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Miami Marlins Rumors
Marlins right-handed reliever Aaron Crow will likely need Tommy John surgery after an MRI revealed a ligament tear, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Miami added Crow in late November in a trade that cost the team lefty Brian Flynn.
Losing Crow would be a significant blow to the club’s bullpen, which had hoped to enjoy a return to form from the 28-year-old. After a three-year run in which he carried a 3.19 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9, with heavy groundball tendencies, Crow fell back last year to a 4.12 earned run mark while striking out just 5.2 and walking 3.7 batters per nine. He had put up more typical numbers this spring, however.
While Miami does have several options to step in for Crow, it is possible to imagine the team looking for an outside replacement. Whether that would mean picking up a veteran roster castaway or striking a deal, of course, remains to be seen.
Infielder Reid Brignac has opted out of his deal with the Marlins after learning he would not make the Opening Day roster, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). The 29-year-old is now a free agent.
Brignac, 29, has not cracked 100 plate appearances in a big league season since back in 2011. Over parts of seven seasons, he owns a .222/.266/.314 slash over 905 plate appearances. At this point, defensive flexibility — Brignac has spent most of his time at short — is his primary calling card.
The Marlins have released right-handed reliever Nick Masset, the club announced. Masset, 32, signed as a minor league free agent and enjoyed Article XX(B) protection.
Once a consistently productive presence in the Reds’ pen, Masset traveled a long road back to the big leagues after undergoing multiple shoulder surgeries. He ended a two-year layoff last year, throwing 45 innings of 5.80 ERA ball for the Rockies but posting a more promising 4.33 FIP. Masset was able to deliver typically strong groundball results while striking out 7.2 and walking 4.8 batters per nine.
Miami obviously had decided not to give Masset a spot on its big league roster and preferred not to pay him a $100K bonus to stay in the upper minors. Masset has scuffled somewhat this spring, striking out only three batters and allowing nine earned runs in 11 innings of work, but ought to hold appeal to organizations seeking depth.
The Marlins have placed Rule 5 lefty Andrew McKirahan on waivers, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. McKirahan can be claimed by any team, but will be offered back to the Cubs if he makes it through waivers.
The 25-year-old has had plenty of success in the minors and reached Double-A last year with the Chicago organization. He seemed to have a reasonable chance at earning a role in the Miami pen, but it appears that the Fish will instead roll with Brad Hand as a second lefty. Reviews have been positive, so it would not be surprising to learn that another club intends to give McKirahan a look.
The Phillies may be preparing to add their fifth starter from outside the organization, according to a tweet from Jayson Stark of ESPN. Stark spoke with an executive who asked the Phillies who their fifth starter was expected to be and received a reply of, “He’s not here yet.” A number of rotation options have been released over the past few days, including Jhoulys Chacin, Scott Baker and Felix Doubront. More releases figure to come soon, and other rotation options will be placed on waivers as we get late into camp. I’d be surprised if the Phillies made any form of significant move, but adding someone with a bit of upside, such as Chacin, could prove beneficial if they can get him back on track. The Phillies will go with Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang, David Buchanan and Jerome Williams in their first four rotation spots.
Here’s more from the NL East…
- The Mets are confident that they can land a left-handed reliever before Opening Day, but even if they do bring in someone from the outside, Rule 5 lefty Sean Gilmartin has a good chance of making the club, per ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Gilmartin, 25 in May, was the Braves’ first-round pick in 2011 but was traded to the Twins for Ryan Doumit last offseason. Gilmartin posted a combined 3.71 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 145 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Twins last season, but they made the at least somewhat curious decision to leave him unprotected in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. With the Mets this spring, Gilmartin has allowed five runs in 8 2/3 innings with an 11-to-5 K/BB ratio. Last year in the Minors, Gilmartin held lefties to a miserable .201/.219/.235 batting line.
- Marlins manager Mike Redmond tells Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post that he “lost a few nights of sleep” over the decision to cut Reed Johnson, who was released earlier this morning. Redmond spoke highly of Johnson’s influence on the team’s young hitters last season and voiced an opinion that while he expects Johnson to get picked up by another club, he also can see him transitioning to a coaching or even managerial role in the future. Redmond called the 38-year-old Johnson “a guy who has truly earned everything he’s been given in this game.” D’Angelo notes that Jordany Valdespin, Don Kelly, Donovan Solano and Reid Brignac are competing for the final two bench spots in Miami. The Marlins are prioritizing taking someone who can play shortstop for one of the two spots.
- Tom Schad of the Washington Times spoke to Nationals right-hander Casey Janssen and was told that the setup man isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day. Janssen underwent an MRI on his right shoulder yesterday and while the results haven’t been released yet, Janssen said he doesn’t believe the test indicated a significant injury.
The 38-year-old Johnson was in camp as a non-roster invitee after spending the 2014 season with Miami as a backup outfielder. Last season, he batted .235/.366/.348 in 201 trips to the plate for the Marlins. Miami signed Ichiro Suzuki as their fourth outfielder behind Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, leaving Johnson to compete for the team’s fifth bench spot. The veteran Johnson batted .205/.225/.231 in 40 plate appearances this spring.
Though his bat has deteriorated with age, Johnson is a career .310/.363/.454 hitter against left-handed pitching and batted .303/.319/.409 in 69 PA against lefties last year. He can now seek an opportunity to latch on with another club.
Here are the day’s minor transactions from around the league…
- Baseball America’s Matt Eddy delivers a series of recent releases. You can check his always-useful Twitter feed for the full run, but the highlight is probably the Royals‘ release of lefty Noel Arguelles (Twitter link). A high-profile signee out of Cuba back in 2009, the 25-year-old was hit hard in Double-A last year after switching full-time to a relief role. He was brought as a minor league free agent, but Kansas City has apparently seen enough.
- Eddy also tweets that the Rays have parted ways with two of the team’s seven supplemental first-rounders from 2011, shortstop Brandon Martin and outfielder James Harris. Both players are still just 21 years of age, but neither has mastered the lower minors or even reached the High-A level.
- The Cubs have released left-hander Jeff Lorick, per the team’ transactions page. The 27-year-old Lorick was a 20th-round selection back in the 2009 draft and spent the 2014 campaign (his age-26 season) at Double-A Tennessee, where he worked to a 4.52 ERA in 63 2/3 innings of work. Lorick struggled as a starter in the Class-A Advanced Florida State League in 2011, but he’s always missed a good number of bats when working as a reliever. However, he’s also walked more than four hitters per nine innings and has yet to reach the Triple-A level.
- The Marlins have released second baseman Alfredo Lopez, also via the team transaction page at MLB.com. The 25-year-old batted .216/.298/.263 at Double-A in 2014 and had spent most of the 2015 spring working in Minor League camp. Lopez has hit well in the lower minors (.300 average, .384 OBP in Class-A Advanced) but stalled in Double-A and has very limited experience at the Triple-A level.
- The Rockies released outfielders Jared Simon and Brian Humphries as well as infielder Matt Wessinger, per the MLB transaction page. Simon, a 2010 sixth-round pick, and Humphries, a 14th-rounder in 2011, each spent last season with Double-A Tulsa and OPSed south of .700. Wessinger is perhaps the most notable, as he was a fifth-rounder as recently as 2012, but he batted just .214/.278/.295 at Class-A Advanced in 2014.
The Marlins have reportedly discussed out-of-options lefty Brad Hand with multiple clubs, including the Rangers, but MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro now reports that the Fish are likely to hang onto the 25-year-old. Hand will start today against the Astros, but Frisaro cautions that it’s not a showcase for interested parties.
Miami values the depth that Hand provides, particularly with Jose Fernandez recovering from Tommy John surgery and Jarred Cosart being investigated by Major League Baseball for a potential gambling-related issue. The team also believes that Hand, who is equipped with a fastball in the mid-90s, is capable of pitching in both the rotation or bullpen. He’s also the lone left-handed rotation option left in Marlins camp (though the fifth slot, as Frisaro notes, is likely going to righty Tom Koehler).
Hand has allowed just two runs in 10 innings this spring, though he’s posted an unsightly 5-to-6 K/BB ratio along the way. Last season, Hand pitched 111 innings in 32 games (16 starts, 16 relief appearances), averaging 5.4 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 with a 50.3 percent ground-ball rate. The former second-round pick has one year, 92 days of service time, meaning that he’s under control for another five seasons.
TODAY: Cosart briefly addressed the situation today, telling reporters that he was simply following MLB’s protocol, per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (Twitter links). Cosart also said that he was not behind the creation of a new Twitter account, attributed to him, which had figured into some reports on the matter.
To be clear, all that is known at present is that the league is exploring the matter. The league is quick to pursue information regarding any gambling-related issues, and its involvement should not be read to imply any wrongdoing, or even suspicion thereof.
As Elfrink explains, a Twitter user has posted screenshots of purported Direct Messages sent from Cosart’s Twitter account regarding an unspecified betting matter. Cosart’s Twitter account has since been deleted. It is not even yet apparent whether there is any credible suggestion that Cosart has engaged in any gambling-related activities, let alone actions involving the game of baseball in any way.
Given the highly uncertain underlying issue here, and the fact that it is not even clear whether MLB intends to conduct a full investigation, it is far too soon even to speculate whether there are any possible grounds for future discipline. For sake of reference, MLB Rule 21(d) prohibits players from “bet[ting] any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game,” providing a one-year ban if such activities occur with regard to a game in which “the better has no duty to perform” and a lifetime ban in which the bettor does.
Here are today’s minor league transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post….
- The Diamondbacks released outfielder Aaron Cunningham, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Cunningham hit .255/.342/.346 over 281 plate appearances for Triple-A Reno last season. The 28-year-old outfielder last appeared in the majors in 2012 and received 501 PA with the Indians, Padres and A’s from 2008-12.
- The Marlins have released left-handed reliever Donnie Joseph from their Triple-A affiliate, according to the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page. Originally a Reds prospect, Joseph was dealt to the Royals as part of the Jonathan Broxton trade in July 2012 and then dealt to Miami last June. The southpaw has posted a 3.84 ERA, 11.9 K/9 and 2.44 K/BB rate over 316 career innings in the minors, plus Joseph has 6 1/3 Major League innings to his name from a couple of brief stints with the Royals in 2013-14.