Minnesota Twins Rumors
Infielder Jason Bartlett has told the Twins he will retire, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter links). Though the club has asked him to reconsider, says Berardino, the expectation is that he will file his papers.
Bartlett had been working on a rehab assignment with Minnesota after making the club's Opening Day roster. Though he only saw four plate appearances this year, he did manage to appear in the outfield for the first time in his career.
Over parts of ten MLB seasons, spent almost entirely at shortstop, Bartlett put up a .270/.336/.366 line with 31 home runs and 123 stolen bases. He spent time as a regular up the middle with the Twins, Rays, and Padres organizations. His best season at the plate came in 2009 with Tampa, when Bartlett knocked 14 long balls and swiped 30 bags while registering a surprising .320/.389/.490 triple-slash. With his usually strong defense, that campaign was worth 6.2 rWAR. (He also had a 4.6 rWAR season in 2007 with Minnesota.) Bartlett delivered good value for his employers in the aggregate, as he put up 18.4 lifetime rWAR and had career earnings of $16.6MM.
12:19pm: Hanrahan isn't yet negotiating with anyone but is expected to start taking offers next week, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). Some teams have requested to see Hanrahan's medicals.
FRIDAY, 11:24am: The Twins aren't one of the teams talking contract with Hanrahan, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. There is similarly "nothing brewing" between Hanrahan and the Mets, The Record's Matt Ehalt reports. The Astros, meanwhile, weren't at the tryout at all, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter link).
THURSDAY: Upwards of 20 teams were on-hand today to watch free-agent right-hander Joel Hanrahan's showcase at the University of Tampa today, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (More specifically, ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that there were 16 to 18 clubs on-hand). Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that Hanrahan's agents at Reynolds Sports Management are already discussing a contract with multiple clubs after what proved to be a strong audition.
Among the attendees, according to Heyman, were the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Royals, Rockies and Indians. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins were in attendance as well, while MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers, too, were one of the clubs in attendance. Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com adds (also via Twitter) that the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays were present.
Hanrahan appears to be ahead of schedule, Heyman writes, as he was throwing as hard as 93 mph despite being just 11 months removed from Tommy John/flexor tendon repair surgery. Scouts told Heyman that Hanrahan looked "fit and healthy," while another who attended told Cafardo (Twitter link) that Hanrahan "looked great." Wolfson's tweet also mentions that Hanrahan looked impressive.
A two-time All-Star, Hanrahan posted a 2.59 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 229 1/3 innings with the Pirates from 2009-12 before a trade that sent him to Boston last offseason.
We touched on some American League notes late last night, but here are a few more for the morning:
- After a solid start to his tenure with the Twins' Triple-A affiliate, recently-acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez has earned a (brief) call-up to the bigs, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (passing on a report from the Rochester Chronicle and Democrat). Nunez will get the chance to be the team's 26th player for the second game of today's doubleheader before going back to the minors on Friday, though it seems quite possible he'll get a real shot with the MLB club at some point given Pedro Florimon's struggles.
- The Tigers' search for a replacement at shortstop led them to ask 46-year-old Omar Vizquel if he was interested in making a comeback, reports Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. "They asked me if I'd like to come and take some grounders," said Vizquel. "I said, 'No, I've been retired for two years.'"
- Scott Cousins will not exactly be continuing his career as a baseball outfielder when he joins the Rangers, reports Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. The 29-year-old will head to extended spring training, where he will try to convert into a left-handed pitcher.
- The latest in the Athletics' ballpark situation has focused on the possibility of a ten-year lease extension at the O.co Coliseum. As Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com reports, A's co-owner Lew Wolff says the club would be willing to make over $10MM in stadium improvements if such a deal were struck. (Of course, for those who follow ballpark funding issues, that outlay will seem a relative drop in the bucket.)
As defensive metrics gain precision and acceptance, we can expect an increasing move toward player contracts that better reflect the contributions of premier glovework, writes Doug Mittler for ESPN The Magazine (Insider link). "The market is established by offense because defensive numbers are difficult to ascertain," said Mets GM Sandy Alderson. Mittler says that current bargains, like Alex Gordon of the Royals and Ryan Hanigan of the Rays, may be harder to find in coming seasons. (I would suggest that some recent extensions of defense-first players -- including those of Andrelton Simmons of the Braves and Elvis Andrus of the Rangers -- may reflect just that kind of movement in the market.)
Here's the latest out of the American League:
- It is early, of course, but the White Sox look like a very different club on the offensive side of the ledger, writes Grantland's Jonah Keri. The preliminary results have put a shine on an offseason that, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes described, brought significant MLB-ready talent into the South Side. Like Dierkes, Keri advises caution for the prospects this season but foresees a bright future for some of the team's young position players.
- An alternative method of rebuilding -- the Astros' total strip-down of MLB talent and payroll -- took another important step forward with the debut of George Springer. In an interesting interview with Drew Fairservice of TheScore.com, club GM Jeff Luhnow said that he hopes the club's pool of prospect talent will "have an expectation to win" after experiencing success together at the minor league level. And he made clear that Houston will look to take full advantage of its substantial amateur spending dollars. Looking ahead, Luhnow explained that the club is already thinking about how to manage inevitable payroll increases: "With so many young players coming through the pipeline, we’re not going to be able to lock them all up. Just keeping them all through arbitration is going to get expensive and we also want to dip into the free agent market so we’ll have to be wise about how we spend the dollars. Our flexibility gives us the opportunity to make the right investments at the right time."
- As noted earlier, recently-designated Athletics outfielder Sam Fuld is expected to draw interest from several clubs, according to a report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). The Twins and Angels are among the teams that are likely to be involved on Fuld, says Slusser.
The White Sox are off to a solid start to the season with a 7-6 record, and they've already won more games against the division-rival Indians than they did in 2013, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Hayes spoke with Indians GM Chris Antonetti about his division rivals, and Antonetti said he's not surprised to see the Sox looking like an improved club. "Unfortunately for us, I thought [White Sox GM Rick Hahn] and his staff had an exceptional offseason," Antonetti told Hayes. "They’ve positioned themselves not only better for the short term but also for the long term as well and that’s a challenging thing to do. ... I thought they made a number of tremendous moves that will not only help them this year but for years to come, unfortunately to our detriment."
Here's more about the White Sox and the rest of the AL Central...
- The White Sox' largest move of the offseason, financially speaking, was the signing of Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68MM contract. CSN Chicago's David Kaplan spoke to former Sox GM and current executive vice president Kenny Williams about the Abreu signing. Williams said he initially told Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf that he thought Abreu was worth a four-year, $40MM investment, to which Reinsdorf replied, "Why not $50MM?" Williams said he's 100 percent confident in Abreu as well as Reinsdorf and Hahn, who closed the $68MM deal (Twitter link).
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press looks at yesterday's $35MM extension for Jedd Gyorko and examines what that means for the Twins' chances of locking up Brian Dozier. The Twins and Dozier's agent, Damon Lapa, had extension talks this spring that didn't progress beyond the exploratory phase, Berardino writes. He notes that while Gyorko's bat has been superior to Dozier's thus far, Dozier trumps Gyorko in defense, baserunning and overall wins above replacement.
- In the latest edition of his "Hey Hoynsie!" mailbag, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer points out that the Indians are in a familiar situation with Asdrubal Cabrera. Though the club had an affordable option on Omar Vizquel back in 2004, they made no indication of wanting to pick it up and instead let Vizquel walk to make room for Jhonny Peralta. In 2010, the team traded Peralta to the Tigers without showing much interest in retaining him, due to Cabrera's presence in the minors. Now, with Cabrera five-and-a-half months from free agency and Francisco Lindor looming, there's been little to no talk of Cabrera's Cleveland tenure lasting beyond 2014. The bigger question, says Hoynes, is whether or not Cabrera will play well enough to merit a qualifying offer. Given his struggles at the plate over the past year, that seems unlikely at this time.
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has a new, lengthy notes column in which he begins by examining the early scrutiny of MLB's new instant replay system. He points to a pair of blatantly missed calls on Saturday in which conclusive evidence was seen on TV broadcasts of the games but apparently not by the umpires at MLB's Replay Operations Center in New York. An MLB spokesperson confirmed to Rosenthal that one of those calls was blown and added that the system would continue to work on improvement. Rosenthal reminds that John Schuerholz, one of the architects of the system, said it would be a three-year roll out. However, he adds that MLB can't expect any patience from fans, players or managers when home viewers are able to make better judgments than the umpires at the Relay Operations Center.
Here are some more highlights from his article, which also contains notes on Jose Abreu, struggling offenses around the league and the Dodgers' interleague schedule...
- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson is the early front-runner for "first manager to get fired" due to the team's 4-11 start, but Rosenthal wonders what more Gibson can do with the pitching talent (or lack thereof) he has been given. GM Kevin Towers thinned out the rotation depth by trading Tyler Skaggs and David Holmberg this offseason, and the loss of Patrick Corbin compounded those moves. Rosenthal wonders how long the Snakes can wait before recalling Archie Bradley.
- One executive said to Rosenthal that any American League team with a need in the infield will have added incentive to work out a deal with Stephen Drew in order to prevent the Tigers from signing him. The AL Central powerhouse is currently going with Alex Gonzalez at short, and the results have been less than stellar.
- Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda told Rosenthal (through his interpreter) that he's never considered retirement as heavily as he did this offseason. The most difficult factor for Kuroda wasn't the separation from his L.A.-based family -- they come live with him in the summer when his daughters are out of school -- but rather that he simply loves and misses Japan. Kuroda again left open the possibility of finishing his career back in Japan.
- Both the Angels and Twins have a need in the outfield with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham on the disabled list, and both teams were interested in the recently DFA'ed Sam Fuld this offseason before he signed with the Athletics. Rosenthal reports that the A's will gauge trade possibilities for Fuld and wonders if the Halos and Twins could have interest.
- After signing a minor league deal in the 2012-13 offseason, Blue Jays right-hander Neil Wagner earned the pro-rated portion that deal's $525K salary while in the Majors last season. However, Toronto's pre-arbitration pay scale called for just a $506,250 salary in 2014, as it is based on service time rather than performance. Agent Jim Munsey and Wagner refused the deal, giving Toronto the freedom to renew Wagner's contract at $500K if they wished, which the team did. Said Munsey of the ordeal: "It's, obviously, disappointing that they cut Neil's pay after such a good season last year. And when we didn't agree to the pay cut, they cut it further in renewing him. Hard to cheer for that. ... The rules allow the Jays to reduce his pay. They also allow us to talk about that at arbitration." MLBTR's Zach Links recently looked at teams' calculation of pre-arbitration salaries.
- Though the Rays' rotation has been ravaged by injuries to Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb, the team is planning on using internal options rather than pursuing outside help.
It was on this day in 2009 that Mark Fidrych died at age 54 as the result of a freak truck repair accident. Fidrych burst onto the scene as a Tigers rookie in 1976, posting a 2.34 ERA over 250 1/3 innings, starting the All-Star Game for the American League and capturing the AL Rookie Of The Year Award in the process. His pitching aside, "The Bird" was even better known for his unique personality and quirky mound habits (such as talking to the ball or personally smoothing out cleat marks on the mound), as well as appearing on perhaps the greatest cover in Sports Illustrated history. Though Fidrych's career was short, baseball fans will never forget one of the game's great characters. The MLBTR staff extends our condolences to Fidrych's family and friends on this anniversary of his passing.
Here's the latest from around the AL Central...
- Joaquin Benoit and Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski both had nothing but good things to say about the veteran reliever's tenure in Motown, but the Tigers didn't make Benoit a contract offer last winter. Dombrowski tells John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press that “When it came down to it, we had Joe Nathan over Joaquin as a closer, and that’s the direction we decided to pursue. We kept a pulse of his free-agent situation all winter long. But it just looked like he was going to (cost) a little more than we wanted to pay for a set-up guy." Benoit ended up signing a two-year, $15.5MM deal with the Padres.
- Lonnie Chisenhall is hitting well but could be the victim of a roster crunch, so a reader asked Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (as part of a mailbag piece) if the Indians could possibly deal the third baseman. Hoynes believes it's generally too early for teams to be exploring the trade market, barring an injury, and Chisenhall is still an unproven commodity at the Major League level. Since Chisenhall is 25 years old and only a couple of years removed from being regarded as the Tribe's top prospect, I'd think Cleveland would need a big return to consider moving Chisenhall, even though Carlos Santana has seemingly taken over at third base.
- Sam Fuld could be an interesting pickup for the Twins, 1500ESPN.com's Derek Wetmore opines, as he would add depth to a Minnesota team that is thin on outfield options. The Athletics designated Fuld for assignment yesterday.
There was more bad injury news out of Oakland, as top Athletics prospect Addison Russell has torn his right hamstring and will be down for at least a month, according to a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Though Russell was not necessarily expected to contribute much at the MLB level this year -- he had started his age-20 season at Double-A -- a prolonged absence will certainly be unwelcome news for an Athletics club that could hypothetically look to Russell for a late-season boost or audition for 2015. Here are a few more stray notes from the day:
- There is a sense that the free agent market for Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales could be thawing, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Multiple clubs have gone to scout the pair, says Heyman, and Morales in particular seems to be drawing increased activity. Heyman cites the Orioles, Mariners, and Brewers as teams thought to have interest, with the Pirates also a potential landing spot.
- Free agent starter Freddy Garcia has been throwing to Drew and Morales, Heyman adds. Though Garcia has received minor league offers since being cut loose by the Braves, he is holding out in hopes of signing straight into a MLB role.
- The Twins will be among the teams with the most cash to spend through international bonus pools and the amateur draft. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN provides some updates on the club's current direction (Twitter links). Minnesota still has several hundred thousand dollars of uncommitted international cash to work with, and has narrowed its options for the 5th overall pick to eight players (most of whom are pitchers).
- As expected, Braves reliever Cory Gearrin will have Tommy John surgery and miss the 2014 season, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported yesterday (via Twitter). The 27-year-old was a useful arm last year, throwing 31 innings of 3.77 ERA ball after notching 20 innings at a 1.80 ERA clip in 2012. Though the club has already filled in for Gearrin in the immediate term, his loss takes another depth piece away from an organization that has suffered more than its share of recent pitching injuries.
- One reason that Pirates reliever Vin Mazzaro may have cleared waivers is simply that he stood to be paid nearly twice the league minimum salary. "Once you go to spring training, you’ve spent almost all the money you’re going to spend," a general manager told Olney. "There aren’t many teams with a lot of extra money lying around."
- That same fact has a bearing on the situations of compensation free agents Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. Olney polled executives around the league, finding that none were willing to pay either player at the qualifying offer rate of $14.1MM. The highest figure he heard was $10MM to $12MM AAV for Drew and a $8MM to $10MM rate for Morales on a multi-year deal, with most respondents landing well shy of those amounts. There were many other concerns raised as well, ranging from those players' injury histories to questions about their commitment to a new team (e.g., would they play through a late-season injury?) and worry about "the layoff and need for a modified spring training."
- Turning to the podcast, Olney spoke with Pirates GM Neal Huntington, who said that the team left its playoff run determined to return with focus. Instead, Huntington said that his concern entering the spring was how to keep positive energy flowing after the front office was criticized for its quiet offseason. Huntington said that the team wanted to do more, but that there "wasn't the right move out there" and he felt the organization needed to continue to "stretch when it's appropriate, stay disciplined when it's appropriate." Looking ahead, the GM said that, "if need be we can go outside because of the depth of our player development system."
- Huntington also discussed his team's well-publicized use of defensive shifts, saying that it is all about "maximizing our chances to put balls in play and turn them into outs" and indicating that much of the work is in shading out of the standard alignment. The approach for each situation is developed through what he calls a "multi-tiered process" within the organization.
- Olney also chatted with newly extended Twins closer Glen Perkins, who is under team control through 2018. Perkins said that he made clear to his agent as far back as his first extension that he was happy to take a deal and stay in town rather than "pric[ing] myself out" of the organization. The lefty says that maximizing money is not the most important thing, and saw value in the possibility of a World Series run with his hometown club while providing for his family's future when he had the chance. He kicked things off by suggesting a new deal to his agent, with a deal coming together quickly thereafter.
- Asked for his opinion on the idea of players accepting so-called team-friendly deals, Perkins said that the chances of upside are met (and often exceeded) by the possibility of "blowing your arm out." It becomes somewhat easier to take on risk as a player's earnings rise throughout their career, Perkins noted, but looking for "a little more" is tough when "you're always one pitch away." His ultimate advice to players is hard to disagree with: "get yours while you can."
Today is the five-year anniversary of the tragic death of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports provides a worthy tribute to a player who the game lost too soon. We join many others in honoring his memory.
Here are a few notes from the American League:
- The Twins' decision to acquire shortstop Eduardo Nunez from the Yankees was done with the goal of scoring more runs, reports John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Indeed, the club has indicated that it would be aggressive with early-season moves if it felt change would be beneficial. Though manager Ron Gardenhire says that he "love[s]" current starter Pedro Florimon, he added that "we've got to have offense" and said that Florimon has to get better at making solid contact. (He has two hits and two walks against seven strikeouts in 23 plate appearances to date.) Minnesota will apparently continue to make moves as opportunities arise, rather than giving its in-house options lengthy leashes. "(When) we left spring training we weren't done looking," Gardenhire said. "We were waiting for teams, all the way to the end, to start sending people out. We're ready. We're ready."
- One positive force early on for the Twins has been Chris Colabello, who the club tried to ship out to Korea during the offseason. Instead, he rolled the dice on breaking camp and did so, and now sports an OPS north of 1.000 through his first 29 plate appearances. As Parker Hageman writes for Twins Daily, this latest unlikely twist is not the first in Colabello's remarkable career arc. The piece is well worth a read: it includes plenty of great quotes from the key players in his tale and provides some color for many of the "minor moves" type coverage found here at MLBTR. As club GM Terry Ryan explains, it all started with Colabello's grinding in the independent leagues: "Of course [Colabello] continued to put up number after number, year after year, and was worth a look. ... Ok, this guy deserves an invite to minor league spring training. He got down there, he was pretty good. He started in Double-A and never really had an off-week."
- The Athletics' ownership group seems not to have any present intentions to put the club on the market, but would draw intense interest if it did, according to a report from Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. According to Kawakami, a variety of would-be buyers -- including the co-owner of the NBA's Golden State Warriors -- are attracted by the team's current profitability and the possibility of guiding the team to a new ballpark in the midst of a thriving baseball economy. This does not necessarily mean that a move of the franchise would be in order; Kawakami reports that most of the groups with potential interest would be looking to keep the ballclub in Oakland (assuming a new stadium can be procured).