- John Raynor requested his release and the Marlins granted it, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The outfielder posted a .722 OPS in 41 Triple-A contests last year
- The Braves lost a second player on waivers today, when the Yankees claimed left-hander Jose Ortegano. The Yankees optioned the 23-year-old to Triple-A, according to Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger (on Twitter). In 131 minor league innings spent mostly at Triple-A last year, Ortegano posted a 5.98 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 as a starter.
- The Reds acquired right-hander Kyle McCulloch from the White Sox for cash considerations, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The 2006 first rounder spent last year in the upper minors, where he posted a 5.77 ERA with 3.7 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 as a swingman.
Links for Tuesday, as Tim Lincecum reclaims the MLB strikeout lead…
- Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times spoke to Crawford, who said he was misquoted in the upcoming Sports Illustrated piece mentioned below. "Nothing's changed, no decisions," he said. "I don't know what Carlos [Pena] is doing.''
- Pirates' GM Neil Huntington told Chuck Finder of The Pittsburgh Post Gazette that he tried to made a deal with the Marlins that would allow Rule 5 pick John Raynor to remain with the Pirates, but to no avail. Raynor was returned to Florida today.
- John Lackey said he wasn't surprised when the Angels let him depart as a free agent given their trade record with letting home grown players leave, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. "It's different," said Lackey. "The way they preach the team game and giving it up for the team. That's a little suspect. You're supposed to give it up for the team. When the time comes, they might not want to give it up for you. But I totally knew that was a possibility. I was prepared for that. That's the nature of the game today."
- Stephen Strasburg has been promoted and will make his Triple A debut Friday against Freddie Freeman and the Gwinnett Braves, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. ESPN's Rob Neyer notes that Strasburg seems to be on the Mark Prior path to the bigs, perhaps delayed a few weeks for cost savings.
- MASN's Ben Goessling says Nats 2006 first-round pick Colton Willems has decided to retire. The team has the pitcher on the restricted list in case he changes his mind.
- An upcoming Sports lllustrated piece on Carlos Pena features this quote from Carl Crawford: "This core group is going to still be together, me and Carlos are the only two guys that are going to be leaving."
- The Royals granted reliever Roman Colon his release so he can sign with the Kia Tigers of Korea, according to the team. Just three months ago, Colon and Juan Cruz were in the mix to be Joakim Soria's primary setup man. The Royals' bullpen sports an AL-worst 5.56 ERA in 81 innings.
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams wouldn't rule out a fire sale at a later date, but said the team's aggressive nature will probably prevent it (Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reporting).
- ESPN's Buster Olney explains that his Saturday story about Cliff Lee being likely to reach free agency was prompted by a call Olney made to Lee's agent.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Blue Jays attempted to sign Kelly Johnson to play left field during the offseason, offering more than the $2.35MM Johnson received from Arizona. Johnson told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic in March that he strongly considered offers from the Blue Jays, Pirates, and Indians.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out that the upon acquiring Javier Vazquez, the Yankees considered two 2011 draft picks part of the deal. Already, Vazquez's Type A status and arbitration offer are in question. We'll be able to give you Vazquez's exact Elias standing later this month, when Eddie Bajek makes his first pass at 2009-10 rankings.
- Dejan Kovacevic's latest article for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests the Pirates were overly optimistic about Akinori Iwamura, currently their highest-paid player.
- Click here to listen to my radio appearance on KFNS St. Louis from earlier today.
MAY 4th: Raynor was returned to the Marlins, tweets MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
APRIL 27th: The Pirates designated outfielder John Raynor for assignment to make room for Jeff Karstens, reports Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Raynor is a Rule 5 pick from the Marlins, and GM Neal Huntington told Kovacevic he hopes to work out a trade to keep the outfielder in the organization. As it is, Raynor will be placed on waivers, and any team that claims him will remain subject to the Rule 5 restriction of keeping him on the 25-man roster all season.
Raynor didn't have a chance to prove himself, with just 11 big league plate appearances. As Kovacevic says, he was a casualty of the Pirates' "epic pitching problems." Raynor, 26, hit .257/.327/.360 in Triple A last year. Baseball America noted that Raynor has the speed to play center but his arm may keep him in left.
Links for Easter Sunday…
- Baseball America's John Manuel provides updates on five Rule 5 picks: Carlos Monasterios with the Dodgers, John Raynor with the Pirates, Zachary Kroenke, who was optioned to the minors by the D'Backs, Kanekoa Texeira with the Mariners, and David Herndon with the Phillies.
- Peter Gammons previews storylines for the 2010 season, such as emerging stars, prospects of the future, a slew of contenders, and the ever-present unpredictability of baseball.
- Dave Campbell of the AP looks at Jacque Jones and how Minnesota's late-season surge in 2009 inspired a comeback attempt for 2010 when he was on the verge of retirement. Jones is reporting to Triple-A Rochester after hitting .366/.409/.585 with the Twins this spring.
- In an interview with Mike Wilner of the FAN 590 in Toronto, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said while the team hasn't officially said anything about Adeiny Hechevarria, international cases like his are often slowed by visa issues and other approval processes.
- Tom Haudricourt tweets that there will be no last-minute changes to the Brewers 25-man roster.
- The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser spoke with recently-DFA'ed Jack Cust, who is shocked and offended by the move. Cust says he will accept a minor league assignment if he clears waivers, but won't let Oakland "walk all over" him. The 31-year-old slugger has led the A's in home runs the past three seasons. Slusser takes a deeper look at the Cust move in a separate piece.
- Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times looks at what the Cubs' performance in 2010 means to Jim Hendry's job, and talks to several players about their positive relationships with the Chicago GM.
- Elliot Johnson cleared waivers and will report to Triple-A Durham, according to Marc Topkin. He adds that the Rays have set their roster and are waiting to hear from Hank Blalock on whether or not he'll accept a minor league assignment.
We've seen a bevy of players designated for assignment and/or released in the past few days as teams were finalizing their Opening Day rosters. The deadline for clubs to submit their 25-man roster is 2pm CT today, and perhaps no one has more decisions to make than the Pirates, as Karen Price of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review explains.
At the moment, Pittsburgh's 40-man roster is full, but they have to find room for relievers Jack Taschner and D.J. Carrasco, who've made the team. One spot can be freed up by placing reliever Jose Ascanio on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Price mentions that the other 40-man spot is likely to come at the cost of Hayden Penn, Ramon Vazquez, John Raynor, or Steve Pearce.
The Pirates claimed Penn off waivers just last week, but that doesn't mean they aren't willing to designate him for assignment today. He's out of options, so he'd have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors anyway. As a Rule 5 Draft selection, the Pirates have to keep Raynor on their 25-man roster all season or offer him back to the Marlins. Pearce has a leg up on the other guys because he has a minor league option remaining.
Vazquez will earn $2MM this season, but was told that he wasn't on the team a few weeks ago, making him a candidate to be either traded or released. Cutting him loose and eating his salary isn't the most desirable move, but it's probably best for the team. After a breakout season with the Rangers in 2008, Vazquez hit just .230/.335/.279 in 239 plate appearances last year, but at least he's capable of playing all over the infield. With Bobby Crosby and Ronny Cedeno on board, that last point may be moot.
Joel Hanrahan is likely to start the year on the 15-day DL because of an elbow issue, so the team could carry Penn to start the season. Optioning Pearce and releasing Vazquez would give the team the 25-man and 40-man roster spots for Taschner/Carrasco, then they'd just have to figure out what to do with Raynor, who's in a unique spot. We'll find out their decision by this afternoon, one way or the other.