Juan Rincon Rumors

Quick Hits: Rincon, Coffey, Ibanez, Kolek

Here are some stray notes from around the game to finish up the evening:

  • 35-year-old former big leaguer Juan Rincon, who has not thrown in the bigs since 2010, is looking to mount a comeback, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Rincon, a righty who owns a 4.03 ERA in 507 MLB innings, has thrown for several clubs already, says Heyman.
  • Meanwhile, another veteran — 33-year-old right-hander Todd Coffey — is set to put on a showcase tomorrow, Heyman tweets. Heyman says that the eight-year veteran, whose career ERA stands at 4.10, has amped his fastball up into the 92mph to 94mph range as he looks to return after sitting out all of 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
  • Besting both of the aforementioned players in both age and MLB service is Angels outfielder Raul Ibanez, who is now in his 19th big league campaign at age 41. But with a disappointing .139/.248/.267 slash through 117 plate appearances, Ibanez could be in danger of losing his roster spot, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. With rookie C.J. Cron off to an outlandish 1.128 OPS start (albeit in only 29 plate appearances), and having shown the ability to hit righties at the Triple-A level, Ibanez could prove superfluous. On the other hand, manager Mike Scioscia appeared to downplay that possibility. “I don’t know that it’s going to be C.J. versus Raul,” he said. “We’ll find at-bats for guys who are swinging the bat well.”
  • While hard-throwing young arms are the story of this year’s amateur draft, none has more power than Texas prep righty Tyler Kolek, writes Baseball America’s John Manuel. The mountainous Kolek has consistently hit triple-digits on the radar gun, leading scouts to tell Manuel that he throws harder than any high school pitcher in the draft era. Of course, that kind of radar reading comes with risks, as all observers of the game are aware. Fellow BA writer J.J. Cooper breaks down the rise of power arms in the high school ranks, discussing the risks — and, of course, the immense upside — that come with top-end speed at a young age.

Quick Hits: D’Backs, Red Sox, Extensions, Rincon

Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says he hasn't had many trade talks about a shortstop given that Stephen Drew is still on the market, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports.  If Towers did feel compelled to move either Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius, Cliff Pennington or Nick Ahmed in "the right deal," Towers said that the team would likely target either a minor league pitcher who's close to the big leagues or a catcher.  "Our biggest needs in our system are catching," Towers said.  "If it’s the right, top-notch catching prospect. Someone we could have right behind Miggy [Miguel Montero]. More of an upper-level guy.”  Of the teams known to be looking for shortstop help, the Yankees stand out as a possible trade partner, especially since New York is known to be shopping its catching depth.

Here's some more from around the majors…

  • Also from Piecoro, the Red Sox are "at least monitoring the shortstop market."  The Sox currently aren't in negotiations with Stephen Drew, but it stands to reason they could still be looking for a cheaper infield option to back up Xander Bogaerts.
  • With more and more teams locking up their young stars to long-term extensions, SI.com's Tom Verducci writes that "what we are going to see is a further eroding of the free-agent market as a place of any kind of efficiency. Teams will continue to make bad deals on free agents because it mostly involves paying too long and too much for the decline years of star players."
  • Mike Trout is the most high-profile example yet of a team locking up its young superstar, and Verducci thinks that a seven-year extension (covering four of Trout's free agent years) could cost the Angels $204MM.
  • Juan Rincon is planning to work out for interested teams soon, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman tweets.  The 35-year-old righty posted a 4.03 ERA over 444 games (three of them starts) with the Twins, Indians, Tigers and Rockies from 2001-10, but hasn't appeared in the Majors since, spending the last three years with the Angels' Triple-A affiliate and for independent teams.  In December, we heard Rincon was looking for a minor league deal that would allow him to mentor young pitchers and then eventually turn into a scouting job. 
  • Tomo Ohka talks to the Toronto Star's Brad Lefton about adopting the knuckleball in order to save his career, and how he's hoping for one last crack at the Major Leagues with the Blue Jays.
  • Fangraphs' Wendy Thurm breaks down which teams spend the highest percentage of their payroll on their starting rotation, starting lineup, bullpen and bench, respectively.
  • The Astros (+18 WAR) and Red Sox (-16 WAR) project as the most- and least-improved teams in 2014, according to Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan, who lists a top ten in each category.  Of course, as Sullivan notes, these totals are respectively skewed by how poorly and how well the two clubs fared last season, as Sullivan still expects Boston to contend and Houston to be one of the league's lesser clubs.

Central Notes: Rincon, Twins, Viciedo, Konerko

The Twins announced a wave of front office promotions today, highlighted by the promotion of assistant GM Rob Antony to vice president/assistant GM. Antony will be responsible for Major League contracts (including arbitration); Major League and Minor League player evaluation; and oversight of the team's video, baseball analytics and baseball communications department. More from the Central divisions…

  • Former Twins reliever Juan Rincon is looking for a minor league deal with, ideally, an invite to big league spring training, agent Burton Rocks tells MLBTR.  Rincon, 35 in January, wants a club to bring him in to help mentor younger pitchers and have him continue in that role after his playing career is through as a scout.  Rocks has talked to "four or five" clubs about his unique proposal for Rincon, who spent last season with the York Revolution of the Atlantic League.  
  • The White Sox have an infusion of young, exciting position players including outfielders Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton and Paul Konerko is excited to be back in the fold and see what they can do. "Eaton is the guy that can make things go if he hits his stride," Konerko said on a conference call with White Sox season ticket holders, according to CSNChicago.com. "A guy like Eaton can be a someone who is a complete steal because of the tools he has. He can be a real mainstay."  Konerko re-signed with Chicago on a one-year deal that gives him a $2.5MM guarantee.
  • Dayan Viciedo could split time this season with Alejandro De Aza in left field, remain the starter if De Aza is moved, or he could wind up traded himself, writes CSNChicago.com's Dan Hayes.  The White Sox haven't given up on the 25-year-old, but they're not sure what they'll do with him either.
  • Jeff Karstens is said to be pain-free and in midst of normal winter throwing program. tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He's planning to work out for clubs in January. Karstens had shoulder surgery in June, which involved debridement of his rotator cuff and labrum, and never threw a big league pitch for the Pirates in 2013.  The veteran is represented by All Bases Covered Sports Management, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.
  • The Twins were in on Eric Chavez before he signed with the Diamondbacks earlier today, a source tells Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter).


Juan Rincon Elects Free Agency

Right-hander Juan Rincon has opted out of his contract with the Angels and elected free agency, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Rincon had signed a minor league deal with Los Angeles in February.

Rincon, 33, has a 3.12 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 6.2 BB/9 in 26 innings at Triple-A this year. The ten-year MLB veteran has started three games and pitched out of the bullpen in 14 others. He last pitched in MLB with the 2010 Rockies.


Minor Moves: Dickerson, Rincon

We'll keep track of today's minor moves right here..

  • Chris Dickerson cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A by the Yankeeswrites Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. The move opens a spot on the 40-man roster, which should allow the Bombers to officially add Eric Chavez to the team. The 29-year-old Dickerson hit .260/.296/.360 in 55 plate appearances while playing both outfield corners for the Yankees last season.
  • To bolster their minor league depth, the Angels signed reliever Juan Rincon to a deal with no spring training invite, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Dodgers Sign Juan Rincon

The Dodgers have signed reliever Juan Rincon to a minor-league contract, the pitcher told Augusto Cárdenas at the Venezuelan paper Diario Panorama (link in Spanish). Rincon said the contract does not include an invitation to Spring Training, but he may still end up pitching there, as he noted, "I have to go to a mini-camp in order to be ready for big league [exhibition] games."

Rincon, 32, appeared in just two games for the Rockies last season and struggled at the team's Triple-A affiliate. The right-hander has shown that he can still strike hitters out in his light major league duty over the last two seasons, but control has eluded him since his mid-2000s heyday with the Twins.


Tankersley, Others Hit Free Agency

Taylor Tankersley and a number of others with big league experience recently hit free agency, as Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports. Joining the left-hander on the open market are Bobby Scales (Cubs), Justin Lehr (Reds), Paul Phillips (Rockies), Juan Rincon (Rockies), Hector Luna (Marlins), Anderson Hernandez (Astros), Adam Stern (Brewers), Denny Bautista (Giants), Brandon Medders (Giants), Willie Eyre (Rangers) and Sean Henn (Blue Jays).

Tankersley, the Marlins' first round pick in the 2004 draft, succeeded early in his career, but has since struggled. Still just 27, Tankersley brings a career 8.8 K/9 to the free agent market and could become a lefty specialist. He missed all of 2009 with a stress fracture in his elbow, but it wouldn't be surprising to see a team like the Diamondbacks take a flier on the former prospect.

Bautista, who turns 28 this weekend, is another interesting arm. He posted a 3.74 ERA with the Giants this year and struck out (11.8 K/9) and walked (7.2 BB/9) tons of batters in 33.2 innings. The right-hander has always walked lots of hitters, but his mid-90s fastball and ability to induce strikeouts may tempt teams looking to buy low on live arms.


Juan Rincon Designated For Assignment By Rockies

With Huston Street activated today from the disabled list, Colorado has cleared roster space by designating reliever Juan Rincon for assignment.  Troy Renck of the Denver Post was the first to report that Rincon was being "moved out" (Twitter link), and he also tweets that the team will know by tomorrow if Rincon will stay in the organization.

This is the second time that the out-of-options Rincon has been DFA'ed by the Rockies this season.  He cleared waivers the first time, went to Triple-A Colorado Springs and was just recalled to the majors last week.  The right-hander has appeared in just two major league games this season, but has a 7.25 ERA in 24 relief appearances for Colorado Springs.


Odds & Ends: Chipper, DeJesus, Rincon

A few links to check out as you celebrate Kansas City being awarded the 2012 All-Star Game…

  • Chipper Jones isn't ready to talk about his future yet, reports Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A settlement of the $28MM left on his contract is one issue that has to be cleared up before Jones can announce any retirement plans, if any.
  • Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star says the Royals should find a way to maximize David DeJesus' value, either through trade or letting him leave as a free agent and receiving compensation draft picks. DeJesus currently projects to be a Type-B free agent, assuming the team declines his $6MM option for 2011.
  • Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post mentions that Rockies' manager Jim Tracy indicated that Juan Rincon would likely be the reliever to bounce back and forth between the big leagues and Triple-A this year, however he's out of options and would need to clear waivers each time he is sent down.

Rockies Designate Rincon For Assignment

12:24pm: Renck tweets that Rincon has in fact been designated for assignment.

12:11pm: The Rockies are calling up righthander Esmil Rogers to start today's game against the Giants, and it appears that reliever Juan Rincon may lose his 40-man roster spot according to The Denver Post's Troy Renck (via Twitter). Rincon's name was not included on the pre-game lineup card.

The 31-year-old Rincon has appeared in just one game for the Rockies this year, giving up one run in one inning of work. Colorado re-signed him to a minor league contract over the winter.