- Michael Saunders To Miss 5-6 Weeks After Knee Surgery
- Blue Jays, Athletics Talking With Dayan Viciedo
- Doug Melvin On Papelbon Trade Talks, K-Rod Signing
- Brewers To Re-Sign Francisco Rodriguez
- Juan Pierre Officially Retires
- Aramis Ramirez Likely To Retire After 2015 Season
- Blue Jays Sign Johan Santana To Minors Deal
- Brady Aiken Enrolls At IMG Academy
- Francisco Rodriguez Agrees To Terms With Unidentified Team
- Mark Ellis To Retire
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- Central Notes: Sale, Cubs, Floyd
- AL East Notes: Moncada, Beckham, Duquette
- Team Payroll Restrictions Could Be Issue In Next Round Of CBA Talks
- Week In Review: 2/21/15 – 2/28/15
- Looking At Landing Spots For Rafael Soriano
- Minor Moves: Hill, Gillies, Sale, Tigers, Dbacks, Dodgers
- NL Notes: Upton, Brewers, Dodgers
- Michael Saunders To Miss 5-6 Weeks After Knee Surgery
- Blue Jays, Athletics Talking With Dayan Viciedo
- Doug Melvin On Papelbon Trade Talks, K-Rod Signing
- Brewers To Re-Sign Francisco Rodriguez
- Athletics Claim Alex Hassan From Orioles
- Yadier Alvarez Seeking Waiver To Allow Deal
- Inside Arbitration: The Responsibility Felt By Teams
- Juan Pierre Officially Retires
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Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league:
- Veteran southpaw Rich Hill has agreed to a minor league deal with the Nationals, the club announced. Hill, who has appeared in parts of ten MLB seasons, will receive an invite to big league camp. Soon to turn 35, Hill has long been effective against lefties but rather susceptible to opposite-handed bats, with good strikeout numbers in recent years offset by a hefty accumulation of free passes.
- Former top Phillies prospect Tyson Gillies has signed a minor league deal with the Padres, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Philadelphia released Gillies over the summer while he was in the midst of a tough .214/.270/.289 run at Triple-A. Now 26, the center fielder was a part of the 2009 deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners.
- The Rays have released former first-round pick Josh Sale, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. The outfielder hit .238/.313/.344 in 361 plate appearances for Class A+ Charlotte in 2014 before being suspended in August for drug use. He also received a 50-game suspension for drug use in 2012 and was suspended by the Rays in 2013 following an incident at a strip club.
- The Tigers have signed righties Ryan Perry and Ross Seaton and first baseman Bobby Borchering to minor-league deals, Eddy tweets. Detroit drafted Perry, 28, in the first round in 2008, and he pitched for three seasons in their bullpen from 2009-2011. He also appeared with the Nationals in 2012 before struggling in Washington’s minor-league system in 2013 and 2014. The 25-year-old Seaton was a third-round pick of the Astros in 2008. He got through the lower levels of Houston’s system fairly quickly despite low strikeout rates, but struggled to establish himself in the Astros’ Triple-A rotation. Borchering, 24, was the 16th overall pick in the 2009 draft, and he headed from the Diamondbacks to the Astros in 2012 in the trade that sent Chris Johnson to the desert. He struggled that year at the Double-A level and hasn’t yet made it back yet, hitting .238/.324/.333 in 71 plate appearances at Class A+ Lancaster last season.
- The Diamondbacks have signed lefties Erick Threets and Trevor Reckling, Eddy tweets. Threets, 33, appeared in parts of three seasons with the Giants and White Sox from 2007 through 2010. He pitched in Mexico last season and last appeared in affiliated ball when he posted a 2.79 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in a 2012 season spent in Triple-A with the Athletics and Dodgers organizations. Reckling, a former Angels draftee, pitched in independent ball in 2013 and did not pitch in 2014.
- The Dodgers have signed outfielder Travis Witherspoon, Eddy tweets. The athletic Witherspoon was once on the 40-man rosters of the Angels and Mariners. The 25-year-old hit .252/.338/.448 in the friendly hitting environment of Class A+ High Desert in 2014, mostly playing center field.
Braves center fielder Melvin Upton (long known as B.J.) will miss the start of the season with inflammation in his left foot, the club announced. He is not expected to resume baseball activities until early April, per the release. Needless to say, these circumstances likely wipe out any remaining possibility of a spring trade of Upton and the three years and $46.35MM left on his deal. The club is expected to allow in-house options such as Eury Perez, Eric Young Jr., Zoilo Almonte, and Todd Cunningham to compete for the job in camp, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.
More from the National League:
- With Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez expected to retire after the season, Milwaukee will need to implement their succession plan, as MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy writes. The need for a replacement is not a surprise to the club, but that doesn’t mean it has an immediately attractive option. While Nick Delmonico had been viewed as a strong possibility when he was acquired in 2013, his fallout with the team and subsequent release left a gap. A weak free agent class limits that avenue. And internally, the most plausible candidates appear to be waiver claimee Luis Jimenez and shortstop prospects Hector Gomez and Luis Sardinas.
- The remade Dodgers front office is acutely aware of the impact of injuries on team performance, writes Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register. While the club invested in several oft-injured arms over the offseason, they did so with an equal appreciation for the risk and the upside, in the words of president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. The Los Angeles brass is exploring means of blending data and biophysics to reduce the harm wrought by physical issues — both to inform personnel decisions and to protect players already under contract. “I would contend that any kind of advantage in injury prevention is significant,” said Friedman.
Representatives for Cuban pitcher Yadier Alvarez are seeking a waiver that would allow him to sign before July 2, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs reports. A previous report had indicated Alvarez and fellow Cuban hurler Vladimir Gutierrez would not be able to sign before July because international prospects born after September 1, 1995 must register with MLB before they could sign, and Alvarez and Gutierrez were not registered.
MLB can waive that requirement, though, for a player who has “a compelling justification for his failure to register.” Such a waiver has never been given to a Cuban player, McDaniel notes, but the league has granted waivers for players from the Dominican. One might think the fact that Cuban players are unable to register while living in Cuba could potentially provide a compelling justification.
A waiver would allow Alvarez to sign either in the current signing period or the one that begins next July. That could widen his field of suitors, because Alvarez will be subject to rules regarding international bonus pools. The Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Diamondbacks and Rays have all exceeded their 2014-15 bonus pools, so for the signing period beginning in July, they won’t be able to sign any player subject to the pool system for more than $300K. If Alvarez were allowed to sign before that, any of those teams could theoretically try to sign him. McDaniel writes, though, that the Dodgers appear to be most interested in Alvarez right now.
Wilin Rosario or Michael McKenry could be traded before Spring Training is over, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines, as the Rockies look for ways to solve their catching surplus behind starter Nick Hundley. Manager Walt Weiss said that he doesn’t plan to use three roster spots on players who can only catch, so the club’s plan to give Rosario some time at first base could be a solution. Colorado has explored trades for Rosario this offseason but if they hold onto him, he’d hold the edge on a roster spot over the out-of-options McKenry.
Here’s some more from around the NL West…
- The Diamondbacks will have approximately $19.02MM in combined pool money for the 2015 draft class and the 2015-16 international signing period, though their international spending will be greatly limited due to overage in the 2014-15 period. Given how Arizona’s pool is the second-highest of any team’s, Baseball America’s Ben Badler opines (via Twitter) that the D’Backs made a “questionable” decision to “handcuff themselves” in the international market until 2017 by going over their current pool limit to sign Yoan Lopez.
- Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler was “pleasantly surprised” that GM A.J. Preller was able to make so many major trades this winter, though club ownership went into the offseason knowing changes had to be made. “We knew we had to re-energize the community,” Fowler told reporters, including the Associated Press. “I think last year was sort of the beta test for us: OK, this is not working. It was time….After looking at our numbers in terms of attendance and looking at the interest in the marketplace, we felt we had to do some investment spending.”
- From that same chat with reporters (including MLB.com’s Corey Brock), Padres president/CEO Mike Dee said that the club isn’t too disappointed over not landing Yoan Moncada. “We would have loved to have had him, but we now have flexibility we might not have had [in future international spending],” Dee said.
- Rick Renteria has been offered a number of jobs since being fired as the Cubs’ manager earlier this winter, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, including a return to the Padres. Though Renteria is reportedly going to take a year away from baseball, manager Bud Black has been “trying to get him to pop over to Peoria [where the Padres train] and get back involved with us. I’m trying to get him back in as soon as possible, just to help us out to whatever extent he wants to help out.” Before being hired by Chicago, Renteria managed and coached in the Padres’ organization for a decade, including six seasons on Black’s coaching staff.
- Yasmani Grandal‘s strong pitch-framing metrics were a big reason the Dodgers acquired him in the Matt Kemp trade, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- The MLB.com transactions page lists a few new minor league deals. Infielder Cody Ransom has joined the Diamondbacks after spending some time in Japan last year. Ransom, 39, has seen action in eleven big league seasons, though he has broken the 100 plate appearance barrier only twice — in 2012-13, oddly enough. Ransom played well in that late-career run, putting up 505 plate appearances with a .207/.301/.414 slash and twenty home runs over those two seasons.
- The Padres signed utilityman Mike McCoy. Now 33, McCoy has yet to pass the 400 plate appearance barrier at the big league level and has struggled at Triple-A in the last two seasons, but does have a better prior track record.
- Catcher Robinzon Diaz, 31, is joining the Brewers on a minor league deal. Diaz last saw MLB action back in 2008-09 and has bounced around the upper minors since. In parts of eight seasons at Triple-A, Diaz has slashed .278/.305.387.
- The Dodgers will sign right-hander Chad Gaudin to a minor league deal, and he will be a non-roster invitee to Major League Spring Training, tweets MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. The 31-year-old Gaudin sat out the 2014 season as he recovered from neck surgery but was quite good with the 2013 Giants, working to a 3.06 ERA (with a 3.34 FIP and 4.00 xFIP) in 97 innings. Gaudin has experience as both a starter and a reliever in parts of 11 Major League seasons — the bulk of which have come with the Athletics. He has a lifetime 4.44 ERA with 7.1 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and a 42.4 percent ground-ball rate in 836 1/3 Major League innings. Gaudin also worked out for the division-rival Diamondbacks recently.
“You say, ‘OK, eight years with 200 innings pitched,’ and you can look at it both ways,” said Preller. “We debated it when we were talking about James, and obviously we’re betting that there are quite a few more years of that left…When you study it, there’s nothing definitive that says, ‘Once you turn 33 and have a certain amount of innings, that’s the end of the day.’ You look up and see guys — whether it’s Tim Hudson or Mark Buehrle or a lot of guys — and they’re still doing it. We think with James’ makeup and athleticism, he’s going to be a guy who’ll take the ball for us the next four years in San Diego.”
Here’s more from the NL West..
- Reliever Chris Hatcher was more than a throw-in in the trade that sent Dee Gordon, Miguel Rojas and Dan Haren to the Marlins, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. “He was a guy we targeted,” Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said. “To start off the season, he may be even more important than we anticipated.” The 29-year-old converted catcher has less than 90 big league innings on his odometer, meaning that he won’t be arbitration eligible until 2017.
- Padres veteran Carlos Quentin is trying out first base and that could give rival teams an opportunity to evaluate him and possibly get the ball rolling on a trade, Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego writes. “It can increase value as a player to have versatility,” Quentin said. “It gives (the Padres) an idea of how I might fit in here, possibly. It gives other teams an idea of how I might fit in there. It can only be a good thing.” Quentin also reiterated his openness to waiving his no-trade clause to move to an AL team.
- Andre Ethier, who wants to start in 2015 whether it’s for the Dodgers or another team, doesn’t see himself as a threat to take the starting job away from Joc Pederson in center field. “I just don’t think that’s where I’m best suited to play every day,” said Ethier, according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. “If you’re 33 you get moved out of center field. You don’t get moved to center field. For me to say all of a sudden, I’m going to be an option in center field that’s a far reach and a far stretch.”
Late last year, Andre Ethier made it known that he wanted to start, be it for the Dodgers or another club. Months later, the veteran outfielder’s position hasn’t changed much and he says he expected to have been moved by now, as Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes.
“I want the opportunity to play every day. My mind hasn’t changed from when I told you guys that a couple months ago,” Ethier said. “I felt like when I get a chance to play every day, I put up the numbers they ask of me. For some strange reason, it just happened that coming off a good 2012 season, in 2013 they took games away. You start to wonder why that happened. I feel like if I get a good full year in and get the at-bats, it starts to add up. It’s tough when you get 300 at-bats and you’re expected to hit 15 or 20 home runs.”
Ethier’s playing time has decreased over the last couple of years, but his production has dipped as well. Ethier, 33 in April, earned two consecutive All-Star appearances in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, Ethier slashed .284/.351/.460 with 20 homers in 618 plate appearances and inked a lucrative extension over the summer. In the last two years, however, Ethier has hit a combined .262/.344/.401. Last season he saw a career-low 380 plate appearances thanks to the Dodgers’ outfield logjam.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said earlier this offseason that he wanted to break up that logjam by trading one or possibly two of the team’s notable outfielders. He crossed Matt Kemp‘s name of the list in the deal with the Padres, but he was unable to find a quality deal for Ethier. The Kemp trade required the Dodgers to eat a good amount of money, but Ethier is obviously a tougher sell given his recent performance and his own onerous contract.
Ethier is owed $56MM in total over the next three years when factoring in his salary plus the $2.5MM buyout attached to his 2018 club option (valued at $17.5MM). Ethier, meanwhile, can lock in that 2018 salary with 550 plate appearances in 2017 or 1,100 PAs combined between 2017 and 18.
Ethier told reporters that he won’t do anything to “force” a trade, but he has made his dissatisfaction known and this isn’t the first instance of tension between him and the organization. Back in 2011, Ethier inferred to T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times that the Dodgers were pushing him to play through a painful right knee injury. As the outfielder’s production took a nosedive, then-GM Ned Colletti hinted that he was skeptical about whether Ethier’s injury was legitimate.
“What am I supposed to be concerned about?,” the GM said of Ethier, who later scaled back his comments after meeting with manager Don Mattingly and Colletti. “That he has those numbers [since the All-Star break], that he’s hurt or contends he’s hurt?”
The Dodgers talked a bit with the Orioles about Ethier earlier this winter and the Diamondbacks discussed a swap of Miguel Montero for the lefty-hitting outfielder before sending the catcher to the Cubs. The holdup in the talks with Arizona was reportedly over the amount of money that the Dodgers would have had to kick in.
It goes without saying that baseball teams invest incredible sums of money in individual players, all with the hopes that they will perform well throughout the game’s rather lengthy annual schedule. In that regard, it is not surprising that ballclubs look high and low for ways not only to identify the right player-contract investments, but also for means of maximizing the dollars spent. Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal discusses one area in which an increasing number of teams are looking to extract value (or, perhaps, slow a value drain). MLB’s exhausting travel, training, and playing schedule may contribute to injuries and performance decline late in the year, says Costa, who looks at a few ways that health and wellness are being improved around the game.
- New Pirates infielder Jung-ho Kang is just starting out on his first run through the full major league cycle, of course, after spending all of his career in his native South Korea. As Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, the team seems bullish on his future and optimistic that he will force his way into the lineup right away. “We believe we’ve brought in a player who’s going to be an everyday player,” said manager Clint Hurdle. “When that happens, we don’t know. We want to prepare him for a starting role, see how the season plays out, see where he can fit and what he can add. Everybody’s vision down the road is for this man to post up and become a regular player in the Pirates’ lineup.”
- The Dodgers still appear to be among the most plausible suitors for Cuban free agent-to-be Hector Olivera, and Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com notes that he is a name to watch for the team. It seems to be a waiting game for now, as GM Farhan Zaidi indicated: “I have no sense of the timetable,” Zaidi said. “We have had some discussions with them being at the workout and whatnot, but until he’s declared eligible to sign we can’t have any more concrete discussions.”
- Former Rangers manager Ron Washington is looking for a way back into the game as camp opens, he tells Darrell Williams of the Baton Rouge Advocate (h/t Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News). He says that his expressions of interest with several teams have gone unrequited, indicating a willingness to work in just about any capacity. Washington’s abrupt resignation from the helm of the Rangers is still rather fresh, of course, and it seems likely that he’ll be given another chance at some point.
In today’s Insider-only blog on ESPN.com, Buster Olney discusses some of the remaining relief options on the market, noting that right-hander Joba Chamberlain is expected to make a decision on his 2015 club sometime this week. The Dodgers are among the teams with interest, Olney writes, but there are others involved. Olney also notes that part of the reason Rafael Soriano remains unemployed is that scouts feel that his stuff evaporated late in the 2014 season with the Nationals.
A bit more on what’s left of the relief market…
- The Rangers are still looking for left-handed relievers and are considering both Phil Coke and Joe Beimel, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. As Wilson notes, the team needn’t worry about a 40-man roster spot, as they can move an injured player to the 60-day disabled list if they accommodate either southpaw with a big league contact.
- The Brewers and Marlins remain in the mix for Francisco Rodriguez, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The two teams have been the most commonly linked clubs to Rodriguez’s market, with reports over the weekend indicating that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has discussed K-Rod with agent Scott Boras. Last week, the Marlins were rumored to be interested in the two-year, $10MM range, but Rodriguez is said to be eyeing a $10MM figure for 2015 alone.
- Right-hander Dustin McGowan, who signed a Major League deal with the Dodgers earlier today, is viewing himself as a reliever at this point in his career, he told reporters (including FOX’s Ken Rosenthal). The Dodgers view McGowan as a relief candidate based on his 95 mph fastball and his splits; McGowan had a 5.08 ERA in the rotation last year compared to a 3.35 mark in the bullpen. His career 3.79 ERA as a reliever is nearly a run lower than his 4.78 mark as a starter.
Earlier this morning, the Red Sox reportedly struck an agreement with Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada, landing the 19-year-old switch-hitter with a $31.5MM signing bonus that will cost the team $63MM due to the 100 percent luxury tax it faces for exceeding its international bonus pool. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted shortly after the agreement was struck that the Yankees offered $25MM with a willingness to go to $27MM. Here are some more details on the tail end of a free agency that resulted in the largest signing bonus an international amateur has ever received…
- The Dodgers never actually made a formal offer for Moncada, GM Farhan Zaidi tells Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register (Twitter links). Though general terms were discussed, the GM explained that Los Angeles weighed other considerations that tempered its interest: “There’s a lot of talent coming July 2. The calculus of that was a big part of our equation.”
- Steinbrenner was “not the reason” that the Yankees didn’t go higher for Moncada, Matthews tweets, reversing his earlier report (see below).
- The Yankees, Red Sox and Brewers were the three finalists for Moncada, tweets Sherman. However, the Dodgers may have offered the most money, but it came with a price; L.A. was willing to go to $35MM on the condition that Moncada wait until July 2 in order to sign. Doing so would have given the Dodgers unrestricted spending next period, giving them a shot at all the top prospects on the market without the Yankees and Red Sox to compete against. It’s also been reported that Yadier Alvares can’t sign before July 2, so the Dodgers likely could have made a run at both.
- Indeed, Sherman tweets that the Dodgers are waiting until the new signing period begins on July 2 to spend significantly, and they plan to be very aggressive when that time comes.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman badly wanted to sign Moncada, tweets Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, but he couldn’t convince owner Hal Steinbrenner to spend any more than the reported $27MM figure. The GM told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link), that New York was asked to make its best offer yesterday. He was subsequently informed that it was not sufficient.
- There was “a feeling from some” that Moncada wanted to end up with the Yankees, but the team simply viewed it as too risky to spend $60-70MM on a prospect, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York (All Twitter links). The Yankees feel that they can buy a proven Major Leaguer with that type of money in the future, and the Red Sox ultimately valued him more, Marchand adds.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes that the Padres were also considered finalists along with the four teams mentioned by Sherman. One team involved in the bidding, Passan adds, was so confident in Moncada’s abilities that they believed him to be capable of jumping directly into the Majors. Instead, he’ll head to the lower levels of Boston’s minor league system.
- Via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Twitter links), the Brewers‘ interest in Moncada was sincere. GM Doug Melvin believes that he was the first of any GM to submit a formal offer, but the team learned quickly that they wouldn’t be able to sign Moncada
- Ben Badler of Baseball America notes (Twitter links) that some of the biggest winners in this scenario are Hector Olivera and next signing period’s crop of international amateurs. As Badlery points out, Olivera is being pursued by a number of teams who were also interested in Moncada, but the Red Sox aren’t involved in his market. Moncada signing with Boston means that Olivera didn’t lose a suitor. As for the rest of the international amateurs, they and their trainers are rejoicing, Badler says. The Red Sox were already over their bonus pool, so Moncada signing with them prevents another team (e.g. the Dodgers or Brewers) from going over their pool, giving the next wave of players another suitor.