Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Rumors


Athletics Release Joe Blanton

TUESDAY: Blanton has been released by the Athletics, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. 

SUNDAY, 9:57pm: Fletcher now clarifies that Blanton has left the Athletics' Triple-A team, but it's unclear whether he's actually retiring.

USATSI_73481628:56pm: Longtime starting pitcher Joe Blanton has retired, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. Fletcher notes that the Angels are still on the hook for the remainder of Blanton's $7.5MM salary for 2014, plus a $1MM buyout for 2015, even though Blanton has started two games for the Athletics' Triple-A team in Sacramento this year. The Angels released Blanton in March.

The Athletics drafted Blanton out of the University of Kentucky with the 24th pick in the first round in 2002, making him the second selection in their "Moneyball" draft class, after Nick Swisher. Blanton made his big-league debut in 2004, then became a regular in the A's rotation in 2005. After several years eating innings in Oakland, Blanton headed to Philadelphia for Josh Outman and two other prospects in 2008. Blanton pitched in the World Series for the Phillies in both 2008 and 2009, and the Phils signed Blanton to a three-year extension prior to the 2010 season. He stuck with the Phillies until 2012 before they traded him to the Dodgers for the stretch run that year.

Blanton then signed an ill-fated two-year, $15MM deal with the Angels, struggling while posting a 6.04 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 132 2/3 innings last season. Blanton, 33, finishes his career with a 4.51 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 1,567 1/3 innings.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



AL West Notes: Pujols, Elias, Mariners' Payroll, Astros

ESPNLosAngeles.com's Christina Kahrl looks at the difference between Albert Pujols' in 2013 and his hot start in 2014 with a pair of heat maps to demonstrate that Pujols is doing far more damage on pitches in the zone in the early-going than he was able to do last season. While it's a small sample and his .259/.322/.556 triple-slash isn't exactly vintage Pujols, his hot streak since hitting that first homer is a promising sign after a bleak 2013. Kahrl writes that the Angels' biggest need is for Pujols to fend off Father Time for a few more seasons. As "The Machine" closes in on 500 career home runs -- he's currently at 496 -- here are some more AL West links...

  • Mariners left-hander Roenis Elias' dream has come true this season, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns. The Cuban defector talked with Johns (via his interpreter) about the excitement of nailing down his first big league win and the inspiration he drew from his son. Elias impressed his manager, teammates and opponents in a win over the Rangers, as Lloyd McClendon and Elvis Andrus both offered high praise. Said McClendon: "I don't think facing Prince Fielder is really going to scare him that much. He was fighting for his life trying to make it to this country. He's shown a lot of poise."
  • In an excellent piece from Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, Baker examines the Mariners' payroll in contrast with the team's overall value, noting a large discrepancy. Last year's purchase of a 71 percent stake in ROOT Sports Northwest more than doubled Seattle's TV revenue, and their growing revenue over the past few years was enough that BizofBaseball.com founder Maury Brown estimated to Baker that the Mariners could fetch $1 billion on the open market were ownership to sell. Recent estimates from Bloomberg pegged the club's value at $720MM, but that was prior to the ROOT acquisition. Brown told Baker that there "should be no limits" on the Mariners in free agency despite mammoth commitments to Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez. Baker concludes by calling baseball a "cash-drunk sport with only a vague notion of its financial ceiling" and noting that the Mariners "can't spot their ceiling with a telescope."
  • Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that two weeks is the "bare minimum" amount of time needed to make evaluations of minor league players, but many other factors are involved. Among them are whether the player has moved up a level, if they played in the Arizona Fall League or winter ball, and what their Spring Training was like. Luhnow said he expects the club's "most famous prospects" -- presumably George Springer, Jonathan Singleton, Carlos Correa, Mark Appel and Michael Foltynewicz -- to move quickly. As far as the players themselves are concerned, Springer tells Drellich he's not really sure what Super Two status meant, while Singleton "had an idea."



Rosenthal's Latest: D'Backs, Drew, Kuroda, Fuld, Jays

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has a new, lengthy notes column in which he begins by examining the early scrutiny of MLB's new instant replay system. He points to a pair of blatantly missed calls on Saturday in which conclusive evidence was seen on TV broadcasts of the games but apparently not by the umpires at MLB's Replay Operations Center in New York. An MLB spokesperson confirmed to Rosenthal that one of those calls was blown and added that the system would continue to work on improvement. Rosenthal reminds that John Schuerholz, one of the architects of the system, said it would be a three-year roll out. However, he adds that MLB can't expect any patience from fans, players or managers when home viewers are able to make better judgments than the umpires at the Relay Operations Center.

Here are some more highlights from his article, which also contains notes on Jose Abreu, struggling offenses around the league and the Dodgers' interleague schedule...

  • Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson is the early front-runner for "first manager to get fired" due to the team's 4-11 start, but Rosenthal wonders what more Gibson can do with the pitching talent (or lack thereof) he has been given. GM Kevin Towers thinned out the rotation depth by trading Tyler Skaggs and David Holmberg this offseason, and the loss of Patrick Corbin compounded those moves. Rosenthal wonders how long the Snakes can wait before recalling Archie Bradley.
  • One executive said to Rosenthal that any American League team with a need in the infield will have added incentive to work out a deal with Stephen Drew in order to prevent the Tigers from signing him. The AL Central powerhouse is currently going with Alex Gonzalez at short, and the results have been less than stellar.
  • Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda told Rosenthal (through his interpreter) that he's never considered retirement as heavily as he did this offseason. The most difficult factor for Kuroda wasn't the separation from his L.A.-based family -- they come live with him in the summer when his daughters are out of school -- but rather that he simply loves and misses Japan. Kuroda again left open the possibility of finishing his career back in Japan.
  • Both the Angels and Twins have a need in the outfield with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham on the disabled list, and both teams were interested in the recently DFA'ed Sam Fuld this offseason before he signed with the Athletics. Rosenthal reports that the A's will gauge trade possibilities for Fuld and wonders if the Halos and Twins could have interest.
  • After signing a minor league deal in the 2012-13 offseason, Blue Jays right-hander Neil Wagner earned the pro-rated portion that deal's $525K salary while in the Majors last season. However, Toronto's pre-arbitration pay scale called for just a $506,250 salary in 2014, as it is based on service time rather than performance. Agent Jim Munsey and Wagner refused the deal, giving Toronto the freedom to renew Wagner's contract at $500K if they wished, which the team did. Said Munsey of the ordeal: "It's, obviously, disappointing that they cut Neil's pay after such a good season last year. And when we didn't agree to the pay cut, they cut it further in renewing him. Hard to cheer for that. ... The rules allow the Jays to reduce his pay. They also allow us to talk about that at arbitration." MLBTR's Zach Links recently looked at teams' calculation of pre-arbitration salaries.
  • Though the Rays' rotation has been ravaged by injuries to Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb, the team is planning on using internal options rather than pursuing outside help.



AL East Notes: Moore, Trout, Cashman, Jays

The situation with Matt Moore's UCL injury is still up in the air, as the southpaw is waiting to have his MRIs examined by the Rays' team orthopedic physician, Moore told reporters (including MLB.com's Bill Chastain).  Moore may test his elbow by playing catch in a few days, though isn't going to push it.  "If there's any pain, it's not going to be something I'm going to try and work through," Moore said. "I think the goal is to get to a place where I don't feel pain. And if I can get to that in the next few days just playing catch, then it's a good sign to keep going. If not, then it's a sign in the [other direction]. I'm optimistic about playing catch."

Here's some more from around the AL East...

  • The Yankees have been fined by Major League Baseball for tampering due to comments made by team president Randy Levine in regards to Mike Trout, The Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin reports.  The amount of the fine isn't known.  Levine cited Trout last December when discussing why the Yankees didn't match the Mariners' 10-year contract offer for Robinson Cano, saying "If it was Mike Trout, I’d offer him a 10-year contract, but for people over 30, I don’t believe it makes sense.”  The Angels took exception to Levine's comments and asked the Commissioner's office to investigate the matter.
  • Injuries to Mark Teixeira and David Robertson have left the Yankees thin at first base and in the bullpen, two positions that were thought to be lacking in depth going into the season.  GM Brian Cashman reiterated to reporters (including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch) that the two positions would be "a developing story" through the season as the team didn't have enough budget space to acquire additional depth in the offseason.  "We wanted to fix as much as we could, but acknowledged that we couldn't fix everything that needed to be addressed," Cashman said.  "That's with the money we were in position to spend as well as the available talent. The better talent was really heavily in favor of the outfield rather than the infield."
  • The Blue Jays' seeming halt on payroll looks to be an ownership response to how none of GM Alex Anthopoulos' big additions from the 2012-13 offseason have yet panned out, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes.  Rogers Communications, the Jays' parent company, is essentially saying to Anthopoulos, in Griffin's words, "Show us that the group you brought in last year is as good as you said it was and maybe then we can talk about additions."  Griffin also doesn't think the Jays will undergo an Astros-esque total rebuild since Rogers wants to keep the team competitive in order to maintain the Jays' strong viewership numbers on Rogers-owned media outlets.
  • In AL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, we collected some Red Sox Notes, and also learned that the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees are three of the teams who are believed to be interested in Joel Hanrahan.



Joel Hanrahan To Work Out For Teams Next Week

Free agent closer Joel Hanrahan will host a showcase for teams next week, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). In a second tweet, Crasnick lists the Mets, Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Athletics, Red Sox and Rays as teams that are believed to have interest in Hanrahan. He adds that somewhat curiously, he hasn't heard much buzz on the Tigers or Phillies being interested, though that could always change.

The 32-year-old Hanrahan underwent Tommy John surgery and also had his flexor tendon repaired and bone chips in his elbow removed on May 16 of last season. He opened the year as Boston's closer after being acquired in an offseason trade that sent Mark Melancon to the Pirates, but he allowed eight runs on 10 hits (four homers) and six walks with just five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings for the Red Sox before landing on the disabled list.

Prior to that season, Hanrahan had averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings over a five-year stretch between the Nationals and Pirates. The Bucs acquired Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge from the Nats in a deal that sent Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan to Washington, and Hanrahan blossomed into a two-time All-Star closer with Pittsburgh. Always one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game, Hanrahan's 96.5 mph average fastball from his 2011-13 peak ranked seventh in the game among qualified relievers.



Josh Hamilton Out 6-8 Weeks For Thumb Surgery

Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton has suffered a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament of his left thumb as well as a torn capsule, the team announced. He will undergo surgery in the next few days and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

Replacing the injured slugger will be J.B. Shuck, a 26-year-old outfielder who narrowly missed a roster spot out of the spring. In the most extensive MLB action of his career last year, Shuck put up a .293/.331/.366 line in 478 plate appearances for the Halos. With 1.055 years of MLB service at the start of the season, Shuck will not have a chance to reach Super Two status next year, but could now hope to end the year with over 2 years of service.

Hamilton, of course, is in the second year of a mammoth five-year, $125MM contract. The deal is heavily backloaded, as his $15MM annual salary in the first two years will jump to $23MM next year and then $30MM in 2016-17. Though he disappointed last season, Hamilton -- who will turn 33 during his rehab -- had been off to a hot start to the 2014 campaign with a 1.286 OPS. Needless to say, the loss of Hamilton's bat (especially if it ends up being for longer than two months) will be a significant loss for an Angels club that hopes to compete in a loaded AL West. 



Angels Rule 5 Pick Brian Moran To Undergo Tommy John

The Angels have announced that lefty Brian Moran will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. After being left unprotected by the Mariners, Moran was taken by the Blue Jays in the ninth position in the Rule 5 draft and immediately shipped to Los Angeles in exchange for an international bonus slot.

Moran is expected to remain with the Angels for the coming season while he rehabs from surgery, says MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. The club will be able to keep him while clearing a 40-man spot by placing him on the 60-day DL, and will then have the same rights over Moran as they do at present. Once Moran is activated, the Angels will need to clear a 40-man spot and then maintain him on the active roster for all of next season or offer him back to Seattle.

A similar situation occurred recently with Brad Meyers, who was selected by the Yankees from the Nationals. Meyers spent the entire year on the DL -- including time on the 60-day list -- and was ultimately returned to Washington in the fall following his surgery.

Moran, a 25-year-old lefty, spent the last three seasons in the upper minors with the Seattle organization. In 62 2/3 innings at Triple-A last year, he threw to a 3.45 ERA while striking out 12.2 and walking 2.9 per nine. While those K:BB numbers are quite impressive, Moran did allow 10.1 hits for every nine frames over his first full season at the highest level of the minors.

The Angels had hoped to use Moran as a lefty specialist out of the pen, Gonzalez notes. With fellow southpaw Sean Burnett also still on the shelf, the club has gone with Nick Maronde as its only lefty in relief. The Angels do have some options with MLB experience stashed at Triple-A, including Buddy Boshers, Wade LeBlanc, and Clay Rapada.



Quick Hits: Angels, Rays, Astros

Though he's arguably already baseball's best player, Mike Trout is working to improve his arm strength, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. Some might say Trout's arm is the weakest of his five tools, which has produced "a little chip on his shoulder," according to Angels bench coach Dino Ebel. While the outfielder was once a fringe-average thrower, he's improved the tool so that it's now average or better, Ebel says. Here are more Saturday night Major League links:

  • The Rays are known for aggressively locking up their young stars long term, but the team increasingly shows a willingness to go multiple years with veterans, notes Adam Berry of MLB.com. Today's Yunel Escobar extension the most recent example, but the club has also recently given a two-year deal to David DeJesus and a three-year commitment to catcher Ryan Hanigan. "I think the common denominator is that they're three guys that we like a lot, that fit us well, that will help us win games in the current," GM Andrew Friedman said.
  • Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt both signed one-day contracts and officially retired as members of the Astros organization today. Alyson Footer of MLB.com has the details on a pregame ceremony in which the two greats were given personalized rocking chairs and custom Stetson cowboy hats.



Quick Hits: Agents, Trout, Kipnis

Spring training is time for players to get ready for the season, but it's also a busy time for agents, as agent Joshua Kusnick chronicles in a piece for Baseball Prospectus (subscription-only). This spring, Kusnick saw a number of significant career milestones or disappointments for lesser-known clients -- Rule 5 pick Adrian Nieto stuck with the White Sox and fellow catcher Steve Clevenger made the Orioles out of camp, while pitcher Bobby Cassevah got released by the Rockies. Meanwhile, other clients headed to the independent Atlantic League. Kusnick's piece is a good remidner that the fortunes of players on the fringes of the big leagues can be fickle, especially in the spring. Kusnick also reveals that Manny Ramirez and Miguel Tejada both recently asked him about the possibility of representing them. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Mike Trout's extension with the Angels angered some players throughout baseball, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post writes. The idea is that Trout, by potentially leaving money on the table, violated a "code" throughout baseball that you don't take an under-market deal, for fear that it will negatively affect other players. Svrluga notes that, for example, Trout's deal could affect potential extensions for Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper of the Nationals.
  • Jason Kipnis was smart to sign a long-term contract with the Indians, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Kipnis recently turned 27, which means that he's already in his prime. His new contract takes him through age 33, and he previously would have been eligible for free agency heading into 2018, his age-31 season. Pluto suggests, then, that Kipnis was smart to take $52.5MM in guaranteed money now.



Angels Claim Michael Brady From Marlins; Marlins Outright Bogusevic

1:13pm: The Marlins have outrighted Bogusevic, the club announced.

12:55pm: The Angels have claimed right-hander Michael Brady off waivers from the Marlins, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (on Twitter). The 27-year-old Brady was designated for assignment by the Fish along with outfielder Brian Bogusevic in order to clear 40-man roster spots for Reed Johnson and Kevin Slowey.

Brady, a former 24th-round pick, enjoyed a solid season at Double-A last year, though it should be noted that pitching the entire season at age 26, he was older than most of his competition. Still, Brady posted a stellar 1.53 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 53 innings. He finished 44 games and collected 23 saves along the way.









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