- Brady Aiken Undergoes Tommy John Surgery
- Chris Tillman, Orioles Begin Extension Discussions
- Tigers, David Price Open Exploratory Discussions
- Dodgers To Sign Hector Olivera
- Twins Extend Brian Dozier
- White Sox Extend Adam Eaton
- Rangers Release Joe Beimel
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- Dodgers To Sign Cuban Pitcher Pablo Millan Fernandez
- Rockies Release Jhoulys Chacin
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Miami Marlins Rumors
- Third baseman Brendan Harris is headed to the Tigers on a minor league contract. The 34-year-old has seen action in parts of eight big league seasons, including a run as a regular over 2007-09, but since the close of 2010 has only 117 MLB plate appearances on his ledger. He did put up an interesting .288/.397/.396 slash last year at Triple-A Albuquerque, walking 75 times against just 43 strikeouts.
- The Marlins have inked lefty Tyler Robertson to a minor league pact. Robertson is a 27-year-old lefty who saw 26 innings of big league action over 2012-13 with the Twins. He threw 17 1/3 frames of 4.15 ERA ball last year at Triple-A with the Nationals organization, striking out 7.3 and walking 2.1 per nine.
- The Brewers added catcher Tyler LaTorre on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old had spent his entire nine-year professional career with the Giants, much of it at the Double-A level. After putting up solid numbers over 2011-12 in the upper minors, LaTorre has took a big step backward in 2013 and last year slased .268/.343/.332 in 216 total minor league plate appearances.
The Marlins have already reportedly locked up two outstanding young outfielders in Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, but do not appear to be in position to do the same with regard to center fielder Marcell Ozuna, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. Ozuna, 24, says that he is heeding the advice of his agent Scott Boras to wait on exploring a long-term deal.
Of course, that hardly means that Ozuna is going anywhere, as he is under team control through 2019 and plenty of time remains to explore an extension. But Ozuna and his camp do not believe the time is right to do so at present. “[Boras] tells me ‘Don’t hurry,'” said Ozuna. “Be waiting for the moment, and let’s see what happens in a couple of years.” He continued to say that Boras has advised him to focus on his game rather than his next contract. “Let’s see what happens next year,” said Ozuna. “I don’t want something in my head, like a distraction. I’m just going to play the game, and that’s it.”
Miami reportedly approached Ozuna, among other promising young Marlins players, earlier in the offseason. As Frisaro writes — and as he explained further in an appearance on today’s MLBTR Podcast, “preliminary contact” with Ozuna’s representatives did not result in any traction. Whether or not the team is still interested in making a lengthy commitment after its other spending is not clear, though surely it would entertain talks were Ozuna himself inclined to do so.
Unlike Yelich, Ozuna has enough service time (1.153 years) to make Super Two qualification next season a near certainty. That certainly affords him additional protection, to say nothing of the fact that the team committed to him by dealing away fellow center fielder Jake Marisnick at last year’s trade deadline.
Ozuna broke out in 2014, slashing .269/.317/.455 with 23 home runs in 612 plate appearances. With solid to excellent marks on his defense in center, that made him a roughly four-win player. Some swing-and-miss propensities and a relatively high BABIP create some cause for concern, though projection systems still like him to be at least a solid regular moving forward — and the Marlins obviously feel the same way.
Sandy Alderson’s new biography (Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets, by Steve Kettmann) contains several interesting background tidbits about many of Alderson’s major transactions as the Mets general manager. ESPN’s Adam Rubin runs down some of the highlights, including some alternate trades for Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey, extension talks with Jose Reyes and even a flirtation with Robinson Cano last winter. The book also includes comments from Alderson about the Mets payroll situation, which led to Alderson clarifying his position last week. Here’s some more from the Amazins…
- Perhaps the most timely revelation from the book was that last August, Alderson told Kettmann that Terry Collins’ chances of returning as the Mets’ manager in 2015 stood at roughly 51 percent and “Frankly, for me, that percentage has been eroding.” Alderson was upset that the Mets’ patience at the plate seemed to be dropping, but a meeting with the club’s hitters apparently saved Collins from being fired. Collins is entering the last year of his contract and he’s been rumored to be on the hot seat unless the Mets take a step forward to contention.
- While Zack Wheeler was indeed pitching through pain last season, it was due to a torn tendon in his right elbow, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports. Nothing was thought to be wrong with Wheeler’s UCL until last week’s examination revealed that the right-hander had suffered a tear and would need to undergo Tommy John surgery.
- B.B. Abbott, Wheeler’s agent, told reporters (including Dan Martin of the New York Post) that he has “zero issues whatsoever with how the Mets handled Zack last year or in the offseason.“
- The Mets are only one of several teams interested in Orioles southpaw Brian Matusz, a scout tells Adam Rubin (Twitter link). As teams make roster cuts over the next two weeks, however, “there should be plenty of lefties that shake loose of lesser ilk.” Needless to say, these other left-handed relief options would presumably also come at a much lower price tag than Matusz’s $3.2MM salary.
- The scout also suggests that Marlins left-hander Andrew McKirahan is better than any of the Mets’ internal lefty relievers and would be a good addition to the team if Miami cuts him. McKirahan was selected by the Fish in last December’s Rule 5 draft and must spend the entire season on the Marlins’ 25-man roster or else be offered back to the Cubs.
This week, Jeff covers the Quick Hits, then welcomes Marlins beat reporter Joe Frisaro to the show (1:25) to discuss the reported Christian Yelich extension and the rest of the Marlins’ busy offseason. MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth then joins to consider the Pirates’ extension candidates (24:52).
The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.
MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro discusses the path that led the Marlins to link up with young outfielder Christian Yelich on a still-unofficial extension. After exploratory talks last year, the team waited to see how other spending scenarios would shake out — including, notably, James Shields — before revisiting discussions with several younger players. Negotiations with Yelich gained traction when the team made clear it would beat Anthony Rizzo‘s seven-year, $41MM deal, says Frisaro, and proceeded quickly from that point. Frisaro will discuss that and other Marlins matters as a guest on tomorrow’s MLBTR Podcast.
Here’s more from the National League:
- The Braves are in a better situation than many realize, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince argues. Internally, Atlanta thinks it could have a winning record and may even stay in the Wild Card picture. And in the grander scheme, the organization has improved its financial flexibility and added some interesting, upper-level arms. “What we didn’t want to have happen,” said assistant GM John Coppolella, “is finish this year .500, and then we lose [Jason] Heyward and [Justin] Upton and get back Draft picks 35 and 36 and we’re like, ‘What the heck just happened?’ Then we’d be in deep trouble for the next five or six years.” President of baseball operations John Hart explained things this way: “We’ve tried to walk down the parallel line to allow ourselves a chance to be competitive.”
- Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly praised the defensive improvements shown by infielder Alex Guerrero, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Los Angeles has moved him all over the diamond in an effort to expand his versatility and see where he fits most comfortably. The club will either need to put Guerrero on the big league roster or take a big hit on his four-year, $28MM deal to move him.
- After an offseason full of organizational change, the Dodgers bullpen still remains unsettled, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. At the moment, the only sure things for the Opening Day roster, per Saxon, are J.P. Howell, Chris Hatcher, and Joel Peralta, with Kenley Jansen and possibly Brandon League out with injuries. Juan Nicasio and Dustin McGowan also seem good bets, though veteran non-roster invitees Mike Adams and Sergio Santos are battling. That latter duo could end up fighting for one spot, with the loser heading to the minors to start the year.
Cuban infielder Hector Olivera is “likely” to sign by the end of this week, agent Greg Genske tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Olivera is still looking for a team to promise him a sixth year, the report indicates.
The Braves have reportedly put in an offer of four years and $40MM that is said to be “behind the pack,” per Heyman’s source. Multiple other clubs have reportedly shown a willingness to guarantee five years, possibly over $50MM, though Heyman says that the precise value (and source) of the other bids are not known.
Among the other clubs that have shown interest, of course, are the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants. Heyman says it is unclear at this point how involved the Marlins and Athletics are, though recent reports indicated that Miami still has interest at seven years and $50MM, perhaps representing a lower AAV than Olivera prefers.
Yesterday, we learned agent Greg Genske of The Legacy Agency believes his client, Hector Olivera, will sign soon with several multi-year proposals under consideration. The Dodgers, Braves, Padres, Marlins, A’s and Giants have been the teams most linked to Olivera.
Here’s the latest on the Cuban free agent:
- The Marlins are willing to offer Olivera a seven-year contract in the $50MM range, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. The Marlins reportedly pulled a seven-year, $53MM offer because the Dodgers had made a $77MM proposal. According to Frisaro, the Marlins believe the amount of the Dodgers’ offer is not accurate.
- The A’s were not one of the teams making an offer to Olivera this weekend, but are monitoring his market, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.
- The Braves are considering increasing their bid for Olivera slightly, but it still won’t approach $50MM, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman notes the Braves, whose comfort level with Olivera is reportedly in the $30-40MM range, is counting on non-monetary incentives to help their bid like having a pair of Cuban natives on their staff, manager Fredi Gonzalez and bench coach Carlos Tosca. Heyman writes the Dodgers and Padres are seen as the favorites to land Olivera, but the Dodgers may have renewed questions about Olivera’s elbow after their request for a second MRI was rebuffed and there are concerns about whether the Padres have enough payroll space.
Lefty Mike Dunn is the rare player who hopes to be criticized for signing a multi-year deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. “I want it to be a situation where, at the end of it, someone can say to me, ‘Well, that was a terrible deal. If you would have done it year to year, you could have made more money,’ ” Dunn said. “That’s what I want it to be. I want to prove I’m worth more than that. I want to live up to that two-year deal, and hopefully surpass it.” The two-year, $5.8MM contract represents a rare multi-year commitment to a reliever for the Marlins, though they were comfortable giving Dunn two years because of his extreme durability. Dunn has averaged 70 appearances a year since 2011 and never been on the DL during his nine-year professional career.
Here’s some more from around the NL East…
- Should the Phillies trade Cole Hamels sooner rather than later? MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki makes the point that the club has already been burned by moving too quickly to deal other recent aces — Curt Schilling in 2000 and Cliff Lee in 2009 — and there’s no reason to rush into a Hamels deal just because of Lee’s current injury concerns.
- The presence of highly-regarded pitching coach Roger McDowell was a big reason why Eric Stults and Jim Johnson signed with the Braves, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.
- With Josh Edgin possibly facing Tommy John surgery, the Mets are even thinner on left-handed relief pitching options. Manager Terry Collins is “disappointed” (according to ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin) with how his southpaws have performed in Spring Training and said he could even consider having an all-righty bullpen, though GM Sandy Alderson told reporters (including Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal) that he “can’t forsee” a pen without at least one left-hander present.
- The lack of lefty bullpen depth is another example of how the Mets are hampering themselves by a lack of spending, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines.
- Alderson spoke to reporters (including Adam Rubin) in order to clarify comments made in his biography about the Mets‘ payroll situation. “Some people want to interpret the last four years strictly in terms of what financial resources were available or not available to the Mets….From that standpoint, that’s never been an issue for me,” Alderson said. “I never talked about the payroll as an unfortunate limitation to us. I haven’t talked about it recently. I haven’t talked about it in the past. I don’t intend to. It’s not relevant to me….Look, our payroll is at $100 million right now, which is up about 20 percent from what it was last year. I don’t think anybody has any complaints at all on our end.”
The Marlins recently made a seven-year, $53MM offer to Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, but “backed away after hearing” that the Dodgers had a significantly higher bid, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter links). According to the report, the Miami offer was made prior to Olivera’s recent agency change.
The report suggests that Olivera’s prior representatives led the Marlins to believe that the Dodgers were offering $77MM, with the Padres at $52MM and the Braves at $44MM. Given the switch in representation that has occurred and the industry scuttlebutt surrounding it — to say nothing of the fact that Olivera remains unsigned — it is far from clear that such offers were actually made.
Miami is still said to be comfortable paying Olivera in the $50MM range, so it would appear that the team’s interest is still live. And other reports have suggested that San Diego and Atlanta are likely also interested at or just below that level. The key question seemingly remains whether the Dodgers are willing to go above the other bidders, and if so by how much.