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Miami Marlins Rumors
MONDAY: Though Haren is planning on attending Spring Training, he’s still hoping for a trade and has again asked that the Marlins move him to a West Coast club so he can be closer to his wife and children, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. One likely he roadblock standing in the way of the deal, according to Jackson, is that the Marlins want to keep the $10MM the Dodgers sent their way in initial trade, even if they deal Haren to another club.
SUNDAY: Dan Haren will report to Spring Training as a Marlin next month, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The Marlins acquired Haren from the Dodgers last month in the Dee Gordon / Andrew Heaney deal, but Haren lives in California, and he struggled with being away from his family when he pitched for the Nationals in 2013. Following the trade, it was unclear whether Haren would pitch for the Marlins, be traded back to a team on the West Coast, or retire and forgo his $10MM 2015 salary. Last week, it was reported that Haren had told the Marlins his preference would be to pitch for another team. As of yesterday, however, the Marlins reportedly remained hopeful that Haren would pitch for them. It appears Haren changed his mind, although his apparent willingness to pitch for the Marlins still does not necessarily rule out a possible trade.
The 34-year-old Haren remains reasonably useful, despite his dwindling velocity — he posted a 4.02 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and a stingy 1.7 BB/9 in 186 innings last season, despite his average fastball clocking in at just 87.7 MPH. Assuming he sticks with the Marlins, he’ll join Mat Latos as a veteran presence in a young group of starting pitchers that also includes Henderson Alvarez, Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart, with Jose Fernandez returning at some point during the season after having Tommy John surgery last year.
The latest notable minor league signings, courtesy of Baseball America’s Matt Eddy except where noted.
- The Red Sox have signed lefty Matt Hoffman, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Hoffman, 26, pitched in the high minors in the Phillies and Twins organizations in 2014, posting a 3.75 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 48 innings of relief. He’d spent the previous six years in the Tigers organization, working his way up to Triple-A Toledo.
- The Marlins signed 29-year-old outfielder Tyler Colvin. In 2014, he posted a .223/.268/.381 slash line with two homers over 149 PA for the Giants. Colvin elected free agency in October, allowing him to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Over parts of six seasons at the big league level with the Cubs, Rockies, and Giants, Colvin has a career line of .239/.287/.446.
- The Cubs re-signed second baseman Chris Valaika. The 29-year-old slashed .231/.282/.339 across 131 plate appearances for the Cubs last season, which is more or less consistent with his career .238/.282/.351 slash line over parts of four seasons. At Triple-A Iowa, Valaika hit .278/.344/.423 in 397 PAs.
- The Tigers signed Josh Wilson to a minor league pact. The 33-year-old infielder hit .239/.271/.299 in 72 PAs for the Rangers in 2014, though he spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A Round Rock.
- The Orioles signed left-hander Cesar Cabral. The 25-year-old pitched in four games for the Yankees last year allowing three runs, four hits, three hit batsmen, and a pair of walks in only one inning of work. Cabral spent the rest of the season splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A posting a 6.28 ERA, 10.2 K/9, and 7.9 BB/9 in 32 relief appearances totalling 38 2/3 innings.
The Marlins are looking for a left-handed bat that can spell their outfielders and do some pinch hitting. Their search, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, has now led to a couple of new names: Andy Dirks and Will Venable.
The Blue Jays non-tendered Dirks back in December instead of keeping him on board for a projected $1.6MM. The left fielder, who didn’t make a major league plate appearance in 2014, slashed .276/.332/.413 between 2011-2013 for the Tigers. He grades out as an excellent defender in left field, having compiled 16 Defensive Runs Saved and an UZR/150 mark of +5.1 in 1569 innings in left field.
Venable, 32, has come up quite a bit in trade rumors over the last month and change with the Orioles among the teams that have been linked to him. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune recently said that it seems more and more likely that the Padres will hang on to him, but one has to wonder if the Marlins’ interest could change things. Venable is due to earn a reasonable $4.25MM in 2015.
The Marlins are also looking into Ichiro Suzuki and Nate Schierholtz as fourth outfielder options. When word of that came out last week, our own Steve Adams speculated that Dirks and Venable could be considerations for Miami.
The Marlins still hope that Dan Haren will report to spring training, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. The righty, who was acquired from the Dodgers earlier in the offseason, has told the club he prefers to play for a west coast team. Of the available options, the Padres and Giants are considered the most likely to acquire him. However, the Marlins could use a veteran like Haren, and they’re unlikely to spend $100MM on a free agent alternative like James Shields. When MLBTR readers were polled last week, nearly 11% thought he would pitch for the Marlins next season.
- The offseason has been hectic for Ryan Lavarnway, writes Mark Townsend of Big League Stew. As MLBTR readers know, he’s waiting to hear if a fifth club will acquire him. He started the offseason with the Red Sox and has since bounced to the Dodgers, Cubs, and Orioles. Baltimore designated him for assignment to clear room for Delmon Young. Lavarnway remains in DFA limbo. Townsend speculates that the Diamondbacks could use a catcher, but they’ve had ample opportunity to acquire him several times.
- A’s GM Billy Beane hinted at the club’s plans for the rotation, writes Jeremy F. Koo for SB Nation. Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir have rotation spots on lock down, while “Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, and Drew Pomeranz are on the inside track.” The A’s also have Jesse Chavez, Sean Nolin, and Chris Bassitt in addition to injured hurlers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin. As Koo notes, it’s surprising to see Graveman as part of the inside track crowd. Acquired as part of the Josh Donaldson trade, Graveman has two seasons of professional experience including four and two-thirds innings in the majors.
Here are some minor moves from around the league to kick off your Friday morning…
- Among the Red Sox players signing minor league deals with spring invites, in addition to the previously-reported Mitchell Boggs, are middle infielder Jeff Bianchi and catcher Luke Montz, the club announced (via Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com, on Twitter). Bianchi is a 28-year-old who has struggled in limited MLB action over the last three years with the Brewers, but has slashed .299/.349/.428 at Triple-A over parts of three seasons. Montz, 31, has seen even more limited time in the majors but owns a solid .232/.318/.456 slash over 781 career plate appearances at Triple-A.
- The Pirates have added righty Wilfredo Boscan and lefty Charlie Leesman to their slate of non-roster invitees to MLB camp after signing the duo to minor league deals, the team announced. Boscan, a 25-year-old out of Venezuela, has yet to appear at the MLB level and has worked as a swingman in recent years in the upper minors. The 27-year-old Leesman has seen very minimal time with the White Sox but has logged plenty of innings out of that organization’s Triple-A rotation, working to a cumulative 3.27 ERA over 291 1/3 innings.
- Catcher Arturo Rodriguez has signed with the Marlins, per the Mexican League website (on MiLB.com). The 23-year-old slashed an impressive .379/.421/.618 and hit 15 long balls in 359 plate appearances last year in his nation’s top league.
- The Rangers announced yesterday that they have signed first baseman Mike McDade and right-hander Mason Tobin to minor league contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training. McDade, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, spent the first six seasons of his pro career with the Blue Jays and returned to Toronto in 2014 after spending a season with the Indians and White Sox organizations. He struggled in 326 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, slashing .242/.298/.349.
- As for Tobin, if he sounds familiar to Rangers fans, it’s because he broke camp with the club in 2011 and pitched 5 1/3 innings for Texas that season before requiring a second Tommy John operation. The 27-year-old hasn’t been in the bigs since. He’s spent the past two seasons with San Francisco’s Triple-A affiliate, posting a combined 4.74 ERA with a 50-to-35 K/BB ratio in 68 1/3 innings.
- The Angels have signed right-hander Steven Hensley to a minor league contract without a Spring Training invite, tweets MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. Hensley, who turned 28 in December, posted a 2.09 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 60 1/3 innings with the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate last year, though he was obviously quite a bit more experienced than much of his competition. Perhaps of more interest to Halos fans is that Gonzalez adds that we should look for the Angels to continue to add relievers. Anaheim added another minor league relief arm yesterday, acquiring righty Nate Hyatt along with third baseman Kyle Kubitza in a trade of minor leaguers that sent high-upside lefty Ricardo Sanchez to Atlanta.
Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth will undergo arthroscopic surgery on right shoulder tomorrow and need two to three months to recover, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (All Twitter links). Werth will have his AC shoulder joint — the same joint that caused him to miss time in August — repaired at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. While the first reaction of some (myself included) is probably to wonder if this will increase Washington’s interest in Ben Zobrist, Rosenthal reports that that’s not the case. The Nats have considered the asking price on Zobrist to be too high in talks with the Rays, he says.
A three-month recovery could result in Werth missing time early in the season, which could lead to increased playing time for Nate McLouth or Michael Taylor. As the Nats deal with this unfortunate news, here are a few more notes pertaining to their division…
- Erick Fedde, whom the Nationals selected in the first round of last year’s draft despite the fact that he had undergone Tommy John surgery, is progressing well in his rehab and has begun a throwing program, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. Fedde has also begun weight training and says that Stephen Strasburg and Lucas Giolito, both of whom have undergone Tommy John in the past, have been vital to keeping him upbeat and optimistic about his recovery.
- The Marlins have interest in James Shields but will likely only be able to make a serious play for him if his price tag drops below $100MM, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Miami had “considerable” interest in Shields back in November, but they’ve since added Mat Latos and Dan Haren into the rotation mix. Haren, of course, wants to be traded back to a West Coast club, and moving him is another likely prerequisite to a theoretical Shields signing.
- Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer examines the Phillies‘ options for left field now that Marlon Byrd is with the Reds and Domonic Brown appears to be moving back to right field. Grady Sizemore is the favorite to at least platoon with someone at that spot, but Kaplan notes that Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera is an intriguing name to keep an eye on. The second-baseman-turned-outfielder is just 23 years of age and enjoying a brilliant season in the Venezuelan Winter League, hitting a ridiculous .372/.432/.556 with six homers and eight steals in just over 200 at-bats. Kaplan also spoke with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about Jeff Francoeur‘s chances of making the club after signing a minor league deal earlier this offseason.
So far this offseason, an unusual amount of free agent spending has been made by teams that were less successful in 2014, Sam Miller writes for FOX Sports. While Miller acknowledges the possibility of a short-sample blip, he notes that last year showed a similar trend. And, as he explains, factors such as the addition of a second Wild Card suggest a reasonable explanation for a real shift in strategies. Those interested in broader market movement will certainly want to give this thoughtful piece a complete read.
Here’s the latest on the current market:
- Second-time Tommy John patient Brandon Beachy remains available, unlike similarly-situated former teammate Kris Medlen and most other high-upside rebound candidates. Recent reports suggest his market is reaching maturation, and the Braves remain interested and involved, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). After checking in on the 28-year-old, however, the Rangers are out of the pursuit, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.
- The Blue Jays have joined the Marlins and Orioles in expressing interest in outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. For what it’s worth, the left-handed-hitting Ichiro’s historically neutral splits have skewed toward a significant reverse platoon advantage in recent seasons, though he has seen fairly limited action against southpaws.
- Toronto’s strongest AL East competition could come from the Red Sox, who like their Canadian rivals are still in the hunt for bullpen upgrades, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. GM Ben Cherington says that he is “still working” to build out the Boston relief corps.
Randy Johnson, who was elected to the Hall of Fame with more than 97 percent of the vote, will join the Diamondbacks‘ front office as a special assistant to GM Dave Stewart, the team announced yesterday. As MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert writes, Johnson will participate in community initiatives, weigh in on baseball operations decisions and, most excitingly to Johnson himself, work with minor league pitchers. “I don’t see myself being a coach,” Johnson said, “but I do see myself going around to the Minor Leagues and I think that’s where I can best help.” Johnson won’t specialize in discussing pitching mechanics with the D-Backs’ prospects, but rather on the mental side of the game, such as the mindset and work ethic needed to be successful. Meanwhile, D-Backs CEO Derrick Hall indicated that Johnson’s No. 51 will be retired this season or next — an honor which Johnson wanted to delay until he received the call to Cooperstown.
Elsewhere in the NL West…
- Dan Haren‘s preference to end up back on the West Coast is common knowledge at this point, and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Giants checked in with the Marlins on Haren earlier this offseason (Twitter links). However, Morosi adds that those talks came before the Giants re-signed Jake Peavy. It doesn’t seem that the Giants are pursuing rotation help any longer based on comments made by assistant GM Bobby Evans on Tuesday in the wake of Tim Hudson‘s ankle surgery, though Morosi notes that Haren would likely welcome the opportunity to pitch in San Francisco — a West Coast club with a pitcher-friendly park.
- It’s looking more and more like the Padres will hang onto Will Venable rather than trade him, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. As Lin notes, Venable is a left-handed bat on a right-leaning roster and can back up all three outfield spots. He’s also earning a relatively modest $4.25MM next season, so the price isn’t prohibitive. I’ve previously speculated that the Marlins could have interest, as they’re looking for left-handed-hitting backup outfielders, but Lin’s report suggests there’s not much of a match there.
- Lin also spoke with manager Bud Black today regarding Carlos Quentin, who appears to be the odd man out in the outfield mix (Twitter link). Black simply told Lin that the Padres were going to have to see how Quentin’s knees are in Spring Training before proceeding, indicating that even if he is ultimately moved, it may not happen until March.
- In addition to Black, Lin spoke to GM A.J. Preller today, who cautioned that Padres fans shouldn’t necessarily expect any more large splashes. Any remaining moves from San Diego would be “more likely something around the edges, to continue to add to the depth of what we’re building,” according to Preller.
- MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets that we shouldn’t be surprised if the Padres add a veteran catcher who can back up Derek Norris between now and Spring Training. The Friars do have Tim Federowicz on their roster after acquiring him in the Matt Kemp trade, but they may prefer a backup with more big league experience.
The Marlins have checked in on Ichiro Suzuki as a possible fourth outfield option, reports Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (on Twitter). Additionally, Nate Schierholtz is also an option for the Marlins in their quest for a backup outfielder, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (also via Twitter).
Ichiro’s name has been most frequently connected to the Orioles in recent weeks, but his market has been otherwise limited. The 41-year-old batted .284/.324/.340 in 385 plate appearances for the Yankees last season. Ichiro is clearly no longer the player he once was, but both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved pegged him as an average defender in right field this season, and he’s still a skilled baserunner, as evidenced in part by his 15-for-18 mark in stolen bases. (Fangraphs valued his baserunning at +2.5 runs on the whole.)
Schierholtz, meanwhile, is coming off a dreadful season in which he batted just .195/.243/.309. Schierholtz’s strikeout rate did jump to 21.9 percent, but that figure isn’t so high that it can completely explain a 60-point dip in his batting average (especially considering the fact that he hit .251 with an 18.7 percent whiff rate a year prior). A portion of Schierholtz’s struggles does appear to be BABIP-driven, as his average on balls in play plummeted to .231 last season despite a career mark of .288. Perhaps not surprisingly, he was unable to sustain a stark increase in his homer-to-flyball rate from 2013 that led to a career-high 21 homers. He’s historically graded out as a solid right fielder and did so again in 2014.
As Frisaro notes, that Miami is looking at Schierholtz and Suzuki suggests that they’re prioritizing a left-handed bat in their search for extra outfielders. If that’s the case, then I’d speculate that free agents such as Andy Dirks, Endy Chavez and Tyler Colvin could also hold some interest in Miami’s eyes. The switch-hitting Eric Young Jr. would be another option as a bench player. As far as the trade market goes, Will Venable and David Murphy strike me as a pair of obvious trade candidates that come without exorbitant salaries.
JAN. 5: Frisaro now reports that there is a market for Haren, and the Marlins will do their best to work out a deal that benefits both parties. He adds that his ultimate expectation is that Haren will indeed be traded.
Meanwhile, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, who reported earlier this morning that Haren had begun a throwing program to get ready for the 2015 season, hears that the Marlins are hopeful of having a resolution soon on Haren’s 2015 plans (Twitter link).
JAN. 3: Dan Haren has told the Marlins he would still like to pitch for a West Coast team, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. It appears, then, that Haren is unlikely to pitch for the Marlins in 2015, although Frisaro notes that it’s still unclear whether Haren will retire.
The Dodgers traded Haren to Miami last month in the Dee Gordon / Andrew Heaney deal and agreed to pay his salary for the coming season, despite Haren’s preference to play in Southern California (where his family lives) and indications that he would retire if traded elsewhere. The Angels have said they’re not interested in dealing for Haren, and the Dodgers already traded him away, limiting his options.
Frisaro writes that Haren’s preference is to pitch “out West” and to have Spring Training in Arizona, noting that the only West division team that doesn’t train in Arizona is the Astros. It’s not clear, however, whether Haren has widened his interest beyond the three Southern California teams.