Yu Darvish Rumors

Rangers Notes: Holland, Darvish, Martin, Mazara

The Rangers looked like future buyers when they dealt for Cole Hamels at the trade deadline, but the team now finds itself right in the mix for the postseason. Here’s the latest out of Texas:

  • Left-hander Derek Holland is set to return from the DL on Wednesday, executive VP of communications John Blake announced on Twitter. Holland, 28, has seen very little time on the bump at the MLB level over the past two seasons as he’s dealt with knee and shoulder issues. He’s not only an important piece of the team’s current efforts to crack the playoffs, but will be entering a critical campaign in 2016. Guaranteed $10MM next year, the southpaw can be controlled by a pair of options thereafter, but will need to prove both health and effectiveness for the club to exercise them.
  • Staff ace Yu Darvish also hit a milestone in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, though he remains a ways off. As Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets, the outstanding righty began a throwing program today and did not experience any discomfort afterwards. Darvish remains a huge key to the club’s near future, and will surely look to stay on track to be a significant contributor next season.
  • Outfielder Leonys Martin, meanwhile, is set to visit with a specialist to determine the source of pain in his hand, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. The club is worried that he may have broken his hamate bone, which would end his season. Martin has struggled at the big league level this year, though he’d been playing well since his demotion to Triple-A. If nothing else, his speed and high-quality defense would make him a very useful player to have up with expanded rosters in September.
  • With Martin out, top prospect Nomar Mazara has been bumped up to the Triple-A level, Grant adds. The 20-year-old outfielder owns a .284/.357/.443 slash with 13 long balls over 470 plate appearances at Double-A on the year. He’ll now slot in alongside fellow prized youngster Joey Gallo in the Round Rock lineup.

Rangers Designate Sam Freeman For Assignment

The Rangers have announced they have designated left-hander Sam Freeman for assignment. The move, along with Yu Darvish being placed on the 60-day disabled list, opens 40-man roster spots for right-handers Anthony Bass and Keone Kela. With the Freeman DFA, the Rangers will enter the season without a left-hander in the bullpen.

The Rangers now have 10 days to either trade, release, or outright Freeman to the minors. Texas hopes Freeman clears waivers so he can be outrighted to Triple-A, reports MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan.

Yu Darvish Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

March 17: The surgery was conducted today and Dr. Andrews says that it went “as expected,” as club executive VP of communications John Blake tweets.

March 13: Rangers ace Yu Darvish will undergo Tommy John surgery next Tuesday, the team announced. Dr. James Andrews will perform the operation in Pensacola, Fla., and Darvish will miss the entire 2015 season.

Clearly the news is a crushing blow to a Rangers team that saw its 2014 hopes dashed by injuries to an unthinkable amount of key players throughout the roster. Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Mitch Moreland and Alexi Ogando all spent the better part of the season on the disabled list, while elbow inflammation limited Darvish himself to just 144 innings.

Speculation will of course surface that the Rangers could make a play for a big-ticket starter such as Cole Hamels, but GM Jon Daniels has already said that the club’s plans are to “fill from within” in an attempt to replace Darvish. While an external addition cannot be entirely ruled out, it seems more likely that Texas would add someone at the end of Spring Training that is either out of options or has failed to make a different team on a minor league deal (similar to the Braves’ signing of Aaron Harang last year).

While the Rangers can fill Darvish’s roster spot, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to replace his production. Over the past two seasons, Darvish has pitched to a 2.92 ERA with 11.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 354 innings of work out of the Texas rotation. The 28-year-old had established himself as one of the game’s most dominant arms, finishing second in the 2013 AL Cy Young voting. The injury does essentially guarantee that Darvish will not be able to turn the final season of his contract into a player option, which he could have done based on Cy Young incentives, but the outlook for this year’s rotation becomes significantly bleaker. Offseason acquisition Yovani Gallardo will join Holland and Colby Lewis in the rotation. Candidates for the final two slots include Ross Detwiler, Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez and Anthony Ranaudo. Top prospect Alex Gonzalez may get a crack at the rotation as well.

Second Doctor Recommends TJ Surgery For Darvish

Rangers ace Yu Darvish received a second opinion from Dr. David Altchek recommending that he undergo Tommy John surgery for his sprained ulnar collateral ligament, GM Jon Daniels told reporters including Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

The club will seek a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, and no decision has been finalized. Nevertheless, Daniels indicated that a UCL replacement procedure is on the horizon unless some new information comes to light.

While the injury could ensure that the team picks up an additional year of control over its best pitcher, that is scant consolation in the near term. Darvish, 28, is all but irreplaceable in terms of production. Rather than immediately pressing for an outside addition, Daniels says that the club plans to “fill from within,” as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.

Injury Notes: Darvish, Minor, Collins, Edgin, Turner, Wieters

There is a silver lining to the Yu Darvish injury for the Rangers, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. In short, if Darvish undergoes a UCL replacement, he will be nearly certain not to trigger any of the award-based opt-out provisions in his contract. Thus, while Texas would lose his services for 2015, they would in all likelihood gain him for 2017 — when, it might be hoped, the team will be in better shape for contention.

We have already seen significant injury news relating to four other pitchers today, and that’s not all:

  • The Braves got a positive update on starter Mike Minor as Dr. James Andrews concurred with club orthopedist Javier Duralde that an MRI showed no structural issues with Minor’s left shoulder, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Minor will nevertheless sit out at least two weeks to rest his arm, and president of baseball operations John Hart says that the team will likely turn to internal options to fill in.
  • Andrews will take a look at another arm tomorrow when Tim Collins of the Royals checks in, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. An MRI has already showed ligament damage to his left elbow. The final determination of whether he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery could have fairly significant ramifications for the club not only this year but into the future, as youngster Brandon Finnegan could be pressed back into relief duty.
  • Another club with a possible LOOGY issue is the Mets, whose top southpaw reliever Josh Edgin will undergo an MRI after experiencing a velocity drop and elbow soreness, as The Record’s Matt Ehalt reports. Missed time from Edgin would figure to pose difficulties given the team’s relative dearth of southpaw depth. As Ehalt explains, Scott Rice is in on a minor league deal and provides an option, while Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin is joined by fellow youngsters Jack Leathersich and Dario Alvarez on the 40-man roster.
  • Jacob Turner of the Cubs has been shut down with a flexor strain and bone bruise in his right elbow, as ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers tweets. The out-of-options Turner was probably destined for the Chicago ‘pen after the club claimed him off waivers late last year and picked up his $1MM option for 2015. It would appear that a DL stint will likely be in the cards for the start of the year, which in some ways gives the team more flexibility to give Turner a chance to start during a rehab period.
  • Orioles backstop Matt Wieters is just one week away from getting back behind the dish for a spring game, as Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports. Nearing a full return from Tommy John surgery, Wieters has already advanced to throwing to second at as much as 80% in practice. Given the rehab process he has just endured, the free agent-to-be says that his next contract is not where his focus is at present, as Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes.

AL Notes: Darvish, Porcello, Kluber, Royals, Gattis

The Rangers have an insurance policy on Yu Darvish and could recoup more than half of his $10MM salary if he undergoes Tommy John surgery and misses the year, reports Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. The Rangers could use the insurance proceeds to add payroll. The policy’s total value to the club, however, is dependent on when the clock begins on the deductible. Grant notes the Rangers could make a case that this injury is a recurrence of the elbow problems Darvish suffered last year sidelining him for the final 50 days of the 2014 season.

Elsewhere in the American League:

  • Darvish’s injury is not just a blow to the Rangers, but to all of baseball, opines CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman.
  • Rick Porcello told reporters, including Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (via Twitter), he has not had extension talks with the Red Sox this spring and does not expect to have any.
  • The Indians and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber have not made any progress in negotiating a contract extension, writes Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Kluber is a pre-arbitration eligible player and Wednesday is the deadline for signing such players. If a deal cannot be reached, teams can renew the contracts of those players at their discretion, usually for a fraction above the MLB minimum of $507.5K. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently provided a primer on understanding pre-arbitration salaries.
  • In a separate article, Hoynes chronicles how the Indians have re-built their farm system through the draft (especially their willingness to select high-upside high schoolers rather than college players), trades, and international free agent signings.
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan right-hander Chris Young, who the club signed yesterday, will make the team and pitch out of the bullpen. Flanagan notes, in a second article, the Royals have discussed keeping eight relievers and, if so, will have several contenders battling for just one spot.
  • Evan Gattis has had two months to reflect upon his trade to Astros and still has mixed feelings, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The negative is that there’s a good fan base in Atlanta, I felt loved there,” Gattis said. “The positives are that I’m in the American League, I might be a little more durable; I’m going to try to have a healthy season. And I’m in Texas, stoked about that. So yeah, positives and negatives.

Reactions To Yu Darvish’s Injury

Yu Darvish‘s injury, UCL sprain that could require Tommy John surgery, is yet another setback for a Rangers team that has collapsed at surprising speed in the past two seasons, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Rangers’ sudden struggles are more extreme than the Red Sox’ descent to last place in 2014, given the cash and prospects the Red Sox still had on hand. The Phillies have suffered steep decline in the last few seasons, but that decline was predictable. Meanwhile, the Rangers finished in last place in 2014 as the result of an ugly outbreak of injuries, and with Darvish out, they could well finish last again. Rosenthal suggests that it’s unlikely the Rangers will pursue Cole Hamels to replace Darvish, since doing so would mostly be mere desperation. Here’s more on Darvish’s injury.

  • Darvish is currently undecided about whether to have surgery, and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets that he will see Dr. David Altchek on Tuesday to get a second opinion. Via MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, Rangers GM Jon Daniels describes Darvish’s options. “One is to attempt to pitch through it, which is not a great option. Two, would be an effort for rest and rehab. I think the sentiment is that is effectively what we did in the fall and in the winter and up until two days ago, we had very good results with it,” says Daniels, noting that option didn’t work out well in the end. “The third option would be Tommy John surgery,” he adds.
  • Darvish’s injury is part of a “pitching drain” fro the American League, Dayn Perry of CBS Sports writes. Since last season, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields have left the AL for the NL, Hiroki Kuroda has returned to Japan, and various pitchers are the midst of returns from injury.
  • Darvish is part of an epidemic of arm injuries throughout the game, writes Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan. Pitchers’ problems begin to develop at very young ages, and Passan writes that parents and youth coaches will need to change the way they develop young pitchers.

Yu Darvish Has UCL Sprain

Rangers ace Yu Darvish has a UCL sprain in his elbow and could have Tommy John surgery, Evan Grant of Dallas Morning News (Twitter links). Darvish had an MRI on Friday after experiencing soreness. “I will be disappointed if I have to miss the season but want to look at all options, including getting a second opinion,” says Darvish. Even if Darvish opts for rest instead of surgery, however, the Rangers expect him to miss at least four months, Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.

Losing Darvish for the season would, obviously, be a huge blow to a Rangers team that was decimated by injuries, including injuries to starting pitchers like Derek Holland, Martin Perez and Matt Harrison, last season. It’s unclear if the Rangers might make a move to replace him. Before acquiring Yovani Gallardo, they had been rumored to be in talks with the Phillies involving Cole Hamels. In the meantime, with Darvish out, Holland and Gallardo will top a Rangers rotation that’s also likely to include Colby Lewis and Ross Detwiler.

Darvish also missed time late last season with an elbow injury. When healthy, he was as good as ever, posting a 3.06 ERA with 3.1 BB/9 and a terrific 11.3 K/9 over 144 1/3 innings. The 28-year-old was the AL Cy Young runner-up after striking out 277 batters in 2013.

AL West Notes: Hamilton, Angels, Darvish, Mariners

The Major League Baseball Players Association yesterday voiced its displeasure that information pertaining to Josh Hamilton‘s treatment program and potential disciplinary situation has been leaked to the media. Per an MLBPA press release: “It is regrettable that people who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally have started leaking information about the status of his treatment program and the confidential processes under our Joint Drug Agreement. These anonymous leaks are cowardly, undermine the integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate. The Major League Baseball Players Association will use every right we have under the collective bargaining agreement to make sure Josh gets the help he needs, and the fair and confidential process to which he is entitled.”

Some more news from Hamilton’s division…

  • Garrett Richards is progressing well and could get into a Cactus League game for the Angels as soon as March 13, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. While there was initially some fear that Richards could miss more than a month to open the year, Fletcher writes that he could be ready to pitch by the season’s second or third week. Fletcher also notes that Josh Rutledge got the first start at second base this spring and entered camp as the favorite to win the second base competition. Others in the mix include Grant GreenJohnny Giavotella and Taylor Featherston.
  • Rangers ace Yu Darvish will have an MRI on his right triceps tomorrow after experiencing tightness in his first outing of Spring Training yesterday, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Darvish first felt tightness when warming up, and it did not improve (though it also did not worsen) during his outing. Darvish, who threw just one of 12 pitches above 90 mph, said he felt much better today, but assistant GM Thad Levine said the team will proceed with the MRI anyhow as a precaution.
  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick spoke to a scout who likes the Mariners‘ offseason moves enough to label Seattle a 93-win club. While that’s just one opinion, Crasnick writes that the Mariners did indeed drastically change their roster this winter, but the moves came without all of the fanfare of the Padres’ retooling. Of course, aside from Nelson Cruz, most of the names added by the Mariners were of the complementary variety, whereas San Diego more household names. Crasnick also spoke to the Mariners’ players about their excitement for the coming year, with Robinson Cano giving a glowing review of his friend and now-teammate Cruz.

West Notes: Shields, Rangers, Saunders

James Shields rejected a four-year, $80MM offer from the Giants before signing with the Padres for $5MM less, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. The Giants rescinded the offer once they re-signed Jake Peavy, however, so by the time Shields actually signed, the Cubs and Marlins were probably the Padres’ top rivals for Shields. Shields’ agent, Page Odle, says his client received more than one offer with a higher average annual value than the one he ultimately accepted from the Padres, confirming that Shields’ desires to play near his home outside San Diego and to for a revamped Padres team were quite strong. Odle implies, though, that another factor might have been that the Giants’ offer simply came too early in the offseason, and that he and Shields wanted more time to make a decision. Odle also says he and Shields did not reject a $110MM offer, as had been reported last month. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Rangers have three pitchers in Yu Darvish, Yovani Gallardo and Neftali Feliz who look like they could be extension candidates, but the team has no plans to extend any of them during Spring Training, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan writes. “There is nothing in the works right now,” says GM Jon Daniels. Darvish is signed through 2017, but can become a free agent a year earlier if he wins a Cy Young award in one of the next two seasons or finishes between second and fourth in both of them. “Counterintuitively, I’m rooting for him to be able to void that last year,” says Daniels, suggesting that the year lost will be positive if Darvish performs well enough to finish at or near the top in Cy Young balloting in one or both of the next two seasons.
  • Manager Lloyd McClendon says the Mariners will use newly signed lefty Joe Saunders purely as a reliever, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets. The 33-year-old Saunders has pitched almost his entire career as a starter, but he made six relief appearances for the Orioles last season.