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The Blue Jays have announced that outfielder Melky Cabrera will be out for the rest of the season with right pinky finger fracture he suffered during Friday’s game, and he’ll have surgery next week. Cabrera is a free agent after the season, which means his career in Toronto could soon be over. As long as he figures to be healthy for the start of next season, though, he could be in for a nice payday in a free agent market that doesn’t feature much hitting. After struggling through the first season of his two-year deal with the Jays, Cabrera has bounced back in 2014, hitting .300/.348/.457 in 619 plate appearances. Cabrera’s injury is a blow to the Jays, who have won five games in a row to cling to their playoff hopes but are still 4 1/2 games back of the last Wild Card spot. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Twins catcher Josmil Pinto says he has no issue with the team signing Kurt Suzuki to a two-year extension, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. “It’s good,” says Pinto. “If I play a little more time with him, I’ll get more experience. He’s got like eight years in the big leagues.” Suzuki initially signed a one-year deal with the Twins before the season, and it looked like Pinto might take over once he left. But Suzuki hit well and won the respect of the Twins’ pitchers, and now it looks like Pinto will back him up as Suzuki’s extension kicks in next season.
- The Astros recently fired manager Bo Porter and bench coach Dave Trembley, and it’s unclear what will happen to their remaining coaches next season. But GM Jeff Luhnow is happy with them, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart writes. Luhnow points to performances by Chris Carter and Jose Altuve this season as evidence that the team’s hitting instruction has been good, and he says that pitching coach Brent Strom has done “a tremendous job.”
- Tigers third base coach Dave Clark would have interest in returning to Houston to manage the Astros, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports. “[I]t’s always intriguing to have your name mentioned as a possible managerial candidate. It’s definitely something I would entertain,” says Clark, a base coach with the Astros until he joined Brad Ausmus’ staff this season.
- Angels infielder John McDonald realizes the 2014 season might be his last, writes MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. “I don’t want to discount anything, but you’re also realistic about where you are in your career,” says the 39-year-old McDonald. “I’m at  at-bats right now, over the course of a full year, and last year I had the same. I’m also realistic.” McDonald has now played parts of 16 seasons with the Indians, Blue Jays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Phillies, Red Sox and Angels.
- The Yankees‘ performance this year should serve as a wake-up call to the team’s top brass, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues writes. The team’s usual strategy of signing the best free agents doesn’t work as well as it used to, Axisa writes, but the advent of the luxury tax has limited the Yankees’ advantage over other teams — the Yankees’ payroll has stayed roughly static in the last several years, while other teams’ payrolls have risen. And the number of pre-free-agency extensions means fewer players hit free agency during their prime years. The Yankees will need to stop depending so heavily on veteran free agents, Axisa suggests.
In an excellent piece at Fangraphs, August Fagerstrom looks at the Athletics‘ acquisition of Adam Dunn as the final piece of GM Billy Beane’s playoff roster. Fagerstrom notes that if the A’s play in a Wild Card game — which is very likely — they’ll likely face either Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Shields, Yordano Ventura, Max Scherzer or David Price. Five of the six are right-handed, making Dunn a formidable weapon in such a matchup. Beyond that, Fagerstrom looks at the Athletics’ bench versus a right-handed pitcher and versus a left-handed pitcher, noting that each group is composed of entirely different players (with the exception of Sam Fuld). However, each group will also feature two catchers that can hit reasonably well, an infielder that can play all four infield positions, and a pair of elite defensive outfielders. The balance of the roster is truly impressive, and Fagerstrom’s piece highlights the roster construction particularly well.
Here’s more from the AL West…
- In a lengthy piece for ESPN The Magazine, Tim Keown spoke with Beane at length about his team’s bold moves this season and the competition they’re facing in their quest for the World Series. Beane referred to division rival Mike Trout as “the best player who has ever walked on the planet” and said he doesn’t care for the narrative that the A’s are “all in” this season: “Just assume that every move we make in the front office means we’re all-in. We can’t afford a five-year plan, so every move means we’re trying to win every game we possibly can. All-in — I never liked that term. For one thing, I don’t have that many chips to throw into the middle of the table.” Keown also spoke with Jon Lester about his trade from the Red Sox to Oakland, and his piece also contains quotes from assistant GM Farhan Zaidi and Jeff Samardzija. The entire article is well worth the read not only for A’s fans, but for baseball fans in general.
- Angels infielder John McDonald tells Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that he may end up retiring following the 2014 season. McDonald says he’s more than aware of his dwindling playing time — he’s received just 81 PA despite appearing in 81 games this season — and knows the market for 40-year-old infielders isn’t great. “I got more out of my career than I ever thought was possible,” said McDonald. “I didn’t think I’d get a day in the big leagues, let alone parts of 16 years.” For the time being, he’s trying not to even think about the offseason, however, as it’s “just too much fun” to go to the stadium every day in the midst of a pennant race.
- In a second Fangraphs piece pertaining to the AL West, Tony Blengino (former special assistant to the GM with the Mariners) looks at Dustin Ackley‘s batted ball data in an attempt to determine whether or not his second-half resurgence is legitimate. As Blengino notes, Ackley’s production has soared on pulled fly-balls, and his line-drive production has trended upward as well. The trade off has been some loss of authority on ground-balls, but as he notes, hitters will gladly make that swap. Blengino concludes that Ackley may never become a star, as his previously excellent walk rate now looks more pedestrian, but he’s capable of hitting .275-.280 with a .310-.310 OBP and a slugging percentage around .425 with solid-or-better defense in left field — an asset that seemed unlikely just a few months ago.
- Also of interest, Blengino discusses how those with the benefit of hindsight may wonder why Trout didn’t go at the top of the draft class when Ackley was selected, but most clubs felt he was too raw to select near the top of the draft despite being an obvious talent. The Mariners had Stephen Strasburg atop their board and Ackley second, and current Reds righty Mike Leake was “likely” their backup plan should anything go wrong with Ackley, whom he says was “considered a pretty obvious second selection back in 2009.”
The Dodgers have the highest projected payroll in baseball at $235MM, which means that, for the first time in 15 years, the Yankees do not have baseball's highest payroll, the Associated Press reports. Also, the Dodgers' Zack Greinke will top the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez for baseball's highest-paid player. Greinke will make $24MM in the second year of his contract, and MLB's accounting also includes a prorated portion of his signing bonus. Greinke would have counted as the highest-paid player in the game even if Rodriguez hadn't been suspended for the season. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- Pitcher Scott Baker is "making progress" on a deal with the injury-ravaged Rangers, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com tweets. The Mariners released Baker yesterday. Baker, 32, has played sparingly in the Majors since 2011, due to elbow troubles.
- The Mariners want to find a right-handed hitter, and they might not trade Nick Franklin unless they find one, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets. A righty would help the Mariners balance a lefty-heavy lineup that includes Robinson Cano, Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders.
- Veteran infielder John McDonald has made the Angels roster, and he's thinking about what could be his last season in the big leagues, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. "This could be my last year," McDonald says. "I'm not going to have a press conference to announce it. … You never know what can happen. I don't like putting a timetable on anything. I'm 39. I'm not foolish. There is only so long you can play." McDonald has never played more than 123 games in a season but, mostly thanks to his defense, he's managed to eke out a 15-year career with the Indians, Tigers, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Indians, Phillies, Red Sox and now the Angels.
Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they are not on the team's 25-man roster or the Major League disabled list five days prior to the season.
Free agents who qualify for this distinction are those who have at least six years of Major League service time and had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season, but signed a minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day.
MLBTR has confirmed with MLB that the deadline for teams to decide on these players is today at 11am central time. By the deadline, teams with these players in camp need to decide whether to:
- Add the player to their 25-man roster or Major League disabled list (or agree to do so in writing).
- Grant the player his outright release from the minor league contract so that he may pursue opportunities with other teams.
- Pay the player a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization beyond the deadline and send him to the minors.
Here's the latest news from around the league on Article XX(B) signees and their roster statuses with their respective teams (newest updates on top).
- Delmon Young receives a $100K bonus from the Orioles, tweets Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
- The Rockies have decided to pay righty Nick Masset a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization, rather than releasing him or guaranteeing him an active roster spot, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.
- As posted already, Endy Chavez and Humberto Quintero of the Mariners have been released rather than receiving the roster bonus to be held in the minors.
- The Indians have announced that DH Jason Giambi will be placed on the DL retroactive to March 21, meaning that the team will need to add him to its 40-man roster.
- John McDonald has been added to the Angels' 40-man roster and will be the club's utility infielder on Opening Day, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). The club has already released its three other Article XX(B) free agents.
- The Mets have elected to pay pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka a $100K retention bonus rather than guaranteeing him an Opening Day roster spot or releasing him, the club announced on Twitter. Matsuzaka, who signed as an Article XX(B) free agent, will apparently compete with Jenrry Mejia for the fifth and final rotation slot right up until the start of the season.
- Zach Duke has been informed that he has made the Brewers, tweets MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Duke will be the third lefty (and, potentially, long man) in the pen.
- Earlier today we learned that Jason Kubel would make the Twins Opening Day roster.
The Angels have signed infielder John McDonald to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com on Twitter. McDonald will earn $850K, plus incentives, if he makes the big league club, Bradford further tweets. The 39-year-old is represented by Relativity Baseball.
Last year was an adventurous campaign even for the well-traveled McDonald. He saw limited time with four MLB clubs: the Pirates, Indians, Phillies, and Red Sox. Over just 77 plate appearances, McDonald slashed a meager .116/.197/.174.
McDonald has spent the bulk of his fifteen seasons to date in Cleveland and Toronto. He has a lifetime .235/.274/.327 triple-slash in 2,560 plate appearances. The slick fielder continues to hang his hat on his defensive ability. Spending most of his time up the middle at short and second, McDonald has accumulated a lifetime 10.8 rWAR through his defense, while being a net negative with the bat.
Even with the high cost of free agent pitching, Ervin Santana's hopes for a $100MM contract seemed a little far-fetched…or are they? Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looked at the binder of information that agents Bean Stringfellow and Joe White prepared about their client and saw a wealth of favorable statistics in Santana's favor, noting his durability, good health, and even comparisons to Zack Greinke. MLBTR's Steve Adams only predicted a five-year, $75MM deal for Santana on the open market but it only takes one team to make a leap.
Here's some news from around baseball…
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the team has "real interest at different levels" in re-signing its six free agents, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Cherington has "had conversations" about bringing back Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan and John McDonald, though Abraham reports that the team has most extensively discussed a new deal with Napoli.
- The Red Sox aren't expected to make acquisitions during the GM meetings this week, Cherington said.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman has "no idea" if Hiroki Kuroda is interested in returning to the club, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. “My conversations with his agent, the only information I’ve gotten from that is he hasn’t made any decisions, what he wants to do as far as next year’s concerned," Cashman said. Kuroda has been rumored to be weighing re-signing with the Yankees, pitching in Japan or retiring, though a return to southern California to be closer to his family probably isn't out of the question either.
- Robinson Cano's next contract might not meet his expectations simply because the Yankees are the only team with the need and finances to come close to his demands, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes.
- Jason Bay isn't sure if he will play in 2014, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets. The 35-year-old Bay was released by the Mariners in August and only has a .688 OPS in 1361 PA over his last four seasons, most of which were shortened by injury.
- Agent Barry Praver said that his clients Manny Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano were hoping to again play in the Major Leagues, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). Ramirez is staying in shape and would be open to playing in Japan, while Zambrano is pitching in the Venezuelan winter league.
- Wily Mo Pena is expected to re-sign in Japan, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (Twitter link). Pena signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks following the 2011 season and enjoyed a big 2012 before suffering through an injury-plagued 2013 campaign. Nicholson-Smith notes that Pena had interested suitors in both Japan and North America. Pena turns 32 in January and hit .250/.303/.445 with 84 homers in 1845 career PA with the Reds, Red Sox, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Mariners from 2002-11.
Reliever Vic Black did not suspect he would be headed to the Mets as the player to be named in the Marlon Byrd deal with the Pirates, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com writes. "It never crossed my mind," Black says. Black notes that his goal is to close in the big leagues, saying that he has the aggressive mentality necessary to be a closer. He also has closer-type stuff, with a plus fastball and a slider. Black had a 2.51 ERA with 12.2 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 Triple-A Indianapolis this season. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The loss of Black and, potentially, Duke Welker (who may or may not be headed to the Twins as the PTBNL in the Justin Morneau trade) will add more uncertainty to a Pirates' Triple-A Indianapolis roster that has already had more than its share of flux. Brian Peloza of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review writes that the Pirates have promoted 18 different players from Indianapolis this season, more than other NL playoff contenders. Those players include Black, Welker, Alex Presley (the other player included in the Morneau deal), and top prospect Gerrit Cole.
- The Phillies believe that Rob Rasmussen, the pitcher they received when they traded Michael Young to the Dodgers, could end up as a reliever, Bob Brookover of the Inquirer reports. "He's starting now, but he could be a guy later on who could pitch in the bullpen," GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says. "Lefthanders are always valuable. He's viewed as a really strong makeup kid with a big arm." Rasmussen, 24, had a 2.55 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 for Double-A Chattanooga in 2013, although he struggled in 54 1/3 innings for Triple-A Albuquerque.
- Connecticut native and Massachusetts resident John McDonald is happy that a trade to the Red Sox brought him home, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. "[G]rowing up in New England, and getting to play in Fenway, and to put this uniform on today, it’s pretty awesome," McDonald says. The Red Sox will be the fourth team the infielder has played for this season, having also suited up for the Pirates, Indians and Phillies.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno needs to share his plan to rebuild the team with superstar outfielder Mike Trout, argues the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin. Trout will be close to free agency by the time it will become possible for the Angels to return to contention, at least on a regular basis, Shaikin says.
- The Rockies need to acquire a veteran starter in the offseason, and they also need bullpen help and a right-handed power bat, Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post writes. Nonetheless, Renck suggests that the improvements in the Rockies' rotation this year (their 2013 starters have a 4.37 ERA, compared to a 5.81 ERA in 2012) suggest that the team is heading in the right direction.
The Red Sox have acquired infielder John McDonald from the Phillies in exchange for minor league pitcher Nefi Ogando, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets. Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe adds that the Phillies are sending cash along in the deal (Twitter link).
The Red Sox become the fourth team this year for McDonald, who has also seen time with the Pirates and the Indians. The 38-year-old has appeared at second base, shortstop and third base in 2013, but has managed just a .098/.179/.164 batting line in 68 plate appearances. A 15-year veteran, McDonald is a career .235/.274/.327 hitter.
Ogando, 24, has thrown 55 innings for the Red Sox's high-A affiliate this season, posting a 4.09 ERA with a 7.2 K/9 and a 4.4 BB/9. He wasn't ranked among Boston's top 10 prospects by Baseball America after the 2012 season.
The Phillies acquired infielder John McDonald from the Indians today for a player to be named later or cash considerations, announced the team. McDonald is expected to join the Phillies tomorrow in Los Angeles, at which point they'll make a corresponding 25-man roster move. The Phils cleared a 40-man spot by outrighting catcher Steven Lerud.
Johnny Mac, 38, joined the Pirates in a March trade with the Diamondbacks and was traded to Cleveland on June 10th. The Indians designated McDonald for assignment yesterday to make room for Asdrubal Cabrera. The veteran is known for his glovework; he's played shortstop, second base, and third base this year.
The 38-year-old McDonald appeared in eight games for the Tribe but only recorded eight plate appearances. He went hitless for Cleveland and has collected just two hits in 38 at-bats this season between the Pirates and Indians. For his career, McDonald is just a .236/.274/.327 hitter. He's been an outstanding defender at shortstop according to both UZR and DRS, however.