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Travis Ishikawa Rumors
One of Jeff Bridich’s proudest accomplishments likely didn’t come up when he was bumped from senior directior of player development to GM of the Rockies. As a junior at Harvard, Bridich hit a two-run homer over Fenway’s Green Monster against UMass. Even though the Crimson ultimately lost 13-12, it remains a cherished family memory for Bridich, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. “Hitting a homer at Fenway was cool, but it’s more special because my dad did the same thing when he played for Harvard,” Bridich said. “He hit his to almost the same spot. Of course, my father did it with a wood bat, so that’s a little bit more impressive.” Here’s more out of the NL West..
- If the Dodgers move on from General Manager Ned Colletti, their top target appears to be Rays GM Andrew Friedman, according to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. A lot of great things happened under Colletti’s watch, including Clayton Kershaw becoming a Cy Young Award winner and Dee Gordon becoming an All-Star, but the new Dodgers owners view him as someone who gave away too much money to older players and built a shoddy bullpen.
- While toiling away in Triple-A last season, Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa spent just two weeks with his family between February 1 and September 1. With little hope of getting back to the bigs, he nearly gave up on baseball to spend more time with his family back home, writes Alex Pavlovic of The Mercury News. “I thought about retiring. I was trying to figure out something else where I could be home and make money…Thank God I stuck with it,” the Giants’ unlikely hero said.
- Bridich understands the value of catching and Saunders wonders if that could affect his offseason plans. Russell Martin would be a tremendous get for the Rockies, but he’ll be a very hot commodity after the season he had in Pittsburgh. While the Rockies have Wilin Rosario and Michael McKenry behind the plate, there are limitations to what they can do.
Padres pitcher Josh Johnson had Tommy John surgery Thursday, MLB.com’s Corey Brock notes. The surgery marks the end of another lost year for Johnson, who the Padres signed to an $8MM deal over the offseason. Because Johnson will start fewer than seven games this year, the Padres will have a $4MM option on him for 2015. It’s not yet clear whether they’ll exercise it, however. “We still have a lot of hurdles to clear before we make a decision on that,” says assistant GM A.J. Hinch. Here are more notes from the National League.
- After being designated for assignment by the Pirates, Travis Ishikawa became a free agent and signed with the Giants, who sent him to Triple-A Fresno. That’s an assignment with which Ishikawa is familiar, Bryant-Jon Anteola of the Fresno Bee reports. Ishikawa also played for Fresno in the 2008 and 2011 seasons. Ishikawa is, of course, aiming higher than Triple-A, however. “When I was looking around, the Giants made contact, and I noticed there wasn’t a lot of left-handed hitting on the bench up there,” he says. “Figured this was a good chance to get back up there and try to repeat what I was able to do before with the Giants.”
- Matt Garza, now with the Brewers, “[ran] out of hope” when he was with the Cubs, writes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. “You go through three years of constantly hoping (with the Cubs), you kind of run out of hope,” he says. “You come to a team like this [the Brewers] where every day we’re going to win. We’re not going out to hope to win. We’re going out with the attitude we’re going to win.” Garza, who signed a $50MM contract with Milwaukee in the offseason, defeated his former team on Friday.
The Giants have signed first baseman Travis Ishikawa to a minor league contract, MLBTR’s Zach Links reports (Twitter links). Ishikawa will report to Triple-A Fresno after taking his physical today, and the contract contains an out clause if Ishikawa doesn’t make the club’s 25-man roster. Ishikawa is represented by Jim McDowell.
Ishikawa chose to become a free agent on Wednesday after he was outrighted off the Pirates’ roster and the 30-year-old now returns to the team that originally drafted him in the 21st round of the 2002 amateur draft. Ishikawa made 665 PA for San Francisco between 2006-10, earning a World Series ring as part of the Giants’ championship team in 2010. He has bounced around since then, spending time with the Brewers, Orioles, Yankees and Pirates over the last two seasons.
The left-handed hitting Ishikawa has a .259/.326/.407 career line against right-handed pitching and just a .603 OPS against southpaws, which is why Pittsburgh used him as a platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez at first base. The Giants, of course, already have a notable lefty-swinging first baseman in Brandon Belt, though since Belt has virtually equal career numbers against left- and right-handed pitching, there’s room for Ishikawa to potentially win a job as a defensive-minded (career +13 UZR/150) backup to occasionally spell Belt at first base when a righty is on the mound.
3:50pm: Ishikawa has elected free agency, reports MLBTR’s Zach Links (on Twitter).
10:38am: First baseman Travis Ishikawa has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis by the Pirates, reports MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Because Ishikawa has been previously outrighted, he has the option of rejecting the assignment in favor of free agency, which he is likely to do.
Ishikawa, 30, hit .206/.263/.382 with a homer, a triple and a double in 38 plate appearances for the Bucs this season. He was initially part of a platoon with lefty masher Gaby Sanchez until the Pirates, in search of an upgrade, swung a deal for Ike Davis (Pittsburgh sent Zack Thornton and a PTBNL to the Mets).
Ishikawa is a lifetime .257/.321/.397 hitter, and his splits are indicative that he is best suited to be part of a first-base platoon (as he was in Pittsburgh). Both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating feel that Ishikawa’s glove at first base is above average — an attribute that he and agent Jim McDowell can use as a selling point should he ultimately elect to become a free agent.
The Pirates have announced that they've designated Travis Ishikawa for assignment. The move comes as no surprise, after the Bucs' acquisition of another left-handed first baseman, Ike Davis, via a trade with the Mets yesterday. The move clears space for Davis on the Pirates' active roster.
Ishikawa, 30, hit .206/.263/.382 in 38 plate appearances with the Pirates this season after beating out fellow lefty Andrew Lambo to share first base with righty Gaby Sanchez. Ishikawa hit .290/.389/.465 at the Triple-A level in 2013. In addition to the Pirates, he has played for the Giants, Brewers, Orioles and Yankees.
Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:
- After the Pirates optioned Andrew Lambo today, it appears that Travis Ishikawa will be in line for a spot on the Opening Day roster as a platoon mate for Gaby Sanchez at first base, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune (Twitter links). He would need to be added to the 40-man roster in that case, though obviously there is still some time for an outside acquisition to intervene in that outcome.
- Outfielder Jason Kubel has made the Twins club, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported yesterday on Twitter. He will need to be added to the club's 40-man roster to make that possible. As an Article XX(B) free agent, Kubel had to either make the Opening Day roster today or receive a $100K bonus to be retained.
Today's minor moves..
- The Rangers have agreed to a minor league deal with Kensuke Tanaka, according to a report from Sponichi (Japanese link) passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (via Twitter). The Giants released the second baseman/left fielder back in September after designating him for assignment. The 32-year-old saw limited time with the Giants this season but excelled in 400 plate appearances at Triple-A Fresno, batting .329/.400/.397 with three homers and 22 steals.
- The Rangers have signed right-hander Justin Germano to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas News (via Twitter). Germano saw two innings of work for the Blue Jays last season but spent most of 2013 with their Triple-A affiliate, turning in a 4.47 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.
- Greg Reynolds signed to pitch for the Seibu Lions of NPB in 2014, according to CAA Sports (via Twitter). Reynolds spent last season with the Reds' Triple-A affiliate, posting a 2.42 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 156 1/3 innings.
- The Mariners announced that they've outrighted outfielder Travis Witherspoon to Triple-A Tacoma. The 24-year-old Witherspoon was designated for assignment last week to clear a roster spot for Corey Hart.
- Rick van den Hurk is returning to the Samsung Lions of the KBO, where he helped them capture the the Korean Series title last year, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The deal is pending a physical exam. VandenHurk, 28, last appeared in the majors with the Pirates for a handful of games in 2012.
- The Pirates announced that they have signed seven minor league free agents, including Travis Ishikawa, Michael Martinez, Daniel Schlereth, Adam Wilk, and Kyle McPherson. All of those deals are minor league contracts with invites to big league spring training. Ishikawa had 20 combined plate appearances for the Yankees and Orioles last season, but spent the bulk of the year at the Triple-A level, where he hit .290/.389/.465 with nine homers. Martinez, 31, had 40 big league PAs for the Phillies and posted a .300/.352/.407 line for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Schlereth, a first-round pick in the 2008 draft, has 94 career big league relief appearances to his credit.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The White Sox agreed to sign first baseman Travis Ishikawa, MLBTR has learned. He'll join their Triple-A Charlotte club. Ishikawa recently elected free agency after being designated for assignment by the Yankees.
After signing a minor league deal with the Orioles in December, the 29-year-old Ishikawa hit .316/.413/.525 in 208 plate appearances. His contract was selected as his opt-out date approached, but the Orioles designated him soon after. A waiver claim by the Yankees led to even less playing time. Ishikawa, a former 21st round draft pick of the Giants, did fine work at Triple-A but has yet to find a consistent opportunity in the Majors this year. Lars Anderson and Andy Wilkins have played first base for the Charlotte Knights this year; both have struggled offensively. For the big league club, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko have combined for a .750 OPS at the position.
SATURDAY: Ishikawa cleared waivers and will elect free agency, MLBTR has learned.
THURSDAY: The Yankees designated first baseman Travis Ishikawa for assignment to open a roster spot for Derek Jeter, they announced today. Ishikawa, who received only two plate appearances with the Yankees, is expected to go on waivers today, MLBTR has learned. Jeter makes his season debut tonight following his long recovery from ankle surgery, batting second at designated hitter.
Ishikawa, 29, received most of his playing time with the Orioles' Triple-A club, hitting .316/.413/.525 in 208 plate appearances. He had signed a minor league deal with Baltimore and was added to the big league club upon reaching his opt-out date. He was designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the Yankees shortly thereafter given their lack of depth at first base after Mark Teixeira's season ended.
Let's take a look at the latest news and notes involving the American League East:
- The Red Sox are open to trade market upgrades in the bullpen and at third base, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- One name on Boston's list of bullpen trade targets is the White Sox's Matt Thornton, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com (Twitter link). The Braves also have "limited" interest in the left-hander.
- Josh Johnson, set to become a free agent at the end of the season, has seen injury and poor performance affect his value to the point where it is difficult to see the Blue Jays pursue a multi-year deal with him, writes the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin. Johnson may be forced to accept a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays, assuming he receives one, to rebuild his value for 2014, opines Griffin.
- The Phillies' Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz both could be on the Yankees' radar as they have a scout in Philadelphia today, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.
- The recently-released Miguel Olivo is not on the Yankees' radar, but first baseman Russ Canzler, who was designated for assignment yesterday, might pique their curiosity, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman (Twitter links).
- Earlier today, the Yankees added first base depth by claiming Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Orioles. O's Executive Vice President Dan Duquette told reporters, including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, he acquired Eric Thames from the Mariners last week knowing he could lose Ishikawa to another team.