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Seattle Mariners Rumors
Mariners prospect Danny Hultzen, once considered one of the game’s best pitching prospects, made his first competitive outing today since early 2013. Hultzen has struggled with shoulder issues, but obviously remains a talented and potentially quite valuable player for Seattle. He walked the first batter he faced — understandably so, as it was Troy Tulowitzki — but worked out of the inning without incident.
More from the AL West:
- The Angels have no interest in making use of their rights over retired NFL quarterback Jake Locker, as MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. Los Angeles signed Locker for $300K back in 2009 despite knowing he was destined for a career in football, and he is still only 26 years old. But GM Jerry Dipoto indicated that the club has “enough going on” as it is, noting that he is generally not inclined to pursue players who prefer another sport.
- Rule 5 pick Taylor Featherston has a good chance of breaking camp with the Angels, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Dipoto says that he thinks another club would take a shot on Featherston were he to hit the waiver wire, and fully acknowledged that the Rule 5 status gives him a leg up in earning a utility role.
- ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider link) provides an interesting look at Athletics GM Billy Beane, explaining that the longtime head baseball man in Oakland is consis.tantly “selling high and trading quality in exchange for quantity that he hopes will turn into quality.” That was never more evident than in the last year, of course. While some of that “quantity” may not pan out, of course, Beane is often first able to deal it away for other useful pieces.
Several MLB teams continue to value the relationship between certain pitchers and otherwise reserve backstops, as Jay Cohen of the Associated Press writes (via the Dayton Daily News). While the concept is hardly a new one, Cohen explains that pitch framing (to say nothing of pitch calling and the even more nebulous notion of pitcher handling) all come into play as well. Whether it is worth giving up a roster spot to a specific player with the idea that he will primarily catch just one (or more) particular starters is, of course, a difficult and context-specific question.
Here are a few more stray notes from the day:
- The Mariners posted a $11.6MM operating profit last year, which — as MLB.com’s Greg Johns explains — the team reported per its stadium lease agreement. Seattle has a provision in is lease that requires it to share profits with the public entity that operates Safeco Field, the details of which are included in the above-cited piece. Needless to say, this is just another indicator of the current upswing that the team has enjoyed since a disappointing run from 2010-2013.
- Still searching for options at first base with Adam Lind dealing with back issues, the Brewers plan to give Gerardo Parra a look at the position, as Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets. The 27-year-old has some experience in that role as an amateur, though he has played exclusively in the outfield as a professional. As a roughly league-average hitter, much of Parra’s value has come from his work with the glove in the outfield grass.
The Mariners and right-hander Kevin Correia have agreed to a minor league deal with an invite to big league Spring Training, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Correia, a client of All Bases Covered Sports Management, is in Mariners’ camp today, he adds. Seattle has since announced the move.
Correia, 34, struggled to a 5.44 ERA in 154 innings between the Twins and Dodgers in 2014 — the second season of a two-year, $10MM pact he had inked with Minnesota prior to the 2013 campaign. Correia pulled his weight in the first year of the deal, registering a 4.18 ERA in 185 1/3 innings, but his middling strikeout rate (4.8 K/9 over the past two seasons) and hittable arsenal appear to have caught up with him in 2014.
Both FIP and xFIP feel that Correia’s ERA could’ve been a bit lower, pegging him at 4.67, and the veteran righty has shown very good control over the past four seasons (2.3 BB/9). The Mariners had a good experience with a similar veteran pitcher in 2014, receiving 165 innings of a 3.65 ERA from right-hander Chris Young, who eventually signed with the Royals. They’ll hope for similarly productive results from Correia, though perhaps in a different role; It seems unlikely that he’d crack a rotation that figures to include Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, J.A. Happ, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker when all are healthy (with Roenis Elias and Erasmo Ramirez serving as fallback options), but Correia could compete to serve as a long reliever in manager Lloyd McClendon’s bullpen.
Here are today’s minor moves from throughout the game.
- The Mariners have outrighted first baseman Ji-Man Choi to Triple-A Tacoma, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. The M’s designated Choi for assignment earlier this week after he broke his leg in a Spring Training game on Wednesday, an injury that will cause him to miss much of, or perhaps all of, the upcoming season. He hit .283/.391/.392 in 281 plate appearances for Tacoma in 2014.
The Major League Baseball Players Association yesterday voiced its displeasure that information pertaining to Josh Hamilton‘s treatment program and potential disciplinary situation has been leaked to the media. Per an MLBPA press release: “It is regrettable that people who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally have started leaking information about the status of his treatment program and the confidential processes under our Joint Drug Agreement. These anonymous leaks are cowardly, undermine the integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate. The Major League Baseball Players Association will use every right we have under the collective bargaining agreement to make sure Josh gets the help he needs, and the fair and confidential process to which he is entitled.”
Some more news from Hamilton’s division…
- Garrett Richards is progressing well and could get into a Cactus League game for the Angels as soon as March 13, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. While there was initially some fear that Richards could miss more than a month to open the year, Fletcher writes that he could be ready to pitch by the season’s second or third week. Fletcher also notes that Josh Rutledge got the first start at second base this spring and entered camp as the favorite to win the second base competition. Others in the mix include Grant Green, Johnny Giavotella and Taylor Featherston.
- Rangers ace Yu Darvish will have an MRI on his right triceps tomorrow after experiencing tightness in his first outing of Spring Training yesterday, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Darvish first felt tightness when warming up, and it did not improve (though it also did not worsen) during his outing. Darvish, who threw just one of 12 pitches above 90 mph, said he felt much better today, but assistant GM Thad Levine said the team will proceed with the MRI anyhow as a precaution.
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick spoke to a scout who likes the Mariners‘ offseason moves enough to label Seattle a 93-win club. While that’s just one opinion, Crasnick writes that the Mariners did indeed drastically change their roster this winter, but the moves came without all of the fanfare of the Padres’ retooling. Of course, aside from Nelson Cruz, most of the names added by the Mariners were of the complementary variety, whereas San Diego more household names. Crasnick also spoke to the Mariners’ players about their excitement for the coming year, with Robinson Cano giving a glowing review of his friend and now-teammate Cruz.
Ryan Vogelsong seemed to be on the verge of signing with the Astros before he eventually rejoined the Giants, and the righty hinted that there was something unusual about how negotiations broke down with Houston. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the issue was that after agreeing to sign Vogelsong to a one-year, $4MM deal, the Astros wanted to pay Vogelsong less after viewing the results of his physical. Both Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and Vogelsong’s agent Dave Meier declined to comment to Heyman about the situation.
Here’s some more from around the baseball world…
- The Royals are focused on winning now, which could change their handling of prospects Brandon Finnegan and Christian Colon, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan writes. There is “a pretty healthy discussion going on within the Royals’ organization” about Finnegan, who could be a key left-handed bullpen weapon for K.C. this season, though such usage could also hurt his development as a future starter. A similar argument could be made about Colon and whether he’d be better served playing every day at Triple-A or coming off the Royals’ bench as a utilityman.
- Though he has a 2016 option that vests if he pitches 200 innings, Cliff Lee is entering his last guaranteed year under contract. The Phillies southpaw told reporters (including David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News) that he’s hasn’t thought about what lies beyond the coming season. “We’ll see what it brings,” Lee said. “I definitely do not want to go out the way things happened last year, I don’t want that to be the way I finish my career, but at the same time I’m not going to sit there and try to fight that to get it done. I want to go out there and have fun and feel good and make it be a positive thing instead of it be a battle physically.”
- Erasmo Ramirez is facing a roster crunch, as the out-of-options righty doesn’t appear to have a clear path to either a rotation or bullpen role with the Mariners, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. The M’s don’t want to lose Ramirez but Dutton hears from multiple rival officials that Seattle stands little chance of sneaking Ramirez through waivers and down to the minors. The Mariners also don’t stand to get much of a return in a possible trade, as one rival exec rhetorically asks, “How much are you going to give up for a guy who is likely to be on waivers in a few weeks?”
- The Giants will certainly monitor the market for right-handed hitting outfield bats in the wake of Hunter Pence‘s injury, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi writes, though the club won’t jump to make a move.
- Using 2014 attendance figures and Forbes’ evaluations of franchise values, Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards calculates each team’s “expected payroll” to see how clubs spend in relation to their markets. The Tigers outspend their market by the most while the Yankees rank last, though Edwards explains that ranking is slightly misleading since luxury tax payments aren’t factored into the equation.
- Besides division rivals or intra-market rivals, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron (writing for FOX Sports) looks at other pairs of teams that rarely seem to make trades with each other.
- Injuries to several relievers could result in one or two young arms getting a shot in the Diamondbacks‘ Opening Day bullpen, Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes.
The Mariners have designated first baseman Ji-Man Choi for assignment, the team announced. The move creates a 40-man roster spot for left-hander Edgar Olmos, who was returned to the M’s from the Rangers after Texas’ waiver claim on the southpaw was reversed.
Choi’s roster situation will likely be resolved by a trip to the 60-day disabled list, as he broke his right fibula during a Spring Training game on Wednesday. He underwent surgery today and is expected to be out for four to six months.
Since joining Seattle’s farm system in 2010, Choi has a .304/.407/.492 slash line and 42 homers over 1470 minor league plate appearances. Baseball America ranked Choi as the 25th-best prospect in the Mariners’ system prior to the 2014 season, but in April he was issued a 50-game suspension after testing positive for methandienone.
We learned this morning that Suk-min Yoon and the Orioles appear to be in the process of severing their relationship, with Yoon apparently headed back to his native Korea. Yoon is still formally required to report to the Orioles on Friday, a club official tells Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. His contract will not be voided if he does not show, says Encina. Instead, Yoon would be placed on the restricted list and he would not be paid while so designated. O’s skipper Buck Showalter commented briefly on the situation, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets, saying: “He’s going to be fine. We wish him well.”
Here are some more international notes:
- The Red Sox are still awaiting final results of drug testing on Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada before making his deal official, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports. That is expected to occur in short order, with Moncada set to report to minor league camp thereafter.
- J.J. Cooper of Baseball America explores the impact of the Moncada signing on the push for an international draft in a highly recommended piece. Unlike prior major Cuban signings, which included competition from a broad number of clubs, the relatively new rules applicable to Moncada — namely, a virtual 100% tax on international bonus pool overages — meant that only a few, deep-pocket teams could realistically compete. The general system is favorable for Cuban players seeking big bonuses, but its function has added impetus to the idea of a “single method of entry,” as new commissioner Rob Manfred recently phrased it. Logistical impediments clearly remain, but one lower-revenue club official tells Cooper that an international draft “has to happen” to correct the imbalance.
- Broader political matters can easily impact international efforts, of course, as seen recently with the Cuban market. That appears to be the case in Venezuela, where new visa rules will complicate scouting efforts, as Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. The need for a visa to enter the country will create logistical hurdles for operations, says Badler, who notes that some Venezuelan trainers had already begun moving players to the Dominican Republic to increase their visibility.
- Indeed, the general socio-political and economic climate in Venezuela will lead the Mariners to transfer their operations there to the Dominican, according to a report from Ignacio Serrano of El Emergente (Spanish language link; h/t Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, via Twitter). Seattle is declining comment on the matter, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets. The overall situation is creating concern of a broader exodus, though Phillies assistant GM Benny Looper tells Morosi (Twitter link) that “it’s business as usual for the Phillies in Venezuela.”
In his look at the game’s most untradeable contracts, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com rates Josh Hamilton of the Angels as the least desirable in the game. While that deal already had a reasonable stake to that label, Hamilton’s recent surgery and still-unresolved disciplinary matter definitely seem to take it to another level of difficulty. The Halos have rightly put the focus on Hamilton’s personal health and wellness, but the fact remains that the contract would be all but impossible to move at this point. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports report that a decision on Hamilton could come as soon as next week and is anticipated to occur before the season starts. The league and union have disagreed on the proper suspension and/or treatment scenario, with possibilities ranging from a relatively short suspension to a full-year ban. The matter is now before an arbitrator, whose determination will decide the nature of the violation. If a material violation is found, per FOX Sports, commissioner Rob Manfred would have “broad authority to determine the length of Hamilton’s suspension.”
Here are some more notes from the American League:
- Good and/or bad 2014 campaigns changed the future outlook for many players, and Ben Lindbergh of Grantland evaluates the players whose campaigns most swayed projection systems. On the positive side, a host of American League bats saw nice bumps, including youngsters Mookie Betts and Joey Gallo as well as longer-tenured players J.D. Martinez, Steve Pearce, and Victor Martinez.
- The Tigers appear set to give a long look at backstop James McCann, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes. Detroit needs to find out what it has in the 24-year-old, says Iott, with veteran Alex Avila having dealt with concussion issues and set to reach free agency after the season.
- Physical setbacks are an unfortunate but inevitable part of the spring, and two talented younger players have already suffered significant injuries. The Yankees have announced that catching prospect Luis Torrens will miss the season after tearing his right shoulder labrum. Torrens opened spring rated the ninth-best prospect in the New York system. Also, Mariners farmhand Ji-Man Choi will miss four to six months after suffering a fractured right fibula, as MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets.