San Francisco Giants Rumors
The Indians have been busy recently, with the recent signings of Jason Kipnis, Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley to long-term deals. They still haven't signed Justin Masterson, but if they don't sign Masterson, "it won't be for a lack of effort," GM Chris Antonetti says in a video interview with Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor and Dan Labbe. The Kipnis, Gomes and Brantley deals will have no impact on their ability to sign Masterson, Antonetti says. Antonetti also notes that the Indians' approach this offseason compared to their previous one, in which they grabbed headlines with splashy signings of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, was based on need. "We felt we had more answers, internally, this offseason," he says. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Pedro Beato's health and experience in the big leagues were the keys to the Braves claiming him off waivers, and the decision was not much more complicated than that, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. "In talking to (general manager) Frank (Wren) and talking to (assistant GM) Bruce (Manno), I think anytime a pitcher becomes available through a waiver or options — I’m sure 29 teams are doing the same thing — if you get a chance to get them, get them," manager Fredi Gonzalez says.
- The Giants recently lost outfielder Roger Kieschnick off waivers to the Diamondbacks, and Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News notes that losses like these usually lead to questions about why Angel Villalona is still on the Giants' 40-man roster. Villalona hit sparingly at Double-A Richmond last year. The issue, though, is that he still has options remaining and is perceived as having upside, so if the Giants were to expose him to waivers, a team could claim him and stash him in the minors.
The Diamondbacks have claimed outfielder Roger Kieschnick off waivers from the Giants, Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area reports (via Twitter). The Diamondbacks have since officially announced the move via press release, adding that they've optioned Kieschnick to Triple-A Reno and placed Patrick Corbin on the 60-day disabled list to create a spot on the 40-man roster.
Kieschnick, who was designated for assignment at the end of Spring Training, going just 5-for-29 without an extra base hit in 34 plate appearances. He did draw five walks, but he also whiffed 13 times. Kieschnick, 27, hit .202/.295/.226 in 95 plate appearances after making his Major League debut last season.
Baseball America ranked Kieschnick 29th among Giants prospects this offseason, praising his strong arm in right field. However, BA notes that he's never produced the power the Giants and others expected him to after being selected in the third-round of the 2008 draft. He's ranked among San Francisco's Top 30 prospects in each of the past six seasons, per BA, twice cracking the Top 10. A career .275/.331/.485 hitter (with even better numbers at Triple-A), BA notes that Kieschnick has been slowed by a recurring back injury and a stress fracture in his shoulder suffered after crashing into an outfield wall.
The Pirates hold the top spot in Baseball America's ranking of every organization's minor league system (BA subscription required). This list has some updates from the original ranking in the 2014 BA Prospect Handbook, as while the top dozen teams remain the same, some clubs have moved up and down the list due to subsequent offseason moves. The Yankees, for instance, rise to the #13 spot due to their signing of Masahiro Tanaka, as he is technically a "prospect" as an MLB rookie.
Here are some items from around the baseball world...
- Tyler Colvin has accepted his assignment to the Giants' Triple-A affiliate and will report tomorrow, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports (via Twitter). Colvin signed a minor league deal with San Francisco in February that contained an opt-out clause if he wasn't added to the team's Opening Day roster.
- While fans may worry that their teams will be hamstrung in the future by massive contracts, Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci notes that the financial costs aren't as great as they seem given how much revenue Major League Baseball is generating and passing down to all 30 teams. These big deals also tend to create extra revenue for teams -- Verducci cites how the Mariners' huge deal with Robinson Cano helped "a brand that needed polishing," and Cano's presence will help ticket sales and TV ratings.
- High schooler Joe Dunand's streak of eight home runs in as many at-bats has raised the youngster's profile, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman writes. Dunand, 18, was considered by some scouting directors to be "a fringe pro prospect," but his homer streak attracted scouts from the Mariners, Angels, Royals, Orioles, Mets, Braves and Giants (among other teams) to his game on Wednesday. Dunand has committed to North Carolina State but could turn pro depending on his draft prospects. There's also the matter of Dunand's impressive bloodlines; his uncle is Alex Rodriguez.
- The Nationals announced that right-hander Erik Davis underwent Tommy John surgery today and will miss the entire 2014 season. Davis made his Major League debut last season and posted a 3.12 ERA and a 12.00 K/BB rate in 8 2/3 IP for Washington.
Pablo Sandoval has given the go-ahead to his agent, Gustavo Vasquez, to continue negotiations with the Giants about a possible contract extension should the club be willing to resume talking, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports. San Francisco GM Brian Sabean traditionally eschews in-season negotiations, Baggarly notes, "so this could be a scenario where both sides say the ball is in the other’s court."
There was a considerable gap in offers when the two sides last met, with Sandoval demanding at least a five-year, $90MM deal and the Giants counting with a three-year, $40MM offer. That difference wasn't able to be bridged before Opening Day and Sandoval's team was reportedly deciding between continuing talks or waiting until after the season. It's possible the new deadline could be midseason, as Vasquez previously told CSNBayArea.com that Sandoval would test free agency if he didn't receive an acceptable offer from the Giants by the All-Star Break.
The Giants are known to want assurances about Sandoval's health and conditioning before extending the third baseman, and Sandoval has done his part in the early going by arriving at Spring Training in excellent shape. If the slugger is keeping up his fitness after a couple of months, it stands to reason that Sabean could have enough information to re-open talks. The Giants are no strangers to late extensions --- they extended Hunter Pence in the last days of the 2013 season and similarly locked up Tim Lincecum in October, a couple of weeks before the right-hander hit the open market --- though they might not get that chance this time if Vasquez's midseason deadline is a firm one.
MLB.com's Terence Moore profiled Stan Kasten, the legendary sports executive who has built his reputation by turning around struggling franchises. As Braves president from 1986 through 2003, Kasten hired Hall of Famer Bobby Cox and helped build the organization that won a record 14 consecutive division titles. He now helms the Dodgers. Here are more late-night NL links:
- Josh Beckett has won the Dodgers' fifth starter job, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports. He had been competing with lefty Paul Maholm. The announcement makes Maholm's one-year, $1.5MM deal with the Dodgers all the more puzzling. Though not one of this winter's top available starters, few would have projected that the lefty would end up with a deal that didn't even guarantee him a rotation job.
- Ben Haber of MLB.com examined how adjusting a pitcher's mechanics can turn around their career. Giants' reliever Javier Lopez struggled with an over-the-top delivery early on, but has carved out a long career in the bullpen after switching to a sidearm motion, Haber notes.
- Braves reliever Cory Gearrin may require Tommy John surgery, The Atlanta Journal Constitution's David O'Brien tweets. GM Frank Wren says there is "ligament involvement" in the injury to the right-hander's elbow, leading the club to place him on the disabled list. In what appear to be related moves, the Braves added pitchers Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas to their Opening Day roster earlier this evening.
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 Angels have purchased the contract of infielder Ian Stewart, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The former top prospect, now 28, was brought in on a minor league contract in January.
- Ryan Rowland-Smith will make the Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster, GM Kevin Towers disclosed (via Steve Gilbert of MLB.com). Rowland-Smith was in camp on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old hasn't pitched in the majors since 2010 but was excellent last year for Boston's Triple-A club.
- The Giants announced that right-hander J.C. Gutierrez and infielder Brandon Hicks have been chosen for the Opening Day roster. Hicks had been competing with rookie Ehire Adrianza for a backup infield job, but both have made the team.
- The Braves announced via press release that pitchers Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas have been added to the Opening Day roster.
- Reds manager Bryan Price announced that reliever Trevor Bell and outfielder Roger Bernadina have made the club's Opening Day roster, according to a tweet from the team's Triple-A affiliate. Bell hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011, but threw very well this spring in 8 2/3 innings.
- The Mets are set to add Omar Quintanilla to their Opening Day roster, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Quintanilla figures to serve as the back-up at short. He rejoined the club on a minor league deal after being non-tendered.
- Xavier Nady will break camp with the Padres, tweets AJ Cassavell of MLB.com, and thus will be added to the 40-man roster. The 35-year-old had a solid spring, and will fill in while Kyle Blanks and Cameron Maybin work back from injury.
- The Tigers have purchased the contract of Tyler Collins, the club announced. The 23-year-old, left-handed-hitting outfielder has not played above the Double-A level, but now grabs an Opening Day roster spot for a Detroit club that is without Andy Dirks to start the year. In 530 plate appearances at Double-A last year, Collins put up a .240/.323/.438 line with 21 home runs (and 122 strikeouts against 51 walks).
- The Rangers will add minor league free agent Daniel McCutchen to the roster, according to a tweet from his representatives at Sosnick Cobbe Sports. Texas will need to add the reliever to the 40-man roster in order to activate him.
- Yangervis Solarte will make the Yankees Opening Day roster, tweets Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. Fellow utility infielder Eduardo Nunez, meanwhile, will be optioned to Triple-A to start the year. Solarte earned the position after a torrid spring.
- The Phillies have announced their Opening Day roster, which includes three players -- Tony Gwynn Jr., Mario Hollands, and Jeff Manship -- who must be added to the 40-man. Meanwhile, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has been put on the 60-day DL to create roster space while infielder Reid Brignac and reliever Shawn Camp have been reassigned to Triple-A, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki (Twitter links).
- The Athletics have selected the contract of infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima and optioned him to Triple-A, according to the MLB transactions page. After failing to see MLB action in the first year of his two-year, $6.5MM deal with Oakland, Nakajima was outrighted and ultimately re-signed to a minor league deal.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
The 27-year-old didn't distinguish himself in 34 plate appearances this spring, hitting just .172/.294/.172, and hasn't managed to hit well in limited MLB action up to this point. He's been more of a force in the minors, however, with a .273/.339/.497 line in Triple-A last season.
FRIDAY: Abreu cleared waivers and has been re-signed to a minor league deal, reports Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter).
SUNDAY, 9:05pm: The release of Abreu brings the competition for the Giants' last backup infield spot down to rookie Ehire Adrianza and non-roster invitee Brandon Hicks, reports Chris Haft of MLB.com. The Giants risk losing Adrianza if he doesn't make the team, as he's out of minor league options.
12:42pm: The Giants have requested release waivers on infielder Tony Abreu, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. The Giants cleared a 40-man roster spot with the move and are only responsible for one-quarter of Abreu's $745K salary, which was agreed to in January to avoid arbitration.
The 29-year-old split the 2013 season between the Giants and Triple-A Fresno. Abreu saw most of his action at second base for San Francisco slashing .268/.301/.442 in 147 plate appearances covering 53 games. Before his June callup, Abreu posted a .338/.366/.523 line at Fresno in 71 plate appearances covering 22 games.
Abreu has a MLB career line of .256/.285/.376 across five seasons with the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Royals, and Giants.
Clayton Kershaw has been scratched from the Dodgers' North American opener against the Padres on Sunday, the club announced. The left-hander is suffering from inflammation of the teres major muscle in his upper back and the Dodgers are understandably being very cautious with their ace, though Kershaw still intends to start the Dodgers' home opener against the Giants on April 4. Kershaw also told reporters (including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick) that he didn't believe his injury was caused either by his 102-pitch outing in the Dodgers' opener against the Diamondbacks or the long flights back and forth from Australia.
Here's some more from around the NL West...
- Chone Figgins is thankful to be back on a Major League roster after his struggles of the last few seasons, which included missing the entire 2013 campaign, the utilityman tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Figgins signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in January and while he hasn't hit much in Spring Training, his on-base ability and positional versatility were enough for him to win a bench job.
- Tony Sipp won't opt out of his contract with the Padres, MLBDailyDish.com's Chris Cotillo reports (via Twitter). Sipp was told earlier in the week that he wouldn't make San Diego's Opening Day roster and he could've opted out of his minor league deal today, but will instead report to Triple-A. The southpaw faces another opt-out date on June 1.
- At least two years and $50MM separate Pablo Sandoval and the Giants in extension talks, and the large gap is indicative of how wary the Giants are about committing a long-term deal to Sandoval, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Notable players like Curt Schilling, Carlos Lee and Delmon Young have signed contracts with weight clauses in the past, but the MLBPA "frowns on them, especially for marquee free agents." Shea lists the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox as teams who could be looking for a third base upgrade next winter when Sandoval is a free agent, and Shea thinks Sandoval could find his price on the open market.
3:45pm: Vasquez tells CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly the Giants made a three-year offer in the $40MM range on Friday, which was rejected out of hand. Vasquez will remain in Arizona through the Giants' season-opening series against the Diamondbacks and is open to continuing negotiations, but he doubted anything will happen before Opening Day. "I don’t think in 24 hours they’ll jump from three years to five or six," Vasquez said. "But I know for sure that after the All-Star break, if nothing happens, then it’s on to free agency."
2:36pm: Pablo Sandoval's agent, Gustavo Vasquez, told the Giants on Saturday his client wants at least five years and no less than the $90MM the club gave Hunter Pence in his extension last September, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francico Chronicle. As a result, the Giants do not expect to come to terms on an extension before Opening Day. Schulman writes Sandoval's camp is still formulating a strategy as how to approach talks from here: negotiate in-season or opt for free agency, if they can’t strike a deal before Opening Day.
"I don’t know anything about it," Sandoval said about the extension discussions. "I’m focused on baseball. I leave all that to my agent."
President and CEO Larry Baer has indicated in the past there's the entire season to work out a deal with Sandoval. GM Brian Sabean had said he would be open to a contract extension based on what the 27-year-old looked like in Spring Training because of all the work he did over the winter to get into shape. Sandoval, who has battled weight and conditioning issues throughout his career, spent time on the disabled list last year for a foot strain, but still managed his highest games played total (141) since 2010. Kung Fu Panda hit .278/.341/.417 with 14 home runs in 584 plate appearances in 2013, but with the lowest isolated power mark of his career.