- Utilityman Ronny Rodriguez announced on Instagram that he’s joining the Tigers on a minor league deal (h/t: Evan Woodbery of MLive.com). Rodriguez had spent his entire pro career with the division-rival Indians since signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. He never cracked the majors with the Tribe, though, instead topping out at Triple-A. The 25-year-old played at the minors’ highest level from 2016-17 and hit a respectable .274/.308/.427 in 971 PAs. Rodriguez has seen action at every position but pitcher, catcher and left field during his minor league career, as Woodbery notes.
5:42am: The Rangers and Diamondbacks are also in the mix for Rodney, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweets.
5:18am: It’s expected that the Tigers will meet with free agent reliever Fernando Rodney at some point, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports. They’ll have at least some level of competition; Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press adds that the Twins are in the mix for Rodney as well. Interestingly, Berardino notes that Rodney also met with a Nippon Professional Baseball team, though it appears he’s taken that option off the table.
Detroit has seen many a lead slip through their fingers in recent years due to bullpen implosions. While Rodney falls short of elite, he’d certainly provide an upgrade to the only bullpen in baseball that finished below replacement level this past season. While Shane Greene was somewhat of a bright spot, the Tigers don’t seem to have many stable relievers beyond him on the depth chart. The rebuilding Tigers probably won’t go after marquee free agent relievers like Greg Holland or Wade Davis, but Rodney would be a cost-effective target who could probably be had on a one-year deal. Detroit is plenty familiar with the right-hander, as he spent the first eight years of his MLB career with the organization.
Likewise, the Twins’ bullpen finished in the bottom third in most of the important pitching categories. Unlike the Tigers, however, the Twins hope to contend next season and could therefore be more aggressive in pursuit of bullpen help. Just yesterday they were said to have made an offer to a free agent reliever, and one would assume they’re inquiring on plenty of others.
Rodney will enter the 2018 season at 41 years of age. As Berardino notes in his tweet, he’s number three on the list of active saves leaders. Last season with the Diamondbacks, the righty saved 39 games, albeit with a 4.23 ERA. The scariest thing about putting Rodney on the mound is his tendency to issue free passes; the righty has walked a batter nearly every other inning on average over the past five years (4.44 BB/9).
Since his MLB debut in 2002, Rodney has pitched for eight different major league clubs. Most of that time was spent with the Tigers, who originally signed him out of the Dominican Republic.
- Just-acquired Angels second baseman Ian Kinsler was only willing to waive his 10-team no-trade clause for them, Tigers general manager Al Avila told reporters. Avila added that he had talks with three other teams on Kinsler’s no-trade list Wednesday, noting that he “had no leverage” because of the second baseman’s limited NTC. The executive’s not upset with Kinsler, though, as he realizes the player was fully within his rights prevent certain deals from happening (all Twitter links via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press and Evan Woodbery of MLive.com).
Looking to improve an already enviable rotation, the Nationals have Rays right-handers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi on their radar, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports (via Twitter). Either would cost far less in terms of salary than free agent Jake Arrieta will, and Heyman notes that the Nats are unsure if they’d be able to afford Arrieta. Heyman also points to Diamondbacks righty Zack Greinke as a possibility for the Nats; however, he’s not exactly cheap, with $138.5MM coming his way through 2021.
More on the trade front:
- The Tigers “will only entertain lopsided offers” for righty Michael Fulmer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). A trade involving the highly coveted 24-year-old doesn’t look likely, then.
- The Blue Jays are interested in Reds outfielders Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall, per reports from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) and Jays Journal. The Braves also have interest in the 29-year-old Duvall, tweets Heyman. Duvall, a 30-home run hitter in each of the previous two seasons, is controllable for the next four years. He won’t be arbitration eligible until next winter.
- The Giants’ own interest in Hamilton continues, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the chatter with the Reds has “faded significantly” of late. Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds on Twitter that the Giants are the most serious suitors for Hamilton, but they’re “at a bit of a standoff” with the Reds. San Francisco still has interest in free agent Jay Bruce, per Rosenthal, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Bruce is the top name on San Francisco’s “wish list.” Still, the club has not made him an offer to this point.
- It’s up in the air whether the Marlins will trade center fielder Christian Yelich. Either way, the Phillies will continue to monitor his availability, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia relays. Meanwhile, they’ve “been aggressive” in shopping shortstop Freddy Galvis, according to Salisbury, who adds (via Twitter) that the Angels “really liked” second baseman Cesar Hernandez before they acquired Ian Kinsler. The Halos didn’t want to meet the Phillies’ asking price for Hernandez, however.
- The Red Sox asked about Marcell Ozuna before the Cardinals acquired him, but they did not have the sort of pitching assets the Marlins were for, Dombrowski told reporters including the Globe’s Peter Abraham (Twitter link.) The Indians also inquired about Ozuna, Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com writes.
- In addition to Chase Headley, the Padres are dangling infielder Yangervis Solarte in chatter with rival organizations, Heyman reports on Twitter. Solarte, 30, is controllable for the next three years at affordable costs (a guaranteed $4MM in 2018 and then club options totaling $13.5MM for 2019-20).
- The Blue Jays were another team with interest in Kinsler before Wednesday’s trade, Nicholson-Smith tweets. Toronto was on Kinsler’s 10-team no-trade list, so it’s unclear how open he’d have been to going there.
The Angels have acquired second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Tigers for two prospects, right-hander Wilkel Hernandez and outfielder Troy Montgomery. Kinsler could have taken advantage of his 10-team no-trade clause to block the move, but he’ll instead make Anaheim the third destination of his major league career. The Angels will pay Kinsler’s entire $11MM salary in 2018, his last year of team control.
[RELATED: Updated Angels Depth Chart]
The Kinsler acquisition is the third major move of the offseason for the Angels, who missed the playoffs for the third straight year in 2017. General manager Billy Eppler has worked diligently this winter to bolster his team’s roster around the game’s top player, center fielder Mike Trout. The Halos previously kept left fielder Justin Upton from leaving via the open market and signed the No. 1 free agent of the offseason, two-way Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani, and they may be on the verge of landing a third baseman next.
Kinsler is unlikely to make the type of impact Upton (his former Tigers teammate) or Ohtani will in 2018, during which he’ll turn 36. But he’ll nonetheless provide the Angels a steady option at the keystone to team with world-class shortstop Andrelton Simmons up the middle. Angels second basemen hit a putrid .207/.274/.318 in 2017, so finding outside help for the position was a must for Eppler this offseason. Kinsler’s lifetime output suggests he’ll serve as a sizable upgrade over the second basemen the Angels ran out last year.
A longtime Ranger and Tiger, the right-handed Kinsler has combined to slash .273/.342/.447 with 234 home runs and 224 stolen bases across 7,484 plate appearances, and the four-time All-Star has also offered quality work in the field during his career (108 Defensive Runs Saved, 40.4 Ultimate Zone Rating). Kinsler’s offensive numbers went backward in 2017 as he hit a career-worst .236/.313/.412 in 613 PAs, but he still belted 22 homers and stole 14 bases. Further, his defensive prowess (6 DRS, 6.6 UZR) helped lead to a 2.4 fWAR. That also represents a career low, though it’s still a respectable figure, and the Angels would likely sign up for similar production in 2018 at Kinsler’s price tag.
While the Tigers’ return for Kinsler doesn’t look significant, it’s still not a shock that they’ve moved on from him. They’re in the incipient stages of a major rebuild, making Kinsler a superfluous piece, and GM Al Avila revealed earlier this week that a deal involving the vet was likely to occur. Moving Kinsler leaves the Tigers with 38 players on their 40-man roster, giving them room to add a couple more via Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. Detroit has the first overall pick.
Between Hernandez and Montgomery, the latter ranked higher on MLB.com’s list of Angels prospects (No. 20 to Hernandez’s No. 24). The outlet notes that the 23-year-old Montgomery, an eighth-round pick in 2016, possesses “a very advanced approach at the plate,” “plus speed” and “above-average defense” at every outfield spot. The lefty-swinger divided last season among Single-A, High-A and Double-A, hitting .271/.358/.413 in 434 PAs.
The 18-year-old Hernandez, who signed out of Venezuela for $125K in 2015, spent last season at the rookie level and pitched to a 2.28 ERA, with 8.8 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9, in 59 1/3 innings (17 appearances, 12 starts). The 6-foot-3 Hernandez is a promising hurler who can hit 95 mph at times, according to MLB.com, though he needs work when it comes to repeating his delivery, throwing strikes and improving his breaking ball.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Angels would acquire Kinsler, and he was first to report the trade had been finalized. Katie Strang of The Athletic reported the Tigers would get two prospects. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported the prospects involved. Jason Beck of MLB.com reported the Angels would take on Kinsler’s salary.
12:57pm: Sherman has now tweeted the full list, reporting that the Yankees, Dodgers, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Rays, and Blue Jays are also teams to which Kinsler can block a move.
9:28am: It has long been anticipated that the Tigers will attempt to deal veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler, who’ll play for a reasonable $11MM salary. Indeed, the organization has made no secret of its intentions to hear offers to cash in one of its few clear trade assets.
As in the past, though, Kinsler’s partial no-trade rights could become a factor. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Kinsler has the right to block deals to three teams that seem to be quite sensible matches on paper: the Mets, Angels, and Brewers.
Indeed, the Halos may well be targeting Kinsler in particular. According to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, via Twitter, the Los Angeles organization has clear interest and may even be prioritizing Kinsler as it continues to search for an upgrade at second. At this point, there’s little clarity on how Kinsler will utilize his rights, though Sherman does note that he seems inclined to okay a deal to Los Angeles.
Of course, it’s unlikely that Kinsler is thrilled at the prospect of spending the season with the rebuilding Tigers rather than suiting up for a contender. And he has seemingly expressed an interest in just that. There were past indications that Kinsler would seek to use his no-trade clause to gain contract inducements, though he also downplayed that consideration at the time.
- The Rangers are one of the teams known to have contacted the Tigers about Michael Fulmer, though Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Fress Press reports that the two sides haven’t gotten very far in negotiations. Fulmer’s ability and years of team control make him an attractive target for any club, especially the pitching-needy Rangers, though the Tigers have naturally put a huge asking price on their young righty.
- Fernando Rodney’s name has been increasingly mentioned in recent days, with the Mets and Tigers the latest teams to express interest in the veteran reliever, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. New York and Detroit join the previously-reported Twins, Diamondbacks and Rangers as candidates for Rodney’s services. Rodney posted solid numbers as Arizona’s closer last season, and likely wouldn’t require a multi-year commitment given that he turns 41 in March. Detroit could install him at closer with Shane Greene moving back to a setup role, and Rodney could also become a trade chip for the rebuilding Tigers at the deadline. Rodney might not close with the Mets, but he would further augment a back-of-the-pen mix that includes Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins.
- Francisco Rodriguez is hoping to keep pitching for his 17th big league season, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. After years as an effective closer, K-Rod suffered through a disastrous 2017 campaign that saw him post a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 IP for the Tigers. He pitched in the Nationals’ farm system on a minor league deal before being released last July.
- The Ian Kinsler trade talks have reached the point where the Tigers have exchanged names with interested teams, GM Al Avila told reporters (including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press and MLive.com’s Evan Woodbery). Kinsler has been seen as one of the likeliest players to be dealt this offseason, and it seems like a trade could happen at any point. The Mets, Brewers, and Angels are teams with reported recent interest in Kinsler’s services. Should Kinsler be traded, Avila said the Tigers would likely sign a veteran “safety net” second baseman to compete with Dixon Machado in Spring Training, with Woodbery noting that such a veteran would probably be a minor league signing.
- The Tigers are also getting some calls on Shane Greene, Avila said (hat tip to MLB.com’s Jason Beck). Greene’s first full-time season as a reliever delivered some good results, and he even recorded nine saves after stepping into the closer’s role in August. While Greene would be another good trade chip for the rebuilding Tigers, Avila said the interest in Greene was “not to the point where we felt it [a trade] was a good thing to do.”
The Yankees are among the teams with interest in Tigers righty Michael Fulmer, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). New York also has considered Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin, per the report.
Clearly, the Yanks are interested in finding a rotation upgrade, as the club was also linked yesterday to Pirates righty Gerrit Cole. Currently, the first four members of the staff seem set: Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery. But the fifth slot is much less settled.
While the Bronx powerhouse is still committed to remaining under the luxury tax line for 2018, the club obviously sees some ways to fit high-quality hurlers into the payroll. Of course, GM Brian Cashman is also reportedly looking into moving some existing salary to open yet more space.
Fulmer and Corbin each represent quite different assets. There’s some reason to believe that either could be made available, but for differing reasons.
With regard to Fulmer, he’s one of the most intriguing young starters in baseball. The 24-year-old is on track to qualify for Super Two status next year but won’t be a free agent until 2023. And he has already turned in 323 2/3 innings of 3.45 ERA pitching in his first two MLB seasons. While offseason surgery to deal with a nerve issue in his elbow may give some pause, that particular procedure does not seem to come with significant future concern. Accordingly, the asking price is expected to be astronomical, even if the Tigers will hear out teams with interest.
As for Corbin, the D-Backs are in a tight payroll situation that will present challenges as they seek to return to the postseason. GM Mike Hazen indicates yesterday that a “creative” approach will be required, as MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert notes on Twitter. With Corbin projected by MLBTR to take home a $8.3MM payday via arbitration, he could be a useful trade piece, perhaps bringing back pieces that could fill other needs while also freeing up some spending money. The 28-year-old southpaw turned in a solid 2017 campaign, running up 189 2/3 innings of 4.03 ERA ball with 8.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. While Arizona would surely prefer to retain Corbin, they have four other strong rotation pieces on hand along with a few internal candidates to battle for a spot.