- Red Sox To Sign Alexi Ogando
- Rockies Acquire David Hale, Gus Schlosser From Braves
- Salisbury’s Latest: Gillick, Sandberg, Utley
- Deal Between Blue Jays, Belisario Falls Through
- Brewers Sign Neal Cotts
- Duquette On Blue Jays, Snider, Reimold
- Phillies Sign Chad Billingsley
- Marlins Sign Ichiro Suzuki
- Braves To Sign Eric Stults
- Omar Minaya Joins MLBPA As Senior Adviser
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- Yankees To Sign Scott Baker To Minor League Deal
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- Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday
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- Deal Between Blue Jays, Belisario Falls Through
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Texas Rangers Rumors
The White Sox rank at the very top of the list of offseason winners compiled by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. GM Rick Hahn ticked through many of the team’s questions this winter and should have a competitive team to show for it, says Heyman. Of course, despite plenty of praise, there are still some non-believers out there. They can point to this year’s PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus, which see Chicago as a 78-win team. Also of note from PECOTA, which is rather down on the division on the whole: the Tigers are tabbed as a .500 club, while the Royals project to win just 72 wins after appearing in the World Series last year.
More from the south side and the AL Central:
- The White Sox are a much improved team heading into the 2015 season, but much of the optimism surrounding the club relies on the contributions of right fielder Avisail Garcia, writes Fangraphs’ Neil Weinberg. Perception appears to be that Garcia can handily outperform the just-designated Dayan Viciedo, but Weinberg cautions that we shouldn’t readily accept that as fact. Garcia’s stats to date tell a similar tale to that of Viciedo — modest on-base percentage with some power and below-average base-running and defensive skills. While Garcia’s track record is clearly smaller, the two are excellent statistical comps even when looking at their production through the age of 23. Weinberg notes that scouts have long questioned whether or not Garcia would be able to resist bad pitches and make enough contact to succeed, and the assumption that he will outperform Viciedo is based largely on perceived ceiling as opposed to likely outcomes.
- Newly-designated White Sox slugger Dayan Viciedo should generate plenty of interest, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The American League West offers the best matches, Morosi argues, with the Mariners, Athletics, and Rangers all potentially making sense as landing spots.
- Despite some apparent suggestions, the Twins are not interested in free agent second baseman Rickie Weeks, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. That is not terribly surprising, given that the right-handed-hitting Weeks does not play short and would presumably have needed to serve as a backup to two right-handed hitters in Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe.
- Ichiro Suzuki‘s representatives (who he shares with Twins skipper Paul Molitor) tried to generate interest in the veteran from Minnesota, but the club never saw a fit, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. As Berardino explains, Ichiro and Molitor — both incredible pure hitters — share an interesting relationship.
In his latest piece on the market for James Shields, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at the most recent significant contracts for starting pitchers of age 33 or older and points out that history is not on Shields’ side. MLBTR took a similar look at Shields in Spring Training of last year, noting that recent history suggested it’d be difficult to find a team willing to guarantee his age-37 season. Rosenthal notes that executives to whom he has spoken cite Shields’ age, innings backlog, declining strikeout rate and shaky postseason track record as negatives. At this point, Rosenthal feels a four-year deal worth less than $20MM annually is likely.
A few more pitching notes from around the league…
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports that the Twins were informed yesterday of a Feb. 10 showcase for right-hander Matt Albers in Houston (Twitter link). All teams are invited to watch Albers throw, of course, and Wolfson does note that the Twins are open to adding a bullpen arm. A shoulder injury limited Albers to just eight appearances with the Astros in 2014, but he does have a pristine 2.63 ERA over his past 133 1/3 big league innings (three seasons’ worth of work).
- While it’s been previously written that the Rangers expect Neal Cotts to sign elsewhere, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram now reports (via Twitter) that the Rangers have been officially informed that the 34-year-old lefty will sign with a different team this offseason. Cotts wasn’t able to replicate his exceptional 1.11 ERA from his 2013 comeback, but he did post a 4.32 ERA with solid peripheral stats in 2014 (8.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 3.58 FIP, 3.41 SIERA).
- The Mets still aren’t close to trading Dillon Gee, tweets MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, nor are they close to dealing any of their other potentially available starters (presumably referring to Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon). However, as DiComo notes, that type of situation can change quickly in the three weeks leading up to Spring Training, and of course, a deal could always be negotiated in Spring Training as well.
Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake has announced, on Twitter, that Texas has acquired right-hander Anthony Ranaudo from the Red Sox in exchange for left-hander Robbie Ross, Jr.
Ranaudo, 25, made his big league debut in 2014 with the Red Sox but experienced underwhelming results, compiling a 4.81 ERA with 3.4 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 34.1 percent ground-ball rate in 39 1/3 innings (seven starts). However, Ranaudo has a respectable pedigree, having previously ranked as a Top 100 prospect, per both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus after being selected 39th overall in the 2010 draft.
Indeed, Ranaudo fared significantly better at Triple-A in both 2013 and 2014, totaling 168 1/3 innings of 2.67 ERA ball with 7.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. He could compete for a rotation spot with a Rangers team that lacked depth last year in what was an injury-riddled season, but it’s also possible that the Rangers view him as a bullpen candidate. Currently, Texas projects to have a rotation consisting of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis and one of Ross Detwiler and Nick Martinez.
As for Ross, the 25-year-old struggled when he transitioned from the bullpen to the rotation last year, largely due to those injuries. However, he excelled as a left-handed weapon out of the Rangers’ bullpen the previous two seasons, logging 127 1/3 innings with a 2.62 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. Ross has a 53.8 percent ground-ball rate in his career, including a worm-burning 62.4 percent mark in his 2012 debut.
Curiously, Ross has a significant reverse platoon split. Even when he was at the height of his game in 2012-13, he held right-handed hitters to a meager .223/.292/.282 batting line while surrendering a fairly robust .276/.347/.425 line to fellow lefties.
The international market provides opportunities to make (mostly) open-market purchases of the rights to the types of players who rarely can be acquired in that manner. Recent years have brought early-prime starters (Masahiro Tanaka, Hyun-jin Ryu), still-youthful sluggers (Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes), and high-upside talents (Yasiel Puig, Jorge Soler). Cuban second baseman Yoan Moncada certainly fits into that last category, rating as the type of player who would be chosen at or near the top of an amateur draft. In that regard, his ultimate payday (bonus plus ~100% penalty) will provide some fascinating insight into team valuations. But, of course, we are still waiting for the United States Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to establish Moncada’s eligibility to sign. Here’s the latest:
- The precise hold-up in Moncada’s seemingly overdue OFAC application is not clear, writes Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs. Moncada’s agent indicated that he has not heard from OFAC since President Obama announced changes in the US diplomatic stance toward Cuba, seemingly indicating that higher-level activity is playing a role in Moncada’s situation. As McDaniel explains, MLB is working with the government to determine how to apply new unblocking policies. For what it’s worth, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez notes on Twitter, a similar policy appears to have been in place several years back, when Cespedes was preparing to enter the market.
- One entirely hypothetical reason for the delay with regard to Moncada, apart from the broader diplomatic considerations, is the fact that he was allowed to leave the island legally. Per McDaniel, concern that money could flow from Moncada back to the Cuban government is a possible, but by no means substantiated, factor distinguishing his situation.
- Of note, fellow top young middle infielder Andy Ibanez is also rumored to have left the island with the blessing of the government. There are rumblings that he could be unblocked soon, however, McDaniel notes.
- As for another largely-uncertain bit of information, McDaniel adds that the latest chatter has Moncada going for about a $80MM total investment (based on a $40MM bonus).
- Moncada worked out for the Dodgers this morning, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has given public indication of its interest, and if impressed with its private look will certainly have to be counted among the most capable suitors. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Don Mattingly were both on hand, Sanchez reports on Twitter.
- The other teams to have held private workouts are the Brewers, Rangers, Giants, Yankees, Red Sox, and Padres, Sanchez tweets.
Jim Bowden of ESPN (Insider required) speculates the best fits for the current top 10 free agents. At the head of the list is James Shields who Bowden thinks fits with an AL team. Specifically mentioned are the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, and Rangers. However, now that his price tag may have dropped below five years and $110MM, other teams could get involved too. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also explored nine potential suitors for Shields and turned up plenty of NL contenders like the Cardinals and Padres.
- The Yankees franchise has benefited from the longevity of players like Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Derek Jeter, writes Chad Jennings of LoHud.com. Now, the key for the franchise is the longevity of players like Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and CC Sabathia. I would also add Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann to the list as there is reason to worry about how both players will age.
- Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig is healthy and ready to contribute, but he’ll face a difficult path to playing time, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Sox have Napoli at first base and a jam packed outfield mix with Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, and Jackie Bradley Jr. jockeying for playing time. Manager John Farrell suggested training at third base to Craig, but even then he’d be competing with Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt, and Ramirez. Craig is likely to become trade bait during spring training, once he proves he’s healthy once again.
Here’s the latest from baseball’s two Texan clubs.
- The Astros have asked third baseman Matt Dominguez to prepare to play first base, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Last week’s trade for Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily has pushed Dominguez into a competition for the third base job, and the club is hoping to get more flexibility out of the former prospect. Dominguez, 25, will compete with Jon Singleton and Evan Gattis. To Dominguez’s favor, he could form a traditional platoon with the left-handed hitting Valbuena. Both Dominguez and Singleton have options, giving the Astros roster flexibility.
- Houston is still looking for a starting pitcher, tweets Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. The club will probably target a NRI. Per Drellich (also Twitter), it’s not the end of the world if the club doesn’t find somebody. The club does seem to have plenty of rotation depth, with Straily looking like the sixth starter.
- The Rangers are hunting for relief help, reports Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. In particular, the club would like to add a left-handed reliever to supplement Robbie Ross, Michael Kirkman, and Alex Claudio. As GM Jon Daniels points out, there aren’t many lefties remaining in free agency – MLBTR lists only seven. We learned earlier today that the Rangers were uninterested in re-signing Neal Cotts.
Talks between the Phillies and Brewers concerning closer Jonathan Papelbon are “on life support,” reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Haudricourt reported earlier today that “there was no traction” between the two sides. GM Doug Melvin echoed that sentiment, saying there was no momentum. It is thought that Papelbon’s $13MM option for 2016 is holding up an agreement. Since Papelbon has a limited no trade clause that includes the Brewers, he may ask for the option to be guaranteed before accepting a trade. The ball may be in Philadelphia’s court to find a financial solution to the situation.
- Brandon Beachy has “zeroed in on a new team,” tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN. Beachy and the unknown team are currently working on contractual details. Wolfson adds that the team is not the Twins. Beachy was non-tendered by the Braves earlier in the offseason after undergoing his second Tommy John procedure. If he avoids setbacks, he may return to action mid-season. It’s easy to compare Beachy’s situation with fellow former Brave Kris Medlen, who signed a two-year, $8.5MM deal with an option. Like Beachy, Medlen is also recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.
- Cuban infielder Hector Olivera held a public workout in the Dominican Republic last week and over 200 scouts attended, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The Giants, Padres, Rangers, Braves, and Yankees are showing the strongest interest in Olivera.
The Marlins‘ offseason moves position them for a “measured buildup,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Mat Latos has just one year of control remaining, while Martin Prado and Michael Morse have two. And even the post-opt-out portion of Giancarlo Stanton‘s contract is structured so that the Marlins will be able to afford it once they renegotiate their TV deal. This isn’t like the 2011-2012 offseason, when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to long-term deals, only to trade all three. For that reason, Rosenthal writes, the Marlins are unlikely to sign James Shields to a big contract, even though they’ve been connected to him lately. Here’s more from throughout the big leagues.
- After Ichiro Suzuki plays his first game with the Marlins, the Reds will be the last team that hasn’t had a Japanese-born player, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. The Reds did express interest in Nori Aoki this offseason, but they don’t have a strong presence in Japan (although Rosecrans notes that the Reds aren’t the only team that doesn’t). “We do have some people who do cross checking. We don’t have a scout in Japan,” said GM Walt Jocketty. “It’s too costly.”
- The White Sox signed closer David Robertson for four years and $46MM, but GM Rick Hahn says they weren’t the highest bidder for his services, CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes tweets. It’s unclear who the top bidder might have been, although the Blue Jays and Astros were connected to Robertson this offseason.
- GM Jon Daniels said today at Rangers Fan Fest that the team is unlikely to trade for Josh Hamilton, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. The Rangers reportedly discussed a Hamilton deal with the Angels earlier this offseason, although those talks were not in-depth. Also, free agent lefty reliever Neal Cotts is not likely to re-sign with the Rangers, Andro tweets.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Righty Jair Jurrjens has agreed to return to the Rockies on a minor league deal with a big league camp invite, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports. The 28-year-old righty has never regained the form he showed early in his career with the Braves. Last year, he was hit hard in two big league starts and worked to a 4.54 ERA over 81 1/3 Triple-A frames with the Reds and Rockies organizations.
- The Orioles sent cash to the Braves in exchange for lefty Daniel Rodriguez. Baltimore had tried to nab Rodriguez out of Mexico several years ago, says Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). The 30-year-old came to Atlanta from Saltillo before the 2012 campaign and went straight to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he has generally struggled while working as a starter. The team is likely interested in taking a look at Rodriguez out of the pen, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
- The Rangers have signed righty Ross Ohlendorf to a minor league deal that includes a spring invite, the club announced. Ohlendorf had a quality 60 1/3 inning run with the Nationals in 2013, working to a 3.28 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. That earned him a $1.25MM arbitration deal, but injury derailed his entire 2014 campaign.
- Two former Rangers ballplayers are among the recent moves reported by Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (links to Twitter). The Dodgers have signed righty Ben Rowen, a 26-year-old righty who cracked the Rangers’ pen last year and who has had solid results in the upper minors. And the White Sox signed center fielder Engel Beltre, a defense-first player who has struggled to produce offensively and missed most of last year with a fractured tibia.
- Also via Eddy, the Braves have inked former Angels reliever David Carpenter — not to be confused with the other right-handed reliever by the same team that Atlanta just traded. Carpenter has struggled in limited MLB exposure, but last year put up a 2.17 ERA over 62 1/3 innings, with 8.3 K/9 against 6.4 BB/9, despite pitching in the notoriously hitter-friendly PCL.
Earlier today, the Twins avoided arbitration with Jordan Schafer by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.55MM. We’ll keep track of the remainder of today’s smaller moves to avoid arb here in this post (with all projections courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)…
- First baseman Mitch Moreland has reached agreement on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration with the Rangers, the club announced in a press release. Moreland will earn $2.95MM with the chance at $25K in bonuses, Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports on Twitter. Moreland filed at $3.35MM and the team countered at $2.75MM, with the 29-year-old landing just below the midpoint but just above his $2.8MM projection. After struggling to a .246/.297/.347 slash in just 184 plate appearances and missing significant time to ankle surgery, Moreland and his employer will hope for better things in 2015.
- The Astros and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal that will pay the Octagon client a salary of $1.0625MM, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Gonzalez, who filed for $1.4MM and received a $900K counter-offer from the team, settled for somewhat less than the $1.15MM midpoint between the figures, though he did still top his $1MM projection by about $60K. The former Rule 5 pick enjoyed his best season as a big leaguer in 2014, batting .277/.327/.400 with six homers, although defensive metrics were split on his work at short. Ultimate Zone Rating pegged him at four runs below average, while Defensive Runs Saved thought he was four runs above average. With Gonzalez’s case settled, the Astros are done with their arbitration class this offseason.
- The A’s have avoided arbitration with infielder Eric Sogard by agreeing to a one-year, $1.075MM contract, tweets Heyman. Sogard filed at $1.425MM, while the A’s countered at $900K, as can be seen Sogard, 28, batted .223/.298/.268 with a homer and 11 steals in 329 plate appearances last season. Known more for his glove than his bat, Sogard played his usual brand of excellent second base defense for 721 innings, and he also filled in at shortstop a bit, chipping in 108 innings there. The Octagon client will receive $75K more than his $1MM projected salary. Oakland still has some work to do in arbitration, as the team has yet to reach an agreement with right-handers Tyler Clippard and Jarrod Parker as well as lefty Fernando Abad.
Note that you can monitor the arb situations of each team/player using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.