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The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court Of Appeals upheld a previous ruling rejecting the city of San Jose’s challenge of Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, Fangraphs’ Nathaniel Grow reports (Twitter link). As explained by CSNBayArea.com’s Joe Stiglich, the ruling is another obstacle in San Jose’s attempt to bring the Athletics to town, and an eventual courtroom victory in front of the Supreme Court seems unlikely. The A’s may only be allowed to move if a majority of team owners votes down the Giants’ territorial rights claim on San Jose or if the Giants are financially compensated for giving up the area, Stiglish notes.
Here’s some more from around baseball…
- The Cardinals and Lance Lynn discussed a longer-term deal before settling on a three-year extension that buys out Lynn’s three arbitration years, GM John Mozeliak told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch). “Obviously, when you start talking about free-agent years or option years, there’s a cost to that,” Mozeliak said. “It certainly was something that was on the table and discussed. But ultimately the comfort of something getting done, even though it may feel short, it gives us some cost certainty.”
- Geovany Soto is expected to sign within the next few days, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. The Rangers are among the teams still in the hunt for the veteran catcher.
- The Blue Jays, Brewers, Mariners, Rangers and Rays were among the teams who scouted Johan Santana‘s recent Venezuelan Winter League appearance, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. The Yankees, whose interest in Santana was already known, also had a scout present.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Ken Davidoff of the New York Post that his team is “probably not” going to sign Max Scherzer. “We’ve been in a situation where we’re pretty well set with our starting pitching,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve got five starters that we’re comfortable [with]. I guess you never tell what happens, but we’re not in any type of active pursuit of any other pitching right now.” Dombrowski has consistently made statements of this type all winter, though there have been whispers that Scherzer could wind up back in Detroit thanks to the relationship between Scott Boras and Mike Ilitch.
- Right-hander Kameron Loe and outfielder Terrell Joyce have both been issued 50-game suspensions following positive tests for a drug of abuse, the Commissioner’s Office announced. Both players are currently free agents. Loe posted a 4.49 ERA over 569 innings in the bigs with five teams from 2004-13, while Joyce (a 12th-round Astros draft pick in 2012) has a career .229/.308/.396 slash line over 704 minor league plate appearances in Houston’s farm system.
4:47pm: MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports (via Twitter) that Maldonado’s deal is a two-year, $1.95MM contract. He’ll receive a $50K signing bonus, and then salaries of $800K in 2015 and $1.1MM in 2016.
4:41pm: The Brewers announced that they have signed catcher Martin Maldonado to a two-year contract to avoid arbitration (Twitter link). Terms of the deal with the Praver/Shapiro client are not yet known, but MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected him to earn $1MM in 2015. This was his first offseason of arbitration eligibility and, as a Super Two player, he will be eligible twice more on the completion of his two-year contract.
The 28-year-old Maldonado played well in 52 games as the backup to Jonathan Lucroy last season, slashing .234/.320/.387 with four homers. He threw out 32 percent of base-stealers last year, which is well in line with his career mark, grading out as an above-average pitch-framer.
Though he receives only a $2.2MM guarantee, recently-signed Twins righty Tim Stauffer can earn significantly more through incentives, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Stauffer can max out his deal at a total of $3.95MM ($1.75MM bonus) if he makes 55 appearances in the coming season. He can earn $250K bonuses upon his 15th, 18th, 21st, 24th, and 27th appearances, land $100K for the 45th time he takes the hill, and nab another $250K at number fifty-five.
Here’s more from the central divisions:
- The Brewers and Indians are among the teams on the market for late-inning relief help, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Neither team intends to “spend big,” however, Rosenthal adds. Several established pen arms remain available through free agency.
- We heard yesterday that righty Scott Baker had interest from five clubs that were offering minor league deals. The Reds are one of the teams pursuing the veteran, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, whereas the Twins are not involved.
- The White Sox could still cut Dayan Viciedo loose this spring after agreeing to avoid arbitration, writes SB Nation’s Jim Margalus, but the club would still be on the hook for a portion of his $4.4MM salary. Margalus breaks down recent instances of such scenarios, but explains that the actual cost to teams (as well as the presence or results of any grievance proceedings) remains largely unknown publicly. At this point, a spot as a bench bat seems the likeliest outcome, though a trade is still possible.
Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…
- Peter Gammons reports that the Red Sox have signed former Cardinals right-hander Mitchell Boggs (Twitter link). Not surprisingly, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com hears that it’s a minor league deal. Boggs, 30, struggled through 51 minor league innings between the White Sox and Giants in 2014, totaling an alarming 8.59 ERA after a rough 2013 at the big league level. However, Boggs was both durable and effective for the Redbirds from 2010-12, notching a 3.08 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 201 1/3 innings.
- The Brewers announced that they’ve signed catcher Nevin Ashley to a minor league contract that contains an invitation to Major League Spring Training. The 30-year-old Ashley, a longtime Rays farmhand, spent last season with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate. With Indianapolis, he batted .246/.332/.345 in 234 plate appearances — numbers that are commensurate with his lifetime .235/.322/.365 batting line at the Triple-A level. Ashley was twice named the best defensive catcher in the Rays’ system by Baseball America and has gunned down 38 percent of attempted base-stealers in a nine-year minor league career.
- The Yankees have re-signed former first-round pick Slade Heathcott to a minor league contract, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). The Yanks non-tendered Heathcott this December on the heels of a season that limited him to just nine games. Injuries have long been a problem for the center fielder, although Heathcott is still heading into just his age-24 season and has a lifetime .268/.346/.404 triple slash in the minors. Somewhat painfully (for Yankees fans, anyhow), Sherman notes that the Yankees had intended to select Mike Trout with the 29th overall pick in 2009, but he went four picks prior to the Angels as a compensation pick for the loss of Mark Teixeira… who had signed with the Yankees.
- The Tigers have re-signed first baseman Jordan Lennerton, the infielder himself tweeted on New Year’s Eve. MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports that it’s a minor league contract, but it’s unclear whether or not Lennerton will be in big league camp (he was in 2014). Lennerton, 28, had a down season in terms of average and slugging percentage last year at Triple-A, though he still batted a respectable .249/.362/.395 on the whole.
It’s been a little over two years since the Marlins and Blue Jays completed the mega-trade that sent $163.75MM in major league veterans north of the border for a bundle of prospect joy. The Marlins were roasted for the decision at the time, but it’s looking wiser by the day, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Not only did the move clear much needed payroll (since used on Giancarlo Stanton), it also accounts for a lot of the top talent in the organization. In addition to Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Justin Nicolino, the Fish netted seven more players using pieces traced to the original trade with the Jays.
- Brewers prospect Devin Williams is now represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Williams was the Brewers second round pick in 2013, and Heyman adds he’s one of Milwaukee’s top 10 prospects. Williams, 19, pitched to a 4.48 ERA with 8.95 K/9 and 2.71 BB/9 in the rookie level Pioneer League.
- The White Sox are still looking into trading outfielder Dayan Viciedo, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Needs include bullpen and bench depth.
- The ongoing Max Scherzer saga could greatly affect the Tigers in 2015, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Per Beck, the Tigers are likely to let Scherzer walk if another club shows heavy interest. If he continues to float on the market as he is now, there will be increasing pressure to bring him back. Owner Mike Illich is known for his penchant to reward players who have performed well in Detroit.
- Left field is an obvious hole for the Rangers, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The internal candidates are Michael Choice, Ryan Rua, and Jake Smolinski, but don’t be surprised if additional depth is added. The club is also expected to add a catcher to compete with Robinson Chirinos.
- Shortstop continues to be a glaring flaw on the Mets roster, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Last year, the club was unsuccessful upgrading over Ruben Tejada. This time, Wilmer Flores is the guy on the hot seat, with Tejada still in the picture too. My own take: unless the Mets can pinch Troy Tulowitzki, they’ll enter the season with Flores and Tejada. In the grand scheme of major league shortstops, neither projects to be terrible. Meanwhile, if they wanted Stephen Drew, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to acquire him over the last 14 months.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Orioles are still the team to beat in the AL East, a largely stagnant offseason which included losing two top players. The Orioles are, in part, banking on Chris Davis having a bounce back season in his walk year and they believe healthy seasons out of Manny Machado and Matt Wieters will elevate them. More from Cafardo..
- Agent Scott Boras thinks the market for Stephen Drew will heat up in January after teams have exhausted trade possibilities for a middle infielder. Boras hinted to Cafardo that a personal issue may have contributed to his offensive decline last season, though he declined to elaborate.
- The Indians would like to trade Nick Swisher after acquiring Brandon Moss from Oakland and the Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, Padres, Brewers, and Cubs could all be possible trade partners. Swisher is owed about $30MM on his deal, however, so Cleveland might have to foot some of the bill.
- One National League GM told Cafardo that he inquired about Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and was rebuffed. The Rays have Longoria under contract at $11MM this year and $11.5MM next year before his extension kicks in in 2017, running through 2023.
- Cafardo writes that Jonny Gomes could wind up with former Red Sox Jon Lester and David Ross on the Cubs to add some veteran presence to a young outfield. “He’s still an effective player. He works for a team that’s on the verge and on a team like the Cubs or Astros who need a veteran presence,” said one National League GM.
- At some point, the Phillies might have to release Ryan Howard and eat more than $60MM in salary. Still, it’s not surprising to hear that a GM told Cafardo that an American League team would scoop him up as a DH if he is free.
Here’s the latest from around the league:
- The Brewers are on the lookout for outfield depth for their new Triple-A affiliate at Colorado Springs, Tom Haudricourt writes for Baseball America. Jeremy Hermida is headed to Japan to play with the Nippon Ham Fighters, and Caleb Gindl and Eugenio Velez have departed as minor-league free agents. The Brewers also (intentionally) allowed Sean Halton and Kentrail Davis to leave in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. “We have to get to work and sign some free agents,” says assistant GM Gord Ash.
- The Dodgers are about to sign righty Chin-Hui Tsao to a minor-league deal, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. The 33-year-old played for the Rockies and Dodgers in parts of four seasons from 2003-2007. He has not played pro ball since 2009, when he was banned from the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan after allegations that he helped fix games. Shaikin notes that the Dodgers have gotten the approval of MLB before attempting to sign Tsao. The righty was reportedly throwing in the mid-90s this winter.
- The Blue Jays and Padres are interested in Japanese infielder Takashi Toritani, reports Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. Toritani, a Scott Boras client, is an unrestricted free agent, so he can sign with any club. The Padres can offer Toritani a chance at the shortstop job, while Toronto’s opening is at second base. He may also opt to remain in Japan where he’s played in 1,444 consecutive games. The 33-year-old has been an on base threat in Japan. He’s hit a healthy .285/.372/.412 over his career. A decision is expected to wait until the new year.
Contract length isn’t necessarily a guarantee of job security. Over the years, we’ve seen countless examples of teams who have made surprising management changes in the wake of an unexpected losing season (such as the Braves firing ex-general manager Frank Wren) or simply due to new candidates coming onto the market (such as the Cubs firing Rick Renteria when Joe Maddon became available). Similarly, some managers and GMs aren’t troubled by being a so-called “lame duck” entering their last year under contract. Some have unofficial handshake deals to continue on in their roles as long as they wish, or some actually prefer a one-year deal — i.e. former Tigers skipper Jim Leyland — if they aren’t sure how much longer they want to remain in baseball.
For other executives and bench bosses, however, an expiring contract can indicate that they’re under significant pressure to get results in their last year under contract. Here’s a list of managers and GMs who are believed to be entering the last year of their contracts in 2015. (I say “believed to be” since some clubs keep front office contract terms private, so there could be a few more GMs who are also entering their last guaranteed season, or perhaps some of the names on this list have already been quietly signed to extensions.) As always, a big tip of the cap to Cot’s Baseball Contracts for many of these details.
- Blue Jays: John Gibbons’ rolling contract will guarantee his 2015 team option on New Year’s Day, and also add another club option to his deal that covers the 2016 season. The relationship between Gibbons and GM Alex Anthopoulos is known to be a firm one, though with the Jays so clearly set on contending in 2015, a disappointing record could lead to some questions about Gibbons’ future with the team.
- Braves: Atlanta’s late-season collapse cost Wren his job, though manager Fredi Gonzalez retained his spot in the team’s dugout. This is an interesting situation to monitor given how the Braves’ trades of Justin Upton and Jason Heyward indicate that they’re at least partially rebuilding, though the additions of Shelby Miller and Nick Markakis hint that they intend to stay competitive. All indications are that the Braves plan to contend when they move into their new ballpark in 2017, so if the team will look to somewhat tread water until then, Gonzalez could be safe.
- Brewers: Doug Melvin has been Milwaukee’s general manager since September 2002, taking over a struggling franchise and helming them to two postseason appearances (in 2008 and 2011) during his tenure. Since that most recent playoff berth, the Brewers have posted two winning seasons sandwiched around a poor 2013 season for an overall 239-247 record. The club’s payroll cracked the $100MM threshold last year and projects to do the same in 2015, so the Crew will be expected to rebound from last season’s second-half struggles. Another middling record won’t cut it in the increasingly-competitive NL Central, so it’s possible Melvin could be on the hot seat if the Brewers aren’t in contention. That said, given Melvin’s history with the team, I’d guess he’ll receive a two- or three-year extension to give him a bit more time to get things on track.
- Mets: Terry Collins’ role in his first four seasons as the Mets’ manager has been to act as a teacher and mentor to the club’s young players as the Amazins have been rebuilding. All signs point to 2015, however, as the season when the Mets are looking to again become a factor in the playoff race. If the Mets get off to a slow start, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Collins fired in favor of a manager who can theoretically help the team take that next step.
- Nationals: Matt Williams is technically entering his walk year, though the Nats hold team options on the manager’s services for 2016 and 2017. Barring a total collapse in Washington next year, Williams isn’t going anywhere.
- Padres: Bud Black is the rare manager who has lasted in his position through both an ownership change and four different general managers. Though Black has only posted two winning records in his eight seasons as San Diego’s manager, he is still regarded by many as one of the game’s better skippers, and it’s indeed hard to fault Black given the Padres’ front office instability and sub-par rosters during his tenure. 2015 will be a different story, as new GM A.J. Preller has made several major acquisitions to help revamp the Padres’ lineup. Black has said he’s not worried about not having an extension in place, and while he probably has reason to feel secure given how long he’s lasted in San Diego already, another losing season could convince the new-look Padres to make a change on the bench.
- Phillies: The Jimmy Rollins trade indicates that the Phillies are finally embarking on a much-needed rebuild, and it appears that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will be the one to oversee it as he enters the last year of his contract. You’d think the Phils would’ve already made a change if they wanted a new face to usher in this new era for the team, though it’s worth noting that the Phillies’ upper management situation is also in flux as general owner David Montgomery is on leave while undergoing cancer treatments. (Former GM Pat Gillick is filling in for Montgomery in the interim.) It could be that Amaro’s future in Philadelphia won’t be addressed until his contract is actually up, or when Montgomery has recovered enough to resume his duties.
- Royals: Ned Yost could hardly have made a better argument for a new deal by leading Kansas City to within a game of a World Series title. Royals GM Dayton Moore hinted that Yost’s contract would be addressed later in the offseason, so it’s probably just a matter of time before Yost is extended beyond 2015.
- Tigers: Dave Dombrowski is entering the last year of his contract as Detroit’s general manager, president and CEO. Given his track record with the Tigers, it’s safe to assume that Dombrowski is one of those “has the job for as long as he wants” executives and he’ll get an extension sooner rather than later.
The original version of this post incorrectly indicated that Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill and GM Dan Jennings were heading into the final years of their contracts. In fact, both are already under contract through 2018. Hat tip to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro.
Peterson has emerged as a popular name for clubs that have an open roster spot, as this is his second transaction of the offseason. The 26-year-old is coming off of a .308/.381/.460 campaign (625 plate appearances) at Triple-A with the Athletics.
The Dodgers announced today that they have acquired infielder/outfielder Matt Long from the Angels to complete last week’s Drew Butera trade. However, the team also announced that it has has immediately flipped Long and left-hander Jarret Martin to the Brewers in exchange for catcher Shawn Zarraga, essentially making the entire sequence into a minor three-team trade.
A 2009 30th-round draft pick, Long has never appeared on an Angels Top 30 prospect list (per Baseball America), but he does have a solid minor league track record. The 27-year-old has yet to reach the Majors but owns a nice career slash line of .279/.358/.442 in 1102 plate appearances at the Triple-A level.
The 25-year-old Martin was previously designated for assignment and outrighted this past offseason. He spent the 2014 campaign with Double-A Chattanooga where he posted a strong 3.29 ERA in 54 2/3 innings of relief. While Martin’s 64 strikeouts in that time were impressive, he also walked a very troublesome 48 hitters. Control problems have long been an issue for Martin, who has averaged 6.1 walks per nine innings since being selected in the 18th round of the 2009 draft.
Zarraga is a 25-year-old catcher that was born in Aruba but attended high school in Florida and was selected in the 44th round by the Brewers in 2007. Zarraga was excellent at Double-A this past season, hitting .330/.440/.419 in 267 plate appearances, but he batted just .213/.304/.255 in 57 PA at Triple-A — his first crack at that level.