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Earlier tonight, Jeff Todd recapped and analyzed the Padres' winter moves in the latest entry of the MLBTR Offseason In Review series. Jeff has also covered the Giants and Diamondbacks thus far in the OIR series. Here's some more from around the NL West…
- "There has been buzz" that the Phillies and Tigers are interested in the Rockies' extra outfielders, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes. Even if Colorado uses a center field platoon of one of Corey Dickerson or Charlie Blackmon (both left-handed hitters) and one of Drew Stubbs or Brandon Barnes (both righty batters), that still leaves a surplus. Detroit could use a left-handed hitting outfielder to replace the injured Andy Dirks, though the Tigers aren't yet sure if they'll look outside the organization to make such a move.
- Could the Dodgers cut Brandon League? Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times doesn't quite think the club is ready to take that step given the $17MM remaining on League's contract through 2015. That deal looks worse and worse for L.A. given how League struggled in 2013 and during this year's Spring Training, while the Dodgers have a number of impressive young bullpen arms who might be relegated to Triple-A.
- Tim Lincecum dicusses his pitching evolution with Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, noting that though he has lost a few miles off his fastball, he is working to become a better overall pitcher as he ages.
- Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com discusses the Giants' roster and other topics during a Giants-centric chat with readers.
Here are today's minor moves from around Major League Baseball …
- The Reds have released infielder Henry Rodriguez, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Rodriguez was designated and then outrighted in February. The 24-year-old has seen bit action at the MLB level in each of the last two seasons.
- The Phillies announced that they've outrighted right-hander Michael Stutes off the 40-man roster after he cleared waivers. Stutes, 27, posted a 4.58 ERA with 4.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 17 2/3 innings for the Phils last season. He's posted a 4.01 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 85 1/3 career innings but struggled since a solid rookie campaign in 2011. Philadelphia's 40-man roster now stands at 39.
- The Angels have outrighted catcher John Hester and left-hander Robert Carson to Triple-A Salt Lake, according to the club's transactions page. The 30-year-old Hester got just one plate appearance in the Majors in 2013 after batting .212/.287/.329 in 95 PAs the previous season. Hester has a career batting line of .282/.346/.457 in nearly 1300 Triple-A PAs. Carson, 25, posted an 8.24 ERA in 19 2/3 innings with the Mets last season but has a 3.45 career ERA in 60 Triple-A innings. The Halos had claimed him off waivers in October.
- Michael Olmsted, who was released by the Brewers just yesterday, has agreed to terms on a minor league deal with the Red Sox and will be in minor league camp with the team upon completion of a physical, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (Twitter links). The 26-year-old struggled with command and posted a 5.82 ERA in his first taste of Triple-A last season but has a 3.02 career ERA in the minors as a whole to go along with a gaudy 11.1 K/9 rate and a serviceable 3.7 BB/9 rate.
As the Braves await the results of today's MRI on Kris Medlen's right forearm, many have speculated that the team could turn to Ervin Santana in the event that Medlen is out for a significant period of time. However, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes that he doesn't expect Atlanta to make a panicked move in the event of a serious injury to Medlen. If Medlen is on the DL, O'Brien expects Atlanta to open the season with Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy, Alex Wood, Freddy Garcia and David Hale, with Mike Minor stepping into one spot once he's ready to go in mid-April, and Gavin Floyd eventually taking another. He adds that Josh Beckett's name "does nothing" for any member of the Braves organization to whom O'Brien has mentioned it. Here's more on their rotation and the NL East…
- As if Medlen's injury wasn't enough, Beachy left his start for the Braves today due to tightness in his right biceps, writes O'Brien. Beachy described the injury as "dull tightness" and has experienced it in his other two Spring Training starts. However, it got better as he threw harder in his last start, and today he says it worsened. Braves doctors told Beachy before the game that it was ok to try to pitch through the tightness. He wouldn't commit to being ready for Opening Day when asked by O'Brien, but said he thought the tightness was normal following a pair of surgeries. Following the rough start, Beachy told FOX Sports' Jon Morosi that he tried to throw harder again today but wasn't able to increase his velocity (Twitter link).
- ESPN's Buster Olney covers the Braves' rotation in the intro to his daily blog post (ESPN Insider required and recommended). Olney spoke to one evaluator who said, "It's just impossible to see Atlanta taking on significant money, and they seem to be reluctant to give up any prospects of value…" suggesting that a major acquisition isn't likely. That evaluator wondered if they might be interested in out-of-options hurlers like Zach Britton (Orioles), Vance Worley (Twins), Sam Deduno (Twins) or Franklin Morales (Rockies) should they pursue outside help.
- The Mariners are again doubling down on the number of scouts they have at today's Mets game, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Rubin adds that Seattle's scouts have "been religiously attending Mets games." New York has been said to have interest in displaced Seattle infielder Nick Franklin, so Mariners scouts could be trying to determine a fair asking price.
- Jeff Manship has impressed the Phillies thus far in Spring Training, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia was the only club to call Manship prior to his agreement to a minor league deal in early September, the right-hander told Gelb. Manship says he's enjoying the competition this spring and is excited to have a shot at earning a rotation spot for the first time in his five trips through a big league camp. Manship has allowed one run with six punchouts and one walk through seven Spring Training innings to date.
6:46pm: The Royals are "moving forward" without Santana even if he is available on a one-year pact, GM Dayton Moore tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). "The candidates for our rotation are in-house," said Moore.
6:29pm: Free agent starter Ervin Santana has switched gears and is now looking for a one-year deal, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (links to Twitter). Santana wants to get signed and into camp as soon as possible, and does not intend to wait to ink a deal until after Opening Day.
Of course, if Santana signs a one-year deal before Opening Day, he could still be made a qualifying offer again next year. That type of scenario was said to be out of the question by Santana's agent, but we learned last night and this morning that Santana's team of representatives was undergoing some changes. It would appear that a change of strategic direction has resulted.
With the new focus on achieving a pillow contract, Santana hopes to land on a team with a strong offense, says Rosenthal. The Blue Jays and Orioles are two teams that could meet that requirement and have had interest, Rosenthal adds. It is not clear whether there is anything connecting those teams specifically to Santana since his shift of plans.
Neither is it clear whether other clubs remain in the mix, or whether Santana's market could expand. Earlier today, there were conflicting reports as to whether the Phillies had (Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, via Twitter) or had not (Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, via Twitter) inquired about the righty's services. Of course, in theory, many other clubs could potentially have renewed interest in Santana under these changed circumstances.
Cole Hamels' scheduled throwing session was canceled today, as the Phillies' co-ace reported feeling a fatigued arm that wouldn't allow him to go through the throwing motion as he normally would, reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Hawkins. Said Hamels: "My body is telling me,'Hey, you’ve got to take a step back and start over.'" The outlook for Hamels isn't great, as Hawkins reports that he is now likely to miss the entire month of April. Hamels said a cortisone injection or MRI is unlikely, as all the tests he's done have checked out. Hawkins' article is chock-full of Hamels quotes for Phillies fans and interested parties. Here's more on Hamels' situation and the Phillies…
- Hawkins' colleague Corey Seidman looks at the Phils' options to fill out their rotation in the wake of Hamels' setback. Seidman notes that Ethan Martin has been shut down with shoulder inflammation, and Jonathan Pettibone is also dealing with shoulder pain. Adam Morgan and Shane Watson each had shoulder surgery this offseason. Seidman calls Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez locks for the rotation and says the battle for the fifth spot comes down to Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, David Buchanan, Jeff Manship and Sean O'Sullivan. He lists left-hander Mario Hollands as a darkhorse candidate as well.
- Manager Ryne Sandberg tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Phillies will utilize defensive shifts more frequently in 2014 and have already been working on it in Spring Training. As Gelb writes, the Phillies shifted fewer than 28 of baseball's 30 teams in 2013 and graded out as the worst defensive club in baseball last year, per Baseball Info Solutions. Said Sandberg: "It's something that's grown, and the information is there. Teams have had some success doing that, so that's something to think about and apply."
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post examines the coming payroll crunch that will soon face the Nationals. While the division-rival Braves have locked up their young core on multi-year extensions that have delayed their free agency, only Ryan Zimmerman is in that situation in Washington. As Kilgore notes, Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister and Ross Detwiler are all free agents after the 2015 season, and extending any of those players becomes more difficult in light of the fact that they approach free agency at the same time that Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Stephen Strasburg become more expensive via arbitration. Kilgore wonders if recent talk of a Mike Trout extension could lead to optimism about a Harper extension as well, but also notes the difference between agents; Craig Landis is likely more open to a long-term deal for Trout than Scott Boras would be for Harper. Here's more regarding the Nats and the NL East…
- In a piece for the Washington Times, Mark Zuckerman looks at the Nationals' options for their No. 5 starter in Spring Training. While Ross Detwiler, Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark all have their merits, Zuckerman notes the strengths of each at adapting to different roles. He writes that the easiest decision is Detwiler in the rotation, Roark in the bullpen and Jordan at Triple-A, but stresses that GM Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams need to make the decision with the team's long-term interests in mind.
- MLBPA executive director Tony Clark wouldn't bite when asked if the Mets' payroll was drawing attention from the union, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Clark said that the MLBPA pays attention to payrolls "in general" and called the Mets a "marquee franchise" but wouldn't elaborate. Clark said he isn't aware of any payroll constraints on the Mets, who will have a roughly $87MM payroll that represents a slight decline from last year's mark.
- Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia News writes that while Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez's Spring Training debut didn't go particularly well this weekend, Phillies coaches and executives took away some positives from the outing. Gonzalez allowed a run on two hits and four walks with two strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings and is fighting with Roberto Hernandez for the fifth rotation spot. Pitching coach Bob McClure and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. offered some praise, especially since Gonzalez has scarcely pitched over the past two years due to injury and suspension. Lawrence writes that Roberto Hernandez is still the favorite for the fifth starter role.
In case you missed it over the weekend, the Braves inked Cuban backstop Yenier Bello to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training. Bello is likely ticketed to begin his career here in the minors, but he adds some critical catcher depth to the Braves, who of course lost Brian McCann to the Yankees this offseason. More from the NL East to kick off your Monday morning…
- Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters, including Newsday's Marc Carig (Twitter link) that Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan are the favorites to win the fifth spot in his rotation. MLB.com's Marty Noble writes that Collins is still considering Jenrry Mejia, though the youngster is more likely to be used in a long relief role out of Spring Training. Noble writes that the Mets feel that role would allow Mejia to continue to build arm strength and can also serve as a developmental tool.
- ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin writes that Mike Piazza is in Mets camp to serve as a special instructor but says he's not looking to get into coaching on a full-time basis anytime soon. Piazza says he has a seven-month old son, so his focus appears to be on his family. Travis d'Arnaud calls Piazza's tutelage "a dream," as the Long Beach, Calif. native grew up idolizing Piazza as a Dodgers fan.
- New Phillies hurler A.J. Burnett made his Spring Training debut over the weekend, and it came against his former club, the Pirates, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Burnett himself both told Biertempfel that there was nothing weird about Burnett pitching against the Bucs instead of for them, and neither hinted at any ill will. Hurdle simply called the change "part of the game," and Burnett offered nothing but respect for his former club.
- ESPN's Jayson Stark writes that although the Braves lost Tim Hudson to the Giants via free agency, talk that the club lacks an ace is overblown, as Kris Medlen has developed into that type of pitcher for the team. Assistant GM John Coppolella said of Medlen: "Look, the fact that he’s not 6 feet tall and that fact that he doesn't throw 95 [mph] makes it seem like he’s not a power guy, but he’s very good with what he does. … He’s a huge part of our staff. And we hope he will be for a long time."
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark doesn't expect the Collective Bargaining Agreement to be reopened before its 2016 expiration to address issues with the qualifying offer system, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. "It’s very difficult to open up a CBA," said Clark. "Suffice it to say, if there are issues during the course of any agreement, we continue to have discussions that may not require the CBA be to opened up, making sure that whatever the concerns are, whatever the issues are, and if they can be discussed in some more formal fashion, so be it, but more often than not, come 2016 when we have an opportunity to sit down is when we’ll do so." Last night, Aaron Steen asked MLBTR readers about the qualifying offer and nearly 47% want to tweak the QO while 25% want to eliminate it entirely.
In National League news and notes on Oscar Sunday:
- With the ink barely dry on Homer Bailey's six-year, $105MM contract extension, the Reds will be in the same situation with starters Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Johnny Cueto next year. Owner Bob Castellini told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay the team wants to retain all three. "We’re going to try to sign all these guys," Castellini said. "Whether we can or not, I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal ball."
- Castellini also told Fay he is not pleased with the media's coverage of the Reds' offseason because it has had an adverse affect on the team's revenues. "That season-ticket number is the most important number we can generate," said Castellini. "We knew we wanted to sign Homer. We knew we were going to make some other commitments. It’s not that we didn’t look. It gets written in such a way – 'Well, the Reds aren’t doing anything' – that really does affect people buying season tickets." Castellini provided Fay with details of the club's revenue generated through ticket sales, sponsorships, and the national TV contract adding neither he nor any of the other principal owners or investors have ever taken money out of the franchise.
- Last month, the Braves gave Jason Heyward a two-year, $13.3MM contract. In two years, the perfect storm of baseball's economics, Heyward's age, and actions taken by the Braves will set the 24-year-old up for a huge payday on a likely barren free agent market, according to Mike Petriello of ESPN.com in an Insider-only piece (subscription required).
- With mixed reviews to date, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez made his Spring Training debut yesterday. Phillies GM Ruban Amaro Jr. was upbeat about what he saw, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. "He probably threw better with his stuff as far as his velocity and breaking ball since he's been in camp," Amaro said. "I was encouraged that his stuff was better than it had been in his sides. And hopefully it will continue to progress in a positive way." Pitching coach Bob McClure added (as quoted by Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Inquirer), "I saw a very competitive (guy), and that is what I was really hoping for. And he might be one of those guys that’s not the best practice player, but you put him in a game and he competes." Reports surfaced last week Gonzalez could open the season in the minors.
- Solid pitching will be key to any improvement the Rockies hope to make this season. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick focuses on young starters Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler while the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck examines the Rockies' adherence to pitch counts to protect their starting rotation and the corresponding reliance on their bullpen, which could be called upon to record 10 or 11 outs every game.
Kyle Kendrick of the Phillies is highly motivated as he prepares for free agency, Matt Gelb of the Inquirer writes. Gelb points to Jason Vargas, Scott Feldman and Ricky Nolasco — all of whom signed contracts worth at least $30MM — as potential comparables for Kendrick. "When similar guys close to your numbers sign those deals, that's a good thing," says Kendrick. Kendrick has never pitched more than 182 innings in a season, so 200 innings in 2014 would likely go a long way toward helping him strike gold on the free-agent market. Here's more from the National League.
- The Diamondbacks' fate will be determined primarily by returning players like Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin, but their additions of Mark Trumbo, Bronson Arroyo and Addison Reed could be what finally gets them past .500, Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com writes. The Diamondbacks are also likely to receive a contribution from top prospect Archie Bradley, although the addition of Arroyo should allow the team to give Bradley some extra minor-league time. Bradley, 21, pitched most of last season at Double-A Mobile.
- Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez tells the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer (via Twitter) that he will make $635K in 2014, a very significant raise for a pre-arbitration player. Earlier in the day, the Marlins announced that they had signed all of their 28 pre-arbitration-eligible players. Fernandez, of course, is following up a stellar first season in which he won the Rookie of the Year award and finished third in NL Cy Young voting.