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Luke Scott Rumors
Three more Cuban players — first baseman Lazaro Alonso, infielder/outfielder Osniel Madera, and catcher Yoel Rojas — have left the country, reports Baseball America’s Ben Badler. The 19-year-old Alonso and the 29-year-old Madera should draw interest from MLB teams, according to Badler. Alonso was hitting .299/.436/.494 in 110 plate appearances with more walks (20) than strikeouts (19) at the time he defected. Madera has played both corner outfield positions as well as third base and second base in his career, and he was hitting .319/.390/.469 in 187 PA this season.
Some more notes from around the league…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post looks at the Padres‘ offseason and wonders if the team has added star power while sacrificing the cohesion that is typically necessary to for a roster to succeed. Though the team has right-handed power in spades, the Padres lean far too much to the right, with only two left-handed bats projected in their lineup, neither of whom brings much with the bat (Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso). The team also lacks a logical lead-off hitter and will field not just a questionable outfield defense but also take a significant step back in pitch-framing, going from a combo of Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera to Derek Norris and a yet-undetermined backup. So much focus has been placed on San Diego’s remade offense, Sherman writes, that few have pointed out the fact that the Padres also allowed their fewest runs ever in 2014 — a feat that won’t likely repeat given the factors laid out here.
- Designated hitter/outfielder Luke Scott worked out for clubs in southern California last week, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweeted. The former Orioles/Astros/Rays slugger spent some time in the Korea Baseball Organization last year and enjoyed success in 130 plate appearances, hitting .267/.392/.505. Scott, 36, is a career .258/.340/.481 hitter and is eyeing a return to the Majors. While a minor league deal is almost certainly all that would be in the cards at this stage, he’s always shown respectable power and could be a reasonable add for a team looking for some left-handed pop off the bench.
- Outfielder Andy Dirks, who signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays this offseason, will report to the team’s minor league Spring Training camp instead of Major League camp, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (the Dirks note gets a brief mention at the bottom of the story). Dirks, who missed all of 2014 recovering from back surgery, is still rehabbing and has again been delayed in his recovery. A healthy Dirks could be a nice addition to the Toronto bench, as he’s an able defender in left field and a lifetime .276/.332/.413 hitter.
- In similar fashion, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic notes at the end of an article on Addison Reed that the D-Backs watched right-hander Chad Gaudin throw a bullpen session last week. The 31-year-old Gaudin didn’t pitch in 2014 as he recovered from neck surgery, though the swingman has a career 4.44 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and a 42.4 percent ground-ball rate. Gaudin’s last big league action came with the 2013 Giants, and he pitched quite well, notching a 3.06 ERA (3.34 FIP, 4.00 xFIP) in 97 innings. He made a dozen starts and 18 relief appearances that season. GM Dave Stewart tells Piecoro that Gaudin is a consideration in the team’s search for pitching depth.
Former Orioles and Rays outfielder/DH Luke Scott has been “fired” from his KBO club after some harsh words for his coach, as Jerry Spar of WEEI.com writes. The 36-year-old must have been causing problems for SK Wyverns, because he was carrying a productive .267/.392/.505 line in 130 plate appearances for the club. Scott split time at the DH position last year with Tampa, slashing a slightly above-average .241/.326/.415 (108 OPS+).
Here’s the latest from the AL East:
- The Blue Jays have “checked on” recently-released outfielder Alfonso Soriano, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Soriano, who might provide a power bat while several regulars work their way back off the DL, is “mulling his option,” according to Rosenthal.
- The Orioles will scout Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo at his upcoming workout, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Castillo, 27, is an intriguing player to watch; as Ben Badler of Baseball America writes, he could even have an impact on a big league roster later this year.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said today that a lot of trade chatter has already happened between clubs, in an interview with WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan (audio link). He acknowledged that his struggling club is not conceding the season, but is “engaged in the conversations … to be in position to make the right decisions” at the trade deadline. But he said that the organization is not yet at the point of swapping actual trade proposals, though it is aware of what contending teams’ needs are.
- Looking back, Cherington says that he “didn’t do a good enough job building a complete offense.” Though the team felt good about things heading into the season, says Cherington, the offensive production has been missing even though the pitching has been good enough to win.
- The Blue Jays may prioritize upgrades in the lineup (a second or third baseman, most likely) and in the bullpen over acquiring starting pitching help, reports Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. Of course, in spite of GM Alex Anthopoulos’s insistence that the team can add salary in the right scenario, some believe that the club lacks financial flexibility on the big league roster.
- One reason that observers doubt the Blue Jays‘ ability to boost payroll this year is the club’s pre-season pursuit of Ervin Santana, which involved a reported plan involving salary deferment from several veterans. As Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports, MLBPA head Tony Clark criticized that situation, saying “it is not the players’ responsibility to sign a player or bring a player on board.” Clark said that any deferral should redound to the individual player’s ultimate benefit, but was somewhat ambiguous about what in particular concerned him in this case. “As it was brought to our attention, there were a number of conversations that were had, unfortunately with some of those players in the middle,” he said. “How that entire process was handled we don’t believe was in a fashion that was as beneficial to everyone involved as it could have been. The place we ended up suggested the players were able to make, should they decide, those deferrals in an effort to bring in those players.”
- Yankees prospect Luis Severino has received a promotion to Double-A, as Josh Norris of Baseball America recently tweeted. The 20-year-old righty had only recently been bumped to the High-A level, where he dominated in four starts. Severino landed among the top fifty prospects in the game according to Baseball America’s mid-season update, but another New York youngster — outfielder Aaron Judge — caught the eye of ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link) for his own updated top fifty.
The 35-year-old Scott batted .241/.326/.415 with nine homers in 291 plate appearances for the Rays last season. He spent time on the disabled list for the fifth straight season in 2013, missing time due to a strained lower back and a calf strain.
Scott's numbers over the past three seasons are roughly league average — .231/.303/.421 (100 OPS+) — but he was a force for the Astros and Orioles in the five previous years. From 2006-10, Scott batted .272/.357/.512 with 103 homers in 2233 plate appearances.
Here's a look at news out of the American League East..
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter) hears that Luke Scott can earn up to $750K in performance bonuses through his one-year deal with the Rays. The incentive is tied to plate appearances, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The designated hitter will make a base salary of $2.75MM in 2013 and will look to stay healthy after a pair of trips to the DL limited him to 96 games last season.
- The Orioles still haven't finalized their deal with Jair Jurrjens as team doctors are still going over the information from his Monday physical, Connolly tweets. The pitcher says that the two sides are close to finalizing the pact and and says there's just some "small stuff" to iron out (Twitter link). Jurrjens agreed to a one-year, $1.5MM Major League contract last month that balloon to as much as $4MM with incentives.
- Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com says it's possible that Orioles Executive Vice President Dan Duquette is stockpiling pitching depth in order to deal for a middle-of-the-order bat. Even if the O's use the surplus to bolster their offense, Ghiroli expects them to still hang on to extra pitching as insurance.
FEBRUARY 6th: The Rays announced that they have finalized their deal with Scott. The 34-year-old will earn $2.75MM for this season, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter).
JANUARY 24th: The Rays are set to re-sign Luke Scott, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (on Twitter). Topkin reported yesterday that there was mutual interest between the Rays and Scott, a PSI Sports Management client.
Scott made two trips to the disabled list as a result of oblique and back injuries in 2012. When healthy he hit 14 home runs and posted a .229/.285/.439 batting line in 344 plate appearances. However, there was limited buzz surrounding the 34-year-old this offseason.
Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has added many free agents this offseason. Joel Peralta obtained a two-year deal, and Roberto Hernandez, Kyle Farnsworth and James Loney signed one-year deals. The Rays also added notable players such as Jamey Wright and Juan Carlos Oviedo on minor league deals.
The market for designated hitters still includes Travis Hafner, Carlos Lee, Jim Thome, Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreu, as MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows. The Indians, Yankees and Astros are among the teams that could pursue help at DH.
The latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links)…
- The Marlins and Rays are among the possibilities for Bobby Abreu, Heyman reports. Abreu, 38 in March, hopes to extend his career following an unremarkable offensive season in 2012.
- The Blue Jays are still in the bullpen market along with the Mets, Heyman reports. The Marlins, Astros and Dodgers might also be involved in pursuit of relievers, Heyman adds. Here are the details on the Mets’ bullpen targets.
- The Rays will likely officially announce their deals with Kyle Farnsworth, Luke Scott and Kelly Johnson next week, Heyman reports.
The Rays and Luke Scott continue to express mutual interest in signing a new contract, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Scott has been a free agent since the end of October, when the Rays declined his $6MM option for 2013.
Scott made two trips to the disabled list as a result of oblique and back injuries in 2012. When healthy he hit 14 home runs and posted a .229/.285/.439 batting line in 344 plate appearances. However, there’s been limited buzz surrounding the 34-year-old PSI Sports Management client to this point in the offseason. He indicated in the fall that he hoped to return to Tampa Bay. “It's just a great place to play,” he told Bill Chastain of MLB.com. “I really enjoyed my time here. I hope they'll have me back."
Topkin suggests the Rays could consider alternatives such as free agents Travis Hafner, Aubrey Huff, Dan Johnson, Carlos Lee, Juan Rivera and Jim Thome or trade candidates such as Jason Kubel and Mike Carp.
Here's the latest from the American League's newest team, the Houston Astros…
- Lance Berkman remains atop the team's DH wishlist according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). There are still issues to be resolved before a reunion takes place.
- Crasnick notes that if the Astros can't bring Berkman back, they're likely to seek a late-20s player who's been blocked and needs an opportunity to serve as DH (Twitter links). They don't have interest in players like Luke Scott, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, and Travis Hafner.
- A few teams are considering right-hander Bud Norris as a back-end rotation option, reports Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). The 27-year-old pitched to a 4.65 ERA in 168 1/3 innings last season and projects to earn $2.9MM through arbitration next winter.
Both Molina ($1.8MM) and Shields ($10.25MM) were expected to have their options picked up. The 35-year-old Rodney pitched to a 0.60 ERA with 48 saves this year, so his $2.5MM option was a no-brainer. Scott, 34, hit .229/.285/.439 with 14 homers and will receive a $1MM buyout rather than a $6MM salary.
Luke Scott’s 2012 season fell short of expectations, but he’d like to return to Tampa Bay for another year. The 34-year-old designated hitter told Bill Chastain of MLB.com that he hopes the Rays exercise the $6MM club option on his contract instead of paying him a $1MM buyout.
“The environment is awesome,” Scott said. “It's just a great place to play. I really enjoyed my time here. I hope they'll have me back."
Scott made two trips to the disabled list this past season as a result of oblique and back injuries. When healthy he hit 14 home runs and posted a .229/.285/.439 batting line in 344 plate appearances. Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Chastain it’s too early to say whether Scott will be back for another year.
“He really scuffled in the first half,” Friedman said. “In the second half he had the type of output that we kind of anticipated if things went well and lined up well."