New York Yankees Rumors

New York Yankees trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Tommy John Surgery Likely For Ivan Nova

TODAY: The Yankees announced that Nova’s second exam confirmed that he has a partially torn UCL, and that Ahmad has recommended surgery.

YESTERDAY: The Tommy John epidemic that is sweeping Major League Baseball looks to have another victim, as Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova learned after an MRI this weekend that he has a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, writes Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Feinsand says that Nova will be re-examined today by team physician Chris Ahmad, but the very likely outcome is that Nova will be the 15th pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery this season.

Nova was roughed up by the Rays in his start on Saturday, but he didn’t feel any discomfort in his elbow until the final pitch he threw, writes Feinsand. Nova said he felt a pop on that pitch and was in denial as he was being removed from the game, not believing himself to be seriously injured and wanting to continue pitching to spare his bullpen.

With Nova likely on the shelf through next spring, the Yankees will test their internal depth. Vidal Nuno could be the favorite to take over in the team’s rotation, though other options such as David Phelps and Adam Warren are present. New York could also look to the waiver wire and continue to get by with a patchwork solution until clubs begin making more reliable arms available on the trade market this summer.

Needless to say, the resurgence of Michael Pineda is now even more impactful for the Yankees. Were it not for Pineda’s health, the club would be fielding a rotation of Masahiro Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda, a declining CC Sabathia and a pair of the aforementioned internal options. Now, manager Joe Girardi tells Feinsand that he will meet with GM Brian Cashman, presumably on today’s off-day, to determine which of Nuno, Phelps or Warren will step into Nova’s spot.


Yankees Outright Cesar Cabral

Left-hander Cesar Cabral has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A by the Yankees, according to the team’s official transactions page. Cabral, who has been outrighted before, will have the option to refuse the assignment and elect free agency if he wishes.

The 25-year-old Cabral, who was designated for assignment on April 18, originally came to the Yankees back in 2011. The Royals selected him fifth in that year’s Rule 5 Draft and promptly traded him to New York for cash considerations. A stress fracture in his elbow caused him to miss most of the 2012 campaign and a good deal of 2013 as well, which is the reason that he has just 4 2/3 innings at the big league level. Within that small sample of Major League experience, Cabral has allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks with eight strikeouts. Most of the damage against him came in his final outing this year, in which he hit three batters without recording an out and was charged with three runs.

Cabral has a pretty solid minor league track record, having turned in a 3.77 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 384 career innings. However, just 10 1/3 of those innings have come at the Triple-A level, and the results (eight earned runs) haven’t matched up with his success at lower levels just yet.


Quick Hits: Choo, Turner, Mets, Lambo, Santana

The seven-year, $140MM offer that the Yankees offered Shin-Soo Choo was only on the table for less than a day.  As MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince notes, New York offered Choo the contract and then pulled it back almost as quickly in order to instead sign Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45MM deal.  "In my opinion, it takes some time to make a decision, maybe at least a couple days," Choo said. "You want to learn a city and a team. They gave me 21 hours."  The Yankees' withdrawal could've been due to Beltran simply accepting his offer first, or perhaps because Scott Boras (Choo's agent), reportedly asked the Yankees to match the $153MM the Bombers gave to Jacoby Ellsbury.  Choo didn't end up doing too badly for himself at any rate, signing a seven-year, $130MM deal with the Rangers.

Here's some news from around the baseball world…

  • CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman lists 14 players who could traded during Spring Training.  Most of these names have popped up on the pages of MLBTR over the last few weeks, though one new name is Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner.  Heyman says there's "not a great chance" Miami would deal Turner but since the Marlins have a lot of good young pitchers, "folks on other teams speculate this could be the one arm the Marlins might move in that right deal" for offensive help.
  • Ike Davis' calf injury has not only set back the Mets' first base competition, but it has also ruined any possible chance of a trade showcase for Davis during Spring Training, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes.  The Brewers, Pirates and Orioles have all been connected to Davis in trade rumors during the offseason but obviously no move will be made any time soon, as Davis is currently in a walking boot and recently had an MRI on his right calf.
  • Speaking of the Pirates' first base search, the team could end up finding its left-handed platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez already on the roster in the form of Andrew Lambo, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes.  While maturity issues and a 50-game suspension reportedly relating to marijuana use have set back Lambo's career, he is still only 25 and has posted some strong power numbers in the minors.
  • "I just don't see what we have to lose," Indians manager Terry Francona says about Carlos Santana's attempted conversion to third base.  FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal recaps the reasons behind Santana's surprising decision to try the hot corner and how it could be a boon for the Tribe if Santana could handle the position.
  • Nate Schierholtz wants to remain with the Cubs but is cognizant of the fact that could be traded, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports.  The veteran outfielder said he hasn't spoken to Cubs management about staying beyond his current one-year contract.  Recent rumors put Schierholtz on the trading block thanks to Ryan Kalish's progress, not to mention the fact that Kalish is playing on a minor league deal while Schierholtz is owed $5MM this season.


AL East Notes: Ichiro, Tigers, Cervelli, Blue Jays

A year ago, Jon Lester was coming off a poor season and his long-term future in Boston looked in doubt.  Now, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes, Lester has rebuilt his career following a rebound season and another World Series ring, and it seems he's in position for a nine-figure contract from either the Red Sox or another club as a free agent next winter.  Lester and the Sox have discussed an extension, and Lauber notes that the Sox (for all their promising young arms on the farm) have nobody who can replace Lester's 200 innings in 2015, so the club needs their star southpaw back.

Here's the latest from around the AL East…

  • Yankees officials tell Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Tigers haven't asked about Ichiro Suzuki in the wake of Andy Dirks' injury.  Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Sherman that his team is "not actively seeking a big move," though they haven't decided if they'll use an internal or external player to platoon with Rajai Davis in left.
  • Ichiro, for his part, had "nothing to say about" the subject of whether or not he would want to play for another team that could offer him more regular playing time.  “But as far as being part of [trade rumors], when I first came to New York, I knew it was something that happens here," Suzuki said.  "You have to be emotionally ready and prepare yourself for it."
  • Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli seems somewhat torn between his desire for more playing time and his desire to remain with the Yankees.  "I’ve been here forever. I don’t have that answer right now because this is, I feel like, my house," Cervelli told reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.  "But if somebody wants me to go over there, I’ve got to make the adjustment. I told you guys many times that my dream is to be a starting catcher. Right now, my role is a backup. That’s what I’m playing for. But I’m never going to stop because an opportunity is going to come again."  Cervelli has drawn interest from several teams (including the White Sox and Diamondbacks) as one of Yankees' backup catchers could be traded to bring infield help to the Bronx.
  • The Blue Jays' lack of success in obtaining starting pitching this offseason leads Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi to re-evaluate the team's decisions to not tender a qualifying offer to Josh Johnson and to pass on a potential trade for Brett Anderson due to medical concerns.
  • According to some Red Sox players, Stephen Drew regrets not accepting Boston's $14.1MM qualifying offer, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports.  Drew has lingered on the free agent market in his search for a multiyear deal, and while the possibility of returning to the Sox as a veteran alternative for Xander Bogaerts or Will Middlebrooks seemed to have potential earlier this winter, the club seems to have moved on.  Red Sox veterans, Abraham writes, no longer feel the team needs to re-sign Drew after seeing how Middlebrooks has conducted himself during Spring Training.
  • No matter how well the Rays perform on the field or how much they spend on payroll, Cork Gaines of Rays Index notes that the team can't seem to top an average of 23,000 fans per game at Tropicana Field. Gaines speculates that even a World Series title could only bump the Rays over that 23K attendance threshold for a season or two, at most.

NL Notes: Taveras, Stutes, Flores, Cervelli

One of the keys to success for last year's Pirates ballclub was its ability both to generate ground balls and convert them into outs. It all started with a pitching staff that had far and away the highest ground-ball rate (52.5%) in the big leagues. Featuring prominently in the repertoire of several Bucs hurlers, of course, was the sinker. As Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com found when he investigated, those sinkers come in many different varieties. He provides a fascinating breakdown of the pitch from the perspective of Pirates players and coaches (including many staff members and catcher Russell Martin). Here's more from the National League:

  • With just two weeks left in camp and top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras still working his way back, there is now little chance that he'll come north with the Cardinals for Opening Day, writes Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Of course, that was the likely outcome from the get-go, as St. Louis has a keen interest in delaying his service clock to gain another season of control and minimize the likelihood of a Super Two qualification. 
  • The Phillies outrighted righty Michael Stutes off of the club's 40-man roster to begin making room for non-roster invites, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Struggling to regain velocity after a series of shoulder issues, Stutes had to clear waivers to be stashed in the minors.
  • Though it may yet be a longshot, the Mets have begun working out Wilmer Flores at short, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. With continuing uncertainty as to whether Ruben Tejada can be relied on as an everyday option, DiComo says the team is "overturning every stone on their 40-man roster" to find a solution. Of course, that does not mean that Flores is a serious possibility to man the job for the coming season, but he could be a more attractive big league piece if he could spend some time at short.  
  • As I recently noted in the club's offseason review, the Diamondbacks have not conclusively addressed their backup catching situation. They are among the teams taking a hard look at Francisco Cervelli of the Yankees, reports George A. King III of the New York Post

AL East Notes: Sizemore, Machado, Cervelli

Here's a quick look in at the American League East:

  • With Red Sox outfielder Grady Sizemore progressing towards cracking the team's Opening Day roster, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford provides the details of his incentive-heavy contract. If Sizemore breaks camp, he would earn a $250K bonus and draw a $750K base salary. He can, as previously reported, boost the total value to $6MM if he were to hit all incentives. Here's how: $250K each for reaching 60, 90, 120, and 150 days in the big leagues; $250K for each increment of 25 plate appearances from 225 to 500; and a slate of award bonuses (including $50K for being named AL Comeback Player of the Year). 
  • Orioles third baseman Manny Machado says that his $519K contract for 2014 is "disappointing," reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Of course, with less than two years of service, Machado had little choice in the matter. The two sides have yet to discuss the possibility of an extension, though Connolly says there are "indications" that talks could take place once the health of the 21-year-old's left knee is more certain. Machado maintains that he would "love to be an Oriole forever," noting that his only wish is "to be treated fairly." 
  • The Yankees have drawn significant trade interest in backstop Francisco Cervelli, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Among the teams giving the catcher a look is the White Sox. Though the out-of-options, 28-year-old Cervelli figures to have the inside track on the reserve role for New York, the club has several other viable options to back up Brian McCann (as MLBTR's Steve Adams recently explained).

Offseason In Review: New York Yankees

The Yankees heavily invested in the free agent market, yet the team still has some notable holes as it tries to celebrate Derek Jeter's final season by returning to the playoffs.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades and Claims

Extensions

  • Brett Gardner, OF: Four years, $52MM.  $12.5MM club option for 2019 with a $2MM buyout.

Notable Losses

Needs Addressed

After missing the postseason for just the second time in 19 years, it wasn't a surprise that the Bronx Bombers went on an old-fashioned Yankees spending spree.  Between signing new free agents, re-signing a few of their own free agents and extending Brett Gardner's contract, the Yankees spent over $555MM on player salaries this offseason.  To put it in perspective, when Forbes Magazine released its annual team valuations a year ago, seven entire franchises weren't valued as worth $555MM.  When the Yankees decide to spend, they don't take half measures.

The Yankees ended up with five — Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Masahiro Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda and Carlos Beltran — of the top 12 players on Tim Dierkes' list of the offseason's 50 best free agents and were known to be in contact with several other major names, from Shin-Soo Choo to Jhonny Peralta to several free agent pitchers and, of course, Robinson Cano.  GM Brian Cashman worked quickly to identify the players he wanted, as the Yankees reached agreements with all of those players (save Tanaka) by the end of the Winter Meetings.

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It's hard to argue with the results.  McCann's presence instantly turns one of the league's worst catching situations into one of its best; Beltran's still-powerful bat is a fine replacement for the departed Curtis Granderson; Kuroda's return helped solidify the rotation; Ellsbury adds speed and defense to the Yankee outfield, plus his addition allows the club to shift Alfonso Soriano to a more regular DH role (with Beltran and Jeter also seeing some time at designated hitter) and Ichiro Suzuki's declining bat is now relegated to the bench.

The one signing that took a bit more time was Tanaka, as first the new posting rules between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball had to be established.  Then, the Yankees had to outbid the Cubs, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Dodgers and Astros in order to land the 25-year-old right-hander with a seven-year, $155MM contract that ranks as the 18th-largest deal in baseball history.  That contract (plus the $20MM posting fee the Yankees paid to the Rakuten Golden Eagles) represents a huge investment in a pitcher who has yet to appear in a Major League game, yet given Tanaka's impressive scouting reports and his status as the best starter on the market, he was seen as a must-have for a Yankee club that needed rotation help.

The one signing that New York didn't make, however, was the one that many thought was a foregone conclusion when the offseason began.  The Yankees simply weren't prepared to offer Cano more than seven years (at $175MM), and thus Cano made his stunning move to the Mariners that left the Yankees with a big hole at second base.  While the team is still looking for infield help, right now it looks like newly-signed veteran Brian Roberts will man the position with the re-signed Brendan Ryan and roster holdover Eduardo Nunez also in the mix.

Another notable non-move was choosing to forgo signing an experienced closer to replace Mariano Rivera, as David Robertson will get a clear shot at the ninth-inning job.  Veteran setup man Matt Thornton was signed to add some left-handed experience to the young relief corps and Andrew Bailey was signed to a low-risk minor league deal to see if he can stay healthy and revive his career.

Maybe the biggest "need" for the Bombers this offseason was getting some of Alex Rodriguez's contract off their books, and the Yankees got their wish when A-Rod's 211-game suspension was only partially reduced to 162 games after his lengthy appeal.  The suspension saved the Yankees around $22.13MM in payroll for 2014, though A-Rod's absence leaves the Yankees thin at the hot corner.  Newcomer Kelly Johnson will get the lion's share of games at third, though since Johnson has only played 16 games as a third baseman (all last season in Tampa Bay) during his eight-year career.  Minor league signing Scott Sizemore could be an under-the-radar boon at either third or second if he's able to stay healthy, as he's missed virtually all of the last two seasons recovering from two separate left ACL tears.

The Yankees settled a bit of long-term business by signing Gardner to a four-year, $52MM extension.  Gardner would've been eligible for free agency following 2014 and he was the subject of a few trade rumors in the wake of the Ellsbury and Beltran signings, but now it seems he'll be wearing the pinstripes though at least the 2018 season.  Such extensions are pretty rare for the Yankees, as the team usually doesn't explore new deals with players, managers or even front office staff until their current contracts are up.  The Gardner deal could be a sign that even the Yankees are taking note of the rising costs of free agent contracts, and since Gardner was a player they liked and wanted to keep anyway, it made sense to extend him now and possibly get a bit of a discount if he has a big 2014 campaign.

Two major pieces of the Yankees' puzzle were put in place before the offseason even began.  Manager Joe Girardi was re-signed to a four-year, $16MM extension that will keep him in the Bombers' dugout through the 2017 season, a move that broke the hearts of Cubs fans and rewarded a manager who arguably did his best work in 2013 by squeezing 85 wins out of an injury-riddled roster.  Jeter was sure to pick up his player option for 2014 anyway but in early November, that $9.5MM option was shelved in favor of a one-year, $12MM contract that Hal Steinbrenner negotiated himself.

Jeter's new deal carried some extra luxury tax complications, which might've been an early sign that the Yankees were going to abandon their plan to stay under the $189MM payroll threshold.  The Yankees had been positioning themselves to get under the $189MM mark for the last two years in order reset their mounting luxury tax payments but, as Steinbrenner and Cashman always claimed, that $189MM target would only be kept if the team could remain competitive.  Since the Yankees don't abide by missing the postseason, they will head into 2014 with another $200MM+ payroll (hat tip to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info).        

Questions Remaining

For all of the hundreds of millions the Yankees spent this winter, most of that money was spent to simply replace departing stars, and not necessarily to fix other problem areas.  Beltran for Granderson is essentially a wash when Granderson is healthy, and while Tanaka is presumed to be an upgrade over Andy Pettitte, don't forget that the retired southpaw delivered 3.2 fWAR last season.  While McCann and Ellsbury are big improvements on the Yankees' 2013 catchers and the Suzuki/Vernon Wells outfield platoon, those additions could be offset by the losses in the bullpen and at second base.

Cano's departure leaves the Yankees with one of the shakiest infield situations of any contending team.  The hope is that Jeter and Mark Teixeira can stay healthy and regain some semblance of their former productivity, but that's a tall order for two players who combined for only 32 games last season.  While Ryan or Nunez could spell Jeter at shortstop, the Yankees don't have anyone on the roster who can realistically replace Teixeira for a lengthy stretch if his wrist injuries continue to bother him.  Roberts' health is also hardly a given considering his injury problems over the last few seasons.

The addition of a player like Stephen Drew could solve a lot of these infield questions.  Drew could step in at shortstop if Jeter was hurt, and since he has expressed a willingness to move to second or third base, he would provide the Yankees with an stable everyday option at either spot.  The Yankees did make Drew an offer early in the offseason but pulled it back to focus on other signings, while Drew passed up on the deal (believed to be for two or three years) since he felt he could find a longer-term deal.  In hindsight, the Yankees missed out by not landing Peralta earlier in the winter, as they were simply outbid by the Cardinals.

C.C. Sabathia, Tanaka, Kuroda, Ivan Nova and one of Adam Warren, Michael Pineda or David Phelps will comprise New York's starting rotation.  While there's at least a bit of uncertainly surrounding all of the candidates, Sabathia's status is the Yankees' biggest concern, as the 33-year-old is coming off the worst season of his Major League career.  Sabathia has gotten into terrific shape and returned to his old offseason throwing program in an attempt to return to his old form, though if he continues to decline, it will be a huge blow to both the Yankees' playoff hopes and to their future payroll plans (given how Sabathia is still owed $76MM through 2016, plus $20MM more in 2017 if his option vests).

Nobody can replace Rivera, yet it's surprising to see that the Yankees didn't pick up one veteran arm to provide some closer for Robertson if he struggles.  Bailey may not appear until after the All-Star break, while Thornton fits better as a setup man or even as a specialist against left-handed batters.  Joel Hanrahan has been on the Yankees' radar, though he's coming off elbow surgery himself.  Beyond Roberts, Thornton and Shawn Kelley, New York is going with a young bullpen that includes some promising arms (Preston Claiborne, former top prospects Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos and the losers of the fifth starter competition) but no proven experience.

If I had to guess, the Yankees still have a few more moves up their sleeves before Opening Day.  They added Wells and Lyle Overbay last March and I'd expect similar veteran additions to join the roster this spring to give the team some depth in the bullpen and especially around the infield, particularly at first.

Deal Of Note

Of all the Yankees' major signings, the McCann contract seems to have the fewest question marks, which is somewhat surprising considering New York is committing $85MM to a catcher through his age-34 season.  A big-hitting catcher is hard to find, however, and the Yankees simply couldn't go through another year getting barely replacement-level production from behind the plate.  Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, J.R. Murphy and Austin Romine combined for only 0.9 fWAR/0.1 rWAR over a combined 202 games last season — McCann delivered 2.7 fWAR/2.2 rWAR in 102 games.  It's very possible that McCann improves on his performance, as he'll stay healthier by getting some DH days and his left-handed power swing is a great fit at Yankee Stadium.  Signing McCann also kept an All-Star catcher away from two AL rivals in the Rangers and Red Sox, both of whom were interested in McCann's services.

McCann's presence also turns the Yankees' catching pool from a weakness into potential trade bait.  Stewart was dealt to Pittsburgh and it's possible that at least one more of Cervelli, Murphy or Romine could be sent elsewhere for infield help.  The Yankees could even trade top prospect Gary Sanchez if they wished to strike a bigger deal, though the rough plan seems to be to groom Sanchez as McCann's eventual replacement, with McCann shifting to DH in a few years' time.

Overview

It's often said that Jeter personifies the Yankees, and that may be especially true in 2014, though not in the way that either Jeter or the team hopes.  A healthy Jeter can still perform at a league-best level, though it's anyone's guess as to whether he'll be able to stay off the DL and produce at his usual standard — the same could be said of the Yankees as a whole, as they'll need to rely on much better health from several key players return to contention. 

An argument could be made that despite all the struggles and injuries last year, the Yankees still won 85 games, so they're not far away from getting back to the postseason.  It's worth noting that Cashman doesn't buy that argument, as he saw his club's 2013 record as a fortunate overachievement and thus felt it necessary to spend big.  With how much of that money went towards reloading instead of actually adding talent, however, it's possible the Yankees may have only bought themselves a "real" 85-win talent level (by Pythagorean record standards) and could still fall short in the tough AL East.

Photo courtesy of Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images


Out Of Options Players: AL East

The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options.  That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so.  I've included players on multiyear deals.  This list was compiled through MLBTR's sources.  Today, we'll take a look at the AL East.

Blue Jays: Brett Cecil, Jeremy Jeffress, Luis Perez, Esmil Rogers, Sergio Santos, Todd Redmond, Moises Sierra

Back on February 20th, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke about beginning the season with an eight-man bullpen, as they did in 2013, partially because of the desire not to lose a player, according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm.  Cecil, Santos, Casey Janssen, Steve Delabar, and Aaron Loup are the locks.

Perez has already been sent to minor league camp, with the Jays expected to buy some time by putting him on the DL to start the season.  Dustin McGowan is under contract on a multiyear deal, and was not listed above because he has over seven years of big league service.  Still, the Jays will have to find a spot if they wish to retain him, and they probably will.  McGowan, Rogers, Redmond, and Jeffress are part of the fifth starter competition, as outlined by Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star on Friday.  In theory, all four could be retained: one in the rotation, the other three filling out the bullpen.  That scenario would involve sending Neil Wagner and other solid pitchers to Triple-A, establishing strong depth but perhaps not putting the team's best 13 pitchers on the Opening Day roster.  A trade would be another way to find some breathing room.  The Jays are known to be in the mix for Ervin Santana, who would take a rotation spot and have a ripple effect on the above-named players.

Sierra seems to have a good shot at the team's last bench spot partially because of his lack of minor league options.  It's another case where making the decision to retain the player might be less than ideal, as Sierra would have to be the team's fourth outfielder over the defensively superior Anthony Gose.  Sierra would also platoon at DH with Adam Lind and could pitch in at first base, however.

Orioles: Edgmer Escalona, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Kelvin De La Cruz, David Lough, Brian Matusz, Steve Pearce, Francisco Peguero, Josh Stinson

The Orioles' list includes a staggering 13 players.  Let's start with the team's rotation.  We can project three members with certainty: Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, and Wei-Yin Chen.  At this moment, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris would grab the two remaining spots.  Two of the above-named pitchers, Britton and Matusz, had been among those competing for the fifth starter job before Jimenez was signed.  Further muddying the picture, as explained by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun today, is the pursuit of Ervin Santana.  Additionally, Suk-min Yoon and Johan Santana will come into play later in the season.

Connolly notes that Norris or Gonzalez could move to the bullpen if necessary.  Hunter, Darren O'Day, Ryan Webb, and Matusz seem to be locks for the pen.  A 25-game amphetamine suspension for Patton takes him out of the picture for most of April.  That leaves Escalona, De La Cruz, Britton, and Stinson as out of options pitchers competing for three likely spots, with Steve Johnson, Alfredo Aceves, T.J. McFarland, and Evan Meek also in the mix.  You may recall the Orioles were loose with 40-man roster spots in the offseason, giving them to Escalona, De La Cruz, and Peguero despite scant big league experience.  Retaining them now requires putting them on the 25-man roster.  This situation seems to call for a trade or two.

As the backup center fielder, Lough is assured a spot on the roster.  The Cruz signing takes away at-bats from Reimold, but he still seems likely to make the team.  Peguero or Pearce could take the final roster spot, but only by beating out the other candidates in camp, such as Delmon Young, Xavier Paul, Julio Borbon, Quintin Berry, and Henry Urrutia.  There seems a good chance Peguero or Pearce is exposed to waivers; perhaps both.  Again, a minor trade could make sense in the coming weeks.

Rays: Jake McGee, Cesar Ramos, Matt Joyce, Chris Archer, Josh Lueke, Brandon Guyer

Archer is a lock for the Rays' rotation, while Ramos is battling pitchers such as Erik Bedard, Jake Odorizzi, Nate Karns, and Alex Colome for the fifth starter job until Jeremy Hellickson's projected late May return.  If he doesn't win the job, Ramos would go back to the Rays' bullpen.

McGee is a lock for a bullpen job, as are Grant Balfour, Heath Bell, and Joel Peralta.  Juan Carlos Oviedo has yet to report to camp due to visa issues, but he's expected to take a spot as well.  If Ramos doesn't win the rotation job, that leaves one potential opening for Lueke.  Late last month, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times named Brad Boxberger, Brandon Gomes, and Mark Lowe as other candidates, choosing Lueke as the favorite given his option situation.

Joyce is a lock for a roster spot.  If the Rays go with a traditional fifth outfielder, Guyer could snag the job, as Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune explained late last month.  The team could also use Sean Rodriguez or Ben Zobrist as the fifth outfielder. 

Red Sox: Mike Carp, Felix Doubront 

Doubront is penciled into Boston's rotation.  Carp has a bench spot locked down, though he did pop up in recent trade rumors.

Yankees: Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova

Nova is a key piece of the Yankees' rotation, while Cervelli is highly likely to break camp as the backup catcher.


Morosi’s Latest: Jays, Tigers, Rockies, Pineda, JDA

In his latest notes column for FOXSports.com, Jon Paul Morosi spoke with several Blue Jays players, including Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie, about the team's chemistry and whether or not it played a role in their disappointing 2013 campaign. Bautista said that it wasn't a problem, but the team will benefit in 2014 from having spent a year together. Morosi writes that the Jays' players are paying particularly close attention to the level of resources (dollars) ownership is willing to allocate to a potential Ervin Santana signing. Here are some highlights from Morosi's piece…

  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Morosi on Sunday, via email, that the club is "looking at [its] own personnel" and "will continue to evaluate" outside alternatives for left field in the wake of Andy Dirks' injury. Non-roster invitees Ezquiel Carrera and Trevor Crowe will compete for a spot to platoon with Rajai Davis, though neither has been impressive thus far in Spring Training.
  • The Cardinals could've lined up as a trade partner for Dombrowski had Oscar Taveras been fully healthy, as he could've served as more of a challenge to Jon Jay's spot in Spring Training. Taveras has played in just two games at this point, however.
  • Morosi also hears that the Rockies aren't looking to trade an outfielder and haven't had discussions about doing so, even though it may be tough to fit Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson on the Opening Day roster. Either left-handed hitter would be a logical target for Detroit to pursue should Colorado change its mind.
  • Michael Pineda could give the Yankees a playoff-caliber rotation if he's able to pitch a full season, Morosi writes. He spoke with Yankees catcher Brian McCann, who recalled feeling uncomfortable when facing Pineda in 2011 and has been encouraged by his work in Spring Training thus far.
  • MLBPA executive director Tony Clark told Morosi that the union and MLB continue to discuss potential changes to the Joint Drug Agreement that could take effect for the 2014 season. Clark has received "extensive" feedback from players on whether stiffer penalties are needed, including opinions on the 50-game suspension for first-time offenders.

Quick Hits: Perez, Pineda, Mariners, Ramirez, A’s

As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained yesterday in looking at NL West out-of-options players, the Diamondbacks already have a seeming logjam in the bullpen. Nevertheless, the team agreed to a two-year deal today with southpaw Oliver Perez. That may be a reflection of the team's view of fellow lefty Joe Thatcher, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Indeed, manager Kirk Gibson had said earlier today that the club would not carry a left-handed reliever if none warranted a roster spot, Zach Buchanan of AZCentral.com reports"You've got to have people that can command the zone," Gibson said, possibly an oblique reference to the control issues last year of Thatcher and Tony Sipp. Thatcher was the only MLB piece that came to Arizona in the Ian Kennedy trade, and recently agreed to a $2.375MM deal to avoid arbitration. The 32-year-old has a solid track record, but struggled in his 22 appearances upon joining the D'backs. Now, with Perez in line for a pen slot and Randall Delgado likely headed the same way, Thatcher or another established arm may be without a role.

  • Yankees starter Michael Pineda took an important step tonight on the road back from shoulder surgery, writes Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Throwing a slider that catcher Brian McCann called "pretty much unhittable," Pineda tossed two scoreless innings and struck out four Tigers — including Austin Jackson, Rajai Davis, and reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera. Needless to say, an effective Pineda would be a major boon to a New York club with questions at the back of the rotation (to say nothing of the future implications). The 25-year-old Pineda enters the year with 2.099 years of service, much of it accrued on the DL over the last two years.
  • Meanwhile, the Mariners — the club that dealt Pineda to New York — are looking closely at several non-roster invitees for Opening Day slots, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns. Starter Randy Wolf has had poor results, but says he is progressing. And southpaw reliever Joe Beimel is making a surprising run at a pen role, despite not having appeared in the bigs since 2011. Manager Lloyd McClendon preached patience with Wolf but lavished praise on Beimel, saying that the 36-year-old has "looked great" and "has the ability to get guys out from both sides of the plate."
  • Irrepressible former superstar Manny Ramirez says he still wants to play, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com. The 41-year-old has not been able to earn a call-up over the last two seasons, but says he is waiting for an MLB opportunity and has so far declined requests for a repeat of his successful stint in Taiwan. MLBTR's Zach Links recently reported that Ramirez had changed agents, seemingly an indication that Ramirez was serious about continuing his career.
  • As the Athletics continue to work through their difficult stadium situation, co-owner Lew Wolff says the team is considering all methods for dealing with a stalemate in lease negotiations, reports Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com"I am hopeful of expanding our lease at the Oakland Coliseum for an extended term," Wolff recently wrote. "If we cannot accomplish a lease extension, I hope to have an interim place to play in the Bay Area or in the area that reaches our television and radio fans — either an existing venue or in the erection of a temporary venue that we have asked our soccer stadium architect (360 Architecture) to explore." Needless to say, the notion of a temporary ballpark is intriguing, if somewhat frightening. Wolff took care to note that "looking outside the Bay Area and our media market is an undesirable option to ownership at this time."