Rick Ankiel Rumors

Astros Designate Rick Ankiel, Fernando Martinez For Assignment

The Astros announced that they have designated outfielders Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez for assignment via team press release. In related moves, Trevor Crowe and Jimmy Paredes have been called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City, J.D. Martinez has been activated from the disabled list and Brandon Laird has been optioned to Triple-A.

Ankiel, 33, hit .194/.231/.484 with five homers in 65 plate appearances for the Astros. He will forever hold the distinction of being the first Astro to homer following their shift to the American League. Since reviving his career as an outfielder in 2007, the former Cardinals pitcher has batted .244/.306/.430 in 1948 plate appearances.

Martinez, still just 24 years of age, was long hailed as one of the crown jewels of the Mets' farm system. It was considered a coup for the Mets when they were able to acquire Johan Santana from the Twins without including him in the package, but his star has faded since that time. After being cut loose from the Mets' 40-man roster, the Astros claimed him on waivers in January 2012. Martinez has hit just .206/.269/.362 in 310 big league plate appearances, though he does hold a respectable .279/.337/.474 batting line in 1119 career plate appearances at Triple-A.

AL Notes: Ankiel, Mariners, Twins, Ramirez, Ortiz

Rick Ankiel could be nearing the end of his well-documented but still-surreal path through baseball, writes Joe Posnanski of NBCSports.com. Evoking the poet Dylan Thomas ("rage, rage against the dying of the light … do not go gentle into that good night"), Posnanski notes that Ankiel's journey has taken one more incredible turn. In 42 plate appearances this season prior to this evening's game, Ankiel posted a remarkable 26:0 strikeout to walk ratio, but was slugging over .600 thanks to his five home runs and two doubles. While long known as a free swinger with contact issues, Ankiel appears to be bringing both those labels to heretofore unseen extremes for the struggling Astros. Elsewhere around the American League:

  • It is time to wonder whether and when the Mariners will start firing people, writes Dave Cameron at U.S.S. Mariner. While Cameron is no fan of manager Eric Wedge, he feels that there is little to be gained from a mid-season firing of the team's skipper. And while the team might be tempted to can GM Jack Zduriencik, that could create major logistical difficulties with the upcoming draft and then trade deadline. Ultimately, says Cameron, Seattle will be hard pressed to avoid reaping what it sowed in a confounding offseason.
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan says it was "just happenstance" that this offseason saw the club acquire a series of groundball-inducing righties (Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey, and Kevin Correia), Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports. Ryan has a background in what Berardino describes as "old-school scouting principles." Nevertheless, the GM says that he does not make any decisions without consulting his statistics guru, Jack Goin, whose official title is manager of major league administration and baseball research.
  • The Angels have outrighted right-handed Elvin Ramirez to Triple-A after the pitcher cleared waivers, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (via Twitter). Ramirez was acquired from the Mets for cash about a month back. The move means that the club has cleared a spot on its 40-man roster, Gonzalez also notes.
  • After being designated for assignment to make room for Aaron Laffey, pitcher Ramon Ortiz has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A by the Blue Jays, according to the club's Buffalo affiliate (on Twitter). He made one appearance for Toronto this year after spending all of 2012 in the Yankees' system.

Quick Hits: Expos, Vlad, Indians, Betancourt, Ankiel

Former Expos outfielder Warren Cromartie is convinced that the city of Montreal would welcome baseball back with open arms, writes Bill Beacon of the Canadian Press. Cromartie is heading up the Montreal Baseball Project — an organization that has been formed with the goal of bringing baseball back to Montreal. The $400K project will be completed by year's end and feature financial analysis, legal consultation and extensive market research among the city's population. Here's more from around the league for those of you in the mood for some late-night reading…

  • Former Expo (and Angel, Ranger and Oriole) Vladimir Guerrero has an offer from the independent league Quebec Capitales, and he's been in contact with the Long Island Ducks as well, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (confirming an earlier tweet from Chris Cotillo).
  • The Indians are hopeful of working out a trade with the Rangers to keep Rule 5 Draft pick Chris McGuiness, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.
  • The Yankees had preliminary discussions with Yuniesky Betancourt on Sunday but don't see a fit, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports (via Twitter).
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart breaks down Rick Ankiel's incentive structure with the Astros (on Twitter). Ankiel, who has a $750K base salary, will receive $75K for 200, 250 and 300 plate appearances. He'll then receive $100K for 350, 400 and 450 plate appearances. All told, he could earn $1.275MM. Ankiel, an Article XX(B) free agent, was named the team's everyday right fielder earlier today.
  • Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times expects the Angels to receive a low- to mid-level prospect from the Yankees when the reported Vernon Wells trade is finalized (Twitter link).
  • Joey Nowak of MLB.com lists 12 notable out of options players who could be traded before the end of Spring Training.

Article XX(B) Free Agents Update: Monday

As has been previously discussed on MLBTR, Major League Baseball's new 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 tomorrow at 12:00pm ET (11:00am CT). In other words, by tomorrow afternoon 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.

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)…

  • Rangers manager Ron Washington informed infielder Jeff Baker that he has made the Opening Day roster, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com
  • The Indians announced that Jason Giambi has made the roster but will open the season on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain. Ezequiel Carrera was designated for assignment in order to clear room on the roster.
  • The Mariners announced via press release that they have added Kameron Loe to the 25-man roster and transferred Josh Kinney to the 60-day disabled list to create space.
  • Smith also tweets that Rick Ankiel is expected to make the team as the everyday right fielder, meaning Houston will have to make a 40-man roster move. Ankiel's base salary will be $750K, and his contract includes incentives based on plate appearances.
  • LaTroy Hawkins has been informed that he will make the Mets' 25-man roster, writes ESPN's Adam Rubin. The Mets currently have an open spot on their 40-man roster, meaning no corresponding move would have to be made. Hawkins will earn a base salary of approximately $1MM for making the team.
  • Pedro Feliciano, another Mets non-roster invitee, is still deciding whether or not to opt out of his contract or take his $100K bonus and report to Triple-A, Rubin tweets. Feliciano was told he would not make the Mets' roster yesterday.
  • Red Sox bench hopeful Lyle Overbay says he has "no idea" as to whether or not the team will add him to the 25-man roster, according to the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber (Twitter link). Overbay has plenty on the line, as he'll earn $1.25MM (with $250K more available via incentives) if he makes the Opening Day roster.

AL West Links: Downs, Daniels, A’s, Ankiel

Ivan Rodriguez has been hired by the Rangers as a special assistant to the general manager, the team announced today.  "Pudge" spent 13 of his 20 Major League seasons as a Ranger and will now serve the organization as a scout, organizational instructor and ambassador.  Here are some more items from around the AL West…

  • Scott Downs wants to remain with the Angels and the southpaw tells MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez that he would be willing to negotiate an extension during the season.  Downs' representatives at CAA have told the Angels' front office about their client's wishes but have yet to get a response. Downs turns 37 in March and has pitched very well in Anaheim, posting a 2.17 ERA over 99 1/3 innings in his first two years of his three-year, $15MM contract.  He turns 37 in March, however, and Gonzalez speculates that the Angels may let Downs go since Sean Burnett and Nick Maronde are in the fold as left-handed bullpen options.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels spoke with Dallas Morning News readers about the team's offseason moves, international signings, the current Texas roster and more in a live chat today.
  • The Athletics have received tentative guidelines from the Commissioner's Office regarding a possible move to San Jose, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports.  This isn't necessarily a sign that the A's will be allowed to move, Shaikin notes, though if the team can comply with these guidelines, it could prompt Bud Selig to put the matter of the proposed move to a vote of the other league owners.  MLB has been studying the Athletics' proposed San Jose relocation for four years, and the Giants are known to oppose the move on the grounds that it infringes on their territorial rights.
  • Rick Ankiel will make $750K if he makes the Astros' Opening Day roster, plus a few small bonuses based on plate appearances, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports.  Houston signed the veteran outfielder to a minor league contract in January.

West Notes: Ethier, Marcum, Ruggiano, Ankiel

Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier has been the subject of trade rumors all winter, but the veteran isn't buying into the notion that he'll be playing elsewhere come Opening Day, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times“I haven’t looked too much into it,” Ethier said. “It’s something I see as rumors. I think Ned was pretty quick to say there was nothing to it. That was enough to ease my mind, even though obviously there was a lot following that."

Here's the latest news and headlines from both the AL and NL West…

  • The Mariners and Rangers both had discussions with Shaun Marcum before the veteran elected to sign with the Mets, writes Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com (via Twitter). As a result, each team remains in the hunt for starting pitching.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has some regrets for trading Justin Ruggiano to the Marlins last spring, but likes the player he received in Jobduan Morales, says Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (on Twitter). 
  • Houston manager Bo Porter believes Rick Ankiel will make the big league roster out of Spring Training if he can play up to his potential, writes Dave Zangaro of CSNHouston.com. “He will add leadership. He will add a veteran presence in the lineup. You look at his ability to play defense, I watched him make some throws and make some catches that make you shake your head. This guy’s phenomenal.”

West Notes: Torrealba, Pavano, Ankiel

We've seen a couple of Minor League signings in the AL West tonight, with the Astros adding Erik Bedard and the Rangers adding Nate Robertson. Here's some more news coming out of baseball's two western divisions…

  • The Rockies have offered Yorvit Torrealba a Minor League contract, according to MLB.com's Thomas Harding (via Troy Renck on Twitter). Torrealba hit .227/.293/.330 in 218 plate appearances between the Rangers, Blue Jays and Brewers. He hit .258/.316/.394 over the course of four seasons with the Rox from 2006-09.
  • Renck believes that the Rockies have a good chance at landing Carl Pavano, but suspects that the veteran righty has at least one other offer (Twitter link). Colorado is said to be aggressively pursuing Pavano.
  • There's a "definite opportunity" for Rick Ankiel to make the Astros' 25-man roster this Spring, manager Bo Porter told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. The team is looking for a left-handed complement to J.D. Martinez and Justin Maxwell. Ankiel inked a Minor League deal with Houston earlier this month. Porter was his third base coach with the Nationals.
  • In that same piece, Porter says that he spoke with recently suspended prospect Jonathan Singleton and told Singleton the organization is behind him as he looks to atone for his mistake.

Astros Sign Rick Ankiel

The Astros have signed Rick Ankiel to a contract that will bring him to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.  The 33-year-old is represented by Scott Boras.

Ankiel will be entering camp as a hitter and isn't eyeing a return to the mound, as Boras explained back in November.  The deal reunites the veteran with manager Bo Porter, who was in Washington during Ankiel's time there.  Ankiel also has a history with General Manager Jeff Luhnow from his playing days with the Cardinals.

In the previous two seasons with the Nationals, Ankiel has posted a .236/.292/.377 slash line with 14 homers.  Since returning to baseball as an outfielder in 2007, Ankiel has hit .246 .309/.428 for the Cardinals, Royals, Braves, and Nats.

Quick Hits: Martin, Ankiel, Young

Links from around MLB on the day teams must decide whether to make qualifying offers to departing free agents…

  • The Yankees like Russell Martin very much and are hoping to re-sign him as a free agent this offseason, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The Pirates, Rangers and Mariners could all spend on catching this offseason. While the Mets need catching, they seem likely to pursue trades in Heyman’s view.
  • Agent Scott Boras said there’s no chance of Rick Ankiel returning to the mound, Yahoo’s Tim Brown reports (on Twitter). “He's not pitching," Boras said. It was reported yesterday that Ankiel might be open to pitching again.
  • The White Sox announced that they promoted former MLB manager and player Buddy Bell to the role of vice president/assistant GM. Bell, 61, played from 1972-88, then managed the Tigers, Rockies and Royals.
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs provides a guide to the top 25 values available in free agency this offseason, complete with a look at five players teams might want to avoid. Within the piece, which is well worth your time, Cameron explains that Delmon Young has essentially become a platoon bat, and argues that Maicer Izturis could bounce back in 2013. Be sure to check out MLBTR’s list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents if you haven't done so already.

Quick Hits: Ankiel, Dempster, Towles, Bourn

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out Tim Dierkes’ list of the top 50 free agents for the upcoming offseason. The list includes Tim’s predictions for each player, and we’d like you to join us in predicting the destinations for the top 50 free agents. You can make your picks here. Now for this afternoon’s links…

  • Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch hears Rick Ankiel is open to giving pitching another shot. The Cardinals could be among the teams willing to give Ankiel another chance on the mound. Ankiel pitched for the Cardinals from 1999-2004, putting together a strong season as a 20-year-old in 2000. He returned to the big leagues as a hitter in 2007.
  • The Cubs have been in contact with Ryan Dempster’s agent about the possibility of a contract, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). The Cubs traded the LSW baseball client to the Rangers midseason and he’s now a free agent (he can't sign with a team other than Texas until Saturday).
  • Catcher J.R. Towles left Hendricks Sports for agent Burton Rocks, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Our Agency Database has current information on the agents of most MLB players.
  • Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com hears word that Michael Bourn could be looking for as much as $100MM in free agency. The Phillies would probably be reluctant to spend that kind of money on a 30-year-old player who relies heavily on his legs, Salisbury writes.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports previews the destinations for a number of the offseason’s top free agents.