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- Blue Jays Designate Danny Valencia, Ezequiel Carerra
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Pete Kozma Rumors
Ryan Madson, who’s in Royals camp and who faced live batters for the first time in a year and a half on Sunday, encountered plenty of obstacles as he battled back from Tommy John surgery, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. Madson, who last pitched in the big leagues in 2011, ultimately spent the 2014 season out of baseball. But he got the urge to come back after Royals special assistant Jim Fregosi, Jr. enlisted him to help instruct a Southern California high school pitcher. Madson does not have any limitations in camp this spring, although it’s unclear whether he’ll be available to join the Royals’ bullpen once the season starts. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- Cubs pitcher Travis Wood hasn’t been given a heads-up from the team on the likelihood of a trade, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets. “If I get traded, I get traded. It’s part of the business,” Wood said. At present, Wood figures to battle for the fifth spot in the rotation alongside Tsuyoshi Wada and Felix Doubront. Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, and Kyle Hendricks, of course, make up the Cubs’ front four.
- The Cubs trading Welington Castillo is not a foregone conclusion, as President Theo Epstein says the team is considering keeping three catchers, tweets Bruce Levine of 670theScore.com.
- Yadier Molina has lost 15-20 pounds this offseason after injuries limited the Cardinals catcher to 110 games and forced him to miss the final three games of the NLCS, reports Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Molina has three years and an option remaining on his contract and expects to play beyond its length. “Oh, my God. I’m 32 years old. I’ll play as long as my body lets me. Who knows? Maybe I’ll catch 10 more years. You don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows.“
- In a separate article, Hummel details how Cardinals reliever Randy Choate has expressed his frustration to manager Mike Matheny about being used for complete innings (and being exposed to right-handed hitters) rather than in his specialty of lefty-on-lefty situations. Matheny says the confines of a 25-man roster prevents using a player in such a limited way. “You can’t completely cater to one guy if it’s going to beat up two other guys where they can’t do their job. How does that work?“
- Cardinals infielder Pete Kozma, who is fighting for a roster spot and is out of options, is increasing his versatility by donning the tools of ignorance with hopes of serving as the team’s emergency catcher, according to MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch.
Minor league coaches and instructors earn relatively meager salaries, reports Fangraphs’ David Laurila. The minimum salary for one club is $30K while multiple sources pegged the top end (for long-time managers and coordinators) between $150-175K. One source told Laurila the Marlins pay poorly while the Braves are among the most generous (“That’s why Miami has a lot of turnover and Atlanta doesn’t.“). Another reason Laurila cites for the low pay is the number of people who want those minor league positions with one front office executive saying his club receives between 300 and 400 resumes per year.
Here’s the latest news and notes from the National League:
- The Cardinals have the payroll flexibility and the prospects to either extend a player like Jason Heyward or acquire a high-profile contract like that of Cole Hamels, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Within the same article, Goold notes GM John Mozeliak has fielded calls this winter on out-of-options players like infielder Pete Kozma and left-hander Sam Freeman.
- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he is not concerned about being on the hot seat as he enters the final year of his contract. “I know I’ve got a contract this year and I’ll try to do the best I can. I can’t control what happens with that. I just plan to get the guys playing well, and hopefully we’ll get off to a good start again and we’ll see what happens.“
- Despite the dramatic overhaul of their roster, the Padres have plenty of questions to address this spring, Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego writes.
- Nick Groke of The Denver Post takes a position-by-position look at the Rockies in 2015. This offseason, the Rockies put a heavy emphasis on improving their depth across the board.
Here’s the latest from Angel Stadium…
- The Angels are targeting the Rockies‘ Josh Rutledge, the Astros‘ Marwin Gonzalez, the Tigers‘ Eugenio Suarez and the Cardinals‘ Pete Kozma in their search for middle infield depth, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Rutledge would require the most back in return since he has experience in an everyday role.
- Also from Fletcher’s Twitter account, he reports that the Angels aren’t interested in Brandon Beachy or Kris Medlen. Both starters underwent Tommy John surgery last year and were recently non-tendered by the Braves.
- GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez and Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times) that his team is “probably not” going to pursue more international players during the 2014-15 signing period, though “we’re open to it.” The Halos have already far exceeded their bonus pool for the 2014-15 period thanks to their $8MM expenditure on Roberto Baldoquin, an overage that will prevent them from spending any significant money when the 2015-16 international market opens.
- The player most often asked about by other teams is catcher Carlos Perez, Dipoto said.
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.