San Francisco Giants Rumors


Minor Moves: Giants Release Dontrelle Willis

Here are the day's minor moves:

  • The Giants have released veteran pitcher Dontrelle Willis, according to the International League transactions page. Willis, 32, has not seen MLB time since 2011, but had several outstanding seasons early in his career with the Marlins. He had thrown just 2/3 of an inning in two appearances for the Giants' Triple-A affiliate, though he uncorked three wild pitches in that span. More importantly, Willis reportedly suffered what appeared to be a serious arm injury during his outing Sunday.
  • As reflected on the MLBTR DFA Tracker, two fairly interesting players -- Lucas Harrell (Astros) and Sam Fuld (Athletics) -- remain in DFA limbo. 



NL West Notes: Francoeur, D'Backs, Sandoval, Hedges

Rookies are usually the easiest targets for clubhouse pranks, yet veteran Jeff Francoeur was the victim of a month-long running gag from his teammates on the Padres' Triple-A affiliate.  Padres farmhand Cody Decker created a short YouTube video chronicling the prank, and it's definitely good for a few chuckles.  Here's some news from around the majors...

  • The Diamondbacks' slow start has made them "candidates for early change" in the view of executives from around the league, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets.  Manager Kirk Gibson and GM Kevin Towers both signed extensions in February that kept both men from being lame ducks in 2014, though there was speculation that this was a make-or-break year for the two men following consecutive .500 seasons for the Snakes.
  • Pablo Sandoval is off to a slow start in his contract year, and given how much speculation has already swirled about Sandoval's contract talks with the Giants, manager Bruce Bochy hopes that his third baseman is keeping his focus.  "He's the only one who can answer that I guess, if it's on his mind," Bochy tells MLB.com's Alex Espinoza.  "The one thing you don't want Pablo to do is to get away from playing the game the way he normally plays it -- with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. Thinking about the contract, it can be a distraction. He assured me it's not."
  • Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges continued to impress scouts during Spring Training, Tom Krasovic writes for Baseball America.  While the catcher still has a bit of work to do with the bat, a scout tells Krasovic that “Hedges probably could have caught in the big leagues two years ago. He is so advanced from a receiving and throwing standpoint. He was a treat to watch. Barring injury, he is going to be a big leaguer for a long time."  Hedges is one of the game's consensus top prospects (ranked 24th by MLB.com, 27th by Baseball America and 33rd by ESPN's Keith Law in their preseason lists) and he'll start the season at Double-A.



Minor Moves: Clement, Hensley, Threets

We'll round up tonight's minor moves here:

  • Jeff Clement has retired, The Des Moines Register reports. Originally drafted third overall in 2005 by the Mariners, Clement never caught on in the majors, and ends his career with a .218/.277/.371 Major League line. His last big league appearance came in 2012 with the Pirates. Now a father of four, the 30-year-old tells The Register that he plans to return to school.
  • The Orioles have signed Steven Hensley, who was released by the Rockies in March, Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports. The 27-year-old has never appeared in the majors. He worked almost entirely out of the bullpen for upper-level affiliates of the Rockies and Mariners last season, compiling a 4.24 ERA.
  • The Dodgers have signed lefty Erick Threets, who was pitching for the independent Long Island Ducks, according to Eddy. Last we heard, Threets was looking for a job in Asia.
  • The Marlins have inked infielder Rich Poythress, who was released by the Mariners in March, per Eddy. Poythress, who has yet to reach the majors, was sent to Double-A.
  • The A's have signed second baseman Colin Walsh, who was let go by the Cardinals last month, Eddy reports. The 24-year-old reached Double-A for the Cardinals last season.
  • Dontrelle Willis was added to the active roster of the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants' Triple-A club, according to a tweet from the team. D-Train struggled in 21 innings with the Angels' Triple-A affiliate in 2013, posting a 6.43 ERA. 
  • The Nationals have selected the contract of starter Blake Treinen, the International League transactions page shows. Treinen was pitching at Triple-A, and has never appeared in the majors. The right-hander came over in last winter's three-team trade with the Mariners and A's. He's been used almost exclusively as a starter in recent years in the minors, where he owns a 3.73 ERA. Baseball America ranked him as the Nats' 23rd-best prospect this year, but wrote that most evaluators expect him to end up in middle relief.
  • The Nats have inked right-hander Paolo Espino, formerly of the Cubs organization, according to Eddy. The right-hander, who works as a swingman, has yet to reach the majors but has significant Triple-A experience.



Quick Hits: Pineda, A's, Sandoval

MLB officials plan to discuss the Michael Pineda pine tar incident with the Yankees, though a suspension isn't expected, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com reports. Pineda had what Kuty describes as a brown, oily substance on his hand during Thursday's start against the Red Sox, but league spokesman spokesman Pat Courtney notes that the right-hander was never seen applying a foreign substance, and the Red Sox never raised the issue. A couple more Major League notes on a slow night at MLBTR:

  • The rotating cast for the closer's job in Oakland has continued despite the club's acquisition of Jim Johnson this offseason, writes MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby. The A's have had eight different pitchers lead the team in saves over the past 13 seasons. Manager Bob Melvin says he "can definitely see" Johnson regaining the role, however.
  • Giants manager Bruce Bochy says Pablo Sandoval has assured him that his contract situation hasn't been a distraction in the season's early going, according to a report from Alex Espinoza of MLB.com. Sandoval is hitting just .143/.265/.238 thus far. He's scheduled to become a free agent after the season, but extension talks with the Giants have reportedly been shut down.



Rosenthal's Latest: Sandoval, Pirates, Cubs, Abreu

Here are a few tidbits from Ken Rosenthal's latest video from FOX Sports:

  • There aren't many good third base options available this offseason (Chase Headley is available, and Aramis Ramirez has a mutual option), so retaining Pablo Sandoval makes sense for the Giants.
  • Rosenthal wonders if the Pirates could sign either Stephen Drew or Kendrys Morales after the draft in June, at which point they wouldn't have to worry about the draft-pick forfeiture attached to each of them. After a quiet offseason, the Pirates should have the financial wherewithal to pursue a bigger-name player. In a tiny sample size, Jordy Mercer has not hit well so far this year as the Pirates' starting shortstop. The team is currently platooning Travis Ishikawa and Gaby Sanchez at first base.
  • Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are off to good starts with the Cubs, who could trade either player by the end of July. The Cubs dealt Matt Garza and Scott Feldman in-season last year, and Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm the previous season.
  • Tyler Thornburg is off to an excellent start out of the Brewers' bullpen, which makes clear why they were unwilling to trade him to the Mets this offseason.
  • In a separate video, Rosenthal says that five teams bid upwards of $60MM for Jose Abreu: the White Sox, Astros, Rockies, Brewers and Red Sox. The Red Sox still wanted to keep Mike Napoli, however, which would have meant that Abreu might have started the season in the minors if he had signed with them. Abreu is currently hitting .273/.365/.659 in his first couple weeks with the White Sox.



NL West Notes: Lyles, Rockies, D'Backs, Headley

Offseason acquisition Jordan Lyles has forced the Rockies' hand with two strong starts early this season, writes the Denver Post's Nick Groke. Lyles was supposed to be ticketed for Triple-A to open the year, but an injury to Tyler Chatwood pushed him into the rotation. Colorado must now decide whether to stick to the plan or keep Lyles in the rotation. Indeed, the former Astro has a 3.86 ERA through his first two outings and is sporting a strong 55.9 percent ground-ball rate -- a trait that I imagine is highly attractive to the Rockies, whose home field is known for home runs. Here's more on the Rockies' pitching staff and the NL West...

  • Groke's colleague, Patrick Saunders, writes that in the wake of last night's meltdown against the White Sox, the Rockies simply cannot afford to keep Wilton Lopez at the Major League level. Lopez, who struggled after coming over from the Astros before the 2013 season, was tagged for six runs on the strength of three homers while recording just two outs. Saunders writes that "it makes no sense to keep [Franklin Morales] in the rotation," suggesting that he should be jettisoned to the pen in favor of Lyles. Saunders also wonders how long the Rockies will wait to promote top prospect Eddie Butler, noting that the right-hander's hot start may tempt the Rox, but it likely won't happen until June.
  • Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said on the Doug and Wolf radio show in Arizona that while his team is not panicking over his its slow start yet, he is not afraid to make changes should the club fail to improve (Twitter link via MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez)
  • Brandon Hicks has gone from non-roster invitee to manager Bruce Bochy's preferred option at second base while Marco Scutaro is on the shelf, writes MLB.com's Chris Haft. Bochy says Joaquin Arias will still see some time at the position, but he's sticking with Hicks' bat, feeling him to be a comparable defender to Arias.
  • Chase Headley expressed to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince some skepticism about the "contract year" narrative in which players are able to elevate their game aprior to free agency. Headley adds that he considers every season a "contract year" in today's game, noting that unless a player has already signed an extension, he is "playing for [his] life every year." Castrovince examines the likelihood of a Headley trade this season with the Padres already reeling from another set of injuries to Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin and Josh Johnson.



Giants, Pablo Sandoval Table Extension Talks

The Giants and third baseman Pablo Sandoval have tabled extension talks after reaching an impasse, GM Brian Sabean told CSN Bay Area's Jim Kozimor on Yahoo Sportstalk Live, as Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area reports. Sandoval, 27, is represented by Gustavo Vasquez of SPS Sports Group.

We heard last night that the sides remained far apart in negotiations, though another recent report suggested that both sides were optimistic (albeit not close). Sandoval is said to be asking for a five-year deal along the lines of teammate Hunter Pence's $90MM contract. Looking ahead at the list of 2015 free agents, Sandoval is one of just a few players likely to hit the open market who may have a legitimate claim to that kind of contract. Though he has not matched his big 2011 campaign in the last two years, Sandoval has remained productive and is quite young for a player on the cusp of 6 years of MLB service.

Sabean indicated that he is "probably at the end of the rope" with regard to a new deal, with talks so "far apart ... it makes no sense" to continue at the present. "We've given our best shot with good faith intended to try to get him signed and they've drawn a line in the sand that we're not going to beat nor should we meet," said Sabean. "Things have been tabled and we'll see what happens up the line, but we're not going to have ongoing talks from this time forward."

Though Sabean did not rule out the possibility of reopening thematter in the future, he did not indicate optimism. "Anything's possible," he said, "I just don't know how probable it is because right now Pablo is pretty much going to have to play to get to the [salary] number that they think he's going to be able to command on the open market. We disagree that he's going to get that number, per se, from the Giants on the open market."

Sabean added that he believed the lingering matter had been impacting Sandoval's performance in the early going, and that the club preferred to keep the focus on the present:

"At this point the organization has put its best foot forward and (Sandoval’s agents) have decided it’s not to their liking, and we understand that and that’s the reason it needs to be tabled. He needs to concentrate on baseball right now. I think he might be pressing a little bit because it’s in his head one way or the other. But now it’s definitely been shut down at least for the time being. I think he needs to get on with baseball."



Quick Hits: Sandoval, Escobar, Injuries, Twins

For some late night reading, I recommend this piece from Eric Nusbaum for Sports Illustrated, which provides an interesting profile of Cuba's fledgling sabermetric community. Here are some notes from around the league to round out the day:

  • Pablo Sandoval and the Giants remain far apart in their discussions on a possible extension for the pending free agent, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The third baseman is asking for a five-year contract to forego the right to hit the open market, where he would be one of the most attractive players available.
  • The Rays' recent extension of shortstop Yunel Escobar looks to be a win for the team, writes Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs. Given Escobar's history of being traded and signed for values that seem to be beneath his skill set, Klaassen wonders whether Tampa's ability to incorporate players with a reputation for clubhouse problems was a factor in Escobar's decision to approach the team about a new deal.
  • Two injury situations arose in tonight's Rays-Royals game that will be worth keeping an eye on in the coming days. First, Tampa starter Matt Moore left the game after experiencing elbow soreness in his pitching elbow. While initial reports have been positive, he will take an MRI tomorrow, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune tweets. Later, Kansas City second baseman Omar Infante was struck on the chin by a pitch from Heath Bell. He is being examined to determine if he suffered a break, and the team also is concerned that he may have had a concussion, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). While it is still too early to speculate as to the impact of these up-in-the-air situations, any significant time missed by either player would obviously require some roster scrambling for their respective teams.
  • Twins president Dave St. Peter confirmed today that the club was aggressive on the free agent market beyond the signings that it completed, reports Derek Wetmore of 1500ESPN.com. St. Peter said that the club made "significant offer[s]" to Matt GarzaErvin SantanaA.J. Pierzynski, and Rajai Davis before those players signed elsewhere. "We offered more money to certain guys who chose to go elsewhere," said St. Peter. "It is what it is, but as the season progresses and we can do something that we think is a good baseball decision, the money will be there to allocate." Addressing the team's recent run of poor performance, St. Peter said it was not just about payroll. "At the end of the day, it's about making better baseball decisions," he said, "and obviously we haven't made enough good ones here over the last three or four years relative to certain trades and the way drafts have panned out."



Quick Hits: Darvish, Sandoval, Lewis, Wolf

On Sunday, Yu Darvish became the fastest starting pitcher ever to reach 500 strikeouts, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan notes. He struck out the first two batters he faced on Sunday, hitting 500 whiffs in just 401 2/3 innings. Kerry Wood previously had the record with 404 2/3, and behind him were Mark Prior with 421 2/3 and Stephen Strasburg in 426 1/3. Wood and Prior's struggles to stay healthy are an indication that 500 quick strikeouts provide no guarantee of future success, but Darvish's accomplishment is still an impressive one. Darvish finished fifth in the AL in strikeouts in his 2012 rookie season, and topped the league with 277 last year, the most of any pitcher in a single season since Randy Johnson had 290 in 2004. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Pablo Sandoval and the Giants continue to negotiate an extension, and they have recently exchanged figures, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets. The two sides are optimistic a deal can be struck, Olney notes, but they aren't yet close to one. Last week, it was reported that Sandoval had allowed his agent, Gustavo Vasquez, to continue negotiating a deal after the start of the season. At last check, the two sides were far apart, with Sandoval's camp wanting to use Hunter Pence's five-year, $90MM deal as the model for an extension for Sandoval, and the Giants offering three years and $40MM.
  • The Rangers will soon need to decide what to do with Colby Lewis, who can opt out of his contract on Thursday, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. Lewis pitched five innings for Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday. Joe Saunders, meanwhile, took a line drive to the foot while starting for the big-league team on Friday. The Rangers have Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez and Robbie Ross scheduled to pitch in their upcoming series against the Red Sox. It's not clear who will pitch on Friday against the Astros.
  • Three to five teams are interested in free agent starting pitcher Randy Wolf, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. The Mariners released Wolf before the season amidst a dispute regarding a 45-day advance-consent release the team wanted Wolf to sign before adding him to its roster. Wolf missed the 2013 season after having Tommy John surgery.



Quick Hits: Rangers, Braves, Pirates, Giants, Nats

Rangers amateur scout Jay Heafner is on hand for Nick Martinez's major league debut against the Rays tonight, and discussed scouting him as an amateur with MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Heafner liked "the way the ball came out of his hand, the way his delivery worked and his presence" when watching Martinez, then an infielder, work out of the bullpen. Texas ultimately selected him in the 18th round of the 2011 draft. Recognizing the right-hander's potential from limited looks as a reliever has to be considered a major win for the Rangers' scouting corps. Here's more from around the majors:

  • Braves righty Cory Gearrin will seek a second opinion before submitting to Tommy John surgery, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Both team doctors and Dr. James Andrews have recommended that Gearrin undergo the procedure.
  • David Golebiewski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review examined what allows Pirates reliever Mark Melancon to avoid home runs. Since joining the Pirates, the right-hander has increased his use of the cutter to 56.1 percent of all pitches thrown, which helped boost his ground ball rate to an amazing 60.3 percent in 2013.
  • In addition to slimming down this winter, the Giants' Pablo Sandoval got instruction from Miguel Cabrera on his right-handed swing, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports. "See if they can command the fastball in, because that tells you a lot," Sandoval said when asked what advice he received. "And early in the count, get a pitch to drive."
  • Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman discussed his throwing problems with Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post, commenting, "it’s hard to explain to people that have never played baseball." The early-season cold weather isn't helping matters, but Zimmerman hasn't felt right since 2012 shoulder surgery, which affected his mechanics. "I don’t like really saying things about [the issue] ... everyone who plays baseball has something like that," Zimmerman said.









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