Rick Ankiel Rumors
It was on this day in 1961 that commissioner Ford Frick suggested that "a distinctive mark" would be placed on a new home run record if a player eclipsed Babe Ruth's then-record of 60 homers in more than 154 games (the length of Ruth's season in 1927). Though no such notation ever used in any sort of official record, it was still popularly believed that Frick and Major League Baseball had asterisked Roger Maris' 61-homer season.
Here's the latest from Yankee Stadium...
- The Yankees don't have interest in Juan Pierre or Rick Ankiel, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter links). The Bombers' search for outfield help will intensify with the news that Brett Gardner will undergo arthroscopic elbow surgery, though Gardner's agent Joe Bick says Gardner still hopes to return this season, reports Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger.
- Wandy Rodriguez is "not even on [the Yankees'] radar," a source tells Marc Carig (Twitter link). The Yankees reportedly had scouts on hand to watch Rodriguez pitch on Wednesday.
- The Yankees have released right-hander Nelson Figueroa, according to Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune (passed on by Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog). Figueroa, 38, signed a minor league deal with New York in April and had a 3.96 ERA in 17 Triple-A games, nine of them starts.
- Darnell McDonald has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, reports Collins. The Yankees designated McDonald for assignment on Tuesday to create roster space for C.C. Sabathia's return from the disabled list.
On average, the ten teams in baseball's two East divisions are four games over .500. Here’s the latest from the two divisions...
- Rays president Matt Silverman says MLB needs to make significant changes to its economic structure, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. “We have advocated for meaningful change, especially when it comes to addressing the dramatic imbalances in our game,” Silverman said. “Meaningful change has not occurred.” The Rays were one of two eligible teams that didn’t obtain an additional draft pick in yesterday’s competitive balance lottery. Silverman called the picks “trifling.”
- The Tigers have barely obtained any offensive production from second base this year, so John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press discusses the possibility of a reunion with Omar Infante in light of yesterday's report linking the Tigers to the Marlins infielder.
- The Nationals recently asked a Mets person if they'd have interest in Rick Ankiel, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports (on Twitter). The Nationals believe the recently-designated Ankiel is a Major League caliber player and they expect him to be picked up by another club, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). Peter Gammons of MLB Network suggests on Twitter that Ankiel would be a "great fit" for the Yankees.
- Jamie Moyer intends to continue pitching, Tom Mahon of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. "I'm not retired," Moyer said, adding that his agent is working to find a fit for him. Moyer, 49, has been a free agent since the Blue Jays released him two weeks ago.
The Nationals will designate Rick Ankiel for assignment to create roster space for Drew Storen, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The move creates 25 and 40-man roster space for Storen, who's being activated from the disabled list after battling elbow soreness.
Ankiel, 33, signed a one-year, $1.25MM contract with Washington this past offseason. He appeared in 68 games as the Nationals' center fielder and posted a .228/.282/.411 batting line with five home runs in 171 plate appearances.
Earlier today, we learned the Nationals signed outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady to a minor league contract, adding insurance for Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche, who are both battling injuries. Here's more on the Nats and a couple other items of note ...
- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel implied that his team may look for infield help outside of camp now that Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco are all dealing with injuries, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. We heard earlier today that the Phils could be interested in someone like utility man Mike Aviles of the Red Sox, although Aviles is tentatively slated to be Boston's starting shortstop as of now.
- The Nationals optioned prized prospect Bryce Harper to minor league camp, the team announced. The Nats will go with an in-house option such as Roger Bernadina and/or Rick Ankiel in center field, a source tells Bill Ladson of MLB.com, with Jayson Werth playing right field. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, for one, doesn't think Harper's demotion was related to his arbitration or free-agent clocks (via Twitter).
- Mets manager Terry Collins said Fernando Martinez, now with the Astros, was waived this offseason because the outfielder was unable to stay healthy, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com. "I know his talent. I know he's got great talent. Unfortunately, he's been one of those guys who's had a tough time getting the amount of games that I think you have to have to get ready." Martinez, for his part, said he was surprised that the Mets chose to waive him, thinking instead that he thought at times that a trade was possible.
On this date in 1983, the Blue Jays traded Leon Roberts to the Royals for a minor leaguer by the name of Cecil Fielder. Fielder made his Major League debut in 1985 and played for the Blue Jays through 1989 before having his contract sold to the Hanshin Tigers. Fielder returned to MLB with the Detroit Tigers in 1990 where he made three All-Star appearances in his first four years with the club. Here's a look at tonight's links..
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (via Twitter) points out that the Mets had been eyeing Rick Ankiel, who signed with the Nats earlier today. The Mets are in search of a left-handed bat off of the bench and have also been linked to Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez, and Johnny Damon.
- Clubs that have been interested in Hong-Chih Kuo believe that he'll wind up signing with the Mariners, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Earlier today, agent Alan Chang told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that his client is close to deciding on a team.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that it would be tough to clear the payroll space necessary to sign Roy Oswalt. Fay writes that the only tradeable member of the Reds' rotation making significant money is Homer Bailey. Moving Bailey's $2.425MM contract to make room for one year of Oswalt would be risky, but the club has exhibited an all-in attitude recently.
- If GM Mike Rizzo doesn't add another center fielder, Rick Ankiel should have a decent opportunity to win a spot in the Nationals' Opening Day lineup and perhaps platoon with fellow veteran Mike Cameron in center field, writes Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider.
- Earlier this offseason, sources said there was a feeling within the organization that Ankiel might not be able to maintain the offensive productivity he showed in spurts last season if he's primarily coming off of the bench, writes Amanda Comak of The Washington Times.
The 32-year-old Scot Boras client played in 122 games for the Nats last season, but struggled at the plate, posting just a .239/.296/.363 triple slash line. Ankiel appeared at all three outfield spots, but played primarily center field. UZR suggests that for the past three seasons Ankiel has been at least average defensively, and that last year was his best ever with the leather, posting a UZR/150 of 8.5.
The Mets are looking for a veteran left-handed bat for the bench and are looking at options such as Rick Ankiel, Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez, and Johnny Damon, two team insiders tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
Ibanez and Damon appear to be less of a fit as the Mets as they would prefer more at-bats and have less defensive versatility than the links of Ankiel and Fukudome. Either one of those outfielders would provide Terry Collins with a lefty pinch-hitter, an occasional platoon partner for Jason Bay, and insurance against the club's starters.
Willie Harris signing with the Reds left the Mets with two unproven lefties off the bench in Mike Baxter and Adam Loewen. The club is prepared to begin Spring Training with only Baxter and Loewen, but that is a less likely scenario, one insider told Martino.
The Mets could be helped by Juan Pierre's agreement on Friday with the Phillies and the abundance of left-handed outfielders on the open market. Pierre agreed to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training on Friday.
The Mets are "diligently monitoring" the market for left-handed-hitting outfielders such as Johnny Damon, Kosuke Fukudome, Rick Ankiel, Raul Ibanez and Juan Pierre, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Crasnick adds that the surplus of players who fit that bill affords the cash-strapped Mets with some much-needed negotiating leverage (Twitter links).
Andres Torres is the Mets' projected starting center fielder, and he'll be flanked by Jason Bay in left and perhaps a platoon of Scott Hairston and Lucas Duda in right, so it's unclear as to what role one of the above-mentioned players would fill.
As our Transaction Tracker shows, it's been a pretty quiet offseason for the Mets, their most notable moves being the acquisitions of Torres and relievers Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez.
The Reds may have made all of their significant offseason moves now that they have agreed to terms with Dioner Navarro and Ryan Ludwick. Here are some details on the team via Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer:
- GM Walt Jocketty said he signed Navarro “purely for depth” at Triple-A.
- Jocketty doesn’t expect to sign Dmitri Young, the former Reds outfielder/first baseman who is looking to make a comeback at age 38 after losing 70 pounds. The Reds are looking to see what some of their younger players can do in Spring Training.
- Before agreeing to terms with Ludwick, Jocketty said Rick Ankiel was in the mix for an outfield job with the club, according to Groeschen.
- The Reds are “working on” a deal with Jose Arredondo, Jocketty said. The first-time arbitration eligible right-hander appears to be nearing a two-year contract with the club.
Thursday night linkage..
- Mark Bowman of MLB.com believes that both Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens will be with the Braves at the start of the season.
- The Nationals are still talking with Rick Ankiel, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. If he returns, it would be in a platoon/fourth outfielder role, with a chance to earn more playing time.
- As a fan, losing shortsop Jose Reyes to the Marlins was difficult for Mets owner Fred Wilpon, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal.
- Rangers president Nolan Ryan told reporters that he expects the club to sign Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish by the 3pm Wednesday deadline, writes Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram. Ryan also believes that the negotiations will go down to the wire.
- Both Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel remain possibilities for the Reds, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. GM Walt Jocketty is familiar with both outfielders from his time in St. Louis.
- A person familiar with the Yankees' thinking told Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger that "January brings shifts" and it's possible that the club will add to their payroll in order to satisfy their pitching need. The Bombers are still in contact with Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt and are considering Edwin Jackson.
- From a negotiation standpoint, it doesn't make sense for Yoenis Cespedes to play in the Dominican Winter League, opines Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- Right-hander Brian Gordon, whose rights were sold by the Yankees to the SK Wyverns of the Korean Professional League over the summer, will remain with in the KBL after signing with the Samsung Lions, tweets Ken Davidoff of Newsday.