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Here’s the latest from around the NL Central…
- With Jay Bruce possibly needing knee surgery and facing a 3-4 week absence, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (all Twitter links) looked at the Reds‘ options for replacing the slugger on the roster. They could recall Donald Lutz, who owns a 1.172 OPS in 82 Double-A plate appearances this season, but with Lutz currently suffering from the flu, Fay thinks the Reds could pursue a trade if Lutz doesn’t recover soon. Fay thinks Cincinnati will try to bring back Roger Bernadina, who is currently in DFA limbo after being designated for assignment on Saturday; if Bernadina isn’t claimed by another team, the Reds can outright him to the minors and immediately recall him.
- Rinku Singh‘s journey from teenage javelin thrower to Indian reality show winner to Pirates farmhand will be chronicled in the upcoming film Million Dollar Arm, and Singh tells FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (who has a cameo in the movie) that he hopes his story can help inspire children in his home country. Singh missed last season due to injury and is sitting out the 2014 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery but had he stayed healthy, Rosenthal notes, the southpaw would probably be in Double-A by now. Singh posted a 3.00 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 3.61 K/BB rate in 72 relief innings at high-A ball in 2012.
- The trade of Scott Rolen to the Blue Jays in January 2008 is the one move John Mozeliak really regrets, the Cardinals GM tells Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (subscription required). A rift between Rolen and then-manager Tony La Russa drove the deal rather than baseball-specific reasons, Mozeliak admits. Troy Glaus, who St. Louis received in the deal, had a strong 2008 season but quickly declined, while Rolen delivered 11.3 fWAR between 2008-10.
It was on this day in 1887 that Grover Cleveland Alexander was born in Elba, Nebraska. "Old Pete" spent the first eight years of his career with the Phillies and the last 12 with the Cubs and Cardinals, but Alexander was one of baseball's dominant arms no matter where he pitched, amassing 373 wins (the third-most in history) and a 2.56 ERA over his epic career. Alexander helped the Cards to their first World Series title in 1926 by recording two complete game victories during the Series and also earned a save for his 2 1/3 hitless innings to close out Game 7.
Here's the latest from the NL Central…
- The Cardinals didn't trade from their surplus of pitching depth over the offseason, a decision that looks wise to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince given the uncertainly over Jaime Garcia's shoulder problems. Several of the Cards' young arms are still new to the majors and the club doesn't want to make moves until they know what they have.
- Though Scott Rolen hasn't officially retired and is "simply inactive at the moment," he tells MLB.com's Paul Hagen that he is enjoying his time with his family. The long-time Reds and Cardinals third baseman recently made an appearance at the Phillies' Spring Training camp, and Cincinnati is interested in hiring Rolen as a guest instructor.
- Javier Baez could be the top prospect most likely to switch positions, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo opines. The Cubs shortstop is still a work in progress in the field but his bat could be Major League-ready as soon as this season. Since the Cubs already have Starlin Castro at short, Mayo suggests that Baez could play third and Kris Bryant (another top Chicago youngster) could shift to the outfield.
- ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers, meanwhile, thinks Baez could possibly end up at second base. Rogers discusses Baez, Jeff Samardzija trade rumors and several other Cubs topics as part of a reader chat.
- Speaking of Samardzija, we can't count him amongst our readership as the Cubs right-hander tells CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney that he's avoiding MLB Trade Rumors and Twitter in order to shut out the trade speculation and focus on the upcoming season. “You concentrate on doing your job," Samardzija said. "You can make as many excuses for yourself as you want. But when it’s all said and done, that doesn’t fly. Your numbers are your numbers. Your record is your record.”
The Mets still have a big hole at shortstop, and Stephen Drew is the perfect player to fill it, ESPN's Jim Bowden writes, suggesting the Mets should offer a deal in the two-year, $22MM range. Bowden argues Drew will help create a "winning environment" that will aid the Mets' core of young pitching. And with the qualifying offer dragging down Drew's market, the Mets are likely to get a deal that they might not get next offseason, when J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera will be available. Here are more notes from the National League.
- Cubs prospect Javier Baez denies rumors that he's looking for a new agent, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Baez became a client of KPS Sports in September. "I don't know how this got started. I'm not sure. But that's a lie," Baez says. "I'm still with my (agency). They're doing a great job."
- The Reds would like to have former star third baseman Scott Rolen back as a guest instructor, Cincinnati.com's John Fay writes. Manager Bryan Price notes that Rolen would likely return in a player-development capacity, and the main obstacle right now is Rolen's commitment to his family.
The Yankees are still looking for help at both corner infield spots and no shortage of veteran names have been mentioned in connection to the search. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman (via Twitter) wonders if New York would be interested in Pirates first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who "appears to be available." The Yankees have also been scouting Lyle Overbay, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports, and Overbay can opt out of his minor league deal with the Red Sox on Tuesday if he isn't on Boston's Major League roster. As of now, however, Cafardo believes Overbay would "probably" make the Red Sox.
Here's some more news from around baseball as we head into the weekend…
- One candidate the Yankees don't seem to be considering is Scott Rolen, according to Heyman, as the team "never really engaged" the veteran third baseman. Rolen is also "not on the radar" of the Dodgers, who are also looking for infield help in the wake of Hanley Ramirez's injury.
- The Twins "are not even thinking about" manager Ron Gardenhire's job security, a team source tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Minnesota has suffered consecutive last-place seasons but the club doesn't fault Gardenhire given how little he had to work with on the roster. Gardenhire is one of several managers and GMs entering the final years of their contracts in 2013.
- The Angels could re-sign Bill Hall to a new minor league contract, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports. Hall was released earlier today and, if the Angels re-sign him after Tuesday, they won't have to pay the veteran utilityman a $100K bonus as an Article XX(B) free agent.
- Also from DiGiovanna (on Twitter), the Angels watched right-hander Adam Reifer throw a bullpen session today and could sign the former Cardinals prospect to a minor league deal. Reifer, 26, posted a 3.88 ERA, an 8.3 K/9 and a 2.47 K/BB rate over 204 1/3 IP (all out of the bullpen) in the Cards' system since 2008.
- Cubs outfielder David DeJesus stands out as a trade candidate for the Royals as a platoon partner with Jeff Francoeur, Rany Jazayerli of Rany On The Royals opines. Kansas City is known to be looking for a left-handed hitting complement to the right-handed hitting Francoeur in right field.
- The Mets are "going to go with the guys we have" in the outfield, GM Sandy Alderson tells Newsday's Marc Carig. Jordany Valdespin, Lucas Duda, Marlon Byrd, Mike Baxter, Collin Cowgill and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are all fighting for playing time in the Mets' outfield this season.
It’s no secret that the Yankees are searching for corner infield depth following Mark Teixeira’s wrist injury. GM Brian Cashman updated reporters on the team’s search earlier today, detailing interest in some veteran players. All links courtesy of Jack Curry of the YES Network and Joel Sherman of the New York Post on Twitter, unless noted otherwise..
- Jones got a "good chuckle" upon learning of the Yankees' interest in him, agent B.B. Abbott told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- Cashman called Derrek Lee a Yankees type because of his approach and makeup, Curry reports. The Yankees recently reached out to Lee to see if he’d come out of retirement to play in New York. Asked about the chances of completing a deal, Cashman noted that Lee isn’t with the Yankees now. The GM is not currently optimistic about signing Lee, according to Sherman.
- Cashman said he’d sign Chipper Jones if the third baseman were willing to come out of retirement, Sherman reports. The GM said his interest in Jones was serious and that he intended to call his agent, Curry notes. However, B.B. Abbott told Sherman that he can’t see his client coming out of retirement. "I don't think [playing for the Yankees] is something he would consider, but he would be flattered,” Abbott said.
- Cashman also investigated the possibility of signing free agent third baseman Scott Rolen, Curry reports. The GM hinted that Rolen wants a guarantee of playing time and/or money, however.
- The Dodgers and Reds both offered Rolen $4MM only to have him turn the proposals down, according to Sherman, who has heard that Rolen would only play for a guaranteed salary.
The injuries keep coming for the Yankees, who will now consider pursuing corner infielders after losing Mark Teixeira for eight to ten weeks. There aren’t many attractive options available in trades or on the free agent market, however. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post explains the team’s predicament:
- The Yankees acknowledge that their roster doesn’t have the same kind of depth it did in past seasons, when players such as Eric Chavez and Bartolo Colon were available to step in after others sustained injuries.
- Anything is possible for the Yankees at this point, Davidoff writes. Free agent Carlos Lee would be one option, but he hasn’t been willing to sign for a low base salary, according to Davidoff.
- Scott Rolen is available in free agency, but he hit just .244/.301/.397 in 2011-12.
- While Tyler Colvin doesn’t have a starting role with the Rockies, the Yankees and Rockies “haven’t clicked” in recent trade talks.
- GM Brian Cashman explained that he’s not at all worried about Derek Jeter’s health. “He’ll be ready when it counts,” the GM said.
We can expect Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw to be among the game's best players in 2018, Dan Szymborski of ESPN Insider writes. Szymborski’s 30-player list includes many established MLB stars and some minor leaguers who have yet to make an impact at the highest level. Here are some more links for Thursday afternoon…
- Scouts say the Braves are looking for a left-handed hitting bench player, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). The left-handed hitting Jordan Schafer and the switch-hitting Ramiro Pena are internal candidates to make the Braves as bench players.
- Red Sox manager John Farrell said no third base additions are "being contemplated or imminent," Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports (on Twitter). Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported this morning that there’s a belief free agent third baseman Scott Rolen would be interested in talking to the Red Sox.
- Athletics first baseman Daric Barton didn't expect that Oakland would want him back this offseason, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Barton, who hit just .204/.338/.292 in 46 games last season, re-signed with the A's on a non-guaranteed $1.1MM deal.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
MLBTR’s Offseason in Review series began today with a look at the Rays’ busy winter. Here are some notes from the rest of the AL East…
- The Yankees are tired of the physical and verbal risks surrounding Joba Chamberlain in the view of Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The team expects to benefit from having Chamberlain in the bullpen this year, but won’t want to invest multiple years in him when he hits free agency next offseason.
- Teams were once willing to overlook Johnny Damon’s below-average defense to obtain his bat, but Damon hit poorly in 2012. As Sherman notes, teams like the Yankees want offense, yet are passing on the 39-year-old because of doubts regarding his ability.
- The Red Sox haven’t called on free agent third baseman Scott Rolen, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. However, there’s a belief that Rolen would be interested in talking to the Red Sox. It’s not something the Red Sox are expected to consider unless Will Middlebrooks’ wrist injury turns out to be more serious than initially anticipated.
The Reds enter the 2013 with high expectations after returning to the playoffs last season for only the second time since Barry Larkin's MVP season in 1995. While the Reds won't have the Astros to beat up on all season thanks to Houston's move to the American League, look for the squad to continue to rely on a talented pitching staff to hold off the Cardinals come September. Here's the latest news and stories making headlines out of the Queen City.
- Mat Latos and members of the Reds front office were seated in the room designated for arbitration hearings when the announcement came that the two parties had reached a deal on a new contract, says John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter). Right-hander Latos signed a two-year deal worth $11.5MM.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty released a statement on Tuesday that third baseman Scott Rolen will not be joining Cincinnati for Spring Training this season, according to the team (all Twitter links). Rolen said, "Right now I’m simply not ready to make a commitment. I would like to leave my options open, without closing any doors…"
Here's the latest from around the majors…
- The Indians are no longer pursuing Jim Thome, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link) reports, as the team doesn't want to devote a roster spot to a full-time DH. Thome is "healthy, working out [and] open to other clubs," Rosenthal notes. Thome said in December that he was open to continuing his career in 2013.
- Scott Boras plans to open a sports fitness center for his clients in south Florida next year, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports, in part to prevent players from getting associated with doctors and clinics associated with PEDs. Boras says his clinic will “bring about a certain level of assurance that the players we represent are certainly given the best information and best professional training…We feel we can best avoid all of the outside resources that are attacking these young men and providing them with false information and less than licensed professional medical assistance.”
- The Angels twice chose to focus on their hitters ahead of their pitching rotation this winter, decisions that MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez feels will define their season, for better or worse.
- Angel Villalona will join the Giants' Spring Training camp after obtaining a work visa to come to the United States, Baseball America's Ben Badler reports. Villalona couldn't get a visa last year and was on MLB's restricted list in 2010-11 due to complications from being charged with murder in his native Dominican Republic in 2009, charges that were eventually dropped.
- While Scott Rolen can't contribute on the field as he could in his prime, his veteran leadership can still be a big boost to a contender, MLB.com's Mike Bauman writes. Rolen has toyed with retirement this winter but may be negotiating a return to the Reds.