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Pete Kozma Rumors
2:42pm: Goold explains (Twitter links) that the Cardinals needed to clear a spot for Gonzales to make the start while also keeping an extra arm in the bullpen. The club knew it could pull back Kozma if he was claimed on revocable option waivers.
1:07pm: Kozma has been removed from the club’s 40-man roster listing on MLB.com, which could suggest that a different transaction was completed. If, in fact, he was optioned, then he would remain on the 40-man roster.
1:01pm: It appears that Kozma was merely designated off the 25-man roster, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on Twitter that Kozma has cleared optional waivers and been optioned to Triple-A.
11:23am: The Cardinals have designated shortstop Pete Kozma for assignment, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Presumably, the move is related to the club’s call-up of young pitcher Marco Gonzalez, who will need a 40-man spot.
Kozma, 26, played a key role for the club in its 2012 NLCS run, taking over late in the year for the injured Rafael Furcal and posting a .952 OPS, and served as the team’s primary shortstop in 2013. He could not sustain the 2012 magic, however, as he slashed just .217/.275/.273 over 448 plate appearances last year. On the other hand, Kozma rated out as one of the most productive shortstops in the game on the defensive side of the ledger.
St. Louis ultimately went in a different direction, adding free agent Jhonny Peralta to take over up the middle. Apart from a brief call-up, Kozma has spent the year at Triple-A, where he owns a .234/.341/.372 triple-slash in 223 plate appearances.
While there haven't been any extension talks (and won't be) between the Royals and James Shields, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that it's not completely out of the question for Shields to re-sign their ace this coming offseason. However, in order to do so, the team will need to make the postseason, he adds. Royals executives have said that they might take a loss this year due to the team's record payroll, but they also believe that a postseason run could push them into the black, according to Heyman. That type of turnaround could keep them in the bidding to retain Shields, who will hit free agency entering his age-33 season.
Here's more on baseball's Central divisions…
- Close to 25 scouts were on-hand to watch Jeff Samardzija's start against the Mariners yesterday, writes Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. According to Levine, the Blue Jays had three scouts present to watch the Cubs' Opening Day starter, including director of pro scouting and former Cubs GM Ed Lynch.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington tells Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he is not interested in making a trade for a backup catcher despite the injury to Chris Stewart (Twitter link). That suggests that Tony Sanchez will open the season as Pittsburgh's secondary backstop.
- Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks at the Pirates' bullpen surplus, wondering if a trade of Vin Mazzaro or Bryan Morris (neither has minor league options remaining) is on the horizon. Brink writes that right-handers Stolmy Pimentel and Jeanmar Gomez (both also out of options) will open the season in the bullpen, leaving Morris and Mazzaro as logical trade candidates.
- The Twins have named former first-rounder and top prospect Kyle Gibson their fifth starter, reports La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That means that out-of-options starters Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno and Vance Worley are out of luck. Deduno will start the season in the bullpen, while Worley has already been placed on outright waivers (the expiration of those waivers has come and gone, but there's yet to be a report on his status). It's unclear at this time what Diamond's fate will be.
- Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma is trying not to focus on trade rumors surrounding his name, he tells Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss speculates that with the decision to option Tyler Lyons to Triple-A Memphis, GM John Mozeliak could look to acquire a long reliever via trade.
- Other news from the game's Central divisions today included the Tigers' acquisition of Andrew Romine from the Angels as well as the news that flamethrowing setup man Bruce Rondon will be the latest victim of Tommy John surgery. Also, Indians minor league signee David Aardsma was granted his release.
It's already been a busy day for shortstop news as we've heard that the Diamondbacks are looking to trade Didi Gregorius for pitching, the Cardinals are shopping Pete Kozma, and the Tigers have been asking teams about available shortstops, even scouting such options as Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney. Here are some more shortstop-related rumors…
- The Tigers aren't likely "to make a serious push" for Kozma, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports opines (Twitter link), because they have a similar player in Danny Worth.
- There haven't been any reports linking the Tigers to the Mariners' Nick Franklin, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Franklin is perhaps better suited as a second baseman and may not have the glove to handle short, Heyman suggests.
- One scout suggested that Adeiny Hechavarria might be the sort of defensive specialist that Detroit would want at short. A Marlins source, however, tells Heyman that the Fish have yet to be contacted about Hechavarria.
- Several executives around baseball believe that signing Drew would be the best solution to the Mets' shortstop problem, Heyman reports. A multiyear deal for Drew would give the Mets an answer at short for 2015, when the team could look to contend once Matt Harvey is healthy.
- The Mets would be interested in Drew on a one-year, $9MM contract or possibly a two-year, $20MM deal, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. There haven't been any signs that Scott Boras, Drew's agent, would settle for either price.
- Also from Martino, the view on current Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada from opposing scouts is that he's "a solid player, who appears spooked by the pressures of playing in the New York market, and hearing criticism from his own front office." One scout believes that Tejada “could be OK, but he needs to get out of New York. [He's] a classic change-of-scenery guy.”
- A source not connected to either the Mets or Diamondbacks tells Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (Twitter link) that the rumor of Gregorius going to New York "has legs" and is a situation to watch.
The Cardinals have made shortstop Pete Kozma available, ESPN New York Adam Rubin reports (Twitter link). Kozma was St. Louis' regular shortstop last season but gave the Cards only replacement-level production (0.0 fWAR and -0.2 rWAR), which led to the signing of Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $53MM contract over the winter.
Kozma, who turns 26 in April, hit just .217/.275/.273 with one home run in 448 PA last season and he only produced a .652 OPS in 2752 minor league PA. While Kozma doesn't provide much pop, he is a strong defensive player, with a +9.9 UZR/150 over 1263 career innings at shortstop. Moving Kozma would leave the Cardinals somewhat thin at shortstop behind Peralta; infield utiltyman Daniel Descalso only has a handful of career games at short but he could be the top backup option. The newly-signed Aledmys Diaz is starting at Double-A and is perhaps better suited as a second baseman.
Shortstop has been one of the busiest positions on the rumor mill in recent days, given that the Tigers and Mets have been looking for upgrades, the Diamondbacks shopping Didi Gregorius, Stephen Drew's continued presence on the free agent market and the alleged discord between Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies. In regards to the Mets, Rubin doesn't think New York is interested in Kozma since he isn't a clear upgrade over incumbent shortstop Ruben Tejada.