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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Rumors
Let’s round up a few stray notes from the day:
- After avoiding arbitration with Matt Joyce today, the Angels appear set to enter the spring with a MLB payroll of a shade under $145MM, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. That is about $10MM shy of last year’s starting point, leaving the team with additional luxury tax space (Gonzalez estimates a $174MM payroll for those purposes) that the club will be willing to put towards any needs that become apparent over the course of the season.
- Potentially joining the Halos with interesting summer plans are the Phillies, who are increasingly likely to hold onto ace Cole Hamels, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. reiterated previous statements that he expects Hamels to enter camp with the team, adding that he “expect[s] him to be our Opening Day starter.” The Padres, Rangers, Dodgers, and Cardinals are all said to have been in touch recently on Hamels, but while all are clear of Hamels’s no-trade protection, they also each have good reasons not to be aggressive.
- Hector Olivera‘s representatives have indicated that he will put on his final open showcase this coming Wednesday, Ben Badler of Baseball America tweets. That obviously could be a prelude to an intensification of his market, particularly with Spring Training fast approach. As Badler notes, Olivera is still not a free agent, but is expected to be so declared in short order.
We’ll keep tabs on the day’s arbitration settlements here:
- The Angels have avoided arbitration with outfielder Matt Joyce, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter. He will earn $4.75MM in his final arb-eligible season. The 30-year-old, left-handed-swinging Joyce lands just shy of his $4.9MM projection, via MLBTR/Matt Swartz, and just above the midpoint between the sides’ filing figures ($5.2MM vs. $4.2MM). After dealing for him earlier in the offseason, Los Angeles figures to rely on Joyce quite a bit — especially with Josh Hamilton out to start the season. Joyce has been a steadily above-average offensive producer over recent years, though his power dropped last year and he has not returned to the All-Star level numbers he put up in 2010-11.
Much of the Padres‘ pitching staff has remained intact this offseason while new GM A.J. Preller built a new offense alongside it, and the team’s returning pitchers are excited, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. “It’s been pretty cool seeing all the moves we made,” says Andrew Cashner. “This is my first year to have a chance to win.” Another Padres starter, Ian Kennedy, still has interest in exploring free agency after the season, but adds that “it’s hard not to notice” that the team has gotten better, in his view, both for 2015 into the future. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- The Athletics acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar in the Ben Zobrist trade, then quickly shipped him to Washington for Tyler Clippard. Assistant GM David Forst says, however, that the A’s didn’t acquire Escobar with the intention of trading him, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Clippard deal took shape only after the completion of the Zobrist deal.
- The Angels have improved their farm system in the past several months, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. That’s not to say their farm system is great — they moved up from last in Baseball America’s organizational rankings in 2013 and 2014 to 27th this year. They did, however, pitchers Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano this winter, and drafted three more pitchers, Sean Newcomb, Joe Gatto and Chris Ellis, in June. Since Baseball America’s rankings went to press, the Angels have also added infielders Roberto Baldoquin and Kyle Kubitza. “It’s a better system than it was before,” says BA’s John Manuel. “There are some positive signs.”
Single-franchise players like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Chipper Jones are increasingly rare in baseball, writes Matt Yallof of MLB.com. The current longest tenured player is Chase Utley with parts of 13 seasons in Philadelphia. Former teammate Jimmy Rollins was traded to the Dodgers this offseason after 15 years in Philly. Another newly acquired Dodger – Howie Kendrick – was with the Angels for nine seasons. L.A. also shipped out a nine-year veteran in Matt Kemp. Here’s more from the West.
- Padres starter Andrew Cashner would like to remain in San Diego, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Per Cashner, “I’ve let the front office know that. But I think that’s something that’s up to them.” Lin also tweets that Cashner and the Padres held brief extension talks last spring, but they didn’t progress.
- The Diamondbacks appear to have a 12 pitcher battle royale planned for spring training, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Josh Collmenter and Jeremy Hellickson will probably open the season in the rotation, but their jobs are not guaranteed. Meanwhile, 10 other pitchers will compete for the final three openings. Of those, Trevor Cahill and Vidal Nuno have the most major league experience. Chase Anderson, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, and Robbie Ray received looks last season. Top prospect Archie Bradley will probably open the year in the minors. Other candidates include Andrew Chafin, Randall Delgado, and Daniel Hudson.
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.
We learned last night that the market for James Shields was taking shape, with multiple offers on the table and an expectation that the righty would be signed by the end of the week. Today figures to deliver plenty more reporting on the best remaining free agent, and we’ll keep tabs on it here.
- The Cubs have entered the fray and are “kicking the tires” on Shields, reports David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com. Kaplan, too, hears that Shields is expected to choose a team by the end of the week, and the Cubs are among those he is considering. Kaplan tweets that the Cubs have been waiting to see where the Shields market ended up before getting too involved. He adds that Shields has interest in Chicago, with his relationship with manager Joe Maddon being a factor.
- Shields’s agent, Page Odle, has indicated to some clubs that his client is “getting close to resolution,” according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (via Twitter).
- While it remains unclear exactly where they stand, the Marlins “remain in talks” involving Shields, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. As he writes, the club is more interested in a three-year deal than in going to four, with its pursuit complicated by payroll projections and the undecided situation of Dan Haren.
- If Miami is in, several other at-least-hypothetical landing spots appear to be out: The Cardinals prefer to plug Carlos Martinez in the rotation rather than signing Shields, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Rangers have not modified their intentions to avoid major free agent pitching investments, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan (via Twitter). And the always-unpredictable Athletics are not involved, per a tweet from Heyman.
- Two more west coast teams, the Giants and Angels, are also not currently in the running, Heyman reports (Twitter links). San Francisco had been in conversations in the four-year, $80MM range with Shields earlier in the offseason, per an Olney tweet, but ended up pursuing (and signing) Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong when they were rebuffed.
The Angels have sent righty Yency Almonte to the White Sox to complete last August’s Gordon Beckham swap, Chicago announced. Beckham has since reached free agency and re-signed with the South Siders, of course.
The Angels selected Almonte in the 17th round of the 2012 draft and went significantly over the $100K slot that applies to all picks beyond the 10th round, signing him for $250K. Baseball America ranked him 16th among Halos farmhands that offseason, noting in their scouting report that Almonte had generated some buzz heading into the draft before a dead arm cost him several weeks of the season and submarined his stock, to an extent. Per BA, his fastball sits in the low 90s and reaches 94, and he at one point showed feel for a breaking ball as well.
Durability concerns were a significant factor with Almonte, per the BA report, and two years later, they still appear to be a factor. Almonte began the season in the Class-A Midwest League but missed a month and had to rehab in Rookie Ball before rejoining the team. Overall, he pitched just 45 2/3 innings this season despite working exclusively as a starting pitcher. In 11 starts, he posted a 5.91 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.
Here are a few pitching notes from around the game:
- Long-time big leaguer Mark Mulder will not go after another comeback attempt this year, he tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The 37-year-old lefty has not seen MLB action since 2008 and had a brief spring stint with the Angels cut short last year with a rupture of his Achilles tendon.
- Like Mulder, fellow southpaw Barry Zito made his name with the early-21st century Athletics. Though he remains on track with his own comeback bid, Zito will not be making a late-career return to Oakland, which was not among the teams to watch him work out today, per Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter).
- Free agent LOOGY Phil Coke threw recently for the Rangers and Blue Jays, his agent tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link.) Coke worked to a 3.88 ERA over 58 frames last year with the Tigers.
Here’s the rundown of players who avoided arbitration today:
- Starting pitcher Garrett Richards has settled with the Angels for $3.2MM, Mike Perchick of WAPT tweets. Richards, who’s eligible for arbitration for the first time as a Super Two player, was in the midst of a breakout season (with a 2.61 ERA, 8.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 168 2/3 innings) when he suffered a season-ending knee injury from which he’s now recovering. He’s set to begin throwing off a mound in the next two weeks. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, Richards had asked for $3.8MM, and the Angels had countered with $2.4MM, so $3.2MM is a bit above the $3.1MM midpoint. With Richards’ signing, Matt Joyce is the only Angel remaining with a pending arbitration case.
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.