Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors
The Mets have claimed right-hander Ryan Reid off waivers from the Pirates, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (Twitter link). Reid was designated for assignment last week along with Jerry Sands to clear roster space for Clint Barmes and Edinson Volquez.
The 28-year-old Reid made his big league debut for the Buccos in 2013 and pitched well, posting a 1.64 ERA with seven punchouts and three walks in 11 innings of work. He posted a 51.5 percent ground-ball rate and averaged 91.9 mph on his fastball in that brief Major League sample. Reid has enjoyed continued success as a reliever in the minors, as evidenced by his career 3.57 ERA in 194 innings at Triple-A. He's averaged 8.6 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings in parts of three seasons at that level.
The Twins announced a wave of front office promotions today, highlighted by the promotion of assistant GM Rob Antony to vice president/assistant GM. Antony will be responsible for Major League contracts (including arbitration); Major League and Minor League player evaluation; and oversight of the team's video, baseball analytics and baseball communications department. More from the Central divisions...
- Former Twins reliever Juan Rincon is looking for a minor league deal with, ideally, an invite to big league spring training, agent Burton Rocks tells MLBTR. Rincon, 35 in January, wants a club to bring him in to help mentor younger pitchers and have him continue in that role after his playing career is through as a scout. Rocks has talked to "four or five" clubs about his unique proposal for Rincon, who spent last season with the York Revolution of the Atlantic League.
- The White Sox have an infusion of young, exciting position players including outfielders Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton and Paul Konerko is excited to be back in the fold and see what they can do. "Eaton is the guy that can make things go if he hits his stride," Konerko said on a conference call with White Sox season ticket holders, according to CSNChicago.com. "A guy like Eaton can be a someone who is a complete steal because of the tools he has. He can be a real mainstay." Konerko re-signed with Chicago on a one-year deal that gives him a $2.5MM guarantee.
- Dayan Viciedo could split time this season with Alejandro De Aza in left field, remain the starter if De Aza is moved, or he could wind up traded himself, writes CSNChicago.com's Dan Hayes. The White Sox haven't given up on the 25-year-old, but they're not sure what they'll do with him either.
- Jeff Karstens is said to be pain-free and in midst of normal winter throwing program. tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He's planning to work out for clubs in January. Karstens had shoulder surgery in June, which involved debridement of his rotator cuff and labrum, and never threw a big league pitch for the Pirates in 2013. The veteran is represented by All Bases Covered Sports Management, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.
- The Twins were in on Eric Chavez before he signed with the Diamondbacks earlier today, a source tells Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter).
Today's minor moves..
- The Rangers have agreed to a minor league deal with Kensuke Tanaka, according to a report from Sponichi (Japanese link) passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (via Twitter). The Giants released the second baseman/left fielder back in September after designating him for assignment. The 32-year-old saw limited time with the Giants this season but excelled in 400 plate appearances at Triple-A Fresno, batting .329/.400/.397 with three homers and 22 steals.
- The Rangers have signed right-hander Justin Germano to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas News (via Twitter). Germano saw two innings of work for the Blue Jays last season but spent most of 2013 with their Triple-A affiliate, turning in a 4.47 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.
- Greg Reynolds signed to pitch for the Seibu Lions of NPB in 2014, according to CAA Sports (via Twitter). Reynolds spent last season with the Reds' Triple-A affiliate, posting a 2.42 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 156 1/3 innings.
- The Mariners announced that they've outrighted outfielder Travis Witherspoon to Triple-A Tacoma. The 24-year-old Witherspoon was designated for assignment last week to clear a roster spot for Corey Hart.
- Rick van den Hurk is returning to the Samsung Lions of the KBO, where he helped them capture the the Korean Series title last year, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The deal is pending a physical exam. VandenHurk, 28, last appeared in the majors with the Pirates for a handful of games in 2012.
- The Pirates announced that they have signed seven minor league free agents, including Travis Ishikawa, Michael Martinez, Daniel Schlereth, Adam Wilk, and Kyle McPherson. All of those deals are minor league contracts with invites to big league spring training. Ishikawa had 20 combined plate appearances for the Yankees and Orioles last season, but spent the bulk of the year at the Triple-A level, where he hit .290/.389/.465 with nine homers. Martinez, 31, had 40 big league PAs for the Phillies and posted a .300/.352/.407 line for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Schlereth, a first-round pick in the 2008 draft, has 94 career big league relief appearances to his credit.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Jose Veras signing makes sense for the Cubs since he comes at an affordable rate, has experience, and can groom the younger guys like Pedro Strop, opines Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com (via Twitter). Earlier tonight, the Cubs agreed to sign Veras to a one-year, $4MM deal with a $5.5MM club option for 2015. Here's more out of the AL and NL Central..
- Before agreeing to his deal with the Cubs, Veras tells Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (on Twitter) that he also had an offer from the Mariners. The Rockies and Astros were also among the clubs with reported interest.
- Even after the Mike Pelfrey agreement, the Twins are maintaining dialogue with Johan Santana's representatives, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter). For his part, Santana is very open to a return.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel checked in with Brewers GM Doug Melvin and it doesn't sound like the club is closing in on a first base solution. "It's pretty quiet," said Melvin. "We know all the names. It's a small group. Nothing changes from one day to the next. Ike Davis is the one player people talk about. Other than that, there's not much available." Haudricourt also asked Melvin about Rangers' first baseman Mitch Moreland, but Melvin says that at last check, Texas said they won't move him.
- With multiple question marks, David Schoenfield of ESPN.com feels that the Pirates are likely to regress in 2014.
7:28pm: The Pirates spoke to the Mets about trading for Davis, a source told Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
3:48pm: The Pirates have seen a pair of first base candidates come off the board in the past week with the Rays re-siging James Loney for $21MM over three years and the Mariners acquiring Logan Morrison. However, they're still looking at the trade market and currently have their sights set on Ike Davis and Mitch Moreland, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
Davis' name has been most frequently connected to the Brewers in the past week, but Pittsburgh also has a hole to fill at first base. Davis batted .242/.334/.434 overall in 2013 but was strong against right-handed pitching, as can be seen in his .256/.356/.471 slash line. That would seem to make him an ideal platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez, who roughed up lefties at a .333/.438/.539 clip in 2013.
Moreland offers similar platoon issues, having batted just .236/.295/.362 against left-handers in his career. Both he and Davis can be controlled through the 2016 season, though Moreland is projected to earn just $2.7MM in 2014 (per MLBTR's Matt Swartz), while Davis is projected to earn $3.5MM next season. It's not known at this time what the Rangers would be looking for in return for Moreland. New York is said to be asking the Brewers to part with right-hander Tyler Thornburg.
The Winter Meetings featured the three-team trade that sent Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks, as well as a number of other moves, but Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe argues that this year's meetings featured plenty of press, but comparatively little meaningful activity. Cafardo wonders whether baseball should issue a moratorium on moves before the Winter Meetings, so that the meetings themselves feature more signal and less noise. Here's more from Cafardo:
- For the Diamondbacks, the Trumbo acquisition was about adding power, which is in short supply these days. "Just looking at the West, and looking at the National League and looking at the free agent market going forward, I just don’t know where you’re going to find power," says GM Kevin Towers.
- If the Red Sox re-sign Stephen Drew, that would bump Xander Bogaerts to third base and make Will Middlebrooks a trade candidate. The Marlins, who are looking for a third baseman, would likely be interested.
- Even after a report that the Orioles had interest in A.J. Burnett and had been in touch with his agent, the Pirates feel Burnett doesn't want to play for any other team. "There’s no reason for [Burnett] not to be back," says a Pirates official.
- Four teams have offered two-year deals to free agent Bronson Arroyo, but Arroyo is holding out for a three-year deal, or maybe a two-year deal with a vesting option.
- There doesn't appear to be a particularly robust market for Kendrys Morales, with the Mariners adding Corey Hart and Logan Morrison and the Angels likely to sign Raul Ibanez. The Orioles might be one possibility, but not at Morales' price.
In a Q&A yesterday with several bloggers, including Charlie Wilmoth of Bucs Dugout (and, of course, MLBTR), Pirates GM Neal Huntington tackled a series of transactional issues. You'll want to give a read to Charlie's writeup to get the full picture, but here are some key takeaways:
- Huntington addressed previous comments in which he reportedly said if A.J. Burnett "or others want a market-value deal, they'll sign elsewhere." He did not deny the quote, but said it did not capture what he meant to convey. "What I certainly intended was that top-tier free agents, if they're looking for top-tier dollars, they're going to play somewhere else," said Huntington. "And that's not just Pittsburgh. That's probably half to maybe two-thirds of the markets in baseball." Huntington pointed to last year's signing of Russell Martin as an instance of the franchise topping the market for a player it valued highly; "so, it's not that we won't pay market value when it's appropriate."
- Huntington added for the "right player, right contract, we'll absolutely go three years. We can go to four years if we need to. But it's got to be the right player for the right contract. It's just the margin for error is a little easier with some of the bigger-market clubs."
- Burnett is still an option for the Pirates. "We're working to be as patient as we can with A.J.," Huntington said. "A.J. would be our biggest free-agent acquisition if he chooses to come back, so we've tried to keep that door open as long as we can."
- Huntington denied the signing of Edinson Volquez will affect the team's pursuit of Burnett. "If A.J. decides to come back and we can make it work, we'll figure something out."
- Huntington said there is a reason why the Pirates haven't been linked to many free agents. "We don't promote what we're doing. I don't call this reporter and say, 'Can you get our name in this mix?' We don't want some people to know what we're doing. We like to work in the background. I like nothing more than to surprise some people with a move, because we don't need to announce what we're doing."
- Huntington said the front office hasn't been on the sidelines and is working hard, but admits, as compared to last offseason, he hasn't "felt this huge sense of urgency." Filling the Pirates' need at first base is a prime example. "The first base market is evolving. There's some guys that have gone off the board that we liked, but not for a cost that we felt was appropriate for us."
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Let's run through some late-night Central links ...
- A Twins official tells LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune that the club is "not sure" about whether it will sign another starter after agreeing to terms on a new deal with Mike Pelfrey. "Maybe if it makes sense," the official said. "We still have some things to address." Minnesota reportedly has strong interest in Bronson Arroyo.
- While the Indians have been quiet so far this winter, the club's biggest moves last offseason didn't come until after the Winter Meetings, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes in a reader mailbag column. The Nick Swisher deal was announced in January, while Michael Bourn wasn't signed until February.
- White Sox Manager Robin Ventura says he's excited to see what new acquisitions Adam Eaton and Jose Dariel Abreu bring to the club's lineup, which should look different in 2014, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. GM Rick Hahn has indicated the Sox still need to decide whether to try and swap outfielders Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo for help at third base and catcher.
- Charlie Morton tells Jim Lachimia of MLB.com that his confidence in the Pirates organization was the biggest factor in agreeing to sign a three-year, $21MM extension earlier this week.
- Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review doesn't expect the Pirates to open 2014 with Gaby Sanchez as their full-time first baseman, noting his struggles with right-handed pitching (career .700 OPS). While some fans have been frustrated to watch the Pirates stand pat as names such as Mike Morse and James Loney come off the board, Starkey says the club's front office has earned trust after its recent run of success with free agent signings.
Here are today's minor moves and outright assignments from around the league...
- Jairo Asencio has signed with the KIA Tigers in the Korean Baseball Organization, MyKBO.net tweets. The Orioles acquired the 30-year-old righty from the Brewers all the way back in March, using him for just 2 1/3 innings this year. Asencio has a career 5.34 ERA in 43 big league appearances, but has been much better at Triple-A, where he's pitched to a 2.56 ERA across 165 games.
- The Royals announced that they have signed infielder Brian Bocock and outfielder Johermyn Chavez to minor-league contracts. The 28-year-old Bocock has 38 big league games on his resume and last appeared in the majors in 2010 with the Phillies. He has a career .226/.297/.309 minor-league line. Chavez, 24, has never appeared in the big leagues. He's hit .261/.340/.438 in nearly 3,000 minor-league plate appearances. The Bocock deal was originally reported by Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish on Twitter.
- The Red Sox have signed pitcher John Ely and re-signed Miguel Celestino to minor-league deals, WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports. Ely, 27, missed most of 2013 due to Tommy John surgery but had a strong year in Triple-A in 2012, posting a 3.20 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 168 2/3 innings for Albuquerque. Celestino, 24, posted a 6.12 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 for Double-A Portland in 2013.
- The Pirates have signed utilityman Michael Martinez to a minor-league deal, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. Martinez, 31, hit .300/.352/.407 for the Phillies' Triple-A Lehigh Valley affiliate in 2013. He also picked up 40 plate appearances at the big-league level.
- The Diamondbacks announced that they've signed veteran catcher Henry Blanco to a minor-league deal with a spring training invite. Earlier today, Arizona was reportedly close to signing Blanco, who hit .142/.228/.246 with the Blue Jays and Mariners in 2013. Blanco, 42, played with the Diamondbacks in 2011 and 2012.
- The Cubs announced that they have signed outfielder Ryan Kalish to a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Kalish, 25, was originally drafted by the Red Sox when Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer were with Boston.
- The Cubs have also signed catcher John Baker to a minor-league deal with a non-roster invite, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune tweets. The light-hitting Baker played briefly with the Padres in 2013, and also appeared in Tucscon (Padres) and Albuquerque (Dodgers) in Triple-A.
- The Tigers outrighted infielder Dixon Machado to Triple-A Toledo, according to an MILB.com release. Machado hit .215/.264/.295 with Class A+ Lakeland in 2013. The Tigers designated him for assignment last week.
Charlie Wilmoth and Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
It may be a bit early, but Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) grades everyone's offseason to date in the American League. The Yankees get a B+ for holding firm in the Robinson Cano negotiations and the A's get an A for their acquisitions of Craig Gentry, Luke Gregerson, and Jim Johnson. Teams like the Indians, Blue Jays, and Orioles, on the other hand, will need to do more if they want better marks from Bowden. Here's this afternoon's look around baseball..
- Pirates closer Jason Grilli says he would like extend his contract, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter). Grilli, who inked a two-year, $6.75MM deal with the Bucs last offseason, posted a 2.70 ERA with 13.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 54 appearances last season. The 37-year-old is represented by Gary Sheffield, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.
- Brett Tomko is pitching in the Dominican Republic and throwing 92-94 MPH, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports (on Twitter). The 40-year-old is seeking a minor league deal with big-league invite. Tomko last appeared in the majors in 2011 when he made eight relief appearances for the Rangers.
- R.J. Anderson, Ben Lindbergh and Bret Sayre of Baseball Prospectus weighed in on the Rays' re-signing of James Loney. The two sides agreed to a three-year, $21MM deal this week.
- The Rockies are optimistic after a productive start to the offseason, writes Tracy Ringolsby of MLB.com.