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Josmil Pinto Rumors
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.
Top Mets prospect Rafael Montero and Twins youngsters Oswaldo Arcia and Josmil Pinto have joined the Legacy Agency, according to Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal (subscription required). For Montero and Arcia, this marks a return to TLA after being gone for one year and for nine months, respectively.
Montero, who turned 23 in October, split the 2013 campaign between the Mets' Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, compiling an impressive 2.78 ERA and 4.29 K/BB ratio (150 strikeouts, 35 walks) in 155 1/3 innings of work. Both Baseball America and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo agree that the right-hander is the No. 3 prospect in the Mets' minor league system, trailing only the highly touted Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud. Mayo also lists Montero as the No. 97 overall prospect in the game.
A consensus Top 100 prospect heading into the 2013 season, Arcia debuted in Minnesota as a 21-year-old this year and became the youngest player to hit a home run while donning a Twins uniform since Joe Mauer in 2004. Arcia was a bit overmatched by Major League pitching but held his own, slashing .251/.304/.430 with 14 home runs in 378 plate appearances. He also saw 155 plate appearances in Triple-A, illustrating that he has little to prove at that level by hitting .313/.426/.594 with 10 homers in 38 games.
Pinto, 25 in March, burst onto the scene in 2013 with a .309/.400/.482 batting line and 15 homers between Double-A and Triple-A this season. With the news that Mauer is shifting to first base full-time, Pinto suddenly appears to be the heir-apparent behind the plate in Minnesota. He made his big league debut as a September call-up and turned plenty of heads in a small sample size of 83 plate appearances by slashing .342/.398/.556 with four homers and five doubles. He ranks fifth among Twins prospects, per Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus.
The Legacy Agency has numerous high-profile Major League clients (e.g. CC Sabathia, Carl Crawford, Aaron Hill, Edwin Jackson) but also boasts some high-profile prospects. In addition to Montero, Arcia and Pinto, TLA also represents George Springer, Taylor Guerrieri and Jenrry Mejia, as can be seen in MLBTR's Agency Database, whiche contains info on 2,000+ Major League and Minor League players. If you see any omissions or errors within the database, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the Cubs and Brewers square off in the first of a four-game series that could have serious implications on the 2014 MLB draft (one game separates the two teams who stand to pick fourth and fifth, respectively), let's take a look at baseball's Central divisions…
- The Twins don't feel that rookie Josmil Pinto is far from being a starting catcher at the Major League level, writes Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The 24-year-old Venezuelan hit .309/.400/.482 with 15 homers and an 83-to-66 K/BB ratio between Double-A and Triple-A this season and has seven hits in his first 10 big league at-bats. As Miller notes, Pinto's emergence makes Joe Mauer's future position "more unknown than ever." Twins GM Terry Ryan told Miller he "doesn't know exactly what [Mauer is] going to end up doing" in 2014. Minnesota also has 25-year-old Chris Herrmann and veteran Ryan Doumit on the roster. Herrmann and Doumit are both capable of playing the corner outfield positions.
- Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski is currently in the process of deciding whether or not to bring Jhonny Peralta back to the club for a potential postseason run, writes James Schmehl of MLive.com. Dombrowski says Peralta was forthright and handled the situation as best he could. The Tigers, of course, acquired Jose Iglesias to man shortstop in Peralta's stead and in the long-term at the trade deadline. Bringing Peralta back would likely displace one of Don Kelly, Matt Tuiasosopo or Ramon Santiago from the roster.
- Bruce Levine and Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com write that Scott Baker will make his season debut for the Cubs this Sunday — his first Major League start since Sept. 24, 2011. Baker underwent Tommy John surgery in Spring Training of 2012 with the Twins and signed a one-year, $5.5MM contract with the Cubs this offseason. Clearly, Chicago was hoping for an earlier return, but arm soreness in Spring Training of this season shut him down. Baker posted a 3.14 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 for Minnesota in 2011.
- New Cubs reliever Daniel Bard told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that he was ready to hit free agency this offseason after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox and was pleasantly surprised to hear from Cubs president Theo Epstein when he was claimed. Bard doesn't feel that his struggles have resulted from switching from a relief role to a starting role, but rather from trying to change too much about his arsenal in the process: "I could’ve just taken the pitcher I was in the bullpen for four years and plopped that into a starting role and probably would’ve been fine," Bard told Muskat. Instead, he tried to increase his changeup usage, sink the ball more and change speeds on his fastball too often, and he feels that vast array of alterations was his downfall.