- Rangers, Angels Reach Agreement On Hamilton Deal
- Blue Jays Release Ricky Romero
- Ben Zobrist To Have Knee Surgery
- Joe Nathan Out For Year With Torn UCL & Tendon
- Mariners To Sign Carlos Quentin
- 2016 MLB Free Agent Power Rankings
- Jeff Beliveau To Undergo Surgery For Torn Labrum
- D-Backs Sign Kevin Frandsen To Minor League Deal
- Cubs Promote Addison Russell
- Mike Redmond Could Be On Hot Seat
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- Rangers, Angels Reach Agreement On Hamilton Deal
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- Blue Jays Release Ricky Romero
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Seattle Mariners Rumors
Ken Williams lost out on a chance to become the Blue Jays’ new president and CEO this offseason, but he’s enjoying his current role with the White Sox, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. “I can’t worry about something that I have no control over,” he says, but he’s clearly thrilled about this year’s team after adding Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke in the offseason. “I hesitate to say, because I don’t want to disrespect any of the other teams we’ve had, but I don’t know if I’ve been this optimistic and excited to see a team play on a day-to-day basis,” he says. Here’s more from the American League.
- One player worth watching in Mariners camp is pitcher Erasmo Ramirez, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. Ramirez is out of options. The Mariners will likely try to get him through waivers since there’s no space for him on the team (unless the Mariners option both Carson Smith and Dominic Leone), but another team is likely to claim him. (Ramirez posted an underwhelming 5.26 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 2014, but since he’s 24, has big-league experience, and can start or relieve, some team might find him to be an attractive waiver claim.) The M’s could deal Ramirez, but since he could wind up on the waiver wire anyway, there isn’t much incentive for teams to give up much for him.
- Angels reliever Cory Rasmus has a core injury that will cause him to miss six to eight weeks, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes (Twitter links). That will leave two open spots in the team’s bullpen. One of those will likely go to Vinnie Pestano, and Gonzalez thinks it’s possible that the other will be occupied by Matt Lindstrom, who is an Article XX(B) free agent.
- Nonetheless, the Angels are impressed with Scott Snodgress, who they see as a potential hard-throwing lefty bullpen option, Gonzalez writes. They signed Snodgress as a minor-league free agent over the winter. Snodgress spent most of last season as a stater with Double-A Birmingham in the White Sox system, posting a 3.89 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9, but the Angels saw him as a reliever. “This is a team that, for the most part, has gone through the last year and a half without a consistent presence on the left-handed side of the bullpen,” says GM Jerry Dipoto. “From Day 1, we’ve talked about bullpen being a role, and I think that intrigued him.”
The Mariners‘ additions of Justin Ruggiano, Rickie Weeks and Nelson Cruz should help them hit fastballs better this season, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. MLB hitters batted .272 against fastballs last year, but Ruggiano, Weeks and Cruz were all well above .300. The Mariners batted .267 against fastballs last year, but the team felt they were too passive against them. “I bet we were the worst fastball-hitting team last season,” a Mariners employee tells Rosenthal. That might be an exaggeration, but there surely is room for improvement — FanGraphs ranked the Mariners offense the 12th-worst in baseball against the fastball last year. Here’s more from the American League.
- The Rays have David DeJesus available in a trade, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes (Twitter links). Heyman also points out, though, that this isn’t the easiest time to trade outfielders, with the Red Sox, Padres and other teams having plenty available. DeJesus does, however, remain useful, hitting .248/.344/.403 while playing mostly DH last season. With the team having added Steven Souza and the left-handed John Jaso this offseason, though, there’s currently no clear role for DeJesus in Tampa (although news broke this afternoon that Souza will undergo a precautionary MRI for forearm tightness).
- The Rangers are not likely to trade for an outfielder, and will likely instead try to fill the position from inside their organization, Rosenthal tweets. The team considered adding Mark Trumbo of the Diamondbacks, but did not like the idea of Trumbo patrolling the large left field in Globe Life Park. The team is currently considering a variety of options in left, including Ryan Rua, Jake Smolinski and Ryan Ludwick, all of them righties, along with lefties Nate Schierholtz and Carlos Peguero.
The career of 2011 No. 5 overall pick Bubba Starling hasn’t gone according to plan, but the Royals remain patient with the now-22-year-old, Alan Eskew writes for Baseball America (subscription required). “He’s got the type of body and athleticism that will be able to play for a long, long time,” says assistant GM J.J. Picollo. “So whether he gets to the big leagues at 24, 25, 26—that’s not really a factor because he’s going to be able to play for a long time.” Starling hit .218/.304/.338 while striking out 150 times in 549 plate appearances for Class A+ Wilmington in 2014. Here are more notes from the American League.
- Once Chris Capuano recovers from a quad strain, he’ll be a serviceable pitcher who provides the Yankees with flexibility, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues writes. Capuano will miss the start of the season and might not have a rotation spot waiting for him when he returns, but he can also pitch out of the bullpen, as he did last season for the Red Sox and once did on occasion for the Brewers. Axisa suggests Capuano might work well in a swingman role. As a pitcher who can work in a variety of roles without worries, he could provide reasonable value on his $5MM contract.
- Among the players the Mariners sent to minor-league camp today were lefties Lucas Luetge and Rafael Perez. That leaves David Rollins, a Rule 5 pick from the Astros, in competition with Joe Saunders and Tyler Olson to join Charlie Furbush as the Mariners’ second lefty out of the bullpen, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Rollins has pitched well so far in Spring Training, striking out seven batters and walking none in his first 6 1/3 innings.
The Phillies and Red Sox have made “virtually no headway” on a Cole Hamels trade, and that’s because the Red Sox refuse to include top catching prospect Blake Swihart, Jayson Stark of ESPN writes. Of course, that didn’t stop media speculation when Swihart joined the Red Sox’ starting lineup as they took on the Phillies in Clearwater Sunday. “I think it’s funny just like you guys do,” says Swihart. In the meantime, manager John Farrell expresses confidence in another young Red Sox catcher, Christian Vazquez. “Blake is the name that’s always been in the rumors, because of what he potentially could be attached to,” says Farrell. “But the guy who is as good as anybody in the game right now, as far as catching, receiving and throwing, is Christian Vazquez.” Vazquez will start for the Red Sox while Swihart appears likely to begin the season at Triple-A, a level at which he has only 18 games of experience. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Cubs slugger Kris Bryant is eager to prove he belongs in the big leagues, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. “I want to build on what I’ve done so far. Now I’ve got the gas to the floor, and I’m not going to let up,” Bryant says. The Cubs want Bryant to work on his defense, and he likely won’t start the year in the Majors. Heyman suggests that’s not due to service-time concerns, but the fact that the Cubs will gain an extra year of service time by holding Bryant back for a couple weeks of the regular season is surely, at the very least, a happy byproduct of their likely development plan. Whenever Bryant’s promotion to the big leagues arrives, it will be a momentous occasion. By hitting six homers in his first 23 Spring Training plate appearances, Bryant has done nothing to quiet the hype that swirled around him last year.
- Jack Zduriencik and the Mariners are hoping to improve on a 2014 season in which they fell just short of a playoff berth, MLB.com’s Mike Bauman writes. “I like what should be our 25-man roster,” says Zduriencik after an offseason in which the Mariners added Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith, J.A. Happ, Justin Ruggiano and Rickie Weeks. He adds that he feels the Mariners’ depth in the minors is also an asset. “We hoped we could have a good, competitive club year in and year out, a good Minor League system that could continue to fill the void when you have a need, instead of what we had a few years ago, when we had 16, 17, 18 players that debuted in the big leagues in one year.”
Padres outfielder Justin Upton could be a linchpin for the club, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The former top prospect and MVP candidate is still just 27. GM A.J. Preller hinted that the club could extend Upton depending on how the relationship develops. “We made this deal with eyes open, knowing that this may be a long-term relationship and it may end up being a one-year relationship…We’re not really sure, but that’s the benefit of getting around a player like that that’s obviously going to command big dollars and big value on the open market.” MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranked Upton the top name in the 2016 free agent market. He implied that a $200MM contract is possible.
Here’s more from out West:
- With Padres backup catcher Tim Federowicz sidelined for three to six months, the club could turn to veteran Wil Nieves, Lin reports. The 37-year-old claims to be in the best shape of his life with coaches and teammates supporting the assertion. He’s a career .243/.281/.317 hitter in over 1,200 plate appearances. However, the role of backup catcher is often more about defense and forming a rapport with the pitching staff. If GM A.J. Preller opts for somebody other than Nieves, he’ll probably have to look outside of the organization. Prospect Austin Hedges is major league ready behind the plate, but scouts say his bat lags behind his glove.
- The Mariners are aiming to score 700 runs this season, reports Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. The M’s are the only AL club to not pass the 700 run threshold since 2007. As Kepner notes, only eight teams scored that many runs in 2014, with five reaching the postseason. While the arbitrary threshold is not required for a playoff bound club, it would dramatically improve their odds. Seattle has to contend with the star-laden Angels and the pesky Athletics.
The Mariners have announced that shortstop Chris Taylor has a right wrist fracture and will be in a brace for seven to ten days, at which point he will receive additional treatment. He is expected to resume baseball activities in four to six weeks. One might think the injury could hamper Taylor’s offense well beyond the four-to-six-week time frame, given how long wrist injuries sometimes affect hitters. Taylor had an MRI after a ball struck his wrist on a foul tip yesterday.
Taylor had been competing with Brad Miller for the Mariners’ starting shortstop job, and there had been trade rumors about both of them this offseason. Those rumors had already quieted down this spring, but with Taylor’s injury, it appears especially unlikely that the Mariners will trade either of them before the start of the season. The 24-year-old Taylor hit .287/.347/.346 in 151 plate appearances in his rookie season in 2014.
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.