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Ramon Santiago Rumors
The veteran had seemed a plausible candidate for a roster spot — if not a starting role — with the Jays out of camp. He had a nice start to the spring and offered a good bit of big league experience for a Toronto club that still has some uncertainty at second base. Santiago, 35, owns a .243/.314/.330 slash in 2,974 career plate appearances compiled over 13 big league seasons.
As things stand, the Blue Jays are set to roll with rookie Devon Travis at the keystone, with Steve Tolleson in reserve. When he recovers from his surgery, Santiago will join Munenori Kawasaki and Jonathan Diaz as depth options.
The Blue Jays set the majority of their 25-man roster today, and there were plenty of interesting decisions to break down. A look at some of the outcomes…
- Two key spots on the lineup will be manned by promising young prospects, as Dalton Pompey was named the center fielder (as was widely expected) and Devon Travis was named the starting second baseman. As MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm writes, the two prospects have been friends since 2013 — before Travis was even acquired from the Tigers in exchange for Anthony Gose this offseason. One of the first calls Travis received upon being traded to Toronto was from Pompey, with whom he had maintained contact after meeting at the 2013 MidWest All-Star Game. Travis emotionally called today the “best day of [his] life,” adding that it was “incredible” to know he’d be a part of a Major League roster.
- Pompey and Travis will be just two of six rookies on the roster, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported today that 20-year-olds Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna have made the team and will pitch out of the bullpen. Both hard-throwing righties impressed scouts this spring, as they combined for 20 innings (10 each) of one-run ball with 18 strikeouts against just three walks (all from Osuna). Rookies Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez will be in the rotation with Marcus Stroman out for the season.
- The Blue Jays released veteran infielder Ramon Santiago earlier today, as the 35-year-old had broken his collarbone earlier in the spring. However, Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes tweets (in Spanish) that the Jays may yet re-sign him to a new Minor League deal. Doing so would allow the Jays to keep Santiago and allow him to rehab in the organization while avoiding having to pay the former Article XX(B) free agent a $100K retention bonus.
The 35-year-old Santiago got off to a scorching start this spring with five hits in 12 at-bats, but he unfortunately broke his collarbone about two weeks ago — an injury that was said at the time to sideline him for 10 weeks. Santiago hit .246/.343/.324 with the Reds last season and has significant experience at second base, shortstop and third base.
Barton’s reassignment to Minor League camp would seem to bode well for Justin Smoak‘s case to make the team. Most have expected Smoak to receive a look as a platoon option at first base (hitting from the left side), and with Barton’s hope of making the team now dashed, Smoak should be in line to indeed fill that role.
Blue Jays infielder Ramon Santiago will miss approximately ten weeks with a broken collarbone, GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters, including MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm (via Twitter). The 35-year-old, 13-year big league veteran had been in the mix for a utility role with Toronto.
Here’s more from the American League:
- Veteran Yankees hurler C.C. Sabathia worked in the low 90s today with his fastball, a scout tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Feinsand notes that Sabathia is well ahead of his build-up last year, which turned out to be by far his worst season as a professional. New York would be grateful if Sabathia could simply produce as a league-average starter, though the former Cy Young winner obviously has greater upside than that even at age 34.
- Angels backstop Chris Iannetta is working to improve his receiving this spring, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. Iannetta says he was surprised to find that his framing numbers were sub-par. “I get really good reviews from umpires in what I do and how I work, and I see some discrepancies,” Iannetta said. “It’s disappointing. So my goal is to get as good as I can. Be in the top five, top 10, try to get better, see what the guys who do really well are doing mechanically.” Iannetta discusses in some detail how he approaches the dark art of manipulating balls into strikes, which has only recently been reduced to numbers (and translated into runs and wins). If he can show improvement in that department this year, Iannetta could have broad appeal as a free agent next winter given his above-average bat.
5:00pm: Santiago will earn $1.1MM if he makes the big league roster, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
Santiago, 35, spent the 2014 season with the Reds, hitting .246/.343/.324 with a pair of homers in 214 plate appearances. The Beverly Hills Sports Council client spent time at third base, second base and shortstop in Cincinnati, as he has done throughout his 13-year big league career. Santiago typically grades out as a plus defender at shortstop, per Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved, and he’s been roughly average at second and third as well. His upside with the bat, however, is fairly limited, as evidenced by his lifetime batting line of .243/.314/.330.
Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they are not on the team's 25-man roster or the Major League disabled list five days prior to the season.
Free agents who qualify for this distinction are those who have at least six years of Major League service time and had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season, but signed a minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day.
MLBTR has confirmed with MLB that the deadline for teams to decide on these players is today at 11am central time. By the deadline, teams with these players in camp need to decide whether to:
- Add the player to their 25-man roster or Major League disabled list (or agree to do so in writing).
- Grant the player his outright release from the minor league contract so that he may pursue opportunities with other teams.
- Pay the player a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization beyond the deadline and send him to the minors.
Here's the latest news from around the league on Article XX(B) signees and their roster statuses with their respective teams (newest updates on top).
- The Red Sox released left-hander Rich Hill this morning and then re-signed him to a new minor league contract, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Presumably this move was made so the Sox could keep Hill and avoid paying the $100K bonus.
- Ramon Santiago has been informed that he's made the Reds roster, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The 34-year-old will serve as the team's utility infielder.
The Reds have reached agreement on a minor league deal with infielder Ramon Santiago, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (Twitter links). Santiago gets a Spring Training invitation, and will earn $1.1MM if he breaks camp with the club.
The 34-year-old Santiago, who recently joined the Beverly Hills Sports Council, has been a regular utility cog with the Tigers for ten of the last twelve years. Since his one season of everyday playing time in 2003, Santiago has only once exceeded 300 plate appearances, but has received at least 150 in each of the last six campaigns. In 2013, Santiago stepped up to bat 234 times and registered a .224/.298/.288 triple-slash, continuing a downturn in his stat line that began the year before. Santiago still rates out well with his glove, however, and boasts generally solid defensive metrics up the middle and at third.
For the Reds, the switch-hitting Santiago should have a good chance at cracking the roster. Though the team has other infield backup options in the fold, such as Skip Schumaker, Jack Hannahan, and Chris Nelson, none of those players has spent significant time at shortstop. Santiago has played the majority of his big league games at the position, with most of his remaining appearances coming at the second base position.
After public expressions of interest recently between the Astros and Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan, the stage is set for another step forward. Team owner Jim Crane has arranged to meet Ryan in person at some point next week. Presumably, the two will discuss a role for the former Rangers CEO with a Houston organization that already features his son as its president of business operations. Here are a few more stray notes to round out the week:
- Freddy Garcia does not want to pitch in Triple-A for the Braves, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has an opt-out on March 25 that can be exercised if he has not been added to the MLB roster, but Garcia is confident that he won't need to do so.
- Two of his countrymen were cleared to sign today, but Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz is still ineligible to sign until February 19th due to age misrepresentation issues. He is now training in Arizona, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, and plans to showcase himself for scouts on at least two occasions in February. The 23-year-old has reportedly drawn wide interest from MLB clubs.
- 34-year-old infielder Ramon Santiago has chosen new representation, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He will rely on the Beverly Hills Sports Council to find him a home after eight years with the Tigers.
There were no new developments today relating to Matt Garza, who looked to have a deal in place with the Brewers yesterday before an unidentified snag held things up. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel provided some updates from the inside, however, reporting that a source said negotiations were "ongoing." When asked whether there were any new developments, GM Doug Melvin told Haudricourt "nothing yet."
Here are a few bits of information elsewhere on the current free agent pitching market:
- Bronson Arroyo and the Dodgers have had discussions since Masahiro Tanaka chose not to sign with Los Angeles, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The level of interest remains uncertain, Heyman notes.
- The Angels have "a bit" of interest in Arroyo but are also content to take their current group to Spring Training, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Angels acquired Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs this offseason to join Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards in the rotation.
- It's been a different type of offseason for the Angels this year, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, noting the patience and restraint the team has shown on the free agent market. Gonzalez notes that the Angels aren't interested in Matt Garza at the $13MM AAV he would receive in his near-deal with the Brewers, as it would push them up against the luxury tax threshold. He lists Arroyo, Jason Hammel, Chris Capuano, Scott Baker and Paul Maholm as potential rotation options that would leave some cushion between Anaheim's payroll and the luxury tax.
- With a lot of starters still available on the open market, there are plenty of teams that have yet to fill up their slate of rotation candidates. Joining the O's and Jays among the clubs that are looking for starters are both of Chicago's two franchises, according to Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (via Twitter). Levine indicates that the Cubs are looking over the list of remaining free agents, but he does not say whether the White Sox have any interest in open-market players.
- MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik thinks the team is done making "major" additions, but tweaks are still possible. However, semantics could come into play heavily, as manager Lloyd McClendon said the team would still like to add a No. 3 starter, per ESPN 710's Shannon Drayer (Twitter link). New team president and COO Kevin Mather indicated today that the club would have the financial resources necessary to make more additions before the start of the season.
- There are five clubs vying for the services of Hammel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Hammel is expected to choose a landing spot within a week.
- Swingman Jerome Williams has offers on the table from at least three clubs, Cotillo tweets. He, too, appears to be nearing a decision point.
- Southpaw reliever Tim Byrdak will not be re-signing with the Mets, the reliever tweeted (via Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com). The 40-year-old indicated that the team decided against signing him.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Theo Epstein admitted that the Cubs "got a little ahead of ourselves" in signing Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52MM contract last winter. In response to a fan's question at a season ticket-holders event in Chicago, Epstein said the team “didn’t fully understand the scope of our situation, the overall situation with the timing of our business plan, the timing of our facilities and the timing of our baseball plan." (hat tip to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times). The Jackson signing was seen a surprise move for the rebuilding Cubs and it hasn't worked out thus far, as Jackson posted a 4.98 ERA over 175 1/3 IP in 2013.
Here are some more items as we head into the weekend…
- Epstein told reporters (including MLB.com's Carrie Muskat) that he expects Jackson to be a positive for the Cubs next season, though he noted that the team plans to add more "quality" starting pitching this winter. "Every starting pitcher we acquire is someone we hope is starting Game 1 of the World Series for us," Epstein said.
- The Indians' biggest needs this winter are bullpen pieces and a complementary bat, Tribe general manager Chris Antonetti tells Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link).
- Scott Boras scoffed at projections that Stephen Drew would only find a three-year contract this winter, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. "A three-year deal, for a 30-year-old free agent, really? Are these writers aware of what Elvis Andrus signed for?", Boras asked. The Andrus comparison isn't as entirely outlandish as it first appears, since Andrus' eight-year, $120MM extension with the Rangers is only guaranteed for four years and $62MM since Andrus has opt-out clauses. Still, even that price tag seems quite high — MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted Drew for a four-year, $48MM deal this winter and that was with reservations about the fourth year and the draft pick compensation attached to Drew's free agency.
- Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan could be a better catching option for 2014 than Jarrod Saltalamacchia even aside from the financial considerations, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron opines (Twitter links). Hanigan actually has a higher career WAR than Saltalamacchia (8.3 to 6.9) and could be available in a trade, while "Salty" could cost a team around $36MM in free agency.
- The Dodgers should at least consider trading Yasiel Puig, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon argues. He would certainly net more in a deal than any club's higher-priced outfielders and the Dodgers could be selling high on Puig since it's unclear whether his style of play will age well.
- The Angels don't have much payroll room to make big changes for 2014 but MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby thinks the Halos might only need a few tweaks to contend.
- The Tigers aren't likely to re-sign Ramon Santiago, MLive.com's Chris Iott reports, as the team has younger and cheaper utility infield options available. Santiago, 34, has played for Detroit since 2006 and spent 10 seasons overall with the Tigers as a backup or part-time starter in the middle infield.