- The Dodgers have released utilityman Elian Herrera to give him an opportunity to play in Japan, Alex Freedman of the Oklahoma City Dodgers tweets. Herrera was hitting .218/.308/.238 for Oklahoma City while playing shortstop, second, third and left field. He batted .242/.290/.395 with the Brewers last season before signing a minor-league deal with the Dodgers last winter.
- Dodgers left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu will start a rehab assignment Sunday with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and throw two innings, reports Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links) . Manager Dave Roberts expects Ryu to need five rehab starts before rejoining the Dodgers. Ryu, who hasn’t appeared in a major league game since October 2014, is working his way back from May 2015 shoulder surgery.
The Dodgers have outrighted reliever Casey Fien, according to Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider (via Twitter). Fien, 32, had already been optioned to Triple-A after being claimed off waivers from the Twins.
The veteran righty obviously passed through the second time around, suggesting that Los Angeles was the only organization interested in taking on the rest of his $2.275MM salary. Though Fien could have refused the assignment, that would have meant giving up the cash as well.
It seems that the Dodgers were drawn to Fien because of a rising swinging strike rate and steady fastball velocity. Of course, he’s also been hurt badly by the long ball and owns a 7.90 ERA, though that’s due in part to some misfortune — such as a 22.7% HR/FB rate that stands at over twice his career average and a somewhat elevated .372 BABIP-against.
Those peripherals reflect performance and skill as well as luck, of course, but the Dodgers evidently saw enough cause for optimism to put in a claim. Certainly, it’s hard to find arms at this stage of the season with Fien’s solid track record, and it doesn’t hurt that the club can now stash him in Triple-A without occupying a 40-man spot. It’s worth noting, too, that Fien can also be controlled for two more years via arbitration if he makes good on his chance
- One more from Eddy, who adds that the Reds traded outfielder Pin-Chieh Chen to the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations. The 24-year-old Chen, signed by the Cubs as a free agent out of Taiwan prior to the 2010 season, has climbed as high as Double-A in the minors, spending parts of four seasons at that level and compiling a .236/.344/.327 batting line there. Baseball America rated him as Chicago’s No. 31 prospect prior to the 2012 season but didn’t rise higher than that on their prospect rankings.
2:56pm: Fien will join the Dodgers’ big-league team, Shaikin tweets.
1:45pm: The Dodgers have claimed righty reliever Casey Fien from the Twins, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Minnesota placed Fien on waivers earlier this week along with Tommy Milone. The Twins also outrighted Milone today, as Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets.
Fien allowed 12 runs and five homers in 13 2/3 innings with the Twins this season. He had been significantly more effective in the previous several seasons, however (even as his strikeout rate has progressively declined), and last year he posted a 3.55 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and an excellent 1.1 BB/9 over 63 1/3 frames. He also hasn’t shown a significant loss of velocity in 2016 as compared to last season. Fien clearly seems able to throw strikes, but that tendency might sometimes get him into trouble, as he’s an extreme fly-ball pitcher.
The Dodgers’ immediate plans for Fien aren’t yet clear. They’re looking for reliable bullpen help to complement Kenley Jansen (and are reportedly considering adding top prospect Julio Urias to their bullpen). Fien is optionable, however. Fien will make $2.275MM this season (a salary that the Dodgers will assume as a result of the claim), and the Dodgers can take him through the arbitration process for two more seasons beyond this one if they choose.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says the team is considering promoting one of baseball’s top prospects, lefty Julio Urias, to join its bullpen, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group tweets. “We’re looking through options and (Julio) Urias is definitely at the top of the list,” Hoornstra says. The team could also promote Jharel Cotton or Jose De Leon instead, however, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles times notes (also on Twitter).
Urias has been dominant in the rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma City this season even though he’s still just 19. The lefty has pitched 24 innings so far, posting a 1.88 ERA while whiffing 29 and walking just three. Via MLB.com, Urias rates as the second-best prospect in baseball. Heading into the season, Baseball America rated Urias fourth, while ESPN’s Keith Law rated him fifth. MLB.com notes that Urias throws in the 91-94 MPH range, can throw as hard as 97 MPH, has good secondary pitches, and could eventually become an ace.
Urias joined the Dodgers organization in 2012 and has rocketed through the minors since then, making stunningly quick work of the lower levels and reaching Triple-A in his age-18 season. He has a career 2.81 ERA, 10.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 and has spent almost his entire minor-league career as a starter, the role he figures to occupy in the big leagues over the long term.
Of course, the reason the Dodgers are considering promoting Urias right now is because they need help in their bullpen, as the team has struggled to find trustworthy relief help beyond closer Kenley Jansen. Promoting Urias to help in relief would allow him to limit his innings for the season and ease his transition to the big leagues. If they were to promote him and he were to stick, he would likely become eligible for arbitration after the 2018 season and for free agency after 2022.
Did you miss Tim Lincecum’s showcase today? Despair not — Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area has uploaded the full video right here. He also has the story on Lincecum’s day. The two-time Cy Young winner says that he’s “simplified” things on the mound. “It just feels more consistent,” he said. “… I’m not searching for that extra gear to try and throw harder anymore.” Check here and here for teams that were reportedly set to attend.
Here are some more notes on the 31-year-old’s outing:
- In terms of results, Eric Longenhagen of ESPN.com writes that Lincecum showed reasonably well, but didn’t exactly do anything to suggest that he’s the ace of old. He was visibly fit, sat in the upper-80s to low-90s with his fastball (topping out at 92), and presented three useful offspeed pitches, but it doesn’t seem that any of his offerings look ready to dominate major league hitters. For Longenhagen, Lincecum looks more like a reliever and spot starter than a regular rotation piece.
- As for next steps, Lincecum may well have a deal sooner than later. Jon Heyman of MLB Network hears organizations are “lining up” (Twitter link). And Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the righty’s camp thinks a contract could come together by the end of the weekend. Meanwhile, Jon Morosi of MLB Network suggests on Twitter that Lincecum’s timeline could allow him to reach a major league rotation before the end of the month, but from my perspective that looks to be a rather optimistic scenario for a pitcher who’s coming off of hip surgery (if he’s even able to secure a firm offer of a rotation opportunity).
- Lincecum himself said he’s prepared to field interest from all quarters, as Pavlovic reported in the above-linked piece. “I think I know there are other teams [besides the Giants] out there that are looking for starters right now and I wouldn’t have to go to Triple-A and have to work my way behind somebody,” Lincecum said. “To be honest with you I’d rather start, but I know I need to get timing with others hitters in the box and work my way through it that way.” While suggesting that he has some preferences in mind, Lincecum did say that he hasn’t decided what’s the most important to me right now.”
- The veteran righty also chatted with John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links), saying that he didn’t feel that staying on the west coast was strictly necessary. He added that he’s only interested in one-year arrangements, though frankly it would be surprising if organizations had much inclination to go beyond that anyway.
- Whether or not Lincecum has any slight preferences to stay out west, we already know that the Giants have at least some interest in considering him as a swingman. Shea adds that the Angels have “legitimate interest,” too, and that the Dodgers are also “in the mix.” Of course, it seems likely that Lincecum and his representatives will be looking to land with an organization that will commit to giving him a chance to start, and that will be based in large part on individual teams’ scouting assessments — making it difficult to handicap things at present.
- Steve Adams and I chatted about Lincecum on today’s MLBTR podcast, which obviously occurred before he took the mound. But I’d say that our thoughts remain relevant after his showing today, which did more to suggest he’s recovered well from the hip procedure than to indicate any hope that he’ll reverse the fall-off that came well before it.
Team director of player development Gabe Kapler says that the suspension occurred due to “repeated failure to comply with the terms of his contract,” as Eric Stephen of SB Nation reports on Twitter. The particular underlying issue that spurred the action remains unknown.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that the high-cost international signee has run afoul of the organization; the Dodgers stated the same grounds for action back in May of 2015. He was suspended then, too, with a “rest of the season” ban ultimately being reduced to thirty days after a grievance proceeding.
Arruebarrena is still owed a good bit of cash under the $25MM free agent contract he signed out of Cuba. He’s due $4MM this season — which is now in jeopardy — and $9MM total over the next two campaigns.
The 26-year-old, who’s known as a glove-first player, ended up having a reasonably productive season at the plate last year at Double-A level, slashing .299/.337/.418 over 205 plate appearances. Arruebarrena was off to a slower start back at Tulsa in 2016; his strikeout rate is up quite a bit, though so too is his isolated slugging.
We learned recently that free agent righty Tim Lincecum is preparing for a long-awaited showcase on Friday. Once one of the best pitchers in the game, Lincecum has been slowed by a variety of injury and performance issues more recently — including, particularly, hip surgery this past September — and is looking to show that he’s back to full health before signing.
Here’s the latest, with links to the Twitter account of MLB Network’s Jon Heyman unless otherwise noted:
- The showcase will be held at Scottsdale Stadium, the Giants’ spring home, per Heyman. While Lincecum has availed himself of his long-time team’s facilities during his ramp-up, it shouldn’t be supposed that a return to San Francisco is particularly likely. As we’ve covered before, the Giants are said to be interested in Lincecum as a bullpen option, while he’s hoping to find a shot as a starter.
- This particular event was always going to draw more fanfare than a typical bullpen session for a free agent who hasn’t posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2011, but it appears that it could be made into a bigger spectacle than anyone would have foreseen. ESPN may be on hand to broadcast the outing, Heyman tweets, which would certainly lend an interesting combine-esque quality to the proceedings.
- Beyond the Giants, we heard previously that the Orioles, Padres, and Athletics plan to have a scouting presence on hand. The White Sox, too, will be there, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link), as will the Angels, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (via Twitter). And the Blue Jays will also take a look, John Lott tweets.
- Heyman also adds several more clubs that plant to send eyes (links: 1; 2; 3; 4). The Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals, and Marlins will be there from the National League side of things. And American League teams with at least one scout in the stands will include the Rangers and Astros.
Veteran righty Dale Thayer has opted out of his minor league contract with the Dodgers, MLBTR has learned. The 35-year-old reliever is represented by O’Connell Sports Management.
After receiving inconsistent MLB opportunities earlier in his career, Thayer established himself as a reliable member of the Padres’ pen in 2012. Over the next four years, he contributed 225 2/3 innings of 3.19 ERA pitching to San Diego, with 7.9 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9.
Thayer experienced a bit of a dip last year, as his strikeouts dropped and walks trended up. He ended up with a 4.06 ERA in 37 2/3 frames while also spending some time at Triple-A. But his velocity remained in line with recent years and his brief minor league tenure was successful. Thus far in 2016, pitching at the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate, Thayer has a strong 10:2 K:BB ratio over eight innings, but he’s also allowed six earned runs on 16 hits.
Several organizations around baseball have struggled to find good innings from their middle relievers, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Thayer land another big league opportunity before long. Having entered the season with just over four years of MLB service on his ledger, Thayer also can be controlled via arbitration.