Here’s the latest from around the AL East…
- Hearing his name mentioned in trade speculation is nothing new for James Loney, as the veteran first baseman tells Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. “I think I’ve dealt with this pretty much every year in my career, at some point, trade rumors. It gets kind of old. I’m not putting too much stock in it, because nothing’s happened yet,” Loney said. It’s no secret that the Rays have been shopping Loney and his $8MM salary for much of the offseason, though no takers have been found.
- Loney’s presence is one of the many playing-time complications facing the Rays as they prepare to set their Opening Day roster, as Mooney and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times explore in separate pieces. Dealing Loney wouldn’t just save some payroll, but it would also free up a much-needed roster spot for either one of the Rays’ several available position players or perhaps another reliever. If a trade can’t be found, Topkin speculates that Tampa could hang onto Loney for a few weeks into the season until a fifth starter is needed, or the team could just see Loney’s salary as a sunk cost and release him.
- The Yankees optioned Rob Refsnyder to Triple-A camp, with manager Joe Girardi telling reporters (including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch) that the club wants Refsnyder to get more experience playing third base before using him as a utility infielder at the big league level. Ronald Torreyes and Pete Kozma are battling for the backup infield job now, though Giradi didn’t rule out the possibility that the Yankees would look at adding an infielder when other teams make their spring cuts.
- While the Yankees will continue to support income redistribution in the next collective bargaining agreement, president Randy Levine tells FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that the Yankees certainly want to see some changes made to the current system. “What is very burdensome to us — and is unfair — is the amount of money we have to pay in revenue sharing compared, for example, to teams in our market that pay 10 times less than us,” Levine said, referring to the Mets. The revenue-sharing contributions are determined by a formula based around net local revenue. Levine said the Yankees made around $90MM in revenue-sharing payments in 2015. According to Forbes magazine, the Yankees still led all MLB teams in revenue ($516MM) last year, even accounting those revenue-sharing payments.
- There has been some speculation that Carson Smith’s potential as an injury risk could’ve been a reason the Mariners dealt the reliever to the Red Sox this winter, Fangraphs’ David Laurila writes. Smith is on the DL with a strain of his flexor mass muscle and it isn’t known when he’ll return, though the injury isn’t thought to be too serious. The red flags for Smith are his unusual delivery and his heavy use of the slider — only four pitchers (minimum 60 innings) threw a higher percentage of sliders than Smith did in 2015. “I’ve heard that my whole life, but throwing from a lower arm slot is something that’s come natural for me,” Smith told Laurila. “I’ve found ways to manage it, whether it’s the weight room, the trainer’s room, or on the field.” MLBTR contributor Bradley Woodrum recently cited Smith as a slightly above-average risk for Tommy John surgery as a part of his larger study to predict which pitchers will require TJ procedure in the future.
- In other AL East news from earlier today, David Murphy opted out of his minor league contract with the Red Sox and is already drawing interest from the Orioles and other clubs….the Orioles have discussed releasing Hyun Soo Kim from his two-year contract.