Randy Choate Rumors

NL Central Notes: Choate, Wainwright, Guerrero, Taillon

As the Cardinals battle to represent the National League Central in the World Series, let's have a look at St. Louis and the two other post-season qualifying members of the division.

  • Left-handed reliever Randy Choate had his pick of the Cardinals and the Dodgers over this past off-season, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His manager, Mike Matheny, credits him not only for his performance on the hill but for mentoring the many excellent young arms that have cycled through the team's bullpen this year.
  • Starting for the Cards this evening was Adam Wainwright, who has been as important as any player to the team's recent successes. As MLB.com's Steve Gilbert writes, the deal that brought him to St. Louis about a decade ago could not have turned out any better for team or player.
  • Walt Jocketty, the GM who pulled the trigger on that trade, is currently at the helm of the rival Reds. Jocketty tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he is unlikely to bring aboard Cuban middle infielder Alexander Guerrero, who the club was rumored to be in on. "We scouted him extensively and had a lot of discussions," said Jocketty. "But I don't believe anything will happen."
  • Top Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon has been shut down after suffering a groin injury in his first outing in the Arizona Fall League, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The injury itself doesn't seem to be significant, however, and it seems unlikely to have a significant impact on the club's plans for 2014. With Taillon now unable to add additional innings to his arm, he will have a base of less than 150 to work from next season. Of course, that is about the level that Gerrit Cole had to build off of this year. Taillon also will miss the chance to develop against AFL talent, but he has already advanced to the upper minors and should get more time there to start the season.

Central Notes: Gomez, Chapman, Choate, Indians

It was on this day in 1932 that the Reds and Dodgers swung a very notable trade.  Clyde Sukeforth, Tony Cuccinello and Joe Stripp went to Brooklyn while Cincinnati acquired Babe Herman, Wally Gilbert and a then-23-year-old catcher named Ernie Lombardi.  Needless to say, this deal ended up being a big win for the Reds — Lombardi spent the bulk (10 years) of his Hall of Fame career in Cincinnati and hit .311/.359/.469 and 120 homers with the club.  Lombardi won two batting titles during his career, and was the last catcher to lead the NL in average until Buster Posey last season.

Here are some items from around both the NL and AL Central…


Contract Details: Burnett, Blanton, Choate

The Angels officially announced their deals with Sean Burnett and Joe Blanton today. Here are details on those contracts and the breakdown of another recently-signed deal…

  • Burnett’s 2015 option vests if he pitches in 110 total games from 2013-14, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports (all Twitter links). The 2015 option is valued at $4.5MM. The Angels recently agreed to sign Burnett to a two-year, $8MM contract that includes incentives. The option becomes a club option with a $500K buyout if it doesn't vest, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Burnett obtains a $250K signing bonus, $3.5MM in 2013 and $3.75MM in 2014, Rosenthal reports.
  • Blanton’s two-year, $15MM contract with the Angels calls for a $6.5MM salary in 2013 and a $7.5MM salary in 2014, DiGiovanna reports. The deal includes an $8MM club option for 2015 with a $1MM buyout. 
  • Randy Choate will earn base salaries of $1.5MM in 2013, $3MM in 2014 and $3MM in 2015 on his three-year, $7.5MM contract with the Cardinals, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. Langosch has all of the details on the deal, which was agreed upon one week ago.


Cardinals Agree To Sign Randy Choate

The Cardinals have reached a contract agreement with lefty reliever Randy Choate, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (via Twitter).  The contract is for three years, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  It's worth $7.5MM, according to WFAN's Sweeny Murti.

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St. Louis had been seeking a left-handed specialist to pair with Marc Rzepczynski in its bullpen, and was said to be considering a number of options. The team fell out of the running on Sean Burnett earlier in the day.

Choate, 37, is one of MLB's quintessential LOOGYs, pitching just 38 2/3 innings in 80 appearances for the Marlins and Dodgers in 2012. Over the last three seasons, he has a 3.25 ERA to go along with a 9.1 K/9 rate in 108 innings.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Presswire.


Central Notes: Reds, Chicago, Brewers, Pirates, Twins

Here are the latest news and notes from the NL and AL Central divisions:


West Notes: Dodgers, Giants, Angels, Padres

Here's a look at some news out of the AL and NL West..

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Dodgers Notes: Colletti, League, Crawford

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti discussed a number of offseason topics with the media (including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick) during today's official introductory press conference for Carl Crawford.  Here are some of the highlights…

  • Colletti said the Dodgers would look to add starting and relief pitching this winter, plus outfield depth.  "Our outfield is somewhat complete, but not complete," Colletti said.  "We've got to keep our versatility and have somebody that can play center field. Tony Gwynn is still part of the organization and a candidate."  Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are set as the Dodgers' starting outfield trio for 2013, though good bench options are necessary given Crawford and Kemp's recent injury problems.
  • Mickey Hatcher is not a candidate to replace the recently-fired Dave Hansen as the Dodgers' hitting coach, though Colletti said Hatcher could find a job in another capacity with the team.  Hatcher, fired last spring as the Angels' hitting coach, served as "a de facto assistant" to Hansen last season.
  • The Dodgers are interested in bringing back Jamey Wright, Randy Choate and Brandon League next season.  All three relievers are free agents, though Colletti is "encouraged" by negotiations thus far with League (as tweeted by Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times).
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has the details of Crawford's meeting with the media, including his surprise at being traded last summer, his willingness to waive his no-trade clause and how he wished he'd immediately undergone Tommy John surgery rather than trying to play through the pain.  "I wish I’d done it [earlier], because I’d be better now. With the Boston fans you have a big deal that was made about my money and trying to play for the team," Crawford said. "Maybe I shouldn’t have done that and taken care of myself. I pretty much put pressure on myself to play. You get looked at as being soft and as somebody just trying to take money. I wanted to prove that wasn’t the case. That probably cost me a little time for next year."

Dodgers Acquire Hanley Ramirez & Randy Choate

The Dodgers announced that they have acquired Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate from the Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi and minor league right-hander Scott McGough. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Miami is not sending any money to the Dodgers to cover the salaries of Ramirez and Choate (Twitter links). But GM Ned Colletti couldn't pass up the chance to add Ramirez to his team's struggling lineup.

“The addition of a hitter the caliber of Hanley Ramirez improves our lineup from top to bottom, inserting a proven run producer to go along with Matt and Andre,” Colletti said. “We’re excited for Hanley to begin a new chapter in Los Angeles.”

The Athletics, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Orioles all had some interest in Ramirez, and the Red Sox might have been interested as well. However, the infielder has 37.3MM remaining on his contract with Miami ($15MM in 2012, $15.5MM in 2013 and $16MM in 2014) and owns a pedestrian .246/.322/.430 batting line. His trade value isn’t what it once was.

"We had to do something," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). "The machine was sputtering. It's too good a baseball team and for some reason it didn't seem to be operating on all cylinders from the beginning of the season."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly will determine whether to play Ramirez at shortstop or third base, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). Ramirez has volunteered to play either position, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). He's likely to play shortstop until Dee Gordon returns from the disabled list, then move to third base.

Choate, 36, has a 2.49 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 60.3% ground ball rate in 25 1/3 innings with the Marlins this year. The lefty specialist earns $1.5MM in the final season of a two-year, $2.5MM contract and will hit free agency after the season. The Dodgers had been looking for a left-handed reliever.

Eovaldi has started ten games for the Dodgers this year, posting a 4.15 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 56 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old entered the season as the 96th-best prospect in MLB, according to Baseball America. In five minor league seasons he has a 3.28 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 3.7 BB /9.

McGough, a 22-year-old right-hander, has a 3.88 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 34 relief outings at Class A. The 2011 fifth rounder has averaged more than one strikeout per inning since being drafted.

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports first reported the trade and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported McGough's inclusion in the deal. Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.


Hanley, Lee, Nolasco, Choate Drawing Interest

The Marlins traded Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to Detroit yesterday in what could be the first in a series of trades. Marlins officials have told other teams they are “open for business,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Lee, Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Randy Choate are already drawing trade interest.

The Marlins intend to complete trades that make sense from an on-field perspective, Rosenthal reports. Miami, which now has a 45-51 record, isn’t looking to dump salaries. The Marlins will absolutely try hard to move Heath Bell, but they’re not optimistic about the chances of completing a trade involving their newly-signed closer, Rosenthal reports. Bell is in the first year of a three-year, $27MM contract signed last offseason. 

The Athletics have jumped into trade talks for Ramirez, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter). The Blue Jays and Red Sox are also involved, according to Nightengale. The Marlins are open to moving Ramirez, but they’re likely to keep Johnson, who’s coveted by other teams.


Marlins Open To Moving Hanley, Likely To Keep Johnson

The Marlins positioned themselves as sellers earlier today when they traded Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers for a package of prospects highlighted by Jacob Turner, and it doesn't sound like they're stopping there. In talking to teams around the league, Scott Miller of CBS Sports hears that the Marlins have "never been more open" to the idea of trading long-time franchise cornerstone Hanley Ramirez.

As Miller notes, the Fish don't feel they're far from contending, they simply have soured on a mix of players that has underperformed. Ramirez's most recent antics, in which he punched a cooling fan in the dugout, now have him unavailable to play. Ramirez stopped taking medication for the cut he sustained, which has led to an infection in his hand.

Ramirez is signed through 2014 and will make $15.5MM in 2013 and $16MM in 2014. The former MVP candidate is batting just .246/.322/.430 with 14 homers and 14 steals.

Miller was told by a source familiar with the Marlins' thinking that they are likely to hang onto right-hander Josh Johnson, who was scouted heavily tonight. Unlike Sanchez, Johnson has one year of team control left, which is why the Marlins preferred to move Sanchez. Johnson will earn $13.75MM in 2013 — the final year of a four-year, $39MM pact he signed prior to the 2010 season.

Randy Choate, who is finishing up a two-year contract, is also expected to be traded prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, according to Miller. The 34-year-old lefty slayer has pitched to a 2.19 ERA in 24 2/3 innings and held same-handed hitters to a minuscule .136/.188/.169 triple slash line. Choate signed a two-year, $2.5MM deal in December of 2010.