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Matt LaPorta Rumors
Former Indians first baseman and outfielder Matt LaPorta has retired, former big-leaguer Joe Thurston tells FanGraphs’ David Laurila. LaPorta and Thurston played together in Mexico last year. LaPorta, the seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft, appeared at the time to be the key to the deal that send C.C. Sabathia from Cleveland to Milwaukee. (In time, of course, it became clear that Michael Brantley was the best player on the Indians’ end of the deal.) LaPorta appeared in parts of four seasons with Cleveland, hitting a disappointing .238/.301/.393 in 1,068 career plate appearances. Thurston, who collected 307 plate appearances playing second and third for the Cardinals in 2009, is also now retired and is working as a coach in the Red Sox system. Here are more quick notes from around the American League.
- Red Sox minor-league reliever Dana Eveland is only 31, but he’s already had a wide range of experiences within the game, Laurila writes. As a veteran of both Triple-A and the big leagues, he’s spent much of his career waiting on call-ups and demotions. “I got called up from a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi,” says Eveland. “I started the Double-A All-Star game there and after it was over, I went to the casino. I got called up from a three-card poker table. … During the season, you answer your cell phone when you see the right area code.” Eveland spent much of the 2014 season pitching well for the Mets, and he’s not considering giving up now that he’s back in the minors.
- GM Alex Anthopoulos says the Blue Jays continue to be open to trading Dioner Navarro if another team has a starting role for him, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes. The Jays could also keep Navarro, Anthopoulos adds. The GM also says the Jays are currently comfortable carrying 13 pitchers, which they’re doing in part because hurlers like Todd Redmond and Liam Hendriks are out of options. Going with a 13-man staff for now helps maintain their depth and gives them time to evaluate their players.
The Nationals announced today that they’ve selected the contract of Greg Dobbs and transferred Eury Perez to the 60-day DL while optioning Sandy Leon to Triple-A in order to clear roster space. Dobbs inked a minor league deal with Washington earlier in the week. Elsewhere on the minor moves circuit…
- Julio Franco, who played professionally in parts of four decades, is not quite done yet. The independent league Fort Worth Cats announced today that the 53-year-old will serve as a player/coach for the team’s first homestand. Among his other stops, Franco saw time in 23 MLB campaigns, putting up a strong .298/.365/.417 triple-slash with 173 home runs and 281 stolen bases. While he spent time with eight MLB clubs, Franco did most of his damage with the Indians and Rangers in the late-eighties and early nineties. He then returned for a solid five-year run with the Braves (every season of which came in Franco’s forties). While it would be unwise to count out the ageless wonder, it seems rather unlikely that Franco has in mind another run at the bigs at this point.
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that Matt LaPorta has asked for and been granted his release from the Mexican League’s Campeche Pirates (Twitter link). The former No. 7 overall draft pick and top prospect batted .286/.366/.555 with seven homers in 32 games for Campeche.
- The Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish announced today that outfielder Brandon Boggs has signed a minor league deal with the Braves. Boggs hit .324/.390/.426 in 78 PA with Bridgeport. This will be his second stint with the Braves, as he spent the bulk of last season playing with their Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett. The 31-year-old Boggs has a nice track record at Triple-A and has seen action in parts of four seasons with the Brewers and Rangers.
- Former big league right-hander Jeff Bennett, who had also been playing in the Mexican League, has inked a minor league deal with the Dodgers, reports MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). The 33-year-old Bennett has a 4.30 ERA in 228 1/3 big league innings with the Braves, Rays and Brewers, but he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2009. He turned in a strong 2.44 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 44 1/3 innings for los Broncos de Reynosa in 2014.
Here are today's minor moves from around the league.
- The Orioles have released DH Jack Cust and 1B Matt LaPorta, MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski reports. Cust was out of baseball in 2013 but hit .243/.400/.442 in 493 plate appearances for two Triple-A teams in 2012. He has played in parts of two big-league seasons, collecting by far the most playing time as a DH/OF for the Athletics from 2007 through 2010. LaPorta, 29, hit .238/.310/.476 in 184 plate appearances for the Indians' Triple-A Columbus affiliate in 2013. He was the key piece in the 2008 trade that sent C.C. Sabathia from Cleveland to Milwaukee.
- The Padres have released pitcher Zach Braddock and infielder Brandon Wood, tweets MLB.com's Corey Brock. Braddock, 26, pitched 51 innings combined in 2010 and 2011 with the Brewers. Wood, of course, was once a top prospect with the Angels. He spent 2013 playing Triple-A ball with the Orioles and Royals, hitting .226/.262/.329 in 252 plate appearances. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2011 with the Pirates.
- The Brewers have released pitcher Eric Arnett, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy tweets. Arnett, a 2009 first-round pick, pitched sparingly in 2013, missing most of the season after having knee surgery.
Here are the day's minor moves:
- Utilityman Brian Bixler has agreed to a minor league deal with the Phillies, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 31-year-old has seen time at the MLB level with the Pirates, Nationals, and Astros, but spent last season with the Mets' Triple-A affiliate. His career big league line is a modest .189/.249/.269 in 356 plate appearances, and he slashed .259/.323/.372 in 345 plate appearances in the upper minors last year. Bixler's calling card is versatility: he has played every field position but pitcher and catcher at the MLB level, and in fact appeared everywhere but the battery and at first during his 2013 stint at Las Vegas.
- The Orioles have signed 29-year-old outfielder Matt LaPorta to a minor league deal that does not include an invite to major league camp, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). LaPorta was the 7th overall pick of the 2007 draft and twice a Baseball America top-30 prospect, but has managed only a .238/.301/.393 line in 1,068 MLB plate appearances between 2009-12. With unfavorable defensive ratings, he graded out as a sub-replacement-level player for most of his time in the bigs. At Triple-A last year with the Indians organization, LaPorta slashed .238/.310/.476 with ten home runs in 185 plate appearances. LaPorta was the key piece in the deal that shipped C.C. Sabathia out of Cleveland, but became a minor league free agent this year.
- Checking in on the MLBTR DFA Tracker, three players sit in DFA limbo: Brett Wallace of the Astros and Emilio Bonifacio and Everett Teaford of the Royals.
Here's the latest baseball news from the Buckeye State's two teams…
- "We talked about a lot of different ways to bring Ubaldo [Jimenez] back,” Indians GM Chris Antonetti told reporters (including Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer). Hoynes interprets this as meaning that the Tribe made Jimenez a multiyear offer in addition to the $14.1MM one-year qualifying offer, but Jimenez is very likely to sign elsewhere.
- Once a top prospect and the key part of the Brewers' trade package to the Indians for C.C. Sabathia in 2008, Matt LaPorta is now a minor league free agent and may not return to the Tribe. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at LaPorta's career and talks to Indians director of player development Paul Atkins, who doesn't sound optimistic about LaPorta re-signing with the organization.
- Also from that piece, Antonetti didn't comment on whether the team was looking to sign Justin Masterson to a multiyear extension. “I will tell you how much we value Justin and what he’s brought to this team since we acquired him in 2009,” Antonetti said. Masterson emerged as the Tribe's ace last season and is a free agent next winter.
- The acquisition of Brayan Pena means that the Reds "are obviously up to something" in regards to a catcher trade, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. The consensus has been that Ryan Hanigan will be dealt but Fay wonders if "a major trade" is in the works that would send Devin Mesoraco elsewhere.
- Fay also notes that if the Reds trade Brandon Phillips, speedster Billy Hamilton could be a potential replacement at second base. Hamilton was originally drafted as a shortstop but was seen by some in the Reds organization as a future second baseman.
- The Reds will hire Jay Bell as their new bench coach, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). Bell was serving as the Pirates hitting coach and previously worked as the Diamondbacks' bench coach. Bell and new Cincinnati manager Bryan Price both worked in Arizona's organization at the same time.
The Indians have been very busy during the first days of 2013 officially announcing the free agent signings of Nick Swisher and Brett Myers. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports the team will open the season with a payroll hovering around $66-68MM (not including the $2.75MM buyout of Travis Hafner's 2013 club option and the $3.5MM sent to the Reds in the Shin-Soo Choo trade). As a result, GM Chris Antonetti has said the team's financial resources have been exhausted. The lone remaining hole in the lineup is designated hitter. Bastian says the Tribe could rely on internal options like Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, Ezequiel Carrera, Tim Fedroff, and Rule 5 selection Chris McGuiness. Even bringing back Hafner is a possibility according to Antonetti, "I think some of that is going to depend upon other opportunities for Travis and his thoughts on returning, as well as what opportunities we may have for him compared to other guys." Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has more news and notes concerning the Indians:
- Hoynes adds Matt LaPorta to the list of in-house DH options, but says Antonetti could still sign a hitter or bring one in on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
- Hoynes thinks Delmon Young would look good as the Tribe's DH, but doesn't see it happening at this time because of his asking price and character issues.
- The Indians will still consider trading Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez, but only if the return is comparable to what they received in the Choo deal.
- The starting rotation looks like Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Myers, and Zach McAllister. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco are the leading candidates for the fifth spot.
- With the flush of spending of this season, does this put extra pressure on the front office to win now? Hoynes doesn't sense any panic in the hallways of power, especially since new manager Terry Francona can opt-out of his deal if certain members of management lose their jobs.
Teams have until tonight at 10:59 PM CST to set their 40-man rosters before the Rule 5 draft, hence explaining the flurry of transactions around the majors today. Here are the players who have been outrighted off their teams' 40-man rosters, with the most recent at the top of the page (all roster moves were announced by the teams unless otherwise stated)….
- The Indians outrighted Matt LaPorta and Brent Lillibridge to Triple-A Columbus. According to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (via Twitter), Lillibridge has the option to refuse the assignment and become a free agent.
- The Rockies have outrighted Andrew Brown and Matt McBride to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
- The Astros have outrighted infielder Scott Moore to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Moore has the option of accepting the assignment or electing free agency.
- Cubs right-hander Carlos Gutierrez has cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A Iowa.
The Indians made one of their most significant moves of the offseason yesterday signing Casey Kotchman to a one-year, $3MM contract. GM Chris Antonetti explained the deal this morning and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Jordan Bastian of MLB.com have the details:
- Antonetti said the Indians are still working to create 40-man roster space for Kotchman, Hoynes tweets. The Indians were in on Kotchman last offseason, Bastian tweets.
- Matt LaPorta will have the chance to win the first base job in Spring Training, but the Indians intend for him to play every day, Hoynes tweets. Bastian suggests LaPorta, who has options remaining, will likely open the season in Triple-A (Twitter link).
- Asdrubal Cabrera is in Cleveland and the team is discussing a multiyear deal with the shortstop, Antonetti said, according to Hoynes. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined a possible extension for Cabrera about a month ago, suggesting that a four-year, $27MM contract could work for both sides. Cabrera asked for $5.2MM through arbitration and the Indians offered $3.75MM.
Harmon Killebrew passed away today at the age of 74 after a battle with esophageal cancer, the Twins announced. MLBTR extends its condolences to the Hall of Famer's family and friends and the Twins organization. Here are today's notes on the AL Central…
- Royals analyst Rany Jazayerli checks in on nine top Kansas City prospects, including Danny Duffy, who will be called up tomorrow. For more on Duffy's promotion, click here.
- Former top prospect Dallas McPherson is returning to the Majors to replace Mark Teahen on the White Sox, the team announced. The White Sox added McPherson to their 40-man roster (they still have four empty spots).
- Joe Pawlikowski of FanGraphs asks where Matt LaPorta's power has disappeared to this month. The Indians' first baseman hasn't homered in May and has just four home runs for the season, but his batting line is a healthy .274/.354/.487 thanks to ten doubles. The centerpiece in the 2008 C.C. Sabathia trade, LaPorta could still become a useful player, according to Pawlikowski.
Saturday afternoon linkage..
- Once the key component in the deat that sent CC Sabathia to the Brewers, Indians slugger Matt LaPorta is eager to regain his old form in 2011, writes Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.
- The Pirates need to increase their revenue if they hope to bring their payroll to around $70-$80MM, despite the perception of some, writes Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Twins manager Rod Gardenhire says that Japanese import Tsuyoski Nishioka will play at second base this season, tweets Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune.
- The Tigers' current approach to building their rotation stands out from the rest, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith in a piece for Fangraphs.