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2:15pm: Derek Holland has been placed on the 60-day disabled list in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Parrino, the Rangers announced via press release.
1:42pm: The Rangers have claimed infielder Andy Parrino off waivers from the Athletics, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Parrino was designated for assignment last week when the Athletics acquired Jake Elmore from the White Sox.
Parrino was acquired from the Padres along with Andrew Werner in what now looks to be a lopsided trade, as San Diego landed right-hander Tyson Ross in the deal. The 28-year-old Parrino is a career .186/.295/.242 in 229 big league plate appearances between the two teams at the Major League level. He's a career .270/.351/.389 hitter in 863 PAs at the Triple-A level and has experience at shortstop, second base, third base, left field and right field in the Majors.
Two years after their trade with the Mariners, the Yankees may finally emerge as the winners in their trade for Michael Pineda, David Waldstein of the New York Times writes. Jesus Montero's stock has fallen sharply in Seattle thanks to his poor hitting and conditioning, and now Pineda, who missed the entire 2012 season with shoulder trouble, has a chance to win a job in the Yankees' rotation. Pineda, who pitched sparingly in the minors last year, says he's finally healthy. "I want to be on the Yankees right away," he says. "I don’t want to go to Triple-A. But I don’t have control over the situation." Here are more notes from around baseball.
- Jon Lester is heading into his last year before free agency, and it seems likely that he and the Red Sox will agree to terms on an extension before that happens. In a podcast, Tim Britton and Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal try to determine what a Lester extension might look like, and they arrive somewhere in the neighborhood of five years and $110MM guaranteed, perhaps with an option of some kind. The Red Sox likely will not want to guarantee more than five years for Lester, they suggest, and his recent workload (he threw 248 innings last year, including the postseason) could be a factor. Lester is already locked into a $13MM salary for 2014, so a five-year, $110MM extension would effectively add four years and $97MM.
- It's unclear how many innings the Rangers will get from their starting pitchers, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. Derek Holland is injured, Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison have back issues, Alexi Ogando hasn't proven he's durable, and Martin Perez is only 22. The Rangers could try to compensate by getting more innings out of their relievers. They could also try to make up for Holland's absence by signing Joe Saunders, who recently worked out for them. Tommy Hanson, Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Michael Kirkman could also be candidates to start.
- Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede now looks like a clear top-five draft pick, ESPN's Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Law notes that on Friday night, Beede demonstrated good stuff and solid command, with 92-95 MPH velocity and a strong changeup. Law writes that teams should consider taking Beede beginning with the No. 3 overall pick, with only NC State's Carlos Rodon and high school arm Tyler Kolek obviously representing better picks at this point.
- A.J. Burnett, who made his 2014 spring debut on Sunday, helps clarify the Phillies' rotation, Matt Gelb of the Inquirer writes. As Ryan Lawrence of the Daily News noted earlier today, the back of the Phillies' rotation is uncertain — Cole Hamels, Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin are all dealing with injuries, and it's not clear what they have in Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Burnett gives the Phillies a reliable option to add to Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick.
Between Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, Super Bowl champ Russell Wilson and former NBA star Tracy McGrady, MLB has an excellent opportunity to generate more interest in baseball among young African-Americans, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Winston closes for Florida State University's baseball team, while Wilson will be in Rangers camp this week after being picked in the Rule Five draft in December. McGrady, of course, is trying to catch on with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters as a pitcher. MLB should handle the situation differently than it did Michael Jordan's foray into professional baseball two decades ago, which was viewed with hostility by many in the game at the time, Sherman says. Here are more late-night links from around the majors:
- The Pirates' ability to "fix" Edinson Volquez is likely to have a big impact on their playoff hopes, David Golebiewski of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says.
- Braves outfielder B.J. Upton sought help from no one during his lost 2013 season, The Associated Press reports.
- Despite 2014 being a must-win season for Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes that the executive didn't set out this offseason to acquire veterans who could provide a short-term band-aid for the club. "That's not in my DNA," he said. "The best representation of the job you do over time is what you leave behind." Dipoto also feels that the club has "a lot of veteran players in that 29 to 31 zone. That is when you win."
- Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria are competing for the Rangers' closer job, but the former hasn't impressed early in camp, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. "Feliz was not sharp in his intrasquad game and I’m told his mechanics are still kind of out of whack," Grant notes.
The Mariners announced today that Taijuan Walker will be shut down for the next week due to shoulder inflammation. It's a precautionary move, it would seem, based on manager Lloyd McClendon's comments. Said McClendon (via the Tacoma News Tribune's Bob Dutton on Twitter): "This guy, we’re not just talking about 2014. Hopefully, we’re talking about the next 15 years." The injury doesn't appear major for the Mariners right now, but it's another reason for some concern in the wake of a finger injury to Hisashi Iwakuma. The Mariners will learn the results of his tests on that injury tomorrow. Here's more on the Mariners and the AL West…
- Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio feels that the Mariners should sign both Ervin Santana and Kendrys Morales (ESPN Insider required). Bowden feels that the competitive nature of the AL East will make it too difficult for two Wild Card teams to come from that division. Assuming one Wild Card from the East, the Mariners could compete with the Rangers, Angels, Indians and Royals for the second spot, in Bowden's opinion. Adding that pair would also allow the club to hang onto Nick Franklin for the time being, allowing him to serve as a strong fallback option in the event of an infield injury.
- The Angels aren't committed to carrying a long reliever in their bullpen, and as such they could trade or release Joe Blanton prior to Opening Day, writes Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. Blanton could slot into the rotation in the event of an injury or should Tyler Skaggs need further minor league time, but his contract doesn't make him a lock for the roster in Shaikin's mind.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports discusses Prince Fielder's impact on the Rangers' lineup as he analyzes the merit of lineup protection. Morosi also acknowledges the statistical evidence that it may be somewhat of a myth. Morosi spoke with several executives and players in his in-depth piece, with Rangers backstop J.P. Arencibia specifically stating: "Robinson Cano is a guy that, hey, we’re going to pitch around him, bottom line," when referring to the division-rival Mariners.
Chuck Myron, lead writer for our sister site Hoops Rumors and occasional MLBTR contributor, has co-written an excellent book called Hits and Misses in the Baseball Draft. Authors Myron and Alan Maimon have created a must-read for any baseball fan hoping to understand why so many of the best young players fail to make meaningful contributions in The Show, and so many teams make the wrong choices on draft day. Please check out Hits and Misses in the Baseball Draft; we think you'll like it. Note, also, that if you are planning a trip to Florida for Spring Training, you can meet Chuck and Alan at either of two scheduled book signings. The authors will appear at two Barnes & Noble locations in mid-March: in Clearwater on March 14 at 7pm and in Fort Myers on March 15 at 3pm.
Moving on, here are some notes from around the league for your Thursday evening reading…
- Engel Beltre and Michael Choice will both be fighting for roster spots in Spring Training, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, but Beltre is the favorite to stick due to the fact that he is out of options. The Rangers aren't likely to let him go, and while Choice could help as a right-handed option in a DH platoon, Texas is wary that such a limited role could hinder his development.
- In an effort to prove Mike Trout's sky-high value without relying on advanced metrics, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs adds the 2013 production of Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo (using standard stats such as singles, doubles, triples, homers, steals, etc.) and subtracts Mike Trout's numbers. Cameron finds that the result is surprisingly similar to Eric Young's 2013 totals. Because Young was acquired for a replacement-level arm, Cameron suggests that acquiring a partner to match the output is nearly free. In the end, he suggests that Trout is worth more than Choo and Ellsbury combined.
- In a subscription-only piece, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus looks at how the players he ranked in his Top 50 stacked up to the expected average annual value he laid out prior to the offseason. Anderson concludes that he underestimated the market for back-end starters, setup men and veterans with perceivable upside remaining. Because of that last category, he wonders if names like Asdrubal Cabrera and Chad Billingsley could see larger paydays than many are expecting next winter.
- Sticking with Baseball Prospectus, Phil Hughes tops a free list of nine players that the minds at B-Pro expect to see show improvement in 2014. Also appearing on the list are Matt Cain, CC Sabathia and Brett Lawrie, amongst others.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier breaks down the numerous Spring Training decisions facing the Red Sox, including homegrown prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. and reclamation project Grady Sizemore fighting for center field (Speier writes that it's Bradley's job to lose). Within the piece, Speier wonders if spring struggles from Middlebrooks would make the Red Sox reconsider their stance on Stephen Drew.
Earlier today, we learned the Rangers were one of seven teams who watched Johan Santana throw during a workout in Fort Myers, Florida. Though Santana wouldn't be available until around the middle of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery, he could serve as depth for a Texas rotation that is suddenly facing some injury problems. Here's some more on the Rangers' pitching explorations…
- Veteran left-hander Joe Saunders worked out with the Rangers today, USA Today's Scott Boeck tweets. The Orioles, who were talking to Saunders earlier this month, are also still interested in the southpaw.
- With Derek Holland and Matt Harrison battling injuries, MLB.com's Richard Justice suggests that the Rangers are a good fit for free agent Ervin Santana. There have been conflicting reports around whether or not Texas is interested in Santana, and the bigger obstacle could be Santana's desire for a four-year contract. Justice suggests that the Rangers could offer Santana one or two guaranteed years plus an option, as Santana could then get back onto the free agent market with more momentum on the open market if he pitches well in Arlington.
- The Rangers agreed to terms with 12 pre-arbitration players on one-year contracts, the team announced. ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett has the salaries, and as expected, all 12 men made close to the $500K league minimum. The highest-paid of the dozen was left-hander Robbie Ross, who will earn a little under $513K next season. With Mike Trout's record $1MM pre-arbitration deal making news, MLBTR's Zach Links today looked at how teams have different ways of determing pre-arb salaries.
TODAY: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com provides a list of the other clubs who sent representatives to watch Santana: the Phillies, Blue Jays, Pirates, and Rangers. Scouts in attendance told Heyman that Santana still needs to build his arm strength back up, but looked to be in great shape and threw as expected given his point on the recovery curve.
YESTERDAY, 5:40pm: The Orioles were among the teams to see Santana, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The club could be interested in bringing him in on a minor league deal, says Encina.
3:26pm: Throwing in Fort Myers today, rehabbing starter Johan Santana showed his current form to seven teams, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. Santana mostly threw in the high-70s, topping out at just 81 mph, though he did flash his usually phenomenal change.
Though those numbers sound less than promising, the workout comes very early on in the process for Santana to regain strength on the mound following a second shoulder surgery, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Indeed, a mid-season return has always been the early target for Santana. Agent Peter Greenberg said there is no "firm date," with Santana committed to "tak[ing] it conservatively this time" and "not rushing things."
Per the above two reports, both the Yankees and Twins were among the teams with scouts in attendance.
Ervin Santana isn't lowering his asking price as Opening Day inches closer, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Executives from teams with interest in the right-hander tell Heyman that despite the onset of Spring Training, Santana is still seeking something in the range of $50MM over four years — the same contract signed by Ubaldo Jimenez with the Orioles and Matt Garza with the Brewers, and $1MM more than Ricky Nolasco got from the Twins.
Heyman adds that Santana has been seeking four years "for a while now," and that won't change no based on the calendar or fellow draft-pick free agent Nelson Cruz settling for a surprising one-year, $8MM deal. According to Heyman, the Orioles, Mariners, Rangers and Rockies are looking at Santana right now, and the Blue Jays are believed by some to still be a possibility.
Colorado's interest in Santana could be tied to the fate of right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, who underwent an MRI due to shoulder pain. Fresh off a 3.47 ERA in 197 1/3 innings for the Rockies last season, the 26-year-old entered Spring Training as a lock for the club's rotation. However, the team announced today (on Twitter) that Chacin has a strained right shoulder with inflammation and will not be able to throw for at least a week.
It's logical to assume that a serious setback for Chacin would heighten Colorado's interest, but Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes that even with the somewhat negative news from today's MRI, the team isn't interested in Santana at four years and $50MM. Renck has written previously that the club is turned off by Santana's history of fly balls and homer problems, though it's worth noting that Santana's fly-ball rate has drastically declined over the past three seasons as his ground-ball rate has risen.
Heyman closes by saying that Santana is said to be willing to wait for the right deal to present itself and could consider waiting until after the June Draft to sign, which would rid him of the draft pick compensation attached to his name. Earlier today, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes looked at which pick each of the 30 teams would have to surrender to sign Santana (or Stephen Drew or Kendrys Morales). While not all of those teams are logical fits at this time, it takes just one major injury for a new suitor to emerge.
FEB. 24: It's good news for the Rangers, as Harrison's MRI came back clean, tweets Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. Though Harrison will not be ready by Opening Day, he is expected to re-start his throwing program in just two days.
FEB. 20: After missing most of last season due to a series of surgeries — two relating to a herniated disk in his back along with a procedure on his non-throwing shoulder — southpaw Matt Harrison entered camp hopeful of regaining his form as one of the Rangers' top starters. But after experiencing lower back stiffness, Harrison is now set for an MRI and examination by his spine surgeon, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Harrison will not participate in baseball activities until his appointment on Monday, at the earliest. The news was met with a blend of concern and cautious optimism. "With everything he went through last year, there is a level of concern," said GM Jon Daniels. "Hopefully, it's just some irritation from getting going. … He did a lot this winter without having any issues." Harrison, too, acknowledged "some concern" but said he "hope[s] that it's not a serious issue."
The 28-year-old inked a five-year, $55MM extension in January of last year, but has not yet had much of a chance to make good on it. Fortunately for the club, an insurance policy is reportedly in place that should ease the burden of his absence on the pocketbook.
But with sights set on a World Series run, cost savings will not ameliorate the impact on the field of any missed time. The Rangers are already dealing with an injury to another key starter, Derek Holland. It is far from clear, of course, whether Harrison's injury — even if it is serious — would precipitate a new addition. But as ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote recently, the club already faced questions at the back of the rotation, where several candidates are vying for spots. Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, and Alexi Ogando figure to be good bets to occupy a regular turn, but several players of less-certain capabilities line up behind them. The team recently signed Tommy Hanson, adding him to a mix that potentially includes Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers, Nick Tepesch, Michael Kirkman, and Colby Lewis.
The Orioles continued what has been an incredibly busy seven-day span by announcing the signing of slugger Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal. Cruz's contract contains a base salary of $8MM, plus $750K in incentives — a disappointing outcome for a player who declined a $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Rangers and at one point reportedly sought a four-year, $75MM deal. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Cruz rejected two- and three-year offers this offseason, although the timeline of those offers is unclear. Cruz is represented by the Wasserman Media Group.
Cruz, 33, hit .266/.327/.506 in 456 plate appearances in 2013. A 50-game suspension for his connection to the Biogenesis scandal shortened his season. As MLBTR's Steve Adams noted in profiling Cruz in early November, however, that didn't stop Rangers manager Ron Washington from offering praise for Cruz as a teammate and a clubhouse presence.
The Rangers will now receive what is currently the No. 30 overall pick in the 2014 draft as a result of Cruz signing elsewhere. The Orioles, meanwhile, will sacrifice the No. 55 pick. Losing the No. 17 pick when they struck a deal with Ubaldo Jimenez likely made it easier for the Orioles to sign Cruz, since they would no longer have to give up a first-round draft choice in order to do so. In addition to Cruz and Jimenez, the Orioles have also signed Korean righty Suk-min Yoon to a three-year deal in the past week.
The Cruz deal is another win-now move for the Orioles, who are trying to build on an 85-win 2013 season and string together more wins before the potential departures of Chris Davis and Matt Wieters following the 2015 season. Cruz will serve as the Orioles' primary designated hitter, and he will also likely occasionally see time in the outfield. The transition to Camden Yards and the other hitter-friendly parks of the AL East should be a good move for Cruz, whose drastic home/road splits have drawn some criticism this offseason.
Of the remaining free agents, Cruz's pact with the Orioles most obviously affects Kendrys Morales. The Orioles reportedly had interest in Morales, so now the already-small number of interested bidders for Morales appears to be even smaller. Also, Cruz signing for one year and $8MM will likely make it even more difficult for Morales, a similar player, to get a sizeable deal.
The size of the deal will also likely increase skepticism throughout baseball about the qualifying offer process. That Cruz received so little was surely due in part to the fact that he had draft-pick forfeiture attached, and one year and $8MM is by far the smallest contract to which a qualifying offer player has agreed.
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.