Russ Ortiz Rumors
After looking at the latest updates on the remaining unsigned starting pitchers and position players, we have one more group to examine: the relievers. Earlier in April, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes named some relief pitchers who could be dealt this season, and that list is certainly more intriguing than the current free agent market. But for teams looking to take an inexpensive gamble, there are a handful of recognizable, if not overly exciting, names available. Here are a few:
- Juan Cruz: After a disappointing stint in Kansas City, the 31-year-old was released by the Royals a week ago. Now that clubs won't have to assume the $3.25MM figure he's owed this season, the right-hander certainly looks more like a risk worth taking. In 2007 and 2008, Cruz appeared in 110 games for the Diamondbacks, posting a 2.88 ERA and striking out 12.6 batters per nine innings. It's unlikely he'd regain that form this year, but he could be a bargain at a league-minimum salary. The Diamondbacks don't appear interested in bringing him back though, and the Marlins, often willing to take on cheap bullpen reclamation projects, probably won't take the plunge either.
- Russ Ortiz: The veteran righty elected free agency last week after being designated for assignment by the Dodgers. Although he pitched poorly for Los Angeles this April, allowing eight runs in seven innings, his career numbers as a reliever (3.33 ERA over 78.1 IP) are respectable. While there hasn't been any reported interest in him yet and he won't be an integral part of anyone's bullpen, he'll probably be able to land a minor league contract soon.
- Russ Springer: We know Springer would like to pitch this year, preferably for the Cardinals, but we haven't heard much more than that lately. The right-hander was extremely effective in two seasons in St. Louis, posting a 2.24 ERA and 8.6 K/9 in 146 appearances in 2007 and 2008. His ERA rose to 4.11 last season, but his ratios were still excellent. Even at 41, Springer could be a worthy addition to quite a few bullpens around the league, but perhaps he's holding out for an offer from the Cards.
- David Weathers: Like Springer, Weathers was reasonably effective in 2009 (3.92 ERA), despite turning 40 last September. However, his peripherals declined and there hasn't been a whole lot of reported interest in the righty this spring. The last we heard, Weathers was still open to pitching this season for a contender, though he'll probably retire if the right situation doesn't arise.
MLB.com's Ken Gurnick adds that rookie Jon Link, acquired from the White Sox in the Juan Pierre trade, will be recalled for the time being. His stay could be short, as Hong-Chih Kuo and Ronald Belisario will likely be activated from the disabled list this week. Asked if he would accept a minor league assignment, Ortiz said that he would if it was with the purpose of being recalled later in the season.
Ortiz, 35, appeared in six games for the Dodgers, and posted unimpressive numbers to say the least. The right-hander totaled seven innings, while walking six batters and allowing ten hits and eight earned runs.
The former Giants ace has struggled with elbow injuries since putting together a solid four-year stretch in the early part of the decade. From 2001 to 2004, Ortiz compiled a 3.71 ERA over 850 innings for San Francisco and Atlanta, including a fourth place finish in the 2003 Cy Young voting for the Braves.
The front of the Dodgers' rotation is pretty well set, with Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, and Vicente Padilla set to occupy the first four spots. There's no shortage of candidates for that fifth spot, but as Steve Dilbeck of The Los Angeles Times notes, most of the contenders have unfavorable contract situations.
Eric Stults and Charlie Haeger are both out of options, Carlos Monasterios is a Rule 5 pick, and both Ramon and Russ Ortiz are believed to have out clauses in their contracts. The one rotation candidate that doesn't have any strings attached is James McDonald, but it doesn't help that he has a 20.25 ERA and a 3.56 WHIP in just over five innings this spring. Regardless of who LA picks for that last spot, there's a chance they'll lose some depth as the other guys succumb to roster limitations.
Let's open this one up for discussion. Who do you think the Dodgers should put in their last rotation spot, and what should they do with the other players? Essentially your choices are a) put them in the bullpen, or b) risk losing them to waivers/out clause/Rule 5 rules. Here are the Spring Training stats, not that they mean anything.
WEDNESDAY, 3:48pm: Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times writes that Green will get a $550K base salary if he's on the big league roster, with another $100K in incentives. Hernandez also has contract details for Angel Berroa, Doug Mientkiewicz, and Russ Ortiz.
MONDAY, 1:25pm: The Dodgers signed Nick Green to a minor league deal, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosental says Green would be Rafael Furcal's primary backup at shortstop.
Green, 31, hit .236/.303/.366 in 309 plate appearances for the Red Sox last year, logging 644.3 innings at short. His defense graded as a positive in that insufficient sample. Green had back surgery in November and was outrighted by the Sox shortly thereafter. The Rockies also showed interest this offseason.
MLB.com's Ken Gurnick notes two other Dodgers signings: pitcher Scott Dohmann and infielder Argenis Reyes. Dohmann, 31, was released by the Hiroshima Carp in June and landed in the D'Backs organization. Reyes, 27, hit .282/.336/.377 for the Mets' Triple A club.
The Dodgers have signed righty Russ Ortiz and outfielder Michael Restovich to minor league contracts with invitations to Spring Training, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.
The 35-year-old Ortiz hasn't been an effective big leaguer since 2004, and even his minor league performance since then hasn't been anything special. The Dodgers do have some openings in the back of their rotation, so it stands to reason that Ortiz will compete for one of those spots.
Restovich, 31, has spent parts of six seasons in the big leagues, most recently with the Nationals in 2007. He's a career .239/.313/.377 hitter in the Majors, but a .285/.364/.501 hitter in the minors.
Here's a stocking stuffed with news items on this Christmas Eve...
- Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues breaks down the details of Nick Johnson's contract with the Yankees. If Johnson reaches all of his incentives and his mutual option for 2011 is picked up, he can make a total of $14.5MM over his two-year deal.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock says the Kevin Kouzmanoff trade talks that were swirling at the winter meetings have "cooled," and he thinks Kouzmanoff will remain a Padre unless San Diego receives an overwhelmingly good offer. Perhaps the Padres want to keep Kouzmanoff to anchor their lineup in case they happen to deal away Adrian Gonzalez.
- In a discussion of Lance Berkman's future plans, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com says that "the older [Berkman] gets, I think the less likely he is to play elsewhere." The Astros star is under contract next season and the team has a $15MM option on Berkman for the 2011 season that it will surely pick up if Berkman matches his 2009 line of .274/.399/.509. McTaggart notes that the Astros have been hesitant to rebuild since they still feel they can contend with quality veterans like Berkman and Roy Oswalt in their relative primes. As we learned last September, however, Berkman might rather retire after 2011 than be a burden on the organization.
- From that same piece, McTaggart says Houston's acquistions of Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz last winter have made the team leery of signing another injury-prone starter like Ben Sheets, especially since Sheets would come at a much higher price.
- Top Reds prospect Todd Frazier seems to be capable of playing anywhere on the field, but doesn't appear to be Cincinnati's answer at shortstop, reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
- What team made the best trades in the 20th century? According to one author, it was the Cleveland Indians.
- Speaking of Cleveland, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com says the Tribe will put Rafael Perez back in the bullpen next season in spite of the left-hander's excellent starting outings in winter ball.
Diamond Leung reports that the Rockies have released veteran righthander Russ Ortiz, who had been pitching with Triple-A Colorado Springs. After spending most of the year in the Astros rotation, Ortiz agreed to the minor league contract with the Yankees before opting out of the deal in hopes of finding a better big league opportunity. Colorado signed him to a minor league pact two weeks ago.
In three starts with the Rockies' top minor league affiliate, Ortiz allowed 28 baserunners and 12 runs in 14 IP. The former 21-game winner hasn't been an effective pitcher since 2004.
Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports the Rockies will announce the signing of veteran Russ Ortiz. Along with the signing of Jason Giambi, the Rockies have significantly increased their veteran presence for the stretch run.
Ortiz was released by the Astros after posting a 5.57 ERA in 23 games, 13 starts. After signing with the Yankees and going 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in Triple A, he opted out when he wasn't promoted. Ortiz wanted to pitch for a contender and signing with the Rox gives him that chance.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Russ Ortiz has exercised a clause in his contract that allows him to become a free agent. The Yankees agreed to let the righty become a free agent if they didn't promote him after three minor league starts. Ortiz pitched well in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and the Yanks asked him to remain in the organization, but he declined.
According to Tyler Kepner at the New York Times, the Yankees have signed RHP Russ Ortiz to provide minor-league depth at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Ortiz was released by the Astros in July after putting up a 5.57 ERA and 65/48 K/BB ratio in 85.2 innings as a starter.