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Here are some minor moves from around the league to kick off your Friday morning…
- Among the Red Sox players signing minor league deals with spring invites, in addition to the previously-reported Mitchell Boggs, are middle infielder Jeff Bianchi and catcher Luke Montz, the club announced (via Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com, on Twitter). Bianchi is a 28-year-old who has struggled in limited MLB action over the last three years with the Brewers, but has slashed .299/.349/.428 at Triple-A over parts of three seasons. Montz, 31, has seen even more limited time in the majors but owns a solid .232/.318/.456 slash over 781 career plate appearances at Triple-A.
- The Pirates have added righty Wilfredo Boscan and lefty Charlie Leesman to their slate of non-roster invitees to MLB camp after signing the duo to minor league deals, the team announced. Boscan, a 25-year-old out of Venezuela, has yet to appear at the MLB level and has worked as a swingman in recent years in the upper minors. The 27-year-old Leesman has seen very minimal time with the White Sox but has logged plenty of innings out of that organization’s Triple-A rotation, working to a cumulative 3.27 ERA over 291 1/3 innings.
- Catcher Arturo Rodriguez has signed with the Marlins, per the Mexican League website (on MiLB.com). The 23-year-old slashed an impressive .379/.421/.618 and hit 15 long balls in 359 plate appearances last year in his nation’s top league.
- The Rangers announced yesterday that they have signed first baseman Mike McDade and right-hander Mason Tobin to minor league contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training. McDade, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, spent the first six seasons of his pro career with the Blue Jays and returned to Toronto in 2014 after spending a season with the Indians and White Sox organizations. He struggled in 326 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, slashing .242/.298/.349.
- As for Tobin, if he sounds familiar to Rangers fans, it’s because he broke camp with the club in 2011 and pitched 5 1/3 innings for Texas that season before requiring a second Tommy John operation. The 27-year-old hasn’t been in the bigs since. He’s spent the past two seasons with San Francisco’s Triple-A affiliate, posting a combined 4.74 ERA with a 50-to-35 K/BB ratio in 68 1/3 innings.
- The Angels have signed right-hander Steven Hensley to a minor league contract without a Spring Training invite, tweets MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. Hensley, who turned 28 in December, posted a 2.09 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 60 1/3 innings with the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate last year, though he was obviously quite a bit more experienced than much of his competition. Perhaps of more interest to Halos fans is that Gonzalez adds that we should look for the Angels to continue to add relievers. Anaheim added another minor league relief arm yesterday, acquiring righty Nate Hyatt along with third baseman Kyle Kubitza in a trade of minor leaguers that sent high-upside lefty Ricardo Sanchez to Atlanta.
MLBTR offers its best wishes to the family and friends of former Negro League player Herb Simpson, who passed away Wednesday at age 94. As MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes, Simpson was the last known surviving member of the Seattle Steelheads and also saw action with the Birmingham Black Barons and Chicago American Giants.
As we honor an early pioneer of African-American baseball in the Pacific Northwest, here are some notes from the league’s western divisions:
- Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that asking prices in trade talks for another backstop are simply too high at present. “We’ve not made a whole lot of headway in that area yet,” said Stewart. “Without really giving up something that’s going to cost us a player that we don’t want to give away, we don’t have a whole lot of motion yet.” Arizona has had talks with the Blue Jays regarding Dioner Navarro and with the Cubs regarding Welington Castillo, says Piecoro.
- The Rockies have “mild” interest in trading for Dan Haren, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. However, as he notes, the thin air and homer-friendly nature of Coors Field make Colorado a fairly poor fit for Haren. Morosi also tweets that while the Giants did have interest earlier in the offseason (prior to re-signing Jake Peavy), there’s no active dialogue between Miami and San Francisco.
- Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar, who missed the entire 2014 season after tearing the same muscle in his right shoulder twice, has been cleared to begin a throwing program on Jan. 19, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Still just 21 years old, it was only two years ago that Profar was the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in baseball (per Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com). A healthy Profar would give the Rangers somewhat of a surplus of middle infielders, as Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor are both in the fold as well.
So far this offseason, an unusual amount of free agent spending has been made by teams that were less successful in 2014, Sam Miller writes for FOX Sports. While Miller acknowledges the possibility of a short-sample blip, he notes that last year showed a similar trend. And, as he explains, factors such as the addition of a second Wild Card suggest a reasonable explanation for a real shift in strategies. Those interested in broader market movement will certainly want to give this thoughtful piece a complete read.
Here’s the latest on the current market:
- Second-time Tommy John patient Brandon Beachy remains available, unlike similarly-situated former teammate Kris Medlen and most other high-upside rebound candidates. Recent reports suggest his market is reaching maturation, and the Braves remain interested and involved, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). After checking in on the 28-year-old, however, the Rangers are out of the pursuit, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.
- The Blue Jays have joined the Marlins and Orioles in expressing interest in outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. For what it’s worth, the left-handed-hitting Ichiro’s historically neutral splits have skewed toward a significant reverse platoon advantage in recent seasons, though he has seen fairly limited action against southpaws.
- Toronto’s strongest AL East competition could come from the Red Sox, who like their Canadian rivals are still in the hunt for bullpen upgrades, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. GM Ben Cherington says that he is “still working” to build out the Boston relief corps.
Though the market for James Shields‘ services is reportedly strong — at least one $110MM offer is said to be in hand — the likeliest destinations for the veteran righty remain something of a mystery. Here’s the latest:
- The Blue Jays are not negotiating with Shields, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. On the other hand, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (via Twitter) that the club would consider entering the fray if the price tag were to drop. That does not seem to be terribly likely, of course, if Shields does indeed already have significant interest at nine figures.
- Though the Rangers met with Shields at the Winter Meetings, the club is not in position to sign him, as MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports. A deal to bring Shields to Texas is “not in the cards,” says GM Jon Daniels, who notes that the team has “not really” been in touch with the Shields camp since December.
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 Rangers have inked righty Juan Carlos Oviedo to a minor league deal with a spring training invite, club executive VP of communications John Blake announced on Twitter. Texas also designated righty Matt West for assignment to create roster space for the re-signing of Adam Rosales, Blake further tweets.
Oviedo, who will soon turn 33, returned from a long big league layoff to throw 31 2/3 innings of 3.69 ERA ball last year for the Rays. He put up 7.4 K/9 against 4.5 BB/9 over that stretch. On the other hand, ERA estimators were none too excited about his effort. He worked to a 4.52 FIP, 5.32 xFIP, and 4.46 SIERA.
West, meanwhile, is a 26-year-old reliever who reached the big leagues briefly last year with the Rangers. He made just three outings at the MLB level, but put up a solid 3.34 ERA over 56 2/3 frames in the upper minors. West backed those results with 10.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.
The Rangers have agreed to terms with utility infielder Adam Rosales on a one-year, $900K contract, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The Rangers had non-tendered the Octagon client earlier this winter.
Rosales, 31, has bounced around a fair bit but is obviously valued for his versatility. Over parts of seven seasons, he has spent over 450 MLB innings at each of the non-catching infield positions in addition to seeing some time in the outfield.
Of course, Rosales is not terribly productive offensively. In 1,101 career turns at bat, Rosales owns a .226/.294/.342 slash. But he produced at a roughly league-average clip last year for Texas and posted a sturdy .276/.349/.434 line in 307 plate appearances at Triple-A.
The return of Alex Rodriguez headlines the top ten baseball storylines in 2015, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. With the 39-year-old Rodriguez and his two degenerating hips returning after serving a 162-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, Cafardo posits the best-case scenario for the Yankees would be if A-Rod cannot hold up physically or the team and/or MLB come up with more damaging material to keep him out of baseball for good. Also making Cafardo’s list, the start of Rob Manfred’s tenure as Commissioner and Pete Rose testing the waters of reinstatement in the wake of the retirement of Bud Selig, a staunch opponent of allowing the all-time hits leader back into the game.
In other tidbits from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:
- It has been hard to gauge the market for James Shields because his negotiations have been private. However, a MLB source tells Cafardo the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Giants have had discussions or shown interest in the right-hander. Cafardo adds the Giants have cooled on Shields after re-signing Jake Peavy, but remain open-minded.
- The Giants, Nationals, Angels, and Cubs are seriously pursuing Ben Zobrist with the Rays‘ asking price being at least one top prospect and a mid-level one.
- Dan Uggla is confident in returning to his former self after being diagnosed with oculomotor dysfunction (poor motion vision when moving the head or body), which was caused by being hit in the head by a pitch on two separate occasions. After a two-week exercise regimen, doctors have declared the second baseman’s motion vision normal. The Nationals, who signed Uggla to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite the day after Christmas, have prior experience in dealing with oculomotor dysfunction, as Denard Span suffered through it in 2013. The Orioles and Rangers also expressed interest in Uggla.
- Despite his less-than-stellar reputation, Cafardo finds it hard to fathom a team would not trade for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Cafardo notes Papelbon has found a way to keep getting batters out with diminished velocity as evident by his 106 saves over the past three seasons, including 39 (with just four blown saves) for a bad Phillies team last year.
- Clubs are only offering outfielder Nori Aoki two-year deals. The Orioles have definite interest in Aoki, who also has some appeal to the Giants.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Rodriguez | Baltimore Orioles | Ben Zobrist | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Dan Uggla | James Shields | Jonathan Papelbon | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | New York Yankees | Norichika Aoki | Philadelphia Phillies | San Francisco Giants | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals
It’s been a little over two years since the Marlins and Blue Jays completed the mega-trade that sent $163.75MM in major league veterans north of the border for a bundle of prospect joy. The Marlins were roasted for the decision at the time, but it’s looking wiser by the day, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Not only did the move clear much needed payroll (since used on Giancarlo Stanton), it also accounts for a lot of the top talent in the organization. In addition to Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Justin Nicolino, the Fish netted seven more players using pieces traced to the original trade with the Jays.
- Brewers prospect Devin Williams is now represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Williams was the Brewers second round pick in 2013, and Heyman adds he’s one of Milwaukee’s top 10 prospects. Williams, 19, pitched to a 4.48 ERA with 8.95 K/9 and 2.71 BB/9 in the rookie level Pioneer League.
- The White Sox are still looking into trading outfielder Dayan Viciedo, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Needs include bullpen and bench depth.
- The ongoing Max Scherzer saga could greatly affect the Tigers in 2015, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Per Beck, the Tigers are likely to let Scherzer walk if another club shows heavy interest. If he continues to float on the market as he is now, there will be increasing pressure to bring him back. Owner Mike Illich is known for his penchant to reward players who have performed well in Detroit.
- Left field is an obvious hole for the Rangers, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The internal candidates are Michael Choice, Ryan Rua, and Jake Smolinski, but don’t be surprised if additional depth is added. The club is also expected to add a catcher to compete with Robinson Chirinos.
- Shortstop continues to be a glaring flaw on the Mets roster, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Last year, the club was unsuccessful upgrading over Ruben Tejada. This time, Wilmer Flores is the guy on the hot seat, with Tejada still in the picture too. My own take: unless the Mets can pinch Troy Tulowitzki, they’ll enter the season with Flores and Tejada. In the grand scheme of major league shortstops, neither projects to be terrible. Meanwhile, if they wanted Stephen Drew, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to acquire him over the last 14 months.
Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball.
- The Indians have signed Casey Weathers to a minor-league deal, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets. The hard-throwing righty and former Rockies first-round pick has struggled with his control throughout his career. He also has a lengthy injury history and missed most of the past two seasons with elbow trouble, although he says he’s now pain-free, and Passan links to a recent video of Weathers throwing 106 MPH after getting a running start.
- The Rays have signed another hard-throwing righty reliever, Jhan Marinez, according to the International League transactions page. Marinez, 26, posted a 6.69 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 7.1 BB/9 in 40 1/3 innings in the Dodgers and Tigers systems in 2014, struggling badly with his control. He last appeared in the big leagues with the White Sox in 2012.
- The Rangers have signed righty Mitch Atkins, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Atkins, 29, pitched for Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett in the Braves system in 2014, posting a combined 3.76 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 141 1/3 innings. He pitched briefly in the big leagues for the Cubs (2009-2010) and Orioles (2011).