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In case you missed it, the Cubs‘ efforts to renovate Wrigley Field have run into some snags that have stirred up controversy in Chicago. That project has frequently been cited by the team as a key factor in future payroll expansion. Club executive Crane Kenney discussed the latest in an interview with David Kaplan on The Game 87.7 FM (audio link). Kaplan also released a copy of the agreement with the neighboring rooftop owners that is at the center of the dispute (on CSNChicago.com). Today, first baseman Anthony Rizzo expressed frustration over the delays, saying that players had been told to expect significant clubhouse renovations, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Here’s the latest from around the league to finish up the night …
- With the Blue Jays seemingly more interested in adding a short-term rental arm than a player who comes with more control (and a higher price), Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says that James Shields of the Royals could be a possible target for Toronto. Heyman says that the Jays hope to avoid “gutting” the team’s prospect pool in adding a pitcher, and like that Shields has proven himself in the AL East. Of course, unless Kansas City is well out of the race by the time the trade deadline comes around, Shields may not even be available. And even if he is shopped, he would draw lots of interest from other contenders and should command a substantial prospect haul himself. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said earlier today that he is confident the club can take on salary to add an impact pitcher; in discussing that news, MLBTR’s Steve Adams listed several possible free agents-to-be that could become available and attractive to the Jays.
- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado will not require surgery on his broken left middle finger, reports Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. That is good news for a suddenly-reeling Colorado club, though Arenado still figures to miss at least six more weeks. It will be interesting to see whether an anticipated mid-to-late July return for Arenado could help encourage the Rockies to buy at the trade deadline, if they can stay afloat in the meantime.
- The Reds were among the many clubs on hand to watch Cuban righty Raciel Iglesias throw today in Haiti, tweets C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Cinci pen has struggled to the league’s third-worst ERA through the first third of the season. Iglesias is said to have the potential to be a legitimate big league relief contributor right away.
- One aspect of the Mariners‘ decision to purchase the contract of outfielder Endy Chavez today was his June 1 opt-out date, tweets Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The 36-year-old was carrying a .272/.346/.289 triple-slash in 134 plate appearances at Triple-A.
- Other opt-out situations around the league are coming to a decision point. In addition to attempting to address the clause of rehabbing starter Johan Santana, the Orioles are waiting to find out whether reliever Luis Ayala will opt out of his deal tomorrow, with the expectation that he will, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter links). The veteran righty has allowed three earned runs (with five strikeouts against two walks) in 5 1/3 innings at Double-A thus far in 2014.
- Meanwhile, Brewers lefty Brad Mills has been excellent at Triple-A and is nearing a June 15 opt-out date, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 29-year-old has a 1.74 ERA in 57 innings (including nine starts), with 9.0 K/9 against just 1.9 BB/9.
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado left this evening’s game with a left mallet finger fracture, the club announced on Twitter. The injury occurred to his left middle finger, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Team trainer Keith Duggers said that the best case is a four to six week layoff, though he’d be out longer if surgery is necessary, tweets Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Last year, Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro was able to play through a similar injury after missing just six games, but his featured only tendon damage and was not accompanied by a fracture. (Moreover, as Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News notes on Twitter, Scutaro still required surgery, and playing through the pain contributed to an injury to another finger.) For now, at least, Colorado will call up Josh Rutledge to take Arenado’s place on the active roster.
Here’s more out of the game’s western divisions …
- The Rangers‘ incredible injury difficulties are no reason to panic, argues MLB.com’s Richard Justice. While the Athletics are well out in front of the division, Texas is hovering around .500 and is far from out of the Wild Card race. The team is fortunate to have an obvious replacement on the open market in Kendrys Morales, says Justice, and should seriously consider signing him. Otherwise, the club can still look for help from a series of young players — Justice mentions Luke Jackson, Alec Asher, and Alex Gonzalez — who can be asked to make the jump to the bigs earlier than expected.
- That opinion is not shared by a pair of ESPN.com writers. Keith Law (Insider piece) says that the club should be able to acquire Morales for a song, but would be better suited by cutting their losses on the year. In addition to pending free agent relievers Joakim Soria, Neal Cotts, and Jason Frasor, Law says that the club could consider shopping Alex Rios and even star third baseman Adrian Beltre. Buster Olney joins with that general sentiment, writing (via Insider) that deciding to retool for next year would give the club a chance to free up some payroll space and add some young talent back into the system.
- In the same piece, Olney suggests that the Giants could potentially make sense as a trade partner with the Cubs for pitcher Jeff Samardzija. San Francisco has been aggressive in dealing prospects for veterans in the past, notes Olney, and could add Samardzija with the hoping of eventually extending him (much as they did with Hunter Pence).
- In a lengthy piece on the Astros‘ front office, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle provides details on the contract discussions that took place with third baseman Matt Dominguez and outfielder Robbie Grossman. The club offered Dominguez $14.5MM over five years in a contract that would have given the team two option years. Meanwhile, Grossman was made an offer of $13.5MM over six years, again with two options tacked on.
- The key to the Athletics‘ success this year has been achieving true depth, assistant GM Farhan Zaidi said in an interview with Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. “Whether it’s fatalistic or not you always think two injuries ahead,” said Zaidi. “You have a five-man rotation, but we always like to have seven or eight starting pitchers that we feel we could put in the mix if we needed to and still be able to compete.” The club builds in injury risk into its internal projection model, says Zaidi, who notes that manager Bob Melvin plays a role by maintaining contact with players at Triple-A throughout the season. Discussing the team’s propensity for exchanging players, Zaidi said that Oakland “tend[s] to be pretty targeted in players that we go out and try to trade for.” That means the club must also be willing to see a player find success in his new destination. “When you’re really targeting specific guys, rather than having teams approach you about players, you have to be willing to be aggressive and maybe overpay talent-wise to get the guy that fits your specific need,” he explained. Be sure to read the piece for plenty more great information.
The Rockies have designated infielder Chris Nelson for assignment, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. Nelson was told about the transaction following the Rockies' 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks on Saturday night. In a corresponding move, the Rockies have called up Nolan Arenado from Triple-A, according to MLB.com's Thomas Harding (Twitter link).
Nelson had a .242/.282/.318 line over 68 PA as the Rockies' regular third baseman this season. The 27-year-old was the ninth overall pick of the 2004 draft and owned a career slash line of .284/.327/.427 in 593 PA from 2010-12. Nelson has played mostly third and second in the majors, and also played shortstop in the minor leagues. The Athletics and Yankees have been interested in Nelson in the past, Renck notes, so it's possible either club could inquire about the infielder during the 10-day designation period.
It was only a matter of time before the Rockies called up Arenado, the club's top prospect and the 52nd-best prospect in the sport according to Baseball America's preseason rankings. Arenado, who recently turned 22, has posted an .818 OPS in five minor league seasons, including a 1.059 OPS over 75 PA at Triple-A this season. His stock somewhat dropped after only an average season at Double-A in 2012 and the Rockies also had questions about Arenado's maturity level, but the third baseman impressed the club both on and off the field during Spring Training. The right-handed hitting Arenado was a second-round pick for the Rockies in the 2009 draft.
Scouts from the Indians, Rangers, Mariners and Pirates were in attendance on the back fields of the Dodgers' Spring Training complex today to watch Chris Capuano in a minor league game, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Capuano dominated, striking out 11 hitters and yielding just three hits over seven shutout innings (85 pitches). Capuano is pleased with his improved mechanics and results over his past two starts, Gurnick writes. Here's more out of the NL West…
- Gurnick also notes that many of those same scouts (and possibly others) are likely to gather tomorrow for Aaron Harang's start. Capuano, Harang, Ted Lilly and Matt Guerrier are all trade candidates for the Dodgers.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweets that new Rockies pitcher Jon Garland said he "strongly considered" signing with the Rox as a free agent this offseason before accepting a minor league deal from the Mariners. When that didn't work out (they released Garland on Saturday), he quickly reached an agreement with Colorado on a one-year, Major League deal.
- Top prospect Nolan Arenado has had a great Spring Training and is still in camp with the Rockies, but MLB.com's Thomas Harding tweets that the team isn't planning a Chris Nelson trade to clear a starting spot for Arenado.
- The Giants are in the market for a backup middle infielder, according to CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly, who opines that Nick Noonan makes for a fine internal option (Twitter link).