Willy Taveras Rumors

Quick Hits: Int’l Scouting, Morales, Olt, Taveras, Pitching Tandems

Scouting pitching in the Dominican is a challenging endeavor on many levels, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America. Players are incented to light up radar guns (or, for hitters, launch home runs) in non-game situations due to a “showcase mindset” that pervades the baseball environment. Here are more notes from around the game:

  • Baseball executives believe it an increasing likelihood that Kendrys Morales will wait to sign until after the June 5-7 amateur draft, reports CBSSports.com’s  Jon Heyman. If he does so, then a signing club would not lose a draft pick and his former club (the Mariners) would not gain a compensatory choice. Morales has had discussions since the start of the season — Heyman says the Orioles are believed to have had “serious talks” — but apparently nothing is close. In addition to Baltimore and Seattle, says Heyman, possible landing spots could hypothetically include the Brewers and even the Athletics.
  • Cubs third baseman Mike Olt, 25, has done enough in the early going to earn a chance at additional playing time, writes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Though his on-base and strikeout numbers are less than promising, Olt has blasted four home runs in 48 plate appearances. Olt, of course, came over in last year’s Matt Garza trade as something of a buy-low prospect, after eye issues contributed to a rough season at Triple-A in 2013 (.201/.303/.381, with 15 home runs and 132 strikeouts, in 432 plate appearances).
  • Outfielder Willy Taveras is eyeing a comeback, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The 32-year-old, who last played in the bigs in 2010, is playing in Mexico at present. Best known for his wheels — he led the league in stolen bases (68) in 2008 — Taveras has swiped seven bags in seven attempts in his first 18 games in the Mexican League, Rosenthal notes. In 279 plate appearances at Triple-A last year with the Royals, Taveras slashed .239/.308/.340 and stole 11 bases.
  • With a young staff, the Astros have made the league’s most extensive use of true long relief, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. GM Jeff Luhnow says that the club’s minor league use of a true tandem system is “more of a development thing,” with the big league club’s employment of long men more a “cousin” deployed for “high-pitch count guys.” Looking ahead, though, Luhnow says he “would not be surprised if clubs started to think about some unique solutions to help prevent injuries” noting that “we’re certainly one of them.” Notably, given his organization’s upper-minor tandems, Luhnow observed:“you do it at Triple-A — what’s the difference doing it at the big leagues?” Athletics assistant GM Farhan Zaidi was even more bullish on the possibility of tandem starters appearing in MLB. “I can absolutely see it happening,” he said. “We actually talked about doing it a few years ago when we had pitching depth that wasn’t unlike what the Astros have now. The reason I think it could still happen is overwhelming evidence that limiting the exposure of pitchers to a third time through the lineup is really advantageous.” The full piece includes many more interesting observations from these executives, and is well worth a read.

Minor Moves: Catricala, Taveras, Valaika, Heston

Today's minor moves…

Steve Adams and Aaron Steen contributed to this post.

Royals Sign Willy Taveras

The Royals signed Willy Taveras to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training, MLB.com's Evan Drellich reports (via Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com on Twitter). The 30-year-old outfielder last played for an MLB team in 2010.

Taveras, a client of Burton Rocks LTD, explained in September that he intends to play at the MLB level again. "I just need a chance to get back in baseball," he told Drellich. Taveras has a .274/.320/.327 batting line at the MLB level with 195 career stolen bases. The right-handed hitter has played for the Astros, Rockies, Nationals and Reds in his seven MLB seasons. He played on two NL pennant winners: the 2005 Astros and the 2007 Rockies.

Quick Hits: Wolf, Taveras, Snider, Padres, Mariners

The Orioles recalled Bill Hall today, placing Randy Wolf on the 60-day DL to create room on the 40-man roster. The 36-year-old southpaw has a torn elbow ligament, which usually requires Tommy John surgery. Wolf had the procedure back in 2005 and would likely miss all of 2013 if he has it again. Here's the latest from around the league…

  • Outfielder Willy Taveras is trying to get back to the big leagues after a year away from the game, writes MLB.com's Evan Drellich. "I just need a chance to get back in baseball. That's what I love, I love to play baseball," said the 30-year-old speedster.
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos approached Travis Snider about a contract extension a few years ago, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Talks became less of a priority as the team focused on trading Vernon Wells and extending Jose Bautista, however.
  • Bill Center of The San Diego Union-Tribune looked back at all the contract extensions the Padres handed out this year. Check out our Extension Tracker for the full list.
  • The Mariners have named Tom Allison their new director of pro scouting, the team announced. Allison had previously spent time in the Brewers' and Mets' front offices.

Quick Hits: Baker, Varitek, LaHair, Padres, Berkman

Reds manager Dusty Baker suffered a minor stroke on Friday, the team told reporters (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon).  Baker was already in hospital being treated for an irregular heartbeat and was supposed to be released on Friday.  The 63-year-old was released instead on Sunday and is reportedly in good condition, addressing the Reds clubhouse this afternoon.  Bench coach Chris Speier has managed the team in Baker's absence and will continue to do so at least through Cincinnati's weekend series with the Pirates, though Baker is hopeful of returning for the Reds' final series of the year.

Here's some more news from around the baseball world…

Rockies Sign Willy Taveras

The Rockies signed Willy Taveras to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training, the team announced (on Twitter).

Taveras didn't hit much in his 37 plate appearances for the Nationals this year and hasn't been a serious offensive threat for a couple of years. He posted a .367 on base percentage for the 2007 Rockies and led the National League in stolen bases the following season. He has bounced from the Reds to the Nationals to the Phillies since, without much success.

But the seven-year veteran is relatively young (he's 29) and has plenty of experience (601 games) in center field. He'll provide the Rockies with depth and speed, though he doesn't appear to be the difference maker he was a couple seasons ago.

Rangers Sign Willy Taveras

The Rangers signed Willy Taveras to a minor league deal to provide outfield depth at the Triple-A level, tweets MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.

Taveras, 28, has bounced around quite a bit this season, having split time between the Majors and Triple-A with the Nationals, Phillies, and Braves. It seems like much longer ago than just two years that Taveras led the National League with 68 stolen bases for Colorado, likely due to the speedster's struggles.

Always known more for his speed and glove than his bat, Taveras' offense has fallen off the table even more over the past two years. Since his time with Colorado he's hit .237/.272/.282 over 474 plate appearances with the Reds and Nationals. He's managed an OPS+ of just 47 over that stretch.

Odds & Ends: Westbrook, Beltre, Oliver Perez

Eight years ago today, the Diamondbacks signed amateur free agent Carlos Gonzalez out of Venezuela.  Two major trades later, CarGo is establishing himself as a star in Colorado.  Links for Tuesday…

Braves Sign Willy Taveras

The Braves have signed outfielder Willy Taveras to a minor league deal, according to the International League transactions page.  Taveras has been assigned to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Taveras was released by the Phillies on Tuesday, roughly a month after being brought aboard.  That marked the third time the speedy outfielder has been released this year as the Nationals and A's have also cut him loose.  Oakland is on the hook for most of his $4MM salary.

The 28-year-old has a track record of being a solid defender and base stealer, though he has struggled offensively in recent years.  His most recent stint in Triple-A Lehigh Valley yielded a .208/.255/.271 slash line in 104 plate appearances.

Phillies Release Willy Taveras

The Phillies released Willy Taveras, MLBTR has learned. The Phillies signed the speedy outfielder earlier in the month, not long after the Nationals released him. The A's, who are paying most of Taveras' $4MM salary, released him in February, so this marks the third time the former NL stolen base champ has been released this year.

After struggling to produce offensively through 37 plate appearances for the Nats, Taveras moved on to the Phillies' Triple A team. He didn't fare much better in Lehigh Valley, where he hit .208/.255/.271 in 104 plate appearances. 

However, Taveras can still point to his age (28), his ability on the base paths (9/9 in stolen base attempts at Triple A) and his record as a solid defender (career UZR/150 of 8.7). Taveras did post a .367 OBP for the 2007 Rockies, but it has been years since he has done much at the plate.