Rich Hill Rumors

Quick Hits: Opt-Outs, Correia, Draft, Rodriguez, Braves

June 1 (that’s Monday) is a popular opt-out date, with multiple players having the chance to become free agents if not elevated to the big league roster. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation ran down a few of those on Twitter: David Aardsma of the Dodgers, Juan Gutierrez and Kevin Correia of the Giants, Rich Hill of the Nationals, and Brad Penny of the White Sox. (He also lists Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but he’s now up with the D’Backs.) As MLBTR’s Steve Adams notes (Twitter links), Aardsma is throwing quite well at Triple-A, and could well end up opting out — making him a nice target for teams in need of an arm.

  • One player who is very likely to find a new home is the Giants‘ Correia, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Correia will likely be released today, says Crasnick, as the team doesn’t have a need for his services at the big league level. He has been effective thus far at Triple-A, throwing 37 2/3 innings of 3.58 ERA ball over six starts and posting 6.0 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9.
  • The upcoming draft is not going to feature two eligible players, as righty/first baseman Luken Baker will head to TCU and center fielder Kevin Collard intends to play at San Diego, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (Twitter link). Kiley rated Baker the 40th-best prospect available, noting that he could end up as either a pitcher or position player.
  • In a recent chat, Ben Badler of Baseball America addressed the question of how Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez (read more on him here) stacks up against current minor leaguers. Badler says that, while some teams place a higher value on Rodriguez’s skillset (weak bat, good fielding and speed) than do others, he wouldn’t place him within the game’s 200 best prospects.
  • Badler also says that he hears the Braves are planning to make a huge push in the international market — not this coming July 2, but next. Atlanta seems to be hoping to take advantage of the fact that several big-spending teams will be restricted from giving out $300K+ bonuses in that market.
  • Roc Nation has hired former Excel agent Kyle Thousand to head up its baseball representation operations as managing director, Crasnick tweets.

Article XX(B) Free Agent Updates: Tuesday

Per the latest iteration of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, players with six years of service time who finished the 2014 season on a 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL but signed Minor League deals over the offseason are entitled to a $100K retention bonus if their new team wishes to assign them to the Minor Leagues. Otherwise, they must be added to the MLB roster or Major League disabled list. Players who do receive the retention bonus are also given June 1 opt-out dates in their Minor League pacts.

MLBTR’s Jeff Todd ran down a list of this year’s Article XX(B) free agents earlier in the month, and we’re now arriving at the juncture of Spring Training where decisions must be made on these players — the deadline will come at 11am CT tomorrow. Many such players have already been released or granted their release today (some will re-sign with the teams that released them, as Chris Perez did in Milwaukee), but here are updates on players who were paid this bonus or learned that they’ve made their respective teams…

  • Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets that utility man Kelly Johnson has made the Braves‘ 25-man roster. Johnson inked a Minor League pact that included a yet-unreported base salary. His versatility, the organization’s familiarity with him and the fact that the 32-year-old slashed a hefty .273/.396/.523 with a pair of homers in 54 plate appearances this spring likely all factored into the decision.
  • The Nationals will pay left-hander Rich Hill the $100K retention bonus, tweets James Wagner of the Washington Post. The 35-year-old yielded a pair of runs in 7 1/3 innings this spring and will give the Nats some left-handed relief depth. Of course, the Nats also just traded away some lefty relief by dealing out-of-options southpaw Jerry Blevins and his $2.4MM salary to the Mets.

Earlier Updates

  • Padres catcher Wil Nieves has received a $100K retention bonus, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Nieves is still in the running for the team’s backup catching slot, Lin adds. Tim Federowicz was slated to be the team’s backup, but knee surgery has sidelined him for the next several months. The team must make a final call by this Sunday.
  • The D-Backs and catcher Gerald Laird and agreed to a five-day extension that will allow him to remain in big league camp, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (on Twitter). Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic adds some clarity, noting that Laird still received the $100K retention bonus but will have the opportunity to fight for a roster spot (Twitter link). The five days will give the Snakes a bit more time to determine whether or not they want to take the veteran Laird north with them to open the season.
  • The Blue Jays have paid the $100K retention bonus to both Johan Santana and Munenori Kawasaki, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Both players were on Minor League deals, but Santana didn’t get into a game with the big league club as he continued to rehab from injury. Kawasaki hit .333/.481/.571 in 27 plate appearances but didn’t make the big league roster. He’ll head to Triple-A and wait for a call to the Majors in an organization with which he is quite familiar and where he is quite popular among the coaches and his teammates.
  • Right-handers Brad Penny and Jesse Crain both received retention bonuses from the White Sox, Passan also reports (on Twitter). The duo will remain in the Minors in the hopes of a spot opening with the big league club. Penny struggled to a 6.89 ERA in 15 2/3 innings this spring, though little can be gleaned from such a small sample, and he did issue only four walks along the way. Crain, like his former Twins teammate Santana in Toronto, didn’t pitch in a big league game as he continued to rehab from injuries that cost him the entire 2014 season in Houston.
  • Both Geovany Soto and Matt Albers, on the other hand, have made the White Sox‘ roster and will be added to the 40-man, Passan reports in the aforementioned tweet. Presumably, Soto will be in the mix for everyday at-bats behind the plate following a strong spring performance. Albers will slot into the bullpen and bring an experienced arm to serve as a right-handed setup option. Soto’s base salary is an unknown, wheres Albers stands to reportedly receive a $1.5MM base for making the club.

Minor Moves: Hill, Gillies, Sale, Tigers, Dbacks, Dodgers

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league:

  • Veteran southpaw Rich Hill has agreed to a minor league deal with the Nationals, the club announced. Hill, who has appeared in parts of ten MLB seasons, will receive an invite to big league camp. Soon to turn 35, Hill has long been effective against lefties but rather susceptible to opposite-handed bats, with good strikeout numbers in recent years offset by a hefty accumulation of free passes.
  • Former top Phillies prospect Tyson Gillies has signed a minor league deal with the Padres, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Philadelphia released Gillies over the summer while he was in the midst of a tough .214/.270/.289 run at Triple-A. Now 26, the center fielder was a part of the 2009 deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners.
  • The Rays have released former first-round pick Josh Sale, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. The outfielder hit .238/.313/.344 in 361 plate appearances for Class A+ Charlotte in 2014 before being suspended in August for drug use. He also received a 50-game suspension for drug use in 2012 and was suspended by the Rays in 2013 following an incident at a strip club.
  • The Tigers have signed righties Ryan Perry and Ross Seaton and first baseman Bobby Borchering to minor-league deals, Eddy tweets. Detroit drafted Perry, 28, in the first round in 2008, and he pitched for three seasons in their bullpen from 2009-2011. He also appeared with the Nationals in 2012 before struggling in Washington’s minor-league system in 2013 and 2014. The 25-year-old Seaton was a third-round pick of the Astros in 2008. He got through the lower levels of Houston’s system fairly quickly despite low strikeout rates, but struggled to establish himself in the Astros’ Triple-A rotation. Borchering, 24, was the 16th overall pick in the 2009 draft, and he headed from the Diamondbacks to the Astros in 2012 in the trade that sent Chris Johnson to the desert. He struggled that year at the Double-A level and hasn’t yet made it back yet, hitting .238/.324/.333 in 71 plate appearances at Class A+ Lancaster last season.
  • The Diamondbacks have signed lefties Erick Threets and Trevor Reckling, Eddy tweets. Threets, 33, appeared in parts of three seasons with the Giants and White Sox from 2007 through 2010. He pitched in Mexico last season and last appeared in affiliated ball when he posted a 2.79 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in a 2012 season spent in Triple-A with the Athletics and Dodgers organizations. Reckling, a former Angels draftee, pitched in independent ball in 2013 and did not pitch in 2014.
  • The Dodgers have signed outfielder Travis Witherspoon, Eddy tweets. The athletic Witherspoon was once on the 40-man rosters of the Angels and Mariners. The 25-year-old hit .252/.338/.448 in the friendly hitting environment of Class A+ High Desert in 2014, mostly playing center field.


Minor Moves: Hill, Gwynn, Berry, Rangers, Reds

Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the most recent moves at the top of the post…

  • Lefty Rich Hill has been outrighted to Triple-A by the Yankees, according to the International League transactions page. Hill was designated to make room for fellow southpaw Josh Outman. Though he has seen little time at the MLB level this year and posted an unsightly 6.28 ERA last year, the 34-year-old has historically been quite tough on same-handed hitters and could make sense as an extra lefty specialist on an expanded roster. Having previously been outrighted, Hill will have the right to elect free agency.
  • The Phillies announce that they have selected the contract of outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. To make room on their 40-man roster, they transferred Cliff Lee to the 60-day DL. The Phillies outrighted and then released Gwynn earlier this summer, only to re-sign him to a minor league deal. He’s a career .239/.310/.311 hitter in parts of eight big-league seasons.
  • The Orioles will select the contract of outfielder Quintin Berry, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com tweets. Berry had a good season for Triple-A Norfolk, hitting .285/.382/.367 in 432 plate appearances, and did his usual good job on the bases, stealing 25 of them while being caught six times. In his brief big-league career with the Tigers and Red Sox, Berry has stolen 24 bases without being caught, making him an ideal September promotion candidate for a team seeking speed.
  • The Rangers have announced that they will select the contract of lefty Michael Kirkman as a September call-up tomorrow. Also, they will select the contract of fellow pitcher Spencer Patton on Thursday. Kirkman has posted a 4.47 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 while pitching 54 1/3 innings of relief this season at Triple-A Round Rock. The Royals outrighted him in April. Patton has posted a combined 3.90 ERA with 12.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings with Round Rock and the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate in Omaha. The Rangers acquired him for reliever Jason Frasor in July.
  • The Reds have selected the contracts of outfielder Jason Bourgeois and lefty Ryan Dennick, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. They have also cleared one spot on their roster by transferring Homer Bailey to the 60-day DL. The veteran Bourgeois hit .278/.329/.364 in 595 plate appearances this season for Triple-A Louisville. Also at Louisville, the 27-year-old Dennick posted a 2.36 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 49 2/3 innings of relief.
  • The Giants will select the contract of pitcher Brett Bochy, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Bochy, the son of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, has had a solid season in the bullpen at Triple-A Fresno, posting a 3.57 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 53 innings. The 27-year-old was a 20th-round draft pick out of the University of Kansas in 2010.
  • The Rockies have selected the contract of infielder Rafael Ynoa, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Ynoa, 27, played for eight years in the Dodgers organization before signing with the Rockies last winter. This season, he posted a .297/.356/.419 line in 473 plate appearances at Triple-A Colorado Springs, playing shortstop, second base and third base.
  • The Athletics have selected the contract of catcher Bryan Anderson, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. The A’s acquired Anderson in a minor trade with the Reds late last month, apparently in a bid to acquire more catching depth due to John Jaso‘s injury. The 27-year-old Anderson hit .320/.397/.538 in 293 plate appearances in the minors in 2014. He’s played briefly at the big-league level with the Cardinals and White Sox.
  • The Blue Jays have outrighted reliever Sergio Santos to Double-A New Hampshire, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Last week, the Jays designated Santos for assignment for the second time this year. He’s posted an 8.57 ERA in 21 innings with the big club, striking out 29 batters but walking 18.
  • The Padres have selected the contracts of pitcher Leonel Campos and 2B/3B/OF Cory Spangenberg and moved Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso to the 60-day DL, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. Campos has posted a 6.34 ERA with 5.6 BB/9 in a season split between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso, but with 11.8 K/9. He can start or relieve. We noted earlier this week that the Padres appeared likely to promote Spangenberg, a former first-round draft pick.
  • The Orioles purchased the contract of left-hander Joe Saunders, the team announced.  Saunders signed a minor league deal with the O’s last month and posted a 1.50 ERA in 12 relief innings for Triple-A Norfolk.  The veteran southpaw has never pitched out of the bullpen in the majors but the Orioles intend to use him as a reliever down the stretch.  Buck Showalter told reporters (including MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli) that Saunders could also make a spot start when the O’s face the Yankees in a double-header on September 12.
  • The Twins will purchase the contracts of utilityman Doug Bernier and right-handers Lester Oliveros and A.J. Achter prior to Tuesday’s game, Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.  The trio are three of eight players Minnesota is adding to its expanded September roster.
  • Rays catcher Ali Solis has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter).  Solis was outrighted yesterday to create a spot on the Rays’ 40-man roster for right-hander Steve Geltz, who will be promoted today.
  • The Brewers purchased the contract of catcher Matt Pagnozzi, the team announced.  Jeff Bianchi was shifted to the 60-day DL in a corresponding move.  Pagnozzi has 105 career PA since 2009 with the Cardinals, Rockies, Pirates and Astros and he’s also spent time with the Braves’ and Indians’ Triple-A affiliates over the last two seasons.  Pagnozzi has a career .219/.297/.318 slash line over 3026 career PA in the minors.
  • The Angels selected the contract of shortstop Shawn O’Malley, according to Tim Mead, the team’s VP of communications (Twitter link).  O’Malley will join the Halos on Tuesday and add some versatility to the bench; he has mostly played short over his pro career but has played all over the diamond this season.  Originally a fifth-round pick of the Rays in the 2006 draft, O’Malley is looking to make his Major League debut after nine years in the minors, hitting .258/.351/.338 over 2982 PA.

Yankees Designate Rich Hill For Assignment

The Yankees have designated left-hander Rich Hill for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for the recently acquired Josh Outman, the team announced via press release.

The 34-year-old Hill appeared in six games for the Yankees but faced just 10 batters. He allowed just two hits and a walk in 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the Bombers, but as Jack Curry of the YES Network explains (on Twitter), the Yankees feel that Outman is a superior option against left-handed pitcher due to his superior breaking ball.

With the exception of a minuscule sample size of nine plate appearances this season, Hill has handled lefties well himself over his career, yielding a .217/.339/.339 batting line. However, Hill has walked 14.8 percent of the lefties he’s faced in his career and whiffed 25.8 percent — numbers that are inferior to Outman’s respective 8.2 percent walk rate and 30.8 percent strikeout rate versus same-handed hitters.


Yankees Sign Rich Hill

The Yankees have signed left-hander Rich Hill to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, according to Chad Jennings of LoHud.com (on Twitter). Hill is a client of ACES.

The 34-year-old Hill has made one appearance this season, with the Angels, but he allowed three walks and a hit without retiring a batter. That comes on the heels of an ugly 2013 season in which he posted a 6.28 ERA in 38 2/3 frames with the Indians.

However, Hill was very good at the Triple-A level with Boston in 2014, posting a 3.23 ERA with a 45-to-17 K/BB ratio in 39 innings of relief. The former Cubs starter last enjoyed success in the Majors in 2012 when he allowed four runs and struck out 21 in 19 2/3 innings of relief for Cleveland. He’s held lefties to a .215/.336/.338 batting line over parts of 10 Major League seasons.


Minor Moves: Doran, Santos, Susdorf, Maxwell

Here are today’s minor moves:

  • The White Sox have acquired righty Bobby Doran from the Astros, reports MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (via Twitter). Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that shortstop Jeffry Santos is headed to Houston (Twitter links). Doran, 25, has pitched in the upper minors since 2012, working as a starter and out of the pen while compiling a 3.83 ERA at the Double-A level and 4.90 mark at Triple-A. He was taken in the fourth round out of Texas Tech back in 2010. The 21-year-old Santos is old for his current Arizona Rookie League club, where he’s posted a .295/.483/.386 batting line in 60 PA.
  • The Phillies have released outfielder Steve Susdorf, tweets the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. The 29-year-old outfielder is a veteran of seven minor league seasons (all with the Phils) and was very well-liked by his teammates, Gelb adds. He’s a career .291/.360/.379 hitter in 964 PA in Triple-A.
  • Justin Maxwell has accepted an outright assignment with the Royals rather than electing free agency, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. This is the second time this year that the veteran outfielder has taken a demotion from Kansas City.
  • Ramon Ramirez has signed a new deal to remain with the Orioles after being outrighted, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday (via Twitter). The right-handed reliever could have sought a new home through free agency, but will instead return to Triple-A Norfolk.
  • The Angels have released southpaw Rich Hill, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Hill was designated for assignment on Saturday just four days after being acquired via trade from the Red Sox. The veteran had three very rough outings with the Halos, and has a roller coaster history in the majors, but had been quite effective at Triple-A this year.

Angels Designate Rich Hill For Assignment

The Angels have designated left-handed pitcher Rich Hill for assignment, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The move was made to open a spot for left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, who was recently acquired from the Diamondbacks. The Angels also optioned righty Cory Rasmus and recalled left-hander Michael Roth in subsequent moves (also Shaikin via Twitter). Left-handed relief has been frequently discussed as a problem area for the Angels, although left-handed batters are hitting just .237/.322/.369 against the bullpen.

Hill was recently acquired from the Red Sox in return for cash considerations. Over two appearances with the Angels, Hill faced four batters, allowed one hit, and walked three. He also uncorked a wild pitch. His numbers in 39 innings for the Boston’s Triple-A affiliate were much better including a 3.23 ERA, 10.38 K/9, and 3.92 BB/9. He joins seven other players in DFA limbo: Kenny Wilson (Blue Jays), Nick Buss (A’s), Jeff Francis (A’s), Nolan Reimold (Orioles), Justin Maxwell(Royals), Pedro Ciriaco (Royals), and Jerome Williams (Astros).


Angels Acquire Rich Hill

1:37pm: The Red Sox announced that they have received cash considerations from the Angels in exchange for Hill.

1:29pm: The Angels announced that they have acquired southpaw Rich Hill from the Red Sox and selected his contract (Twitter link). Michael Kohn has been optioned to Triple-A to create room for Hill on the Major League roster. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish noted earlier today (on Twitter) that Hill had a July 1 opt-out in his minor league deal with Boston.

The 34-year-old Hill, signed by Boston to a minor league deal this offseason, has pitched well in his time with Boston’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014. In 39 innings for Pawtucket, Hill has posted a 3.23 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. He’s dominated opposing left-handers, holding them to a .196/.302/.196 batting line, and he’s been tough on righties as well. Opposing right-handers are batting just .211/.296/.274 against Hill this year.

Of course, Hill does come with a spotty track record, as he posted a 6.28 ERA in 38 2/3 innings with the Indians last season and has a lengthy injury history. Since a strong showing with the 2007 Cubs, Hill has had difficulty sticking in the Majors as he’s battled shoulder and elbow problems, including surgery to repair a torn labrum and Tommy John surgery.


Quick Hits: Draft, Coffey, Hill, Bradley, Rockies, Gomes

Baseball America has released its list of the top 100 amateur prospects for this year’s draft. Interestingly, both Jeff Hoffman and Erick Fedde are still listed in the top ten, despite the fact that the pair of collegiate righties will enter the draft fresh off of Tommy John surgery. Here are some notes from around the game:

  • Free agent reliever Todd Coffey impressed in a workout today, throwing his fastball consistently in the low-90s, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). He could sign by the weekend, according to Passan. Twelve to fifteen clubs were represented at the showcase today, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish lists some of the clubs in attendance. From the American League, the TigersMarinersAstrosAthletics, and Orioles sent scouts, while the Braves and Diamondbacks were among the NL clubs on hand.
  • Reliever Rich Hill of the Red Sox has an opt-out date from his minor league deal tomorrow, tweets Cotillo. The nine-year MLB veteran has been strong at Triple-A, throwing to a 2.84 ERA through 19 innings pitched with 10.4 K/9 against 4.7 BB/9.
  • Diamondbacks top prospect Archie Bradley is set to begin throwing and move towards a return to the rubber, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (via Twitter). GM Kevin Towers said that the club does not have any further medical tests planned at present for the young hurler. Given his current situation, it seems that the club will exercise plenty of caution in promoting the 21-year-old.
  • With the Rockies off to a hot start, Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post opines that the club should act decisively to seize the momentum by exploring a trade for Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija. While the price will surely be steep, Kiszla sas that the team should be willing to deal either of the team’s two prized young prospect arms — Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler — to make a deal.
  • The Blue Jays never saw in Yan Gomes the potential that has been unleashed since he was dealt to the Indians, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. In some part, says Davidi, that could be due to the fact that Gomes was buried in the minor league depth charts, such that he never caught more than 58 games in a single season. “Ultimately you wonder if we didn’t have other prospects that were so talented, if Yan had played more, would the development path have changed, would we have had a better feel for him?” Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said. “We were finding places for him to play, but he was never the everyday catcher because there was always someone else who was there.” Gomes, of course, has excelled (and been rewarded with an extension) in Cleveland after coming over with Mike Aviles in exchange for reliever Esmil Rogers“We always liked Yan,” said Anthopoulos. “Clearly he’s become a better player sooner than we would have expected. That’s not a slight against him, that’s a full credit to him.”