Nate Freiman Rumors

AL West Notes: Rangers, Beimel, Taylor, Weaver, A’s

The Rangers are off to an 8-16 start this season, and GM Jon Daniels says that while some minor changes could be made this week, the team is “not going to going to wait too much longer before we consider mixing it up further,” writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Daniels didn’t specify what would constitute a more significant shakeup, but Grant speculates on three scenarios: demoting second baseman Rougned Odor, benching a struggling “core” player (i.e. Elvis Andrus) and/or replacing hitting instructor Dave Magadan.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • The Mariners last night announced the demotions of righty Yoervis Medina and lefty Tyler Olson to Triple-A Tacoma, and while no official word has been released on the corresponding roster moves that will follow, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that signs point to Chris Taylor and Joe Beimel joining the club. Taylor was batting Brad Miller for the everyday shortstop role in Spring Training before a fractured wrist sidelined him for four to six weeks. He’s hitting .313/.385/.475 in Triple-A this season and could either serve as a platoon partner for the lefty-swinging Miller or eventually push him for more regular playing time. Beimel inked a Minor League pact in April after unsuccessfully holding out for a more lucrative big league deal this winter. Beimel isn’t on the 40-man roster, so a 40-man move will need to be made, though I’d imagine that could entail simply moving southpaw Edgar Olmos to the 60-day DL, as he’s already been on the 15-day DL since March 30.
  • In the latest edition of his 10 Degrees column, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan notes that Angels righty Jered Weaver‘s fastball is averaging an alarming 83-84 mph (depending on whether one uses Baseball Info Solutions’ data or Brooks Baseball). Either way, the concern over his fastball is justified, as Passan points out that 120 of the 122 pitchers that throw four-seam fastballs have an average velocity higher than Weaver’s peak velocity of 87.81 mph this year. Weaver is averaging just 3.9 K/9 and has whiffed three or fewer hitters in all but one of his starts this season, en route to a 6.29 ERA. “Reinvention is the only way to save Weaver,” Passan opines, unless he, like righties Mike Pelfrey and Chris Young before him, is experiencing such a precipitous decline due to injury. (Young, like Weaver, never threw particularly hard in the first place and may be a more apt comparison.)
  • Struggles in the Athletics‘ bullpen have the team pondering roster moves, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. One option is switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, who has performed well at Triple-A since signing a Minor League deal this offseason. However, he’s not on the 40-man roster, and space is tight after claiming Alex Hassan off waivers for a staggering third time in the past several months. Slusser writes that when first baseman Nate Freiman is activated from the DL later this month, the team may try to sneak him through waivers to remove him from the 40-man but keep him in the organization. She also notes that southpaw Drew Pomeranz could be bullpen-bound when Jarrod Parker is activated from the DL and reinserted into the rotation.
  • I’ll add a note on the surprising division leaders — the 18-7 Astros. Houston is the only club in the AL West with a record above .500 and, as the Chronicle’s Evan Drellich pointed out (Twitter link), they now rank as probables to make the playoffs looking at both Fangraphs’ and Baseball Prospectus’ postseason odds. However, outside of the excellent work provided by Collin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel, the team has received a collective 5.05 ERA from Scott Feldman, Sam Deduno, Brad Peacock, Asher Wojciechowski and Roberto Hernandez in the final three spots in the rotation. Given the club’s early lead, Brett Oberholtzer‘s health and the struggles of Dan Straily at Triple-A, I’d wonder if the ‘Stros would be open to pursuing an early rotation upgrade in an attempt to make their grip on the division more sustainable. Few teams are actively selling pieces this early in the season, but the Brewers are reportedly open to trade proposals, and Houston could look to clubs that have more serviceable arms than slots in the rotation. Given the lack of quality innings at the back of the Astros’ rotation, the team needn’t add an elite arm in order to acquire a significant upgrade. While this is all speculation, history has shown GM Jeff Luhnow to be aggressive on the trade market. Names like Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza and Dillon Gee have all been floated on the rumor mill lately, and it’s not hard to envision the Rays soon having a surplus of arms once Alex Cobb and, eventually, Matt Moore are healthy. For Astros fans that really want to dream big, the argument could be made that there is in Houston both the need and the means (in terms of prospects and finances) to take on a significant portion of Cole Hamels‘ contract, though the asking price could very well exceed Houston’s comfort level.

AL Notes: Mendonca, Freiman, Shields

Here are some notes from around the American League:

  • The Athletics have released minor league third baseman Tommy Mendonca, tweets Melissa Lockard of OaklandClubhouse.com (hat tip to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser). Originally a 2009 second-round pick of the Rangers, Mendonca was selected by Oakland in this year's minor league Rule 5 draft. Mendonca, who turns 25 tomorrow, struggled in his first Triple-A action last season, when he hit .208/.249/.329 in 251 plate appearances at the upper level of the minors.
  • Meanwhile, the A's seem more inclined to hang onto another Rule 5 pick, Nate Freiman, who the club picked up off of waivers from Houston, writes Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown. Manager Bob Melvin likes Freiman's power and patience. The 6'8", 26-year-old first baseman hit safely in his first two big league at-bats, though he has failed to register a base knock in his eleven subsequent plate appearances.
  • The Royals' trade for James Shields was not just about acquiring a rotation anchor, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The club was also hoping to import some of the Rays' clubhouse culture, which Shields has brought to Kansas City along with his solid start on the hill. Meanwhile, MLB.com's Dick Kaegel writes that the club is confident that it has plenty of talent in the pipeline in spite of the haul it gave up in the Shields trade

West Notes: Freiman, Goldschmidt, Borbon

Rule 5 pick Nate Freiman has made the Athletics, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle notes (on Twitter). Freiman hit .298/.370/.502 for Double-A San Antonio in the Padres system last year. The Astros took him in the Rule 5 Draft, and he was later claimed by the A's. He will have to stick on Oakland's roster throughout the season if the A's intend to keep him. Freiman is expected to play primarily against lefties. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says the biggest hangup during negotiations of the Paul Goldschmidt extension was the team option at the end, AZCentral.com's Nick Piecoro writes. Goldschmidt's contract is a five-year deal that begins in 2014 and includes a $14.5MM team option for 2019, with a $2MM buyout. The contract guarantees Goldschmidt $32MM total. "We wanted at least a year of free agency and probably the thing that took the most time was they didn’t really want an option year," Towers says. "A mutual option, no option, guarantee six years. We had to have some kind of an option."
  • Julio Borbon has made the Rangers' 25-man roster, but he might not have a spot when the Rangers add fifth starter Nick Tepesch on April 9, says MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Borbon is out of options, and the Rangers say they have had trade discussions about him. Borbon is 27 and has yet to establish himself in the majors, though, so other teams likely wouldn't be willing to part with solid talent in a trade.


Athletics Claim Nate Freiman

The Athletics have claimed first baseman Nate Freiman from the Astros, according to the A's (on Twitter). The A's have placed Fernando Rodriguez on the 60-day DL to clear roster space for Freiman. Freiman hit .298/.370/.502 for the Padres' Double-A affiliate in 2012 before the Astros picked him in the Rule 5 Draft. He will need to stick on the Athletics' 25-man roster this season, or the A's risk losing him.


2012 Rule 5 Draft Results

Each year, Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings conclude with the Rule 5 Draft. For those who are unfamiliar with the event, MLBTR offers an in-depth description, but here's a quick overview.

Players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren't on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed. Teams draft in the reverse order of the previous season's standings but aren't required to make a selection. If they do choose a player, they pay his former team $50K and must keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25K.

The results from the Major League phase:

  1. Astros take righty Josh Fields from Red Sox
  2. Cubs take righty Hector Rondon from Indians
  3. Rockies take lefty Danny Rosenbaum from Nationals
  4. Twins take righty Ryan Pressly from Red Sox
  5. Indians take first baseman Chris McGuiness from Rangers
  6. Marlins take outfielder Alfredo Silverio from Dodgers
  7. Red Sox take second baseman Jeff Kobernus from Nationals; traded to Tigers for infielder/outfielder Justin Henry
  8. Royals
  9. Blue Jays
  10. Mets take lefty Kyle Lobstein from Rays; traded to Tigers for cash considerations
  11. Mariners
  12. Padres
  13. Pirates
  14. Diamondbacks take righty Starling Peralta from Cubs
  15. Phillies take outfielder Ender Inciarte from Diamondbacks
  16. Brewers
  17. White Sox take infielder Angel Sanchez from Angels
  18. Dodgers
  19. Cardinals
  20. Tigers
  21. Angels
  22. Rays
  23. Orioles take lefty T.J. McFarland from Indians
  24. Rangers take righty Coty Woods from Rockies
  25. Athletics
  26. Giants
  27. Braves
  28. Yankees
  29. Reds
  30. Nationals

Second round of Major League phase: