- White Sox Claim Kyle Drabek
- Brady Aiken Undergoes Tommy John Surgery
- Chris Tillman, Orioles Begin Extension Discussions
- Tigers, David Price Open Exploratory Discussions
- Dodgers To Sign Hector Olivera
- Twins Extend Brian Dozier
- White Sox Extend Adam Eaton
- Rangers Release Joe Beimel
- Nationals Release Heath Bell
- Dodgers To Sign Cuban Pitcher Pablo Millan Fernandez
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- East Notes: Papelbon, Warren, Victorino
- Minor Moves: Arguelles, Rays, Lorick, Lopez, Rockies
- West Notes: DeShields, Aiken, Lopez
- AL Central Notes: Graham, Pelfrey, Salazar, Finnegan
- Padres Fielding Trade Inquiries On Relievers
- Aiken Situation Could Lead To Changes In Draft Medicals
- Brandon League Likely Out Several Months
- Jordan Zimmermann Says Extension Unlikely
- Twins Have Inquired On Rafael Soriano
- White Sox Claim Kyle Drabek
- Mariners Rule 5 Pick David Rollins Suspended 80 Games For Failed PED Test
- Blue Jays Outright Scott Barnes
- Twins Outright Lester Oliveros
- NL Central Notes: Bryant, Kang, Reds, Cardinals
- Finding A Landing Spot For Jhoulys Chacin
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In today’s mailbag, a reader asked Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer if Gavin Floyd suffering an injury so soon after his signing indicates a broader issue with the Indians‘ ability to evaluate a pitcher’s health risk. There have been hits and misses for the Tribe, Hoynes explains, pointing to successes like their cheap gamble on Scott Kazmir. Over the last 20 years or so, Cleveland has established a good reputation for rehabbing injured hurlers from other organizations, so one bad break doesn’t mean that they’ve lost their feel for it. For more on the Indians’ offseason, check out MLBTR’s Steve Adams in-depth review.
Elsewhere in the American League:
- The bounty of starting pitchers in the upcoming free agent class will provide enough of a safety net for the Tigers if they fail to extend David Price, opines MLive.com’s Chris Iott. Owner Mike Ilitch is the wild card whether the Tigers make a strong bid to retain Price, who, Iott notes, will match, if not exceed, Max Scherzer‘s deal and without the deferments.
- Utilityman Don Kelly wanted to return to the Tigers, but signed with the Marlins because they represented a clearer path to the Majors, reports James Schmehl of MLive.com. “Detroit was like a second home for us, so to make that change was tough,” said Kelly. “To be able to bounce around and everything that goes on in a National League game, that was one of the reasons why it was such a good fit. The way the roster was set up at the time, and the way Miami’s was, it just seemed like a better fit to be in the NL and to be here.“
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn focuses on two factors when deciding whether to extend an arbitration-eligible player like Adam Eaton or Avisail Garcia, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. “It’s a combination of feeling, one, that the player is a key part to what we have going here and want to make sure we are able to have him longer than the normal six-year control period,” Hahn said. “And second, probably almost as important if not more important, is the belief that the guaranteed money wouldn’t change the player’s approach to their preparation for the game.“
- Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register chronicles the Angels’ recruitment of Roberto Baldoquin and how the franchise believes their $15MM investment ($8MM signing bonus plus the tax for exceeding their international bonus pool) is justified based on the numerous interactions between the organization and the 19-year-old Cuban prior to his signing.
Let’s have a look at a few American League notes to round out the day’s news:
- Royals second baseman Omar Infante is considering offseason elbow surgery — next offseason, that is — as he tells Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com (Twitter link). Infante recently took a cortisone shot to help reduce inflammation in his right arm, which has kept him out of game action thus far this spring. His ability to play through the difficulties in 2015, and rebound from a tough 2014 campaign, will be important to Kansas City’s ability to return to the postseason.
- The Angels will finally get a look at major offseason international free agent signee Roberto Baldoquin, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. Baldoquin, a twenty-year-old infielder out of Cuba, signed for $8MM but was kept out of camp by visa issues.
- Righty Mike Pelfrey is vying to make good on the two-year, $11MM deal he signed with the Twins last year by battling his way into the fifth starter role, as Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports. Last year was a wash for Pelfrey and Minnesota, as he struggled mightily before going down to elbow surgery. Pelfrey says he still believes in his ability to succeed as a starter, but is willing to throw from the pen if that’s what the team needs.
Mariners prospect Danny Hultzen, once considered one of the game’s best pitching prospects, made his first competitive outing today since early 2013. Hultzen has struggled with shoulder issues, but obviously remains a talented and potentially quite valuable player for Seattle. He walked the first batter he faced — understandably so, as it was Troy Tulowitzki — but worked out of the inning without incident.
More from the AL West:
- The Angels have no interest in making use of their rights over retired NFL quarterback Jake Locker, as MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. Los Angeles signed Locker for $300K back in 2009 despite knowing he was destined for a career in football, and he is still only 26 years old. But GM Jerry Dipoto indicated that the club has “enough going on” as it is, noting that he is generally not inclined to pursue players who prefer another sport.
- Rule 5 pick Taylor Featherston has a good chance of breaking camp with the Angels, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Dipoto says that he thinks another club would take a shot on Featherston were he to hit the waiver wire, and fully acknowledged that the Rule 5 status gives him a leg up in earning a utility role.
- ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider link) provides an interesting look at Athletics GM Billy Beane, explaining that the longtime head baseball man in Oakland is consis.tantly “selling high and trading quality in exchange for quantity that he hopes will turn into quality.” That was never more evident than in the last year, of course. While some of that “quantity” may not pan out, of course, Beane is often first able to deal it away for other useful pieces.
The Red Sox shouldn’t be in any rush to trade Allen Craig, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. Craig gives them depth at first base, DH, and both outfield corners, all positions where the Sox have injury and age concerns. He’s not an obvious fit for the Red Sox’ lineup right now, but after a miserable stretch run (Craig hit .128/.234/.191 in 107 plate appearances after Boston acquired him), he doesn’t have trade value either, so it would be best for the team to wait before dealing him. Here’s more from the American League.
- It’s not often wise for players to represent themselves, but Angels reliever Huston Street is an exception, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. Street, who is about to exchange extension figures with the Angels, is a real-estate investor in Austin who’s capable of handling contract negotiations. (If Street hits the free-agent market next winter, though, he’ll trust Austin lawyer Bill Stapleton to represent him.) “There’s mutual interest,” Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says regarding extension talks. “He understands where we are, and we understand where he is. He’s a big part of what we’re doing. But it’s not going to happen today or tomorrow.”
- White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija is trying not to focus on his impending free agency, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. “When you step back and look at your situation from afar, it’s a pretty intense situation with a lot on the line,” says Samardzija. “But … I like to think what I demand of myself each time out is more pressure than what a contract or what situation my career is in (can bring).” The White Sox hope to retain Samardzija, but it doesn’t appear that any extension is imminent.
The Major League Baseball Players Association yesterday voiced its displeasure that information pertaining to Josh Hamilton‘s treatment program and potential disciplinary situation has been leaked to the media. Per an MLBPA press release: “It is regrettable that people who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally have started leaking information about the status of his treatment program and the confidential processes under our Joint Drug Agreement. These anonymous leaks are cowardly, undermine the integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate. The Major League Baseball Players Association will use every right we have under the collective bargaining agreement to make sure Josh gets the help he needs, and the fair and confidential process to which he is entitled.”
Some more news from Hamilton’s division…
- Garrett Richards is progressing well and could get into a Cactus League game for the Angels as soon as March 13, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. While there was initially some fear that Richards could miss more than a month to open the year, Fletcher writes that he could be ready to pitch by the season’s second or third week. Fletcher also notes that Josh Rutledge got the first start at second base this spring and entered camp as the favorite to win the second base competition. Others in the mix include Grant Green, Johnny Giavotella and Taylor Featherston.
- Rangers ace Yu Darvish will have an MRI on his right triceps tomorrow after experiencing tightness in his first outing of Spring Training yesterday, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Darvish first felt tightness when warming up, and it did not improve (though it also did not worsen) during his outing. Darvish, who threw just one of 12 pitches above 90 mph, said he felt much better today, but assistant GM Thad Levine said the team will proceed with the MRI anyhow as a precaution.
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick spoke to a scout who likes the Mariners‘ offseason moves enough to label Seattle a 93-win club. While that’s just one opinion, Crasnick writes that the Mariners did indeed drastically change their roster this winter, but the moves came without all of the fanfare of the Padres’ retooling. Of course, aside from Nelson Cruz, most of the names added by the Mariners were of the complementary variety, whereas San Diego more household names. Crasnick also spoke to the Mariners’ players about their excitement for the coming year, with Robinson Cano giving a glowing review of his friend and now-teammate Cruz.
In his look at the game’s most untradeable contracts, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com rates Josh Hamilton of the Angels as the least desirable in the game. While that deal already had a reasonable stake to that label, Hamilton’s recent surgery and still-unresolved disciplinary matter definitely seem to take it to another level of difficulty. The Halos have rightly put the focus on Hamilton’s personal health and wellness, but the fact remains that the contract would be all but impossible to move at this point. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports report that a decision on Hamilton could come as soon as next week and is anticipated to occur before the season starts. The league and union have disagreed on the proper suspension and/or treatment scenario, with possibilities ranging from a relatively short suspension to a full-year ban. The matter is now before an arbitrator, whose determination will decide the nature of the violation. If a material violation is found, per FOX Sports, commissioner Rob Manfred would have “broad authority to determine the length of Hamilton’s suspension.”
Here are some more notes from the American League:
- Good and/or bad 2014 campaigns changed the future outlook for many players, and Ben Lindbergh of Grantland evaluates the players whose campaigns most swayed projection systems. On the positive side, a host of American League bats saw nice bumps, including youngsters Mookie Betts and Joey Gallo as well as longer-tenured players J.D. Martinez, Steve Pearce, and Victor Martinez.
- The Tigers appear set to give a long look at backstop James McCann, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes. Detroit needs to find out what it has in the 24-year-old, says Iott, with veteran Alex Avila having dealt with concussion issues and set to reach free agency after the season.
- Physical setbacks are an unfortunate but inevitable part of the spring, and two talented younger players have already suffered significant injuries. The Yankees have announced that catching prospect Luis Torrens will miss the season after tearing his right shoulder labrum. Torrens opened spring rated the ninth-best prospect in the New York system. Also, Mariners farmhand Ji-Man Choi will miss four to six months after suffering a fractured right fibula, as MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets.
Josh Hamilton‘s fate is in the hands of an arbitrator, report Bill Shaikin and Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times, after a four-person panel was unable to come to an agreement on the course of treatment after the outfielder’s recent relapse with substance abuse. The panel, made up of a league-appointed doctor, a league-appointed lawyer, an MLBPA-appointed doctor and an MLBPA-appointed lawyer, split their vote down the middle, per the L.A. Time duo. As such, an arbitrator will break the tie.
As MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez wrote earlier today, Hamilton was on the Rays’ 40-man roster for his first violation, so he is considered a multiple offender. (The Times duo notes that it is unclear how many of the “at least six drug tests” failed by Hamilton when with the Rays occurred whilst on the 40-man roster.) A first-time offender could be suspended for 15-25 games, a second-time offender for 25-50, a third-time offender for 50-75 and a fourth-time offender for a full season.
Per DiGiovanna and Shaikin, MLB is deciding whether or not to rule Hamilton as a fourth-time offender. That would mean that Hamilton could miss a whole season and forfeit the entirety of his $25MM salary. However, If Hamilton is ruled to enter a rehabilitation program, he’ll earn his full salary for 30 days and half his salary for the following 30 days, per the Times. That would come out to a bit less than $6.2MM.
Commissioner Rob Manfred would have final say on the length of any suspension for Hamilton. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark told both Gonzalez and the L.A. Times pairing that it is the Union’s “responsibility to protect the player and his rights in the process.” However, Clark voiced far more concern for Hamilton as a person than as a baseball player. “What I hope for is support for Josh. There are always baseball concerns. There are, more importantly, life concerns. We have protocols in place to handle the baseball-related issues. But I’m hopeful that anyone in the baseball family who finds himself in a tough spot gets support as a person beyond baseball.”
Angels closer Huston Street is expected to swap formal offers with GM Jerry Dipoto in short order, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. The Halos have already held exploratory discussions with the 31-year-old, who, as Gonzalez writes, is one of the rare big league players to take on his own representation. (Street discusses his decision to represent himself within Gonzalez’s article.)
As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register wrote earlier this week, Street and the Angels have talked over the winter but took a break when pitchers reported to Spring Training. Street’s plainly stated to the media that he feels a new, four-year deal in the $36-46MM range (the respective deals given to Andrew Miller and David Robertson this winter) would be fair. Street is eyeing a deal that would override his 2015 salary, meaning he’s seeking three new years.
Per Fletcher, the Angels are only about $15MM away from the luxury tax threshold, so a new deal for Street will certainly come with financial implications. He’s earning $7MM right now, but a four-year deal in the $40MM range would mean an additional $3MM or so going against the luxury tax barrier, as the luxury tax is calculated based on the average annual value of contracts. Of course, the Angels could have some additional leeway in that area in the event of a suspension of Josh Hamilton.
Gonzalez writes that Street will not let negotiations drag into the regular season unless the two sides are merely hashing out the final details, so it seems likely that we’ll soon know one way or another whether Street will be remaining in Anaheim long-term or testing the waters of the open market next winter.
According to the current pre-season projected standings and playoff probabilities from Fangraphs, the National League may be expected to be rather top-heavy next season. But the American League appears wide open, with nine teams projected to have .500 records but none projected at more than 87 wins. (And that doesn’t include the Royals, Orioles, or White Sox, all of which rate as sub-.500 teams in the eyes of the model.)
Here are some notes from that tightly-bunched side of the game:
- As today’s spring opener showed, Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino is in store for a busy run as he tries to convince the team — and the team tries to convince others — of his health and productivity, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Victorino is back to hitting from both sides of the plate and is being presented as the club’s top option in right, but a trade certainly still appears to be a plausible option.
- The increasing signing of career minor leaguers to major league deals in free agency is an interesting recent trend, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes explored last year. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register takes a look at one of this year’s examples, Jeremy McBryde of the Angels. “For me, he was one of the most intriguing bullpen guys in the minor leagues,” said GM Jerry Dipoto said. “… All the boxes you’d have for a prospect, he seems to check off those boxes.” As Dipoto further explained, McBryde’s lack of big league service and 40-man time also means that he comes with three option years remaining.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan says he is receptive to the idea of mentoring Torii Hunter in the ways of the front office, as MLB.com’s Spencer Fordin reports. “He’s thought about his career after his playing days, like most players should,” said Ryan. “He’s got a good baseball mind and I’m happy to hear he wants to be a GM. That’s good.”