Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors
The Orioles have behaved with a "lack of urgency" this offseason, writes Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan. The team has a number of key players set for free agency after the 2015 season, including slugger Chris Davis and catcher Matt Wieters. After that, the shape of the organization figures to change dramatically. That means they ought to go for it now, Passan argues, but they haven't so far. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Cubs are a "wealthy team pinching baseball pennies," Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. The team appears to have the means to spend, Wittenmyer writes, but "there exists a sizable gap between available resources and baseball spending that could help assure the success of the rebuild."
- The Cubs are evaluating their options with the fourth pick in this year's draft, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. "We feel we know who the top five are today," says senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod. "We’ll spend a lot of time with them. As things change, we’ll just scout the guy we think has the most impact for us." Gonzalez notes that the Cubs already have a connection to Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede, who is one of the top-ranked prospects in the draft -- Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson was Vanderbilt's pitching coach in 2012, when Beede was a freshman.
- The Pirates are still waiting on A.J. Burnett, whose decision about whether or not to retire will have a dramatic impact on their offseason, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Bucs pitching coach Ray Searage says he has heard that Burnett is continuing to work out in preparation to pitch. If Burnett does not return, the Pirates will likely go with a rotation of Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez, although Rodriguez is returning from injury. Brink notes in an aside that the Pirates could make a trade from their stockpile of relievers.
We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.
Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements...
- After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
- The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
- Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
- Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
- The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
- The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
- Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
- The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter). He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
- Cesar Ramos got $750K from the Rays in his deal, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
- Sherman tweets that the Athletics' Craig Gentry will get $1.145MM on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
- Jerry Blevins and the Nationals avoided arbitration, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. He will earn $1.675MM for the year, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.
- Alejandro De Aza agreed to a $4.25MM deal with the White Sox, Sherman tweets. Within the same tweet, Sherman says the Rays shook hands with Jose Lobaton on a $900K deal and James Russell agreed to a $1.775MM pact.
- The White Sox and Gordon Beckham agreed to a one-year, $4.175MM deal, Sherman tweets.
- The Brewers avoided arbitration with Marco Estrada and Juan Francisco, Sherman tweets. Estrada gets $3.325MM with $100K in innings pitched bonuses while Francisco gets $1.35MM.
- Mike Dunn agreed to a $1.4MM deal with the Marlins, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel (on Twitter).
- Pedro Alvarez will earn $4.25MM on his brand new deal with the Pirates, Sherman tweets.
- The Nationals announced that they've struck an arb-avoiding deal with Wilson Ramos. Ramos gets $2.095MM with the opportunity to get $105K more through plate appearance bonuses, per Sherman.
- Alexi Ogando gets $2.625MM in 2014 from the Rangers, according to Sherman.
- Mark Melancon will get $2.595MM after striking a deal with the Pirates, tweets Sherman.
- Brandon Moss and the Athletics avoided arbitration with a $4.1MM pact, Sherman tweets.
- The Red Sox and Jonathan Herrera avoided arbitration with a $1.3MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets.
- Brian Duensing has agreed to a $2MM deal with the Twins, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Berardino adds in a second tweet that Anthony Swarzak also avoided arb with a $935K deal. The swingman will earn a $25K bonus if he starts 10 games.
- The Rangers and Neftali Feliz agreed to a $3MM deal with bonuses of $25K for 50/55 games finished, Sherman tweets.
- Jake McGee will earn $1.45MM in his new deal with the Rays, Sherman tweets.
- The Royals and Eric Hosmer have agreed to a one-year, $3.6MM deal, Sherman tweets.
- Mike Carp gets $1.4MM in his deal with the Red Sox, according to Sherman (via Twitter).
- Bobby Parnell agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM with the Mets that can increase by $50K if he appears in 60 games, Sherman tweets.
- The Braves avoided arbitration with Jordan Schafer with a $1.09MM deal, tweets Sherman. Sherman adds that Andy Dirks and the Tigers have also avoided arbitration with a $1.625MM deal.
- Shawn Kelley and the Yankees dodged arbitration by agreeing to a $1.765MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets. Kelley, 29, has a career 3.77 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
- The Red Sox agreed to a one-year, $1.275MM deal with Junichi Tazawa, according to Sherman (on Twitter). Tazawa posted a 3.16 ERA in 2013 with 9.5 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.
- The Rockies avoided arbitration with Drew Stubbs by agreeing to a $4.1MM deal for 2014, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). With the signing of Stubbs, the Rockies have now taken care of all of their arbitration-eligible players.
- Kyle Blanks has avoided arbitration with the Padres by agreeing to a one-year, $988K deal, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
- Sherman also reports (on Twitter) that the Giants have avoided arbitration with Gregor Blanco and Tony Abreu by agreeing to one-year deals that are worth $2.525MM and $745K, respectively.
- The Cardinals and Peter Bourjos have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.2MM contract, tweets Sherman. Bourjos can earn another $150K based on plate appearances.
- Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have avoided arbitration with a one-year deal, according to Sanchez's agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Sanchez will earn $2.3MM.
- Sherman reports (via Twitter) that the Blue Jays also avoided arbitration with Esmil Rogers by agreeing to a one-year, $1.85MM contract.
- The Nationals announced that in addition to their two-year deal with Jordan Zimmermann, they've also signed Drew Storen to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Sherman tweets that he'll earn $3.45MM in 2014 with an additional $1MM of incentives in his contract for games finished.
- The Rockies and righty Juan Nicasio avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.025MM contract, Sherman tweets.
- The Blue Jays and lefty Brett Cecil have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $1.3MM pact, per Sherman (on Twitter).
- Sherman tweets that the Rays and Matt Joyce agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM contract, thereby avoiding arbitration.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Reds have avoided arbitration with Alfredo Simon by agreeing to a one-year, $1.5MM contract (Twitter link).
- Connolly also reports that the Orioles have avoided arbitration with Tommy Hunter (Twitter link). Currently the front-runner to serve as Baltimore's closer in 2014, Hunter will earn $3MM after posting a 2.81 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings for the O's in 2013.
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles and Troy Patton have avoided arbitration (Twitter link). Patton topped Swartz's $1.2MM salary projection by earning a raise to $1.275MM, Connolly adds in a second tweet.. Patton will be suspended for the first 25 games of 2014 for amphetamine use.
- The Twins and Trevor Plouffe have agreed to a one-year, $2.35MM contract, Sherman tweets. Plouffe saw his power numbers drop as he batted .254/.309/.392 with 14 homers in a career-high 522 plate appearances in 2013 (he'd belted 24 homers in 465 PAs in 2012). He figures to open the season as Minnesota's everyday third baseman but could eventually have competition from top prospect Miguel Sano.
- Jon Jay and the Cardinals have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.25MM contract, according to Sherman (on Twitter). Jay batted .276/.351/.370 with the Cards in 2013 but struggled defensively (particularly in the playoffs) and will have center field competition in the form of offseason acquisition Peter Bourjos in 2014.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Phillies and John Mayberry Jr. have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.5875MM. Mayberry slashed .227/.286/.391 in 2013 and has a career .274/.321/.526 batting line against lefties. He came in just under Swartz's $1.7MM projection.
- The Cubs and Luis Valbuena have also avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year pact, tweets Sherman. Valbuena will earn $1.71MM after slashing .218/.331/.378 and setting a new career-best with 12 homers in 2013. He exceeded Swartz's projection by $210K.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Walker, a client of Excel Sports Management, receives a raise from the $3.3MM salary he received last season as a first-time arb-eligible Super Two player. He had been projected to earn $4.8MM by MLBTR's Matt Swartz, so his agents did well to approach the $6MM mark. Walker will be eligible for arbitration two more times before hitting free agency following the 2016 season.
Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections. We'll use this post to keep tabs on players avoiding arbitration today:
- The Nationals announced on Twitter that they have avoided arbitration with lefty Ross Detwiler. The New York Post's Joel Sherman reports (also on Twitter) that Detwiler received a $3MM salary and can earn an additional $50K for reaching 180 innings.
- Sherman reports that the Mets and Eric Young Jr. have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.85MM (Twitter link). Young batted .251/.318/.329 in 418 plate appearances for the Mets in 2013 after he was acquired from the Rockies. He also swiped 38 bases in 45 tries, showing off his blazing speed.
- Sherman tweets that the Pirates have avoided arbitration with Travis Snider by agreeing to a one-year, $1.2MM contract. The former Top 10 overall prospect batted just .215/.281/.333 in 285 plate appearances in 2013, though he's a solid defender and is still entering just his age-26 season.
- Sherman also reports that Tim Collins agreed to a one-year, $1.3625MM contract with the Royals, thereby avoiding arbitration (Twitter link). Collins has a strong 3.51 ERA in 190 career innings with 9.7 K/9 in his first three seasons, but he's struggled with command, as evidenced by his 5.2 BB/9 in that time. His control has improved a bit over the past two seasons.
- The Yankees and Francisco Cervelli have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $700K, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Cervelli, who turns 28 in March, is a career .271/.343/.367 hitter in 623 plate appearances.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Reds have avoided arbitration with outfielder Chris Heisey by agreeing to a one-year, $1.76MM contract. Heisey, who batted .237/.279/.415 with nine homers in 244 plate appearances last season, earned slightly more than Swartz's projection of $1.7MM. Though decreases in his walk rate and BABIP caused his numbers to suffer in 2013, Heisey is a solid defender that has feasted on left-handed pitching over the past two seasons.
- Sherman reports (on Twitter) that the Rockies and Wilton Lopez have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2.2MM. That number matches Swartz's projection on the dot. Lopez's 4.06 ERA was a disappointment for the Rockies last season, but his 75 1/3 innings were tied for 15th-most among relievers, and his 75 appearances tied for fifth-most in the Majors. ERA estimators like FIP, xFIP and SIERA all think his should've been roughly a half-run lower than it was, pegging him in the 3.57 to 3.69 range.
- Sherman also reports that the Mets and Ike Davis have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.5MM contract (on Twitter). Davis' name has been run through the rumor mill all offseason, but the latest reports seem to indicate that New York is no longer heavily shopping him and is instead prepared to take both him and Lucas Duda to Spring Training. Davis hit just .205/.326/.334 in 2013, though that includes a brutal first half. Following the All-Star break, Davis slashed an impressive .286/.449/.505. Swartz's projection for Davis was dead on, as he had him at exactly $3.5MM.
- The Athletics have reached agreement on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration with catcher John Jaso, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle on Twitter. Jaso, 30, had an injury-shortened campaign last year with Oakland, but slashed .271/.387/.372 in his 249 plate appearances. In his best season as a pro, 2012, Jaso put up a .276/.394/.456 triple-slash in 361 trips to the dish. With his concussion issues at the end of last season, Jaso is expected to see time at DH in 2014. Swartz projected Jaso to earn $2.2MM, and he will in fact make $2.3MM, according to a report from the New York Post's Joel Sherman (via Twitter). The deal also includes $25K incentives for starting 90 games behind the plate and reaching 450 plate appearances, Sherman notes.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Pirates need to address their vacancy at first base, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com writes. The Bucs find themselves without a first baseman (or, at least, without a lefty to platoon with Gaby Sanchez) in part because there wasn't much on the market -- Castrovince suggests that, given that they weren't likely to sign Mike Napoli, their next-best option was likely Corey Hart, who has had serious knee issues. The Pirates have also explored the trade market, but to no avail so far. Andrew Lambo might be an in-house option, but he comes with question marks. The Athletics' recent success shows one way to win as a small-payroll team is to avoid big holes, and right now, the Pirates may have one. Here are more notes on the Bucs.
- Days like today, when Clayton Kershaw signs for $215MM, put the plight of a small-market team in perspective, as Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted (via Twitter). In 1996, Kevin McClatchy bought the Pirates -- the entire franchise -- for $95MM, or about $150MM in 2014 dollars.
- Biertempfel also relays bits from Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage's interview earlier today on MLB Network Radio with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden. Searage reiterates that he thinks A.J. Burnett is likely to retire. Searage also says the Pirates are "excited" to have gotten Edinson Volquez, and says he plans to "go back to basics" with Volquez's delivery (Twitter links).
In two pieces today for GammonsDaily.com, Peter Gammons discusses a variety of hot stove topics. In particular, even before Clayton Kershaw's market-busting extension earlier today, Gammons noted that the price of starting pitching has been a hot topic among baseball GMs.
- The two key situations driving market pricing, he writes, are the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes and how the Rays handle David Price. Tanaka could command $120MM or more from the Yankees or Dodgers, says Gammons. As for Price, Tampa is increasingly inclined to hold onto their ace at least until the trade deadline, when they can try to extract a higher price or hold onto him for a postseason run.
- These situations could have a substantial impact on several other high-end starters that are set to become free agents next year. James Shields has let the Royals know that he is looking to score a contract on the magnitude of Zach Greinke's six-year, $147MM deal.
- Meanwhile, the Red Sox and Reds do not plan on approaching key extension candidates Jon Lester and Homer Bailey, respectively, until Spring Training.
- After disappointing returns on some of their major pitching acquisitions last year, the Blue Jays are not going to engage in any bidding wars for starting pitching, Gammons says. The club will instead "build on youth and rehabs," and will only jump into the mix for arms like Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez if they "fall down to [Toronto]."
- Agent Scott Boras has increasingly given indication that free agent Stephen Drew is willing to play positions other than shortstop, says Gammons, which may increase his appeal to both the Yankees and Red Sox. As Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes in a separate piece, Boras says that Drew has suitors other than the Sox and Mets, though he declined to name them.
- Already considered one of the game's top prospects, Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco has raised his stock even further with big numbers (including a .428 OBP) in he Dominican winter league. Polanco, 22, could have an impact by the mid-season of 2014. More importantly for the Bucs' long-term plans, one National League GM tells Gammons that the prospective Pittsburgh outfield of Polanco, Andrew McCutchen, and Starling Marte "will be the best outfield in the game."
Wondering what your team still can or should do to improve before the start of the 2014 season? ESPN.com's Jim Bowden lays out the "missing links" he sees for each of the National League's clubs. On the free agent side of things, he thinks that the Reds (Nelson Cruz), Pirates (Kendrys Morales), and Mets (Stephen Drew) could all stand to add an impact bat. Elsewhere around the NL ...
- In an interesting piece on Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that the Phils' top baseball man will continue to "take swings" at arguably risky acquisitions. "There are only so many chances to be a champion, and I will never stop believing that if you have a chance, you take the opportunity," Amaro says. "if you don't take a chance on Adam Eaton, then maybe you don't take a chance on Jayson Werth." (Of course, Amaro was referring to Eaton the retired pitcher, not the young outfielder by the same name.)
- Amaro discussed his philosophies in relation to some of the club's recent moves, He acknowledged that the signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was a risk, but called him "a guy with a tremendous ceiling." And while Marlon Byrd will earn $16MM over two years to be "a decent role player" for Philadelphia, in Amaro's words, the GM explained that he had to balance the team's needs. "If I go get Carlos Beltran," said Amaro, "then I can't take a chance on Roberto Hernandez. We've got a lot of holes to fill, and our job is to try to make the right decision 70 percent of the time, not the wrong decision 70 percent of the time."
- The Nationals recently added another bench piece in Jamey Carroll, and Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post expects that the veteran will make the club out of Spring Training. But that does not mean that GM Mike Rizzo is done fiddling with his reserves, says Kilgore. Possible additions include a catcher, a left-handed bat such as Lyle Overbay, or a right-handed corner option like Mark Reynolds. Likewise, another southpaw reliever could still be added.
- The powerful right arm of reliever Erik Cordier earned him a guaranteed deal with the Giants even though he's never thrown a big league pitch. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned that Cordier's new club had good reason to offer him a MLB deal, as two other clubs were likewise willing to use a 40-man roster spot on the 27-year-old. (Twitter link.)
Robinson Cano is the latest to join baseball's $20MM-man club, Doug Miller of MLB.com writes, noting that the list of players making an average of $20MM or more annually has swelled dramatically in recent years. "It goes to the fact that these teams are anticipating revenue from regional television networks, and the new cable agreements are an accelerant to the spending," David Carter of the University of Southern California's Sports Business Institute comments. "The owners feel as though they're going to get that money back." Here's more from around the majors:
- The Twins are up next in Yahoo Sports' rundown of each club's offseason. Jeff Passan argues that while Minnesota's additions to the rotation should help, Twins fans will spend much of 2014 waiting for the arrivals of heralded prospects like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Passan also likes the decision to move Joe Mauer to first base.
- Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun lists five factors to monitor as the Orioles prepare to hold a four-day offseason minicamp next week.
- The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertemfepfel spoke with Pirates reliever Duke Welker, who was traded to Minnesota in October but was flipped back to Pittsburgh 44 days later. Welker is expected to compete for one of the Pirates' bullpen spots this spring.
- Scott Boras believes the Phillies' new TV deal is worth about $200MM annually when factors such as the club's equity stake in the network are considered, Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Having an ownership stake in the entity allows a team to avoid exposure to revenue-sharing rules, according to Boras, who says the loophole "hurts other teams in the league from receiving the true payment."
- Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez had his appendix removed on Friday night in an emergency surgery. Troy Renck of The Denver Post reports that Gonzalez didn't undergo a standard appendectomy, and could require nearly two months to recover, instead of the usual four weeks. However, that should still allow the All-Star plenty of time to recover and prepare for Opening Day.
There's still no word from A.J. Burnett on whether he will pitch in 2014 or retire, but Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage is moving forward under the expectation that Burnett will call it a career, he said in an appearance on 93-7 The Fan Morning Show in Pittsburgh this morning:
"I'm on the percentage point where he's not going to come back. I've got to prepare my guys with no A.J. I've got to prepare the pitching with no A.J. So that's the route I'm going. If he does come back -- hey, all right! But right now, I'm leaning that way, where he's going to retire."
Burnett's decision on whether or not to retire has taken months longer than initially anticipated, but there's yet to be any indication that he would give consideration to pitching for another team. The 37-year-old has stated on multiple occasions that he will only pitch for the Pirates if he decides to play again in 2014, though his hometown Orioles have expressed interest should he decide to change that thinking. The Pirates already have six starters with Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez on board, although Burnett could certainly be worked into the mix.
Searage went on to say that Locke experienced arm fatigue in 2013, leading to his precipitous decline late in the season, and he's hoping Locke can "wipe the slate clean" heading into 2014. He also wants to try not to overload Volquez with tips on how to harness his potential and says he finds it best to "kill them with kindness" when working with such reclamation projects. Searage has had plenty of success in that department, as the Pirates have enjoyed tremendous rebound performances from Burnett, Liriano and Mark Melancon upon arrival in Pittsburgh.
The Major League Baseball Players Association announced that Kevin McGuiness, a lawyer who has spent a decade heading a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., has been hired as COO under new union head Tony Clark. The 61-year-old will fill a post that had been vacant since Gene Orza retired in March 2011. McGuiness will start work with the union next month. Tonight's look around baseball..
- The Pirates signed starting pitcher Edinson Volquez as a free agent this offseason, but that wasn't the first time they had pursued him, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. "When San Diego put me on waivers (last year), the Pirates called right away," says Volquez. "This winter, they called again. I thought, 'They must really want me, so let's do it.'" Volquez posted a 5.71 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 with the Padres and Dodgers last year, but the Pirates have had success with down-on-their-luck pitchers like Francisco Liriano in the recent past. "What I hear about the Pirates pitching coaches and the pitching staff is pretty good," Volquez says. "So, why not take a chance to come here and maybe get better?"
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has made no secret of his desire to make a play for Masahiro Tanaka and he has a strategy in place to make it happen, writes MLB.com's Steve GIlbert.
- Tanaka flew to the U.S. today and is expected to start meeting with MLB clubs in the coming days, according to a report from Nikkan Sports.
- While some see the Blue Jays’ starting rotation as a weakness, others view it as an opportunity, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Pitching prospects Sean Nolin and Marcus Stroman both say they aim to make the rotation out of spring training. Of course, there will be less seats at the table if Toronto goes out and finds more arms via trade or free agency.
Charlie Wilmoth and Aaron Steen contributed to this post.