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Seattle Mariners Rumors
Prior to being hired as the Diamondbacks‘ general manager, Dave Stewart reached out to Dusty Baker to let him know that he may have interest in Baker as a manager if he were to get the GM role, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, Baker never heard back from Stewart before the D-Backs hired Chip Hale. Baker said he has no hard feelings about not getting an interview. Stewart told Heyman that he does indeed have a good deal of respect for both Baker and former Rangers manager Ron Washington, both of whom he initially considered for the managerial vacancy. Baker tells Heyman that he hopes to manage again, and Heyman notes that he has applied to three positions, including the Mariners, Tigers and Nationals since being let go from the Reds. “I didn’t fire myself,” said Baker. “I didn’t retire.”
Here’s more from out west …
- The Dodgers have now acquired and designated no fewer than four relievers, and have made a host of other minor roster moves in the season’s early going. That has all taken place as part of the club’s plan entering the season, manager Don Mattingly explains (video via the Tout feed of J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Media Group).
- Padres righty Josh Johnson tossed a 40-pitch pen session today and is nearing a rehab stint, manager Bud Black tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock (Twitter link). The 31-year-old has not made a major league appearance since 2013, but represents some nice low-risk upside for an a San Diego club that is off to a nice start.
- The Mariners have struggled somewhat with keeping runs off the board, a subject that I discussed with Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune on today’s podcast. In addition to starting poorly, veteran Hisashi Iwakuma has hit the DL with shoulder fatigue (officially called a strained lat), as Dutton reports. He will undergo an MRI tonight, though the hope is that some rest will do the trick. Of course, Iwakuma is also a free agent after the season, and he’ll have some catching up to do to re-establish his value at age 34.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark is said to be “ready to reach out to [Kris] Bryant soon to determine his mindset” on whether or not a grievance should be filed against the Cubs for holding him in Triple-A to start the season, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in his latest Inside Baseball column. Heyman notes that the union could file a grievance on Bryant’s behalf even without his consent, though that’s unlikely. The issue at hand, of course, would be whether or not Bryant was clearly one of Chicago’s 25 best players and the demotion was made purely for service time implications. (Chicago bought an extra year of control over Bryant by stashing him in the Minors for all of eight games/11 days). Heyman points out that it would be difficult to an arbitrator to rule in Bryant’s favor, as there’s no precedent for this type of grievance. Players in similar situations have historically been hesitant to file a grievance, he adds, because it would be a contentious way to begin a relationship with a team to which a player will be tied for the next six-plus years. A “Cubs connected person” called the notion of a grievance “laughable” when asked by Heyman. However, the points that Bryant was recalled on the first day the team could add him while still delaying free agency and slotted directly into the cleanup spot could make a case that the club had an understanding of his value, Heyman writes. From the union’s perspective, it’s understandable that they’d have interest in preventing this type of situation in the future, even if it’s a long shot.
More highlights from a lengthy Heyman column…
- The Padres don’t yet view Melvin Upton Jr. as a throwaway piece and will use him as an occasional outfielder and pinch-runner, Heyman writes. He also looks back on Upton’s original five-year, $75.2MM pact and notes that it’s one of the worst contracts in recent history, particularly given the fact that the next-highest offer was believed to come from the Phillies at somewhere in the $40MMs.
- The league’s investigation into the Rays‘ allegations of the Cubs‘ tampering in the Joe Maddon saga could come to a close as soon as next week, per Heyman. MLB was still interviewing people as recently as last week, but to this point there “is believed to have been no smoking guns found.”
- The Reds never approached right-hander Mike Leake about a contract extension this offseason, and the free-agent-to-be is said to be a bit hurt not to have been contacted. Leake’s not a front-line starter, but he’ll hit the open market heading into his age-28 season and currently sports a 3.56 ERA in 427 1/3 innings dating back to Opening Day 2013. A third straight season of 190+ innings and an ERA in the mid-3.00s should position him for a nice contract, especially considering the fact that half of his starts have come in the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.
- Multiple teams have worked out Rafael Soriano, and while he’s on the Tigers‘ radar, there’s also been some contact with the Mariners. Heyman adds the Pirates, Indians and Dodgers as “logical suitors,” though I’d imagine the Pirates and Indians in particular would have some payroll constraints, depending on the asking price of agent Scott Boras.
- Heyman echoes ESPN’s Buster Olney in speculating that the Dodgers could make a run at extending Howie Kendrick, noting that the Dodgers love Kendrick both on the field and in the clubhouse. He also notes that the Dodgers are impressed with Alex Guerrero‘s bat and may coming around on him as a passable option at third base or in left field, though the team is already well-stocked at each position.
- The Pirates and Gregory Polanco may have come as close as about $1MM on agreeing to a seven-year contract, Heyman hears. The biggest holdup was over the three club options on the deal, which ranged from $11-13MM, and when the team would have been required to exercise them.
- Though recent reports have indicated that John Lackey hopes the Cardinals will approach him about an extension, Heyman writes that it’s not a likely scenario. St. Louis likes its pitching depth and the young starters in line beyond those in the 2015 rotation.
- The Orioles asked the Blue Jays for both of the team’s first round picks from the 2014 draft — right-hander Jeff Hoffman and catcher Max Pentecost — in exchange for the ability to hire EVP/general manager Dan Duquette as their new president, according to Heyman.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: B.J. Upton | Baltimore Orioles | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | Dan Duquette | Detroit Tigers | Gregory Polanco | Howie Kendrick | Jeff Hoffman | Joe Maddon | John Lackey | Kris Bryant | Los Angeles Dodgers | Max Pentecost | Mike Leake | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | Rafael Soriano | San Diego Padres | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Toronto Blue Jays
Jeff runs through the week’s quick hits before talking Mariners with Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune.
The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.
7:12pm: Quentin can opt out on May 12 if he has not been called up, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
6:43pm: The Mariners have agreed to a minor league deal with outfielder Carlos Quentin, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Quentin was released by the Braves recently, shortly after he was acquired as part of the Craig Kimbrel deal — with his large salary functioning to offset salary.
Seattle added Quentin in order to bolster its right-handed power, says Dutton. The veteran big leaguer will head to Triple-A, but may have a chance to move onto the big league roster in short order. He may see time at first base in a platoon alongside Logan Morrison.
The Mariners run no risk in taking on Quentin, whose substantial payroll hit will be charged to the Padres. And there is reason to think that he is worth a flier, given the long run of success that led San Diego to give him a three-year, $27MM deal in the first place.
Between the time that he established himself as a regular in 2008 and the end of 2013, Quentin slashed .260/.356/.503 (good for a 129 OPS+) and swatted 136 home runs. Of course, he only managed half seasons in the last two years of that stretch and was again bothered by injuries last year, when he saw just 155 plate appearances and put up a meager .177/.284/.315 line.
Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch was optioned to Triple-A on March 29, but after working with the MLBPA, he’s had his option reversed and been placed on the Major League disabled list, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Tepesch felt soreness in his shoulder the day after being optioned and has since been shut down due to inflammation in his ulnar collateral nerve. As Grant notes, Tepesch will benefit financially from the move, as he’ll now receive the pro-rated portion of his $517.5K salary while on the MLB DL. He could also end up qualifying for arbitration as a Super Two player, as he entered the year with 1.136 days of service time. A full year would boost his service time to 2.136, which is near the early projected cutoff of 2.140.
Here’s more from the AL West…
- Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has recently expressed an interest in being a two-sport star in the mold of Deion Sanders, and the Rangers hold his rights after taking him in the Minor League portion of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft. We’ve been tracking the latest on Wilson at Pro Football Rumors, with the latest reports from this evening indicating that such talk may be more of a bargaining ploy on Wilson’s behalf. (You can track previous updates on Wilson by clicking his tag at PFR or using this link.)
- The Rangers have been decimated by injuries over the past year, but as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes, the team conducted a thorough examination of its medical staff and training procedures this winter to see if there was anything that they could have done to prevent the outbreak. Dr. Keith Meister, the team’s head physician, said he feels that a lot of the natures were of the fluke variety. Ryan Rua and Shin-Soo Choo had ankle injuries suffered while in the field. Derek Holland‘s knee injury came when he tripped over his dog. Jurickson Profar is the only position player that Meister has ever seen to have his current injury — a tear in a subscapular muscle in his throwing shoulder. Prince Fielder‘s injury likely dated back to his days with the Tigers, and the Tommy John surgeries they’ve incurred have plagued teams league-wide.
- Early struggles in the Mariners rotation might have prompted the team to dip into its farm system in previous years, but Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that there’s no such luxury this year. The top two alternatives for Seattle, Roenis Elias and Jordan Pries, have both struggled in Triple-A. The lack of quality innings from the rotation has manager Lloyd McClendon concerned about his bullpen, Dutton notes. Mariners relievers have worked three or more innings in eight of the team’s past 10 games.
- Angels closer Huston Street tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that there have been no recent developments in talks of a contract extension. Street, who was representing himself in Spring Training, has enlisted his former agent, Alan Hendricks, to handle the negotiation process with GM Jerry Dipoto now that the season has begun.
Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco did not travel with the team and instead remained in Cincinnati to undergo an MRI on his hip, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Catcher Kyle Skipworth will fill in for the time being, as he’s had his contract selected from Triple-A, the Reds announced. (A corresponding 40-man move will happen prior to tonight’s game.) The Reds entered the season with quite a few injury question marks, but Mesoraco was not thought to be one. Clearly, losing Mesoraco for any significant amount of time would be crushing for a Cincinnati team that many have already picked to struggle in the NL Central, though it’s too early to tell exactly how great the level of concern surrounding Mesoraco should be.
A few more notes from baseball’s Central divisions…
- Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards breaks down Raisel Iglesias‘ debut against the Cardinals yesterday, noting that while the start didn’t alleviate concerns about Iglesias’ ability to work deep into games, he showed enough to suggest that he can get big league hitters out on a consistent basis, even if it ultimately has to come in a relief role. With Homer Bailey nearing a return from the DL, the Reds will have to make a decision between Iglesias and veteran righty Jason Marquis. For the time being, that’s been solved by optioning Iglesias to Louisville, but Edwards wonders if it’d be a better decision to eventually let Iglesias develop at the highest level — a move that would seemingly force Marquis into the bullpen or off the Cincinnati roster.
- Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spoke to Pirates GM Neal Huntington about the decision to pursue a long-term contract with Josh Harrison. “When you believe in the person and you believe in the abilities of that person, and it aligns with where you want to go, you’re able to find the common ground, it makes all the sense in the world,” Huntington told Brink. As Brink points out, not all deals of this nature work out — he uses Jose Tabata as a particularly regrettable deal for the Pirates — but the cost certainty they provide is valuable. Brink notes that the Bucs will be on the hook for $42.25MM in 2017 — the last guaranteed year of the Andrew McCutchen and Francisco Liriano contracts — for the combined salaries of Harrison, McCutchen, Liriano and Starling Marte.
- Torii Hunter told reporters prior to today’s home opener that the Royals, Mariners, Rangers and Orioles were all interested in him before he made the decision to sign with the Twins, tweets the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Mike Berardino. The Royals, in particular, seemed to tantalize Hunter, per Berardino: “Those guys going to the World Series, that was very appealing,” Hunter added.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
- Reds pitcher Raisel Iglesias will make his major league debut tomorrow, writes Jason Haddix for MLB.com. He’ll be opposed by Cardinals hurler Carlos Martinez. The Reds committed to a seven-year, $27MM contract with Iglesias during the 2014 season.
- The Orioles selected the contract of knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa, writes Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. Wesley Wright was added to the disabled list in a corresponding move. Gamboa, 30, had yet to reach the majors although he figures to bounce back and forth this year. He’ll serve as depth in case Kevin Gausman is needed in long relief in the next couple games.
- Pirates utility man Pedro Florimon has cleared waivers, tweets Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has been outrighted to Triple-A. Per Brink (also Twitter), since Florimon has been outrighted before, he can decline and become a free agent. Brink is told no decision has been made.
- The Rangers have announced that they’ve selected the contract of corner outfielder Carlos Peguero and recalled pitcher Jon Edwards. They’ve also moved Derek Holland (shoulder) to the 60-day disabled list and Ryan Rua (ankle) to the 15-day disabled list. Peguero is in the Rangers’ lineup tonight. The 28-year-old Peguero has played briefly, and not particularly impressively, for the Mariners and Royals in parts of four big-league seasons, but he’s demonstrated serious power in the minors (with 30 homers for Triple-A Omaha last year) and in Spring Training.
- The Giants have outrighted infielder Ehire Adrianza to Triple-A Sacramento, MLB.com’s Chris Haft tweets. The team designated Adrianza for assignment last week. Adrianza, 25, hit .237/.279/.299 in 106 plate appearances while playing mostly shortstop and second base for the Giants last season.
- The Yankees have announced that they’ve promoted lefty Matt Tracy. To clear space for Tracy on the 25- and 40-man rosters, the Yankees optioned lefty Chasen Shreve to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and moved Ivan Nova to the 60-day disabled list. Tracy will need to be added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster. Tracy’s stay on the roster could turn out to be short, however — the Yankees can use some quick bullpen reinforcements after their 19-inning game against the Red Sox last night, and Tracy would presumably join the team for that purpose. The 26-year-old posted a 3.76 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 150 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year.
- Two players remain in DFA limbo, via MLBTR’s DFA Tracker: lefty Sam Freeman (Rangers) and outfielder Carlos Quentin (Braves).
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Martinez | Carlos Peguero | Carlos Quentin | Cincinnati Reds | Derek Holland | Eddie Gamboa | Ivan Nova | Kansas City Royals | Kevin Gausman | New York Yankees | Pedro Florimon | Pittsburgh Pirates | Raisel Iglesias | Sam Freeman | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Texas Rangers | Transactions | Wesley Wright
After a franchise-altering 2013-14 offseason, the Mariners came up a game shy of the playoffs, prompting further win-now moves in an effort to vault to the top of the American League West.
Major League Signings
- Nelson Cruz, OF/DH: Four years, $57MM
- Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP: One year, $7MM (option exercised)
- Rickie Weeks, 2B/OF/1B: One year, $2MM
- Total spend: $66MM
Trades and Claims
- Acquired LHP J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays in exchange for OF Michael Saunders
- Acquired OF Seth Smith from the Padres in exchange for RHP Brandon Maurer
- Acquired OF Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs in exchange for RHP Matt Brazis
- Acquired LHP Mike Kickham from the Cubs in exchange for RHP Lars Huijer
- Acquired LHP Mike Montgomery from the Rays in exchange for RHP Erasmo Ramirez
- Claimed INF Carlos Rivero from Red Sox (non-tendered and re-signed to Minor League deal)
- Kyle Seager, 3B: Seven years, $100MM with a team option that will be valued between $15-20MM, depending on performance (option buyout ranges from $0-3MM based on performance as well)
Notable Minor League Signings
- Joe Beimel, Endy Chavez (released), Franklin Gutierrez (released and re-signed), Justin Germano, Mark Lowe, John Baker, Rafael Perez, Joe Saunders (released and re-signed), Kevin Correia (released), Carlos Rivero
The 2014 Mariners missed the postseason by just one game despite receiving scarcely more offensive output from the DH slot than if they’d let their pitchers go to the plate. Seattle designated hitters batted an unthinkably bad .190/.266/.301 last year, and a midseason reunion with Kendrys Morales did little to coax more out of that spot in the lineup. As such, GM Jack Zduriencik strove to make a significant upgrade, and they did so in adding Nelson Cruz on a four-year deal.
The Cruz contract was panned by many, and there’s no question that it could go south in the final years of the agreement. Adding a fourth year was a necessary evil, it seemed, however, as the Orioles were reportedly comfortable offering three years to return to a familiar environment which Cruz often told reporters he very much enjoyed. Many question how Cruz’s power will translate to Safeco Field, and while it’s a legitimate concern, it should be noted that Oriole Park at Camden Yards was significantly less conducive to right-handed home run power in 2014 than Safeco Field, per Baseball Prospectus park factors. That’s not to say that Cruz is a good bet to repeat his career-high 40 homers — he isn’t — but rather that perhaps the change in home park won’t be as detrimental as many would think. Cruz will surely miss the homer-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Rogers Centre in his road games, though Houston’s Minute Maid Park offers a particularly advantageous short porch in left field for his pull-oriented swing.
The outfield corners — left field in particular — offered below-average production as well. Whether they were inspired by their division rivals or not, the Mariners took a page out of Oakland’s playbook and set about constructing a pair of platoons that should boost the output in right and left field. Seth Smith’s lifetime .277/.358/.481 batting line against righties will be complemented nicely by Justin Ruggiano’s career .266/.329/.508 slash against southpaws. In left field, Dustin Ackley (.259/.310/.442 against right-handed pitching last year) will be joined by outfield newcomer Rickie Weeks (career .261/.345/.448 versus lefties) to form the other platoon. Weeks, who was originally drafted by Zduriencik when Zduriencik was Milwaukee’s scouting director, may also see occasional reps at first base and can fill in at second on the rare days when iron man Robinson Cano doesn’t take the field.
The Mariners will return a largely similar pitching staff, so the upgrades to an offense that ranked 19th in the Majors in runs scored and in weighted runs created (93 wRC+, or seven percent below the league average) should be a significant boost to their 2015 hopes.
Cuban lefty Roenis Elias was a pleasant surprise for the 2014 Mariners, turning in 163 2/3 innings of 3.85 ERA with FIP/xFIP marks that suggested the outcome was reasonably sustainable. However, he’s been optioned to the Minors in favor of J.A. Happ, who’s never topped 166 innings in a season and owns a 4.75 ERA (4.33 FIP) over the past four seasons with Houston and Toronto. (I’ll discuss the trade that brought Happ to Seattle below.) Pitching depth is a great thing for any team to have, and Elias will serve as a nice safety net, but the man that is effectively replacing him isn’t a clear upgrade to the rotation. Happ will undoubtedly benefit from the move from Rogers Centre to Safeco Field, but it’s fair to question just how much better — if at all — he makes the Mariners, when considering the fact that he’s replacing a serviceable arm and cost them a valuable outfielder in Michael Saunders.
The other two rotation slots will represent somewhat of a youth movement, as the Mariners’ two most ballyhooed pitching prospects of the past few years — James Paxton and Taijuan Walker — will open the year in the rotation. Both have had shoulder problems in the past, but both have drawn excellent reviews from scouts this spring and could give the Mariners a formidable mid-rotation combo if they can realize even 80 or 90 percent of their potential. Whether or not they’re able to do so, of course, is the real question, given the duo’s checkered medical history. In that sense, there’s logic behind adding depth, but Seattle probably could’ve found depth that was less expensive than Happ and simply left Elias in the rotation as well.
Nonetheless, a rotation that projects to receive regular innings from Happ, Paxton and Walker (health permitting) is considerably more preferable than one with significant innings from Erasmo Ramirez and Chris Young (though Young defied his peripherals to turn in excellent bottom line results last year).
Turning to the offense, few teams in the league can boast a second base/third base tandem better than Cano and Kyle Seager, who will anchor the heart of the lineup along with Cruz. The aforementioned platoons should be productive, but there are questions at some other spots. Austin Jackson‘s bat went up in smoke upon a trade to Seattle last July, as the former Tiger hit a woeful .229/.267/.260 in 236 plate appearances in his new surroundings. Perhaps more time to acclimate himself to his new environment will do him some good — he’s had an outstanding Spring Training, for what it’s worth — but Jackson was genuinely one of baseball’s worst hitters in the second half of the 2014 season. He’ll earn $7.7MM in his final year of team control, and the Mariners will very much be counting on a rebound.
At first base, Logan Morrison will receive another shot at the everyday job now that Justin Smoak is a Blue Jay. Morrison’s inaugural season in Seattle was marred by yet another knee injury, but he quietly posted excellent numbers (.284/.334/.447 in his final 79 games) upon being activated from the DL and getting back up to speed at the plate. A full season of such production would be more than acceptable for the Mariners, but a repeat of his 2012-13 numbers in Miami or his initial production with Seattle would leave the team looking for an upgrade this summer.
Brad Miller and Chris Taylor entered the spring in a competition for the everyday shortstop role, but that battle came to an abrupt end when Taylor fractured his wrist. Miller will again be given a crack at holding down the fort, and a strong second half and spring performance may be a portent for a breakout. He’s shown little consistency to this point in his career, but the M’s clearly feel very strongly about Miller. The Nationals reportedly offered Seattle a package of Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond in exchange for Miller and Walker, but Seattle refrained from selling a pair of potentially long-term cogs, even if it would’ve meant acquiring a pair of impact players in a season where they aim to win the AL West.
Mike Zunino will again handle the lion’s share of time behind the plate. He has plus pop for a catcher and is one of the game’s best at framing pitches, but his strikeout and walk rates went in the wrong direction last year, leaving him with a .199 average and .254 OBP. His glove and power still created value, but Seattle is undoubtedly banking on more offense from the former No. 3 overall pick. Behind him, Jesus Sucre is a fairly uninspiring option to serve as the backup, and it’s not hard to envision the Mariners looking for a better backup option as the season wears on.
The bullpen was excellent in 2014 and while much of the same cast will return, especially now that Joe Beimel has been brought back on a minor league contract. Beimel could be back in the majors quickly if young lefty Tyler Olson can’t build on his dominant spring performance. Rule 5 southpaw David Rollins looked poised to break camp with the club based on his own spring success, but he was popped with an 80-game suspension for failing a PED test. Rollins owned his mistake and apologized to the organization, who will keep him around, so he could yet surface in Seattle at midseason. Maurer’s brilliant relief work will be missed, though the offensive contributions of Smith may very well outweigh that loss.
Deal of Note
Saunders’ relationship with the Mariners came to a rocky and unfortunate end, and none of the parties involved came away from the situation looking particularly great. Both Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon made comments about Saunders’ injury history that seemed to call into question his preparedness for each season. Saunders seemingly took offense to the insinuations, as his then-agent Michael McCann expressed disappointment and frustration with the organization, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times chronicled last October. Zduriencik was quick to try to explain that the comments were meant as a wake-up call to all of the team’s young players, but the damage had seemingly been done, as rumors of the Mariners shopping Saunders surfaced as early as November’s GM Meetings.
Saunders was eventually traded to Toronto — an outcome the Canadian-born outfielder likely found satisfying — in exchange for Happ, and he ultimately wound up switching agents.
Though Saunders did struggle to stay healthy in Seattle, he was, perhaps in an under-the-radar fashion, a quite productive player when on the field. Saunders batted .248/.320/.423 with 162-game averages of 19 homers and 18 steals from 2012-14, and though he’s miscast as a center fielder, he’s a very defensively sound corner outfielder. While he’ll miss the first week or so of the season following knee surgery (he had a bit of a freak accident in spring, tearing his meniscus after stepping on a sprinkler head), Saunders could very well outpeform the left field platoon in Seattle, and he could be more valuable than Happ as well. Add in the fact that he’s controlled for two years to Happ’s one (at a cheaper salary), and the M’s could end up regretting how their relationship with Saunders ended.
The Saunders situation aside, it would be difficult to say that the Mariners haven’t improved the overall quality of their roster from 2014 to 2015. Their reliance on platoons in the corner outfield slots should yield better production and creates some depth in the event of an injury. Cruz may not match his 2014 output, but he’s an unequivocal upgrade over the abysmal production that the Mariners received from last year’s group of designated hitters.
The AL West should be a close race, with the Mariners, Angels and Athletics likely a bit in front of an improving-but-still-young Astros roster and an injury-plagued Rangers unit. If Paxton and Walker reach their upside, the two could combine with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma to form one of baseball’s best rotations. Certainly, there are questions surrounding the Mariners, but it will be a surprise if they’re not in the thick of the playoff picture come September.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Astros outfielder Alex Presley has cleared waivers and is now deciding whether to accept his outright assignment, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). He is expected to accept the assignment in order to retain his $1MM salary, per the report. Righty Alex White has also cleared waivers and has been assigned to Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets.
- Veteran righty Matt Capps has re-signed with the Braves, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports on Twitter. The former Nationals closer had been with the club this spring but was released. Capps, 31, gave up two long balls in his only two innings of work, and has thrown just 12 professional innings over the last two seasons.
- The Mariners have loaned lefty Rafael Perez to Mexico’s Quintana Roo Tigers, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets. Perez, 32, was once a mainstay in the Indians’ pen and owns a 3.64 ERA over 329 big league innings. His peripherals declined, however, and he has not pitched in the big leagues since 2012. Perez has put up strong numbers in the upper minors over the last two years, however, and even returned to working as a starter last year.
- Former top draft pick Josh Smoker has signed with the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. The 26-year-old, who washed out of the Nationals’ system, is said to be working back into the mid-90s with his fastball.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Diamondbacks have optioned Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the team reports via Twitter. The club signed Tomas for $68.5MM over the offseason. He struggled both defensively and offensively this spring. A stint in Triple-A should give him time to adjust to the outfield and improve his plate approach.
- Phillies Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver has elected free agency after he was outrighted, the club announced via Twitter. The hard throwing lefty has struggled with walks throughout his career. That continued this spring with 11 walks and 22 strikeouts in 12 and two-thirds innings. The club also announced on Twitter that they reassigned catcher Rene Garcia, first baseman Russ Canzler, and infielder Cord Phelps to Triple-A.
- Marlins utility infielder Reid Brignac has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. In 905 major league plate appearances, Brignac has a .222/.266/.314 line.
- Athletics pitcher Barry Zito has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Jane Lee of MLB.com. The former star is working his way back from a one-year hiatus. He posted a 4.79 ERA in 20 and two-thirds spring innings. The 37-year-old struck out 14 and walked five. A former ninth overall pick of the A’s, the southpaw struggled after moving across the Bay to San Francisco on a seven-year, $126MM contract. That deal concluded after the 2013 season.
- The Red Sox have released Casey Crosby, Bryan LaHair, and Matt Hoffman per the MLB transactions page. Crosby was once a top prospect with the Tigers, but the 26-year-old lefty has yet to develop command. Lahair, 32, had a nice run with the Cubs in 2012 when he hit .259/.334/.450 with 16 home runs in 380 plate appearances. He spent the 2013 season in Japan and split 2014 between Cleveland’s Double and Triple-A clubs.
- The Phillies have released shortstop Tyler Greene according to the MLB transactions page. Greene, an 11th round pick, was once rated among the Phillies’ best prospects. He missed the entire 2014 season and has never posted a strikeout rate below 33 percent at any level.
- The Giants have released pitcher Edgmer Escalona per the MLB transactions page. Escalona pitched in parts of four seasons for the Rockies, accruing 100 innings. He has a career 4.50 ERA with 6.39 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9.
- The Cubs have released lefty pitcher Francisley Bueno according to the transactions page. The 34-year-old has pitched in parts of four season for the Braves and Royals. The soft tossing lefty has a career 2.98 ERA with 4.92 K/9 and 1.79 BB/9 in 60 innings. He’s a pure platoon pitcher.
- The Braves released former closer Matt Capps per MLB.com. The righty last appeared in the majors in 2012. He has a career 3.52 ERA with 6.53 K/9 and 1.72 BB/9. He’s thrown just 12 minor league innings over the last two seasons – both with the Indians.
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