- Veteran catcher Miguel Olivo has a minor league deal with the Giants, per Eddy. A lifetime .240/.275/.417 hitters in 3993 plate appearances at the Major League level, Olivo hasn’t appeared in the bigs since 2014, although the 37-year-old did bat .281/.347/.470 across 378 plate appearances in Mexico over the past year.
We’ll track the day’s arb agreements in this post:
- The Giants have avoided arbitration with righty George Kontos for $1.15MM, Jon Heyman reports on Twitter. That’s just a tick above the $1.1MM midpoint between the sides’ filing numbers and his $1MM projection. Kontos, 30, qualified this year as a Super Two. He’s coming off of a strong 2015 campaign in which he allowed only 2.33 earned runs per nine innings over 73 1/3 frames. Though he only averaged 5.4 K/9, Kontos minimized opposing baserunners with an excellent 1.5 BB/9 and 0.941 WHIP.
The Giants are just about done with making offseason moves, GM Bobby Evans tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Evans has been monitoring free agent Tim Lincecum, but he doesn’t anticipate a reunion since the team already boasts a star-studded starting five. Cafardo raises the idea that Lincecum could be in store for a bullpen role in 2016, but Evans’ comments make it seem as though that won’t take place in San Francisco.
Before being shut down midway through the season, Lincecum had posted a 4.13 ERA, although with a 7.1 K/9 and a high 4.5 BB/9 that were even less impressive than that modest ERA figure. His average fastball velocity also fell from 89.6 MPH in 2014 to 87.2 MPH. Lincecum will probably be forced to settle for a one-year deal as he looks to come back from hip surgery entering his age-32 season.
Here’s more from today’s column:
- “A few baseball folks” tell Cafardo that they get the sense something is brewing with Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The Brewers backstop has a limited no-trade clause, but teams such as the Astros and Nationals could have interest in adding a top catcher like Lucroy. The veteran isn’t coming off his best season, but his highly contract still makes him an attractive trade target. Lucroy is set to earn just $4MM in 2016 and $5.25MM (or a $250K buyout) in 2017.
- A few teams had concerns about the medicals on Doug Fister, one NL team official told Cafardo. Fister got a one-year, $7MM deal from the Astros, but some teams thought they could get him on a minor league deal. Fister, soon-to-be 32, could be a bounceback candidate for Houston. After several strong years in Detroit, he put up a stellar 2.41 ERA over 164 frames in 2014, his first season with the Nationals. But things went south last year, as he dealt with injury issues and lost his rotation spot after he was tagged for a 4.60 ERA and .302/.341/.471 batting line in 15 starts.
- One NL scout tells Cafardo that free agent shortstop Ian Desmond should move to third base. “I think he would be excellent there,” said the scout. “He’s a shortstop who probably doesn’t have the great range, but he’d be very good at third. He’s a great kid in the clubhouse who works hard. At some point, there has got to be a team, maybe one who has a pick at the end of the first round, who’d give that up for a guy like this.” As the former All-Star continues to sit on the open market, some have wondered if a deal could be possible with the Rays.
- Mat Latos remains on the open market in part because of a perceived attitude problem. One NL official believes that he needs some discipline to stay in line. “You would need a strong manager to keep him in line and acting the way you want him to act. A Buck Showalter, a Bruce Bochy, a Dusty Baker. The guy really competes, but he just gets too outspoken for his own good,” the official said.
Former Rangers managing partner Edward “Rusty” Rose has passed away, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The 74-year-old was part of the group, including former President George W. Bush, that bought the Rangers in 1989. The Ballpark In Arlington, now Globe Life Park, was constructed during Rose’s tenure. The Bush-Rose group sold the Rangers in 1998 to Tom Hicks. We at MLBTR extend our condolences to Rose’s friends and family.
Here’s more from the West:
- The Angels farm system lacks high end talent, writes Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register. No Angels were listed among the top 100 or 101 prospects on MLB.com or Baseball Prospectus. They did enter the offseason with one player who would have drawn consideration – Sean Newcomb. He was ranked 21st by MLB.com and 32nd by Baseball Prospectus. The Halos dealt Newcomb as part of the Andrelton Simmons trade. As Fletcher writes, the Angels system probably explains why they didn’t land any top talent at the 2015 trade deadline. For example, Yoenis Cespedes returned Michael Fulmer (53rd per MLB.com) and Luis Cessa. L.A. simply lacked the fire power for a move.
- Tim Lincecum’s tenure in San Francisco is probably over, figures Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News. The former ace and free agent is auditioning for a regular major league job. The Giants have a set rotation, meaning Lincecum doesn’t have a clear path to starts. The Marlins and Padres are among the teams currently connected to Lincecum. For Giants and Lincecum fans, Baggarly contributes a nice review of The Freak’s San Fran tenure.
- The Mariners were thought to be nearing a minor league deal with first baseman Travis Ishikawa, but it’s gone sideways, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Dutton notes that the addition of Gaby Sanchez could be to blame for the Ishikawa deal falling apart.
- In other news, Dutton expects the club to sign 31-year-old journeyman catcher Steven Lerud to a minor league deal. He would provide depth now that Jesus Sucre is expected to miss extended action with a broken fibula. We’ll of course report on that signing if and when it becomes official.
Here are today’s minor signings and outrights from around the league…
- The Giants and veteran catcher George Kottaras are in agreement on a minor league deal with an invite to Major League Spring Training, reports Jon Heyman (via Twitter). The 32-year-old has a history of hitting for power and drawing walks, as evidenced by his lifetime .215/.326/.411 hitter in the Majors. However, he also strikes out at nearly a 24 percent clip and struggles to throw out runners. He’ll be a depth piece in San Francisco, where Buster Posey and Andrew Susac are ahead of him on the depth chart.
- Fellow catcher Dan Butler is returning to the Red Sox organization on a minor league deal with a big league Spring Training invite, Heyman also tweets. Boston traded Butler to the Nationals just over one year ago, but he was released at season’s end after hitting .227/.316/.316 at Triple-A Syracuse. Butler received a brief promotion with the 2014 BoSox but has spent much of his career at Triple-A, where he’s a career .242/.325/.386 hitter in 1064 plate appearances.
- The Marlins announced that they’ve outrighted first baseman/left fielder Tommy Medica to Triple-A New Orleans. Medica, 27, was designated for assignment earlier this month after being passed up on the depth chart by free-agent signee Chris Johnson. He batted .246/.308/.417 for the 2013-14 Padres but spent the 2015 season at New Orleans, where he hit .259/.314/.364 in 363 trips to the plate.
- The D-backs announced that they have outrighted hard-throwing right-hander Matt Stites to Triple-A Reno following last week’s DFA. Stites, 25, was the key piece that the D-backs received in their 2013 trade that sent Ian Kennedy to San Diego, but he’s struggled with his control in both the Majors and minors. He’ll hope for better results in what will be his third stint at Triple-A. (The first two, it should be noted, have been rather brief in nature.)
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
- The Mariners’ deal with Travis Ishikawa appears to have fallen apart, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News-Tribune tweets. The Mariners had agreed to a minor-league deal with first baseman and corner outfielder Travis Ishikawa, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo wrote (Twitter links). The deal would pay Ishikawa $900K if he were in the Majors. Ishikawa, a surprising 2014 postseason hero, played sparingly with the Pirates and Giants in 2015, missing time due to back issues and hitting .267/.337/.420 in 169 plate appearances in the minor leagues. The 32-year-old has a career .852 OPS at the Triple-A level, but he’s collected more than 174 big-league plate appearances in only one season in his career.
- The Cubs have signed utilityman Kristopher Negron and catcher Tim Federowicz to minor-league deals, tweets Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. After a promising 2014 season in Cincinnati, the 29-year-old Negron flopped in 2015, batting .140/.238/.161 in 107 plate appearances. He did, however, play every position but pitcher and catcher, potentially making him an interesting bench piece if he can recover his hitting stroke. The 28-year-old Federowicz missed most of the 2015 season with a knee injury. He had previously hit .194/.247/.300 in parts of four seasons as a reserve with the Dodgers.
- The Yankees have signed righty Anthony Swarzak to a minor-league deal, Eddy tweets. Swarzak, a longtime swingman in the Twins organization, pitched reasonably well in 13 1/3 innings with Cleveland last year before the Indians sold his contract to the Doosan Bears in Korea. Swarzak served as a starter there and posted a 5.26 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 — not terribly impressive numbers, but also not as bad as they look given how tough the KBO is on pitchers. His ability to start and relieve could make him a useful depth piece for the Yankees.
- The Giants have signed lefty Mike Kickham and righty Vin Mazzaro and re-signed center fielder Darren Ford, Eddy tweets. Kickham, who briefly appeared for the Giants in 2013 and 2014, struggled at Triple-A stops in the Mariners and Rangers organizations in 2015, walking 35 batters in 27 innings. Mazzaro held his own in 12 innings of relief with the Marlins last season but spent most of the year at the Triple-A level, where he posted a 2.70 ERA, 7.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. Ford, now 30, spent 2015 at Triple-A Sacramento, hitting .261/.333/.403 and stealing 33 bases.
- The Padres have signed 2B/CF/SS Jemile Weeks to a minor-league deal, Eddy tweets. Weeks, formerly a regular with the A’s, has played mostly at Triple-A the last several seasons. Last year, he batted a mere .204/.297/.281 for Pawtucket in the Red Sox organization, although, as Eddy notes, he has a strong track record at Triple-A, with a .371 career OBP there.
MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is the place to go to see the arbitration contracts agreed upon thus far, as well as the figures exchanged between teams and players that were not able to reach agreement before today’s noon deadline to swap salary positions. Matt Swartz’s arbitration projections are available here.
As MLBTR has previously explained, 156 players officially filed for arbitration (after some eligible and tendered players had already reached agreement). Of those, 34 players have yet to reach reported agreements with their clubs. Of course, those players can still reach agreements before their hearings (which will take place between February 1st and 21st). If the case goes to a hearing, the arbitrator must choose one side’s figures, rather than settling on a midpoint.
We’ve gathered the highest-stakes arbitration situations remaining — those where the player files for at least $4.5MM — in this post, but you can find them all in the tracker (with two as-yet-unreported exceptions).
- Jake Arrieta, Cubs: $13MM versus $7.5MM (Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, via Twitter)
- Aroldis Chapman, Yankees: $13.1MM versus $9MM (Jon Heyman, via Twitter)
- Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays: $11.8MM versus $11.35MM (Jon Heyman, via Twitter)
- Neil Walker, Mets: $11.8MM versus $9.4MM (Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, via Twitter)
- J.D. Martinez, Tigers: $8MM versus $6MM (Jon Heyman, via Twitter)
- Trevor Plouffe, Twins: $7.95MM versus $7MM (Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, via Twitter)
- Zach Britton, Orioles: $7.9MM versus $5.6MM (Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, via Twitter)
- Brandon Belt, Giants: $7.5MM versus $5.3MM (Jon Heyman, via Twitter)
- Lucas Duda, Mets: $7.4MM versus $5.9MM (Jon Heyman, via Twitter)
- Garrett Richards, Angels: $7.1MM versus $5.3MM (Jon Heyman, via Twitter)
- Mike Moustakas, Royals: $7MM versus $4.2MM (Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, via Twitter)
- Nate Eovaldi, Yankees: $6.3MM versus $4.9MM (Jon Heyman, via Twitter)
- Mitch Moreland, Rangers: $6MM versus $4.675MM (Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, via Twitter)
- Kevin Jepsen, Twins: $5.4MM versus $5.05MM (Jon Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jason Castro, Astros: $5.25MM versus $5MM (Jon Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jeurys Familia, Mets: $4.8MM versus $3.3MM (Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, via Twitter)
- Ivan Nova, Yankees: $4.6MM versus $3.8MM (Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, via Twitter)
Hall, 28, reached the majors last year with San Francisco, though he only worked 8 1/3 innings. He entered the year as a top-twenty organization prospect, per Baseball America, after averaging double-digit strikeout rates in his minor league career. Hall spent most of 2015 at Triple-A — his first attempt at that level — and posted a 3.46 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
Arizona could allow Hall an opportunity to compete for one of its final pen slots, though perhaps the likelier scenario is that he ends up back in the minors as a depth piece. Hall was only added to the 40-man last winter, so he has options remaining.
Hall of Famer Monte Irvin has passed away at 96 years of age, according to a remembrance posted on the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s website. MLBTR joins those around the league in celebrating Irvin’s long and prosperous life, and offering its condolences to his loved ones.
Irvin was an iconic ballplayer who excelled in both the Negro Legaues and the major leagues. The World War II veteran later worked as a scout, spent time in the commissioner’s office, and grew to become a beloved ambassador of the game for many decades after his playing career ended.
A standout performer with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League, Irvin drew consideration to become the player to break the color barrier and at one point seemed lined up to do just that. While that honor went to Jackie Robinson, it was Irvin (among others) who carried the legacy forward after Robinson’s untimely death.
Irvin ultimately joined the New York Giants as an outfielder before his age-30 season. He played for eight years in the majors, compiling a .293/.383/.475 batting line and swatting 99 home runs. As good as those statistics were, of course, they only hinted at what Irvin might have done had he spent his youth and prime at the big league level.
Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson offered some compelling words on Irvin:
“Monte Irvin’s affable demeanor, strong constitution and coolness under pressure helped guide baseball through desegregation and set a standard for American culture. His abilities on the field as the consummate teammate are undeniable, as evidenced by World Series titles he contributed to in both the Negro and Major leagues, and a richly-deserved plaque in Cooperstown. He was on the original committee that elected Negro Leagues stars to the Hall of Fame, something for which the Museum will always be grateful.”
If you’re interested in getting a sense of Irvin’s personality and reading up on some of his stories from the wondrous period in which he played, be sure to give a read to this piece from MLB.com’s Richard Justice. Be sure also to click on the video link at the Hall of Fame page linked above, which features a nice interview with Irvin. (It includes some interesting thoughts on the modern game that are, perhaps, even more interesting when you realize the interview was conducted nearly twenty years ago.)
Hall, who just turned 28 earlier this week, made his Major League debut in 2015, posting a 6.48 ERA over 8 1/3 relief innings for San Francisco. Hall was a 19th-round draft pick for the Giants in 2011, and he’s pitched exclusively as a reliever over the course of his pro career. In 254 1/3 minor league frames, Hall has a 2.62 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 3.26 K/BB rate. Baseball America ranked Hall as the Giants’ 19th-best prospect prior to the 2015 season, although this past year wasn’t his best. Hall worked to a 3.46 ERA with 7.3 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 in 67 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level. He also made his big league debut, tossing 8 1/3 innings for the Giants but yielding six runs on 10 hits and four walks for a 6.48 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in that brief sample.
Hall joins five other players in DFA limbo according to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.