- A.J. Burnett Expected To Miss Four Weeks With Flexor Strain
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- Dodgers, Braves, Marlins Complete 13-Player Trade
- Blue Jays Designate Danny Valencia, Ezequiel Carerra
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Tyler Moore Rumors
Despite carrying low expectations from the outside, the Braves have had good energy in camp, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who attributes it to a combination of the team’s acquisition of several intense and/or vocal veterans along with the presence of competition all over the roster.
Here’s more from Atlanta and the rest of the NL East:
- The Braves are “still in [the] race” to land Hector Olivera, tweets O’Brien, who adds that the team is unlikely to offer more than five guaranteed years. Of course, a recent report indicated that Olivera might not yet have received a six-year offer, so if Atlanta is willing to move its bid up to the five-year range it could presumably have a shot.
- Meanwhile, the Braves have settled on Wandy Rodriguez for one of their final rotation spots, O’Brien tweets. Atlanta will hope for an Aaron Harang-like rebound from Rodriguez, who inked a minor league deal with the Braves after his agreement fell apart with Harang’s new club, the Phillies, over a failed physical. Rodriguez has looked good this spring, and currently owns a twelve-inning scoreless streak.
- The Nationals are open to dealing out of options outfielder/first baseman Tyler Moore, but see him as a quality big leaguer who has a place in the team’s immediate plans, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The 28-year-old may be needed to start the year given the club’s injuries in the outfield, and would probably be the next man up at first base were Ryan Zimmerman to suffer an injury.
- Nationals second baseman Dan Uggla has had a fairly productive spring thus far as he looks to keep his career alive. As MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports, manager Matt Williams sees a legitimate possibility of Uggla impacting the club this year. “We haven’t defined any roles,” said Williams. “What we do know at this point is that he is seeing the ball well and he is playing well. I like his at-bats. … We haven’t defined those roles yet because we just don’t know.” As Williams went on to note, infielders Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon have been limited by injuries in camp.
With Hunter Pence out to start the season, the defending World Champion Giants are experiencing some uncertainty in their outfield mix. The major question at present revolves around the health of center fielder Angel Pagan, who had back surgery last season and has been limited this spring.
Here’s the latest:
- Pagan had two injections in his ailing back today, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter. The club is hopeful he can resume baseball activity over the weekend and appear in a game early next week. If Pagan is ready for the regular season, he would presumably join Norichika Aoki and Gregor Blanco as the starters, with players like Travis Ishikawa, Juan Perez, Justin Maxwell, Gary Brown, and Jarrett Parker potentially in the mix for bench roles.
- One other possibility for some time in the outfield is first baseman Brandon Belt, as Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com reports. Asked today whether Belt was a first baseman, period, manager Bruce Bochy replied that it was “more of a comma” and said the possibility of using Belt in the outfield was under consideration. The club may also see how infielders Adam Duvall and Matt Duffy look on the grass, with Bochy indicating that the team is currently focused on evaluating its internal options and monitoring Pagan.
- Depending upon how the above situations play out, the team could obviously find itself in need of another bat capable of manning a spot in the outfield. Indeed, San Francisco is monitoring Nationals outfielder/first baseman Tyler Moore, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweets. Moore is out of options and may not have a spot on the Washington roster, though the club’s own rash of outfield injuries could create at least a temporary opening. The Giants are said to be interested in adding pop if they make a move, and the power-hitting Moore would certainly match that desire.
The Nationals have kept a low profile this winter, per MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker. GM Mike Rizzo has yet to sign a free agent to a MLB contract preferring minor league deals for veterans like Dan Uggla, Heath Bell, and Ian Stewart while netting Joe Ross and Trea Turner for being the third team in the Wil Myers trade. Here’s the latest on the Nationals’ offseason, courtesy of MLB.com’s Bill Ladson:
- By trading Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals would be able to replenish their farm system and add a couple of veterans.
- Ladson opines the Nationals will trade for a second baseman before the start of Spring Training (listing Ben Zobrist as a possibility) because Danny Espinosa is too inconsistent offensively, Kevin Frandsen is not seen as a starter by manager Matt Williams, and the team does not want to rush prospect Wilmer Difo.
- Tyler Moore must have a great Spring Training to make the club coming off the bench. If not, the 28-year-old (next month) first baseman becomes a trade candidate because he is out of options.
- With Denard Span scheduled to hit free agency after the 2015 season, Michael A. Taylor could be the everyday center fielder in 2016, but the Nationals will need to find a leadoff hitter and may have to settle for Jayson Werth.
- Top prospect Lucas Giolito is not a rotation candidate, if Zimmermann or Doug Fister is traded. The 16th overall selection in the 2012 draft should begin the season in Double-A and could be a September callup.
The Orioles‘ waiver claim of Ryan Lavarnway adds a fifth catcher to the 40-man roster and further clouds the future of fellow backstop Steve Clevenger, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Clevenger’s agent, Josh Kusnick, spoke with Kubatko about his client’s role in Baltimore, noting that while he’s been told Clevenger can win the backup catching job in Spring Training, it’s difficult to see happening after he was passed over last season. Clevenger hit .225/.289/.337 in a small sample of Major League plate appearances last year but slashed a much stronger .305/.366/.389 in 64 Triple-A games. Given the amount of clubs needing depth at catcher, I’d imagine that Clevenger would have interest to other teams.
Here’s more from baseball’s Eastern divisions…
- In his latest column, Peter Gammons takes a look back at the recent history of trades of ace-caliber pitchers and notes that there’s very little certainty that the Phillies would receive a franchise-altering package for Cole Hamels. Trades of pitchers such as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have not reaped many benefits, while others such as the Johan Santana trade netted one All-Star caliber player (Carlos Gomez) who didn’t break out until he was traded to a third team.
- Also in Gammons’ piece, he writes that many GMs believe the Giants will eventually trade a prospect package to the Rays to land Ben Zobrist.
- MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweeted earlier this week that the Yankees don’t appear to be in on Asdrubal Cabrera at this time and instead appear to be heading toward a Spring Training battle between prospects Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela in addition to minor league signees Nick Noonan and Cole Figueroa.
- In addition to a very heartfelt holiday wish to all of his readers, Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com penned an excellent look at the Nationals‘ roster yesterday and ran down three players that he feels could be on the move before Opening Day. While Kerzel doesn’t think all three of Danny Espinosa, Tyler Moore and Tyler Clippard will be dealt, he can envision at least one of the three moving. Espinosa’s name is still popular in trade talks, Kerzel hears, so he could be shipped elsewhere if the Nats can acquire another second base option (I’d imagine today’s signing of Dan Uggla is unrelated to Espinosa’s availability, personally). Moore is a popular name when GM Mike Rizzo chats with AL clubs, as he could be a platoon DH/first baseman/outfielder. Clippard’s projected $9.3MM salary may simply be more than the Nats care to spend on a setup ace, and teams like the Blue Jays are known to be looking for a closer, Kerzel points out. Clippard was among the Nats’ most asked-about players at the Winter Meetings, and he would welcome the opportunity to move into a closer’s gig.
First basemen who “are available” to be traded include the Yankees’ Kelly Johnson, the Phillies’ John Mayberry Jr., the Nationals’ Tyler Moore and the Pirates’ Gaby Sanchez, sources tell Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. Johnson and Sanchez are new additions to the rumor mill, while Mayberry and Moore have both been recently cited as possible trade chips.
The quartet is cited in the context of Mitch Moreland‘s season-ending ankle surgery, leaving the Rangers dealing with yet another major injury. Despite losing a host of notable players to the DL, Texas is still just 2.5 games behind Seattle for the last AL wild card slot, and could still be looking to make additions down the stretch. Texas had previously had exploratory talks with the Nationals about Moore, though MLB.com’s Bill Ladson noted those talks weren’t serious.
Johnson has played 23 games at first for the Yankees this season, though he has spent the large majority of his career as a second baseman (plus some time at third and in left field). Despite Yangervis Solarte‘s emergence, the Yankees’ infield depth is still thin, so it would be somewhat surprising to see New York move a versatile player like Johnson elsewhere. Johnson is still owed roughly $1.845MM from the one-year, $3MM deal he signed with the Yankees last winter.
Sanchez was the subject of some trade rumors last year, though he remained with the Bucs as the right-handed hitting half of a first base platoon. While he has a solid .255/.303/.510 slash line with five homers in 109 PA this year, Sanchez has made almost twice as many plate appearances against righties as he has against lefties since the Pirates have faced an unusually large amount of right-handed starters; Pittsburgh hitters as a whole have made only 366 PA against lefties in 2014, by far the lowest in the majors. Sanchez has a career .903 OPS against southpaws against just a .700 OPS against righties, so he could certainly provide a contender with a useful part-time or bench bat.
Rangers first basemen have combined for -0.9 fWAR this season, and five other teams (the Twins, Astros, Indians, Royals and Mariners) have also received sub-replacement level production from their first basemen.
Josh Beckett, who has undergone surgeries for thoracic outlet syndrome and a torn meniscus in his left knee within the past 10 months, tossed his first career no-hitter and MLB’s first of the season as he and the Dodgers shutout the Phillies 6-0. Beckett struck out Chase Utley looking on his career-high 128th pitch for the 24th no-hitter in Dodgers’ history and the first for the franchise since Hideo Nomo 18 years ago. This is also the first time the Phillies have been no-hit since the Cardinals’ Bob Forsch turned the trick in 1978 and the first time they have been held hitless in Philadelphia since the Montreal Expos’ Bill Stoneman did so at Connie Mack Stadium in 1969. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki noted on Twitter the Phillies have now been shutout five times in their last ten home games and six times in their last 18 games overall.
In other news and notes involving the Phillies and baseball’s East divisions:
- Could offensive help be on the way for the Phillies in the form of top prospect third baseman Maikel Franco? GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters, including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it is a possibility. “We’ll see whether it’s the right thing for us and the right thing for him,” said Amaro. “We’ll kick it around.” Franco, ranked as the game’s 17th best prospect by Baseball America and 23rd by MLB.com, is hitting .301 in May with an OPS of .871.
- In the wake of Prince Fielder‘s season-ending neck injury, the Rangers have inquired about Nationals first baseman Tyler Moore, a baseball source tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. The source indicated to Ladson nothing is serious and Moore is one of many first baseman in which the Rangers have an interest.
- Johan Santana has a June 1 opt-out in his minor league deal with the Orioles, but Executive Vice President Dan Duquette says that date is not a concern, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. “That’s open for discussion,” Duquette said. “It’s a fluid situation.” Santana remains in extended Spring Training and has not pitched more than four innings in an outing, but Duquette says the 35-year-old left-hander “is making good progress, he is throwing his pitches.“
While the Pirates have been linked to nearly every first baseman on the market, ESPN's Jayson Stark reports (via Twitter) that the Astros are also calling clubs about potentially available first basemen. Stark says Houston has placed calls on Mike Carp, John Mayberry and Tyler Moore, though he classifies each of the three as an "unlikely fit."
That the Astros are seeking a first baseman is a bit curious, given top prospect Jonathan Singleton's presence at Triple-A. He figures to be their long-term solution at the position, though none of the three listed by Stark is exactly the type of player who would block Singleton once he's ready for the Majors. This isn't the first we've heard of the Astros looking for first basemen this winter, however, as James Loney said that Houston made him a similar offer to the one he accepted from the Rays.
Carp was a key part of Boston's roster with a strong 2013 in which he slashed .296/.362/.523 with nine homers in a platoon capacity (he has long struggled against left-handed pitching). The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo recently pegged him as a trade candidate, however, given a possible roster crunch. Mayberry and Moore seem like the types that would be more available in a trade, as neither has a clearly defined role on his respective team. In late January, it was reported that Mayberry could be moved in Spring Training. Going further back, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported in December that the Astros could be interested in Moore as a first base option.
For the time being, some combination of Jesus Guzman and Chris Carter figures to hold down the first base job in Houston while Singleton develops. The club also has Japhet Amador in camp as a non-roster invitee.
On this date in 1980, the Yankees made Dave Winfield the highest-paid athlete in all of sports with a ten-year, $16MM contract. In the intervening four decades, a ten-year MLB contract is now worth something in the neighborhood of $240MM (Robinson Cano and Albert Pujols) to $275MM (Alex Rodriguez). Meanwhile, $16MM will only buy you one year of Hiroki Kuroda or two years of Marlon Byrd this offseason, per MLBTR's Transaction Tracker. As you rush out and buy your child a bat, a glove, and every baseball instructional video ever made, here's today's American League news and notes:
- The Rays feel justified in giving James Loney the most lucrative free agent contract during Andrew Friedman's tenure, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays value Loney's defense, quality at-bats, clubhouse presence, and his left-handed bat which balances a predominantly right-handed lineup.
- Also from Topkin's article, the Rays will now turn their attention to adding bench and bullpen pieces with catcher Jose Lobaton and outfielder Matt Joyce as possible trade chips.
- The market for Matt Garza is strong because of his 2013 season, AL East pedigree, and not being attached to draft pick compensation, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
- The Angels believe they can sign both Garza and Raul Ibanez and still fall below the $189MM luxury tax threshold, writes FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal notes the Angels' interest in Ibanez stems from his career slash line of .349/.407/.522 in 327 plate appearances at Angel Stadium.
- Also from Rosenthal, the Astros are still in the market for a first baseman and could turn to the Nationals' Tyler Moore.
- Despite the signing of Joba Chamberlain, the Tigers' preference is to have Bruce Rondon set up closer Joe Nathan, according to John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press.
- The Royals are to be commended not just for signing Omar Infante away from the Yankees, but also strengthening their ballclub immediately at a reasonable cost, opines Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan.