An unanticipated series of factors led starter Jason Hammel to sign with the Royals, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star writes. That included not only the fact that Hammel surprisingly reached and then remained on the open market, but also the untimely death of young Royals righty Yordano Ventura. First and foremost a human tragedy, Ventura’s passing also left the organization in need of another starter for the coming season — an uncomfortable situation which Hammel thoughtfully acknowledged in his introductory remarks. “I feel like I need to express my condolences to, first of all, Royals Nation and the Ventura family,” he said. “Just because, I truly feel that if that unfortunate passing doesn’t happen, you guys aren’t talking to me.”
Here are a few more notes on the free-agent market…
- Coco Crisp doesn’t have a job for the 2017 season yet, but he tells John Hickey of the San Jose Mercury News that he isn’t ready to retire and hopes to latch on with a club. “Physically, I’m good,” says Crisp. “There’s nothing that would keep my from playing. My neck feels better, my body feels good.” Crisp’s agent, Steve Comte, tells Hickey that he has spoken to multiple clubs and continues to do so in hopes of securing a new contract for the 37-year-old outfielder. Crisp hit .231/.302/.397 with 13 home runs (plus two in the playoffs) last season and could conceivably help a club as a fourth outfielder and veteran influence. He has struggled against lefties in recent years but has logged a respectable .236/.324/.368 slash against righties (96 wRC+).
- The Yankees discussed a potential Chris Carter trade with the Brewers before the slugger was non-tendered by Milwaukee, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. Had that deal come to fruition, the Yankees would likely have been on the hook for an arbitration salary near $8MM for Carter, who instead agreed to a one-year, $3.5MM free-agent deal with the Yanks earlier this week. Certainly, that could’ve had a trickle-down effect on the Yankees’ offseason, as those talks would’ve occurred prior to the Yankees’ signing of Matt Holliday to a one-year deal. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times spoke to Carter’s agent, Dave Stewart, who wouldn’t directly comment on how the Rays’ bid compared that of the Yankees (Twitter link), though Stewart did note that Carter “felt the opportunity was the same.”
- Topkin also tweets that the Rays are among the teams keeping tabs on free-agent outfielder Sam Fuld. The 35-year-old Fuld missed the 2016 season due to shoulder surgery and had a poor year at the plate in 2015 with the A’s, but he provided Oakland with solid defense and baserunning that season. Fuld can almost certainly be had on a minor league deal and would give Tampa Bay some depth behind current starters Colby Rasmus, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza. Corey Dickerson figures to see some time in the outfield as well, and non-roster invitee could make the Rays’ roster as a right-handed-hitting complement to Rasmus. Utilityman Nick Franklin, too, could see some time in the outfield. None of those alternatives can play center field, though, so adding Fuld would give the Rays a veteran fourth outfielder while Mallex Smith gets some more work at Triple-A.
- The Nationals “checked in on” first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss before he signed with the Royals, reports Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. Moss would at least have represented a quality bench piece for the Nationals, whose depth is an issue, as FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron wrote last week. The lefty swinging Moss could theoretically have shared time (and provided insurance) for right-handed-hitting first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and left fielder Jayson Werth — a possibility that led MLBTR to guess that Moss would land in D.C. at the outset of the offseason.
- Thirteen teams attended the workout hosted by free agent lefty Jon Niese earlier today, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Niese, hoping to demonstrate his health for interested parties, threw a 40-pitch bullpen session for the scouts in attendance. Niese struggled through the worst season of his career in 2016 but was a solid fourth/fifth starter for the Mets for several years prior to the down season. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus late in the year.