Kansas City Royals Rumors
Terry Francona returned to Boston in the opposing dugout tonight for the first time since being fired as the Red Sox manager following the 2011 season. Francona received a very warm welcome from the Fenway faithful when he was shown on the stadium's video screen, and the skipper received the best gift of all when his Indians beat up on the Sox in a 12-3 rout.
Here are some items from around the AL Central...
- The Indians are off to a great start under Francona but ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required) thinks the team should still look to move some veterans in order to build for the future, rather than focusing on this season.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore isn't panicking about his team's recent slump, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports. Moore said the Royals weren't likely to send any of their struggling young hitters to Triple-A, and the GM didn't give any indication if Jeff Francoeur was nearing the end of his time with the team. “You’re always looking to improve your roster but it's still very early,” Moore said. “It’s the same team that we left spring training with....We’ve got (118) games left, we’ve got a lot of baseball left, and we’re going to remain patient with the guys we have. I like the potential of this group."
- White Sox trainer Herm Schneider might be the greatest asset in baseball that virtually nobody recognizes, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Teams pay over $500MM to players on the disabled list every year, but Schneider has managed to keep his players exceptionally healthy over his 34 seasons in Chicago.
- In division news from earlier today, the White Sox placed Angel Sanchez on waivers, the Indians designated David Huff for assignment and MLBTR's Marc Hulet examined the Twins' top minor leaguers in the latest edition of the Prospect Rumor Roundup.
MLBTR's Zach Links also contributed to this post
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly offered up some brutally honest and scathing remarks for his players and the team's upper management prior to Wednesday's game, and Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times has a recap. Mattingly benched $85MM right fielder Andre Ethier in favor of rookie Scott Van Slyke, commenting that to use his “most competitive lineup” and one that would “fight the hardest.” Mattingly wouldn't confirm whether or not he still viewed Ethier as an everyday player. He also noted that the front office tried to buy an All-Star team, stating: “All grit and no talent isn’t going to make you successful. But all talent and no grit is not going to get you there, either.” Here's more out of baseball's Western divisions...
- One rival general manager told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that it seems like Mattingly is trying to get himself fired.
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes that Ethier is now "eminently available" and suggests some speculative trades. Cameron proposes a swap of Ethier and Jeff Francoeur, with the Dodgers picking up the tab (Twitter link) on Ethier's final two seasons. Doing so would save the Dodgers up to $40MM, allow them to call up Yasiel Puig and give Kansas City an upgrade over Francoeur. He also suggests a swap with Franklin Gutierrez of the Mariners or dumping Ethier on the Rangers.
- Jordan Norberto's preference is still to re-sign with the Athletics after being released earlier in the month, according to John Shea and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Norberto was cut loose due to an elbow strain, and he's throwing again as he rehabs from the injury. The Cubs, Royals and Rays are all interested in Norberto, but he told Shea and Slusser: "I've never felt anything for a team before like I do about the A's - the teammates, the pitching coach, the manager, the fans."
- The Mariners need better than what Aaron Harang is giving them every five days, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, who suggests that it's time to designate Harang for assignment and give Jeremy Bonderman a try. Bonderman has a 3.79 ERA in nine Triple-A starts.
- The Mariners are better than their record indicates, writes Rosenthal, but a number of their key offensive pieces are free agents. Rosenthal feels that the Mariners and GM Jack Zduriencik are at a crossroads, but an improved record could make Seattle a desirable destination for Northwest natives Jacoby Ellsbury and Tim Lincecum.
With 40% of their innings coming from relievers, the Pirates' bullpen has been worked the hardest among all National League teams. The onus is on GM Neal Huntington to add depth at the trade deadline, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, who notes that the NL Central is "tougher than many of us expected" due to the Pirates playing .591 ball so far. Elsewhere in baseball's central divisions...
- The Royals are the frontrunner to sign 15-year-old Italian shortstop Marten Gasparini, sources tell Ben Badler of Baseball America, with the Dodgers and Cubs also showing interest. Gasparini, who turns 16 on Friday, is "expected to sign the biggest contract ever for a European amateur player," according to Badler. The speedy switch-hitter may top the $800K the Twins gave to German outfielder Max Kepler in 2009. Be sure to check out Badler's full profile of Gasparini.
- Josh Vitters is the future at third base for the Cubs, president Theo Epstein told Ian Stewart, Stewart explained to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. That means playing time will be hard to come by for Stewart at Triple-A Iowa, where he landed after being removed from the Cubs' 40-man roster this month. Stewart wondered if the comment was Epstein's way of trying to get him to give up his contract, but the third baseman told Muskat, "It wouldn't really make sense for me to take a release or ask for free agency, because then I'd be giving up my contract, and that doesn't make sense for me financially or for my family." Stewart signed a $2MM deal to remain with the Cubs after being non-tendered in December, and hoped to be with the big league club after rehabbing a February quad injury.
- Matt Garza will make his season debut tomorrow with the Cubs in Pittsburgh, and he's eligible for free agency after the season. Jesse Rogers and Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com discussed Garza's future, with Levine suggesting, "I believe if he stays healthy the Cubs will offer him a short-term extension that could be a plus for both sides."
- The Twins "will get a close approximation of what it would be like to have Mike Trout and Bryce Harper in the same lineup" when top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano reach their primes, writes Jim Callis of Baseball America. Asked to rank prospect tandems in terms of potential five years down the road, Callis ranked Buxton and Sano ahead of Oscar Taveras and Shelby Miller of the Cardinals, Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich of the Marlins, and Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado of the Orioles, among others.
Here's your rundown of minor moves for Friday...
- Astros right-hander Philip Humber has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Oklahoma City, reports Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (via Twitter). Today was the deadline for Humber to decide to report to Triple-A or elect free agency after being outrighted off the 40-man roster earlier this week.
- The Nationals have acquired minor league catcher Brian Jeroloman from the Pirates, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter). The 28-year-old was hitting .222/.481/.278 thanks to his nine walks in 29 plate appearances for Triple-A Indianapolis. Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington adds that the Nats gave up cash for Jeroloman because they needed catching depth with Jhonatan Solano back in the Majors and Wilson Ramos on the DL (Twitter links). Jeroloman is a career .235/.349/.305 hitter in 122 Triple-A games.
- Right-hander Blaine Boyer exercised the out clause in his minor league deal with the Royals and became a free agent, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Boyer hasn't pitched in the bigs since 2011. He has a 4.81 ERA in 234 career innings after being selected by the Braves in the third round in 2000. Boyer posted a 3.00 ERA, 10.8 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 15 innings for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate, though he allowed four unearned runs as well and served up three homers.
Ben Badler of Baseball America recently profiled such top Venezuelan prospects as Yeltsin Gudino, Jose Herrera and Gleyber Torres as some of the top names to watch when the international signing period opens on July 2. Here are a few more notes from Badler about other 16-year-old prospects out of Venezuela and their possible Major League suitors...
- The Mariners have shown "heavy interest" in outfielder Greifer Andrade. The 6'1", 185-pound Andrade is expected to receive a contract worth more than $1MM with whichever team eventually signs him. Andrade is a right-hander who profiles as a corner outfielder, and scouts vary in their opinions of his long-term potential --- some believe he is one of the top internationals prospects available, while others have doubts about his throwing arm and ability to hit for power in the Major Leagues.
- The Rockies have been looking at shortstop Carlos Herrera. One international scouting director projects Herrera will be "an offensive, top-of-the-lineup guy with a really good idea at the plate." Badler says some scouts think Herrera can handle playing shortstop over the long term and Herrera also has above-average speed and is a solid contact hitter, if lacking in power right now.
- The Mets have been connected to Ali Sanchez, a catcher who is regarded as a solid defender though he "doesn’t have a lot of power now and scouts were mixed on his bat." Badler predicts Sanchez will sign for a little under $800K.
- The Royals have been linked to left-handed hitting outfielder Cristhian Vasquez, regarded as one of Venezuela's best young bats. While Vasquez has gap power, Badler notes that some scouts aren't sure if Vasquez has enough pop to be an everyday left fielder (he's limited to left field due to a lack of arm strength). Badler thinks Vasquez will sign for around $800K.
We'll keep an eye on today's minor moves right here:
- Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez has been outrighted to Triple-A, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports (Twitter link). Martinez was designated for assignment by the club earlier this week.
- Edgar Gonzalez has elected to become a free agent after clearing waivers, Sportsnet's Shi Davidi reports (via Twitter). Gonzalez was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays two days ago and he chose free agency rather than report to Triple-A Buffalo. The right-hander posted a 7.88 ERA in eight innings pitched with Toronto this season.
- The Royals have released right-handed relief pitcher Dan Wheeler, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Wheeler, 35, had been pitching for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate, where he struggled to a 9.00 ERA over 15 innings with a substandard 2.200 WHIP. Last year, Wheeler made just twelve appearances for the Indians and was similarly ineffective, pitching to an 8.76 ERA. Between 2003-2011, Wheeler made no fewer than 35 big league appearances per season. His best seasons came with the Astros in 2005-06, when he logged over 70 innings a year and posted consecutive 2.21 and 2.52 ERA marks.
Today's minor moves...
- The Yankees have acquired minor league shortstop Alberto Gonzalez from the Cubs in exchange for a player to be named later or cash, tweets Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. Gonzalez, who first appeared in the big leagues with the Yankees back in 2007, has seen limited MLB action over the last two years for Texas and Chicago. Over 989 career plate appearances, he has a .241/.279/.319 line.
- The Orioles acquired third baseman Brandon Wood from the Royals for cash considerations, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Wood will report to Triple-A Norfolk. The 28-year-old is hitting .264/.304/.396 in 56 Triple-A plate appearances. Wood, then with the Angels, was ranked as the third-best prospect in baseball after the '06 season by Baseball America, which said he profiled as a perennial All-Star. He's received 751 big league plate appearances with the Angels and Pirates, posting a .186/.225/.289 line.
- The Red Sox will promote reliever Jose De La Torre, GM Ben Cherington said today on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show. The Red Sox transferred reliever Joel Hanrahan, who has at least a flexor muscle strain, to the 60-day DL to open a 40-man roster spot for De La Torre.
- Kyle Kaminska, a righty who was with Boston's High A affiliate, has retired according to Evan Lepler on his MLB.com blog. The 24-year-old had joined the organization in December as the player to be named later in the Zach Stewart deal with Pittsburgh.
Here are a few notes from around the American League:
- The Royals are a legitimate threat to snag a wild card, says ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Insider sub. req'd), because of the team's offseason focus on pitching. GM Dayton Moore had a seven-year plan to turn around the club through a gradual rebuilding process. While the club has developed what Bowden calls "World Series-winning position players at the major league level," however, the pitching never kept pace. Faced with a limited window to keep the young talent together, Bowden credits Moore for making bold moves to bring in Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, James Shields, and Wade Davis to bolster the pitching corps.
- The Orioles may be nearing a decision point on Freddy Garcia, as the veteran pitcher will be able to opt out of his contract after his next minor league start, notes MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko. The 36-year-old has been solid thus far over four starts in Triple-A, where he sports a 2.81 ERA over 25 2/3 innings and has fanned sixteen against just two walks. Baltimore just sent down the struggling Jake Arrieta. His rotation spot went at least temporarily to Josh Stinson, who was bombed by the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
- The backup catching market could heat up as injuries mount. One day after the Yankees lost Francisco Cervelli for a significant period of time to a fractured hand, Orioles' backup Taylor Teagarden suffered a dislocated thumb. Both figure to be replaced with internal options for the immediate future. But their substitutes -- Austin Romine for New York and Luis Exposito for Baltimore -- have, respectively, just twenty and twenty-two largely unsuccessful major league plate appearances.
Anibal Sanchez recorded a club-record 17 strikeouts over eight shutout innings in the Tigers' 10-0 win over the Braves tonight, yet Sanchez might not have had the best pitching performance of the evening. That honor goes to Jordan Zimmermann, who held the Reds to just one hit in a complete game, 91-pitch shutout. It was the Nationals' second straight one-hitter against the Reds, who hadn't been held to one hit or less in consecutive games since the 1900 season.
Here's the latest from around baseball as we head into the weekend...
- The Yankees and Robinson Cano "would appear to very badly want to reach a deal," CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Despite this mutual interest between the two sides, there is apparently a large gap in salary demands --- the Yankees were looking at David Wright's eight-year/$138MM extension with the Mets as a comparable while Heyman thinks Cano's agents at CAA may aim as high as Alex Rodriguez's 10-year/$275MM deal. There is no earthly way the Yankees would hand Cano (or probably anyone) another A-Rod contract but I agree with Heyman's citations of Joey Votto and Prince Fielder's recent contracts as good comparables for a Cano extension. $200MM is the bare minimum for Cano's next deal, whether it's with the Yankees or another team.
- The Phillies' attendance is down thus far in 2013, and less ticket revenue could mean less payroll space for the club this offseason, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
- The Royals' rotation problems had become too great to ignore last winter, thus prompting GM Dayton Moore to make significant moves that now have his team looking like early contenders, ESPN's Jim Bowden writes (Insider subscription required). "Moore’s original vision might have taken a little longer, but with starting pitching finally in hand, he also might have just bought himself a lot more time," Bowden said, noting that Moore's contract with the Royals is up after the 2014 season.
Earlier today, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) looked at five early season surprises and wondered if they'd be able to sustain it across the entire year. The list begins with Paul Maholm of the Braves and Bowden notes that he wound up there only after Ryan Dempster used his no-trade clause to block a deal to Atlanta. The Braves instead traded prospects for another Cubs starter in Maholm and it worked out for them in a big way. The Braves later used the prospects offered in the Dempster trade to acquire Justin Upton from the D'Backs and Maholm has been more successful since the deal. Here's more from around baseball..
- Royals General Manager Dayton Moore spoke with ESPN's Buster Olney (audio link) on his latest podcast about his moves this winter. Moore explained that he pulled the trigger on the December deal for James Shields because he felt that the club needed to win through pitching. Meanwhile, he expects big things out of Wade Davis once he gets back into the flow of being in the rotation.
- While Russell Martin's offense hasn't shown up yet in 2013, the club's biggest free agent acquisition of the winter has shown something very important in Pittsburgh, writes Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs.
- In his latest mailbag, a reader asked Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star if the Blue Jays should look to sign someone in the wake of injuries to Jose Reyes and Brett Lawrie. In Griffin's eyes, there's no one on the open market right now that could step in and make a difference right away.