Mark Prior Rumors

Mark Prior Officially Retires; Could Join Padres Front Office

Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that he ran into Mark Prior at the Winter Meetings and was told the Prior has officially retired and could join the Padres front office. Prior's most recent comeback attempt with the Reds in 2013 was cut short when he once again injured his shoulder.

Prior, now 33 years of age, hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2006. Drafted second overall behind Joe Mauer in the 2001 draft, Prior burst onto the scene in 2002-03 with the Cubs in dominant fashion. In his first 328 big league innings, Prior posted a 2.74 ERA with a 392-to-88 (4.45) K/BB ratio.

Unfortunately, Prior would go on to throw just 329 additional Major League innings in an injury-riddled career. Multiple injuries to his rotator cuff, labrum and anterior capsule in his right shoulder required multiple surgeries that have limited 58 2/3 innings in affiliated ball since the end of the 2006 season.

Prior's once-promising playing career officially comes to an end with a 3.51 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 657 innings. Prior signed a then-record $10.5MM contract out of the 2001 draft, which stood until 2009 when Stephen Strasburg signed a four-year $15.1MM deal as the No. 1 overall pick.

The Padres organization has lost several key members of its field staff following the hiring of Rick Renteria as Cubs manager, and it also lost special assistant Brad Ausmus to the Tigers. Prior could bring a wealth of knowledge to assist GM Josh Byrnes and his staff.


Minor Moves: Kinney, Prior, Sherrill

Here's today's collection of minor moves from around the league…

  • The Mariners announced that they have re-instated right-hander Josh Kinney from the 60-day DL and outrighted him to Triple-A Tacoma. Kinney was placed on the disabled list on March 25 with a stress reaction in his rib cage. He's thrown 8 1/3 innings at Triple-A over the course of a rehab assignment, allowing three runs with seven strikeouts and no walks.
  • Mark Prior has been released from the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, the team announced via Twitter. The former phenom has been on the shelf since April 25 with a right shoulder strain. He posted a 4.66 ERA with nine strikeouts and four walks (one intentional) in 9 2/3 innings for the Bats this year. Prior hasn't appeared in the Majors since 2006.
  • Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Royals have released lefty George Sherrill from Triple-A Omaha. Scott Unger, media relations manager of the independent league Winnipeg Goldeyes (for whom Sherrill used to pitch) first tweeted the news yesterday. The 36-year-old Sherrill posted a 6.23 ERA with with 12.5 K/9 and 5.8 BB/9 in 21 2/3 innings for the Storm Chasers this season. Sherrill racked up 51 saves for the Orioles from 2008-09 after they received him along with Adam Jones, Chris Tillman and Kam Mickolio from the Mariners in 2008's Erik Bedard heist. He has a 3.77 ERA in 324 1/3 Major League innings between the Mariners, Orioles, Dodgers and Braves. Sherrill pitched just 1 1/3 innings last season before undergoing Tommy John surgery in early May.
  • Three players are currently in DFA limbo: Carlos Marmol of the Cubs, Francisley Bueno of the Royals and Eric Thames of the Mariners.

Reds Sign Mark Prior

The Reds signed Mark Prior to a minor league deal, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The move reunites Prior with manager Dusty Baker, who managed Prior early in his career with the Cubs.

“He called me and … asked for a chance,” Baker told Fay. "He feels like he has some unfinished business."

Critics often point to Baker's handling of Prior as one of the reasons the promising right-hander dealt with so many injuries. Despite the perception that Baker mis-managed Prior, they have remained close and speak a couple of times each year, Fay reports.

A series of shoulder problems derailed Prior's career, and he last pitched at the MLB level in 2006. Prior has tried to resurrect his career with stints with the Padres, Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox. The 32-year-old had been working to strengthen his shoulder in the hopes of receiving an invitation to Spring Training. 

The Cubs drafted Prior second overall in 2001 and he soon became one of the National League's best pitchers. He posted a 2.43 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 as a 22-year-old just a year and a half after being drafted. 



Central Notes: Cubs, Brewers, Gamel, Chapman, Reds

A look at the Central divisions..

  • There are six or seven teams in the eastern or central divisions to which Alfonso Soriano would accept a trade, writes Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. The long-time Cubs outfielder made it clear last summer that he would not have accepted a potential trade to the Giants. Soriano told reporters that the Cubs know which teams he'd prefer, but stated multiple times that his first priority is to win in Chicago.
  • Brewers manager Ron Roenicke announced today that Mat Gamel, who was sidelined for the final five months of the 2012 season with a torn ACL, will miss all of the 2013 season, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.  The Brewers were already thin at first base thanks to Corey Hart's injury.  They plan to cover with in-house options, but GM Doug Melvin will look for outside options as well.  McCalvy suggests (on Twitter) that they could consider the recently DFA'd Mike Carp and Daric Barton of the A's.
  • Craig Fehrman of Cincinnati Magazine profiled Aroldis Chapman and the journey that brought the left-hander to the Reds.  The piece includes Chapman's daring move to defect from Cuba and the unique events that led him to changing representation while auditioning for teams.
  • The Twins are not among the clubs that have expressed interest in Mark Prior, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter).  Prior is working on strengthening his shoulder in an attempt to hook on with a team in spring training.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Quick Hits: Indians, Mark Prior, Phillies, Mark Lerner

On this day in 1971, Satchel Paige became the first Negro League player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The oldest player to make his Major League debut, Paige took the field for the Indians for the first time at the age of 42. Here's the latest news and stories making headlines across MLB.

  • After making a series of deals this offseason in hopes of making a strong push toward the playoffs, the Indians may not be done adding pieces to their roster just yet, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn remain on the radar for Cleveland as the organization would only have to give up a third round draft pick in order to sign either player.
  • Mark Prior hasn't given up on his goal of returning to the Major Leagues as he's working on strengthening his shoulder in hopes of receiving an invitation to Spring Training, says David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com. Currently in the best shape of his life according to reports, Prior spent the 2012 season at Triple-A Pawtucket as a member of the Red Sox organization before being released in August. For more on Prior, Doug Miller of MLB.com takes an in-depth approach to telling the past and present story of the former sensation's life on both a professional and personal level.
  • The contracts for recently-signed members of the Phillies organization are broken down by Todd Zolecki of MLB.com as he provides the financial incentives players would receive based upon meeting specific goals. For example, Delmon Young would be awarded $100K if named NL MVP next season and $250K for reaching 600 plate appearances, among others. 
  • Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner told college students at a conference directed toward finding a career in sports that he often learns of deals made by his GM Mike Rizzo by visiting MLB Trade Rumors, writes James Wagner of The Washington Post. A special thanks to Mark for publicly recognizing the work done at MLBTR by Tim Dierkes and his staff.

Red Sox Release Mark Prior

The Red Sox have released right-hander Mark Prior, according to Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times (via Twitter).  The move was made in order to create space for the newly-acquired Pedro Beato.

Prior, 31, hooked on with the Red Sox in early May as he looked to attempt yet another comeback.  During his time in Triple-A Pawtucket, Prior posted a 3.96 ERA with 13.7 K/9 and 8.3 BB/9 in a small sample size of 25 innings of work.  The second-overall pick in 2001 was brilliant in the early portion of his career but has not pitched in the majors since 2006 thanks to a series of shoulder problems.


Red Sox To Sign Mark Prior

The Red Sox will sign Mark Prior, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). John Boggs & Associates represent Prior, who last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2006.

The Cubs drafted Prior second overall in 2001 and he soon became one of the National League's best pitchers. He posted a 2.43 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 as a 22-year-old just a year and a half after being drafted. A series of shoulder problems derailed Prior's career, but he has tried to resurrect it with stints in the Padres', Rangers' and Yankees' systems. Now 31, he's attempting another comeback.

Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.


Cafardo On Kinsler, Cox, Damon, Prior, Lannan

It's clear to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the collapse of last September bothered some Red Sox players more than others.  While some are using it as fuel for motivation, others seem eager to leave it in the past completely.  Former Braves manager Bobby Cox told Cafardo that he preferred the latter. "The way I looked at it, you let it go both ways. If we win the World Series, I’d say enjoy it but time to get ready for the next year. Every season is different. I don’t think there should be carryover either way," Cox said.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • Major league sources say that Ian Kinsler should average $13-$14MM over five or six years once his deal is done.  While he and the Rangers couldn’t come to terms by Opening Day, it’s not out of the question that something gets done during the season.  Brandon Phillips of the Reds should be in the Dan Uggla range – about five-years for $60MM.  Dustin Pedroia's six-year, $40.5MM deal with the Red Sox now looks like bargain as it goes through 2014 with an $11MM option for 2015.
  • When asked if he would consider managing again, Cox didn’t give a resounding no. "I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m done," he said. But he added, “I miss it. I miss it every day." While Cox has deep ties to Dodgers president Stan Kasten, he said he would not consider going back to being a GM.  Cox is signed to be an adviser for the Braves through the 2015 season.
  • When asked about Johnny Damon remaining on the open market, one AL GM was perplexed and suggested that the Rays, Indians, Orioles, and Tigers could all use him.
  • Cafardo's "all-free agent team" features right-hander Roy Oswalt, Damon in center field, Hideki Matsui as DH, Vladimir Guerrero in left field, Magglio Ordonez in right, catcher Ivan Rodriguez, first baseman Derrek Lee, second baseman Aaron Miles, shortstop Felipe Lopez, third baseman Casey Blake.  Oswalt tops the rotation alongside Javier Vazquez, who he notes has not officially retired.  Cafardo also lists Mike Gonzalez and Arthur Rhodes as the top relievers available.
  • Mark Prior’s throwing sessions have looked decent, according to major league sources, and he may be getting ready to throw for teams soon.
  • Nationals pitcher John Lannan remains in limbo as he pitches in Triple-A, but as injuries mount his trade request may be heard.  The left-hander is only 27 and could fit on many staffs as a fourth or fifth starter, but his $5MM salary is an obvious hurdle.

Cafardo On Lannan, Bourjos, Cespedes, Vazquez

Jason Varitek is facing a very difficult decision, and the catcher has been considering the very difficult reality of retirement, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  Varitek, who turns 40 in April, would seem to be a good fit in Minnesota.  The Twins will likely carry three catchers as Joe Mauer will need time to DH and rest and Ryan Doumit will mostly DH while also backing up Mauer.

Varitek isn't the only veteran wondering about his baseball future.  Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, and Vladimir Guerrero also hope to continue playing in 2012.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • There is a lot of speculation that the Nationals will deal John Lannan to the Angels for Peter Bourjos, with the Halos putting Mike Trout in center field.  The Nats beat Lannan in arbitration last week and were said to be aggressively shopping the left-hander.  
  • Alternatively, the Nats could move Jayson Werth to center and sign a right fielder.  Cafardo adds that it now appears that Yoenis Cespedes is not in their plans and they have cooled on B.J. Upton.
  • Javier Vazquez is retired for now, but Cafardo wonders if a team could convince him to play.  An AL GM remarked that Vazquez would be a perfect fourth or fifth starter on a contending team and believes that the pitcher looks as good as he's ever been.
  • Scott Boras is no longer representing Manny Ramirez.  Ramirez signed on with Boras in early 2008 and the agent negotiated the slugger's two-year, $45MM contract with the Dodgers the following year.
  • Boras wound up receiving eight offers in total for Prince Fielder, including the winning bid from the Tigers.
  • A couple of agents are frustrated after dealing with the Red Sox front office/ownership lately as compared to what they were used to in the past.  However, there has been quite a bit of praise for GM Ben Cherington.
  • Right-hander Brandon Webb hasn't given up on pitching and according to one American League executive, the plan is for the 32-year-old to throw for teams sometime in March.
  • Mark Prior is also looking to attempt one more comeback.  The right-hander, who spent some of last season with the Yankees, had surgery for a sports hernia and the problem isn't completely corrected.  Like Webb, Prior could work out for teams as early as March.
  • Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger was supposed to be in Red Sox minor league camp but instead ripped up his elbow long-tossing over the winter.  The veteran will unfortunately miss the season.
  • Cafardo feels that the Red Sox missed an opportunity to sign Edwin Jackson to a good value deal at one year, $10MM and shouldn’t let Roy Oswalt slip away now.

Yankees Sign Mark Prior

It's not Cliff Lee, but the Yankees have added a big-name pitcher. They signed Mark Prior to a minor league deal, the team announced today. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick first reported the deal (on Twitter). Prior will earn $750K in the major leagues and could earn $750K more in incentives, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).

The Rangers and Yankees were the finalists for Prior, who pitched in Texas' system last year, but has not appeared in a major league game since 2006. He'll be reunited with former Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild in New York.

The Yankees selected Prior 43rd overall in the 1998 draft, but were unable to sign him. The Cubs drafted him second overall in 2001 and he soon became one of the National League's best pitchers. He posted a 2.43 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 as a 22-year-old just a year and a half after being drafted. 

A series of shoulder problems derailed Prior's career, but he has tried to resurrect it with stints in the Padres' and Rangers' systems.