age, Bonderman has been solid for Triple-A Tacoma. He's pitched to a 3.70 ERA, 5.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in eight starts spanning 48 2/3 innings. Olney feels Bonderman will opt out if he's not called up in the next couple of weeks, and I'm inclined to agree.
- Jair Jurrjens, Orioles: Jurrjens has an opt-out date of June 15. After a drastic fall from grace in the Braves organization, the 27-year-old has looked sharp at Triple-A Norfolk in 2013. He's compiled a 2.62 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in seven starts spanning 44 2/3 innings.
All of the pitchers listed here have pitched well enough that they could make a case for helping a Major League team with a struggling rotation. It seems likely that by mid-June, each could force his way onto a Major League roster, even if it's with a new organization. If you see a notable omission with a known opt-out date, speak up in the comments section.
The home run by the Athletics' Adam Rosales that never was on Wednesday could become the shot heard around the world in the debate over instant replay. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle are both advocating for a five-man umpiring crew. Haudricourt rebuts arguments that it is too expensive to add a fifth umpire or too time consuming to expand replay noting MLB is an $8B industry and the discussions over blown calls waste more time than a replay. Slusser supports a fifth umpire to monitor games from a booth in the press box and a neutral crew in New York of perhaps three people to have access to all available replay angles and make the final call on all video reviews. John Shea, Slusser's colleague at the Chronicle, doesn't believe expanded replay will help immediately because, until umpires are better held accountable for their errors, you cannot trust the people overseeing the system. Let's review the news from the American League East:
- Wei-Yin Chen left today's game with what the Orioles are calling a strained right oblique although the lefty hopes it is only a cramp and will be evaluated on their off day, tweets Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com. The Orioles have several in-house options, if Chen lands on the disabled list, tweets CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff, including Jair Jurrjens, who has a June 15 opt-out clause. Jake Arrieta, another possible in-house candidate, did not make his scheduled start in Triple-A today because of a tender shoulder, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN.com (via Twitter).
- The Yankees will soon face some tough decisions regarding roster spots and playing time as several of their injured players are nearing a return to action, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The Blue Jays will remain patient with Ricky Romero because of the $23.1MM guaranteed the left-hander through 2015, even if it is just to make him attractive in a trade, according to the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin. That patience will be further tested by Romero's dismal debut at Triple-A Buffalo yesterday: six runs allowed on ten hits with five walks, a balk, and a wild pitch in 3 2/3 innings. "I guess it’s a little disappointing to see those numbers but I know he’s still working hard and I still think he’s on the right path,” Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
The Orioles will soon face roster decisions on left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada and right-hander Jair Jurrjens, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports. If all goes well in Wada's extended Spring Training game today, the Orioles can send him on a minor league rehab assignment for as many as 30 days. Wada's contract -- a two-year, $8.15MM pact -- stipulates that he cannot be optioned to the minors without his consent.
Wada has yet to appear in a game for the Orioles since signing that contract prior to the 2012 season. He made just one appearance for the O's at Triple-A before being diagnosed with a torn UCL and undergoing Tommy John surgery. Prior to the signing, Wada was coming off a two-year stretch in which he posted a 2.29 ERA in 354 innings in Japan.
The Orioles could consider a relief role for Wada, but the team already has three left-handers in Troy Patton, Brian Matusz and T.J. McFarland. Patton has drawn trade interest, according to Kubatko, but there's no indication that the Orioles would move him -- especially before ascertaining that McFarland can succeed over the course of a full season. McFarland, a Rule 5 pick, has allowed a .318/.348/.545 batting line to opposing lefties thus far.
Further complicating matters is the fact that Jurrjens has a June 15 opt-out clause in his minor league contract. Jurrjens has posted a 2.62 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in seven starts spanning 44 2/3 innings for the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate thus far.
The O's are currently deploying a rotation that consists of Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman, Steve Johnson and Freddy Garcia. Johnson will make his first start Saturday due to the fact that Miguel Gonzalez hit the disabled list with a blister on his thumb. Obviously, that ailment won't keep Gonzalez out for a significant period of time. Garcia seems to be the odd man out, but Kubatko notes that he's pitched well in both of his starts for Baltimore aside from a one-inning hiccup in each.
Beyond all the names listed by Kubatko, the Orioles also have intriguing arms in Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton currently pitching at Triple-A. Each former top prospect has looked sharp at Norfolk, but neither has a clear-cut rotation spot at the Major League level.
It's a bit early in the season to be working out significant trades -- and this is just my speculation -- but the Phillies have made it known that they are considering outside candidates to replace Roy Halladay in their rotation. Perhaps the two sides could line up as trade partners sometime in the next month.
One Scott Boras client created a tense moment for another today as Prince Fielder lined a ball off the left hand of Stephen Strasburg during a Spring Training game. Strasburg seemed fine after the knock and continuing pitching, finishing the outing with three runs allowed and five strikeouts over six innings of work.
Here's the latest from around the Beltway from both the Nationals' and Orioles' camps...
- Matt Wieters told Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com that he would be open to discusing a multiyear extension with the Orioles but didn't confirm whether any talks had taken place. "At this point, I am getting ready for the year and if something were to ever develop, I'd pretty much tell Scott [agent Scott Boras] to present the information," Wieters said. O's executive VP Dan Duquette said in January that the team would likely approach Wieters about a long-term deal at some point during the offseason, while the catcher said he just wants to focus on playing once Opening Day hits. Wieters has two more arbitration eligible years left and is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
- Jair Jurrjens can't opt out of his Orioles contract until June 15, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (via Twitter). The O's signed the veteran righty to a minor league deal last month.
- The Nationals are internally confident that Gio Gonzalez won't be suspended for his connection to the controversial Biogenesis clinic in Miami, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. MLB is continuing to investigate Gonzalez and other players named in the clinic's records, though last month it was reported that no banned substances were among Gonzalez's alleged purchases from Biogenesis.
- Nationals center field prospect Eury Perez could become trade bait after this season, MLB.com's Bill Ladson opines as part of a reader mailbag. Perez has become expendable with Denard Span in center and other prospects like Brian Goodwin and Michael Taylor also in the mix.
- Nats GM Mike Rizzo hinted to reporters (including Ladson) that Chris Young may opt out of his contract on or before March 24 since there doesn't seem to be room for the right-hander on the Nationals' Major League roster. "We are certainly not going to keep him in the minor leagues if he has a chance at a big league job," Rizzo said. "That's only right. That's how we get these players to come with us under these conditions, because they know we are going to do right by them and treat them well."
- "We'll know what other teams think of him," Rizzo said of utilityman Carlos Rivero, who is out of options. "He is a good, versatile player. He is a guy that could help some teams....We'll see shortly." Rivero, 24, has a .265/.322/.386 line over 3222 career PA in the minor leagues since 2006. Here is the full list of this year's out of options players.
MLBTR’s offseason in review series is just getting started, but the AL East is now complete. Click here to see how the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles navigated their respective offseasons. Here are some more links from the division...
- The Red Sox aren't close to bumping up against MLB's luxury tax, as Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com shows. With commitments in the $163MM range, the Red Sox have $15MM separating them from the $178MM threshold.
- Ichiro Suzuki explained to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post that he wanted to re-sign with the Yankees because of the team's focused emphasis on winning. “Those are things that I wanted in a clubhouse and on a team, and I didn’t know that it existed,” Ichiro said. “I kind of had given up hope that I would find that ideal clubhouse, kind of how I felt how about a clubhouse should be. And I was able to find that last year, and that was here.”
- In a video blog Davidoff explains that Brian Cashman's recent misadventure won't stop him from doing his job as the Yankees' general manager. Cashman broke his right fibula and dislocated his right ankle after jumping out of a parachute to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project two days ago.
- Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner are among the ten most powerful people in baseball, Tom Verducci writes at SI.com. Commissioner Bud Selig tops Verducci's list.
- The Orioles like what they see from Jair Jurrjens this spring, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. Jurrjens, who signed a minor league deal with Baltimore this past offseason, is one of 13 Orioles pitchers competing for a rotation spot this spring.