Newsstand Rumors

Hyun-jin Ryu To Undergo Shoulder Surgery

MAY 20: The Dodgers announced that Ryu will have an arthroscopic procedure tomorrow, to be performed by team surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

MAY 19, 11:45pm: Ryu has elected to undergo shoulder surgery, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. According to Saxon’s source, an MRI on Ryu’s shoulder didn’t reveal a tear or any obvious structural damage, so the surgery would be exploratory in nature — an attempt to determine the cause of the inflammation that has prevented him from pitching in 2015. Nevertheless, an operation of that nature would cast significant doubt on Ryu’s ability to pitch for the Dodgers this season and, as Saxon notes, could send the team into a full-scale search for starting pitching upgrades.

11:40am: A “shoulder cleanup” is likely, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

10:58am: Dodgers lefty Hyun-jin Ryu is weighing the possibility of a surgical option to solve his shoulder problems, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. While Passan notes that a report out of Ryu’s native Korea suggests surgery will take place this week, his sources say that a decision has yet to be made.

This development is the latest sign of trouble for Ryu, who has struggled to regain velocity as his shoulder has continued to prove problematic. Ryu has yet to pitch this year, and recent reports indicated that he did not even have a timetable to re-start a throwing program.

The 28-year-old experienced arm issues last year, but has been excellent when healthy. All said, he’s provided Los Angeles with 344 innings of 3.17 ERA pitching, with 7.7 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9, over the last two seasons.

The Dodgers signed Ryu for six years and $36MM out of Korea in the winter of 2012 after paying a $25.7MM posting fee. That contract has long looked like a steal, but will cost the team more in the coming seasons, as Ryu is owed $7MM annually from 2016-18. (Of course, that’s a relatively meager sum for the large-budget Dodgers.)

Of more immediate concern to Los Angeles, the prospect of an even longer absence from Ryu brings the team’s starting depth into further question. Major free agent addition Brandon McCarthy is already going to miss this year and much of next after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and the team is currently trotting out Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias as its fourth and fifth starters. While those pitchers have (somewhat surprisingly) provided excellent results to date, it would not be surprising to see the Dodgers play a significant role on the summer trade market.


Mariners Acquire Welington Castillo From Cubs For Yoervis Medina

The Mariners have agreed to acquire catcher Welington Castillo from the Cubs in exchange for right-handed reliever Yoervis Medina, the clubs announced. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported the deal on Twitter.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago CubsCastillo, who only recently turned 28, has long seemed one of the more likely players in the game to be dealt — as I explained in breaking him down as a trade candidate back in March. Over the offseason, the Cubs dealt for Miguel Montero and signed David Ross to back him up, leaving Castillo without an obvious role.

Indeed, Castillo has only appeared behind the plate in nine games thus far, though he’s managed to see 47 plate appearances due to pinch-hitting duties. Regardless of his role, Castillo has struggled this year, slashing just .163/.234/.349. Of course, a .172 BABIP surely is not helping. And while Castillo carries a hefty 14.3% infield fly rate, he is also credited with more hard-hit balls than he has historically produced.

As always, there’s a deeper track record to consider. All said, Castillo has been an approximately league-average hitter over his career, which is certainly useful for a backstop. And he has at times shown something more, putting up a composite .271/.345/.404 line across the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The real questions with Castillo seem to be on the other side of the ledger, though that is not entirely borne out by the numbers. He has never rated very highly in the pitch-framing department, but receives strong marks for his arm and pitch-blocking.

He is far from a perfect player, of course, which is presumably why the Cubs sought out replacements. But there is a lot to like about Castillo, who is playing on a $2.1MM salary this year and can be controlled for two more seasons through arbitration.

From the Mariners perspective, this deal provides the club with a long-term partner for incumbent Mike Zunino, who figures to lose some playing time after a rather active start to the year. Seattle has received scant production from its backstops: Zunino himself owns a meager .179/.241/.348 slash, though he has hit five long balls, while Jesus Sucre has just one hit in 16 turns at bat.

On the Cubs side of the ledger, Medina seemingly represents a buy-low arm of the sort that the team has targeted in recent years with some frequency. Though the 26-year-old has struggled with just 6.8 K/9 against 5.3 BB/9 this year — the walks are nothing new, though he had struck out better than nine hitters per nine innings in prior years — he still owns a 3.00 ERA in his 12 innings of work. And Medina has compiled 125 innings of 2.81 ERA pitching over the prior two seasons.

Medina has exhibited some rather significant velocity loss this year, dropping from last year’s 94-95 mph range down to 92.4 mph with both his four-seamer and two-seamer thus far in 2015. In addition to a quality sinker, which he went away from this year, Medina also features a rather promising curveball. That offspeed offering rated as one of the best in the game back in 2013 and continues to generate positive (albeit less excellent) results, at least by measure of Pitch F/X pitch value.

Chicago can and will stash Medina in Triple-A while attempting to work on his control issues and waiting for a need to arise. With two years of MLB service entering the season, Medina had figured to quality for arbitration next year, but that could well be in doubt at this point (though he’ll also have a chance at Super Two status if he doesn’t reach three years of service). All said, then, Chicago will control Medina for at least three and potentially four seasons after this one.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Bruce Chen Announces Retirement

Lefty Bruce Chen has announced on Twitter that he will retire from professional baseball. Chen, 37, was designated for assignment by the Indians on Saturday.

Chen struggled through 6 1/3 innings in two starts this year for Cleveland, permitting nine earned runs. He struck out four and walked one batter, but gave up 17 total hits — including three long balls.

Of course, Chen has long provided plenty of innings and flexibility to 11 total MLB clubs. The wily southpaw never relied much on velocity, working in the mid-80s in recent seasons. But that didn’t stop him from compiling over 1,500 innings in the majors.

All said, the Panamanian native compiled a 4.62 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 over 17 big league campaigns. Chen broke into the big leagues with the Braves at age 21. Atlanta signed him as an amateur way back in 1993.

Chen is, perhaps, most associated with the Royals, with whom he spent six seasons. His time in K.C. represented something of a late-career renaissance, as he compiled 5.6 rWAR in that span (in spite of a rough final campaign).

The Orioles arguably enjoyed Chen’s most productive overall campaign in 2005, when he racked up a career-high 197 1/3 frames while working to a 3.83 ERA. He ultimately spent three years with Baltimore, with his 343 2/3 innings with the O’s representing the second-most he logged with any single team.

Be sure to give a read to Chen’s Twitter timeline to read through his classy tip of the cap to the fans and teams he played for. MLBTR joins those around the game congratulating Chen on his career and wishing him luck in his future endeavors.



Red Sox Outright Allen Craig

The Red Sox announced this afternoon that first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, meaning that he is no longer on the club’s 40-man roster.

That Craig cleared waivers unclaimed isn’t necessarily a surprise, given the lack of production he’s experienced in the past two seasons and the significant amount of money that remains on his contract. Had any team claimed the 30-year-old Craig on waivers, they would have been required to assume the remaining $25.2MM that he is owed through the end of the 2017 season. The outright does put an exclamation point on what has been an exceptionally sudden fall for Craig, who as recently as 2013 was one of the Cardinals’ most productive bats.

Craig suffered a lisfranc fracture in his foot at the end of the 2013 season and was never himself in 2014 before reaggravating his left foot following a trade to Boston. (Craig, along with Joe Kelly, joined the Sox in exchange for John Lackey.) Over his past 564 Major League plate appearances, Craig is hitting just .207/.275/.302. The Sox had already optioned him to Triple-A earlier this month, but the outright removes him from the 40-man roster, which is now at 37.

Craig, technically, has the right to refuse his outright assignment, but doing so would mean forfeiting the money remaining on his contract, so he’ll remain with Triple-A Pawtucket in hopes of rediscovering his stroke. Boston’s offense has struggled of late and has been anemic all season long when facing left-handed pitching, so a productive Craig would go a long ways toward boosting the team’s overall outlook. In 25 plate appearances at Pawtucket thus far, Craig is hitting .261/.320/.391 with three doubles.


Marlins Name GM Dan Jennings Manager

After the decision to fire manager Mike Redmond last night, the Marlins have officially announced that general manager Dan Jennings will succeed Redmond as the team’s new manager. Advance scout and former Mariners first base coach/bench coach Mike Goff will be the club’s new bench coach, while VP/assistant GM Mike Berger will assume Jennings’ former front office roles.

The decision was announced at an 11am ET press conference today in which Jennings, president of baseball operation Michael Hill and team president David Samson addressed the media. Owner Jeffrey Loria was not present for the press conference. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has a plethora of quotes from Jennings, Hill and Samson alike.

According to Hill, Jennings “is our manager for the remainder of the season. As we do with everything, we re-evaluate at the end of the season.” For the time being, the GM role with the Marlins will be considered vacant, but Jennings could return to that position at season’s end, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. Hill will head the baseball operations department, Jackson notes, and Samson acknowledged at the presser that Jennings is actually under contract through the 2018 season. Previously, Jennings was only known to be under contract through the 2015 campaign.

Samson said that the idea of Jennings taking the managerial reins was first generated on a conference call and then presented to Loria, who was amenable to the idea. Said Jennings of the hire, “It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to lead this team that I had a hand in putting together.” Jennings was, however, quick to recognize that he would need some help from someone with more experience. “I said the only way I would consider it is if Mike Goff was removed from advanced scouting position and moved to bench coach,” said Jennings. Goff has also served as a manager in the minor league systems of the Reds and Giants.

There’s little precedent for such a move, although the Brewers just made at least a somewhat similar move by shifting Craig Counsell from special assistant to GM Doug Melvin to the role of manager. The D-Backs took a comparable course in 2009 when the moved A.J. Hinch from the front office — he was the team’s director of player development — to the managerial role after dismissing Bob Melvin. Going further back, in 1989 the Indians named John Hart manager for a brief 19-game stretch to close out the season before transitioning him to president of baseball operations the following year.

The move to hire Jennings continues a recent trend of managerial hires despite zero prior experience, but those hires have all been of former players. In addition to Counsell, the Rays’ Kevin Cash, the Twins’ Paul Molitor, the White Sox’ Robin Ventura, the Tigers’ Brad Ausmus and the Cardinals’ Mike Matheny are just a few examples of current managers whose first experience in the role is coming at the big league level. Those managers, however, had at least spent significant time in the dugout as players and, in many cases, as coaches of varying capacity as well.

Jennings has no dugout experience, so while he is a respected baseball mind throughout the industry, he’s certainly stepping into uncharted territory here. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal speculates that Jennings is taking the job at least somewhat out of a sense of obligation. Loria trusts Jennings a great deal and gave him an eight-year contract with the club’s front office following the 2007 season, Rosenthal notes, creating a strong sense of loyalty to Loria in Jennings.

The Marlins are currently still paying Jennings’ GM predecessor, Larry Beinfest, and they’ll also pay Redmond through the 2017 season and pay former manager Ozzie Guillen through the end of the current season. As such, the move from GM to manager for Jennings will prevent the team from taking on a financial commitment to a third manager, though it’s not directly clear how large a role that factor played in the decision.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported the decision (Twitter link) after suggesting it as a possibility on Sunday evening. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale first reported that Goff would be the bench coach and Berger would assume Jennings’ previous front office roles (Twitter links).


GM Dan Jennings Could Become Marlins Manager

Current Marlins GM Dan Jennings could become their next manager, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Heyman further notes that Ivan Rodriguez does not currently appear to be a candidate.

Heyman previously reported that the Marlins’ managerial choice would be “outside the box,” and Jennings would be an outside-the-box choice indeed. He coached high school baseball in Alabama before becoming a scout in the 1980s. He has since worked in a variety of scouting and front office roles and does not seem to have coached since then, having joined the Marlins front office in 2002.

There would be limited recent precedent for a team hiring its own GM as manager, particularly when that GM does not have experience in that role. (It is unclear whether Jennings would continue to serve as the Marlins’ GM if he were made manager, a possibility Heyman mentions; there would be similarly little recent precedent for such an arrangement.) One could also note an irony in Jennings replacing Mike Redmond as manager, given that Jennings himself bears responsibility for some of the player personnel moves that have led to the Marlins’ disappointing start this season, such as his trade for Mat Latos and signing of Michael Morse.

Jennings does, however, seem to have the ear of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who promoted Jennings when he fired president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest late in the 2013 season. Jennings’ hire as manager would also be consistent with Joe Frisaro of MLB.com’s recent tweet indicating that the Marlins’ new manager would be a surprising hire from within the organization.


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Miami Marlins | Newsstand

Ivan Rodriguez A Rumored Candidate For Marlins Job

12:13am: Rodriguez does not seem to be a candidate, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.

12:11am: There are industry whispers about former star catcher Ivan Rodriguez as a potential candidate for the Marlins managerial job, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets. The Marlins, of course, fired another former catcher, Mike Redmond, from the job on Sunday and will announce a replacement Monday morning.

The idea of Rodriguez as a candidate is consistent with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports’ recent tweet that the job will go to an “outside the box” candidate. Rodriguez retired in 2012 and is now a special assistant to Rangers GM Jon Daniels. He has no managerial experience, although former catchers like Mike Matheny and Brad Ausmus have won managerial jobs in recent seasons despite similarly thin resumés as coaches.

Rodriguez was widely credited for his veteran leadership for the Marlins in 2003, when they won their second World Series, although that was his only season with the team. He spent the rest of his 21-year big-league career with the Rangers, Tigers, Yankees, Astros and Nationals, generally putting up strong offensive numbers while winning ample praise for his work behind the plate (and particularly his arm). He holds the MLB record for games caught, with 2,427.


Marlins Fire Manager Mike Redmond

10:49pm: Frisaro tweets that there are rumors within the industry that the Marlins could hire former star catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a hero for the Marlins’ 2003 World Series team, retired as a player in 2012.

10:10pm: The Marlins’ next manager will be someone currently in the organization, Frisaro tweets. It doesn’t appear it will be Butler or Conine, and a source tells Frisaro he’ll be “shocked” when he hears who it is. Frisaro speculates that it could be Andre Dawson or Tony Perez, both of whom are special assistants to president David Samson. Heyman adds (via Twitter) that the new hire will be someone “outside the box” who hasn’t been widely discussed tonight.

8:43pm: It also isn’t Ron Washington, tweets Heyman, who also tweets that it won’t be Bobby Valentine or Bo Porter.

6:24pm: Butler will not be the Marlins’ next manager, sources tell Frisaro (via Twitter).

6:20pm: The Marlins have not been in touch with former Giants and Reds skipper Dusty Baker, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets.

5:05pm: Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald reports the Marlins are eyeing candidates with previous MLB managerial experience and names former Astros manager and current Braves third base coach Bo Porter and Ron Roenicke, who was dismissed by the Brewers two weeks ago, as possibilities who fit the bill.

2:44pm: The Marlins have announced on Twitter they have fired manager Mike Redmond. Bench coach Rob Leary was also relieved of his duties. Redmond was in his third season and had a record of 155-207. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets a new manager will be named tomorow at a 10am CT news conference and third base coach Brett Butler is the leading internal candidate to replace Redmond, at least on an interim basis. The new manager will be the seventh for the franchise since 2009.

Hopefully a new voice will spark and motivate our guys to play as capable as we know they are of playing,” said Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill (per the team’s official Twitter account).

The Marlins invested heavily this offseason by extending the face of the franchise Giancarlo Stanton and fellow outfielder Christian Yelich. Miami also acquired Dee Gordon (the MLB leader in batting average), Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Mike Morse, Martin Prado, and Ichiro Suzuki giving rise to playoff aspirations.

The firings came literally minutes after the Marlins were swept by the Braves at home and were nearly no-hit in doing so (Justin Bour ended Shelby Miller‘s bid with two outs in the bottom of the ninth). Nearly one month ago, rumors began circulating Redmond was on the hot seat after the team struggled to a 3-11 start.

In those reports, Mets’ Triple-A manager Wally Backman was named as one of the possible replacements. Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets the Marlins have not requested permission from the Mets to speak with Backman. The New York Post’s Mike Puma tweets the Marlins had informal talks with Backman last month through a third party.

The Marlins also have not contacted former Twins manager Ron Gardenshire, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In separate tweets, Berardino floats the name of ex-Rangers skipper Ron Washington, who interviewed for the Marlins job a decade ago and lives in New Orleans which is ironically also home to the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes on Twitter owner Jeffrey Loria is now paying two managers not to manage: Redmond (who signed an extension through 2017 last September) and Ozzie Guillen (in the final year of a four-year, $10MM deal).

The Marlins, losers of ten of their last 14, are in fourth place in the NL East, six games behind the Mets. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets Loria may be hoping history repeats itself. The last time the Marlins fired a manager when the club’s record stood at 16-22 was 2003 when Jack McKeon (now 84 and serving as a special assistant to Loria) replaced Jeff Torborg and guided the team to a World Series title. The Marlins haven’t returned to the playoffs since.


Jeff Bridich Addresses Troy Tulowitzki Trade Chatter

Rockies GM Jeff Bridich addressed recent comments from star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and his agent about the possibility of a trade, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. Bridich wrote off the recent talk about a deal as “a media production, more than anything else.”

Colorado’s top baseball executive also rejected the notion that Tulowitzki’s camp was responsible for the sudden rash of attention to the idea of the club’s top attraction demanding a trade. (Tulowitzki, of course, has denied that he will do so.) Bridich made clear, further, that Colorado sees itself in the driver’s seat regarding Tulowitzki’s employment.

“The reality is that at any point, in any players’ day, they can come to the organization and ask for a trade, I suppose,” said Bridich. “But the reality is that Troy doesn’t have control of this and neither does his agent, for the contract. All Troy wants to do is come to work each day and make us better.”

Bridich also noted that he believes reports are tied to the club’s overall struggles. “That fuels speculation,” said Bridich, “and then people go on the record and try to create types of news stories and controversies by writing opinions that are just that, opinions. They aren’t based in fact. So really, nothing has changed. … Funny how none of this came up in April when we were playing very different baseball.”

There is little doubt that Colorado’s recent free-fall in the NL West standings has brought the matter back to the front burner. In that regard, Bridich is undoubtedly correct. But there is also a good reason for the current revival of an oft-discussed question: the team does not seem headed for contention — now or, frankly, in the near future — and Tulowitzki would represent a huge upgrade for many other clubs.

Though the 30-year-old has not played to his usual level thus far, slashing a modest .289/.297/.456, that represents a relatively tiny data point. There are legitimate reasons for some concern, of course, starting with the fact that Tulo is coming off of hip surgery. Then, there’s his troubling 1.7% walk rate, coupled with an uncharacteristic 23.7% strikeout rate.

If Tulowitzki can put up anything near his usual level of production going forward, the slow start (and, to a lesser extent, the injury concerns) will be all but forgotten. He is obviously not cheap — he’s owed the balance of $20MM this year and $98MM from 2016-2020 (including an option buyout for 2021) — but that’s a manageable sum for most teams for a superstar, up-the-middle player. All said, it’s quite likely that we will see plenty of ongoing rumors and analysis of the situation over the next few months.


Astros Sign Jose Veras To Minors Deal

Right-hander Jose Veras is on his way back to the Astros, as the club announced (Twitter link) that it has signed the veteran reliever to a minor league contract. The Praver/Shapiro client will report to extended Spring Training, according to the team. With the minor league deal in place, the 34-year-old Veras will attempt to return to the Astros for his third separate stint in the past three seasons.

The first of those stints in Houston came in 2013, when Veras signed a one-year, $1.85MM contract and wound up thriving as the Astros’ closer. He posted an excellent 2.93 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 43 innings for Houston that season — a performance that made him a popular trade target in July. The Tigers send outfield prospect Danry Vasquez and hard-throwing-but-injured relief prospect David Paulino to Houston to acquire Veras and the club option on his contract. Veras’ performance, however, boosted the value of the option from $3.25MM to $4MM by way of incentives, and the Tigers made the somewhat surprising decision to pay him a $150K buyout, letting him hit free agency once again.

Veras signed with the Cubs in the 2013-14 offseason, but his tenure in Chicago was brief, at best. Brought on board to be the team’s closer, he instead posted a dreadful 8.10 ERA in 13 1/3 innings with the Cubs and was quickly jettisoned. That led to a return to Houston, where he again found success, notching a 3.03 ERA with 10.2 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 in 32 2/3 innings.

Veras said after returning to Houston that he regretted signing elsewhere, and he said at the outset of this past offseason that he hoped to return to the Astros, which feels like “home” to him. Houston had talks with the righty this winter, but it’s not clear if an offer was ever made. He wound up signing with the Braves and being cut in Spring Training.

In his career, Veras has had no problem missing bats but does struggle with his control at times. He is the owner of a lifetime 3.91 ERA with a strong 9.3 K/9 rate, but he’s also averaged 4.7 walks per nine innings in his career. Houston will hope that it can receive a third season of positive results from the veteran righty, who could help strengthen what has already been a sound bullpen, anchored by the likes of Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Chad Qualls.