Newsstand Rumors

Brewers Release Chris Perez

The Brewers have released reliever Chris Perez, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Perez was in camp on a minor league deal. He was granted his release rather than re-assigned so he can look for another big league opportunity (also Twitter).

Perez, 29, pitched 46 innings for the Dodgers in 2014. He posted a 4.27 ERA with 7.58 K/9 and 4.86 BB/9. The former Indians closer has locked down 133 career saves, but he began to struggle with command and control in 2013. His stuff has remained largely intact, including a 94 mph fastball. He pitched to a 2.70 ERA this spring with five strikeouts and three walks in 10 innings.


Mike Pelfrey Walks Back Trade Comments

SUNDAY: Pelfrey told reporters, including Berardino (Twitter link), “My emotions probably got the best of me…I’ll be a professional and go to the pen and…we’ll figure this thing out. It’s going to work.”

SATURDAY: After losing out on the Twins’ fifth starter spot, veteran Mike Pelfrey says he is open to a trade, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. Pelfrey is not demanding a trade, Berardino reports, but he says would not mind one.

Obviously if some team realizes I’m healthy for the first time in years, and this is probably the best I’ve felt and thinks I can help them, let’s do it,” Pelfrey says. “I think I showed them that I could start. If it happens, great. Let’s go.”

Pelfrey says he believed, heading into Spring Training, that he would be in competition for a rotation job. He also thinks he did enough this month to earn one, allowing only four runs, two earned, while striking out seven and walking two in 13 2/3 innings. Berardino also notes that Pelfrey has regularly hit 94MPH this spring. Last year, his average fastball was below 91MPH as he made only five starts in an injury-shortened season. Tommy Milone, who won the last starting spot, posted somewhat worse numbers than Pelfrey this month.

I know what I was told in December. I don’t know what happened,” says Pelfrey. “I know one thing that didn’t happen is I didn’t get outpitched.”

The Twins have Pelfrey pitch in long relief, a role Pelfrey sounded more open to when he spoke with reporters, including MLBTR’s Zach Links, earlier this week. Pelfrey has one more year and $5.5MM remaining on the deal he signed with the Twins prior to the 2014 season.


Mariners Prospect Victor Sanchez Dies

Mariners prospect Victor Sanchez has passed away, Jose Grasso of Finanzasdigital.com tweets. Sanchez was 20. Last month, Sanchez was swimming off the coast of his native Venezuela when he was hit by a boat. He suffered a fractured skull and a hematoma that caused a stroke, and he went into a coma.

The Seattle Mariners are saddened to learn of the passing of Victor Sanchez,” says Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik. “Victor was a tremendous young man and a wonderful teammate. He was a very talented player who was close to fulfilling his promise as a Major Leaguer. He will be missed by his teammates, and the coaches and staff at the Mariners.”

Sanchez had been in the midst of a promising career as a starting pitcher. The Mariners signed him for a $2.5MM bonus in 2011 and promoted him aggressively through their system. He threw a no-hitter in 2013 in Class A, then he held his own last year at Double-A as a 19-year-old. MLB.com ranked Sanchez as the 11th-best prospect in the Mariners’ system, praising his strike-throwing ability.

We at MLBTR offer our condolences to Sanchez’s family and to the Mariners organization.



Mets, Lucas Duda Discussing Extension

The Mets are discussing an extension with Lucas Duda, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Duda himself characterizes the talks as “preliminary stuff,” and agent Dan Horwits confirms that there have been talks but says those talks will be put on hold beginning on Opening Day.

Duda will make $4.2MM in 2015 and will be eligible for arbitration two more times before becoming a free agent following the 2017 season. By that point, he will be heading into his age-32 season, and Sherman points out that it might be tough for a 32-year-old first baseman not known for his athleticism to land a big contract. So perhaps one possibility for Duda might be to sign a four- or five-year deal that would give the Mets an extra year or two of control in exchange for a significant guarantee.

Of course, if Duda doesn’t sign an extension, much of his future earning power will depend on whether he can continue hitting for power the way he did last season. 2014 was a breakout year for Duda, who rewarded the Mets’ faith in him by hitting 30 home runs in a full-time role while batting .253/.349/.481.


Nate Schierholtz Opts Out Of Deal With Rangers

Outfielder Nate Schierholtz has taken his release from the Rangers, Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. The Rangers informed Schierholtz earlier today that he would not make the team. They signed him to a minor-league deal last month, with an opt-out date of today.

Schierholtz, 31, batted just .195/.243/.309 in 383 plate appearances with the Cubs and Nationals last season, then continued to struggle this spring. The left-handed Schierholtz has historically been a good weapon against right-handed pitching, but he didn’t separate himself from a variety of Rangers outfield options, also including Ryan Rua, Jake Smolinski, Carlos Peguero and Rule 5 pick Delino DeShields along with Shin-Soo Choo and Leonys Martin.


Cubs Release Felix Doubront

The Cubs have released pitcher Felix Doubront, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat notes (Twitter links). Doubront was set to make $1.925MM in his first season of arbitration after settling with the Cubs in January. By releasing him, though, the Cubs will only be responsible for about $473K termination pay.

Doubront was one of a large number of Cubs who were out of options, and he was one of several pitchers competing for what was effectively a single bullpen spot. He also struggled this spring, allowing nine runs in seven innings (although he struck out four and walked none).

Doubront is only two years removed from two decent seasons as a starter with the Red Sox. He struggled in Boston last season, however, and earned criticism for his attitude and effort before heading to Chicago in a minor move. He also struggled with his velocity last season. Nonetheless, Doubront is still only 27, and one would think he would have little trouble finding a new team in need of pitching, particularly starting pitching.


Rangers Acquire Sam Freeman From Cardinals

The Rangers have announced that they’ve acquired lefty Sam Freeman from the Cardinals for a player to be named later or cash. Freeman, 27, posted a 2.61 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 38 innings with the Cardinals last season while showcasing good velocity from the left side. He was, however, out of options, and the Cardinals had two other bullpen lefties in Kevin Siegrist and Randy Choate. Freeman also struggled with his control this spring, issuing five walks in five innings.

It’s not surprising the Rangers would pursue lefty relief help (although Freeman doesn’t look like an archetypal lefty specialist, having actually performed considerably better against righties than lefties in his career, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News points out). They had released Joe Beimel earlier this week, leaving them with the inexperienced Alex Claudio as their main left-handed relief option. They had also been connected to Marlins lefty Mike Dunn. Freeman has two seasons remaining before he can become eligible for arbitration, and then three more seasons after that before he can become a free agent, so there’s also the possibility (although it’s admittedly probably somewhat unlikely) that he could become a long-term asset for the Rangers if they can find a way to harness his stuff.


Angels Release Matt Lindstrom

The Angels have announced that they’ve released righty reliever Matt Lindstrom. Lindstrom had an out clause, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets, so the release frees him to pursue a job elsewhere. Mike DiGiovanna tweets, however, that Lindstrom was surprised by the Angels’ decision.

Lindstrom, 35, pitched 34 innings in the White Sox’ bullpen last season, posting a 5.03 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 while losing two miles an hour on his fastball. The Angels signed him to a minor-league deal last month. The veteran has pitched in the big leagues in all of the last eight seasons, appearing with the Marlins, Astros, Rockies, Orioles and Diamondbacks in addition to the White Sox.


Twins’ Lewis Thorpe To Have Tommy John Surgery

Highly regarded Twins prospect Lewis Thorpe has a torn UCL and will have Tommy John surgery at an undetermined date, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune tweets. Baseball Prospectus ranked Thorpe the No. 91 prospect in baseball last month, and MLB.com ranks Thorpe the No. 9 prospect in an excellent Twins system. His injury is simply the latest in an epidemic of arm problems leading to Tommy John surgery, with Yu Darvish and unsigned 2014 No. 1 overall draft pick Brady Aiken among the latest victims.

Thorpe pitched well against much older competition last year in the Midwest League, posting a 3.52 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 as an 18-year-old. The previous season, he racked up 64 strikeouts against six walks in 44 innings in the Gulf Coast League. MLB.com praised the velocity (in the low 90s) and movement on the young Australian’s fastball, noting that he also had a good changeup and was working on two breaking pitches.


White Sox Claim Kyle Drabek

Right-hander Kyle Drabek has been claimed on waivers by the White Sox, the Blue Jays announced. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted minutes before the announcement that an unknown club had claimed Drabek, and Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi had originally tweeted that Drabek was packing up his locker and appeared to be on the move. Fellow righty Nate Jones has been placed on the 60-day DL to clear a roster spot, the White Sox announced.

The 27-year-old Drabek was once regarded as one of baseball’s top 30 prospects by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, and he was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Roy Halladay from Toronto to Philadelphia. Injuries, however, have limited much of his ability to stay on the mound since being acquired by Toronto (he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012), and he’s been ineffective when able to take the hill. In 172 1/3 big league innings, Drabek has a 5.27 ERA, an even more unsightly 5.41 FIP and an uninspiring 118-to-111 K/BB ratio.

Drabek has been effective over the past two Minor League seasons, however, and he’s had a strong Spring Training (7 IP, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K), though it’s tough to place too much emphasis on seven spring innings. Drabek is out of Minor League options, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently noted, meaning that he’d have to clear waivers before the Sox could send him outright to Triple-A.

The Sox may very well try to sneak Drabek through waivers, as the bullpen picture already contains David Robertson, Jake Petricka, Zach Duke, Daniel Webb, Zach Putnam, Javy Guerra and Dan Jennings, with Maikel Cleto and Eric Surkamp also serving as options.