Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors

Quick Hits: Puig, Yankees, Lester, Tigers, Blackouts

For some players, just getting the chance to play is the biggest hurdle. That certainly holds true for Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, whose journey out of Cuba and into Major League Baseball is perhaps more astounding than anyone realized. Jesse Katz of Los Angeles Magazine provides a narrative of Puig's unbelievable tale. 

Here are a few notes from around the game:

  • The Yankees come in at a surprising second in the early-season defensive shift count, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). As Olney notes, that kind of decision requires organizational commitment on every level, and two offseason infield acquisitions -- Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts -- played an important part in the first discussions involving players.
  • Red Sox players view hurler Jon Lester as worthy of the kind of huge payday that the club's front office seems somewhat unwilling to give him, Olney adds. The view from the clubhouse is obviously not likely to drive a decision, but Olney notes that players are keeping a keen eye on how the team's ace is treated.
  • For Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, the big issue facing the club is health, George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press reports. He said that the team's bullpen depth at the minor league level is a strength, that the righty-heavy lineup was driven by having good options that happen to hit from that side of the plate, and that he was comfortable with the team's shortstop options -- especially with Eugenio Suarez and Hernan Perez available in the minors.
  • The MLB blackout policy is harmful to the game's long-term development, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Passan traces the league's determined fight to maintain territorial blackouts and its connection to the local TV money that has had such a substantial impact on the MLB player market.

Minor Moves: Brendan Harris, Blake Forsythe

Here are today's minor moves from around baseball.

  • The Dodgers have released infielder Brendan Harris, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Harris made 117 plate appearances for the Angels in 2013, posting a line of .206/.252/.355. It had been his first appearance to the Majors since 2010. Previously, he had played for the Cubs, Expos/Nationals, Reds, Rays, and Twins.
  • The Mets have announced that they've traded catcher Blake Forsythe to the Athletics for future considerations. Forsythe, 24, hit .192/.271/.362 for Double-A Binghamton in 2013. He was a third-round pick in the 2010 draft out of the University of Tennessee.

Minor Moves: Clement, Hensley, Threets

We'll round up tonight's minor moves here:

  • Jeff Clement has retired, The Des Moines Register reports. Originally drafted third overall in 2005 by the Mariners, Clement never caught on in the majors, and ends his career with a .218/.277/.371 Major League line. His last big league appearance came in 2012 with the Pirates. Now a father of four, the 30-year-old tells The Register that he plans to return to school.
  • The Orioles have signed Steven Hensley, who was released by the Rockies in March, Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports. The 27-year-old has never appeared in the majors. He worked almost entirely out of the bullpen for upper-level affiliates of the Rockies and Mariners last season, compiling a 4.24 ERA.
  • The Dodgers have signed lefty Erick Threets, who was pitching for the independent Long Island Ducks, according to Eddy. Last we heard, Threets was looking for a job in Asia.
  • The Marlins have inked infielder Rich Poythress, who was released by the Mariners in March, per Eddy. Poythress, who has yet to reach the majors, was sent to Double-A.
  • The A's have signed second baseman Colin Walsh, who was let go by the Cardinals last month, Eddy reports. The 24-year-old reached Double-A for the Cardinals last season.
  • Dontrelle Willis was added to the active roster of the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants' Triple-A club, according to a tweet from the team. D-Train struggled in 21 innings with the Angels' Triple-A affiliate in 2013, posting a 6.43 ERA. 
  • The Nationals have selected the contract of starter Blake Treinen, the International League transactions page shows. Treinen was pitching at Triple-A, and has never appeared in the majors. The right-hander came over in last winter's three-team trade with the Mariners and A's. He's been used almost exclusively as a starter in recent years in the minors, where he owns a 3.73 ERA. Baseball America ranked him as the Nats' 23rd-best prospect this year, but wrote that most evaluators expect him to end up in middle relief.
  • The Nats have inked right-hander Paolo Espino, formerly of the Cubs organization, according to Eddy. The right-hander, who works as a swingman, has yet to reach the majors but has significant Triple-A experience.

Minor Moves: Everett Williams, Daniel Tillman

Here are today's minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post...

  • The Diamondbacks have signed outfielder Everett Williams to a minor league contract, Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports (via Twitter).  Williams, 23, was a second-round draft pick of the Padres in 2009 but has only hit .249/.314/.356 in 1313 minor league plate appearances.  As Eddy notes, there are several former Padres executives currently in the D'Backs front office, including general manager Kevin Towers, who was San Diego's GM when the club drafted Williams in 2009. 
  • The Dodgers signed right-hander Daniel Tillman to a minor league deal, Eddy tweets.  Tillman was originally drafted in the second round by the Angels in 2010, and all but five of his 131 minor league appearances have come out of the bullpen.  The 25-year-old has a career 3.85 ERA but Tillman has battled both injuries and control problems over the last two seasons.
  • Now that the Rangers have returned Rule 5 Draft pick Seth Rosin to the Phillies, only Jeremy Jeffress (Blue Jays) and Hector Noesi (Mariners) remain in DFA Limbo according to MLBTR's DFA Tracker.

Minor Moves: Ciriaco, Mazzaro, Bixler, Accardo

The day's minor moves:

  • The Royals have assigned infielder Pedro Ciriaco to Triple-A after he cleared outright waivers, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Ciriaco, 28, will have to wait in the minors for another big league opportunity to open with Kansas City's middle infield. The club just called up Johnny Giavotella to fill in for injured second baseman Omar Infante, who is expected to return to action soon without a DL trip.
  • Pirates reliever Vin Mazzaro has accepted an outright assignment from the team to Triple-A, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune (via Twitter). That is a good result for a Pittsburgh club that had expected to lose the 27-year-old righty, who was an effective piece for them last year.
  • Utility man Brian Bixler has been released by the Phillies, according to the International League transactions page. Bixler, 31, had been playing with the Phils' Triple-A affiliate. He last appeared in the bigs in 2012 with the Astros.
  • The independent ball Atlantic League has made two notable additions today, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter links). Right-hander Jeremy Accardo, an eight-year MLB veteran, has inked with the Long Island Ducks. And shortly after being released by the Red Sox, 29-year-old outfielder Scott Cousins has joined the Camden Riversharks.
  • The Dodgers have outrighted Mike Baxter, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, according to the PCL transactions page. The outfielder was designated for assignment to create 40-man space for another DFA'd player in Colt Hynes. Baxter, 29, struggled at the MLB level last year, but had a strong 2012 campaign (.263/.365/.413 in 211 plate appearances).
  • With this move, only four players are left in DFA limbo: Seth Rosin (Rangers, Rule 5), Pedro Ciriaco (Royals), Hector Noesi (Mariners), and Jeremy Jeffress (Blue Jays). As always, you can track DFA situations past and present using MLBTR's DFA Tracker.

Dodgers' A.J. Ellis To Undergo Surgery On Meniscus

Dodgers starting catcher A.J. Ellis will undergo surgery on his left knee to repair a meniscus tear, the club announced. The anticipated timeline for return is between 4 and 6 weeks, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.

That outlook is much better than that reported for Rangers catcher Geovany Soto, who is expected to be gone for ten to twelve weeks while rehabbing his own meniscus procedure. Wilson Ramos of the Nationals is also on the shelf after undergoing wrist surgery, and is said to face a four-to-eight week absence.

While the loss hurts in the immediate term, a replacement may well come from within. Los Angeles has last year's backup, Tim Federowicz, parked at Triple-A after electing to go with the out-of-options Drew Butera in the number two role to start the year. The club also has Miguel Olivo and J.C. Boscan under contract in the minors, though both would need to be added to the 40-man roster.

If the Dodgers were to check into the market, they would find a few options available via free agency, though it is not clear that any would be an upgrade over Federowicz. Chris Gimenez, Ramon Hernandez, Kelly Shoppach, and Yorvit Torrealba are the unsigned backstops with substantial MLB experience. 

Rosenthal's Latest: Morales, Drew, Kipnis, Hanley, Braun

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a lengthy new column up that takes a look at the hot start for the Giants' offense as well as an impressive sweep of the Red Sox by the Brewers this weekend. Beyond that, it has quite a bit of info on the top two remaining free agents and come contract extensions. Here are some highlights from his latest work...

  • Scott Boras is telling tems that he could soon land a deal for Kendrys Morales, a source tells Rosenthal. However, some of the interested parties are debating between signing him (and fellow Boras free agent Stephen Drew) now or waiting until after the June draft. Rosenthal points out that this could potentially save a club multiple picks, as the signing team wouldn't have to surrender a 2015 draft pick, and if they offer a multi-year deal, they won't have to forfeit a 2016 pick to fill the hole on the free agent market next offseason.
  • The Indians have been trying to extend Jason Kipnis for the past two years, but Kipnis and agent Dan Horwits of the Beverly Hills Sports Council rejected offers in the $15MM range (following Kipnis' two-month debut in 2011) and $24MM range (prior to the 2013 season).
  • The main hangup in extension talks between the Dodgers and Hanley Ramirez isn't the average annual value but rather the length of the contract, says Rosenthal. Ramirez is likely to receive an AAV in the $22-25MM range, but the length of the contract is a concern for the Dodgers given Ramirez's lengthy injury history.
  • Surgery remains an option for Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun as he battles nerve damage in his right thumb, but general manager Doug Melvin said to Rosenthal that going under the knife wouldn't even guarantee that the damage could be repaired. For the time being, Melvin said the team "is not overly concerned" about Braun's injury.

Dodgers Designate Mike Baxter For Assignment

The Dodgers have announced they have designated outfielder Mike Baxter for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for left-hander Colt Hynes, who was acquired earlier today from the Indians. Baxter played four games, including one start in left field, for the Dodgers this season and was hitless with one walk in eight plate appearances before being optioned Friday to Triple-A Albuquerque. 

Baxter was arbitration eligible for the first time this past offseason as a Super Two, but avoided a hearing after agreeing to a one-year deal worth $700K. The Dodgers claimed the 29-year-old off waivers from the Mets in October after he batted only .189/.303/.250 in 155 plate appearances. Baxter, however, is just a season-plus removed from a 2012 slash of .263/.365/.413 with three home runs in 211 plate appearances.  

Dodgers Acquire Colt Hynes

The Dodgers have announced they have acquired left-hander Colt Hynes from the Indians in exchange for minor league right-hander Duke von Schamann. Hynes, who was designated for assignment by the Indians last Sunday, was added to the Dodgers' 40-man roster and optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets von Schamann will report to the Indians' Double-A affiliate.

Hynes made his MLB debut last season with the Padres, but allowed 17 runs in 17 innings of work (22 games) with a 13-to-9 K/BB ratio. The 28-year-old was dominant in the minors, however, posting a 1.52 ERA with a remarkable 58-to-2 K/BB ratio in 47 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. The Indians acquired Hynes last Halloween after the former 2007 31st-round selection of the Padres was designated for assignment by San Diego.

Von Schamann, taken in the 15th-round by the Dodgers in the 2012 amateur draft, has a career mark of 3.93 ERA, 6.2 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in 43 games, including 37 starts, across four levels of the Dodgers' minor league system topping out at Double-A.

Both Hynes and von Schamann pitched collegiately for Texas Tech.

NL Notes: Puig, Braun, Cubs

Writing for ESPN The Magazine, Dan Le Batard observes that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig's controversial off-the-field behavior isn't so different from other young Hispanic players who have had to grow up in the limelight. Some were quick to criticize the 23-year-old after he showed up late to batting practice on Friday. "We love rags-to-riches stories," Le Batard writes. "But rarely, in any walk of life, does it happen as fast and as extremely as it does to the Hispanic ballplayer -- to go from soap stealing to multimillionaire in a flash." Here are more NL links:

  • Nerve damage at the base of Ryan Braun's thumb continues to hobble the Brewers outfielder, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. "The analogy is if you touch a hot stove, no matter how badly you want to keep your hand there, the natural reaction will be to take your hand off it," Braun said. "That's kind of what happens every time I make contact."
  • The Cubs made headlines today after acknowledging that they were seeking minority partners to support renovations for Wrigley Field, but selling such shares isn't so uncommon in professional sports, David Haugh writes for the Chicago Tribune. The Diamondbacks and Mets are among clubs who have recently sought minority ownership.

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