T.J. McFarland Rumors

Orioles Notes: Rodriguez, Feldman, McFarland

We learned earlier this morning that two recent Orioles players — Taylor Teagarden and Jairo Asencio — will hit the open market and could be playing elsewhere in 2014. Of course, neither of those players figured prominently in the club's plans. Here are a few notes of somewhat greater importance to the Baltimore franchise:

  • Trade deadline acquisition Francisco Rodriguez never really fit in with the club, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Dubroff says the O's will not bring back Roriguez, who was the last to show up and first to leave the clubhouse and never found a prominent role in manager Buck Showalter's pen. The O's largely got what they hoped for with Rodriguez: he posted 11.5 K/9 against just 2.0 BB/9 in 22 innings, though his ERA ended up at a middling 4.50. But he was used in just seven games that the team ultimately won, making the price (prospect Nick Delmonico) seem tough to swallow in retrospect. 
  • One of the Orioles' other big mid-year adds was starter Scott Feldman, who could be re-signed as a free agent. To do so, says MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko, the club may need to be willing to offer a three-year deal. (MLBTR's Steve Adams pegged three years and $25MM as Feldman's ceiling, but opined that he is likelier to end up in the neighborhood of two years and $17MM.) Whether or not Feldman is pitching in Camden Yards next year, Kubatko says that the trade by which he was acquired was a good one. Though Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta have both enhanced their value since going to the Cubs in that deal, says Kubatko, the former couldn't be trusted in the late innings and lacked options, while the latter clearly needed a change of scenery to get his career back on track. 
  • Another candidate for the 2014 Baltimore rotation could be the under-the-radar T.J. McFarland, says MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski. The O's have now established control over the Rule 5 pick after carrying him on their active roster for all of 2013. McFarland, a 24-year-old lefty, ended the year with a 4.22 ERA in 74 2/3 innings, the vast majority of which came in relief. But the former Indians farmhand spent his entire minor league career in the rotation, and will throw in Venezuela over the winter to add innings in the hopes of competing for a starting gig with Baltimore next season.

Orioles Facing Roster Decisions On Wada, Jurrjens

The Orioles will soon face roster decisions on left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada and right-hander Jair Jurrjens, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports. If all goes well in Wada's extended Spring Training game today, the Orioles can send him on a minor league rehab assignment for as many as 30 days. Wada's contract — a two-year, $8.15MM pact — stipulates that he cannot be optioned to the minors without his consent.

Wada has yet to appear in a game for the Orioles since signing that contract prior to the 2012 season. He made just one appearance for the O's at Triple-A before being diagnosed with a torn UCL and undergoing Tommy John surgery. Prior to the signing, Wada was coming off a two-year stretch in which he posted a 2.29 ERA in 354 innings in Japan.

The Orioles could consider a relief role for Wada, but the team already has three left-handers in Troy Patton, Brian Matusz and T.J. McFarland. Patton has drawn trade interest, according to Kubatko, but there's no indication that the Orioles would move him — especially before ascertaining that McFarland can succeed over the course of a full season. McFarland, a Rule 5 pick, has allowed a .318/.348/.545 batting line to opposing lefties thus far.

Further complicating matters is the fact that Jurrjens has a June 15 opt-out clause in his minor league contract. Jurrjens has posted a 2.62 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in seven starts spanning 44 2/3 innings for the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate thus far.

The O's are currently deploying a rotation that consists of Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman, Steve Johnson and Freddy Garcia. Johnson will make his first start Saturday due to the fact that Miguel Gonzalez hit the disabled list with a blister on his thumb. Obviously, that ailment won't keep Gonzalez out for a significant period of time. Garcia seems to be the odd man out, but Kubatko notes that he's pitched well in both of his starts for Baltimore aside from a one-inning hiccup in each.

Beyond all the names listed by Kubatko, the Orioles also have intriguing arms in Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton currently pitching at Triple-A. Each former top prospect has looked sharp at Norfolk, but neither has a clear-cut rotation spot at the Major League level.

It's a bit early in the season to be working out significant trades — and this is just my speculation — but the Phillies have made it known that they are considering outside candidates to replace Roy Halladay in their rotation. Perhaps the two sides could line up as trade partners sometime in the next month.


AL Notes: Blue Jays, Jackson, McFarland, Francona

The 2013 Blue Jays are the only team since 2009 to make three or more waiver claims in April, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus notes. The Jays have claimed Casper Wells, Edgar Gonzalez and Mauro Gomez this month. The Jays are typically very active on the waiver wire, frequently claiming players and then trying to sneak them through waivers again in an attempt to build depth in their minor-league system. (Toronto also claimed four players in the last half of March: Todd Redmond, Guillermo Moscoso, Alex Burnett and Clint Robinson. Moscoso and Burnett were lost after other teams claimed them.) The Jays' waiver-claim strategy is unusual for a contending team, Anderson says. Here are more notes from around the American League.

  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter reiterates that 1B/OF Conor Jackson retired at least in part because his enjoyment of the game diminished, MASN's Roch Kubatko reports. "[Jackson] loved being with the organization and all that, but he's at the stage of his life where it wasn't something he wanted to continue to do," says Showalter. "I just wanted to know whether there was something he was unhappy about. It wasn't at all. He had been thinking about it for a little while and just didn't enjoy going to the park like he used to." Jackson appeared in nine games this year for Triple-A Norfolk, hitting .200/.333/.240.
  • Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland, from the Indians' system, remains in the Orioles' bullpen, notes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. He has appeared in just one game so far, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings April 6. The Orioles' recent trade of Luis Ayala to the Braves gives McFarland some breathing room, but he'll still have to pitch well to remain on Baltimore's roster the entire year. "We've been throwing him down in the bullpen. Keeping the ball in his hand," Showalter tells Ghiroli. "There will come a time this season, I hope, when it's not always saving him for long relief."
  • Indians manager Terry Francona isn't fixated on his past with the Red Sox, against whom the Indians have an upcoming series, MLB.com's Zack Meisel reports. "To be honest, I'm an Indian," says Francona. "I'm aware of the questions and everything, and I have a lot of great memories, but I don't think it's fair to the players. … They don't need to be worrying about me having nostalgia week. They just need to try to beat them." The Red Sox let Francona go in 2011, and after a season working for ESPN, he took over as manager in Cleveland.


Orioles Could Trade Luis Ayala

The Orioles are contacting other teams to let them know reliever Luis Ayala is available in a trade, the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly reports. The O’s would like to find space on their 25-man roster for Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland. They might be looking for players in return who aren’t required to be placed on the 40-man roster, Connolly says.

Baltimore is known to be interested in finding depth to back up Matt Wieters and Taylor Teagarden at catcher.

Ayala will make $1MM in 2013. He pitched 75 innings for the Orioles in 2012, posting a 2.64 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.


2012 Rule 5 Draft Results

Each year, Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings conclude with the Rule 5 Draft. For those who are unfamiliar with the event, MLBTR offers an in-depth description, but here's a quick overview.

Players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren't on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed. Teams draft in the reverse order of the previous season's standings but aren't required to make a selection. If they do choose a player, they pay his former team $50K and must keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25K.

The results from the Major League phase:

  1. Astros take righty Josh Fields from Red Sox
  2. Cubs take righty Hector Rondon from Indians
  3. Rockies take lefty Danny Rosenbaum from Nationals
  4. Twins take righty Ryan Pressly from Red Sox
  5. Indians take first baseman Chris McGuiness from Rangers
  6. Marlins take outfielder Alfredo Silverio from Dodgers
  7. Red Sox take second baseman Jeff Kobernus from Nationals; traded to Tigers for infielder/outfielder Justin Henry
  8. Royals
  9. Blue Jays
  10. Mets take lefty Kyle Lobstein from Rays; traded to Tigers for cash considerations
  11. Mariners
  12. Padres
  13. Pirates
  14. Diamondbacks take righty Starling Peralta from Cubs
  15. Phillies take outfielder Ender Inciarte from Diamondbacks
  16. Brewers
  17. White Sox take infielder Angel Sanchez from Angels
  18. Dodgers
  19. Cardinals
  20. Tigers
  21. Angels
  22. Rays
  23. Orioles take lefty T.J. McFarland from Indians
  24. Rangers take righty Coty Woods from Rockies
  25. Athletics
  26. Giants
  27. Braves
  28. Yankees
  29. Reds
  30. Nationals

Second round of Major League phase: