Randy Choate Rumors
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.
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...
- Carlos Gomez's three-year, $24MM extension with the Brewers "isn't likely to be a stinker" for the club, Fangraphs' Eno Sarris writes, and it could be a bargain if Gomez's power and ability to hit right-handed pitching continue to develop.
- An opposing NL scout tells FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal that the Reds "are crazy" if they use Aroldis Chapman as a starter. "It’s Joba Chamberlain all over again. His velocity dropped off in the second inning. He couldn’t get his off-speed stuff over the plate consistently. No question in my mind, he’s the closer," the scout said. Meanwhile, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News talked to several other scouts about Chapman and they were "nearly unanimous" that he is a better fit as a closer. Keep following @CloserNews on Twitter for all the latest updates on the Reds and other ninth-inning situations from around baseball.
- Randy Choate talks about his career and his development into a left-handed relief specialist with Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Choate signed a three-year, $7.5MM deal with the Cardinals in December.
- Ryan Raburn may have the edge on winning a bench job with the Indians at the expense of Ezequiel Carrera, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian opines. Bastian thinks the Tribe could try to deal Carrera in such a scenario since he is out of options and would probably be claimed off waivers by another team. Here is the full list of out of options players who could be facing a roster crunch by the end of Spring Training.
- Earlier today on MLBTR, we heard about the Tigers weighing their trade options, while Ben Nicholson-Smith covered the Tigers' winter moves as part of our Offseason In Review series.
- 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.
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.
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.
Here are the latest news and notes from the NL and AL Central divisions:
- Sources tell FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal the Reds like Dexter Fowler and the Rockies like Homer Bailey. Now the question is whether their mutual interest crystallizes into trade discussions during the Winter Meetings.
- The Brewers are prioritizing a left-handed reliever with the available free agent possibilities including Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Mike Gonzalez, J.P. Howell, and Tom Gorzelanny, tweets Morosi.
- Cubs officials have yet to confirm or comment on reports of their signing of Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. The Cubs, however, are willing to talk about their need for a third baseman, an outfielder, and pitching depth. Muskat adds the Cubs could re-sign third baseman Ian Stewart after non-tendering him on Friday.
- The White Sox and Phillies are the two most aggressive teams in pursuit of a third baseman, a source tells Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. Kevin Youkilis is the object of both team's pursuit. Hayes writes the Sox may have to move another high salary in order to afford Youkilis and floats the names of Jeff Keppinger, Mark Reynolds, and Eric Chavez as alternatives.
- The Pirates feel they are better equipped to restock their bullpen, despite the free agency of Jason Grilli and the recent trade of Chris Resop, and may be interested in turning closer Joel Hanrahan into a much needed starting pitcher, according to MLB.com's Tom Singer.
- The Twins plan to focus more on free agents than trades during the Winter Meetings, tweets Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. The Twins have already dealt their best trade chip in Denard Span and plan on keeping Josh Willingham, writes Mackey in a separate piece.
Here's a look at some news out of the AL and NL West..
- The Dodgers are letting teams know that shortstop Dee Gordon is available, tweets Bob Nightengale of the USA Today. Gordon could represent a fallback option for teams who lose out on Stephen Drew. Earlier today, we learned five teams are in on Drew.
- The Giants are looking for a center fielder and are talking to Michael Bourn, Angel Pagan, and Shane Victorino, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
- The Angels are aren't acting like they're confident of landing Zack Greinke, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The Angels seem to be trolling for much cheaper starting pitching options like Ryan Dempster and Shaun Marcum, as opposed to Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse.
- The Dodgers' shopping list includes Greinke, a fourth outfielder that can play center, and a backup corner infielder, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Gurnick also says negotiations continue with lefty reliever Randy Choate.
- Padres GM Josh Byrnes doesn't expect to be very busy during the Winter Meetings, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I expect to do one thing, maybe two," said Byrnes. "I’m not expecting to do a lot. We’re filling the holes, not roster reshaping." The Padres are looking for starting pitching and have depth at the corner outfield slots, in the bullpen, and at middle infield. The names most often mentioned as possible trade chips, according to Center, are Luke Gregerson, Joe Thatcher, and Jesus Guzman.
- The Rangers are interested in talking with the Mets about R.A. Dickey at the Winter Meetings this week, a source tells T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The Rangers aren't alone in having interest in the knuckleballer as the Mets have taken calls from six or seven teams looking to swing a trade. The Mets are expected to look for outfield help and catching in a deal.
- The Rockies are considering a run at left-hander Daniel Schlereth as they look to improve their bullpen, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The 26-year-old became a free agent this week when he was non-tendered by the Tigers.
- The Rockies are looking to restore their rotation, but not rebuild it entirely, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. The club will look to bolster their starting five with a veteran presence and they are known to have interest in free agent right-hander Kevin Correia.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
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."
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.
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.
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.