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Kansas City Royals Rumors
The 32-year-old Kotchman didn’t play last season but appeared in the Majors every year from 2004-13, with most of his time coming as a member of the Angels. The Halos flipped Kotchman to the Braves as part of a deal to acquire Mark Teixeira in 2008, but Kotchman wasn’t able to recreate the offensive success he’d had a year prior to the trade. He’s had a pair of relatively strong seasons at the dish in his career (119 OPS+ in 2007, 127 OPS+ in 2011), but overall he’s been a below-average hitter at a position that’s expected to produce above-average offense. In parts of 10 seasons, Kotchman is a .260/.326/.385 hitter. Presumably, he’ll serve as minor league depth for the Royals, who have Eric Hosmer entrenched at first base with Kendrys Morales serving as a possible backup.
An MRI on the left elbow of Royals reliever Tim Collins has revealed ligament damage in his elbow, reports Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). The team is seeking a second opinion, but the news obviously lends the possibility that Collins will ultimately require Tommy John surgery to repair the issue.
The 25-year-old Collins has been an integral part of the Kansas City bullpen over the past four seasons, working to a 3.54 ERA with 9.4 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 and a 40 percent ground-ball rate in 211 innings (228 appearances). Though he struggles with his control, Collins has held opponents to a .226 average in the Major Leagues and has been reasonably effective against both right- and left-handed hitters.
Should Collins require surgery, the Royals would be down a left-handed option in their bullpen, and the odds of a non-roster invitee such as Franklin Morales or Joe Paterson making the team would increase. Kansas City also has 2014 first-rounder Brandon Finnegan as an option. Finnegan proved to be a weapon for the Royals down the stretch and in the postseason as the team marched all the way to Game 7 of the World Series. However, the Royals’ preference for Finnegan in the long run is likely for him to develop as a starter.
Indians outfielder Brandon Moss nearly retired from baseball in 2012, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Moss had nine days left before an opt-out clause in his minor league deal with the A’s and planned on playing out the season in Japan — on a more lucrative deal. His plans were then to join a high school friend as a firefighter in his native Georgia. However, Moss was called up to the A’s on June 6 that year and, after initially struggling, proceeded to mash five homers in a four-game span. That burst of power set the tone for Moss, who stuck with the A’s through this offseason when he was traded to Cleveland. Over the past three seasons, the late-blooming Moss is a .254/.340/.504 hitter with 76 home runs. Bastian’s article has several interesting quotes from Moss, his former coaches/managers and his friends and is well worth the read.
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- Royals lefty Tim Collins had an MRI on his left elbow yesterday after experiencing tightness Wednesday of this week, writes MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. The Royals and Collins remain hopeful that it’s just normal soreness that can often be expected of pitchers early in Spring Training. If not, the team does have other lefty options in camp, including Franklin Morales, Brian Flynn, Joe Paterson and top prospect Brandon Finnegan.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan told reporters, including MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, that his club isn’t hindered by payroll or revenue. Ryan’s goal, he says, is to reach the postseason this year, though he admits that a lot will need to go right for that to happen. Namely, the Twins will need to stay healthy and see a number of their younger players take their game to a new level.
- Phil Coke, who agreed to a minor league deal with the Cubs yesterday, told MLive.com’s Chris Iott that he’ll miss being a Tiger and enjoyed his time in the Motor City. Iott writes that while the Tigers never officially closed the door on re-signing Coke, his fate was more or less sealed once the team signed Tom Gorzelanny to his one-year, $1MM deal. Detroit didn’t want to carry a pair of veteran lefty relievers without options when it had a number of younger in-house options, such as Blaine Hardy, Ian Krol and Kyle Ryan, Iott explains. Iott adds that he, too, hears Coke rejected a Major League offer in favor of his minor league deal with the Cubs; it’s certainly possible that the relatively sizable $2.25MM salary Coke will be paid if he makes Chicago’s roster outweighs a more modest salary he received on a guaranteed deal.
Ryan Vogelsong seemed to be on the verge of signing with the Astros before he eventually rejoined the Giants, and the righty hinted that there was something unusual about how negotiations broke down with Houston. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the issue was that after agreeing to sign Vogelsong to a one-year, $4MM deal, the Astros wanted to pay Vogelsong less after viewing the results of his physical. Both Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and Vogelsong’s agent Dave Meier declined to comment to Heyman about the situation.
Here’s some more from around the baseball world…
- The Royals are focused on winning now, which could change their handling of prospects Brandon Finnegan and Christian Colon, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan writes. There is “a pretty healthy discussion going on within the Royals’ organization” about Finnegan, who could be a key left-handed bullpen weapon for K.C. this season, though such usage could also hurt his development as a future starter. A similar argument could be made about Colon and whether he’d be better served playing every day at Triple-A or coming off the Royals’ bench as a utilityman.
- Though he has a 2016 option that vests if he pitches 200 innings, Cliff Lee is entering his last guaranteed year under contract. The Phillies southpaw told reporters (including David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News) that he’s hasn’t thought about what lies beyond the coming season. “We’ll see what it brings,” Lee said. “I definitely do not want to go out the way things happened last year, I don’t want that to be the way I finish my career, but at the same time I’m not going to sit there and try to fight that to get it done. I want to go out there and have fun and feel good and make it be a positive thing instead of it be a battle physically.”
- Erasmo Ramirez is facing a roster crunch, as the out-of-options righty doesn’t appear to have a clear path to either a rotation or bullpen role with the Mariners, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. The M’s don’t want to lose Ramirez but Dutton hears from multiple rival officials that Seattle stands little chance of sneaking Ramirez through waivers and down to the minors. The Mariners also don’t stand to get much of a return in a possible trade, as one rival exec rhetorically asks, “How much are you going to give up for a guy who is likely to be on waivers in a few weeks?”
- The Giants will certainly monitor the market for right-handed hitting outfield bats in the wake of Hunter Pence‘s injury, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi writes, though the club won’t jump to make a move.
- Using 2014 attendance figures and Forbes’ evaluations of franchise values, Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards calculates each team’s “expected payroll” to see how clubs spend in relation to their markets. The Tigers outspend their market by the most while the Yankees rank last, though Edwards explains that ranking is slightly misleading since luxury tax payments aren’t factored into the equation.
- Besides division rivals or intra-market rivals, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron (writing for FOX Sports) looks at other pairs of teams that rarely seem to make trades with each other.
- Injuries to several relievers could result in one or two young arms getting a shot in the Diamondbacks‘ Opening Day bullpen, Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes.
Twins righty Blaine Boyer hung up his spikes after 2012, in spite of good health and a live arm, in large part to spend more time with his family, as he tells Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. But his clan has made it work since, aided by busy travel arrangements, and Boyer is in camp with Minnesota after a strong campaign last year with the Padres. His minor league deal with the Twins includes a late March out clause, Miller also reports.
Here are a few more notes from the AL Central:
- Tigers reliever Joel Hanrahan has seemingly stalled out in his comeback attempt, as Jason Beck of MLB.com reports. Since going in for a Tommy John procedure in the middle of the 2013 campaign, Hanrahan has been unable to get his elbow back into form. Soreness has kept him from moving onto the mound this spring, and he has already received at least one suggestion that he undergo a second TJ surgery. There appears to be at least some question at this point whether the 33-year-old will ever return to a big league pen, let alone contribute to the club in 2015.
- While Hanrahan tries to figure out his situation, fellow Tigers righty Joba Chamberlain discussed his recent free agent process with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. His son’s connection with Detroit proved a strong inducement for the righty, who said he left money on the table to return. Among the teams with interest in him were the Rangers, Dodgers, Royals, and Brewers, some of which were willing to pay him in the range of his $2.5MM salary from 2014.
Torii Hunter spoke with Bob Nightengale of USA Today about his return to the Twins and an interesting aspiration that he has in his post-playing days. The 39-year-old Hunter would eventually like to not only work in the Twins’ front office, but take the reins as general manager of the team. “I really want to get into that front office, make some changes, and build a team that I want to build,” Hunter explained. “I’d love to learn everything from [Twins GM Terry Ryan]. He’ll be a mentor. One day, that’s my goal, to be GM of the Twins.” Nightengale spoke with Ryan about the idea and writes that Hunter “will have a door waiting for him,” though Nightengale writes that Ryan also advised Hunter not to rush any decisions about retirement. Hunter said he’s considered hanging it up next winter, though he very much sounds like a good year at the plate would leave him open to a return in Minnesota. “…unless I hit .300, then I’m going nowhere,” said Hunter, who has batted .301 over the past three seasons. Hunter also has interest in working in TV, he said, and he spoke with Nightengale at length about his prayers for friend Josh Hamilton.
A bit more from Nightengale’s piece and the AL Central…
- Nightengale reports that the Rangers made Hunter a one-year, $8MM offer to play near his Dallas home, and the division-rival Royals offered Hunter one year and $8.5MM with a player option. Hunter, however, ultimately decided he wanted to return to Minnesota, and Nightengale adds that Billy Butler‘s three-year, $30MM contract with Oakland “raised the stakes” for Hunter (presumably implying that Butler’s deal caused Hunter to aim for a higher annual value). Hunter said a 90-minute phone call with Ryan, in which the GM explained that he wants Hunter in Minnesota “forever,” impacted him a great deal as well.
- Tigers right-hander Joel Hanrahan is traveling to Texas to see Dr. Keith Meister about persistent elbow problems that have slowed his comeback attempt, writes MLive.com’s Chris Iott. Hanrahan, who hasn’t thrown since Feb. 22, tells Iott that he’s past the point of frustration and wants to get answers as to why his elbow still is not working properly. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press also spoke with Hanrahan, who told him that at times, it feels like bones in his arm are rubbing together, and at other times, like his biceps is being pinched (Twitter link). Hanrahan missed all of the 2014 season and most of the 2013 season recovering from Tommy John and flexor tendon surgery.
- Mike Aviles‘ outgoing personality and vocal leadership abilities factored into the Indians‘ decision to exercise his $3.5MM option this offseason, writes Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com. Manager Terry Francona told Meisel: “We told him that in our one-on-one. That’s part of his responsibility. We love what he does as a player, because he plays all over the place and he can play every position professionally. But when he’s not playing, he needs to be in a leadership role. We need that out of him. He understands that.”
Last year, Zach Duke and Pat Neshek both entered Spring Training as non-roster invitees and parlayed their outstanding 2014 seasons into multi-year free agent contracts (three years, $15MM for Duke and two years, $12.5MM for Neshek). Who will be the NRIs to watch this spring? Andrew Simon for Sports on Earth tabs White Sox reliever Jesse Crain as the most intriguing NRI citing positive reports as he recovers from his 2013 biceps surgery, which has forced him to the sidelines for the past 20 months. If Crain can return to the form he showed in his previous stint with the White Sox (2011-13) where he pitched to a 2.10 ERA, 10.6 K/9, and 3.9 BB/9 in 150 innings covering 376 games, Simon believes the 33-year-old could assume a prominent role in the White Sox bullpen.
In other news and notes from the AL Central:
- Yoenis Cespedes told reporters, including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links), he can see himself playing for the Tigers long-term. “I would like to be in a Tigers uniform for a lot of years,” Cespedes said through his translator. “This is a good team now and will be for a lot of years to come.” Cespedes added he does not know whether his agent and the Tigers have engaged in extension talks.
- Corey Kluber, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, is not concerning himself with the lack of movement on a contract extension, according to Zack Meisel of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “It’s not for me to worry about,” said Kluber, who is slated to earn near the MLB minimum. “I’d rather just talk about pitching and not contract stuff.“
- Royals reliever Luke Hochevar blew out his elbow last spring with a curveball, but has been throwing the pitch in his bullpen sessions, writes MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. “It’s not like you’re scared when you start spinning curves again,” Hochevar said. “You know your elbow is fixed. But still you think about it. You have to sort of stare down your demons.” Hochevar will face hitters for the first time off a mount tomorrow.
- Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer are two former top prospects who are poised for a breakout 2015, opines MLB.com’s Michael Clair.
- Earlier today, we learned of the passing of White Sox legend Minnie Minoso. Dayn Perry of CBSSports.com and MLB.com’s Phil Rogers both pay tribute to “Mr. White Sox” while Hayes and MLB.com’s Scott Merkin chronicle the reaction of White Sox players.
Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey is already helping new reliever Ernesto Frieri make adjustments, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune writes. “That’s why I’m here,” says Frieri. “He knows what he’s doing. He fixed a couple of guys before, and I hope I’m not the exception. I’m pretty sure he’s going to give me the right information and I’m going to take advantage.” The Rays have helped veteran relievers like Fernando Rodney, Kyle Farnsworth and Joaquin Benoit improve their stock, and Frieri hopes to be the next in line. The 29-year-old is coming off a terrible season with the Angels and Pirates in which he posted a 7.34 ERA and struggled mechanically. His 10.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and good velocity suggest he might have more gas in his tank, however, even if his fly-ball tendencies make him homer-prone, so he could be a bounce-back candidate if he can make the right adjustments. Here’s more from the American League.
- MLB plans to be compassionate in the case of Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton after his relapse, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi report. The league is expected to suspend Hamilton for 25 games or more, but for less than a full season, although an official decision is not close. Hamilton’s relapse violated the terms of the treatment program the league required of him when he was reinstated in 2006 following a lengthy suspension.
- The Royals will use Joe Blanton exclusively as a reliever, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. “The only way he is really going to help us is in the bullpen,” says Ned Yost. “We’re not going to stretch him out.” Blanton, 34, recently signed a minor-league deal with Kansas City after sitting out the 2014 season. He has spent almost his entire ten-year big-league career as a starter.
Andrew Bailey decided to stay with the Yankees because he was treated so well last year, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes. The former closer is still working his way back from shoulder surgery in the summer of 2013. “For [the Yankees] to put the time, effort, and investment into myself, I wasn’t going to look anywhere else to go,” said Bailey, who has now tossed five bullpen sessions and hopes to be ready to compete for a job out of camp.
A few more bullpen-related items from around the league…
- Left-hander Phil Coke is still holding out for a Major League deal in the neighborhood of Craig Breslow‘s one-year, $2MM contract with the Red Sox, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Coke has been connected to a number of clubs, including the Rangers, Marlins, Blue Jays and Royals, over the past two weeks, but the Rangers’ interest has reportedly waned, and Miami is said to be interested only in a minor league deal. Last year, the 32-year-old posted a 3.88 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 58 innings with Detroit. ERA estimators such as FIP (3.98), xFIP (3.79) and SIERA (3.55) felt Coke was at least as good, if not better than that mark would suggest.
- If the Blue Jays pick up another reliever, it will not be one of the names left on the open market, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. “If we were to add right now, I don’t see it being in free agency,” GM Alex Anthopoulos told Davidi.
Joba Chamberlain‘s new deal with the Tigers includes a pretty hard-to-reach incentive, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter): the reliever will get an additional $100K if he wins the Cy Young award. Chamberlain, 29, will receive a $1MM base salary plus an additional $100K for reaching 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 appearances. The right-hander posted a 3.57 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9, and 53.2% groundball rate in 63 innings for the Tigers last year. More from the AL Central..
- Many expected that Phil Coke had a better chance of returning to the Tigers than Chamberlain, but that was apparently not the case, Jason Beck of MLB.com writes. The Tigers have shown no signs of interest for Coke and although he has thrown for teams in San Diego recently, neither manager Brad Ausmus nor Tigers scouts had watched him as of a week ago.
- Chris Iott of MLive.com looked at the multiple implications of Chamberlain signing with the Tigers. The pact, among other things, gives the bullpen depth and also insurance for Bruce Rondon as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Detroit expects Rondon to be their main seventh-inning guy, but if he’s not good to go for some reason, the Tigers could turn to the newly-acquired Chamberlain or Al Alburquerque.
- A lot of fuss has been made over Royals outfielder Alex Gordon and his player option for 2016, but it doesn’t sound like he’s all that distracted by it. “[I] don’t think about it,” Gordon said, according to Jeffrey Flanagan (on Twitter) “The only time I think about it is when you guys ask me.” Last August, Gordon told reporters he intended to exercise his $13.25MM player option for the 2016 season but now he’s not so sure.