- Astros Hire A.J. Hinch As Manager
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- Astros Hire A.J. Hinch As Manager
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The Yankees are working on a contract extension with general manager Brian Cashman, whose current deal expires at the end of October, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney. Reports have previously indicated that the longtime Bombers GM wasn’t in danger of losing his role despite the fact that the Yankees missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season this year.
Cashman, 47, has been the Yankees’ general manager since 1998, but this is the first time in his tenure — and the first time since 1992-93, as Olney points out — that the team has missed the playoffs in successive seasons. Nonetheless, Cashman’s strong standing with the Steinbrenner family and the organization’s overall success under his watch has him in line for a new contract.
The Yankees were derailed by a barrage of injuries to the rotation this season, as CC Sabathia missed most of the season with a knee injury, Ivan Nova underwent Tommy John surgery, Michael Pineda missed much of the year with a shoulder injury and rookie ace Masahiro Tanaka missed nearly three months with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. The Yankees also saw disappointing returns on major free agent investments Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. Lesser free agents such as Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson and Brendan Ryan also scuffled. Jacoby Ellsbury, the largest non-pitching acquisition of last offseason, provided a generally strong season, hitting .271/.328/.419 with 16 homers and 39 steals.
The Marlins made a 15-game improvement over last season’s 62 wins, but president of baseball operations Michael Hill explains to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that the team still has work to do, as they’re not one of the 10 teams whose season has yet to end. A busy offseason figures to be ahead, and at the forefront of the action will be an attempt to sign Giancarlo Stanton to a long-term deal. Marlins president David Samson spoke candidly to Spencer about the team’s hopes, and concretely stated that Stanton will not be traded this offseason:
“He’s on this team [in 2015] either way. I can’t wait until after the season to sit down with Giancarlo and [agent] Joel Wolfe and talk about contract. We’re ready. We want him to be a Marlin well past his arbitration years. We hope that he believes in us and believes in Miami and believes in the direction of this team and recognizes that he has a chance to be the leader of a successful team for many years to come.”
Regardless of whether or not a long-term deal is reached, Stanton’s salary figures to soar after an MVP-worthy campaign in 2014. Before his season came to a frightening end after he was struck in the face by a Mike Fiers fastball, Stanton had compiled an electric .288/.395/.555 batting line with a league-leading 37 homers and a career-best 105 RBIs. That type of production will warrant a sizable raise from his $6.5MM salary in arbitration. Spencer speculates that Stanton’s salary could double to $13MM, which seems entirely plausible; last offseason, Chris Davis earned a record $7MM raise for a second-time arbitration player — the same juncture at which Stanton currently finds himself. Granted, Davis was coming off a 53-homer campaign with a gaudier RBI total — both figures that factor into the arbitration process — but his raise could provide a rough guideline for Stanton this winter.
With that raise in mind, it’s of particular importance that Spencer reports the team’s payroll is expected to clear $60MM this coming season. While that would still represent one of the lowest totals in baseball — if not the lowest — it also will allow the Marlins to accommodate a much larger salary for their prized slugger, as well as arbitration raises to others, such as Steve Cishek (second time), Henderson Alvarez (first time) and Nathan Eovaldi (first time).
If the Marlins aren’t able to secure Stanton on a multi-year deal, they’ll still look to upgrade elsewhere, most notably targeting upgrades at first base an in the starting rotation, according to Spencer. General manager Dan Jennings said that he would like to cut down on the club’s strikeouts and improve its two-strike approach. The Marlins whiffed at the third-highest rate in Major League Baseball and grounded into more double plays than any club but the Rangers this season.
Marlins first basemen hit a respectable, if unspectacular .254/.313/.402 this season. They’ll have a several names to choose from in a free agent class that will have numerous solid options such as Adam LaRoche, Mike Morse and Michael Cuddyer (who is, might I add, a former teammate of recently extended manager Mike Redmond). Pitching depth is one thing the Marlins already possess with the likes of Jose Fernandez (returning from Tommy John), Alvarez, Eovaldi, Jarred Cosart, Tom Koehler, Anthony DeSclafani, Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Brian Flynn and Brad Hand, but adding a veteran could allow them the flexibility to move some of those arms in a trade.
The projected cutoff for Super Two status for this offseason’s arbitration class is looking like it’s going to come in at two years, 133 days of Major League service (written as 2.133), MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes hears (Twitter links). However, as he notes, there’s no official ruling on what this year’s cutoff will be. Before getting too much further into the fallout of this figure, let’s provide a quick refresher on what, exactly, Super Two status entails.
Players with at least three but less than six years of Major League service are considered arbitration eligible. Additionally, a player with at least two years but less than three is eligible for arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and ranks in the top 22 percent in total service in the two-to-three-years service class; these players are referred to as “Super Two” players. The current collective bargaining agreement, which went into effect December 12th, 2011, raised that Super Two cutoff percentage from 17 percent to 22 percent, and that 22 percent of players will be eligible for arbitration four times instead of the standard three times. Also bear in mind that for MLB purposes, 172 days is the equivalent of one year of Major League service time.
For some context on this year’s cutoff, here’s a look at the cutoffs from the previous five years:
- 2013: 2.122
- 2012: 2.139
- 2011: 2.146
- 2010: 2.122
- 2009: 2.139
Astros infielder Marwin Gonzalez, who will finish with exactly 2.133 years of service, will be the last from the two-to-three-year service class to qualify for the distinction if this cutoff holds. One additional fallout for the White Sox is that the salaries of Jose Quintana will escalate. The southpaw signed a five-year, $21MM contract prior to this season, but his contract contains a clause that causes the guarantee to grow to $26.5MM if he qualifies as a Super Two. Quintana had projected to earn $1MM in 2015, $3.8MM in 2016, $6MM in 2017 and $8.35MM in 2018 with $10.5MM club options for 2019 and 2020 (each with a $1MM buyout). Those salaries will rise to $3.4MM, $5.4MM, $7MM and $8.85MM, respectively. The options will remain unchanged.
Others who looked like candidates early in the season, such as Eduardo Escobar of the Twins, Drew Hutchison of the Blue Jays and DJ LeMahieu of the Rockies would fall just shy of the distinction. (Each of those candidates was identified as a possible Super Two player in our last look at the projected Super Two cutoff back in April.)
The Mariners have re-instated Jesus Montero to their 40-man roster and designated pending free agent Corey Hart for assignment in order to make room, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (Twitter link).
Because Hart is a pending free agent, the move is a largely procedural one; he’d have been off the team’s 40-man roster following the postseason anyway and wasn’t a candidate for a qualifying offer base on a down season. The former Brewer batted just .203/.271/.319 in his lone season with the Mariners — a clear disappointment for a team that was undoubtedly hoping to have secured something closer to the .279/.343/.514 batting line he posted from 2010-12 in Milwaukee. Anything close to that production would’ve made his $6MM base salary a bargain, but Hart was a known risk after missing all of 2013 due to a pair of knee surgeries.
5:36pm: The Astros have officially announced Hinch as their new manager. In a prepared statement within a press release, GM Jeff Luhnow offered the following praise for Hinch:
“I am extremely excited to bring in A.J. as our new manage. Throughout our process, we searched for a person with previous Major League experience, who could effectively lead our young, growing nucleus of talented players. I have no doubt that A.J. is the right person to do that. He brings experience as a Major League player, Major League manager and player development executive. His skillsets and leadership abilities will be enormous assets in our clubhouse and to our entire organization.”
3:31pm: The Astros have called a press conference to make a “significant announcement” at 5:30pm CT today, and MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart hears from a source that it will be to name the team’s new manager (Twitter link). Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter link) that A.J. Hinch is “close” to becoming the Astros’ manager, so it seems likely that Hinch will be announced in that role two hours from now. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick had tweeted earlier in the day that Hinch was still in the running as the search was narrowing.
Hinch, 40, served as the Diamondbacks’ manager for parts of the 2009-10 seasons, leading the team to an 89-123 record after being hired despite his young age (34 at the time) and the fact that he hadn’t managed at any previous level. More recently, Hinch has served as the vice president of professional scouting for the Padres — a position he left earlier this summer. Hinch was one of three men, along with assistant GMs Omar Minaya and Fred Uhlman Jr., to fill in making baseball operations decisions for the Padres following the dismissal of GM Josh Byrnes earlier this year. A Stanford graduate, Hinch has been called a “numbers guy” by some, so the match with the analytics-driven Astros isn’t a total surprise.
In addition to his time as a manager and in the front office, Hinch played in parts of eight Major League seasons between the Athletics, Royals, Tigers and Phillies. A catcher by trade, Hinch batted .219/.280/.356 with 32 homers in 1075 big league plate appearances from 1998-2004.
The Astros dismissed Bo Porter from the managerial position earlier this month and have leaned on former minor league manager Tom Lawless as the club’s interim manager. Lawless, along with Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and Rays bench coach Dave Martinez were all said to have interviewed for the position at one point.
3:15pm: Gardenhire has been offered a different position within the organization, Ryan said at today’s press conference. Gardenhire says that he hasn’t decided whether or not he would have interest.
1:05pm: La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports that the “entire coaching staff is not being brought back,” though he does note that because the new manager will get to choose his staff, some of the current coaches could find their way onto next year’s staff (Twitter links). Presumably, that would happen if the Twins were to hire an internal candidate such as Paul Molitor or Terry Steinbach, both of whom were coaches on this year’s staff.
12:08pm: The Twins have fired longtime manager Ron Gardenhire, the team announced. The 2010 AL Manager of the Year will be replaced following four straight seasons of 90+ losses, and the Twins will immediately begin looking for Gardenhire’s replacement. The status of the other members of the Minnesota coaching staff will be determined by both the new manager and by Twins GM Terry Ryan.
Gardenhire, 56, has been with the Twins organization since 1988, first as a minor league manager and then for 11 years as the team’s third base coach. He took over from Tom Kelly prior to the 2002 season and enjoyed immediate success, leading the Twins to three straight AL Central titles. “Gardy” managed three more AL Central winners from 2006-10, though in all six of his postseason appearances, only won one playoff series.
The last four seasons have been a different story for both Gardenhire and the Twins, as the team struggled to a 265-383 record and finished in last place in three of those four years. Poor roster construction and a lack of minor league depth was generally blamed for Minnesota’s problems rather than Gardenhire, though even in the winning years, he took some criticism for his lineup construction.
Gardenhire has an 1068-1039 record over his career, and given his strong pedigree and reputation around baseball, one would think he’d be an instant candidate for other managerial openings around the game. The Rangers, Diamondbacks and Astros are currently looking for new managers.
This will be the first managerial search in over a generation for the Twins — since September 1986, Kelly and Gardenhire have been the club’s only two skippers. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale predicts that either Terry Steinbach or Paul Molitor (both current members of the Twins coaching staff) will be the next manager. Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo could also be an external candidate, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets.
Gardenhire’s firing was reported by Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (Twitter link). Earlier in the day, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted that “the word is not good” on Gardenhire’s status with the club, though the report was unconfirmed at the time.
Photo courtesy of Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports Images
The Reds are prepared to “undergo an overhaul” to their front office, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link). Several changes are coming to the organization, the first of which is vice president and assistant GM Bob Miller leaving the team.
Miller’s departure seems to be an amicable one, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets that Miller is leaving to start his own business. Miller, who has been working in baseball for over 30 years, originally joined the Reds in 2006 as the director of baseball administration and was promoted to VP and assistant GM later in the year.
Whatever changes are coming to Cincinnati’s front office, they won’t involve the man in charge, Walt Jocketty. The general manager just signed a two-year extension to continue running the club through the 2016 season.
We noted earlier today that the Rangers would interview internal candidates Tim Bogar, Mike Maddux and Steve Buechele for their managerial opening. Here’s more end-of-season notes on the Rangers.
- It sounds like the Rangers might soon re-sign pitcher Colby Lewis — Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram tweets that GM Jon Daniels and Lewis’ agent Alan Nero have recently exchanged texts, and Wilson says that the two sides might come to “a quick resolution.” Lewis, 35, posted a 5.18 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 170 1/3 innings this season after missing the entire 2013 season due to injury.
- The Rangers have done well under interim manager Tim Bogar, but that won’t have a significant impact on whether the Rangers hire him for the permanent manager position, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest writes. “JD and I have already talked about it,” says Bogar. “It didn’t matter if I went 0-22 or 22-0. It was a lot more about all the other intangibles that go along with this job.”
- Daniels says he does not expect the Rangers to be involved on key free agent pitchers like Jon Lester or James Shields, writes Andro. “I don’t expect a play at the top end of free agency this year for a variety of reasons,” says Daniels. “I also think there are going to be other ways to acquire quality innings in the rotation.”
- The Rangers could stick with Robinson Chirinos as their everyday catcher in 2015, says Andro. Sticking with Chirinos might make more sense for the Rangers than, say, signing Russell Martin would — Chirinos was effective in 2014, and top prospect Jorge Alfaro could be ready in 2016.
Now that the 2014 regular season has come to an end, here’s the order for the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft. The order is determined in reverse order of regular season record, with ties being broken by record from the previous season. Teams are also compensated for failing to sign first-round picks from previous years. In 2015, the only team to receive an extra pick in the first 30 is Houston, which will get the No. 2 overall pick for failing to sign Brady Aiken this year.
Much about the draft order remains to be determined, given the impact that qualifying offers will have on the ultimate order. This year, the first 11 picks are protected, meaning that teams cannot lose those picks for signing free agents who have been extended qualifying offers. That means the Cubs, Phillies and Reds have protected picks, while the Marlins, Padres and Rays do not.
2. Astros (for failure to sign 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken)
7. Red Sox
8. White Sox
18. Blue Jays
Here’s Compensation Round A, which follows the first round. Unlike regular draft picks, Compensation Round picks can be traded.
32. Astros (via Marlins)
The Reds, Red Sox (via the Athletics), Mariners, Twins, Orioles and Diamondbacks, respectively, own picks in Comp Round B, which will come after the second round.
The Rangers will interview interim manager Tim Bogar, pitching coach Mike Maddux and Triple-A Round Rock manager Steve Buechele as they attempt to find a permanent replacement for Ron Washington, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram tweets. The Rangers will also interview “a few external candidates.”
It comes as no surprise that the Rangers would interview Bogar, Maddux and Buechele. At the tail end of a disastrous, injury-filled season, the Rangers have performed well for Bogar, which has already led to speculation that Bogar might be almost forcing the Rangers to hire him.
Maddux has said that he hoped to receive an interview for the position. He would likely return as the pitching coach if the Rangers hire Bogar (and, presumably, if Maddux is not offered a managerial job elsewhere). Buechele, meanwhile, has also interviewed for the open manager position in Houston.