Transactions Rumors

Rangers Sign Ed Lucas To Minor League Deal

The Rangers announced that they’ve signed infielder Ed Lucas to a minor league deal and invited him to big league Spring Training.

Texas claimed Lucas from the Marlins on waivers back in October but outrighted him at month’s end to clear a 40-man roster spot. The veteran utility man has played in 163 games for the Marlins over the past two seasons, batting .255/.302/.323 while appearing at all four infield positions as well as each outfield corner. Lucas, who turns 33 next May, didn’t reach the big until age 31 and has experience in parts of 11 minor league seasons. In 1482 plate appearances at Triple-A, he’s posted a .265/.338/.398 slash line.


Dodgers Acquire Juan Nicasio, Designate Ryan Jackson

The Dodgers announced that they have acquired right-hander Juan Nicasio from the Rockies in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. To make room for Nicasio, who was designated for assignment last week, the Dodgers have designated infielder Ryan Jackson for assignment.

The 28-year-old Nicasio has struggled as an on-and-off member of the Rockies’ rotation for the past four seasons, but he did post a handful of nice innings as a reliever for Colorado last year (3.48 ERA in 20 2/3 frames). Nicasio has averaged about 93 mph on his heater throughout his career, and a look at his velocity chart (courtesy of Fangraphs) from 2014 shows that his fastball jumped to nearly 95 mph when pitching out of the ‘pen late in the season.

Overall, Nicasio has a career ERA of 5.03 with 6.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 44.6 percent ground-ball rate in 381 innings. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected the arb-eligible righty to earn $2.4MM next season, which was likely a large factor in the Rockies removing him from the 40-man roster.

The 26-year-old Jackson has just two hits in 25 career plate appearances in the Majors. He was claimed off waivers from the Padres, and many speculated that former San Diego GM Josh Byrnes, now working in the Dodgers’ front office, had a hand in that decision. A shortstop by trade, Jackson is a career .274/.344/.369 hitter at the Triple-A level. He missed most of the 2014 season recovering from surgery on his right wrist.


Rangers Release Jim Adduci To Pursue Opportunity In Asia

NOV 24: The Rangers announced that Adduci has been released and will indeed pursue an opportunity with an Asian club.

NOV. 20, 10:20pm: Adduci is likely to be sold to a Korean or Japanese club, a Major League source tells MLBTR.

10:15pm: The Rangers announced that they have designated first baseman/outfielder Jim Adduci for assignment.

The 29-year-old Adduci has picked up 148 plate appearances with Texas over the past two seasons, batting a combined .189/.259/.242. His Triple-A batting line — .281/.352/.397 in 1157 plate appearances — is a significant improvement over those marks. Originally a 42nd-round draft pick of the Marlins, Adduci has also spent time in that organization as well as with the Cubs from 2007-12.



Latest On Pablo Sandoval

2:55pm: Though there have been conflicting reports ongoing throughout the day as to whether or not Sandoval has officially selected the Red Sox’ offer, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that not only is Sandoval’s deal with the Red Sox done, but it will be announced soon.

9:25am: Sandoval will make a final decision today, Vasquez tells Speier (Twitter link). FOX’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Padres have yet to be informed that they’re out of the running as well.

8:50am: The Giants offered Sandoval a five-year, $95MM contract and showed some willingness to go to $100MM if necessary, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com hears the same and adds that there was an understanding that the $95MM wasn’t necessarily a final offer.

7:04am: Gustavo Vasquez says no agreement has been reached and that his client is still weighing offers, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports (Twitter link).

6:51am: The Red Sox have agreed to a deal with free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  It’s a five-year contract worth in the range of $100MM.  Jake Wesley originally tweeted late last night that Sandoval and the Sox had reached a deal.  Sandoval is represented by Gustavo Vasquez of the SPS Sports Group.

Sandoval’s addition immediately addresses Boston’s need for a third baseman in the wake of Will Middlebrooks‘ disappointing 2014 season, and the switch-hitting Sandoval also adds some balance to a predominantly right-handed hitting Red Sox batting order.  While Sandoval never had much trouble hitting at AT&T Park (a career .853 OPS in San Francisco), it stands to reason that the move to hitter-friendly Fenway Park will only help his production.

With Sandoval in the fold and Hanley Ramirez reportedly also close to finalizing a deal, the Red Sox may have landed the two biggest infield bats on the free agency market.  It remains to be seen how the Red Sox will deploy their talent given Xander Bogaerts‘ presence at shortstop, though Sandoval is the obvious choice at third base given that he has posted above-average UZR/150 numbers in three of the last four seasons.

The Red Sox were one of three reported finalists for Sandoval along with the Giants and Padres.  (The Blue Jays and White Sox also showed some interest in Sandoval earlier this winter.)  This interest didn’t result in Sandoval finding his desired six guaranteed years, though if the contract does pay him a $20MM average annual value, it will be the second-highest AAV ever given to a third baseman, topped only by Alex Rodriguez‘s deal with the Yankees.

Sandoval, 28, has spent his entire seven-year Major League career with the Giants, becoming a fan favorite due to his “Kung Fu Panda” persona and his clutch bat.  Sandoval owns a .344/.389/.545 slash line in 167 postseason plate appearances, most notably being named MVP of the 2012 World Series.  Losing Sandoval is a big blow to the Giants, who may be looking to replace his production by signing Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas.  Since Tomas could be deployed as a third baseman, he might end up as a direct replacement for Sandoval should he indeed wind up a Giant.  FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Giants are interested in Tomas as a left fielder and would likely pursue Chase Headley to fill their third base vacancy if Sandoval went elsewhere.

San Francisco will now receive a bonus pick between the first and second rounds of the 2015 draft as compensation for Sandoval signing elsewhere,  since he rejected the team’s one-year qualifying offer.  Boston’s first round pick (7th overall) is protected, so the Sox will instead give up their second rounder as a result of the signing.


Red Sox Agree To Terms With Hanley Ramirez

The Red Sox have reached an agreement with Hanley Ramirez, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets.  FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets that it’s a four-year, $88MM contract with a $22MM vesting option for a fifth season.  Christopher Meola, who initially broke details of the Giancarlo Stanton signing, first reported yesterday morning that Ramirez would sign in Boston (Twitter link).   Ramirez is represented by Adam Katz of the Wasserman Media Group.

Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez, who hit .283/.369/.448 with 13 homers for the Dodgers last season and owns a .300/.373/.500 slash line for his career, was cited by MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes as the top position player available in free agency, though it was “unclear” as to how Ramirez’s market would develop.  While Ramirez’s impact bat was clearly a huge asset in an offense-thin free agent market, he has a notable injury history and is a below-average defensive shortstop, posting negative Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150 totals in seven of his nine full-time seasons.  In order to help his free agent case, Ramirez said he was open to switching positions, though his signing with the Sox opens up a number of possibilities on that front.

As of now, Ramirez projects as the everyday Red Sox third baseman, sharing the left side of the infield with shortstop Xander Bogaerts.  Since the Sox are reportedly close to a deal with Pablo Sandoval, however, Ramirez could be moved into a left field role, joining Boston’s very crowded outfield mix of Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts and Daniel Nava.  Cespedes’ name has been mentioned in trade rumors, so he seems like the most probable candidate to be playing elsewhere in 2015, but the Sox seem very likely to move multiple outfielders this winter.

The other alternative for Boston would be to install Ramirez at shortstop, Sandoval at 3B and then look to deal Bogaerts, whose star-caliber ceiling would make him a major chip in any trade.  Even if Bogaerts was dealt, the Red Sox wouldn’t have to deal with Ramirez’s shortstop glove for too long — prospect Deven Marrero could eventually take over, shifting Ramirez or Sandoval to DH (the other would play third) once David Ortiz retires.  Ortiz’s contract is only guaranteed for the 2015 season, though the 39-year-old slugger has a pair of team/vesting options for 2016 and 2017.

However things break down, it’s clear that the Red Sox are looking to amass as many top bats as possible in the increasingly pitching-dominated league.  The Sox have been hesitant about signing free agents to long contracts given how several of their recent major signings (i.e. Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew, John Lackey, Adrian Gonzalez) provided limited returns.  On paper, Ramirez doesn’t fit the model of the safe signing that Boston would prefer given his age (he’ll be 31 on Opening Day), injury history and defensive issues, though given how little payroll space the Sox have tied up in future commitments, the club had plenty of flexibility.

Earlier this month, MLBTR’s Zach Links projected Ramirez would get a six-year, $132MM deal, so the reported total of his pact with Boston lags behind in both years and dollars.  The qualifying offer and the questions about Ramirez’s defense could have played a role, or it could be that Ramirez was simply willing to take less money to play for the organization that originally signed him as an amateur free agent in 2000.  Ramirez developed into one of the game’s top prospects while in the Sox farm system and he played his first two Major League games with the team in 2005.  He was dealt that November to the Marlins as part of the trade package that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston.

The Dodgers will earn a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the 2015 draft as a result of the signing, as Ramirez turned down the team’s qualifying offer.  Boston’s 2015 first-round pick is protected, so the Sox will surrender their second-rounder to sign Ramirez (or their third-rounder, should Sandoval also be signed).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Josh Willingham Announces Retirement

Josh Willingham will officially retire after an 11-year Major League career, the outfielder told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Willingham’s decision comes despite receiving what he termed a “substantial” offer from a contending club this offseason, Crasnick writes. Willingham explained his decision process:

“I felt like it wouldn’t be fair to myself, and more importantly to the team that was paying me a lot of money to perform at a high level, if there was a chance my dedication would waver — particularly as the season got longer. I’m honored to have played for as many years as I have, and I feel even luckier to walk away on my own terms instead of having the decision made for me.”

The 35-year-old Willingham (36 in February) was a late bloomer who didn’t become an MLB regular until his age-27 season with the Marlins. However, once he established himself as a presence in their lineup, he quickly became known for his excellent plate discipline and plus right-handed power. He found himself traded to the Nationals and then to the A’s before reaching free agency for the first time, where he ultimately signed a three-year, $21MM contract with the Twins.

Willingham’s best season came in his first year with the Twins, as he batted .260/.366/.524 with a career-high 35 home runs — earning him a Silver Slugger and making him just the third player in Twins franchise history to hit 35 or more homers in a season (along with Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew and former AL Rookie of the Year Bob Allison). In total, Willingham’s career comes to a close with a .253/.358/.465 batting line, 195 homers and 632 RBIs in 1147 games between the Marlins, Nationals, A’s, Twins and Royals. The “Hammer” earned more than $35MM in his playing career, according to Baseball-Reference.com. MLBTR wishes Willingham and his family luck and happiness in his post-playing days and congratulates him on a very nice career.


Mariners, Kyle Seager Agree To Seven-Year, $100MM Extension

The Mariners and third baseman Kyle Seager are on the verge of completing a seven-year, $100MM extension, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The contract contains an option for an eighth season which could be worth as much as $20MM, depending on performance escalators, Passan adds. Seager’s deal is pending a physical. He is represented by Jet Sports Management’s Andrew Lowenthal.

Kyle Seager

Seager’s payday is well-deserved, as the 27-year-old has emerged as one of baseball’s best third basemen over the past three seasons. Seager has established himself as a durable source of power in an increasingly pitcher-friendly environment, and he’s a solid defender at third base as well. This past season, he batted .268/.334/.454 with a career-high 25 homers and excellent defensive marks (+10 DRS, +9.2 UZR/150) at third. His offense has increased incrementally with each full season in the Majors, and he’s never been placed on the disabled list.

Originally selected in the third round of the 2009 draft out of UNC, Seager has spent his entire career with the Mariners organization and now looks poised to spend the majority of his days as a Major Leaguer calling Safeco Field his home. The new contract will run through Seager’s age-33 season, with the option year covering his age-34 campaign. Seager had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5MM this offseason as a first-time arbitration eligible player.

If we take a guess at his second- and third-time arbitration figures — and this is a highly rudimentary estimate — he may have earned something in the range of $27-30MM over his arbitration seasons. That means the four free agent seasons purchased in this contract are valued somewhere between $17.5MM and $18.25MM. Seager becomes just the fourth player in his service class to secure a $100MM payday. As Passan tweets, only Mike Trout, Buster Posey and Freddie Freeman had reached that feat prior to this deal.

MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently looked at each team’s future payroll obligations, where the Mariners were among the leaders in future commitment due to their contracts with Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano. While this will further boost their long-term commitments and potentially limit their ability to add a large contract via trade or free agency, team president Kevin Mather recently said payroll will continue to increase following the $107MM spent in 2014. And, the contracts don’t overlap entirely; Hernandez is only controlled through 2019, which will be just the second free agent season on Seager’s deal. The team could potentially backload the contract, to some extent, to create sustained financial flexibility until Hernandez’s deal is off the books.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


A’s Acquire Ike Davis, Designate Andrew Brown

The A’s have acquired first baseman Ike Davis from the Pirates for international bonus slot money, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The A’s and Pirates have both tweeted confirmation of the trade, which also includes a swap of international bonus slots: the Pirates receiving the A’s first slot ($501.9K) in exchange for their third slot ($232K). The Pirates will net $269.9K in the swap of bonus slots (figures courtesy of Baseball America’s Ben Badler). To create room on the 40-man roster, the A’s have designated outfielder Andrew Brown for assignment.

Slusser tweets acquiring Davis, who was designated for assignment by the Pirates on Thursday, is a depth move and not an indication the A’s are preparing to deal any of their first basemen. The trade comes less than a week after Oakland signed Billy Butler to a three-year, $30MM free agent contract. The 40-man roster logjam at DH/first base now include the aforementioned Davis and Butler plus Brandon Moss, John Jaso, Stephen Vogt, Kyle Blanks, and Nate Freiman. With this surplus, Slusser notes the A’s now have the flexibility to make a deal if they are overwhelmed by an offer.

Davis struggled to start 2014 with just five hits, including one home run, in 30 plate appearances before being dealt by the Mets to the Pirates in April. The 27-year-old fared slightly better in Pittsburgh slashing .235/.343/.378 with ten home runs in 397 plate appearances. Davis is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $4.4MM in his second time through arbitration.

The A’s claimed Brown off waivers from the Mets on Halloween. The 30-year-old produced a .182/.245/.341 slash with the Mets in 49 plate appearances. Brown has spent parts of four MLB seasons with the Mets, Rockies and Cardinals compiling a batting line of .220/.281/.390 in 362 trips to the plate.


Indians Designate Scott Barnes For Assignment

The Indians have designated left-hander Scott Barnes for assignment, according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer (on Twitter).  The move will help the Tribe create room for right-hander Charles Brewer, who was acquired from Arizona last night.

Barnes, 27, has made 22 big league appearances for the Indians over the last two seasons, though he has spent more time pitching for their Triple-A affiliate.  This past season, Barnes pitched to a 3.69 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 24 relief appearances and one start.

As the MLBTR DFA Tracker shows, there are now 16 players in DFA limbo.


Indians Acquire Charles Brewer

The Indians have acquired right-handed pitcher Charles Brewer from the Diamondbacks in exchange for cash considerations, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Brewer was designated for assignment on Thursday. It’s the second trade of the evening for Arizona – they also dealt Mike Bolsinger to the Dodgers for cash considerations.

Brewer, 27 next season, had a brief cup of coffee with the Diamondbacks in 2013. Over a six season minor league career, he’s posted a 4.09 ERA, 7.8 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9. The righty has a 90 mph fastball. Prospect maven John Sickels of SB Nation wrote in 2012: “he has a short window of opportunity to establish himself but has a shot at becoming a back-end rotation member or a reliever.”

The Indians likely view Brewer as a useful depth piece who can help to provide stability at the Triple-A level. Their rotation is currently full, with viable major league starters Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin penciled in as sixth and seventh on the depth chart. Brewer has worked almost exclusively as a starter, but his best chance at reaching the majors may be as a reliever.