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Marco Scutaro Rumors
Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins had varying reactions to being traded to the Braves in the Jason Heyward deal, Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Miller, who learned he’d been dealt before learning which team had traded for him, was apprehensive at first, but ultimately happy to learn that he was heading to Atlanta. Jenkins, a former Cardinals first-round pick, was “upset” to be leaving that organization, although he eventually came around to the idea that the Braves must really want him to acquire him in a trade for a player of Heyward’s caliber. Both Miller and Jenkins credit Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright with helping them as pitchers. Miller says Wainwright encouraged him to throw a sinker (although it wasn’t until Justin Masterson showed him a grip he liked that he actually started using it). Jenkins, meanwhile, credits Wainwright with helping him with his delivery. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Free agent outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. is hoping to find a new team for 2015, his agent told MLB Network Radio (via a tweet from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports). Gwynn, 32, hit .154/.262/.190 in 127 plate appearances with the Phillies in 2014, also appearing in 20 games (and hitting significantly better) for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Gwynn isn’t likely to provide much offense, but he’s provided good defensive and baserunning value in the past.
- In March, free agent infielder Marco Scutaro will know more about whether he can continue his career after having back surgery, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in a piece we’ve linked to elsewhere today. The Giants released Scutaro last week even though he still had one year left on his three-year, $20MM deal. He had fusion surgery in December.
JANUARY 28: Scutaro has been released, according to the MLB.com transactions page.
JANUARY 21: The Giants have designated infielder Marco Scutaro for assignment, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links). His roster spot will go to the recently-signed Nori Aoki.
San Francisco expects to retain Scutaro once he clears outright waivers, which seems a virtual certainty given his injury status and the $6MM left on his deal. Per Schulman, the team still hopes that the 39-year-old veteran will be able to return from his back issues (which included surgery in December).
When Scutaro went in for fusion surgery last month, it was reported that it would take four to six months before his future on the diamond can even be assessed. Needless to say, the odds of a return at this point appear to be low.
The 13-year big league veteran signed for three years and $20MM as a free agent after originally joining the team in the middle of 2012 and playing a major role in a World Series victory. He has only made 560 plate appearances under that contract due to injury, though he was as productive as hoped for when on the field in 2013.
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki tells The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders he hears the trade rumors, but that isn’t his focus this winter. “I have been talking to the Rockies throughout the process,” Tulowitzki said. “We have respect for each other. But my concentration right now is just on getting healthy.” Tulowitzki, recovering from August hip surgery, has yet to start baseball activites but has begun light running and is continuing a program to increase flexibility in his hips. Here’s the latest from MLB’s West divisions:
- It cannot be a good sign the Giants‘ training staff is preparing an update this week on Marco Scutaro, opines John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Because of a back injury, Scutaro, who is due $6MM in the final year of his contract, appeared in only five games in 2014 with 13 trips to the plate.
- In the same article, Shea reports there are no current talks between the Giants and free agent starter Ryan Vogelsong.
- GM Billy Beane made the A’s better now and in the future with the returns he achieved in the Jeff Samardzija and Derek Norris trades, according to SB Nation’s Alex Hall.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle compares the Astros‘ methodical rebuilding plan with that of the Padres, who reshaped their franchise by making five trades with six teams in a span of two days.
The Giants are interested in Indians infielders Asdrubal Cabrera and Mike Aviles, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com (via Twitter). Of course, the Indians have to decide they are sellers, which might come down to the trade deadline. Cleveland’s record is currently 49-47 and they’re 5.5 games behind the Tigers in the division. They’re one of three teams sitting just two games back of the Mariners for the second wild card spot.
Cabrera, 28, will be a free agent following the 2014 season. The shortstop is owed roughly $4MM. His defense draws critical remarks. Over the years, many insiders have speculated Cabrera is better suited to play second base, which fits the Giants‘ needs. Aviles, a 33-year-old utility infielder, has a $3.5MM club option for 2015 ($250,000 buyout).
- According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, GM Brian Sabean is unsure where to focus his attention in the trade market. The Giants can stand to improve in multiple areas, including second base, outfield, and the bullpen. Unsurprisingly, Sabean identifies price and availability as the likely determining factors in any trade.
- Marco Scutaro recently returned from the disabled list, but he’s only played one out of four games since re-joining the club. His ability to stay on the field and perform will probably affect the club’s interest in players like Cabrera and Aviles.
- Also per Schulman, outfielder Angel Pagan is expected to remain out beyond the trade deadline. He has yet to resume swinging the bat.
In his Sunday Baseball Notes column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reminisces about a pitchers’ duel between the Red Sox’s Luis Tiant and the Angels’ Nolan Ryan 40 years ago, the likes of which we may never see again in today’s game. Tiant threw 195 pitches and was still on the hill when the Angels scored the game-winner with one out in the bottom of the 15th inning. Ryan, meanwhile, tossed 235 pitches in a meager 13 innings of work. “When you took the baseball, you wanted to finish what you started,” Tiant told Cafardo. “I didn’t even feel tired. I could have gone as long as I had to go. They beat me on a ground ball that went through the second baseman’s legs. It was the 15th inning and I was OK.” The last pitcher to pitch more than nine innings in a MLB game was Cliff Lee, who lasted ten innings in April 2012.
Here’s more from Cafardo’s column:
- Speaking of Lee, the Phillies left-hander will likely have to be a post-waiver deadline deal since he won’t have enough time between now and July 31st to rehab his strained elbow. Lee should be able to clear waivers because he has two years left on his deal at $25MM each.
- Jonathan Papelbon is pitching a lot better and there’s an expectation he could be one of the first Phillies to go once they decide to sell. One AL scout who has watched Papelbon’s outings said, “I’ll give him credit. I think he’s learning to pitch with what he’s got left. He’s not 96-98 [miles per hour], but he’s getting back up to 92-93 and making a lot of good adjustments.” Cafardo wonders if he could be a future member of the Tigers or Orioles.
- When Marco Scutaro returns from his back injury, he will likely become the Giants‘ utilityman and GM Brian Sabean is trying to add a second baseman by the trading deadline. Chase Utley would be a great fit, but Cafardo wonders if the Phillies will actually deal him, whether the veteran would waive his ten-and-five rights, and whether the Giants would give up the necessary bounty to acquire him. Ultimately, SF could set its sights lower.
- Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel is having a good season, but the scouting community is mixed on what impact he’d have on a contending team. Some question whether he can keep up this pace or whether he’ll be more of a back-of-the-rotation starter. Even positive comments Cafardo has heard have been tagged with the caveat you wouldn’t give up the farm for him.
- Despite the harsh assessment of the Padres‘ season by club CEO Mike Dee recently, Cafardo finds it hard to imagine Bud Black losing his job and opines firing him would be a mistake because he is seen as one of the game’s best managers in the eyes of a lot of baseball executives.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Due to his back injury, Marco Scutaro still isn't playing in extended spring training games, but it's unlikely the Giants will make a trade to replace him anytime soon, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. This week's Ike Davis trade aside, deals involving valuable players generally aren't made in April, and the Giants would likely have to pay heavily to acquire a talented infielder. Later this summer, the Giants still might not make second base their top priority, Schulman suggests — they may instead focus on their bench. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- The Astros are excited about first baseman Jonathan Singleton's performance at Triple-A Oklahoma City, writes MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. The Astros recently promoted top prospect George Springer, and Singleton, who is hitting .343/.449/.776 so far, might not be far behind. "When we sent him down at Spring Training, we told him he was going to let us know when he was ready to come up here by his performance, and so far he's doing an outstanding job," says assistant GM David Stearns. "We'd like to give him more time to continue to work on the aspects of his game that we identified with him that needed some improvement. So far he's addressing them."
- Former Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez is making a strong case to make it back to the big leagues with the Tigers, MLive.com's James Schmehl writes. Martinez is hitting .308/.366/.846 with a remarkable ten home runs in 71 plate appearances for Triple-A Toledo, and the Tigers are currently playing with only three bench players. The Astros somewhat surprisingly released Martinez last month, even though he wasn't on their 40-man roster at the time and was a 26-year-old with 975 plate appearances of big-league experience. Martinez's salary at Triple-A was apparently a factor in the Astros not being able to find another organization for him.
A number of notable clubs entered Spring Training looking for clear answers at second base, and other teams could face looming questions at the position. Here's a roundup of items about the keystone…
- Multiple talent evaluators tell ESPN's Jim Bowden that Alexander Guerrero needs a lot of time at Triple-A in order to both learn second base and simply to regain his form after not playing last season. In the Insider-only piece, Bowden looks at internal and external second base answers the Dodgers could explore to solidify themselves at the position.
- Early word on Guerrero hasn't been too positive, as one evaluator tells ESPN's Buster Olney (another Insider-only piece) that the Dodgers "could get him through outright waivers right now if they need a roster spot." Olney speculates that the Nationals could generate some interest in Danny Espinosa given the number of teams (including the Dodgers and Yankees) looking for second base help, though Washington wouldn't want to accept a sell-low offer for Espinosa given his poor 2013 season.
- The Royals are lacking in middle infield depth behind Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar, as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star notes may not have the 25-man roster space for a backup infielder. Since Ned Yost plans to carry 12 pitchers, that leaves only four bench spots for Justin Maxwell, Jarrod Dyson, Danny Valencia and the backup catcher. Christian Colon, Pedro Ciriaco and Johnny Giavotella are currently fighting for a roster spot in camp and the team will have Valencia and Mike Moustakas work out at second in case they need to be emergency options. “It’s not ideal not to have a backup middle infielder on the team,” GM Dayton Moore said. “However, I do anticipate Infante and Escobar in the lineup most days.”
- Marco Scutaro is only beginning to take grounders and has yet to swing a bat, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports. The veteran infielder is purposely taking a slow start to Spring Training in order to keep himself healthy and free of hip problems, and Giants GM Brian Sabean admits that the team probably should've shut Scutaro down last year when he was battling multiple nagging injuries. Despite Scutaro's issues, Sabean is confident he'll be ready for Opening Day though he only said "we'll see" when asked if he was comfortable with the team's second base depth.
Here's a look at the latest out of the National League Central..
- We recently heard that agent Scott Boras is working hard to sell the Angels on Kyle Lohse and owner Mark Attanasio says that he is doing the same with the Brewers. "Our ears are always open. We don't want to lead our fans on in any way. There's not an active conversation. But our ears are always open. [GM] Doug [Melvin] and his group are always looking to improve the team," said the owner, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
- Marco Scutaro had a two-year, $18MM offer from the Cardinals on the table but instead took a three-year, $20MM deal to remain with the Giants, writes Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Scutaro's representatives told the Giants early on in the offseason that $20MM over three years would get the job done and they held true to their word, despite a higher average annual value and a recruiting pitch from Matt Holliday.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if the Cardinals are too old. The Cards have an average age of 30.5, making them the fourth oldest team in the majors behind the Yankees, Phillies, and Rangers.
The Giants are bringing back the NLCS MVP, having agreed to re-sign second baseman Marco Scutaro to a three-year, $20MM deal. The World Champion Giants are keeping their team mostly intact, having signed Angel Pagan yesterday and Jeremy Affeldt in November for a total commitment of $78MM for the trio. Scutaro is represented by Praver/Shapiro.
Three years is a sizeable commitment for Scutaro, who turned 37 in October. The second baseman was greatly aided by a strong finish, as he hit .362/.385/.473 in 268 regular season plate appearances with the Giants after coming over in a July trade with the Rockies. Scutaro further helped his cause with a 1.140 OPS during San Francisco's seven-game win over St. Louis in the NLCS. As Dave Cameron of FanGraphs notes, Scutaro's high contact style looks good when the hits drop in, though his Giants performance is unsustainable.
The Cardinals had also been in the mix for Scutaro this offseason. With Scutaro and Jeff Keppinger off the board, the free agent market for second basemen includes Kelly Johnson as a potential starter.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link) was the first to break the news of the signing. Photo courtesy of U.S. Presswire.
- Several teams asked the Rockies about Carlos Gonzalez during the Winter Meetings, reports ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (Twitter link). The Rockies told clubs that both Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki weren't available, having not changed their stance from last month about trading their top two stars.
- The Dodgers' negotiations with Ryu Hyun-Jin will go right down to Sunday's deadline, a team source tells ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Twitter link). Los Angeles will lose negotiating rights with the Korean left-hander if a deal can't be worked out by Sunday. The two sides were thought to be far apart on Tuesday, though the Dodgers and agent Scott Boras had exchanged offers and were continuing talks.
- The Padres are using their bullpen depth, infield depth and Jesus Guzman as trade bait, says Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune as part of his most recent chat with readers.
- Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan told reporters (including Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News) that they looking for, respectively, a fourth guaranteed year and the most expensive possible contract, and were both happy that the Giants met their desires. “I know my age,” Scutaro said. “I was looking for the best contract. This might be my last one. When (the Giants) made the best offer, it was very exciting.”