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Tampa Bay Rays Rumors
1:03pm: The Rays have officially announced Cash’s hiring as the fifth manager in franchise history. President of baseball operations Matthew Silverman offered the following statement on Cash in a press release:
“Kevin is passionate, genuine and dedicated, and those attributes will resonate throughout our clubhouse. As a catcher, a scout and a coach, he has always been a student of the game, and his communication and tireless work will put our club in a position to win, night in and night out.”
12:10pm: The Rays will hire former big league catcher Kevin Cash as their next manager, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Cash was reportedly one of three finalists with Raul Ibanez and former Mariners manager/current Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu. Ibanez had reportedly withdrawn himself from consideration earlier this week. An official announcement should come at some point today, based on previous reports.
Cash, who turns 37 tomorrow, served as the Indians’ bullpen coach in 2013-14 after a brief stop in the Blue Jays’ scouting department following his playing career. Earlier this offseason, Cash was one of three finalists for the Rangers’ managerial opening, alongside eventual winner Jeff Banister and now-former Rangers coach Tim Bogar. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets that Cash was, in fact, the runner up to Banister.
Cash spent parts of eight Major League seasons as a catcher for the Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, Rays and Blue Jays, batting a combined .183/.248/.278 in 714 plate appearances. He’s drawn excellent reviews in his coaching stint with the Indians but will have some large shoes to fill for the Rays, who recently lost one of the game’s most recognizable and most respected managers in Joe Maddon.
Raul Ibanez has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Rays managerial opening, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. That leaves Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash and Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu as the two remaining finalists. The Rays are expected to make their decision no earlier than Friday. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com also tweets that a decision “will come tomorrow or soon thereafter.”
The 42-year-old Ibanez was one of three finalists for the Rays position. He cited a “desire to spend more time with [his] family” as the reason for the withdrawal. That probably also signals a plan to retire. He spent parts of 19 seasons in the majors, although he struggled throughout the 2014 campaign.
Former Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, who left the organization after he was not selected as a finalist for their managerial opening, has joined the Cubs‘ coaching staff, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Martinez will assume the familiar role of serving as Joe Maddon’s bench coach, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. That the well-respected Martinez wasn’t named a finalist in Tampa’s managerial search surprised many. He’s previously interviewed for other managerial gigs and is widely considered to be have a chance to manage in the Majors someday. Heyman also notes that Brandon Hyde, who was expected to serve as bench coach on what was a full Cubs staff, will be re-assigned, but the team is expected to move him to a significant role.
A few more notes from around the National League…
- The Braves announced today that former Padres vice president/assistant general manager Chad MacDonald will join the front office as a special assistant to president of baseball operations John Hart. MacDonald, according to the release, will be involved in all facets of Atlanta’s scouting efforts, including international, amateur and professional scouting. He’s previously served as the Mets’ director of scouting and both the assistant director of scouting and director of international scouting for the Diamondbacks.
- Interest in Justin Upton has increased since the Braves signed Nick Markakis, Heyman tweets. ESPN’s Jayson Stark hears that the Braves have fielded more than a dozen calls on Upton, who is considered by many to be the best available bat on the trade market (Twitter link). Atlanta is still in no hurry to move Upton, Stark adds.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, meanwhile, tweets that it’s still possible the Braves will trade Evan Gattis and hang onto Upton in order to at least position themselves to collect a draft pick should Upton depart following the 2015 season.
- The Giants‘ priorities at the Winter Meetings (and beyond) are third base and starting pitching, tweets Rosenthal. The team is in need of a left fielder but feels that Juan Perez, Gregor Blanco and Travis Ishikawa are all capable of handling the position. They’re not ruling out signing a free agent outfielder, but that priority has taken a back seat to the rotation and the hot corner.
- The Padres are one of a number of to reach out to free agent righty Tim Stauffer, tweets Jeff Saunders of the San Diego Union Tribune. The 32-year-old Stauffer, formerly the fourth overall pick in the draft, posted a 3.50 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 64 1/3 innings (three starts, 41 relief appearances) for the Friars this past season. Friar has worked as a reliever in recent seasons but hurled 185 2/3 innings of 3.73 ERA ball for San Diego back in 2011.
Here are the latest minor moves …
- The Diamondbacks have signed righty Blake Beavan to a minor league deal, via the MLB.com transactions page. The former first-round pick was outrighted by the Marines back in August.
- The Cubs inked second baseman Jonathan Herrera, per the same source. Herrera lost his roster spot with the Red Sox a month ago after a fairly disappointing campaign in Boston.
- The Angels re-signed righty Yoslan Herrera on a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Herrera had been non-tendered yesterday.
- Likewise, southpaw Kraig Sitton has re-signed with the Rockies on a minor league deal a day after being non-tendered, the club announced via Twitter. Sitton posted a 3.68 ERA last year at the Double-A level.
- Righty Michael Kohn has gone to the Braves on a minor league deal with a big league camp invite, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Kohn originally signed with the Rays but was designated off the 40-man roster.
- The Blue Jays announced the signing of outfielder Ezequiel Carrera to a minor league deal. Carrera was designated recently to clear space for the Tigers’ claim of Josh Zeid.
- The Brewers have signed righty Wirfin Obispo, the club’s player development account tweeted. Obispo, 30, spent last year with the Braves and Pirates organizations and worked to a 4.12 ERA over 48 Triple-A frames.
Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2015 season. We’ll run down the list of American League non-tenders here, and update it as reports come in. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR’s Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates (in the estimation of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes). Also important for reference is the set of arbitration salary projections from MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz. Click here for an explanation of the process, and be sure to check out this piece featuring some interesting observations from Tim regarding non-tender considerations.
- Slade Heathcott, Jose Campos, and David Huff have all been non-tendered by the Yankees, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter.
- The Twins have tendered contracts to all arb-eligible players, per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link).
- Third baseman Carlos Rivero is the only non-tender for the Mariners, the club announced. Rivero was not yet arbitration eligible.
- The Astros have tendered contracts to all arb-eligible players, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports on Twitter.
- The Royals have non-tendered lefty Francisley Bueno, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. He was not yet eligible for arbitration.
- As expected, the Tigers have offered arbitration to all eligible players, Anthony Fench of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
- The Athletics have declined to offer arbitration to Kyle Blanks and Andrew Brown, the team announced. Both had previously been designated for assignment. Oakland will retain control over the remainder of its eligible players, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- As with several other clubs, the Rays will proceed without any non-tenders, the club announced (per a tweet from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times).
- Likewise, the Orioles have tendered contracts to each of their eleven arb-eligible players, the team announced.
- The Indians have tendered contracts to all five eligible players, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). Cleveland had a fairly straightforward group. Indeed, Dierkes did not list any players as reasonable NT candidates.
- Scott Snodgress and Scott Carroll have been non-tendered by the White Sox, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets. Both players were pre-arbitration eligible, meaning that Chicago could have renewed them at the MLB minimum.
- The Red Sox have non-tendered third baseman Juan Francisco but will otherwise tender contracts to all eligible players, the club announced (h/t to Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com, via Twitter). Francisco had already been designated for assignment, making this one of the day’s least surprising moves.
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The Brewers have re-signed left-hander Brent Leach to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). The 31-year-old Leach has an opt-out clause as well as Asian buyout language worked into his contract. Leach enjoyed a solid campaign at Triple-A Nashville last year, posting a 3.28 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 while holding lefties to a .220/.331/.330 batting line.
Some more minor moves from around the game…
- Infielder Jayson Nix elected free agency rather than accepting an outright assignment from the Royals, according to the club’s transactions page. The seven-year veteran is a career .212/.282/.345 hitter that has shown a bit of pop and some speed while playing third base, second base, shortstop and the outfield corners in the past.
- The Pirates announced that they have signed outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, catcher Sebastian Valle and third baseman Deibinson Romero to minor league deals with Spring Training invites. Hernandez, 27, saw big league action with the Bucs back in 2012 and spent parts of four seasons in their minor league system. He’s a .272/.340/.367 hitter at the Triple-A level. Valle, 24, was formerly one of the Phillies’ top prospects per Baseball America, but his bat never caught up to his glove. He’s a lifetime .234/.265/.384 hitter at Double-A and has minimal Triple-A experience. Romero, 28, has spent his career with the Twins but never reached the bigs. He has a .266/.366/.412 line in two seasons at Triple-A.
- The Dodgers announced that lefty Jarret Martin has been outrighted to Triple-A after being designated for assignment upon the club’s acquisition of Mike Bolsinger. The 25-year-old had a 3.29 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings at Triple-A last year, but he also walked an alarming 48 batters.
- Outfielder Corey Brown has signed a minor league deal with the Rays, per a tweet from his agents at O’Connell Sports Management. The 29-year-old is a Tampa native that has batted .171/.244/.390 with a pair of homers in 46 big league PAs to go along with a career .249/.326/.458 batting line at Triple-A.
Earlier today, we rounded up some items from the AL East. Here’s the afternoon edition..
- The Orioles have talked to the Dodgers about Matt Kemp, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The O’s are lining up alternatives in case they can’t re-sign Nick Markakis and/or Nelson Cruz, but they could also be trying to create leverage to pressure both into staying. As Rosenthal has said before, a Markakis return once appeared to be a foregone conclusion, but that’s no longer the case.
- In a chat with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of SiriusXM, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos downplayed his interest in the market’s top free agent relievers. “I don’t know that you’re going to see us involved in some of the large big money deals,” AA said, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter).
- The Rays‘ trio of managerial finalists – Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez, and Don Wakamatsu – is about as intriguing and outside-the-box as you can get, writes David Laurila of Fangraphs. The Rays are in a transition period and Laurila writes that it’ll be fascinating to see how they proceed from here.
Red Sox owner John Henry made comments back in April that seemed to imply he was done with signing players over the age of 30 to monster contracts. However, Boston’s signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez show that’s not quite the case. “John Henry comes from a world where everything has a value,” General Manager Ben Cherington said, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “Sometimes it’s worth investing a lot if you think you’re getting really good talent back or performance. The age thing, of course, is part of the conversation because we all know players age and when they get into their 30s, historically speaking, there starts to be a decline. But when we get in a room and talk about offseason planning, it’s never pursue this guy or don’t pursue this guy just for these rules. It’s all about what makes sense, what fits on the team.” More from the AL East..
- Forget about tweaking, new Rays president Matt Silverman is making major changes, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Even in the midst of their managerial search, the Rays have traded three pitchers who have played key roles in Jeremy Hellickson, Joel Peralta, and Cesar Ramos and dumped six others off of the 40-man roster. There’s more on the horizon as either Matt Joyce or David DeJesus could be dealt this winter.
- Peter Gammons (via Twitter) would be surprised if Yoenis Cespedes nets the Red Sox a good starter without getting a third team involved.
- Sandoval and Ramirez are a pair of highly productive hitters that can form a safety blanket for Red Sox youngsters Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts if they stumble, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.
Cubs reliever Pedro Strop was in a car accident in the Dominican Republic Thursday, but he didn’t suffer any significant injuries, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. Strop did require stitches in his left arm, but he is reportedly “doing fine,” according to a team spokesperson. Strop, 29, was a key part of the Cubs’ bullpen in 2014, posting a 2.21 ERA in with 10.5 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 61 innings. Here are more notes from around the big leagues. Here’s more from around the big leagues.
- The White Sox aren’t the only team interested in Athletics starter Jeff Samardzija, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Four teams contacted the A’s about Samardzija just on Saturday morning. Still, teams might not want to give up top talent for a rental, which is what Samardzija, who is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, probably would be. Billy Beane likely wouldn’t want to reach agreement on a Samardzija deal and then give his new team a negotiating window on an extension before completing the trade, and Samardzija would probably not be interested in an extension right now anyway. Another potential factor to keep in mind with a Samardzija deal is his team’s ability to extend a qualifying offer after 2015 — his new team would have that ability if a trade were to be completed now, but not if a trade were done during the season. One scenario would be for Beane to wait until Max Scherzer and Jon Lester are off the market to complete a deal.
- The Rays have already traded three key pitchers from their 2014 staff (Jeremy Hellickson, Joel Peralta and Cesar Ramos), and they’re prepared to listen to more trade offers, although perhaps not always in earnest, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “We listen on everyone, but in many cases it’s for the comedic value more than anything else,” says team president Matt Silverman. Part of their motivation for being so active early in the offseason (also dropping Jose Molina, utilityman Sean Rodriguez and infielder Cole Figueroa from their 40-man roster in the last ten days) was the need to protect prospects from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft, Silverman says. The Rays added pitchers Jose Dominguez, Matt Andriese, and Grayson Garvin, infielder Ryan Brett, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Justin O’Conner to their 40-man roster last week.
The Marlins are known to be looking for first base help and Allen Craig is the latest name to be added to their list of potential trade targets, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (Twitter link). Dealing Craig would help the Red Sox clear out some of their outfield surplus, while giving Miami a right-handed bat to platoon with Garrett Jones at first base. The Marlins are dangling young pitchers in trades, though I’m not sure this would necessarily appeal to Boston — the Sox already have plenty of young arms and if they did move an outfielder, they’d likely prefer a proven starter who can immediately be slotted into their 2015 rotation.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Andrew Miller is in serious negotiations with between eight and 10 teams, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. The Orioles aren’t one of the suitors, as Miller’s four-year asking price is higher than they would like to give to a setup man. Miller has already received multiple three-year offers and reportedly received interest from 22 of the league’s 30 teams.
- The Yankees have discussed signing Jason Grilli, WFAN’s Sweeny Murti reports. Grilli could be pursued by the team if David Robertson leaves in free agency.
- The Blue Jays are in need of relief pitching but would GM Alex Anthopoulos break from his usual modest bullpen spending and pursue a big-ticket reliever like Miller or Robertson? Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith looks at the pros and cons of signing relievers to big contracts.
- In a reader mailbag piece, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm figures the Blue Jays have at least $20MM “and possibly even upward of $30MM” in remaining payroll space, provided that Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston were correct in saying that the club’s payroll would grow past its $137MM mark from 2014. Some of the space could be created if J.A. Happ or Dioner Navarro are traded.
- Also from Chisholm’s mailbag, he cites some reasons some players are reluctant to come to Toronto, such as the Rogers Centre’s artificial surface or a lack of desire to move to Canada. Cole Hamels, Howie Kendrick, Justin Upton and Jay Bruce are just a few of the notable players who reportedly have the Jays on their no-trade lists, though Chisholm notes that several players with trade protection include AL East teams for financial leverage purposes.
- Sean Rodriguez was “definitely surprised” to be designated for assignment by the Rays, the utilityman tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “This (stinks) right now, but I feel like it may be an opportunity,” Rodriguez said. “What I bring to the table (in terms of versatility) is something a lot of teams like and want to have more of.”