Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors
Jonah Keri of Grantland lists out the National League non-roster invitees who could have the greatest impact. In addition to a series of highly-touted prospects with a chance to break out this year, Keri says to keep an eye on Roger Bernadina (Reds), Mark Reynolds (Brewers), Bobby Abreu (Phillies), and Jamey Carroll (Nationals). Here's more from the National League:
- Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals is set to receive a second opinion on his ailing left shoulder after undergoing an MRI on Monday, reports Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Though declining further comment, GM John Mozeliak said that the preliminary review by the Cards' team doctor showed that "early indications have been encouraging." Nevertheless, any visit to Dr. James Andrews causes alarm bells to go off, and that is particularly so in the case of the 27-year-old Garcia, who missed most of last year due to a labrum tear.
- Reliever Clay Hensley, 34, is looking to make an improbable comeback with the Nationals after a series of injuries derailed his career, reports MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko. Though he could barely crack 80 mph just half a year ago, a weighted ball program commended to him by former big leaguer Tom House has allowed Hensley to regain the low-90s heat that he carried earlier in his career. Of course, Hensley faces quite another uphill battle in gaining a place in a Nats bullpen that has several arms competing for few openings.
- Much has been written about the Phillies' controversial involvement with the collegiate career of former draft choice Ben Wetzler, but Tony Blengino of Fangraphs provides an excellent new perspective on the issue. The former scout explains that the role of the scout is to eliminate as many variable as possible, making things as black and white as possible. But uncertainty will never be removed from the equation entirely, and Blengino opines that players should be permitted to utilize an agent/advisor without fear of repercussions.
- Justin Turner, who was designated for assignment by the Mets this offseason before landing with the Dodgers, talked about the shock of the DFA with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Turner says he has nothing but fond memories of New York, though he was particularly stunned to hear that the team had concerns with his level of hustle.
MLBPA chief Tony Clark addressed today the situation of Ben Wetzler, the Phillies' draft choice who was recently suspended by the NCAA for having an agent present while he negotiated with the club, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. "What we're doing in the short-term is trying to make sure we understand exactly what happened and what led to what happened with that young man in college," said Clark. "Rest assured it's a concern, it's something that we're paying attention to, but outside what's been bantered about through the media, we don't know much else at this point." For their part, the Phillies have yet to offer any comment other than acknowledging that they "did participate in the NCAA investigation." One agent tells Nicholson-Smith that, if the team did report Wetzler's use of an agent, "it was extremely short-sighted and impulsive on the part of the team."
Here are a few more links to round out the evening:
- The Rockies have recently made contact with free agent starter Ervin Santana, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. The team's interest may be dependent upon the status of Jhoulys Chacin, whose shoulder issues are still being assessed. A Rockies official denied interest in Santana, however, reports MLB.com's Thomas Harding.
- Though the Dodgers needed a roster spot to make room for new signee Erisbel Arruebarrena, the club elected to designate Justin Sellers for assignment rather than putting Chad Billingsley on the 60-day DL, writes Chris Gabel for MLB.com. That constitutes something of a vote of confidence in Billingsley's ability to return from Tommy John rehab in a relatively short time frame. The 29-year-old is entering the final year of a three-year, $35MM pact, with the club holding a $14MM option ($3MM buyout) on his 2015 season.
- While Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada has reportedly shed some pounds, the club is nevertheless reportedly less than happy with his athletic form, reports Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. If that translates to an underwhelming start to camp, Kernan implies, there could be increasing impetus to sign Stephen Drew. "I would not be surprised if we signed Drew," an official said, "but at the same time, I don't expect it to happen."
- Across town, the Yankees are keeping tabs on reliever Joel Hanrahan after inking another rehabbing former closer in Andrew Bailey, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. As Martino explains, interest in arms like Bailey and Hanrahan shows that the club has some concern with its pen depth.
- The Twins are a very unlikely landing spot for Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Diaz is looking to land a deal like the five-year, $25MM contract given Arruebarrena, says Wolfson, but Minnesota does not believe he is as good as his countrymate.
The Dodgers have designated infielder Justin Sellers for assignment, according to a team release. The move clears space on their roster for Erisbel Arruebarrena.
Sellers, 28, has played in parts of three seasons with the Dodgers, hitting .199/.278/.301 in 266 career plate appearances. He served as the Dodgers' starting shortstop early in the 2013 season as the team waited for Hanley Ramirez to return from injury. Sellers then spent much of the year at Triple-A Albuquerque, where he hit .270/.326/.429 in 366 plate appearances.
FEB. 22: The deal is now official, the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez tweets.
FEB. 21, 6:51pm: Arrubarrena gets a five year deal for $25MM, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, including a $7.5MM signing bonus.
3:53pm: The deal is for five years, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
FEB. 20: MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports that Arruebarrena's deal is believed to be five or six years in length. According to Sanchez, Arruebarrena is working out in the Dominican Republic as he awaits his work Visa. Without the Visa, the contract cannot be finalized, which is why the Dodgers have yet to make an official announcement. GM Ned Colletti did tell Sanchez the following:
"We signed Alexander [Guerrero] and we’re trying to sign another player because it’s tough in the Draft to find those players. You are pretty limited in the Draft as far as good hitters that can play in the middle of the infield. The way we look at it, we have the need for it in our organization and we’ve gone after them the way we have."
FEB. 12, 3:20pm: Arruebarrena's contract could be worth around $25MM, a source tells Rojas (Spanish language link).
12:27pm: The Dodgers have agreed to terms with Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick (Twitter link). Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported earlier today that the two sides were nearing an agreement, and Arruebarrena was traveling to the United States to take a physical.
The 23-year-old Arruebarrena has six seasons of professional experience in Cuba's Serie Nacional and therefore is not subject to the spending restrictions placed on international amateurs. Arruebarrena is considered an elite defensive shortstop, but most scouts have serious questions about his bat. Though Arruebarrena batted .320/.367/.520 in 306 plate appearances in Cuba from 2011-12, Ben Badler of Baseball America spoke with multiple scouts at the time of his defection and noted that many questioned whether Arruebarrena could manage a .220 average or .300 OBP in the Majors. He's also not a particularly fast player, further limiting his offensive upside. Given all of that info, it's not difficult to see why Arruebarrena has drawn comparisons to fellow Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Arruebarrena adds to the Dodgers' infield depth, but it's unlikely that he'll be ready to make an immediate impact in the Major Leagues. Badler noted that some minor league time was almost a certainty for Arruebarrena, adding that he could even have to start at the Double-A level due to his questionable offensive skills. Arruebarrena can serve as an insurance policy in the event that the team is unable to reach an extension with Hanley Ramirez. He could also provide an elite in-house option at short (defensively speaking, that is) should Ramirez sign an extension but eventually need to move to third base. Arruebarrena joins Yasiel Puig and Alexander Guerrero as the third notable Cuban signing for the Dodgers in the past two years.
With the trade that sent Andrew Cashner to the Padres and Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs now over two years distant, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus takes a look at its background and how it has played out to date. While both players have proven that their talent plays at the big league level, each still comes with questions. Nevertheless, the trade appears to have been quite an equal swap at this point, he opines.
Here's more from the National League:
- The Mets hesitation with respect to shortstop Stephen Drew relates to the team's valuations of him and internal option Ruben Tejada, reports MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. "At the numbers he's looking for," a source told DiComo, "we don't think he's worth it compared to what we have." At this point, a trade of Ike Davis is a more likely outcome than the signing of Drew, says DiComo.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said today that a platoon was possible at second base, a prospect that Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times questions. Both Alexander Guerrero and Dee Gordon -- the two likely platoon options -- are converting from shortstop, and each brings lots of uncertainty to the table. Guerrero, the club's most expensive offseason acquisition, has reportedly had some struggles moving to the other side of the bag, but putting his right-handed bat in a platoon role would significantly limit his plate appearances.
- In spite of a resoundingly successful 2013 campaign, Pirates GM Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle will both go into the season without a contractual assurance that they'll be around for another. As Rob Biertempfel of the PIttsburgh Tribune-Review reports, Owner Bob Nutting said today that extensions for the two are not a major priority, though he indicated that he'd be amenable to talks at the right time. "What they've done for the organization in good and bad times really is tremendous," said Nutting, "and I hope they're with the organization for a long time. My expectation is they're going to be critically important pieces of this organization as we go forward."
- Nutting also indicated that the Pirates would still consider giving up a draft pick to sign a free agent, Biertempfel further reports. "Certainly nothing is off the table," he said. "But at the same time, we need to recognize that a first-round draft pick is a meaningful source of talent for a team like the Pirates. We want to be smart and cautious." The Bucs have spoken with first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales, Biertempfel notes, though the extent of the team's interest remains unknown.
In a must-read piece for ESPN The Magazine, Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus provides a riveting look into the Angels' efforts to turn around the organization's languishing farm system. Focusing on the philosophies of assistant GM (and former big leaguer) Scott Servais, Miller explores how the Halos hope to emulate the shockingly simple methods of the Cardinals while infusing deep, data-driven analysis into their player-development efforts.
Here are more links from around the game to finish the day:
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson hopes to stay in his role for two or three more years, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post. The 66-year-old, who took the helm in October of 2010, is currently under contract for the following season with a club option for 2015.
- New Dodgers TV network SportsNet LA has yet to reach agreement with many local pay-TV distributors, reports Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times, which means that a majority of Los Angeles viewers would be without Dodgers games if the season started today. Though the network expressed confidence that deals will be in place by the onset of the 2014 campaign, Flint explains that negotiations promise to be tense.
- In an interesting profile of Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that little notice was given to the fact that Ruiz has been cleared by MLB to use Adderall in the coming season. That is the very substance for which Ruiz was suspended at the start of last season. Brookover paints a picture of a genuinely passionate backstop who is ready to earn his new three-year, $26MM contract.
- A major factor in the White Sox' rebuilding plans is number-two starter Jose Quintana. As MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes, the work of scouts Daraka Shaheed and Joe Siers was responsible for bringing Quintana into the Chicago organization as a minor league free agent from the Yankees, and for setting him on the trajectory to serve as a starter. The 25-year-old, who notched a 3.51 ERA in an even 200 innings last year, is likely to become arbitration-eligible next season as a Super Two. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently looked at the excellent work of Shaheed and Siers in examining the increasing number of Major League deals for minor league free agents.
- Busy as the Sox were this off-season, no single addition carries as much risk (and, perhaps, upside) as 27-year-old first baseman Jose Abreu. As Merkin reports, the big Cuban -- who inked a six-year, $68MM deal in late October -- has drawn rave early reviews for his professionalism both at the plate and in terms of effort.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranks the top managers in MLB. Red Sox skipper John Farrell comes in at No. 1 thanks to his communication skills, ability to delegate responsibilities well, and, of course, his 2013 World Series ring. Bob Melvin, Terry Francona, Bruce Bochy, and Joe Maddon round out the top five. More from today's column..
- There have been no talks concerning a contract extension between the Indians and Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera can become a free agent at the end of the season, but it appears the Indians want to see how he rebounds from a down season. Cafardo sees the shortstop as a potential target for the Yankees next offseason.
- The Dodgers outfield surplus should work in their favor to start the year with Matt Kemp on the mend, but that doesn't mean GM Ned Colletti won't consider a move later in the season. One National League special assistant believes that Andre Ethier would work out very well with the Red Sox. “He needs someone to kick him in the butt, that’s why he would be perfect in Boston with [Dustin] Pedroia. That’s his buddy, and Pedroia would get the most out of him. He doesn’t have anyone like that in L.A.,” said the exec.
- Don't be surprised if the Yankees' efforts to land Ervin Santana intensify in the coming weeks. Even after landing Masahiro Tanaka, the Bombers could use one more solid starter to round out their starting five.
- J.J. Hardy is in the final year of his contract with the Orioles and they would like nothing more than to keep him. Baltimore will have to pony up some serious cash, however, as he could demand a deal of at least five years, possibly in the $15-17MM range.
Perhaps notable among this year's wave of stories on early-spring physiques, a trimmer Pablo Sandoval has reported to Giants Spring Training, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. Sandoval is aware that many will credit the weight loss to his impending free agency, but says he was motivated by his teammates and the desire to win a championship. Haft notes that Giants GM Brian Sabean indicated during the Winter Meetings this year that he'd consider a multiyear deal for Sandoval if he reported to camp in shape. More late-night links from around the majors:
- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez says he plans to offer encouragement to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton, who both struggled mightily in 2013 (via MLB.com's Mark Bowman). "I'm going into the season, right now, thinking Danny is going to play second base," Gonzalez said.
- New Dodgers infielder Alexander Guerrero's transition from shortstop to second base "has not come easily," Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Guerrero's struggles at the position reportedly motivated the Dodgers' signings of Chone Figgins and Justin Turner.
- The Orioles will announce their deal with Suk-Min Yoon on Sunday, and both sides expect a press conference on Monday, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com writes.
- A deal between the Tigers and free agent reliever Ryan Madson is unlikely, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck. Detroit had a scout in attendance at Madson's recent workout, but the team's interest is likely "limited to due diligence." While GM Dave Dombrowski has hinted at the possibility of adding another reliever, the Tigers prefer a minor league deal, Beck says.
Let's round up some stray links from the day:
- The possible extension of Homer Bailey by the Reds has been a hot topic lately, but talks could spill over into the regular season, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. If a deal cannot be reached, Bailey would be among the more attractive starters to hit the open market next year.
- The Dodgers' glut of starting-caliber outfielders has long been mentioned as the possible basis for a trade, though we've heard little chatter of late. One of the team's biggest question marks is the health of one of its four highly-paid options: Matt Kemp. The 29-year-old bristled today at the notion that he could be a fourth outfielder, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. "I don't know where you get this fourth outfielder talk from," said Kemp. "... I think all four of us outfielders feel the same way. None of us are fourth outfielders. Everybody wants to play every day. I won't accept that role. I can't accept that role."
- Though the Dodgers' enviable cash position certainly has its benefits, it can create issues of its own, writes Rob Neyer of FOX Sports. When teams commit big dollars to players, says Neyer, they tend to keep trotting out those players even if their performance no longer warrants the playing time. But the game may now be flush enough with cash, suggests Neyer, that clubs will feel more comfortable with treating such deals as the sunk costs they are and cutting ties when necessary.
- There are no active discussions involving Red Sox starters, reports WEEI.com's Alex Speier. With many quality free agents still yet to sign, says Speier, the expectation is that a trade market for Boston's arms will not develop until March (if it does so at all).
- The Orioles opened camp with 29 pitchers, with three more yet to report, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Manager Buck Showalter indicated that he is pleased with the depth and number of options at the club's disposal, particularly since Baltimore figures to be able to keep most of those players regardless of who makes the Opening Day roster. "We kept our flexibility with only two or three exceptions," said Showalter. "We don't have a lot of pitchers out of options, really. We'll be able to keep the depth. It''s obviously too early to handicap anything, but if it doesn't get separated by injury, it's going to be pretty competitive at the end."
Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz and Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne held a showcase at the Padres' Spring Training complex today, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported (via Twitter) that more than 20 teams had scouts on-hand to see the pair. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres and Giants were all there to scout Diaz (Twitter links). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter), Diaz could command as much as $20-30MM as a free agent. However, he is ineligible to sign until next week (Feb. 19) at the earliest. Here's more on the international market...
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Diaz could look to choose a club as soon as Friday or Saturday of next week.
- Sanchez adds that Diaz and Despaigne have also schedule four more showcases in Florida, beginning this weekend, in order to allow clubs whose Spring Training facilities are in that state easier scouting access. Despaigne's next showcase will come in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Saturday, according to Sanchez (Twitter links). The Rays' Spring Training complex is in Port Charlotte, for what it's worth.
- The Dodgers continued their aggressive approach on the international front today, signing 18-year-old Panamanian outfielder Carlos Mosquera, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
- Cuba sent a team to the Caribbean Series in Venezuela for the first time since 1960, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler (subscription required and recommended). As such, Major League scouts flocked to the series in order to get a first-hand look at some of the talent. Badler says that most scouts left underwhelmed, but four players -- outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, second baseman Jose Fernandez, third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and right-hander Norge Ruiz -- each jumped out. Badler provides scouting reports for each, with the write-ups on Ruiz and Despaigne being lengthier than those on Fernandez and Gourriel. Previously, Badler has written that Ruiz, 19, is establishing himself as a rising star.