- Rangers Nearing Deal To Acquire Josh Hamilton
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- Joe Nathan Out For Year With Torn UCL & Tendon
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- Jeff Beliveau To Undergo Surgery For Torn Labrum
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- Mike Redmond Could Be On Hot Seat
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- West Notes: Baker, Dodgers, Johnson, Iwakuma
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- Blue Jays Designate Steve Tolleson
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- Angels Nearing Trade Involving Josh Hamilton
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Kyle Kendrick Rumors
The White Sox and Brewers have had the best and worst offseasons, respectively, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The White Sox were aggressive but conservative in spending their financial flexibility and did well by not surrendering any top prospects to acquire Jeff Samardzija. The Brewers, meanwhile, are not good enough to compete in the NL Central now or in the near future and should have either made a big play for a free agent like James Shields or turned over the roster on a grander scale than just trading Yovani Gallardo.
Elsewhere in baseball:
- If the Marlins are unable to further upgrade their rotation, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro advocates the club signing Francisco Rodriguez, not to supplant closer Steve Cishek but to solidify the back end of their bullpen. Frisaro tweeted the Marlins could apply their arbitration savings of $1.265MM (achieved with the Mike Dunn extension and in winning the Mat Latos arbitration hearing) towards signing Rodriguez. Earlier today, Frisaro reported the Marlins have contacted K-Rod’s agent, Scott Boras.
- GM Jeff Bridich sees the free agent signing of Kyle Kendrick and the acquisition of David Hale as updgrading the Rockies‘ rotation, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. “I certainly feel like the depth has been addressed to a certain degree,” Bridich said. “We were involved in both free agency and trades. Again, we have a good sense of what Kyle Kendrick is and what he can do. I think he has proven himself. With the acquisition of somebody like Hale … I think there is upside there.“
- MLB.com’s Terence Moore profiles Dusty Baker, who would “like to have another chance to manage, because the only thing lacking in my career is” a World Series ring, but is content if he never receives that opportunity.
- Cuban infielder Alejandro Ortiz has petitioned for free agency and is expected to hit the market soon, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The 24-year-old, who possesses speed and a good glove, played five seasons in Serie Nacional, so he is exempt from counting against a team’s international signing bonus pool.
Let’s round up the day’s minor moves:
- Rockies lefty Yohan Flande has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, the club announced. Flande lost his roster spot to make space for the signing of Kyle Kendrick, but could be one of the first men up if a big league rotation spot opens.
- The Rockies have also added outfielder/first baseman Josh Vitters and right fielder Jeremy Barfield on minor league deals, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports on Twitter. Still just 25, Vitters came into the league as the third overall pick in the 2007 draft, but struggled mightily in a brief MLB stint and had a rough go last year at Triple-A as he suddenly experienced a huge increase in his strikeout rates. Barfield, the 26-year-old son of longtime big leaguer Jesse, had always been an outfielder but began working as a left-handed reliever last year in the A’s system. He racked up 10.6 K/9 but allowing nearly seven free passes per nine at High-A while also slashing .261/.387/.394 in 173 Double-A plate appearances.
- Another player looking to move to the mound is former first baseman Jeff Malm, who signed a minor league pact with the Angels, according to reports from Eddy (via Twitter) and MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link). The left-handed former Rays prospect failed to crack the .700 OPS mark in his last two campaigns and will hope for a new start as a pitcher.
- Lefty Luis Perez is headed to the Blue Jays on a minor league pact, Eddy tweets. Perez missed all of 2014 with injury, but does have 112 big league innings under his belt from the 2011-13 campaigns, all with Toronto. He owns a 4.50 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over his MLB time.
Flande, 29, threw 59 innings of 5.19 ERA ball last year in his first big league stint, generating a healthy 58.2% groundball rate. He struck out 5.2 and walked 2.4 per nine over ten starts and six relief appearances.
The southpaw has never posted a sub-4.00 ERA over a full season in the upper minors, but ERA estimators all valued his work in the bigs at or below that mark last year. Nevertheless, Flande is probably best characterized as an organizational depth piece at this stage of his career.
Free agent righty Kyle Kendrick has agreed to sign with the Rockies, sources tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The deal is for one year and $5.5MM, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Kendrick, a client of Relativity Baseball, can earn an additional $500K if he logs 190 innings.
Colorado was said to be eyeing another starter addition, with Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweeting earlier today that Kendrick remained a possibility. Though the Rockies added a rotation candidate recently via trade in David Hale, bringing in Kendrick should insulate the organization from feeling compelled to elevate any of its top prospects outside of its preferred timetable.
Still only 30, Kendrick has been a durable innings-logger over his career, missing only 15 games total on the DL. He has at times split time between the rotation and pen, but racked up 381 frames in 62 starts over 2013-14. Of course, the results have not always been there: he owns a cumulative 4.65 ERA over the past two seasons. More promisingly, Kendrick was good for a 3.61 earned run mark across 2011-12. But ERA estimators have consistently valued him in the low-to-mid 4 earned per nine range.
In an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link), Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said his club had looked at signing Kevin Correia and Kyle Kendrick. Houston’s interest in Correia was reported earlier this week, while Kendrick has been linked to the ‘Stros as another potential fit to fill out the back of their rotation. Luhnow also stated that the Astros had been looking at other similar starters with Major League experience. Here’s some more from both the AL and NL West divisions…
- The Athletics have checked in on free agent outfielder Nolan Reimold, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets. The Indians and Orioles are also known to be interested in Reimold, and Dan Duquette said earlier today that the O’s have extended an offer for Reimold to return to Baltimore.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was non-committal about the idea of his team pursuing any of the top arms available in next year’s free agent market, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. Payroll space could be an issue given how (according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts) the Halos have over $128MM committed to only seven players for the 2016 season.
- With Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson both set for free agency after 2016, Gonzalez wonders if the Angels could sign a major starter and then use Weaver or Wilson as trade bait, similar to how the Nationals signed Max Scherzer and now have the depth to explore trading Jordan Zimmermann or Doug Fister. There were rumors earlier this winter that the Angels were already shopping Wilson, though Dipoto issued a denial.
- Sergio Santos will earn $1MM if he makes the Dodgers‘ Major League roster, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports (via Twitter), plus another $3.05MM is available in incentives. Santos signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last month.
- The Dodgers are committed to rebuilding their minor league system and thus are wary about exceeding their international bonus pool to sign Yoan Moncada, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick writes. While L.A. is very interested in Moncada, any team that wants to sign the Cuban phenom would have to greatly exceed their bonus pool to do so, and thus be limited to international signings of $300K or less for the next two international signing periods, or until July 2017. Of course, several teams have employed the strategy of exceeding the pool limit to load up on premium international talent during one signing period — the Red Sox, Angels, Rays, Yankees and Diamondbacks already face that $300K limit during the 2015-17 international signing market.
- The Diamondbacks hired former slugger Joe Carter as a special assistant to GM Dave Stewart, the team announced. Carter and Stewart were teammates in Toronto in 1993-94, both playing major roles in the Blue Jays’ 1993 World Series title.
“Just because we didn’t win doesn’t mean it didn’t work out,” insisted Bautista. “It helped build a core for our team. And the last two years we’ve added to that core. I think the players really appreciate the commitment that [General Manager] Alex [Anthopoulos] has made to building our team.”
Here’s more from today’s column..
- One prominent baseball official feels that free agent pitcher James Shields has not been marketed properly by his camp. Few doubt Shields’ talent, but some have the notion that he isn’t a strong postseason pitcher. Meanwhile, a few executives suspect that the Blue Jays could become interested in his services if the club can convince Rogers Communications to shell out the money. At present, however, Toronto only has the budget to allow for a bullpen upgrade or two.
- Over the weekend, David Price reiterated that he would “absolutely” consider a long-term deal with the Tigers. Entering his walk year, Price doesn’t want to eliminate a big-market team from contending for his services, Cafardo writes. Still, it’s believed he’ll hit free agency and go elsewhere.
- With the Astros losing out on Ryan Vogelsong, they might turn their sights to comparable free agents such as Chris Young, Kevin Correia, and Kyle Kendrick.
- Recently, Cafardo asked Orioles manager Buck Showalter if he’d be interested in being a GM, which was a tough question for him to answer given that Dan Duquette is still with the O’s. Still, Showalter is already involved in personnel decisions and if Duquette leaves, Cafardo writes that he’d be at the helm along with talent evaluator Brady Anderson and a new GM. Recently it was reported that the O’s have a list of candidates for the job if it opens up and that includes names like Ned Colletti, Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya, and Kevin Towers.
It’s been a hectic day in the AL West to say the least, with the Astros acquiring Evan Gattis from the Braves and the Athletics flipping the recently acquired Yunel Escobar to the Nats for Tyler Clippard. However, multiple reports indicated today that the Rangers were heavily interested in Gattis as well, and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram sheds a bit of light on those talks (Twitter link). Per Wilson, the Rangers were in on Gattis but balked at Atlanta’s asking price of right-hander and former first-round pick Alex Gonzalez and/or top outfield prospect Nomar Mazara (who received a hefty $5MM bonus to sign with Texas in 2011 and reached Double-A last year). In the end, the Astros landed Gattis for righty Michael Foltynewicz, right-hander Andrew Thurman and third baseman Rio Ruiz.
Here are a few more notes on Houston and the game’s Western divisions…
- The Astros still have some money to spend, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and the team is currently looking at both the starting pitching market and at corner infielders. Astros fans with visions of elite starters in their minds should temper those thoughts, however, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the club is thinking more along the lines of back-end starters such as Ryan Vogelsong and Kyle Kendrick.
- MLB.com’s Corey Brock spoke with Padres GM A.J. Preller and chairman Ron Fowler about the team’s flurry of moves this offseason. Specifically, Brock and Preller touched on how differently the offseason could have played out had the Friars secured their top target: Pablo Sandoval. “You’ve got to be prepared to move on to Plan B, C, D or F or Z. We don’t have a [front-office] group that dwells on things too long,” Preller told Brock in reference to losing out on Sandoval, who signed with Boston. “…Each decision takes you down a slightly different path. … If we had signed Pablo, it would have changed our course a little bit. That’s just the nature of the offseason.” Fowler told Brock that Preller has often worked on four or five deals at once, and his approach was so tireless that right after acquiring Matt Kemp, Preller said to Fowler, “Let’s go after [Justin] Upton.” The Upton acquisition, Fowler said, was possible due to the fact that the Dodgers front-loaded the money they sent to San Diego in the Kemp deal, sending $18MM of the $32MM right off the bat.
- Earlier tonight we noted Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi’s candid acknowledgment of the club’s pursuit of Yoan Moncada when speaking with Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio. The audio clip of that discussion is now available, and within it, Zaidi sidesteps a fairly loaded question about Max Scherzer and James Shields, to an extent, but acknowledges that the L.A. front office won’t close any doors. Said Zaidi: “I’m going to give you the same boring and annoying answer that I give to our local media — and they already love me for it — that we don’t comment on free agents that are out there. I will just say we’re not closing any doors at this point. I get asked a lot, ‘Are you guys done?’ And you’re never done. You’re constantly evaluating new options to improve the team, and we’re still in that phase. And if there’s a guy out there that we think makes us better and is available at the right price, we’ll absolutely consider it.”
With another quiet day turning into an even less eventful evening, I thought we’d spice things up with a look at a particularly interesting segment of the free agent market: innings-eating veteran starters.
Sure, I’m joking. Almost by definition, a back-of-the-rotation innings eater is not a very exciting pitcher. But, then again, perhaps there is something to the idea that this corner of the universe has more intrigue than it might seem at first glance.
Targeting top-end players is fairly straightforward, whereas figuring whether to pursue one or another back-end arm involves much more careful parsing to find value. The fact that most such pitchers sign for short-term deals means that clubs must be right on the player in the immediate term; there is no time to fix them for the future. And then there is the fact that the performance of these players matters a great deal; unlike a utility man or reliever, innings-eating arms are expected to occupy full-time roles. Racking up losses because your number 4 and 5 starters are not competitive is a great way to dig a hole in the standings.
The potential impact of this type of player is evidenced by the list of the best durable, veteran starters still available, several of whom played for contenders in 2014 and one of whom even pitched in the World Series. For better or worse, all of the players listed were allowed to throw at least 150 innings last year, creating plenty of opportunity to add or subtract value.
Kevin Correia: The results are not usually that exciting, but Correia has logged at least 100 innings in every season since 2007. He delivered an average of 178 innings of 4.19 ERA pitching over 2012-13 before suffering through a rough 2014.
Aaron Harang: Last year’s shining example of the importance of choosing your innings eaters carefully, Harang put up 204 1/3 frames with a 3.57 ERA. Sure, there’s a lot baked in there other than his pitching, but the bottom line is that Harang rated amongst the game’s fifty best starters in terms of preventing runs and among its 25 best in logging innings.
Roberto Hernandez: The results haven’t been there for Hernandez, and there is not much silver lining given that he has seen a steady decline in fastball velocity. But he is quite a steady groundball inducer, and showed enough that the Dodgers traded for him and gave him nine starts down the stretch.
Kyle Kendrick: At some point, 199 innings is 199 innings, and that’s what Kendrick delivered last season. He is also a fairly youthful 30 years of age, and is not far removed from producing serviceable results.
Ryan Vogelsong: Though his peripherals are somewhat less promising, Vogelsong has posted pretty darned useful bottom-line results in three of the past four seasons. And he had enough in the tank to run his fastball up to the mid-90s in the postseason.
Chris Young: ERA estimators view Young’s 3.65 earned run mark last year as a mirage, but then again he has always outperformed his peripherals. It had been quite some time since the towering righty had handled a full season in a rotation, but Seattle happily converted his 165 innings of work into a 12-9 record in 29 starts.
Before you vote on the player you think will be the best bet for 2015, you might want to check out these custom Fangraphs leaderboards for a sense of their recent statistical achievements: last year; last three years; last five years.
Nick Markakis underwent fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck yesterday, but the Braves expect their new right fielder to be 100 percent by Opening Day, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. President of baseball operations John Hart spoke with surgeon Steve Wray, who performed the procedure, and came away with the impression that aside from some possible disruption of his pre-Spring Training routine, Markakis would be fine. He’s expected to be cleared for physical activity within a month’s time and to be fully agile in six weeks.
Some more notes from the Senior Circuit to kick off your Thursday morning…
- The Rockies are interested in right-hander Kyle Kendrick as a potential back-of-the-rotation option, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The 30-year-old Kendrick pitched a career-high 199 innings last season, and Crasnick notes that his career 46.1 percent ground-ball rate is of interest to Colorado. That mark isn’t too far above the league average, but it’s an improvement over Franklin Morales and Christian Bergman, each of whom logged significant innings in Colorado’s rotation last year. Kendrick’s upside is limited, but he’d be a relatively low-cost option to soak up some innings in a shaky rotation.
- Wilmer Flores is still likely to open next season as the Mets‘ shortstop, writes Marc Carig of Newsday, but a source tells Carig that the team does have interest in Stephen Drew and Everth Cabrera on low-risk, one-year deals. Previous reports have indicated that the Mets weren’t interested in Cabrera. The team hasn’t ruled out bidding on Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang, but they’re likely to pass due to concerns over his defense. Those same concerns have halted their interest in Asdrubal Cabrera from progressing beyond internal discussions.
- In a video blog, ESPN’s Buster Olney opines that the Padres are in perfect position to try to squeeze some extra money out of the Dodgers in their deal for Matt Kemp. While the deal is expected to be completed, Olney notes that Kemp’s medicals are “ugly,” and the Dodgers need the trade more than the Padres do. The Dodgers are reportedly set to send $32MM to the Padres as it is.
- The Padres aren’t done making moves even after striking deals to acquire Kemp and Wil Myers, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. One possible minor addition, he reports, is veteran catcher David Ross, who is still “considering” the Padres.
With Jon Lester off the market, we should start to see some dominoes fall. Here are the latest pitching rumors from around baseball.
- Talks between the Tigers and Red Sox have yet to gain any traction, tweets Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.
- The Red Sox have yet to engage the Phillies on Hamels, Stark reports (Twitter links). It is early, of course, though perhaps it would have been expected that Boston would immediate move to that option. The team is, however, working on several other deals including a previously-rumored swap involving Yoenis Cespedes and Rick Porcello.
- After missing on Lester, the Giants have interest in dealing for Hamels, sources tell Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Earlier rumors that San Francisco is casting a wide net appear to have been well-founded, as the team has been reported to have at least some involvement in a wide variety of possible additions.
- The Twins have interest in Kyle Kendrick and have already had a meeting in San Diego, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.
- Dillon Gee is the most likely Mets pitcher to go in trade, followed by Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The Rangers aren’t enamored with the Mets’ pitching but the Royals and Twins have been mentioned as possibilities.
- The Red Sox aren’t currently close on acquiring Cole Hamels from the Phillies, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). They could now turn their attention to Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley instead and one of five other pitchers that they have their eyes on. James Shields could also be a free agent option for Boston.
- Two unnamed owners traveled to the winter meetings to meet with Max Scherzer‘s agent Scott Boras, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Scherzer’s market should develop after Lester signed for $155MM over six years, but he’s aiming much higher this winter. The losers in the Lester derby – the Giants, Red Sox, and Dodgers – could all be candidates for Scherzer with the Giants being the one team in the group certain to take a serious look.
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