San Francisco Giants Rumors


Minor Moves: Kameron Loe, Jeff Francoeur

Here are today's minor moves from around the league.

  • Pitcher Kameron Loe has opted out of his minor-league deal with the Giants, and he's now a free agent, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. Loe pitched for the Mariners, Cubs and Braves in 2013, accumulating 20 innings with a 5.85 ERA, 5.4 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
  • The Indians have released outfielder Jeff Francoeur, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets. They had signed him to a minor-league deal in January. Francoeur, 30, collected 256 plate appearances with the Royals and Giants in 2013, hitting .204/.238/.298. Francoeur has also played with the Braves, Mets and Rangers in his nine-year big-league career.



Minor Moves: Hensley, Weathers, Scioscia, Gretzky

Here are today's minor moves from around the league.

  • MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets that the Nationals have released minor leaguers Clay Hensley, Kyle Attl, Taylor Wrenn, Drew Rossi, Casey Selsor, Greg Holt and Martires Arias. Of the group, only Hensley has big league experience. The 34-year-old explained to MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko last month that a weighted-ball program had allowed him to rediscover his velocity, prompting his comeback attempt. Hensley fired 4 1/3 scoreless innings in Nationals camp but walked four batters in that time. He has an even 4.00 ERA in 517 career innings with the Padres, Marlins and Giants. Hensley's last Major League action came in 2012.
  • The Giants have released right-hander Casey Weathers, per the club's official transactions page. The 27-year-old was drafted eighth overall by the Rockies in the 2007 draft, but underwent Tommy John surgery following the 2008 season and never regained his form. Weathers had a solid ERA and gaudy strikeout numbers in that 2008 season but struggled with his command and has seen his control issues worsen since surgery. His last minor league action came in the 2012 season with the Cubs when he walked an alarming 53 batters in 34 innings of work.
  • The Angels have traded 1B Matthew Scioscia (Mike's son) to the Cubs for OF Trevor Gretzky (Wayne's son), Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Scioscia, 25, hit .194/.248/.224 in three minor-league levels last year. The 21-year-old Gretzky, a seventh-round pick in 2011, hit .274/.300/.333 in the low minors in 2013.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.



Quick Hits: Pirates, Carp, Blue Jays, Chapman

Aroldis Chapman suffered fractures above his left eye and nose after being hit by a Salvador Perez line drive in a terrifying moment during tonight's Reds/Royals game.  Chapman was on the ground for over 10 minutes while medical personnel attended to him, and the closer was eventually taken off the field on a cart and taken to hospital.  Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters (including C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that Chapman "never lost consciousness. He was able to communicate, he was able to move his hands, his feet, his legs."  The Reds' official Twitter feed said that Chapman was staying overnight in hospital for further observation.  All of us at MLB Trade Rumors send our best wishes to Chapman in his recovery from that horrific incident.

Here are some items from around baseball...

  • The Pirates are open to dealing right-handed relievers Jeanmar Gomez and Bryan Morris, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports, though they'd prefer to keep Gomez since he can also start.  Both pitchers are out of options, and with the Pirates facing a crowded bullpen situation, it's no surprise that they're listening to offers for Morris, Gomez and (as reported yesterday) Vin Mazzaro.
  • With the Pirates shopping relievers and looking for catching, Davidoff notes that the Yankees match up as trading partners due to their catcher surplus.  A rival talent evaluator feels that the bullpen may be the Yankees' "biggest concern" due to a lack of proven arms, though several of those young pitchers have performed well in Spring Training.
  • Blue Jays president Paul Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos denied that the Jays' lack of offseason spending had anything to do with a new CEO at Rogers Communications, the team's parent company, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi reports.  "There’s been no suggestion of any type of cutback, there’s no suggestion of anything other than support and of everything being positive," Beeston said.
  • The Red Sox aren't particularly interested in trading Mike Carp, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (ESPN Insider subscription required).  The Sox aren't sure if they "could get something particularly appealing" in a deal involving Carp.  The Pirates, Brewers and Tigers have all been linked to Carp in rumors this offseason, and with Grady Sizemore's strong Spring Training, Carp could be an expendable piece on the Boston roster.
  • Between Jarrod Parker's Tommy John surgery and injuries to A.J. Griffin and Scott Kazmir, MLB.com's Jane Lee feels the Athletics could be forced to look for external pitching help in the case of any more injuries or if any of their current starters struggle.  Lee also addresses several other A's topics as part of her reader mailbag piece, including Hiroyuki Nakajima's status in the club's minor league camp.
  • With the Barry Bonds and Melky Cabrera controversies still lingering in the franchise's recent past, Giants president and CEO Larry Baer told Henry Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle that his club is more inclined to avoid players with drug suspensions.  "We don't have a blanket policy saying we'll never touch a player that has a PED history. But I'd say that for us, it's a larger mountain to climb than others," Baer said.  The Giants will look at such players "on a case-by-case basis" (like recent signing Mike Morse, suspended for 10 games in 2005) but players like Nelson Cruz who were coming off PED suspensions and required draft pick compensation to sign seem out of the question.  "Qualifying offer and a PED association - that's a bad combination. Brian [Sabean] and I both feel very strongly about that," Baer said.



Minor Moves: Seth McClung, Mark Teahen

Here are today's minor transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the page...

  • The Pirates released right-hander Seth McClung, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports.  McClung pitched in Mexico in 2013 and has also spent time in the Cubs, Rangers and Brewers farm systems since last pitching in the Major Leagues in 2009.  The 33-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Bucs in November and now hopes to catch on with another club, though McClung tells Smith that he accepts that his career could be over.
  • The Giants have released veteran corner infielder/outfielder Mark Teahen, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets.  Teahen signed a minor league deal with the Giants last month.  The 32-year-old last played in the majors with the Blue Jays in 2011, and has since played at the Triple-A level for the Nationals, Diamondbacks and Rangers, as well as with the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League.  Teahen posted a career .264/.327/.409 career slash line in 3171 PA with the Royals, White Sox and Blue Jays from 2005-11.
  • According to MLBTR's DFA Tracker, Dodgers right-hander Javy Guerra is the only player currently in DFA limbo.  As reported earlier today, several teams are interested in trading for Guerra.



Quick Hits: SABR, Sandoval, Bedard, Twins, Owings

If you missed the recent SABR Analytics Conference, you are in luck, as Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus provides an excellent breakdown of the main topics of conversation. Among other things, the conference touched upon injury analytics, team chemistry, tracking technology, and front office personnel trends. Here are a few links from around the game to round out the evening:

  • The Giants have yet to begin discussing a contract extension with third baseman Pablo Sandoval, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). With less than two weeks remaining before Opening Day, the sides will have to move quickly if there is any interest in making a run at a new contract before the start of the season. Sandoval is set to become one of the best available free agents following the 2014 season.
  • Rays pitcher Erik Bedard says he will exercise his March 23rd opt-out clause if he does not make the Opening Day roster, tweets Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. Though Bedard has been knocked around somewhat in his 11 1/3 spring innings, he says he would look to find a rotation opening elsewhere.
  • Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said today that the front office has been fielding calls about possible trades as rosters begin to take shape, tweets Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Antony indicated that out-of-options players are the key topic. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently reported, the Twins have eight out-of-options players of their own, several of whom are still battling for roles. Presumably, the team could also be a landing spot for the out-of-options players from other clubs.
  • Free agent Micah Owings is looking for a job as a pitcher, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDIsh.com. After transitioning to the field just last year, the 31-year-old will hold a showcase later this week as he returns to the bump. 



NL West Links: Rockies, League, Lincecum, Giants

Earlier tonight, Jeff Todd recapped and analyzed the Padres' winter moves in the latest entry of the MLBTR Offseason In Review series.  Jeff has also covered the Giants and Diamondbacks thus far in the OIR series.  Here's some more from around the NL West...

  • "There has been buzz" that the Phillies and Tigers are interested in the Rockies' extra outfielders, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes.  Even if Colorado uses a center field platoon of one of Corey Dickerson or Charlie Blackmon (both left-handed hitters) and one of Drew Stubbs or Brandon Barnes (both righty batters), that still leaves a surplus.  Detroit could use a left-handed hitting outfielder to replace the injured Andy Dirks, though the Tigers aren't yet sure if they'll look outside the organization to make such a move.
  • Could the Dodgers cut Brandon LeagueSteve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times doesn't quite think the club is ready to take that step given the $17MM remaining on League's contract through 2015.  That deal looks worse and worse for L.A. given how League struggled in 2013 and during this year's Spring Training, while the Dodgers have a number of impressive young bullpen arms who might be relegated to Triple-A.
  • Tim Lincecum dicusses his pitching evolution with Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, noting that though he has lost a few miles off his fastball, he is working to become a better overall pitcher as he ages.
  • Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com discusses the Giants' roster and other topics during a Giants-centric chat with readers.



Offseason In Review: San Francisco Giants

After an unsuccessful attempt at defending the 2012 World Series crown, the Giants doubled down on their veteran core while adding two significant free agents to the mix.
 
Major League Signings
Notable Minor League Signings
Trades and Claims
Extensions
  • Hunter Pence, OF: Five years, $90MM. (Agreed to deal on Sept. 28, 2013.)
  • Tim Lincecum, RHP: Two years, $35MM. (Agreed to deal on Oct. 22, 2013.)
  • Joaquin Arias, INF: Two years, $2.6MM.
Notable Losses
Needs Addressed
 
As the end of the 2013 regular season approached with nothing left to play for, the Giants looked ahead at a 2014 with uncertainty in the corner outfield and the back half of the rotation. In particular, San Francisco faced the pending free agencies of right fielder Pence and one-time ace Lincecum. Having previously pursued a strategy of retaining its own players, would San Francisco commit the resources needed to keep these major names in town?
 
Lincecum
The answer, of course, was a resounding yes. First, GM Brian Sabean got a jump-start on the offseasion by inking Pence to a market-setting five-year deal at the tail end of the season. $90MM was a big commitment, but the cost for Pence looks reasonable when put in context of the free agent spending that came in its wake. (Shin-Soo Choo may not prove to be a better producer than Pence, but got seven years and $130MM; Curtis Granderson, who is two years older and has had injury and performance issues, landed at four and $60MM.) 
 
Then, the Giants moved quickly to lock up the enigmatic 29-year-old Lincecum, whose fortunes shifted downward in 2012 and 2013. Though a mid-summer no-hitter highlighted some sparks of his former dominance, Lincecum ended last year with a second-straight campaign that fell far shy of his early-career standards. Nevertheless, the Giants signed on for two more years at the eye-opening price of $35MM. 
 
Even with Lincecum in place, the club had two open rotation spots after declining options on Vogelsong and Zito. The first was filled with veteran hurler Tim Hudson, who received a $23MM guarantee (and full no-trade clause). This year will be Hudson's age-38 campaign, and he is coming off of a devastating ankle injury. Nevertheless, the 15-year MLB veteran has been a model of consistent excellence, having logged just two seasons in which he allowed more than four earned runs per nine innings.
 
The second hypothetical rotation spot was re-filled with its original possessor, Vogelsong. Discussions on a new deal began even as the team declined its 2014 option over the 36-year-old righty, who struggled with injury and performance issues last year after two effective campaigns in 2011-12. It wasn't just that his 2013 ERA ballooned to more than double its 2011 level. Vogelsong's strikeout and groundball rates declined, while his walk and home run-per-flyball rates increased, in 102 2/3 innings last year as against his two prior seasons. While San Francisco will surely hope for a bounceback, the club seemed to pay a bit of a premium over the much smaller guarantees given pitchers like Paul Maholm ($1.5MM) and Chris Capuano ($2.25MM).
 
Meanwhile, Sabean moved to address two other important elements of the roster's makeup. By re-signing 36-year-old southpaw Javier Lopez with a three-year guarantee, the Giants ensured that they would return every pitcher who made thirty or more relief appearances for them in 2013. 
 
Finally, Sabean decided to fill the club's left field opening with free agent Michael Morse. In spite of a rough and injury-riddled 2013, Morse has an accomplished big league bat. His outfield defense is quite another story, however; when added to poor baserunning, it is fair to ask whether he was the right fit for this club.
 
Questions Remaining
 
MLBTR's Zach Links wrote before the start of the offseason that the Giants could look to bring in some fresh blood in the bullpen and bench. While some changes are likely in the offing in both areas, San Francisco did not make any big moves on the fringes of the roster. A collection of prospects, waiver claims, and minor league free agents is competing with some of last year's arms to round out the bullpen, with several slots still apparently up for grabs.
 
The bench figures to add one recently effective big leaguer in outfielder Gregor Blanco, who was demoted to make way for Morse after holding down the left field job last year. Otherwise, however, it too will be composed of players who saw time off the bench last year unless a non-roster invitee can break camp. Second baseman Marco Scutaro is increasingly looking like a health concern as the spring drags on, though San Francisco has several depth options up the middle.
 
It could well turn out that only Hudson and Morse will be new faces on the Opening Day roster. Much the same roster will take the field in 2014 as was in place for the two prior campaigns. The question remains, then, whether that group will play more like the one that took home 94 wins and a World Series in 2012, or the one that stumbled to a 76-86 mark last year. 
 
Deal of Note
 
One of the more interesting contracts in recent memory is the Giants' extension of Lincecum just before he was set to hit the open market. One of the most recognizable players in the game, the two-time Cy Young winner's star faded quite significantly over the last two years. 
 
Back in September, I polled MLBTR readers on the relative merits of Lincecum and fellow one-time ace Ubaldo Jimenez. As I wrote at the time, there were many similarities between the career arcs of the two pitchers. (In brief: similar age and mileage; struggles with declining velocity; analogous peak/collapse/partial redemption paths.) While it is reasonable to argue a preference for the new Oriole, readers preferred Lincecum at nearly a 2:1 clip. 
 
Now that both have signed new deals, the comparison is quite different. Lincecum is only a two-year risk for San Francisco, but he will earn $17.5MM per year -- a higher AAV than all but a handful of 2013-14 free agents and the 17th-highest rate of all time for a pitcher. He also gets a full no-trade clause. Meanwhile, for an extra $15MM guarantee, Baltimore can slot Jimenez in its rotation for two additional seasons. And the actual spread is even smaller once the dollars are discounted to present value, especially since Jimenez will have $2.25MM a year deferred without interest.
 
Lincecum has looked strong in the earlygoing this spring, and still tantalizes with the ability to shut down opposing teams. But while his 2013 season stabilized his value and seemingly raised his expected floor moving forward, it did little to show that he will return to being a frontline starter over the course of a full season. The Giants, more than any other team, seem to act on the premise that they know their own players best, and they surely know Lincecum well after seven MLB seasons of highs and lows. Nevertheless, he will have to exceed his recent track record -- by a fairly significant margin -- to justify his ace-level annual salary.
 
Overview
 
I noted on Wednesday that the NL West-rival Diamondbacks have had two straight offseasons of major trades that reshaped their roster. Precisely the opposite has been true of the Giants, who have extended or re-signed virtually all of the significant players that might have left the club via free agency. It will be particularly interesting to track these two franchises' fortunes given their divergent approaches.
 
A rebound is expected for a San Francisco club that significantly underperformed expectations last year. But like Arizona, this team faces an uphill battle (on paper, anyway) to challenge the Dodgers for the division crown. For that to happen, Sabean needs to have been right with his pitching investments and the team needs to receive more production from players like Angel Pagan and Pablo Sandoval.
 
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



West Notes: Giants, Rangers, A's

 The latest out of baseball's Western divisions:

  • The Giants and Pablo Sandoval had yet to talk extensions as of Friday, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. When we last checked in, the club was considering the issue but felt it had the whole of the 2014 season to put together a deal, should it decide to go that route. Sandoval is scheduled to become a free agent after this year.
  • Mike Bauman interviewed Rangers GM Jon Daniels in an article for MLB.com. Daniels says that after having traded away a number of young players in recent years, the club decided this winter that it would place more emphasis on developing its own players into big leaguers. Texas lost its first-round draft choice after signing Shin-Soo Choo, but gained a compensatory pick after Nelson Cruz signed with the Orioles.
  • Sam Fuld has a real shot at making the Athletics' Opening Day roster, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports, having impressed early in camp while Craig Gentry has nursed a back strain. Importantly, Fuld's minor league deal includes two opt-out dates that will allow him to part ways with Oakland if he's not on the Major League roster. The first comes at the end of the month.



Out Of Options Players: NL West

The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options.  That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so.  I've included players on multiyear deals.  This list was compiled through MLBTR's sources.  Next, we'll take a look at the NL West.

Diamondbacks: Randall Delgado, Matt Tuiasosopo, Marcos Mateo (Rule 5)

With the Diamondbacks beginning their season on March 22nd in Australia against the Dodgers, both teams will deal with a unique set of roster rules, as outlined by MLB.com's Steve Gilbert last month.

Delgado seems slated for Arizona's bullpen, unless perhaps Bronson Arroyo's bulging disk lands him on the DL.  Regarding Tuiasosopo, D'Backs manager Kirk Gibson told Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic yesterday, "He definitely could be a guy that comes into play for us because of his versatility."  

The D'Backs took Mateo from the Cubs in December's Rule 5 draft, but with Brad Ziegler, J.J. Putz, David Hernandez, Addison Reed, Josh Collmenter, and Joe Thatcher seemingly locked in, there won't be room for Mateo if Delgado joins the pen.  A trade or injury could create a spot.  A trade with the Cubs to retain Mateo's rights wouldn't make much sense, as the D'Backs would still have to pass him through waivers to get him to Triple-A.

Dodgers: Scott Elbert, Javy Guerra, Drew Butera

Elbert is on the 60-day DL currently, so he won't be occupying a roster spot.  Guerra is "up against it" in trying to make a Dodgers bullpen stacked with veterans, as explained by MLB.com's Ken Gurnick last month.  Tim Federowicz is set to back up A.J. Ellis behind the plate, so the Dodgers will probably have to try to pass Butera through waivers.

Giants: David Huff, Joaquin Arias, Gregor Blanco, Yusmeiro Petit, Jean Machi, Ehire Adrianza, Tony Abreu

Yesterday, Matt Kawahara of The Sacramento Bee suggested there are two openings in the Giants' bullpen, assuming Petit makes the group as a long man.  Machi will probably take one, but it could be tough for Huff to make the team in a similar role to Petit.  Heath Hembree, Derek Law, and Jose De Paula are just a few of the other names in the mix.

There won't be room for both Adrianza and Abreu, as explained by Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles.  It seems likely one of them will be traded.

Padres: Cameron Maybin, Eric Stults, Dale Thayer, Yonder Alonso, Rene Rivera, Alex Torres

Unless the Padres decide to carry three catchers, Rivera's shot at making the team depends on Yasmani Grandal's recovery from July knee surgery.

Rockies: Jordan Pacheco, Tyler Chatwood

Pacheco is slated to serve as the backup catcher behind Wilin Rosario, though he had an issue with his shoulder earlier this week.  Michael McKenry is in camp to provide some competition for Pacheco.



Second Base Rumors: Guerrero, Espinosa, Royals

A number of notable clubs entered Spring Training looking for clear answers at second base, and other teams could face looming questions at the position.  Here's a roundup of items about the keystone...

  • Multiple talent evaluators tell ESPN's Jim Bowden that Alexander Guerrero needs a lot of time at Triple-A in order to both learn second base and simply to regain his form after not playing last season.  In the Insider-only piece, Bowden looks at internal and external second base answers the Dodgers could explore to solidify themselves at the position.
  • Early word on Guerrero hasn't been too positive, as one evaluator tells ESPN's Buster Olney (another Insider-only piece) that the Dodgers "could get him through outright waivers right now if they need a roster spot."  Olney speculates that the Nationals could generate some interest in Danny Espinosa given the number of teams (including the Dodgers and Yankees) looking for second base help, though Washington wouldn't want to accept a sell-low offer for Espinosa given his poor 2013 season.
  • The Royals are lacking in middle infield depth behind Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar, as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star notes may not have the 25-man roster space for a backup infielder.  Since Ned Yost plans to carry 12 pitchers, that leaves only four bench spots for Justin Maxwell, Jarrod Dyson, Danny Valencia and the backup catcher.  Christian Colon, Pedro Ciriaco and Johnny Giavotella are currently fighting for a roster spot in camp and the team will have Valencia and Mike Moustakas work out at second in case they need to be emergency options.  “It’s not ideal not to have a backup middle infielder on the team,” GM Dayton Moore said. “However, I do anticipate Infante and Escobar in the lineup most days.”
  • Marco Scutaro is only beginning to take grounders and has yet to swing a bat, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports.  The veteran infielder is purposely taking a slow start to Spring Training in order to keep himself healthy and free of hip problems, and Giants GM Brian Sabean admits that the team probably should've shut Scutaro down last year when he was battling multiple nagging injuries.  Despite Scutaro's issues, Sabean is confident he'll be ready for Opening Day though he only said "we'll see" when asked if he was comfortable with the team's second base depth.









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