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Seattle Mariners Rumors
4:10pm: Jackson will earn $7.7MM, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
2:02pm: The Mariners announced today that they’ve avoided arbitration with Austin Jackson, Logan Morrison, Dustin Ackley and Charlie Furbush. The team also confirmed its previously reported agreement with Justin Ruggiano, who also avoided arbitration.
Terms of Jackson’s signing are not yet known, though he projected to earn $8MM in arbitration, according to MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Meanwhile, Mike Perchick of WAPT has the salary figures for each of the others (All Twitter links). Morrison will earn $2.725MM with the ability to earn an extra $25K for reaching 500 and 600 plate appearances. Ackley settled at $2.6MM and will receive an additional $50K upon reaching 500 plate appearances. Furbush is penciled in for a $1.3MM salary that contains no incentives or bonuses.
Morrison, Ackley and Furbush were projected to receive respective salaries of $2.6MM, $2.8MM and $1MM. Meanwhile, the Mariners noted that Tom Wilhelmsen is still arb-eligible, suggesting that the two sides have exchanged or will exchange figures. A deal could still be agreed upon before a hearing, however.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court Of Appeals upheld a previous ruling rejecting the city of San Jose’s challenge of Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, Fangraphs’ Nathaniel Grow reports (Twitter link). As explained by CSNBayArea.com’s Joe Stiglich, the ruling is another obstacle in San Jose’s attempt to bring the Athletics to town, and an eventual courtroom victory in front of the Supreme Court seems unlikely. The A’s may only be allowed to move if a majority of team owners votes down the Giants’ territorial rights claim on San Jose or if the Giants are financially compensated for giving up the area, Stiglish notes.
Here’s some more from around baseball…
- The Cardinals and Lance Lynn discussed a longer-term deal before settling on a three-year extension that buys out Lynn’s three arbitration years, GM John Mozeliak told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch). “Obviously, when you start talking about free-agent years or option years, there’s a cost to that,” Mozeliak said. “It certainly was something that was on the table and discussed. But ultimately the comfort of something getting done, even though it may feel short, it gives us some cost certainty.”
- Geovany Soto is expected to sign within the next few days, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. The Rangers are among the teams still in the hunt for the veteran catcher.
- The Blue Jays, Brewers, Mariners, Rangers and Rays were among the teams who scouted Johan Santana‘s recent Venezuelan Winter League appearance, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. The Yankees, whose interest in Santana was already known, also had a scout present.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Ken Davidoff of the New York Post that his team is “probably not” going to sign Max Scherzer. “We’ve been in a situation where we’re pretty well set with our starting pitching,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve got five starters that we’re comfortable [with]. I guess you never tell what happens, but we’re not in any type of active pursuit of any other pitching right now.” Dombrowski has consistently made statements of this type all winter, though there have been whispers that Scherzer could wind up back in Detroit thanks to the relationship between Scott Boras and Mike Ilitch.
- Right-hander Kameron Loe and outfielder Terrell Joyce have both been issued 50-game suspensions following positive tests for a drug of abuse, the Commissioner’s Office announced. Both players are currently free agents. Loe posted a 4.49 ERA over 569 innings in the bigs with five teams from 2004-13, while Joyce (a 12th-round Astros draft pick in 2012) has a career .229/.308/.396 slash line over 704 minor league plate appearances in Houston’s farm system.
The Mariners have designated lefty Anthony Fernandez for assignment, the club announced yesterday (h/t to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune for the reminder). Fernandez lost his roster spot to make way for the acquisition of fellow southpaw Mike Kickham.
The 24-year-old Dominican native has yet to see MLB action. He has worked as a starter in the minors, reaching Triple-A briefly last year before going down with a torn UCL. Fernandez had entered the year rated 30th among Seattle’s prospects, in the view of Baseball America, with only one plus offering (his change) but strong marks for his control, competitiveness, intelligence, and attention to detail.
Kickham, 26, was designated for assignment when the Cubs made their signing of Chris Denorfia official. Chicago had claimed the southpaw off waivers from the Giants earlier this winter. Kickham has struggled in 30 1/3 big league innings yielding a jarring 37 earned runs in that time. He’s fared better in the minors, where he sports a 4.37 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 259 innings at the Triple-A level. Presumably, he’ll provide the Mariners with some organizational depth that can be stashed at Triple-A, as he does have a minor league option remaining.
Huijer, who hails from the Netherlands, split his age-20 campaign (2014) between Class-A and Class-A Advanced. After strong seasons in Rookie ball (2012) and short-season Class-A (2013), Huijer posted respectable numbers at Class-A Clinton, registering a 4.02 ERA with 5.5 K/9 but a somewhat troublesome 4.3 BB/9 rate in 71 2/3 innings. The leap to High-A was more difficult, though that’s to be expected given the fact that he was roughly three years younger than the league average. In 52 1/3 innings in the California League, Huijer struggled to a 6.54 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9. He allowed eight homers in his short time there despite only having surrendered 11 in 228 2/3 prior career innings.
Baseball America ranked Huijer 28th among Mariners farmhands last offseason, prior to his struggles, noting that he figured to add to his 85-90 mph fastball as he filled out. BA noted at the time that he projected as a back-end starter with potential for more growth, though his development obviously didn’t go as planned in 2014. As Mike Salk of ESPN 710 in Seattle notes (Twitter link), this caps a bizarre scenario in which the Mariners acquired Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs to replace Denorfia, who then signed with the Cubs, prompting a DFA of Kickham, who was then dealt to Seattle.
The latest edition of the MLBTR Podcast focuses on the Padres‘ busy offseason, as Jeff Todd speaks with MLB.com’s Padres beat writer Corey Brock about all of San Diego’s transactions. Jeff also spends a few minutes on how the five NL West teams’ winter moves have created a varied set of expectations around the division. Here’s the latest from around the baseball world…
- The Angels weren’t eager to part with Ricardo Sanchez, but GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez) that the club’s young pitching depth made it easier to deal Sanchez to the Braves for third baseman Kyle Kubitza and reliever Nate Hyatt. “What we’ve done, in our draft or in the trades the way we’ve gathered players, is really focus these last three years on adding pitching,” Dipoto said. “Part of what I have talked to our guys about is, ‘If you tap into the pitching, you have the key to get the other things we need.’ “
- Dipoto also reiterated that Kubitza’s acquisition doesn’t necessarily spell the end of David Freese (a free agent next winter) in Anaheim. “David Freese is our third baseman; we’re not in a rush to move David Freese out. But we do feel like now we have someone we can build with,” Dipoto said.
- The Angels aren’t seriously exploring adding a notable starting pitcher since they expect Garrett Richards to be ready by “some point” in April, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets.
- Also from Morosi, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said that his team is “always open” to the possibility of more moves, including another trade for a hitter.
- Endy Chavez or Franklin Gutierrez could potentially fit as candidates to return to the Mariners as minor league outfield depth, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes as part of a reader mailbag.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich recently confirmed that he’d taken some calls about Drew Stubbs, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. “In general, there has been interest in Drew from teams looking for very specific fits in their outfield,” Bridich said. “Teams see him as a fit, but he’s a fit for us as well.” While Bridich didn’t give the impression that any trade was close or even being discussed, it was reported last month that the Rockies had spoken to the Orioles about a possible Stubbs deal.
- The Mets expect interest in their starting pitching to perk up, a team source tells Mike Puma of the New York Post, with Dillon Gee the likeliest candidate to be dealt. Without a trade, the Mets are prepared to use one of their starters out of the bullpen, as the source says a six-man rotation is “unlikely.”
- Also from Puma, Mets GM Sandy Alderson didn’t sound optimistic about his team’s chances of a shortstop upgrade. “We’ve continued to have conversations, but nothing is likely to occur,” Alderson said. “There is currently nothing imminent. I still believe at this point that we will go into spring training with what we have at shortstop.” The Mets never came close to a deal for Troy Tulowitzki, Puma writes, though they talked with Colorado during the Winter Meetings.
That the Phillies are interested in dealing away first baseman Ryan Howard and some portion of his contract is well-known. Howard, of course, is in the middle of a huge extension that still includes two years and a guaranteed $60MM (including a $10MM buyout of a $23MM club option in 2017). That contract includes a “most favored nation” clause that allows Howard to match the no-trade terms in Cliff Lee‘s deal, under which the player is permitted to designate all but nine clubs for no-trade protection.
ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports the details on Howard’s current list of competitors. The nine teams to which Howard cannot prevent a trade are the Tigers, Royals, Angels, Mariners, Yankees, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, and Red Sox. Crasnick suggests that the teams listed are not particularly strong potential suitors for Howard, as most are either small-payroll clubs and/or lack a present need for a player of Howard’s ilk.
The list seems curious from a strategic perspective, in my view, since it includes only American League clubs. The prevailing sentiment around Howard seems to be that he might have some limited trade value as a designated hitter and left-handed bench bat, but it appears exceedingly unlikely that any National League team would have interest in adding him as a regular first baseman. And payroll is not likely to prevent any teams from pursuing Howard, as Philadelphia is expected to eat most or all of his remaining salary regardless of where he is dealt.
If anything, it could be that the list is simply made up of the American League teams that Howard would most like to play for. His money is earned, after all, and it is unlikely that he would be able to exert enough leverage to convince an acquiring team to provide him with some added benefit in exchange for waiving his no-trade protection. (The notion of demanding a guarantee of his option, for instance, seems far-fetched.) Rather than using the NTC as a means of opening the door to extracting concessions, then, the reported list seems to suggest that Howard is open to being dealt to a place where he is wanted and where he would like to play.
Reading the tea leaves for intent is only so possible and so useful, of course. And the bottom line remains the same: nine of the fifteen A.L. clubs can add Howard without receiving his permission.
The Angels are likely to trade Josh Hamilton before his contract expires, but not before letting him play out at least part of the 2015 season, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. Given Hamilton’s production (.263/.331/.414 last year) and contract, his value can’t slip much further, so the Angels might as well wait to see if they can recoup some of that value with a rebound season, Gonzalez suggests. And then, of course, there’s the fact that Hamilton has a full no-trade clause. The Angels reportedly discussed potential Hamilton deals with the Rangers and Padres this offseason, although those talks did not appear particularly likely to result in a trade. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- After reaching a deal with Nick Hundley last week, the Rockies could trade Wilin Rosario, or they could keep him and go with three catchers (Hundley, Rosario and Michael McKenry), MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. Many teams have two catchers but are reluctant to use the backup to pinch-hit, so having three would allow the Rockies to use their spare catchers more liberally. Also, they could have Rosario pick up playing time at first base or in the outfield. Harding adds that the Rockies have “checked in with” Max Scherzer and James Shields this offseason, although, unsurprisingly, they’re not likely to sign either one, and they’ll likely acquire a veteran to eat innings instead.
- Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith should form a solid platoon for the Mariners, David Golebiewski writes for GammonsDaily.com. Neither one projects to be anything special if he plays every day, but Ruggiano has a .925 OPS against lefties in the last three seasons, while Smith has an .825 OPS against righties. Those are very strong numbers (even though we should probably expect regression for Ruggiano, and it’s impossible to completely hide any batter from same-handed pitching), and the Mariners should get effective production from right field while they wait for a long-term starter to come along.
We at MLBTR would like to extend our condolences to the friends and family of Bill Kearns, a veteran Mariners scout who passed away last night at age 94. Kearns was hired by the Mariners prior to their debut 1977 season and has been with the franchise for its entire history. A World War II veteran and former Brooklyn Dodgers minor leaguer, Kearns’ long career in baseball led him to scouting jobs with the Dodgers, White Sox and Royals before eventually joining the M’s. In a statement from the team, Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik said “Bill was a gentleman, in the finest sense, and represented his family and the Mariners in a first-class manner. And he was an excellent scout, a true ambassador of the Mariners and the game of baseball. Bill was one of the most positive people I have ever met. He will be missed.”
Here’s some more notes from around the league as 2015 is now upon us…
- Left-hander Luis Avilan‘s name had recently come up in trade talks, though now that the Braves have traded another southpaw in Chasen Shreve, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman wonders (Twitter link) if Atlanta could keep Avilan in the fold. Earlier today, the Braves sent Shreve and David Carpenter to the Yankees in exchange for Manny Banuelos.
- Zduriencik and Seth Smith discussed the recent trade that brought Smith to the Mariners in a conference call with reporters (including Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune). The extension that Smith signed with the Padres last summer was a factor in the trade, as Zduriencik noted that “one of the things we tried to stay away from was giving up talent for one-year returns…I think you’re getting a player who can be with you for at least the next three years.”
- With Craig Breslow‘s physical scheduled for Monday, the Red Sox will face a tough decision in opening up a spot for the reliever on their 40-man roster, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes. Dan Butler, Tommy Layne, Zeke Spruill and Drake Britton are potential candidates to lose their 40-man spots, with Bradford citing Britton as maybe the most vulnerable because he’s out of options. There’s also “a very real scenario” where Boston makes a trade to free up roster space.
- A number of recent Orioles news items and rumors are recapped by MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko, including the new information that the O’s would like to sign a right-handed reliever, possibly on a minor league deal.
- Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi recently said his team won’t be making any other major starting pitching signings, which worries Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times since he feels the rotation lacks depth beyond the top three of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu. On the other hand, Dilbeck wonders if Zaidi’s statement was tactical, similar to how the GM denied that Dee Gordon was being shopped just before Gordon was dealt to Miami.
- In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Tony Blengino describes Adam LaRoche signing with the White Sox as “a perfect marriage of club, player, ballpark and contract.” Using analyses of LaRoche’s swing and U.S. Cellular Field’s park factor, Blengino thinks the veteran first baseman could challenge for the AL homer crown if he stays healthy.
- Smith doesn’t have a broad skill set, but given how good he is at hitting right-handed pitching, he’s an excellent fit for the Mariners, Paul Swydan of Fangraphs writes. And unlike many good hitters against righties, Smith plays outfield and isn’t incredibly costly.
- Still, the trade might not work out for Seattle, Christina Kahrl of ESPN.com writes. Smith is signed through 2016 (for $13MM, which isn’t prohibitive but also isn’t nothing for a part-time player) and might not hold up through age 33, while Maurer has plenty of upside and could benefit from joining up with PETCO Park and Bud Black. The Padres have gotten good value by acquiring pitchers like Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross in trades, and they might do so again with Maurer, meaning the Padres might be selling high and buying low.
- The Mariners don’t seem inclined to add another first baseman to back up Logan Morrison despite Morrison’s past injury issues, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. “We’re going to work real hard with Jesus Montero in spring training,” says GM Jack Zduriencik. “We’ve talked about the strides he’s made this winter. We’ll see if he’s a player or not.” Dutton adds that Brad Miller could be a factor at first if Chris Taylor wins the starting shortstop job.
The Angels employ a young quartet of analysts in their baseball operations department, and the four young executives took some time to talk about the work they do with the Orange County Register’s Pedro Moura. Jeremy Zoll, Jonathan Strangio, Nate Horowitz and Mike LaCassa (whose ages range from 24 to 28) discuss their efforts, which include seeing if trends translate from college to minor league ball and grouping players by swing path and testing splits for trends. Manager Mike Scioscia spoke with Moura as well regarding the team’s increased usage of information: “As we’ve organized and analyzed numbers better, it’s helped us, primarily on the defensive front. It’s also helped with some lineup issues or determinations. I think our decisiveness was noticeable last year.” GM Jerry Dipoto said that each of Zoll, Strangio, Horowitz and LaCassa is future GM material and offered high praise for his young lieutenants.
Here’s more from the AL West…
- New Rangers special assistant Michael Young sat down with Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News to discuss his new role with the team. Among the topics they discussed were Young’s involvement in the hiring of manager Jeff Banister — Young particularly praised Banister’s communication prowess — and the problems with the 2014 club. Young said that in addition to injuries, the Rangers lacked leadership with their best players out, which sometimes led to a poor collective approach to the daily grind of a 162-game season.
- In a piece for Baseball America, the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s Jeff Wilson writes that Rule 5 pick Delino DeShields Jr. will be given an opportunity to make the Rangers‘ Opening Day roster as a backup center field option. GM Jon Daniels tells Wilson that he likes “the combination of now and the future” with DeShields, whom he can envision getting some time in left field in addition to backing up Leonys Martin. DeShields’ work ethic has been questioned in the past, but Wilson writes that the Rangers feel the environment fostered by Banister will help turn that around.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told reporters today, including the Tacoma News Tribune’s Bob Dutton, that he isn’t concerned about adding a backup first baseman to serve as a safety net in the event that Logan Morrison is again injured in 2015. “We’re going to work real hard with Jesus Montero in spring training,” Zduriencik said. “We’ve talked about the strides he’s made this winter. We’ll see if he’s a player or not. That’s going to be up to him, and we’ll see what happens.” Dutton also mentions Brad Miller as a backup possibility at first, although Zduriencik didn’t list Miller specifically.