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Forty-seven-year-old prospect Will Ferrell showed his versatility by playing all 10 positions for 10 different clubs during a whirlwind single-day tour of several Arizona Spring Training camps, an event was dedicated to raise funds for the Stand Up To Cancer and Cancer For College charities. Ferrell’s day included two at-bats (both strikeouts), a helicopter landing in center field, serving as the Cubs’ third base coach and actually recording an out during his 1/3 inning of work on the mound. Ferrell was in such demand that he even switched teams within games, so it’s probably just a matter of time before the phenom inks a nine-figure contract.
Here’s some slightly more serious news from around the game…
- Six of seven general managers polled by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman don’t see Jason Heyward landing a contract in the $200MM range next winter, though one of the naysaying GMs was open to the possibility if Heyward had a huge season. Heyward brings youth (he turns 26 in August) and elite defense into his walk year, though it seems like he’d need a big power season to make $200MM a realistic possibility. Most of the GMs and assistant GMs Heyman spoke to thought Shin-Soo Choo (seven years/$130MM) or Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years/$153MM) could be good comparables for Heyward’s next deal, though one GM noted that Heyward’s price could be elevated by the general lack of strong position player talent in next year’s free agent market. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently placed Heyward second in his 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings, behind only Justin Upton.
- If Heyward’s price tag does approach $200MM, it will probably mean the Cardinals won’t re-sign him, some of the GMs noted to Heyman. The Cards seem to have a player contract “limit of around $120 million,” as that was their outlay for Matt Holliday and around what they were willing to pay Jon Lester and Max Scherzer this winter.
- A’s outfielder Sam Fuld discusses how he deals with the pressure of constantly fighting for spots on Major League rosters in an interview with Nico of the Athletics Nation blog.
- In his latest piece for Gammons Daily, Peter Gammons cites the Dodgers as the “clear winner” of the 2014-15 offseason, praising Andrew Friedman for adding a great deal of flexibility and depth to the club’s roster while also bringing several good baseball minds into the front office.
Astros righty Roberto Hernandez has finally received his visa an is set to report to spring camp for a physical, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets. Hernandez has a bit of catching up to do if he hopes to make the roster after inking a minor league deal earlier in the offseason.
Here are some notes from the AL West:
- A rough 2014 season for Elvis Andrus of the Rangers has left some looking askance at his eight-year, $120MM extension, which officially kicks in this season. As the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com), Andrus says that he is ready for a better campaign after reporting out of shape last year. “This year I took it a thousand times [more] seriously than I did the year before,” he said. “… That was an offseason that I hope never happens again. In spring training I wasn’t ready.” A turnaround from Andrus would go a long way toward restoring the once-promising trajectory of the Rangers, to say nothing of his own. It would also increase his appeal as a trade chip, though Texas no longer has quite the middle infield logjam it once did.
- Coco Crisp is set to play left field this year for the Athletics, manager Bob Melvin tells reporters including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). That shift, which was occasioned by a desire to protect the team’s investment in Crisp by reducing the toll on his body, will result in Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld platooning in center. In turn, that probably also puts an end to the notion that Oakland could look to acquire a second baseman and move Ben Zobrist to the outfield.
- While it is hard to deny (and not entirely surprising) that the Athletics got less back for Jeff Samardzija than they gave to acquire him (along with Jason Hammel), the team feels good about the young players that it picked up from the White Sox, MLB.com’s Phil Rogers writes. “Look, both of those deals are difficult,” said assistant GM David Forst. “You never like trading a guy like Addison [Russell], but Jeff and Jason filled a particular need for us at that time. Then to turn around and lose Jason and feel like trading Jeff is the best option is never an easy decision to make. Jeff is a guy who has his best years ahead of him still. He’s right at the age you want to get a pitcher. He knows his game. His stuff is without question. It was not an easy decision to make. It was part of the balancing act we are forced to make.”
With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz…
- Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
- The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
- Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
- Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
- The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
- ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
- Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
- Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
- Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
- Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
- Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
- Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.
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Here’s some background news and notes on the Athletics’ big trade deadline moves from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle…
- It surprised many to see Yoenis Cespedes traded yesterday, but Slusser reports that the A’s were planning on dealing the outfielder this offseason anyway since the club didn’t think they would be able to extend him. Cespedes has a contract option that allows him to become a free agent following the 2015 season. In another piece, Slusser notes that “there never were very extensive talks” between Cespedes and the A’s about an extension.
- Sam Fuld was the only Major League player being offered by any of the teams interested in Tommy Milone, which is why the A’s swung the deal with the Twins to provide immediate outfield help given Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry‘s injury problems.
- Slusser notes that Oakland plans to keep Fuld for 2015, and he isn’t just a temporary solution while Gentry is on the DL with a broken hand.
- The Athletics are still looking to add a second baseman before the August 31st trade deadline.
Milone (pictured) lost his rotation spot with the Athletics earlier this month when the team acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and any hope of him regaining that spot likely faded with Oakland’s morning acquisition of Jon Lester. The 27-year-old Milone had asked to be traded somewhere that he had a chance to start, and Minnesota certainly fits that bill. Specifically, the spacious Target Field seems a good fit for Milone’s fly-ball arsenal.
Milone had pitched to a solid 3.55 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 38.4 percent fly-ball rate in 96 1/3 innings this season. He owns a 3.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 36.8 percent ground-ball rate in 468 2/3 innings for the Nationals and Athletics. He is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and can be controlled through the 2017 campaign. For the time being, Milone will report to Triple-A Rochester, per the Twins. However, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets that it may be a procedural move more than anything. Milone just pitched Tuesday and is expected to be with the Twins soon, Wolfson hears.
Milone will add to a growing crop of Major League ready arms for the Twins, who have Alex Meyer and Trevor May knocking on the door at Rochester. Though several current members of the Major League staff have underperformed, including Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey (the latter two are currently on the DL), Minnesota could have a wildly different rotation in 2015.
Interestingly, the Twins claimed Fuld off waivers from Oakland earlier this year when he was designated for assignment. Presumably, he can form some form of platoon with the newly acquired Jonny Gomes in order to fill in for the now-departed Yoenis Cespedes.
The 32-year-old Fuld has been excellent for the Twins in 2014, slashing .274/.370/.354 with a homer, a dozen steals (in 15 attempts) and standout defense in both left and center field. In addition to platooning with Gomes, he can serve as a center field option for the A’s with Craig Gentry on the disabled list and Coco Crisp currently ailing. Fuld is a career .240/.323/.337 hitter and can be controlled via arbitration through the 2016 campaign.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Athletics are looking at multiple potential outfield acquisition targets, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). Among them is Sam Fuld of the Twins, who started the year in Oakland.
Oakland could be looking to bolster its depth in the outfield due to concern over Coco Crisp‘s neck injury, tweets Slusser’s colleague John Shea. Combined with the broken right hand of Craig Gentry, the A’s could suddenly be a bit thin, especially up the middle. Speedy minor leaguer Billy Burns will take an active roster spot in the meantime, but he was slashing just .250/.333/.330 at Double-A (albeit with 51 stolen bases).
Fuld, 32, owns a .261/.350/.367 line on the year with 13 swipes of his own in just 219 plate appearances. He was claimed by Minnesota after the A’s put him on outright waivers when Gentry made it back from a DL stint earlier in the year.
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.
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.
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.
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.