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Though he's arguably already baseball's best player, Mike Trout is working to improve his arm strength, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. Some might say Trout's arm is the weakest of his five tools, which has produced "a little chip on his shoulder," according to Angels bench coach Dino Ebel. While the outfielder was once a fringe-average thrower, he's improved the tool so that it's now average or better, Ebel says. Here are more Saturday night Major League links:
- The Rays are known for aggressively locking up their young stars long term, but the team increasingly shows a willingness to go multiple years with veterans, notes Adam Berry of MLB.com. Today's Yunel Escobar extension the most recent example, but the club has also recently given a two-year deal to David DeJesus and a three-year commitment to catcher Ryan Hanigan. "I think the common denominator is that they're three guys that we like a lot, that fit us well, that will help us win games in the current," GM Andrew Friedman said.
- Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt both signed one-day contracts and officially retired as members of the Astros organization today. Alyson Footer of MLB.com has the details on a pregame ceremony in which the two greats were given personalized rocking chairs and custom Stetson cowboy hats.
Veteran right-hander and three-time All-Star Roy Oswalt has decided to retire, reports ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter). Though he's retiring from playing the game, it looks as if Oswalt will join the business side of baseball, as Olney also adds that he will begin working with former agent Bob Garber.
That Oswalt, 36, made "only" three All-Star teams is somewhat surprising (to this writer at least), given his run of dominance in the early 2000s. In 2001, Oswalt finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, fifth in the Cy Young vote and 22nd in the MVP vote on the strength of a 2.73 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 141 2/3 innings (unfortunately for Oswalt, that was also Albert Pujols' rookie year).
Over the next 10 seasons with the Astros, Oswalt turned in a 3.24 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. He was flipped to the Phillies in 2010 in exchange for Anthony Gose, J.A. Happ and Jonathan Villar (Gose and Happ have since been traded by Houston — both are Blue Jays — while Villar should be their shortstop in 2014). Oswalt was rock-solid in his two seasons with the Phillies when healthy (2.96 ERA in 221 2/3 innings) and helped to compose one of the most intimidating rotation quartets in recent history alongside Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
However, injuries began to pile up quickly for Oswalt, as his already troublesome back worsened and was joined by elbow and hamstring injuries over the next several seasons. Oswalt inked midseason deals with the Rangers and Rockies in 2012 and 2013, respectively, but pitched ineffectively in those hitter-friendly environments and didn't top 60 innings with either club.
Oswalt will retire with a lifetime 163-102 record to go with an outstanding 3.36 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. His 127 ERA+ indicates that even with his struggles in 2012-13, his work, on the whole, was 27 percent better than a league-average starter throughout his career. Though he never took home Cy Young honors, Oswalt had five finishes in the Top 5 and also had a sixth-place finish to his credit as well.
Baseball-Reference pegs Oswalt's career at 49.9 wins above replacement, and Fangraphs' valuation is a near-mirror image at 49.7 WAR. Oswalt earned roughly $97MM in his playing career, according to B-Ref. Looking beyond Major League Baseball, Oswalt twice represented the United States on a global scale, winning a Gold Medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics and also pitching for Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
MLBTR wishes him well in his new career path and congratulates Oswalt on an excellent Major League career.
It's easy to forget that Roy Oswalt is only 36 years old, as the righty debuted with the Astros way back in 2001. Oswalt definitely intends to pitch in the Majors in 2014, MLBTR has learned. Unlike in years past, Oswalt intends to sign during the offseason and fully participate in spring training.
A source tells MLBTR that while Oswalt prefers starting, he's open to a late inning relief role. In fact, he's already been approached by multiple teams about that possibility. Though Oswalt has struggled the last few seasons, it appears he is seeking a Major League deal.
Oswalt signed a minor league contract with the Rockies in May of this year, working at extended spring training and then making six starts in the minors before returning to the Majors in June. A hamstring strain cost him about two months. Though he posted solid peripheral stats, Oswalt was done in by 49 hits in 32 1/3 innings, resulting in an 8.63 ERA.
The Dodgers will not be bidders for Robinson Cano, Mark Feinsand of New York Daily News reports. The Dodgers could soon sign Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero, which would mean they won't need a second baseman, but Feinsand writes that even if Guerrero and the Dodgers don't come to terms, the Dodgers aren't planning on signing Cano. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Roy Oswalt would like to return to the Rockies, writes Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). The veteran pitcher says he would be interested in starting or relieving. Oswalt posted an 8.63 ERA in 32 1/3 innings for Colorado this year, although with 9.5 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 — a .442 BABIP seems to be the primary factor in Oswalt's poor results.
- Pirates president Frank Coonelly will not head back to MLB's front office after Bud Selig's retirement, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Coonelly served as Major League Baseball's senior vice president and general counsel of labor before the Pirates hired him in 2007. "I really enjoy it in Pittsburgh," says Coonelly. "We're just starting to have fun here, and I want to be around for the fun."
Monday's game between the Astros and the Mariners will feature Jarred Cosart and Taijuan Walker, two top 100 prospects who made their debuts this year, MLB.com's Jason Mastrodonato reports. Before the season, Cosart was ranked the No. 73 prospect in baseball by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo and No. 86 by ESPN's Keith Law. Mayo ranked Walker baseball's No. 4 prospect, and Law had Walker at No. 9. The game will also be Walker's first at Safeco Field, and his last of 2013. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The Mets could pursue a free agent shortstop in the coming offseason, Andy Martino of New York Daily News writes. Stephen Drew might be a possibility, and Yunel Escobar could be as well if the Rays decline his option, Martino reports. It seems doubtful that Escobar will be on the free agent market, but Drew, who is making $9.5MM this season, might make sense. (Other free agent options include Jhonny Peralta and Clint Barmes; you can find the full list of free agents here.) Martino quotes a team official calling Ruben Tejada a "very disappointing kid," but it's still possible that Tejada could be the Mets' starting shortstop next year as well.
- Padres manager Bud Black says had at least some interest in veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt before Oswalt signed with the Rockies, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (on Twitter). Oswalt has struggled through four starts for Colorado this season.
- The difference between Xander Bogaerts and Derek Jeter mirrors the differences between the Red Sox and Yankees franchises in general, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Bogaerts, a dynamic young player, allowed the Sox to ship off Jose Iglesias (and three young players) in order to get Jake Peavy. Meanwhile, Jeter is declining and injury-prone. And more broadly, Sherman says, the Sox appear to have a well-stocked roster in place not only for 2013, but also for next year, whereas the Yankees' will feature a number of albatross contracts.
The NL West could be one of baseball's most interesting divisions as the trade deadline approaches, as all five teams within its ranks could position themselves as buyers. In the past 48 hours, the Padres, Rockies, Dodgers and Giants have all been said to be looking for starting pitching. Here's the latest out of the division that's currently being led by the suprising Diamondbacks…
- Roy Oswalt spent his spring throwing to junior college players as he waited for the right Major League opportunity, and that experience, as well as his experience at Double-A Tulsa, has helped him re-discover his love for the game, writes MLB.com's Thomas Harding. Said Oswalt: "You get around 22-, 23-year-old kids, you rejuvenate yourself because they've never experienced this up here. That's the baseball they know. I wanted to be part of the team, get on the bus, ride around, play cards." Oswalt added that he's considering a career in coaching after his playing days are done.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweets that the Rockies like Ricky Nolasco, but he has a hard time envisioning them spending $6MM on a rental before giving Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz ample opportunity to prove their worth. The Rox were one of several teams connected to Nolasco earlier today.
- In a separate tweet, Renck notes that the Rockies' interest in Yovani Gallardo is trending downward, but they do prefer to target players who are controlled beyond the 2013 season in trades.
- Jon Paul Morosi profiles D-Backs CEO Derrick Hall in his latest piece for FOXSports.com, noting that Hall's name has come up as a potential commissioner candidate down the road. Hall has prioritized growing the D-Backs' brand and baseball as a whole on an international level, having taken trips to the Dominican Republic, Japan and Mexico in recent years. He hopes that a Korean or Japanese team will hold its Spring Training at the D-Backs' facility in Scottsdale next year. Hall's Diamondbacks will also open the 2014 season in Australia against the Dodgers. Morosi adds that Hall's thinking was: "If an Aussie baseball fan knows the name of only two MLB franchises, one of them might as well be the Arizona Diamondbacks."
The Rockies have placed Chris Volstad on waivers, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The move creates a 40-man roster spot for Roy Oswalt, who will be promoted and start tonight for Colorado. Jeff Francis has accepted a minor league assignment to Triple-A Colorado Springs, which clears a 25-man roster spot for Oswalt. We learned yesterday that Francis would be removed from the 25-man roster, but it wasn't clear whether he would accept a trip to the minors or be designated for assignment.
Volstad, 26, appeared in six games for the Rockies this season and allowed 10 runs in 8 1/3 innings with three strikeouts and one walk. In 10 games (nine starts) for Colorado Springs this season, Volstad has a 4.79 ERA with 3.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
Oswalt, 35, has pitched briliantly for Double-A Tulsa since signing with the Rockies in May. In five starts (33 1/3 innings), the longtime Astro has a 2.16 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. Last week I examined how much Oswalt would earn based on the incentives in his contract if he were promoted this week. Given the date, it's likely that he could earn nearly $4.3MM if he stays healthy and pitches well.
Francis, 32, re-signed with the Rockies on a one-year deal with a $1.5MM base salary and another $1.5MM worth of incentives. In 52 innings this season, he's posted a 6.58 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. The strikeout rate is actually the highest of Francis' career, as is his 50.3 percent ground-ball rate. He's been hurt by a homer-to-flyball ratio (20.4 percent) that's nearly double that of his career mark.
The Rockies opened the season as surprise contenders, and they remain just two games out of first place in the NL West. That's thanks largely to an offense that has hit a combined .273/.334/.449 and scored the third most runs (317) in MLB this season, however.
Colorado's rotation pitched to a reasonable 4.24 ERA in the season's first month, but they've posted a 4.75 mark over the past 30 days and a 5.35 mark in the past two weeks. The team recently released Jon Garland and has very little to show for its investment in Jeff Francis. Jhoulys Chacin has spent time on the disabled list already this season, and it's fair to wonder how many innings Jorge De La Rosa will be able to throw after totaling just 31 in 2012.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes that help could be on the way, as Roy Oswalt is pitching well at Double-A Tulsa and could make a return to the Major Leagues as soon as next week. Oswalt is scheduled for what could be his final minor league start on Friday.
The 35-year-old right-hander, who signed a minor league deal with the Rockies in May, has a 2.88 ERA with 18 strikeouts and six walks in 25 innings for the Drillers thus far. Renck notes that he threw 95 pitches (62 strikes) in his most recent outing. His fastball sat at 92 mph and his topped out at 95.
Oswalt's contract contains an out clause that can be triggered on June 18. If he's not added to the Major League roster within three days of exercising that clause, he must be granted his release. Because he's currently slated to pitch on June 14, a June 19 promotion seems like a logical target. So how much could he earn, if that's when he's promoted?
Oswalt is set to earn the pro-rated version of a $2.3MM base salary when on the big league roster. If called up on June 19, that would mean the veteran would earn roughly $1.3MM for the remainder of the season (assuming he stays on the roster). On top of that, Oswalt is slated to receive a $400K roster bonus, and he has incentives for number of starts and innings pitched. Those incentives max out at 18 starts and 110 innings pitched, and they can earn Oswalt an additional $1.35MM and $1.25MM, respectively.
It's possible for Oswalt to reach both of those caps, though he would likely need to make all of his starts and average just over six innings per turn to do so. For comparison, Justin Verlander made 19 starts from June 19 through season's end last year, and he totaled 136 2/3 innings in that time. All told, if Oswalt is promoted next week, sticks in the rotation and pitches well, he could earn roughly $4.3MM from the Rockies in 2013.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly will soon be fired, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal argues. "My guess is that Mattingly gets this series, and if things don’t go better, that’s it," Rosenthal says. "The Dodgers are off Thursday, then begin a five-game homestand against the Cardinals and Angels. You can look it up — managerial changes often occur on off-days before a homestand." The Dodgers are currently 17-25 after being swept by the Braves. Rosenthal notes that GM Ned Colletti might find himself on the hot seat as well, but that the typical pattern is for the manager to be the first out the door. When asked recently whether Mattingly would remain with the Dodgers through the end of the season, team president Stan Kasten replied, "I assume so," but noted that he expected the team to play better. Here's more from the NL West.
- Despite his hot start, Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt isn't worried about money he might end up losing as a result of his recent extension, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. "You make the best decision at the time," says Goldschmidt. "I love it in Phoenix. I was happy we got a deal done. And I'm happy to get it done in spring training, so it didn't become a distraction." Heyman cites an anonymous agent who says that the extension could cost Goldschmidt $75MM. That seems like an exaggeration, but Goldschmidt could easily make his five year, $32MM deal look like a bargain from the Diamondbacks' perspective if he continues hitting anything resembling his current .335/.418/.645 pace.
- Didi Gregorius' surprising hitting so far in the big leagues is making the Diamondbacks' end of the Shin-Soo Choo / Trevor Bauer deal with the Reds and Indians look better with time. But Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic wonders whether Gregorius' hitting can last. No one in the last ten years has posted a career minor-league OPS below .725 (minimum 1,900 plate appearances) and a career major-league OPS above .741 (minimum 500 plate appearances). Gregorius had a .694 career minor-league OPS; his major-league OPS through 106 plate appearances is .884.
- Rockies pitcher Roy Oswalt will join the Double-A Tulsa Drillers on Tuesday and will make his first start on Friday, ROOT Sports' Tracy Ringolsby notes (on Twitter). Ringolsby projects Oswalt would make his fifth minor-league start June 14. Oswalt can opt out of his contract with the Rockies on either June 18 or June 28 if he has not been added to the big-league roster. Oswalt's command was strong in extended spring training, MLB.com's Thomas Harding notes (on Twitter).
Last week, the Rockies struck a deal with Roy Oswalt, signing him to a minor league pact with an eye on the 35-year-old joining their rotation and providing a boost as the season progresses. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides a very detailed breakdown…
- Oswalt will earn the pro-rated version of a $2.3MM base salary once he reaches the Major Leagues, and will make $15K per month in the meantime while in the minors.
- The contract includes a $400K roster bonus for being added to the big league club, $1.35MM of incentives for number of starts made, and $1.25MM worth of incentives for innings pitched.
- Oswalt will receive $250K for reaching eight, 10 and 12 starts. He will receive an additional $200K for his 14th, 16th and 18th starts.
- Oswalt will receive $100K for reaching 50 innings pitched, $150K for reaching 60 innings, and $200K every 10 innings from 70-110.
- The contract has out clauses on June 18 and June 28. If Oswalt is not on the Major League roster by either of those dates, he has the option to request his release if he is not promoted within 72 hours.
Meanwhile, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that Oswalt is out to re-establish himself as a quality Major League pitcher and repair the damage to his reputation. Many in the game have been turned off by Oswalt's late starts, his selectivity over where he will pitch and his inability to mesh with what was reportedly a very positive Rangers clubhouse in 2012.
According to Heyman, Oswalt wants to pitch beyond 2013, and that includes joining future teammates in Spring Training rather than sitting out the first month or two of the season as he's done in 2012-13.
Heyman also reports that the Rockies weren't the only team to show interest in Oswalt this time around, but the veteran rebuffed "a couple" of other offers to eventually sign with Colorado.