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Jose Iglesias Rumors
James Schmehl of MLive.com has the fascinating story of Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias‘s defection from Cuba. Just 18 years old at the time, Iglesias acknowledges being scared — not just of the act of escape, but of the broader uncertainty. As Schmehl explains, the risks of the undertaking extend beyond making it out and not being able to get back in. The fact is, many ballplayers ultimately do not receive significant bonuses and/or do not ultimately make it in professional baseball. You’ll want to give the whole piece a read to learn more about Iglesias.
Here’s more from the Cuban scene:
- Cuban star Yulieski Gourriel, 30, says that he aspires to play in the big leagues (for the Yankees) but will not attempt to defect, Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff reports. Long one of the island’s most coveted players, the infielder has dominated Cuba’s Serie Nacionale with a mix of power and on-base ability. Playing last year in Japan, he slashed .305/.349/.536. “This is the dream of all players — to play at the maximum level of baseball in all the world,” Gourriel said. “… We are ready for the lifting of the blockade. Then we can come play.” Gourriel himself has obviously reached an age where his appeal is waning, though his younger brother Lourdes Gourriel is an intriguing talent whose future could be impacted significantly by changes in the political climate (if any).
- 20-year-old righty Carlos Sierra is one of several Cuban players who will be worth learning about in the months to come, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports. Interestingly, Sierra has been permitted to leave Cuba legally to play in Spain, with plans to come stateside, because he was able to achieve Spanish citizenship. Also in the process of looking for a professional deal is 24-year-old righty Jorge Hernandez, who is presently showcasing for teams. And infielder/outfielder Alejandro Ortiz, 25, is also now eligible to sign.
- And, of course, the most prominent names — Yadier Alvarez and Andy Ibanez — remain unsigned at present. The league has yet to act upon Alvarez’s request for a waiver that would allow him to sign in this or the following July 2 signing period.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski addressed a number of points with the media yesterday, and Jason Beck of MLB.com provides a transcript of his comments. Here are the key takeaways:
- Dombrowski listed the team’s top three priorities. First among them is deciding on an approach in center, which he said could either mean finding a platoon partner for the right-handed hitting Rajai Davis or going with a new, full-time option. Second: improving the bullpen, with some new arms potentially coming from within. And finally, the team wants to add another left-handed bat in some capacity. The GM rejected the notion that the club’s contention window is closing, saying he has confidence in its veteran core.
- Explaining that he is more concerned about Alex Avila‘s concussion issues on a human level than in terms of planning, Dombrowski said that he is confident in the team’s situation behind the plate. He expects Avila to be able to man the position next year, but also likes prospect James McCann as a long-term piece.
- Dombrowski said that he does not know whether Torii Hunter will retire. If he elects to play, the club values his clubhouse presence immensely but has yet to make any decisions as to whether it would pursue him in free agency. Dombrowski also discussed prospect Steven Moya, who could be a long-term replacement for Hunter. “I don’t know if he’s going to be ready or not,” Dombrowski said of Moya. “You can hope and he may be ready, but I’m not really sure. His performance in the Arizona Fall League, then going to winter ball will be important for him.”
- Soon-to-be free agent starter Max Scherzer appears set to test the market, and Dombrowski did nothing to curb the idea that he could be headed for a new team. “Well, we had thorough conversations before the season, and I don’t know that it’s all dictated by us at this point,” said Dombrowski. “I think we made ourselves pretty well known at the time where we stood. … I think we probably made more of an effort to sign Max earlier in the year. So I don’t think your odds improve [from] what they were earlier. Why would they improve if we have one-on-one ability to speak with you, compared to having 29 other clubs speak with you? Only time will tell.”
- In terms of a possible replacement in the rotation, Dombrowski said the team has internal options and may not feel the need to add an arm via free agency. “I think we have some young pitchers we feel pretty comfortable with at this point,” said Dombrowski, “… but I feel comfortable staying internal with the four guys we would have at that point. But again, we haven’t made that decision.”
- The prognosis on shortstop Jose Iglesias is positive, says Dombrowski. Though he will allow manager Brad Ausmus a chance to evaluate him in the spring, the GM says that he expects Iglesias to take the everyday job “if he returns to the form of the past.” On the other hand, Dombrowski said the team needs to be prepared if Iglesias is not at full strength.
- Detroit’s closer situation will probably not undergo changes over the offseason, said Dombrowski. Joe Nathan will likely have the ninth inning job going into the year, but will need to “perform up to the capabilities required” to keep it. Elsewhere in the relief corps, young power reliever Bruce Rondon, who underwent Tommy John surgery, is expected to be ready for the year, says Dombrowski.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo is everybody’s bridesmaid right now. He has a strong resume that has prepared him for managing, but he hasn’t gotten his big break yet. There are others in the same boat, including Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach and Athletics bench coach Chip Hale. Lovullo hopes that like Bo Porter, he can break through it eventually. Here’s more from today’s column..
- Manager Joe Girardi says otherwise, but Cafardo writes that the Yankees are viewing Alex Rodriguez are more of a DH than a third baseman possibility in 2015. A-Rod’s ability to play third could have an impact on the Yankees’ offseason plans, including whether to re-sign Chase Headley.
- Orioles lefty Andrew Miller is a strong union man who will seek the best contract for himself when he reaches free agency. Miller wants to return to the Red Sox, if they’re not close on money, but he’ll ultimately go to the highest bidder. Major league sources tell Cafardo that they believe the bidding will start at three years, $21MM.
- There was some trade buzz around shortstop Jose Iglesias but it now looks like he may be back in the driver’s seat as the Tigers‘ future shortstop. Eugenio Suarez and Andrew Romine both showed promise at times, but they’ve each had their runs and fizzled out. Iglesias has recovered fully from stress fractures in both shins and is expected to pick up where he left off as one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball.
- The A’s are open to trading anyone, the Red Sox are looking for a backup left-handed hitter, and John Jaso seems to fit the profile for what Boston wants. Jaso started 47 games this season for the A’s, who also used him at DH.
The Pirates announced, via press release, that Pedro Alvarez has been diagnosed with a stress reaction of the fourth metatarsal in his left foot — an injury that comes with a four to six week recovery timeline. The powerful Alvarez had lost playing time to Josh Harrison at third base but has still seen the occasional start at the hot corner plus some starts at first base and DH (during interleague play, of course). That injury seems likely to sideline him for the remainder of the 2014 season, meaning that his campaign will come to a close with a rather disappointing .231/.312/.405 slash line and 18 homers.
Here are some more notes pertaining to notable injuries from around the league…
- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will undergo surgery on his left hand tomorrow, thereby ending his 2014 season. It’s been a rough few weeks for Pedroia, who also missed time due to concussion-like symptoms at the end of August after an on-field collision. The ’08 MVP batted .278/.337/.376 this season, which despite translating to league-average production (101 OPS+), is the least-productive full season he’s had in terms of rate stats.
- While the Bucs and BoSox received bad news today, the Tigers got some good news regarding Jose Iglesias‘ injuries, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com. Iglesias was cleared for lower body workouts after receiving a CT scan and MRI that showed the stress fractures in each of his shins have healed. The defensive wizard has not been able to do any lower body work while dealing with the injuries but will now accelerate his rehab with a physical therapist in Miami before beginning an offseason training program in November. He appears to be on track for a 2015 return, says Iott, who spoke with head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and was told this was “the best possible outcome we could hope for.”
It’s difficult to tell whether the Nationals could be very busy or stand pat before the trade deadine, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes. It seems like the Nats are at least exploring a number of options, as Kilgore reports…
- The Nationals have asked the Astros about available relievers, and Houston had scouts watching the Nats’ Triple-A and Class A affiliates over the weekend. Left-hander Tony Sipp best fits the Nationals’ needs, Kilgore surmises, since Washington is thin on southpaw relief options.
- The Nationals haven’t talked to the Diamondbacks about Aaron Hill or Martin Prado. Either player could fill the hole at second base created by Ryan Zimmerman‘s injury (Anthony Rendon moved to third), or Prado could simply play third and Rendon could return to second. Kilgore isn’t sure the Nats want to pay Hill the $26MM he’s owed through 2016, however, though Hill loved playing for manager Matt Williams when Williams was a D’Backs coach. Arizona is reportedly shopping Hill but “barely listening” to inquiries about Prado.
- With Jose Iglesias possibly on the trade block in Detroit, Kilgore thinks the Nats could be interested given the team’s desire to add a young shortstop as depth if Ian Desmond can’t be extended. The Tigers had a scout watching the Nationals’ Class A team recently, Kilgore notes, though that isn’t necessarily related to Iglesias.
- Speaking of scouting assignments, the Rangers had an evaluator watching a recent game between the Nationals’ and Braves’ Triple-A teams. The two NL East rivals are both known to be looking for relief pitching.
- Washington had scouts watching two recent Red Sox series, and Kilgore figures that they were checking out relievers Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller. Earlier today, Peter Gammons reported that the Nats were interested in Miller.
The Phillies have a number of major trade chips on their roster, but the perception around baseball is that they’re asking for too much in return, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in his weekly notes column. Cafardo recently wrote that Philadelphia wanted three prospects in exchange for Cole Hamels, only to be told by a Phillies official that three was “too conservative” a number. The Phillies, for their part, say they’re simply looking for “a fair deal” for any of their veteran stars. Here’s some more from Cafardo’s latest piece…
- The Tigers are so impressed with Eugenio Suarez‘s play that they could look to trade Jose Iglesias, according to some scouts. It would definitely be a sell-low move on Iglesias, who seemed to be Detroit’s shortstop of the future before stress fractures in his shins cost him the entire 2014 season.
- The Red Sox were one of a few teams considering a move for Martin Prado, whose positional versatility and good clubhouse reputation would make a strong trade candidate, though the Diamondbacks have little desire to move him. The Blue Jays were another team known to be scouting Prado.
- The Red Sox are facing a 40-man roster crunch with several notable prospects in the offseason, and Cafardo wonders if the club could package some of these youngsters in a trade rather than risk losing them in the Rule 5 draft.
- One AL scout disagrees with the general belief that the Yankees lack the minor league depth to move any prospects at the deadline. “They have more in their farm system than people think. They have some arms, they have the Aaron Judge kid, [Luis] Severino, [Gary] Sanchez, [Peter] O’Brien, [Eric] Jagielo. If they wanted to make a deal, they have enough to give up,” the scout said.
Any Tigers fans that were holding out hope for a Jose Iglesias return in late 2014 will have to wait until next year, as GM Dave Dombrowski told Tony Paul of the Detroit News today that the team doesn’t expect the defensive wizard back at any point in 2014. Previous reports had indicated that Iglesias was likely to miss “most” of 2014 with stress fractures in his shins, though most were already operating under the assumption that his season was indeed lost. Detroit has a definite need at short, as the players that have manned the position to this point have combined for an MLB-worst .187/.239/.235 batting line while adding negative defensive contributions according to both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved.
Some more links pertaining to the Tigers and their division…
- James Schmel of MLive.com fielded plenty of interesting questions in his latest Twitter mailbag, including some on Victor Martinez‘s future with the Tigers and the team’s deadline approach. He feels V-Mart will receive a qualifying offer, but the Tigers will be hesitant about a deal of three of more years for their aging DH. He adds that the Tigers likely feel they’re set in the outfield with Andy Dirks on the mend, but it’s not hard to envision them targeting some rotation depth next month.
- The Twins are continuing to look for a stopgap option in center field so they can option Aaron Hicks to the minors, reports La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. One potential option, Sam Fuld, is currently nearing a rehab assignment after sustaining a concussion last month, Neal writes. Hicks recently gave up switch-hitting in favor of what has long been a superior right-handed stroke, but learning to gauge breaking balls from right-handed pitchers as a right-handed hitter at the Major League level is a tall task. Hicks’ .722 OPS as a right-handed hitter in his career dwarfs his .549 mark from the left side.
- Justin Masterson spoke with WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford on the Indians‘ recent trip to Boston about his contract situation. Masterson said he’s following his former teammate Jon Lester‘s lead as the pair approaches free agency, not letting it distract him after failing to reach an extension agreement in Spring Training. “I’m the exact same way. One way or another, something is going to happen. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about it or not.” He added that while he hasn’t tracked the success of other impending free agents, he has kept an eye on Lester’s numbers, but only because the two are friends.
MONDAY: Iglesias tells reporters, including MLB.com's Jason Beck, that he has been diagnosed with stress fractures in each shin, but he believes he can play at some point this season (Twitter links). Beck tweets that Iglesias will see a specialist tomorrow, which will give Detroit a better idea on his timeframe for a return.
MLB Network Radio's Jim Duquette first reported (via Twitter) that Iglesias' injury had worsened from shin spints to stress fractures earlier this morning.
SUNDAY, 1:09pm: Iglesias will need "extended rehab" for months and possibly the entire season, a source with knowledge of the injury tells the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo (via Twitter). Meanwhile, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters, including Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, he feels for Iglesias, who played for him last year, but was "aware (the shins were an issue) to the extent we had to monitor. We had to get him off his feet because he felt some pain and soreness there."
11:22am: The Tigers are sending Iglesias for a third opinion, but GM Dave Dombrowski says that the shortstop will definitely start the year on the DL, reports Tom Gage of the Detroit News (Twitter links). Initially, at least, the team will look to fill in for Iglesias internally, said Dombrowski.
SATURDAY: Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias will miss most of the 2014 season with a shin injury, Jim Bowden of ESPN tweets, citing a player close to Iglesias. The injury has fueled speculation that the Tigers will now pursue Stephen Drew, Bowden notes.
Iglesias hit just .259/.306/.348 for the Tigers in 46 games after arriving in a trade with Boston in 2013, but is widely regarded as one of the game's top defensive shortstops. The Tigers were relying on Iglesias to serve as the cog in a more defense-oriented infield, so replacing him at this point in the offseason will be a challenge. Drew likely represents the simplest option for doing so.
Drew, 31, hit .253/.333/.443 with typically strong defense at short for the World Champion Red Sox in 2013, but his 124 games played was his highest total since 2010. The Scott Boras client managed just 79 games in 2012 and 86 games in 2011. That fragility is likely one major factor in his continued availability. Another, of course, is the draft pick compensation Drew is tied to after declining a qualifying offer from the Red Sox. If the Tigers do sign him, they'll lose what is currently the 23rd pick in the 2014 draft. Forfeiting that pick could be a tough pill for Detroit to swallow. GM Dave Dombrowski has managed to avoid doing so thus far this offseason, with his major acquisition, second baseman Ian Kinsler, coming via trade rather than free agency.
However, Detroit ultimately has few alternatives if the goal is replacing Iglesias with an impact player. Indeed, this situation — team with playoff aspirations loses middle infielder to injury late in Spring Training — seems to be precisely what Boras has waited for.
Mariners infielder Nick Franklin is another possibility. The 23-year-old's name has appeared frequently in trade rumors since the Robinson Cano signing, and as the owner of less than a year of service time, he'd pair with third baseman Nick Castellanos to give the Tigers two talented, cost-controlled infielders. On the other hand, Dombrowski may be hesistant to hand two starting infield jobs to unproven players in a season in which the Tigers expect to contend for a championship.
The Tigers and shortstop Jose Iglesias have agreed to a one-year, $1.65MM contract, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). Though Iglesias is not yet arbitration eligible, his salary needed to be determined following completion of his original four-year, $8.25MM Major League contract signed with the Red Sox. Iglesias is represented by Scott Boras.
The 23-year-old Iglesias finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting after batting a combined .303/.349/.386 between the Red Sox and Tigers in 2013, but his offense predictably slipped with the Tigers. Most of damage at the plate with the Sox was the result of a .376 average on balls in play, and that number fell to .320 in Detroit while his strikeout rate jumped by eight percent. Iglesias wasn't acquired for his bat, however, and the Tigers are valuing him based on an elite glove at shortstop that he should have no trouble maintaining for years to come.
Barring a long-term deal, Iglesias will be in for a similar salary next offseason, as he won't be arbitration eligible until the 2015-16 offseason. He is under team control through the 2018 campaign.
The White Sox made one of the first big strikes of the offseason when they agreed to sign Jose Dariel Abreu to a six-year, $68MM deal. We've already collected some reaction to the Abreu signing and heard what it could mean for Paul Konerko's future with the Sox, so let's expand our look at the Windy City's baseball news to include the latest on the Cubs…
- "Depending on what is considered major," Abreu's signing will probably be the only major White Sox free agent move of the offseason, MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes. The Sox could still make further moves via trades, as Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham have drawn some interest from other teams.
- Also from Merkin, GM Rick Hahn goes into detail about how the three-team trade from last July between the White Sox, Red Sox and Tigers developed. Chicago got an important piece for the future in Avisail Garcia while the deal is currently having a big impact on the ALCS, with Jake Peavy starting for Boston and Jose Iglesias starting at shortstop for Detroit.
- Jim Thome won't be the next White Sox hitting coach, Hahn told reporters (including CSN Chicago's Charlie Roumeliotis) during a conference call today. Still, Hahn praised Thome's work as a special assistant to the GM and predicted he would become a coach in the future.
- An NL executive tells Peter Gammons that while the White Sox may have overpaid for Abreu, they have "one of the half-dozen thinnest farm systems in the game and Abreu doesn’t cost them a draft choice." Gammons also hears mixed reviews of Abreu from a scout and a general manager, though the GM's team still offered Abreu $40MM.
- Rays bench coach Dave Martinez interviewed with the Cubs today about their managerial opening and now the club will move onto the next step of its hiring process, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. Martinez joins Manny Acta, A.J. Hinch and Rick Renteria as contenders for the job, and while Renteria just underwent hip surgery, he is still "considered a very strong candidate."
- The Cubs would prefer to hire a bilingual manager since they have so many important Latin American prospects, FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reports (Twitter links). Speaking Spanish isn't "a must" but it could be a tiebreaker if the Cubs are weighing equal candidates. Hinch is the only one of the four who doesn't speak Spanish, though the Cubs could still hire him to manage and hire Spanish-speaking coaches instead.
- CSN Chicago's Dave Kaplan spoke to several sources around the game about the four candidates. Martinez is seen as the clear best choice, Renteria was praised though there were some doubts about him as a first-time manager, Acta's unsuccessful stints managing the Indians and Nationals are strikes against him and Hinch drew scathing reviews. Kaplan, for his part, thinks the Cubs should hire Brad Ausmus.