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Munenori Kawasaki Rumors
The Cardinals will need another starter on Thursday to replace John Gast, and that could be Michael Wacha, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests. Wacha, who would be making his big-league debut, was scratched from his start Sunday, which the Cardinals now say is due to his innings count so far this year. Wacha ranked No. 76 in both MLB.com's and Baseball America's preseason top prospects lists, and he has pitched well so far in 2013 at Triple-A Memphis (albeit with a low strikeout rate), posting a 2.05 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. Cards GM John Mozeliak says that the team will likely decide on Tuesday who will make Thursday's start. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- It's unclear what will happen to infielder Munenori Kawasaki of the Blue Jays once Jose Reyes returns, but Jays manager John Gibbons would like Kawasaki to stick around, Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports. "When the time comes, we'd definitely like to keep him, that's for sure. But we don't know when Reyes is coming back, either." Kawasaki has become a fan favorite, and he has played decently, hitting .247/.345/.320. But Chisholm notes that the Jays already have Maicer Izturis, Emilio Bonifacio and Mark DeRosa.
- It's a bad day for the Mariners' rebuilding efforts, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. The Mariners promoted prospect Nick Franklin but demoted former No. 2 overall draft pick Dustin Ackley in the process. That move followed the demotion of Jesus Montero. Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders haven't hit particularly well, and Brandon Maurer has struggled. "Right now, the Mariners are being carried by a bunch of veterans on one-year deals who were supposed to be here to round out that young core and help stabilize the environment through which young guys were going to take their games to the next level," says Baker, noting that Kyle Seager is the only starting player who has accomplished that.
- Ron Gardenhire feels Carlos Gomez of the Brewers "learned a lot" from his time with the Twins, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports. Gomez played with the Twins for two years before heading to Milwaukee in exchange for J.J. Hardy after the 2009 season. The Twins tried to help Gomez calm down as a player, McCalvy writes. "I thought he learned a lot with us," Gardenhire says. "Gomez was a lot of fun. I think everybody knew it from the time he was with the Mets, how much talent he had, if he could ever harness it and calm himself down enough."
- It's questionable whether the Angels and Dodgers have spent their money well, but it's important that they're spending, says Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. "You can't win on scouting and player development alone. That is a foundation, with free agency a necessary supplement. Spending does not guarantee winning, but spending absolutely correlates with winning," says Shaikin. Still, Shaikin notes that the Angels' core of homegrown players includes Mike Trout, Jered Weaver, and Howie Kendrick; the Dodgers' includes Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Shaikin quotes Dodgers president Stan Kasten, who reiterates that his team's long-term plan is to build through its farm system, just as the Braves did when Kasten worked there.
- The Cubs aren't quite ready to declare themselves sellers, but it sounds like they're getting there, ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers reports. GM Jed Hoyer says that teams begin to assess their trading options "50-60 games within the deadline." Hoyer adds, "You always hold out hope you can string things together and make a run. It’s really hard in this division, I’ll say that. You have three teams playing really well." In a recent poll, MLBTR readers thought the Cubs' Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano were among the players most likely to be traded.
The Twins have devoted only 22.5% of their 2013 payroll to pitching (MLB average is 49.8%) and haven't exceeded the league average since 2005. Phil Miller of the Star Tribune writes perhaps no statistic better illustrates the Twins' dry spell in developing pitching prospects. "It’s not by design. It’s not like we said, 'Let’s spend less on pitching and go another way,'" said Twins assistant GM Rob Antony. "When we’ve spent a lot on a contract, more often than not, it’s on players we already have, that we know. We know how they fit in the clubhouse, and we know their health situation. It makes you a little more comfortable with the investment." Miller notes several pitching investments have been wasted because of injuries including this year's highest-paid pitcher Nick Blackburn ($5.5MM), who was removed from the 40-man roster as he recovers from wrist surgery. One investment that does seem to be paying dividends is Kevin Correia, who signed a two-year, $10MM free agent contract last December. The right-hander tossed eight shutout innings and lowered his ERA to 2.31 in the Twins' 5-0 win over the Rangers. In other news and notes from the American League:
- After a four-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, the seat is becoming hotter for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman calls this a big test for Gibbons while Keith Law of ESPN.com says it's too early to think about firing the skipper (Twitter links).
- Before the game, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos met with the media, including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, and said he doesn't expect Jose Reyes back until the beginning of July "just to make sure that we do this correctly and we don’t have any setbacks." In the meantime, the plan is use Munenori Kawasaki and Maicer Izturis because Anthopoulos said the costs of going outside the organization for a Reyes replacement "don’t line up for us with what our alternatives are."
- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg reiterated his team's ability to afford David Price in an interview with WFAN (partial transcript provided by the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin). "We can; I don't know if we'll have any team around him other than him and (Evan) Longoria."
- In the same interview, Sternberg said he expects the Rays' next TV contract to be "big relative to the size of our attendance" but "mid-sized market" compared to other teams.
- The Red Sox prefer to give Shane Victorino some time to work out his back issues rather than trying to bring Jackie Bradley back too soon, tweets the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo. Victorino underwent an MRI yesterday, which revealed inflammation in his lower back. Bradley, meanwhile, is 7-for-31 with 10 strikeouts and five walks since being optioned to Triple-A.
The Blue Jays have expressed interest in signing infielder Munenori Kawasaki, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun (via Twitter). If able to make the club, Kawasaki would serve to provide depth at shortstop, second base and pinch run off the bench.
Kawasaki, 31, earned $625K in 2012 after signing a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training with the Mariners. In his first big league season with the team, Kawasaki posted a batting line of .192/.257/.202 in 61 games. The former NPB star was released by Seattle at the end of the 2012 season.
The Mariners announced that they released infielder Munenori Kawasaki. Seattle's roster now includes 39 players.
Kawasaki, 31, appeared in 61 games for Seattle in 2012. He appeared in one game at third base, mostly playing the middle infield positions. The left-handed hitter posted a .192/.257/.202 batting line in 115 plate appearances. Kawasaki and the Mariners agreed to a minor league contract worth $625K back in January.
The Mariners have signed Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki to a minor league contract, tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. MLB has confirmed the move, Eddy notes. Kawasaki, 30, was a free agent and could sign without a posting fee.
Kawasaki posted a .267/.310/.327 with 31 stolen bases in 655 plate appearances as Softbank's shortstop in 2011. The Mariners, who are also nearing a deal with Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, have been linked to Kawasaki since last month.
MLB announced that baseball’s 30 owners unanimously approved the five-year collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association today. Here are some other notes from around MLB…
- The Marlins remain in the mix to sign Greg Dobbs, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. The Nationals are also interested in the free agent utility player.
- The Mets remain in regular contact with free agent shortstop Jack Wilson, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- Though the Indians never made Josh Willingham a former proposal, they indicated that they were willing to offer a two-year deal in the $15MM range, according to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter links). Willingham has agreed to terms with the Twins, but GM Chris Antonetti says the Indians are still considering external options.
- A scout tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that just about every team in baseball saw free agent right-hander Joel Zumaya throw in Houston yesterday (Twitter link).
- Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki is in Seattle and may sign a minor league deal with the Mariners in the relatively near future, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times (Twitter links). The deal may not be finalized until after the holidays, but he will sign with Seattle, Stone reports.
Here's the latest from the AL West…
- The Angels are considering a contract extension for the newly-acquired Chris Iannetta, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Iannetta is signed through 2012 and the Halos have a $5MM club option for 2013 that Iannetta can now void due to being traded before the start of the 2013 season.
- Also from Renck, the Rockies tried to acquire Angels right-hander John Hellweg in the Iannetta trade. Hellweg, 23, has a 3.83 ERA, an 11.4 K/9 rate and 7.6 BB/9 in four minor league seasons. He spent last season pitching for the Halos' Class A+ affiliate.
- Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki wants to play in the Major Leagues, but only for the Mariners, reports MLB.com's Matt Weber. Kawasaki, 30, is a free agent so he can sign without a posting fee and he said he's willing to sign a minor league deal and play a different position if necessary.
- MLB.com's Greg Johns has more details on Kawasaki, who has a career .294 average but just hit .267/.310/.327 last season with Fukuoka. Johns says the Mariners have scouted Kawasaki in Japan so he is "at least on the Mariners' radar."
- The Athletics aren't one of the teams interested in Eric Chavez, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). "He wouldn't be a fit for them and vice versa," Slusser writes.
- In a mailbag piece, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan looks at the obstacles preventing the Rangers from making a move for Prince Fielder and Matt Garza. Sullivan also notes that it's only a matter of time before Ron Washington gets another contract extension from the club.
- The Mariners' deep minor league system seems to give them an advantage under the new collective bargaining agreement, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.