Sam Fuld Rumors
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.
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.
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.
- The Indians' trade of Shin-Soo Choo was one of GM Chris Antonetti's best deals, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. The Indians gave up Choo, a player they could not have afforded to keep, and the other players they dealt (Tony Sipp, Lars Anderson and Jason Donald) haven't proven consequential. The Indians received Trevor Bauer, who had a great first start of the season on Wednesday, and a good bullpen arm in Bryan Shaw. They also got Matt Albers, who pitched reasonably well last season before heading to the Astros as a free agent, and Drew Stubbs, who went to the Rockies for Josh Outman. Outman now joins Shaw in the Indians' bullpen.
- Sam Fuld isn't surprised that the Athletics designated him for assignment, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. "I guess the one good thing is that I have been bracing myself for it," says Fuld. Coco Crisp is now healthy, and Craig Gentry is back from the disabled list, which left little room for Fuld.
- The Red Sox' most recent $70MM extension offer to Jon Lester might seem low, but Lester himself is trying to keep it in context, John Tomase of the Boston Herald tweets. "They're trying to set up their business for the future. They're weighing risk," Lester says. "I can't just stand up and say, 'Pay me pay me pay me.'"
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.
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:
- The Brewers have announced Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay made their Opening Day roster as a first base platoon. Both signed minor league deals within a three-day span in late-January. Reynolds will earn $2MM plus incentives while Overbay, in his second tour of duty with Milwaukee, will bank $1.5MM plus incentives. Reynolds leads the team in RBI's this spring while Overbay, mired in an 3-for-30 slump (all three hits coming after news of his promotion broke) is valued for his defense. Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the Brewers still have yet to make an official announcement regarding the status of Juan Francisco, who lost out to the veteran duo and cleared out his locker yesterday. The Brewers now have a full 40-man roster, but a spot could be cleared pending the outcome of Francisco's situation.
- With Craig Gentry being placed on the disabled list by the A's, Sam Fuld is expected to make the club as the fourth outfielder, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser. Fuld, whose minor league contract signed in February contained opt-out dates of this week and June 1, will earn $800K plus incentives. The A's will have to clear a 40-man roster spot before adding Fuld.
- The Cardinals have outrighted right-hander Angel Castro off their 40-man roster to create room for fellow right-hander Pat Neshek, tweets Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Neshek will earn $1MM from the deal he signed last month. Castro signed a Major League pact with the Cardinals last December after spending 2013 with the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate posting a 3.48 ERA, 7.0 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 in 19 starts and six relief appearances. Castro was one of several players mentioned by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes in his examination of the trend in signing six-year minor league free agents, with little to no MLB experience, to Major League contracts.
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.
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.
- Kenley Jansen isn't worried about being the last arbitration case for the Dodgers, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. "I leave all that to my agent," says Jansen. "I know what my No. 1 goal is, and that’s to get ready for the season." Jansen filed for $5.05MM, and the Dodgers countered with $3.5MM. Jansen mentions that he is excited that three former closers -- Brandon League, Brian Wilson and the newly-signed Chris Perez -- will join him in the Dodgers' bullpen.
- The Rays have added plenty of depth this offseason, including new infielder Wilson Betemit, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Logan Forsythe, Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez can all play the outfield as well as infield, so there might be a way for Betemit to earn a bench job out of camp. Topkin also suggests that the Rays could re-sign free agent outfielder Sam Fuld if Fuld doesn't find a Major League contract elsewhere.
- The Red Sox, meanwhile, have lots of depth on their pitching staff, but perhaps not enough at third base or center field, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. That could mean trouble if Will Middlebrooks or Jackie Bradley Jr. struggle. The Red Sox did recently sign Grady Sizemore, but he and Bradley both hit left-handed, and there isn't likely to be space for both on the team's active roster. Shane Victorino could also play center, but an outfield of Jonny Gomes, Victorino and Daniel Nava wouldn't be ideal from a defensive perspective.
Rocco Baldelli was forced into premature retirement at age 29, but the former Rays outfielder has adjusted well to his post-playing career. As MLB.com's Bill Chastain relates, Baldelli is acting as something of a jack-of-all-trades as a special assistant in the Rays' baseball operations department, helping the club with everything from scouting to draft preparation to Spring Training work. "I get to see everything. I really enjoy gaining a perspective on everything we're doing. ... It gives you a big picture view, and during the year I get the micro view of the organization," Baldelli said.
Here's some news from around the AL East...
- Sam Fuld is keeping the Rays in "the mix" as he decides his next contract, the outfielder tells Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. "Would definitely be nice to be back if the opportunity is right," Fuld said, adding that he is "just waiting for the landscape to clear a bit." MLBTR's Zach Links reported last week that Fuld has been offered minor league deals from five teams, some of which have already been ruled out.
- The Yankees' plan to drastically overspend on the 2014-15 international free agent market is further explored by Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel, who explains why the Yankees are making this splash now and how they're exploiting this loophole in what McDaniel believes is a "broken" international spending system.
- There has been some speculation that the Red Sox could trade John Lackey, as the team is looking to move a veteran starter to make room for a younger arm. Trading Lackey would definitely be a sell-high move for Boston and they could command a strong return given Lackey's 2013 performance and his team-friendly contract, but MLB.com's Ian Browne doesn't "see any way the Red Sox will look to trade Lackey." That same team-friendly deal is also a boon to the Sox, Browne notes, and "barring a stunning development," Lackey will be on the Opening Day roster.
- In AL East news from earlier today on MLB Trade Rumors, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons' option for 2015 was guaranteed since he was still employed at the start of the calendar year, the Rays claimed southpaw Pedro Figueroa off waivers from the A's, and we shared a collection of Orioles notes.
Free agent outfielder Sam Fuld is currently weighing offers from five different clubs, a source told MLBTR's Zach Links. Each offer is a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. While some teams have been ruled out, a return to the Rays hasn't been ruled out. Fuld is trying to decide which team will present him with the best opportunity to win a roster spot this spring.
Fuld, who turned 32 in November, batted .199/.270/.267 with a pair of homers and eight stolen bases in 200 plate appearances with the Rays in 2013. Originally acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade, Fuld has consistently put up strong defensive marks in the corner outfield spots and is also capable of playing center field.