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Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors
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.
11:05am: McGowan’s base salary with the Dodgers will be just the league minimum, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). However, he’ll have the opportunity to earn $1MM via roster bonuses and $1.5MM via performance bonuses, which peak at 60 appearances and 60 innings pitched. In total, he can earn $3MM.
8:59am: The Dodgers announced today that they have signed right-hander Dustin McGowan to a one-year, Major League contract. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, fellow righty Brandon Beachy, whom the team signed last week, was placed on the 60-day disabled list. (Beachy is recovering from Tommy John surgery.) The move was expected following news yesterday that McGowan showed up at the Dodgers’ Spring Training camp.
McGowan, who turns 33 in March, has spent his entire career to this point in the Blue Jays organization. The ACES client was selected 33rd overall by Toronto back in 2000 but has seen much of a promising career slowed by injuries. McGowan had Tommy John surgery back in 2004, but it’s been his right shoulder that has truly plagued him, as he’s undergone three separate surgeries on his throwing shoulder.
The end result of all the injuries is that McGowan has totaled just 482 1/3 innings of Major League action, but he’s shown flashes of potential throughout his career. He has a lifetime 4.57 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 45.9 percent ground-ball rate. He’s been used both as a starter and reliever, though more of his work has come out of the bullpen in recent years.
It’s not clear whether or not this signing is tied to the injury of Kenley Jansen, although reports indicated that the Dodgers may look to add another relief arm — but likely a middle reliever as opposed to a closer — in the wake of Jansen’s foot surgery. (He’ll be sidelined eight to 12 weeks.) McGowan, along with Beachy and Brett Anderson, is the third talented but injury-prone pitcher that the Dodgers have signed to a big league deal this winter.
Here’s the latest on Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada:
- Bids on Moncada are believed to have passed the $20MM mark, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. The Yankees, Red Sox and Padres appear to be the front-runners for Moncada, with the Dodgers a less likely possibility. Heyman suggests earlier reports of a $50MM price tag might be a bit lofty, given that Moncada is only 19 and given the tax that the team signing him would have to pay.
- Cuban Red Sox pitcher Dalier Hinojosa sees plenty of upside in Moncada, who he saw in Serie Nacional in 2012, WEEI.com’s John Tomase and Rob Bradford report. “He’s what we call a five-tool player here, and he was that back then. He can run, throw, he’s physical, hit from both sides, hit for power, hit for average,” Hinojosa says. Hinojosa’s main suggestion for Moncada in adjusting to U.S. baseball is to allow his coaches to help him.
Tonight is the 87th Academy Awards ceremony and a pre-eminent Oscar prognosticator is Rockies reliever John Axford, who was a perfect 18-for-18 last year and 32-for-33 the past two years. Now, Axford, who graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in Film and Television, is offering predictions in all 24 categories, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding and Gemma Kaneko. “I didn’t do all the categories last year, and some people were a little upset by it,” Axford admitted. “This year I’m going all the way, to see what happens. This year, since I got so much stuff last year about it, I did them all.”
And the winner is…
- Axford and the rest of the bullpen will be key to the Rockies‘ 2015 season, opines The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders.
- Brandon McCarthy, who inked a four-year contract with the Dodgers worth $48MM, expected to re-sign with the Yankees during the five-day signing window after the conclusion of the World Series, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. “It’s so stupid, but you feel like an actor,” said McCarthy. “You sound so pretentious and stupid saying it, but you’re like, ‘someone showed me attention.’ You play your whole life for people to say nice things. And one team is being aggressive, and one team is just kind of hemming and hawing about it.” McCarthy added he “certainly would have had a long discussion about” accepting a three-year deal from the Yankees, if one had ever been offered.
- The signing of Yoan Lopez signals the Diamondbacks‘ new emphasis on the Latin American market, according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. “I do think it’s an area we can impact and continue to get better and grow,” said Arizona’s Senior Vice President De Jon Watson. “It subsidizes your amateur draft. If you’re able to churn out players from the Latin American market, it definitely gives you strength in volume.“