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Nate Schierholtz Rumors
The Rangers have signed outfielder Nate Schierholtz to a minor league deal with a spring invite, executive VP of communications John Blake announced on Twitter. He will earn a $1.75MM salary if he makes the club, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets.
Entering his age-31 season, Schierholtz is coming off of a rough 2014 in which he slashed .195/.243/.309 over 383 plate appearances with the Cubs and Nationals. He has generally produced at a much better clip, and averaged a .261/.314/.442 line in part-time action over the three previous seasons. A .231 BABIP likely contributed to he severity of the drop-off.
The left-handed hitter has traditionally been far more productive against right-handed pitching. He joins a lengthy list of candidates for a Texas outfield and bench bat role.
The Marlins have made a one-year, $2MM offer to Ichiro Suzuki, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. Miami is “optimistic, but not certain” that it will reach agreement with the veteran. If not, it could look to Nate Schierholtz or the trade market. Ichiro could be the next domino to fall now that Colby Rasmus has signed with the Astros.
- The Orioles offered Rasmus a one-year, $7MM deal that might have included an option, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. After missing on Rasmus, Baltimore is looking down its list for other left-handed outfield options. Schierholtz is a possibility, as is Ichiro.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com also discusses the club’s efforts to add another outfielder, explaining that the uncertainty surrounding executive VP Dan Duquette has not been the reason that the team has missed on its outfield targets thus far. Instead, Baltimore is focused on only striking the right deal, and could take its current roster into camp with at least some hope that youngster Dariel Alvarez would be ready to contribute by the summer. As Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs wrote yesterday in his breakdown of the O’s minor league system, the club is much higher on Alvarez than outside evaluators.
- In spite of making several outfield additions, the Mariners are interested in a reunion with Endy Chavez, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). The 36-year-old, who spent each of the last two seasons in Seattle, might need to fight for a roster spot out of camp, says Crasnick.
- Blue Jays star right fielder Jose Bautista says that his next contract is not the first thing on his mind right now, as Mackenzie Liddell of Sportsnet.ca writes (comments via an appearance on Brady and Walker of Sportsnet 590). Bautista did acknowledge that he is intrigued by the possibility of becoming a free agent after the 2016 season, but says his focus is on playing winning baseball this year.
Here’s the latest from the Orioles and the Nationals…
- The Orioles‘ negotiations with Colby Rasmus “are gaining steam,” ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets. Manager Buck Showalter personally visited Rasmus over the weekend and the O’s have interest in Rasmus on a one-year contract. Rasmus has also recently had some talks with another AL East team, the Rays.
- Johan Santana‘s stint with the Orioles was cut short by a torn achilles tendon last June but team executive VP Dan Duquette told MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko earlier this offseason that the O’s were open to bringing Santana back on a new contract. Santana is scheduled to pitch next week in the Venezuelan Winter League.
- Also from Kubatko, Delmon Young‘s signing is expected to be officially announced today, meaning the Orioles would have to make a 40-man roster move to make room. In the wake of the J.P. Arencibia signing, Kubatko speculates that Baltimore could drop a catcher since they have five other backstops on the 40-man — starter Matt Wieters (obviously not a candidate to be dropped), Steve Clevenger, Caleb Joseph, Ryan Lavarnway and Mike Ohlman.
- Ben Zobrist and the Nationals are an “almost perfect” match for a trade given the team’s need at second base and the news of Jayson Werth‘s shoulder surgery, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. Rosenthal feels the Nats would make a push to acquire Zobrist, though there are a few complications to a deal. Zobrist would join Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Jordan Zimmermann as notable Nationals on the 2015-16 free agent market, and thus the Nats might be hesitant about adding yet another player who would require a qualifying offer. I’m not necessarily sure this would be a big concern for Washington; I wouldn’t think Clippard or Span would get qualifying offers anyway, and the other four would surely reject the QO in search of lucrative multiyear deals.
- Also looking ahead to next offseason, MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko notes that the Nationals don’t need to worry too much over potentially losing both Zimmermann and Fister to the open market given the number of other quality arms available in free agency next winter.
- With Werth and Nate McLouth both question marks due to injury, James Wagner of the Washington Post wonders if the Nationals could bring back Nate Schierholtz as outfield depth. Schierholtz signed a minor league deal with Washington last August and appeared in 23 games for the club.
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.
We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here.
- Former Rangers outfield prospect Jamie Jarmon will attend the University of Delaware to play football, writes Gerry Fraley of SportsDayDFW. Jarmon retired from baseball in July after failing to hit over .200 at any level. Jarmon was selected with the 83rd pick of the 2012 draft as compensation for the loss of C.J. Wilson.
- The Marlins have signed pitcher Jon Link to a minor league contract, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish. Link, 30, made nine relief appearances for the Dodgers in 2010, but has not pitched in the majors since. He posted a 4.15 ERA with 4.15 K/9 and 4.15 BB/9 in his 8.2 innings of work.
- The Blue Jays have announced that they’ve selected the contract of righty Sergio Santos. They’ll make a corresponding move tomorrow. The Jays outrighted Santos last month after he struggled through 19 2/3 innings with the big club. He pitched well for Triple-A Buffalo, striking out 16 batters and walking six in 10 2/3 innings.
- The Yankees have released righty Jim Miller, Chad Jennings of Lohud Yankees Blog tweets. Miller pitched in two games for the Yankees earlier this season, but spent most of the year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he posted a 3.30 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 57 1/3 innings. The Yankees outrighted him last month.
- The Nationals have selected outfielder Nate Schierholtz‘s contract today, as James Wagner of the Washington Post originally tweeted. Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington tweets that Michael Taylor has been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. Nate McLouth has been placed on the 60-day DL to clear space for Schierholtz on the 40-man roster. The Nats signed Schierholtz to a minor league deal earlier this week after the Cubs released him. After a productive season in Chicago in 2013, he was a disappointment in 2014, hitting .192/.240/.300 in 341 plate appearances. The Nationals will hope he’ll provide them with left-handed hitting off the bench.
The Nationals have inked outfielder Nate Schierholtz to a minor league deal, the club announced on Twitter. The left-handed-swinging 30-year-old was recently released by the Cubs, who will owe him the remainder of his $5MM salary — less whatever he earns in Washington (presumably, at the league-minimum rate).
Schierholtz has had a tough year thus far, posting a meager .192/.240/.300 line with six home runs over 341 plate appearances. But he entered the offseason coming off a string of solid production: his cumulative line over 2011-13 (1,134 plate appearances) stands at a fairly robust .261/.314/.442. He has posted large splits historically, with a lifetime .722 OPS against righties but a .650 mark against same-handed pitchers. Though his batting average and on-base numbers have been similar, much of his pop has come with the platoon advantage.
The move makes sense for a Nationals club that has dealt with some injuries to its outfielding corps. In particular, left-handed-hitting fourth outfielder Nate McLouth has struggled to work his way back from a right shoulder injury, and had largely been ineffective (.173/.280/.237) before going down. The team’s top young call-up options (including Michael Taylor, Steven Souza, Tyler Moore, Eury Perez, and Jeff Kobernus) are all right-handed bats, creating a solid opportunity for the veteran Schierholtz in D.C.
Somewhat ironically, the move comes approximately a year to the day that the Nats added another lefty bat who had spent his season with Chicago. In 2013, the club acquired David DeJesus through a waiver claim, only to flip him days later to the Rays through another August waiver deal. (Earlier that summer, those clubs matched up in another deal for an outfielder, with Scott Hairston heading to D.C.) Of course, the circumstances are quite different: last year at this time, a disappointing Nationals team was sitting at the extreme periphery of the postseason hunt, while the club now owns a six-game lead in the NL East.
AUG. 13: The Cubs have placed Schierholtz on release waivers, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. He will officially be a free agent when he clears on Friday.
AUG. 6: The Cubs have designated outfielder Nate Schierholtz for assignment, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. With the move, roster space was created for Kyuji Fujikawa‘s activation from the 60-day DL.
Schierholtz, a 30-year-old left-handed hitter, was playing on a $5MM salary this season in his final year of arbitration eligibility. Unless Chicago can find a taker for all or part of that figure, they’ll be on the hook for most (if not all) of the money left owing.
The veteran of eight MLB campaigns had struggled to a .192/.240/.300 slash through 341 plate appearances this year, after posting a strong .251/.301/.470 line in 503 trips to bat in 2013. He had actually turned in three straight seasons with above-average OPS marks before hitting a wall this year.
If the Pirates can’t land a reliever this week, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review suggests that the Bucs could move Edinson Volquez to the bullpen. Volquez, who has hit 98 mph on the gun this season, has been trending down since April. More from the Central Divisions..
- The Cubs have rebuffed inquiries by the Yankees and others for outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and also are expecting to keep the rejuvenated Chris Coghlan, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. They might also look to trade outfielder Nate Schierholtz, but they can put him through waivers in August and make a deal then. Meanwhile, the versatile Emilio Bonifacio is now drawing interest.
- The Pirates are showing interest in Phillies left-hander Antonio Bastardo and outfielder Marlon Byrd, sources tell Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- A couple of baseball executives think that the Pirates might get into the Jon Lester trade talks with the Red Sox, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- Nick Delmonico, who came to the Brewers in last year’s Francisco Rodriguez trade, was suspended 50-games for a positive drug test, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.
- It’ll be hard for the Indians to get real value for Asdrubal Cabrera without eating some of his contract, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Cabrera earns $10MM this season.
The Cubs begin a series at Fenway Park tonight, getting back in action following a rare Sunday off-day. The club played a doubleheader on Saturday in order to keep Sunday free for Chicago’s Pride Parade, which could’ve created a traffic jam in the Wrigleyville area had the Cubs been playing as originally scheduled. MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat takes a look at the history of Sunday baseball, and passes along the historical note that the Cubs were off on a Sunday for the first time since 1932.
Here’s the latest from the north side of Chicago…
- Theo Epstein denied rumors that he will leave the Cubs after his contract expires following the 2016 season, he tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. While some speculate that Epstein has been upset at the lack of Major League resources he’s been given by the Cubs, he “insists he will be here as long as the Cubs want him,” Sullivan writes.
- Two scouts aren’t impressed by Darwin Barney‘s bat, telling Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that while Barney is a good fielder, “if he can’t hit in the National League, what makes anyone think he can hit in the American League?” Barney has only slashed .198/.243/.284 in 174 PA this season and could be non-tendered if he can’t improve at the plate. Gonzales feels Barney’s time with the Cubs is probably nearing an end, though it could come via a trade if he can hit enough to get a look from another team.
- Also from Gonzales’ reader mailbag piece, he expects the Cubs “to wait as long as possible” for the best offer before trading Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel. He thinks Samardzija might even not be moved until the offseason if necessary, though this would lessen this trade value as a new team would only have him under contract for the 2015 season.
- The Cubs haven’t gotten much production out of their veteran outfielders, and Gonzales expects maybe one (at most) of Nate Schierholtz, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Sweeney, Chris Coghlan or Ryan Kalish to be back next season and Chicago will look for more veteran upgrades. Since Sweeney is owed $2MM for 2015 and the others are all on one-year or minor league contracts, I’d suspect Sweeney is the favorite to return, though $2MM isn’t so large an amount that the Cubs couldn’t eat it if necessary.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has lots of hot stove information to share in his latest Sunday Notes column…
- Kendrys Morales has already become a positive clubhouse figure in his short time with the Twins and Cafardo wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota try to extend the slugger. It’s also possible the Twins could deal Morales before the deadline and then re-sign him as a free agent this winter.
- The Diamondbacks seem willing to listen about trade offers for any player except Paul Goldschmidt, Cafardo notes. Martin Prado could be an attractive trade chip, though possible trade candidates like Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo might not have enough time before the deadline to show that they’re healthy. “We’re meeting on it. Figures we are sellers, not buyers,” D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said.
- The Red Sox “spent significant time watching Matt Kemp last week,” though Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo that Kemp isn’t being traded. Kemp’s recent hot streak has “reinforced” his value to Colletti given the dearth of right-handed power options around the game.
- The Nationals could make Danny Espinosa available to second base-needy teams like the Giants or Blue Jays once Bryce Harper returns from the DL. With Harper back in the outfield, Washington would use Ryan Zimmerman at third and Anthony Rendon at second, leaving Espinosa without a regular job. Given Zimmerman’s shoulder problems and questionable future as a third baseman, however, I’d tend to think that the Nats would keep Espinosa as a valuable depth piece.
- Phillies outfielders Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere appear to be available, as Cafardo adds them to the long list of notable Philadelphia players who could be trade targets before the deadline.
- Red Sox catching prospect Christian Vazquez would be the top ask for any team looking to make a major trade with Boston. “That would be across the board, even for a major hitter. He’s major league-ready right now offensively and defensively,” a scout tells Cafardo. “We also think he’ll hit for some power in the majors. Because they have Blake Swihart, who a lot of teams will ask for as well, they probably would reluctantly give up Vazquez.” This same scout, however, says that between the two young catchers, he would keep Swihart.
- While Nate Schierholtz has only hit .207/.261/.313 in 249 PA this season, the Cubs will likely still trade the outfielder. Schierholtz is only signed through the end of the season and he is owed approximately $2.78MM in remaining salary.
- The Padres “would like to conduct a fire sale” and Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Seth Smith could all be available. Cafardo notes that Smith would be a good fit in the Red Sox outfield.
- Several teams are interested in Grady Sizemore, who one scout feels will perform better now that he has had time to get re-accustomed to playing. “Whoever gets him next will probably get a better player than what Boston had. He needed more time, and with that problem offensively up there they [the Red Sox] couldn’t wait,” the scout said.
- The Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Phillies and Rangers have been the teams who have been most aggressively scouting the major and minor league rosters of other clubs, Cafardo reports.
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