Tomo Ohka Rumors
It's a weak market for catchers now that the Yankees have taken Brian McCann off the board, an article by Bradley Woodrum of Fangraphs shows. While teams such as the Red Sox, Rockies and Rangers are still in the market for backstop help, the best remaining option, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, will bring a large platoon split to the lineup of whichever team signs him. Here's the latest from around the AL, as a busy evening on MLBTR draws to a close:
- The Royals have had no talks about Billy Butler with any team, a source tells Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
- In an article for the Detroit Free Press, John Lowe considers the impact of the Ian Kinsler deal on the Tigers' lineup. Much depends on whether the front office believes prospect Nick Castellanos is ready to hit in the big leagues, Lowe writes. If so, he could take the third base job, allowing Miguel Cabrera to slide back to first base.
- FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets that Kinsler's agent, Jay Franklin, says the Tigers are indicating they'll play Kinsler at second base. Given this and the team's other priorities, signing Robinson Cano is likely a long shot at this point, Rosenthal says (via Twitter).
- Mike Napoli says he "wouldn’t see why not" when asked about the possibility of returning to the Red Sox in 2014, Rob Bradford writes in an article for WEEI.com. A recent end-of-season MRI showed that the avascular necrosis in Napoli's hips isn't an issue at the time, according to the article.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com considers how the Yankees' signing of McCann could affect potential negotiations between the Orioles and Matt Wieters over an extension. The O's must try to figure out "to what extreme [Wieters agent Scott] Boras will attempt to trump the McCann deal," Kubatko says.
- The Orioles are among clubs with interest in Tomo Ohka, tweets NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman, citing a report from Sanspo. The 10-year big league veteran is trying to make it back to the majors as a knuckleballer.
- The Prince Fielder trade shows that the Rangers are getting creative in their offseason quest for bats, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes. Texas is hesitant to forfeit a first-round draft pick to sign a player such as Jacoby Ellsbury, as the team will already be limited on the international side of the amateur talent market after greatly exceeding their bonus pool this past summer.
- Shipping Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals sets the Angels up with an outfield of Mike Trout in center, Kole Calhoun in right and Josh Hamilton in left, Mike DiGiovanna says in an article on the trade for the Los Angeles Times. As DiGiovanna notes, the trade also reunites David Freese with Albert Pujols, his teammate in 2011 with the Cardinals.
- Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times wonders how the Angels will fit two starters into their offseason budget after acquiring Joe Smith, Freese and Fernando Salas (Twitter link).
Dioner Navarro and Geovany Soto represent the best values available at catcher at the start of the free agent season, ESPN's Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Soto, of course, already re-signed with the Rangers for one year and $3.05MM. Navarro, Law writes, should get paid "backup money," but he might put up a starter-caliber performance. His .300/.365/.492 line in part-time duty with the Cubs in 2013 almost surely isn't sustainable, but his skill set could make him a valuable player anyway. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- The Nationals will allow the Mariners to interview Trent Jewett to be their third-base coach, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets. Sherman, meanwhile, tweets that Jewett is "almost certain" to leave. Jewett was the Pirates' third-base coach for part of the time that new Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon managed in Pittsburgh. Jewett joined the Nationals' organization in 2009.
- Former big-league pitcher Tomo Ohka is trying to make it back to the Majors as a knuckleballer, NikkanSports.com reports. Ohka began to rely on the pitch after having shoulder surgery in 2011. In 2013, he posted a 3.73 ERA in 21 games with the Toyama Thunderbirds in Japan's Baseball Challenge league. Ohka came to the U.S. in October to train in Arizona. "I threw a lot every day. I was able to confirm that I had been training properly on my own," Ohka says. "I want to give it another shot if given the chance, even if I have to start in the minors." Ohka last appeared in the Majors with the Indians in 2009.
- Now that they've hired Rick Renteria to be their new manager, the Cubs might be done making big moves this offseason, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. "We’re realistic about where we are and the need to get better," says team president Theo Epstein. "But we’re also realistic about where we are and about where the market is likely to go." That means the Cubs won't trade for David Price, or sign Brian McCann. The Cubs are keeping all their options open, but Epstein notes that they're unlikely to spend as wildly as some other teams: "[W]e’re playing against the big boys, too. And there’s a lot of money out there."
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
The Yokohama BayStars signed pitcher Tomo Ohka, according to a Sanspo report passed along by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman on Twitter. Newman notes that Ohka began his career with the BayStars. The Red Sox purchased Ohka's contract from the team in '98 and started him at Double A the following year.
Ohka, 34, posted a 5.96 ERA, 3.9 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9 in 71 innings for the Indians last year, allowing 18 home runs. Ohka had signed with a Mexican League team in March, but was quickly released.
I profiled Ohka in December of '06, back when he was holding out for a three-year deal. He's an interesting character.
Leftover links for Tuesday evening....
- Perhaps we shouldn't count on the Mike Lowell rumor mill immediately roaring back to life. ESPNBoston's Gordon Edes says (via Twitter) that scouts don't feel Lowell is moving very well in spring action. Of course, as Edes points out in a second tweet, the 36-year-old doesn't move overly well even when he's healthy.
- Greg Cote of the Miami Herald thinks Lowell's limited mobility isn't as big a concern as long as he's playing first base, and would like to see the Marlins go after him.
- The Quintana Roo Tigers of the Mexican League released Tomo Ohka, tweets NPB Tracker. The Tigers had just signed the Japanese right-hander last week.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer assesses the progress of the players the Indians acquired in last season's Cliff Lee trade, focusing on Jason Donald.
- The Yankees have finally made their hiring of Kevin Towers official, naming him a Special Assignment Scout, per a team press release. It was first reported back in January that Towers would be joining New York's staff.
- Yesterday, we heard that the Mariners still have interest in Jarrod Washburn, but John Hickey of AOL Fanhouse tweets that the left-hander isn't close to signing yet with Seattle or anyone else.
- The Astros, not the Red Sox, signed minor-leaguer and former Mariners' first round pick, Michael Garciaparra, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.
- If he were a GM tasked with signing either himself and Vladimir Guerrero, Marlon Byrd would make the same choice the Rangers did, according to ESPNDallas' Richard Durrett. Byrd says that before he signed with the Cubs, he had some preliminary discussions with Texas, adding that the Rangers' decision to sign Vladdy was a "no brainer."
All the best in non-Cuban baseball news...
- Scouts from eight teams recently gathered to watch Taiwanese pitching prospect Min-Tzu Chen, according to Taiwan Baseball. Chen, a converted outfielder, has only been pitching for three months but reportedly already has offers in hand from the Royals and Padres.
- Tomo Ohka has agreed to a deal with the Mexican League Quintana Roo Tigers, reports Japanese Ball Players.
- Ruben Gotay isn't often mentioned in discussions about who will man third base for the Cardinals this season, and his .255/.315/.371 career numbers don't scream "slugging corner infielder." But the 28-year-old Puerto Rican utilityman tells Primera Hora's Esteban Rivera that the Cardinals signed him and invited him to spring training exclusively with the hot corner in mind. Gotay played his first full season at third at Triple A in the Diamondbacks system last season, showing newfound patience with a .272/.429/.450 line including 102 walks in 479 PAs. While he is fourth at best on the depth chart, the first two candidates, David Freese and Tyler Greene, have 150 Major League PAs combined, and Felipe Lopez has played 13 games at third in the last five years, all for the Cardinals in 2008.
- In 11 Major League seasons, Ricardo Rincon managed a 3.59 ERA and logged 565 appearances in the "G" column, but look one column to the right at "GS," and cue the rolling tumbleweeds. That's changing in the Mexican League, where the 39-year-old is trying to crack the starting rotation of the Minatitlan Oilers, according to the league site.
- MLB is partnering with the Jamaican government to build a stadium on the north side of the island in Trelawny, reports the Jamaica Observer. The complex will be the league's first-ever investment in the country, which is looking to expand its presence in international sports following the success of Usain Bolt. One current big league player, Indians pitcher Justin Masterson, was born in Jamaica.
Let's start the evening off by rounding up a few spare links...
- According to The Associated Press (via ESPN), Royals manager Trey Hillman will return to the team next season. Kansas City GM Dayton Moore, who originally hired Hillman, had his contract extended through 2014 earlier this week.
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams was asked if the Jim Thome and Jose Contreras trades indicate that he was throwing in the towel according to Scot Gregor of The Daily Herald, and Williams replied "Hell no. We're still in it to win it.”
- Patrick at NPB Tracker passes along a report saying that the Yokohama BayStars are looking to import Japanese pitchers currently playing in the States. The article mentions that players like Tomo Ohka, Yasuhiko Yabuta, and Masahide Kobayashi could interest the BayStars, while Patrick throws the names of Kei Igawa and Takashi Saito into the ring.
- ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. writes that Miguel Angel Sano is not the only big name Latin American free agent stuck in age investigation limbo. Venezuelan pitcher Daniel Sanchez, considered one of the best pitchers available this year, is stuck in the same boat after the Brewers put in a formal request to MLB to investigate his age. An age investigation is a prerequisite to signing any player from Latin America.
According to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince, the Indians signed pitcher Tomo Ohka to a minor league deal. He spent all of '08 at Triple A, tossing 135.2 innings with a 4.18 ERA for the Triple A affiliate of the White Sox. Ohka is an interesting character; I took a closer look at him in a post written two years ago.
According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, the White Sox have signed pitcher Tomo Ohka, who turns 32 in March. Ohka made ten big league starts in '07 for the Jays, and the results were not pretty. He also pitched at Triple A for the Mariners and Cardinals, ineffectively.
Ohka is an interesting character. I wrote this profile of him over a year ago, but it's still a decent look at his history. You might say he's had a few attitude problems. Regardless, it doesn't hurt for the Sox to have him in Triple A as insurance.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cardinals have signed free agent righty Tomo Ohka to a minor league contract. The Phillies were in on him as well, but the Cardinals gave him a shorter minor league requirement.
The Cardinals talked to Ohka's agent last December, but must have found $1.5MM guaranteed to be prohibitive. It's easier to swallow when the Blue Jays are paying Ohka's salary. I think Ohka's rotator cuff is still kind of messed up, but he might be able to get by in the NL Central.
Check out my profile of Ohka here; he's an interesting character. Unfortunately Ohka likely won't remain a Memphis Redbird long enough to run into Sun-Woo Kim of the Fresno Grizzlies. The two engaged in fisticuffs back in 2000 as members of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The authority on all trade rumors, Ken Rosenthal has spoken. Let's review.
- As we have heard before, the Dodgers like Adam Dunn. We've also discussed the fact that there's not a clear place to put him. Whether you go with first base or left field, a veteran must move. The Padres like Dunn as well but talks have yet to occur. The Angels may have liked him in the past but they don't seem likely at this point. And the Twins? They just won't break the bank for him unfortunately.
- With Michael Barrett having issues with 40% of the Cubs' rotation, the Cubs could look to trade him. Even though he's a top offensive catcher, his impending free agency might prevent any strong return. Plus, the Cubs would have to go with a Henry Blanco/Koyie Hill tandem. A more likely scenario is that the Cubs will let Barrett walk after the season.
- Finally some clarity on Eric Gagne's limited no-trade protection. Rosenthal reveals that he can veto trades to 12 teams. The Phillies and Indians are again mentioned as suitors. Rosenthal thinks Mark Teixeira could generate a lot of talk but no action at the trading deadline. Kind of like Alfonso Soriano or A.J. Burnett before him.
- The asking price for Brad Lidge, supposedly: a premium young catcher and promising young pitcher. Lidge will probably earn $8MM next year before hitting free agency. The Astros should be happy with a young catcher or a young pitcher, not both. I'd mention Salty here but I think he is worth much more than Lidge. Rosenthal says the Astros could move another bullpen arm like Wheeler or Qualls to get the bat they need.
- Could the Devil Rays simply retain Al Reyes and Carlos Pena? Both players could be valuable contributors to the 2008 club. I like the idea of keeping Reyes around for next year, but I think Pena has peaked.
- Noah Lowry would get the attention of the Braves or Cardinals, but the Giants are unlikely to move him.
- The Phils are likely to pass on Tomo Ohka despite their need for pitching.