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Kris Medlen Rumors
Recently-acquired Royals utilityman extraordinaire Ben Zobrist says that he’s very much open to a return to Kansas City, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports. “Certainly, this had been one of the teams I liked the look of,” he said. “And now, since I’ve been here, it’s a place I want to stay longer. Being here has certainly done nothing but make this [team] go up on my list.” Of course, the versatile and still-productive 34-year-old figures to be as widely pursued on the winter’s free agent market as he was at this year’s trade deadline. Zobrist was already playing well before the trade, but has slashed an outstanding .357/.446/.600 in his first 83 plate appearances with his new club.
Here’s more from Kansas City and the rest of the AL Central:
- The Royals will hand the ball to Kris Medlen for his first start with the club on Monday, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. Medlen, 29, has returned nicely after a long layoff for multiple Tommy John surgeries, tossing 14 1/3 innings of 2.51 ERA ball with 14 strikeouts against five walks. His average fastball velocity is as good as ever. Medlen is owed just $5.5MM next year and can be controlled with a $10MM option ($1MM buyout) in 2017. So far, that’s looking like a nice risk for the Royals.
- Indians president Mark Shapiro declined to comment on recent reports indicating that he could be a candidate to take over the Blue Jays‘ presidency, Zack Meisel of the Plain Dealer reports. The long-time Cleveland executive, still just 48 years old, could conceivably be enticed by the possibility of gaining “power and resources,” the Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes writes in an interesting piece.
- There was a creeping sense of suspicion when he was not approached to discuss a new deal over the summer, former Tigers GM (and newly-minted Red Sox president of baseball operations) Dave Dombrowski tells MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (audio link). Dombrowski maintained, however, that he remains unaware what precisely led Detroit to release him from its contract when it did.
- Just-added Tigers lefty Daniel Norris could end up missing the rest of the year with an oblique injury, Chris Iott of MLive.com reports. Manager Brad Ausmus says that Norris is likely to miss at least a month. The 22-year-old, added as the key piece of the David Price trade, figures to be a key piece of the Tigers rotation next year and for the foreseeable future. He recently joined the MLBTR Podcast to discuss that deal and his approach to the game.
Reds right-hander Jon Moscot appears to be done for the season, writes MLB.com’s Robert Bondy. The rookie starting pitcher suffered a dislocated left (non-throwing) shoulder in his most recent outing while tagging out Anthony Gose in a rundown. Moscot will require surgery to repair what has been termed “significant” damage in the shoulder. Manager Bryan Price told Bondy and others that it would be “optimistic” to expect Moscot to pitch again in 2015, making the 23-year-old righty latest addition to a rapidly growing list of injured Reds. Homer Bailey is out for the season following Tommy John surgery, and Zack Cozart will miss the remainder of the year due to torn ligaments and tendons in his knee. Marlon Byrd is presently sidelined with a fractured wrist, and a hip impingement has prevented Devin Mesoraco from playing for nearly the entire season. In three starts this season, Moscot allowed six runs in 11 2/3 innings for the Reds, striking out six and walking five. With Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake looking like probable trade candidates, a strong early impression from Moscot could have potentially positioned him to remain in the rotation for the duration of the 2015 season. The good news for Moscot is that, according to Price, he’s expected to be ready for the 2016 campaign.
A couple more notable injury updates from around the league…
- Kris Medlen is slated to begin a rehab assignment with the Royals‘ Double-A affiliate on Friday, which will commence a 30-day window to complete a rehab assignment, tweets MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Medlen is said to be “all systems go” at this point in his recovery from a second Tommy John surgery. The Royals will hope that he’s healthy enough to join what has been a lackluster rotation in the season’s second half and help the team remain atop of a close race with the Twins, Tigers and Indians in the AL Central.
- Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters on Thursday that Juan Lagares is playing through an elbow ailment that could be fixed by either rest or Tommy John surgery, but the Record’s Matt Ehalt writes that surgery is not on the table for Lagares at this time. Both Collins and GM Sandy Alderson said that the injury is something that Lagares can play through, with Collins adding that “a lot of guys” have previously played through this particular ailment. “We just have to be careful he doesn’t get crazy and make an awkward throw or try to overthrow too much,” said Collins. Alderson added that the injury is “not an issue” and that surgery is “not on our radar.”
Dodgers president Andrew Friedman will entertain offers for any player, even Yasiel Puig, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. The right-handed outfielder is under club control through 2019. He’s paid just $4.5MM this season and $5.5MM in 2016. Puig, 24, provides necessary balance to a lineup that will include left-handers Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson, and Corey Seager. The Dodgers would like to add a top young starter, but it would take an awful lot for Puig to be included in a deal. My own personal spit balling – it would take a starter like Matt Harvey to open a conversation. Here’s more from Rosenthal:
- The Royals rotation ranks 13th in the American League in ERA. Rival executives expect the club to acquire starting pitching at the deadline. Kansas City may have a narrow window for contention. Alex Gordon can opt out of his contract after this season. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are under club control through 2017. The club does have Danny Duffy and Kris Medlen on the rehab trail, but setbacks are always possible. Personally, I wouldn’t expect them to seek a top pitcher like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto. However, I could see them targeting a guy like Aaron Harang.
- The Rangers could soon find themselves with a surplus of starting pitchers. The club promoted Chi Chi Gonzalez today. Meanwhile, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, and Martin Perez are expected to return at some point this season. As Rosenthal points out, setbacks to that trio would not be surprising. Rather than trading a starter, the club might revisit their previous efforts to acquire Hamels. Texas is just one game below .500 entering this evening.
- The Athletics are unlikely to deal ace Sonny Gray. At the end of the season, he’ll have the same amount of service time as Josh Donaldson did last winter. However, the A’s still hope to build a contender – if not this season then next. Gray is key cog for Oakland.
Injuries remain perhaps the largest driver of needs in the early part of the season — a topic that MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes and I explored in today’s podcast with respect to starting pitching. Let’s have a look at some key injury situations around the game:
- Rehabbing Royals starter Kris Medlen is headed to extended Spring Training to begin throwing against live batters, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports. That leaves him on track for a rehab assignment in May. Kansas City has $8.5MM riding on the righty’s ability to return to form after his second Tommy John surgery.
- The Reds are missing two key cogs in backstop Devin Mesoraco and righty Homer Bailey. As Michael Hunt reports for MLB.com, manager Bryan Price says that Mesoraco — still not on the DL despite a 17-game absence from his usual catching duties — is still not ready “to try it out just yet,” adding that Mesoraco is “coming along slowly.” There are longer-term concerns with regard to Bailey, of course, and surgery is said to be on the table. “We’re probably going to know in the next one-to-two days what our plans are with Homer,” Price said. “You spend a lot of time when you make a diagnosis, fact-finding and making sure everything you see is as it appears. That’s been the time consumer, making sure it is what we think it is and finding the best way to treat it.”
- Marlins starter Jose Fernandez is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, of course, and recently faced hitters in a live BP session for the first time. You can check out the video of his outing, courtesy of FOX Sports Florida.
- After a pause in his rehab, Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon is preparing for another Double-A appearance in the coming days, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports. The issue has not been with his knee, which caused him to hit the DL to start the year, but with tightness in his side. That’s good news for the club, obviously, as is the fact that reliever Casey Janssen appeared in an extended spring game. He is set to begin his own run up through the minors in short order, per Ladson.
- Injured Tigers starter Justin Verlander is set for a third MRI on his right triceps area early next week, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports (Twitter links). Meanwhile, reliever Joe Nathan underwent his Tommy John procedure yesterday, Fenech tweets, with Nathan saying that it went well. It figures to be a long road back for the 40-year-old, but indications are that he’ll try to return to the big leagues.
The Astros christened the Astrodome 50 years ago today with the first regular season game played in the Eighth Wonder of the World, remembers Bob Hulsey of The Astros Daily. Twenty-two NASA astronauts threw out the ceremonial first pitch, but Philadelphia shutout Houston 2-0 behind Dick Allen‘s home run, the first regular season long ball hit in the Astrodome, and Chris Short‘s four-hitter.
In American League news and notes from today:
- The Rays have been trying to trade outfielder David DeJesus because of his salary and a lack of a clear-cut role on the team, but John Jaso‘s wrist injury changes that for now, tweets the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. DeJesus blasted a three-run home run for the Rays this afternoon and is hitting .545 (6-for-11) with a 1.454 OPS on the young season.
- Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman sees an upside to the club having a MLB-leading nine players on the disabled list, writes Topkin. “We knew we would be calling upon our depth, and that call has come sooner than we expected,” said Silverman. “The bright side of this is that we’re going to get a chance to see some of these (replacement) players and get a better look at them, and we’ll be even better off when our players return from injuries.” Topkin notes the Rays have nearly one-third of their payroll (nearly $25MM) on the DL and six of the organization’s top ten starting pitchers.
- Royals right-hander Kris Medlen threw curveballs off the mound this week for the first time since undergoing his second Tommy John surgery and plans to return to Phoenix for rehab outings in May, tweets Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star.
The opening series between the Tigers and Twins could hardly have been more lopsided, as Detroit finished off a three-game sweep with a 7-1 victory today. The only bright spot for the Twins was that they finally scored a run, after losing the first two games by a combined 15-0 score. Minnesota will have to turn things around to avoid getting into an early-season hole, as 23 of the Twins’ first 26 games are against division rivals. Let’s look at some AL Central news…
- Ricky Nolasco left the team on Thursday to return to Minneapolis and undergo an MRI on his right elbow. Twins skipper Paul Molitor told reporters (including Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) that Nolasco “felt a little bit of a spike” in his elbow during Wednesday’s start, though it’s too early to tell if this injury is related to the flexor strain that sent Nolasco to the DL last season.
- In other injury news, Indians righty Josh Tomlin underwent shoulder surgery yesterday. The procedure will sideline Tomlin for approximately 3-4 months.
- The hiring of Terry Francona after the 2012 season has brought some much-needed stability to the Indians franchise, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Not only has the Tribe improved on the field and locked up several young stars to long-term extensions, they’ve also looked to improve the fan experience (and improve attendance) at Progressive Field by upgrading the ballpark’s amenities.
- While recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, right-hander Kris Medlen “was intent on finding a team with a strong rehab staff and the patience not to rush him,” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick writes. Medlen found a two-year deal with a mutual option from the Royals, and he’s received some advice regarding how hip weakness could be impacting his delivery. Crasnick’s piece includes several insightful comments from Medlen and his former Braves teammate Brandon Beachy (now a Dodger and also trying to recover from his second TJ operation) about their rehab process and some of the public misconceptions about Tommy John surgery as the procedure becomes more commonplace. For instance, Medlen and Beachy feel that 12 months is too short a realistic recovery time for Tommy John patients, and 16-20 months is a more reasonable estimate to return to full strength.
The Royals announced that they have signed right-hander Kris Medlen to a two-year deal that contains a mutual option for the 2017 season. Medlen, who is represented by the Wasserman Media Group, reportedly receives an $8.5MM guarantee. He’ll earn $2MM in 2015 and $5.5MM in 2016. His mutual option is worth $10MM and contains a $1MM buyout that is guaranteed regardless of which side declines.
Medlen, 29, was one of the Braves’ best starters for much of 2012-13, but he fell victim to his second Tommy John surgery this past spring and wound up being non-tendered as a result. Medlen earned $5.8MM in 2014 and stood to earn something similar in 2015, although the Braves could technically have reduced his salary to about $4.65MM.
Tommy John surgery has been a significant detriment to the unquestionably talented Medlen’s career. He was enjoying a solid season in 2010 when his right UCL first gave way in August, causing him to miss nearly the entire 2011 season as well. When he returned in 2012, Medlen posted a brilliant 1.57 ERA down the stretch, and he followed that up with a 3.11 mark in 197 frames the following year.
Overall, Medlen owns a 2.95 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 46.2 percent ground-ball rate in 512 2/3 career innings. Sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (3.23), xFIP (3.39) and SIERA (3.68) all feel that he’s a perfectly viable rotation option when healthy.
While it may at first be puzzling to see the Braves let Medlen go, it’s also important to note that he had just one season of arbitration control remaining. Medlen may not pitch again until midseason and would have cost the club between $4.6MM and $5.8MM, and the success rate for second Tommy John surgeries is lower than that of the success rate for first-time patients. Atlanta was said to have discussed a two-year deal with Medlen at one point, but the team may not have been comfortable matching Kansas City’s guarantee.
The Royals figure to start the 2015 season with a rotation of Yordano Ventura, Jason Vargas, Danny Duffy, Edinson Volquez and Jeremy Guthrie, but Medlen could eventually slot in should one of those five get injured. He could also return to the bullpen, where he’s worked extensively in the past, as he builds up arm strength and looks toward a rotation spot in 2016. Guthrie is a free agent following the 2015 season, so there should be at least one opening for him to pursue.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Agent Scott Boras says he will not give the Tigers the opportunity to match offers for his client Max Scherzer, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes. “This is not church bingo,” Boras told the media Wednesday. “You pretty much are in the market on a player. You tell all the teams and everyone involved that he can sign at any time. He’s open to signing at any time.” A Tigers official recently said that a new deal with Scherzer was “not happening,” however, so right now, it sounds like the Tigers aren’t that inclined to play bingo either. Here’s more from around the big leagues.
- The Yankees are considering signing Ervin Santana, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Santana has lately been connected to the Twins, Giants and Royals, with the Twins reportedly prepared to offer a deal in the range of four years and $50MM. The Yankees, meanwhile, are looking for starting pitching, but GM Brian Cashman has said he’s being “patient” at the Winter Meetings.
- The Nationals met with Jordan Zimmermann‘s agent, Mark Pieper, on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, James Wagner of the Washington Post writes. “It was a re-acquaintance, if you will, to talk about philosophies and parameters and that type of thing,” says Nats GM Mike Rizzo. The two sides had not attempted to negotiate an extension for Zimmermann since before the 2014 season. Zimmermann is eligible for free agency next winter. Last week, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Nationals would again attempt to extend Zimmermann. Wagner adds that the Nationals do not plan to trade Zimmermann, Doug Fister or Ian Desmond (all of whom are eligible for free agency at the end of the year) before the start of spring training.
- Jean Segura‘s struggles last season have the Brewers thinking they shouldn’t offer players extensions in the spring, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. The Brewers offered Segura a six-year, $38MM extension last spring, but Segura’s camp turned it down. Segura had a poor first half, and the Brewers feel he was pressing. Near midseason, Segura tragically lost his infant son. He then returned to the team and struggled through July and August before hitting better in September. “I do think [the extension offer] was a distraction for Segura,” says GM Doug Melvin. “You’re around all the players (in camp) and they talk about it. I just think the focus on spring training is important to get ready.”
- The Braves have not contacted Kris Medlen since they non-tendered him, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. Medlen missed the entire 2014 season after having his second Tommy John surgery.
- Reliever Matt Albers, who missed much of the 2014 season due to shoulder trouble, will begin throwing in February, SportsNet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets. More than one team has shown interest, Nicholson-Smith notes. Albers, 31, has appeared in parts of nine big-league seasons with the Astros, Orioles, Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Indians, posting a 4.42 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.
Here’s the latest from GM Dave Stewart and the Diamondbacks, via Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic:
- The Diamondbacks don’t look likely to use the salary they cleared by trading Miguel Montero on significant moves for the rest of this offseason. (The team did, of course, already sign Yasmany Tomas.) “It’ll be a better market next year,” says Stewart. “I’d like to see where we’re going to end up. Let’s see where we are once we get out of spring training. I think we’re going to be a better team.”
- Montero’s departure leaves the team without a key left-handed bat, but Stewart isn’t thrilled with his options right now for finding another. “This move didn’t dictate whether we go out and get a lefthanded bat,” he says. “There’s just not a lot out there.”
- The Diamondbacks are not interested in Chase Headley, Stewart says. They also do not sound interested in Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, both of whom are returning from injury.
- The D-backs like James Shields, but Stewart says he has not reached out to Shields’ camp this offseason.
Here’s the latest from Angel Stadium…
- The Angels are targeting the Rockies‘ Josh Rutledge, the Astros‘ Marwin Gonzalez, the Tigers‘ Eugenio Suarez and the Cardinals‘ Pete Kozma in their search for middle infield depth, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Rutledge would require the most back in return since he has experience in an everyday role.
- Also from Fletcher’s Twitter account, he reports that the Angels aren’t interested in Brandon Beachy or Kris Medlen. Both starters underwent Tommy John surgery last year and were recently non-tendered by the Braves.
- GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez and Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times) that his team is “probably not” going to pursue more international players during the 2014-15 signing period, though “we’re open to it.” The Halos have already far exceeded their bonus pool for the 2014-15 period thanks to their $8MM expenditure on Roberto Baldoquin, an overage that will prevent them from spending any significant money when the 2015-16 international market opens.
- The player most often asked about by other teams is catcher Carlos Perez, Dipoto said.