Sam Fuld Rumors

Quick Hits: Abreu, Thornton, Hicks

The Mets have announced that they will promote former star outfielder Bobby Abreu from Triple-A Las Vegas tomorrow. Abreu is 40 and hasn't played in the big leagues since 2012, which he spent with the Angels and Dodgers. But he made a good impression in Vegas, hitting .412/.500/.529 in 40 plate appearances there, and the Mets have space for a left-handed bench player after trading Ike Davis to the Pirates. As Newsday's Marc Carig tweets, that means the Mets' active roster will include Abreu, Bartolo Colon, Kyle Farnsworth, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jose Valverde. Here are more notes from around baseball.

  • Zack Thornton, the reliever the Mets acquired (along with a PTBNL) in the Davis trade, made his debut in the Mets organization on Sunday, pitching two innings for Las Vegas against El Paso. Thornton allowed a solo homer to Kyle Blanks, but allowed no other runs while striking out one in two innings. The player to be named is reportedly the "key piece" in the deal.
  • The Twins' decision to claim Sam Fuld could impact Aaron Hicks, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Twins assistant GM Rob Antony says the Twins are considering having Hicks get fewer at-bats against righties. If they do, Fuld, a lefty, is a likely candidate to take Hicks' playing time. Hicks is hitting just .179/.299/.214 in 67 plate appearances so far this season.

Twins Claim Sam Fuld, Designate Darin Mastroianni

The Twins have claimed outfielder Sam Fuld off waivers, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Fuld was designated for assignment by the Athletics on April 12th.

Fuld, 32, appeared in just seven games for the A's, hitting .200/.273/.433 in 33 plate appearances. He has a career .233/.312/.334 line in 841 career plate appearances, most of them with the Rays and Cubs. He signed a minor league deal with Oakland in February and made the team out of Spring Training when fellow defensively-savvy outfielder Craig Gentry was injured. Fuld became expendable with a healthy Gentry, who returned to the A's lineup last week, and Coco Crisp, but he'll be joining a Twins squad which badly needs outfield depth.

"He can steal a base. He’s a good defender. Puts together pretty good at-bats,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said of Fuld (as quoted by Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press). "He’s not a power guy. He is a gamer, a guy who comes to play everyday. Hopefully he can add a little life to the offense and (Twins manager Ron Gardenhire) can use him in different spots in the outfield as well."

To make room for Fuld on the 40-man and 25-man roster, the Twins announced they have designated outfielder Darin Mastroianni for assignment. Mastroianni has gone 0-for-11 with five strikeouts in seven games since having his contract selected from Rochester on April 10th. The Twins now have 10 days to either trade, release, or outright the 28-year-old, who can opt for free agency instead of accepting a minor league assignment since he has been outrighted previously (per a Berardino tweet). Berardino notes this move may not have been necessary had Jason Bartlett's retirement been finalized one day sooner with the Easter weekend also working against the Twins.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


AL Notes: Defensive Value, White Sox, Astros, Fuld

As defensive metrics gain precision and acceptance, we can expect an increasing move toward player contracts that better reflect the contributions of premier glovework, writes Doug Mittler for ESPN The Magazine (Insider link). "The market is established by offense because defensive numbers are difficult to ascertain,"  said Mets GM Sandy Alderson. Mittler says that current bargains, like Alex Gordon of the Royals and Ryan Hanigan of the Rays, may be harder to find in coming seasons. (I would suggest that some recent extensions of defense-first players — including those of Andrelton Simmons of the Braves and Elvis Andrus of the Rangers — may reflect just that kind of movement in the market.) 

Here's the latest out of the American League:

  • It is early, of course, but the White Sox look like a very different club on the offensive side of the ledger, writes Grantland's Jonah Keri. The preliminary results have put a shine on an offseason that, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes described, brought significant MLB-ready talent into the South Side. Like Dierkes, Keri advises caution for the prospects this season but foresees a bright future for some of the team's young position players. 
  • An alternative method of rebuilding — the Astros' total strip-down of MLB talent and payroll — took another important step forward with the debut of George Springer. In an interesting interview with Drew Fairservice of TheScore.com, club GM Jeff Luhnow said that he hopes the club's pool of prospect talent will "have an expectation to win" after experiencing success together at the minor league level. And he made clear that Houston will look to take full advantage of its substantial amateur spending dollars. Looking ahead, Luhnow explained that the club is already thinking about how to manage inevitable payroll increases: "With so many young players coming through the pipeline, we’re not going to be able to lock them all up. Just keeping them all through arbitration is going to get expensive and we also want to dip into the free agent market so we’ll have to be wise about how we spend the dollars. Our flexibility gives us the opportunity to make the right investments at the right time."
  • As noted earlier, recently-designated Athletics outfielder Sam Fuld is expected to draw interest from several clubs, according to a report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). The Twins and Angels are among the teams that are likely to be involved on Fuld, says Slusser.


Rosenthal’s Latest: D’Backs, Drew, Kuroda, Fuld, Jays

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has a new, lengthy notes column in which he begins by examining the early scrutiny of MLB's new instant replay system. He points to a pair of blatantly missed calls on Saturday in which conclusive evidence was seen on TV broadcasts of the games but apparently not by the umpires at MLB's Replay Operations Center in New York. An MLB spokesperson confirmed to Rosenthal that one of those calls was blown and added that the system would continue to work on improvement. Rosenthal reminds that John Schuerholz, one of the architects of the system, said it would be a three-year roll out. However, he adds that MLB can't expect any patience from fans, players or managers when home viewers are able to make better judgments than the umpires at the Relay Operations Center.

Here are some more highlights from his article, which also contains notes on Jose Abreu, struggling offenses around the league and the Dodgers' interleague schedule…

  • Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson is the early front-runner for "first manager to get fired" due to the team's 4-11 start, but Rosenthal wonders what more Gibson can do with the pitching talent (or lack thereof) he has been given. GM Kevin Towers thinned out the rotation depth by trading Tyler Skaggs and David Holmberg this offseason, and the loss of Patrick Corbin compounded those moves. Rosenthal wonders how long the Snakes can wait before recalling Archie Bradley.
  • One executive said to Rosenthal that any American League team with a need in the infield will have added incentive to work out a deal with Stephen Drew in order to prevent the Tigers from signing him. The AL Central powerhouse is currently going with Alex Gonzalez at short, and the results have been less than stellar.
  • Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda told Rosenthal (through his interpreter) that he's never considered retirement as heavily as he did this offseason. The most difficult factor for Kuroda wasn't the separation from his L.A.-based family — they come live with him in the summer when his daughters are out of school — but rather that he simply loves and misses Japan. Kuroda again left open the possibility of finishing his career back in Japan.
  • Both the Angels and Twins have a need in the outfield with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham on the disabled list, and both teams were interested in the recently DFA'ed Sam Fuld this offseason before he signed with the Athletics. Rosenthal reports that the A's will gauge trade possibilities for Fuld and wonders if the Halos and Twins could have interest.
  • After signing a minor league deal in the 2012-13 offseason, Blue Jays right-hander Neil Wagner earned the pro-rated portion that deal's $525K salary while in the Majors last season. However, Toronto's pre-arbitration pay scale called for just a $506,250 salary in 2014, as it is based on service time rather than performance. Agent Jim Munsey and Wagner refused the deal, giving Toronto the freedom to renew Wagner's contract at $500K if they wished, which the team did. Said Munsey of the ordeal: "It's, obviously, disappointing that they cut Neil's pay after such a good season last year. And when we didn't agree to the pay cut, they cut it further in renewing him. Hard to cheer for that. … The rules allow the Jays to reduce his pay. They also allow us to talk about that at arbitration." MLBTR's Zach Links recently looked at teams' calculation of pre-arbitration salaries.
  • Though the Rays' rotation has been ravaged by injuries to Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb, the team is planning on using internal options rather than pursuing outside help.

AL Central Notes: Benoit, Chisenhall, Fuld

It was on this day in 2009 that Mark Fidrych died at age 54 as the result of a freak truck repair accident.  Fidrych burst onto the scene as a Tigers rookie in 1976, posting a 2.34 ERA over 250 1/3 innings, starting the All-Star Game for the American League and capturing the AL Rookie Of The Year Award in the process.  His pitching aside, "The Bird" was even better known for his unique personality and quirky mound habits (such as talking to the ball or personally smoothing out cleat marks on the mound), as well as appearing on perhaps the greatest cover in Sports Illustrated history.  Though Fidrych's career was short, baseball fans will never forget one of the game's great characters.  The MLBTR staff extends our condolences to Fidrych's family and friends on this anniversary of his passing.

Here's the latest from around the AL Central…

  • Joaquin Benoit and Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski both had nothing but good things to say about the veteran reliever's tenure in Motown, but the Tigers didn't make Benoit a contract offer last winter.  Dombrowski tells John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press that “When it came down to it, we had Joe Nathan over Joaquin as a closer, and that’s the direction we decided to pursue.  We kept a pulse of his free-agent situation all winter long. But it just looked like he was going to (cost) a little more than we wanted to pay for a set-up guy."  Benoit ended up signing a two-year, $15.5MM deal with the Padres.
  • Lonnie Chisenhall is hitting well but could be the victim of a roster crunch, so a reader asked Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (as part of a mailbag piece) if the Indians could possibly deal the third baseman.  Hoynes believes it's generally too early for teams to be exploring the trade market, barring an injury, and Chisenhall is still an unproven commodity at the Major League level.  Since Chisenhall is 25 years old and only a couple of years removed from being regarded as the Tribe's top prospect, I'd think Cleveland would need a big return to consider moving Chisenhall, even though Carlos Santana has seemingly taken over at third base.
  • Sam Fuld could be an interesting pickup for the Twins, 1500ESPN.com's Derek Wetmore opines, as he would add depth to a Minnesota team that is thin on outfield options.  The Athletics designated Fuld for assignment yesterday.

AL Notes: Indians, Fuld, Lester

Dr. James Andrews tells MLB Network Radio (via MetsBlog) that a number of factors have contributed to an increase in Tommy John surgeries throughout baseball. One issue is that high school pitchers are throwing too hard, and their ligaments aren’t maturing quickly enough to keep up with their velocity. Year-round baseball is another issue, as is throwing breaking balls at a young age. High school pitchers who throw harder than 80-85 MPH also run the risk of having arm issues. Here are a few notes from around the American League.


Athletics Designate Sam Fuld For Assignment

The Athletics have designated Sam Fuld for assignment, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The move clears space on the team's active roster for another strong defensive outfielder, Craig Gentry, who returns from the disabled list.

Fuld, 32, appeared in just seven games for the A's, hitting .200/.273/.433 in 33 plate appearances. He has a career .233/.312/.334 line in 841 career plate appearances, most of them with the Rays and Cubs. He signed with Oakland as a minor-league free agent in February, then made the team out of spring training when Gentry was unavailable.


Added To The 40-Man Roster: Sunday

Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:


Athletics To Sign Sam Fuld

The Athletics have agreed to terms with outfielder Sam Fuld on a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Fuld is a client of Munsey Sports Management.

The will 32-year-old left-hander will earn $800K if he is on the MLB roster and has $100K in incentives based upon games played. He can opt out in late March or on June 1, if he has not been added to the active roster.

Fuld has spent his last three seasons with the Rays, serving as a reserve outfielder, but was non-tendered after a rough year. Over 2011-13, Fuld saw 653 plate appearances and posted a .230/.301/.326 triple-slash. He stole 35 bases, but was caught 12 times in that stretch. Last season, Fuld saw his numbers dip to a .199/.270/.267 line in an even 200 trips to the plate over parts of 119 games. Though he does not generally impress with the bat, Fuld is regarded as an excellent defender at the corners who also can be trusted in center.

For the A's, Fuld comes with less than four years of service time, so could potentially be controlled for three more seasons. Fuld will look to crack the roster and join an outfield mix that includes Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, and Craig Gentry


Quick Hits: Parity, Jansen, Rays, Red Sox

As the NFL season comes to an end, ESPN's Jayson Stark writes that, contrary to popular belief, there's more parity in baseball than football. True, the Red Sox and Cardinals were this year's World Series teams, but five MLB teams made the playoffs in 2013 who didn't make it the year before, including the upstart Pirates and Indians. Meanwhile, every team except the Mets and Astros has had one or more winning seasons in the past five years, whereas six NFL teams haven't had any in that span. Here are more notes from around baseball.