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The Commissioner’s Office and the MLBPA have been working on “clarification” of the rule preventing collisions at home plate, sources tell ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The two sides hope any uncertainty concerning how catchers can block the plate can be cleared up before any pennant races or postseason games are impacted, though rulings in several games earlier this year have already left many managers and players confused.
Here’s some more from around baseball as we kick off the week…
- The Royals will place right-hander Blake Wood on waivers tomorrow, MLBTR’s Zach Links reports (Twitter link). Wood was designated for assignment last week.
- Evan Gattis has been a big part of the Braves‘ lineup, but the catcher’s defensive limitations could see the club trade him to an AL team, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes (AJC subscription required). Gattis could be better served by a regular DH role, while the Braves could trade him for a long-term outfield solution given that Justin Upton and Jason Heyward are both only signed through 2015. Gattis played some left field himself in 2013, though he was a defensive liability there as well.
- It doesn’t seem likely that the 2015 Cubs rotation will feature both Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood, ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers writes. The Cubs may be stuck with Jackson due to his contract, though Wood is only on a one-year, $3.9MM deal (with two years of arbitration eligibility left). Wood has a 5.15 ERA in 162 2/3 IP this season and could be a non-tender candidate, though he still has some value as an innings-eater.
- The White Sox have some holes to fill in the rotation, bullpen and lineup, yet Grantland’s Jonah Keri sees them as a possible sleeper team for 2015. The Sox have lots of payroll space to address those issues and build around their core of Jose Abreu, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Adam Eaton.
- A veteran player suggests to ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) that players who fail two PED tests should be limited to one-year contracts for the remainder of their career. This would be a deterrent against players with one suspension on their record potentially using PEDs again in the hopes of scoring a big multiyear deal. As the veteran put it, “If I was someone who had been suspended before, why wouldn’t I use again? If you’ve robbed a bank before and you see that you could again and still walk away with millions, why wouldn’t you?“
- Also from Olney, he feels the Rockies have “an easy decision” to decline Brett Anderson‘s $12MM option for 2015, as the team can’t afford to commit that much payroll space to a pitcher with Anderson’s injury history. This would likely end Anderson’s tenure in Colorado, as Olney notes he wouldn’t accept a cheaper one-year deal from the Rockies when he could rebuild his value elsewhere in a more pitcher-friendly ballpark.
- Several key members of the Giants and Tigers hail from Venezuela, and FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi looks at how both teams approach scouting and development in the country.
Royals pitcher Danny Duffy left his outing after just one pitch this afternoon against the Yankees, with catcher Salvador Perez signaling to the dugout and pointing at his shoulder (as YES Network’s Jack Curry tweets). Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that Duffy was officially removed due to shoulder soreness. An injury to Duffy would be tough news for the Royals, who lead the AL Central heading down the stretch. The lefty has been a key to a tough Royals rotation, posting a 2.42 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 141 1/3 innings so far this season. Here are more notes from around the game.
- Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett is making his 30th start of the season this afternoon, and it’ll be an expensive one, as CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury tweets. Burnett’s 30th start increases the value of his 2015 player option from $10MM to $11.75MM. In addition, he gets a $750K bonus this season for making his 30th start. The Phillies’ obligation to Burnett thus continues to accumulate even though he isn’t having the best season, posting a 4.40 ERA so far with 8.1 K/9 and a league-leading 78 walks in 184 innings.
- Colby Rasmus is one of the best available free-agent position players this winter, and he’s currently on the Blue Jays‘ bench, which tells you much of what you need to know about this offseason’s crop of free agent hitters, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. That juxtaposition explains why the Red Sox spent the summer acquiring hitting talent, signing Rusney Castillo and getting Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig in trades.
The Royals are having a better season than the Yankees, but that doesn’t mean the Royals’ situation is better, Andy Martino of New York Daily News reminds fans who would like to see the Yankees take a more player development-heavy approach. The Yankees, who depend heavily on expensive talent from outside their organization, have spent the past 20 years in playoff races, while the Royals have spent years losing while trying to develop a solid core. The Yankees consistently contend, which is why Carlos Beltran picked the Yankees over the Royals last offseason, Martino writes. “I liked (the Royals). I liked the team,” says Beltran. “But at the end of the day, I felt that this (the Yankees) organization — every year, man, they find a way to put things together.” Of course, the Yankees are able to pursue the strategy they do because of their financial advantages, and Beltran’s first year perhaps illustrates certain problems with their strategy. Here are more notes from the American League.
- Melky Cabrera suffered a season-ending injury last night and can become a free agent after the season, but he wants to remain with the Blue Jays next season, the Associated Press reports. “I stay in Toronto,” Cabrera said last night. Cabrera, 30, has had a strong season in the last year of his two-year, $16MM deal, hitting .301/.351/.458.
- 2014 hasn’t been a strong season for the Rays, but Jake Odorizzi‘s development has clearly been a bright spot, as Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida notes. Odorizzi has struck out 9.7 batters per nine innings in a full season in the rotation, and he’s posted strong numbers overall, improving after a bumpy month of April. That’s not bad for a player who wasn’t even the headliner in the trade in which he was acquired. ”I think you’re just seeing a young man understanding what he has and how to utilize it,” says Rays manager Joe Maddon. ”That’s it.”
The veteran had a 7.45 ERA over 48 1/3 innings with the Royals this season, making seven starts and six relief appearances. ERA predictors aren’t usually friendly to a low-strikeout, contact pitcher such as Chen, though his current FIP (4.57), xFIP (4.64) and SIERA (4.43) indicate that he has been rather unlucky to produce that 7.45 total this season.
Chen re-signed with the Royals last winter, inking a one-year, $3.25MM deal with a $5.5MM mutual option for 2015 (with a $1MM buyout). He has pitched for 10 different teams over his 16-year career and it’s possible he could turn his total up to 11 if a club is on the lookout for an experienced southpaw as bullpen depth down the stretch. Chen is only a year removed from a 2013 season that saw him post a 3.27 ERA over 121 innings for Kansas City.
Nine players remain in “DFA Limbo,” and you can follow their status with the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.
The Royals have designated left-hander Chris Dwyer and righty Blake Wood for assignment, the team announced. The moves create 40-man roster spots for outfielder Carlos Peguero and lefty Brandon Finnegan, whose contracts were purchased today.
Dwyer, a fourth-rounder in the 2009 draft, showed up on a few top-100 prospect rankings prior to the 2011 but he has struggled since, particularly due to control issues. This season saw him pitch primarily out of the bullpen at Triple-A Omaha, and he has a 5.59 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 over 66 innings. Dwyer’s only Major League experience came in the form of three scoreless innings with the Royals last September.
Wood has now been designated for assignment by two different organizations this year, as he was previously DFA’ed by the Indians in May, which led him to be claimed off waivers by Kansas City. Wood struggled at the upper levels of the Royals’ farm system (posting a 6.84 ERA over 25 combined innings at Double- and Triple-A) and he also had a 7.11 ERA in 6 1/3 relief innings with the Tribe this season. It appears as though Wood is still trying to find his way back after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.
Dwyer and Wood join Bruce Chen as Royals currently in “DFA Limbo,” according to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker., along with Mike Carp (Rangers), Rich Hill (Yankees), Chris McGuiness (Pirates) and Sergio Santos (Blue Jays).
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
- The White Sox purchased the contracts of first baseman Andy Wilkins and left-handed pitcher Scott Snodgress prior to today’s game, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Wilkins, 25, takes the place of Adam Dunn, who was traded earlier today. Wilkins hit 30 home runs at Triple-A with a .293/.338/.558 line. Snodgress, 24, made 21 starts at the Double-A level before appearing eight times as a reliever in Triple-A. He has a 4.01 ERA on the season with 6.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
- The Giants have purchased the contracts of Chris Dominguez and Guillermo Quiroz, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Dominguez is a 27-year-old third baseman. He hit .274/.307/.460 for the Giants Triple-A affiliate with 21 home runs and 21 stolen bases. Quiroz, 32, is a long time back up catcher. He’s appeared with six different clubs and 2014 will mark his tenth season with major league action – assuming he gets into a game. Quiroz also 95 plate appearances for the Giants last season.
- The Royals selected the contract of outfielder Terrance Gore and optioned him from Triple-A to Double-A, the team announced via press release. Gore isn’t on any prospect lists, but he has been useful as a base running threat. In the minors, he has 47 steals on the season despite only 313 plate appearances. Ostensibly, he’ll be summoned to Kansas City to serve as a pinch runner.
- In the same press release, the Royals indicated they will select the contract of left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan. He will be the first 2014 draft pick to reach the majors. Since signing, Finnegan has thrown 27 innings with strong peripherals. The club had him tabbed for about 45 to 50 innings, tweets Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star.
- The Tigers have selected the contract of catcher James McCann, MLive.com’s Chris Iott tweets. The 24-year-old McCann will be among the Tigers’ September call-ups after hitting .295/.343/.427 in 460 plate appearances for Triple-A Toledo this season.
- The Twins have outrighted pitcher Edgar Ibarra and assigned him to Double-A New Britain, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweets. Ibarra, 25, has pitched 61 innings of relief in a season split between New Britain and Triple-A Rochester, posting a 4.13 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
- The Mets have announced that they’ve selected the contract of lefty Dario Alvarez. They’ll also promote catcher Juan Centeno, who will join Alvarez as a September call-up. Alvarez, 25, hasn’t played above the Double-A level, but he’s had a dominating season with three Mets affiliates, with a 1.10 ERA, 14.0 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 73 innings, mostly in relief.
- The Tigers have announced that they’ve outrighted pitcher Justin Miller, who they designated for assignment earlier this week. Miller has pitched 12 1/3 innings in relief for the Tigers this season and has had a good season in the bullpen at Triple-A Toledo, posting a 1.81 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 there.
- The Tigers have also outrighted reliever Jose Ortega, according to the International League transactions page. They designated him for assignment on Friday. The righty has spent most of the season with Triple-A Toledo, posting a 3.70 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 5.8 BB/9.
The Royals have designated veteran lefty Bruce Chen for assignment, according to a tweet from Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Chen, a 37-year-old native of Panama, is playing on a one-year, $4.25MM deal that includes a $5.5MM option for next season ($1MM buyout).
Chen earned that deal with a strong 2013, in which he posted a 3.27 ERA over 121 innings, including 15 starts and 16 relief appearances. But he has not carried that production forward to 2014. Over 48 1/3 frames — again, evenly split between starts (7) and relief appearances (6) — Chen has allowed 7.45 earned runs per nine.
Of course, Chen’s peripherals remain largely in line with his recent marks: he has struck out batters at a 6.7 K/9 rate that matches exactly his career mean, and has walked slightly fewer batters (3.0 per nine) than he has averaged. Chen’s FIP (4.58), xFIP (4.64), and SIERA (4.43) all suggest that he has been as good or better than in years past, and should be in line for some positive regression.
THURSDAY: Mets GM Sandy Alderson implied that Colon isn’t likely to be dealt as it stands right now, given the current state of trade talks, tweets Rubin. “I would say right now there’s a lot less going on than some people speculate,” said Alderson.
That quote meshes with a tweet from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, who heard from a Dodgers source that it was “doubtful” the team would make a move for Colon with Hyun-jin Ryu nearing a return from the DL.
WEDNESDAY, 10:21pm: The Dodgers seem not to have serious interest in adding Colon, according to a tweet from Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. The lack of pressing demand may make it difficult for the Mets to achieve their asking price on the veteran hurler; the team is “looking for quality prospects in return,” one executive tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link).
1:42pm: The Royals haven’t been in touch with the Mets regarding Colon since prior to the trade deadline, a source tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
TUESDAY: Right-hander Bartolo Colon cleared waivers yesterday due to his 2015 salary, and the Mets are receiving “definite interest” in the 41-year-old, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweeted last night. By clearing waivers, Colon became eligible to be traded to any team, but interested parties do have some “trepidation” regarding his $11MM salary for 2015. This morning, Martino has a full column published with further details on the interest in Colon.
Martino spoke with one AL executive who expects the Angels, Dodgers and Royals to be the most active teams in the Colon market, though as Martino notes, Kansas City might not be able to afford the aging righty. The Mets were said to be willing to eat about $2MM of the remaining salary on Colon’s contract in late July, and nothing has changed on that front at this time, Martino reports. Were the Mets to absorb that much money and then wait until Aug. 31 to move Colon (thereby minimizing the financial commitment for a rival club), Colon would be owed $10.52MM for September 2014 (plus the playoffs) and the entirety of the 2015 campaign.
The Mets are interested in not only clearing the bulk of Colon’s salary but also in receiving a decent return in terms of prospects, which further complicates the situation. A second executive from a team that is interested in Colon tells Martino, “Everyone is scared of next year,” suggesting that it might be difficult for GM Sandy Alderson to receive a solid prospect or two while simultaneously clearing significant payroll.
Nix, 31, has bounced around a good deal this year, and will now join his fourth organization on the season. He brings plenty of positional versatility to the table, though his lifetime .214/.284/.347 triple-slash does not give much reason for significant expectations. On the year, Nix has slashed .133/.188/.173 in 82 big league plate appearances.
Kansas City will look to make use of Nix as a part of its September roster expansion plan, as McCullough tweets that the team may not even activate him until after the end of the month.
Mets first baseman Lucas Duda may or may not fully blossom into a star, but his breakout year has at least forestalled any need for the club to go out and find a new first baseman, writes Mike Petriello of Fangraphs. Here’s more from the NL East:
- Both the Angels and Royals have considered attempting to deal for Mets righty Bartolo Colon, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports (Twitter links). At present, however, neither possible suitor is in strong pursuit, with dollars being a major deterrent and the sides not necessarily seeing eye to eye on a return.
- The Phillies will likely give Miguel Gonzalez a September call-up, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Gonzalez has thrived recently in the upper minors in a relief role, but that transition away from the rotation means that Philadelphia will need to act quickly to reap any value from the 28-year-old’s three-year, $12MM pact.
- Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton says that he is still not certain that he wants to commit to a long-term deal with Miami, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports. While the club now features a fairly interesting, younger roster with some future promise, Stanton noted that “five months doesn’t change five years.”
- The Braves have shut down reliever Jonny Venters after he came up with a sore elbow when he tried to increase his velocity, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. The southpaw, who had been attempting to return from his second Tommy John procedure, earned $1.625MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility (the same figure as his first) after missing all of 2013. A non-tender certainly appears to be a reasonably likely scenario after the year.