- The Dodgers have inked former Cubs/Rockies outfielder Tyler Colvin to a minor league deal, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Now 32 years old, Colvin hasn’t been in the Majors since 2014 and hasn’t been affiliated with a big league organization since a 2015 stint with the White Sox’ Triple-A club. He spent the 2016 season with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League and struggled to a .218/.264/.339 slash through 277 plate appearances, and he didn’t play professionally in 2017. Colvin had success in the Majors back in 2010 (113 OPS+) and 2012 (114 OPS+), but his overall .239/.287/.446 slash through 1309 MLB PAs is reflective of the fact that he’s had more struggles than success in the big leagues.
- The Dodgers have inked right-hander Justin De Fratus to a minors deal, with the pitcher revealing the signing himself via his Instagram page. De Fratus is looking to make it back to the majors for the first time since 2015, when he posted a 5.51 ERA over 80 relief innings for the Phillies. The advanced metrics (4.28 FIP, 4.46 xFIP, 4.03 SIERA, .335 BABIP) paint a more forgiving portrait of that performance, and De Fratus has been a very solid reliever in his previous 114 innings out of the Phils’ bullpen dating back to 2011.
SATURDAY: The Dodgers have announced the signing.
TUESDAY, 7:45pm: Utley’s deal will be for two years and $2MM when it becomes official, tweets Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times.
3:43pm: Utley has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Dodgers, Heyman now tweets. Certainly, the multi-year deal comes as a bit of a surprise, given his age, though it seems likely to come at a relatively modest annual rate.
10:22am: There’s a deal in place, per Heyman (via Twitter).
10:14am: The Dodgers appear to be closing in on a deal to bring back infielder Chase Utley for another run with the organization. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reported last night that the sides were engaged in serious talks, while MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick tweets that Utley appears to have a locker set up at the team’s spring facility, lacking only a nameplate.
All indications of late have been that the 39-year-old would repeat his turn as a platoon piece. At this point, it seems only a matter of time before things are formalized.
If the sides do indeed wrap up a deal, Utley will presumably spend most of his time spelling the right-handed-hitting Logan Forsythe at second base. Long a high-end everyday player, Utley’s productivity had understandably waned with age. He was effective in a surprisingly robust 2016 season, over which he took 565 plate appearances, but slid into a part-time role last year.
Los Angeles skipper Dave Roberts was exceedingly careful both to limit the wear and tear and to deploy Utley against right-handed pitching last year. Utley saw time in 127 games but tallied only 353 plate appearances, as the Dodgers sought to utilize him in advantageous situations. He batted .236/.324/.405 with eight homers on the season as a whole, though he strode to the plate against lefties on just 28 occasions.
In each of the past two years, Utley has delivered just-below-average overall offensive output, with successive 96 wRC+ efforts. He still grades as a quality baserunner and average defender even as he closes in on his fortieth birthday. Clearly, part of the math here for the Dodgers is Utley’s oft-lauded, hard-nosed veteran presence.
We’ll use this post to cover the day’s minor moves:
- The Dodgers have added lefty Cesar Ramos on a minors deal, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). The 33-year-old won’t receive a MLB camp invite. Ramos worked to a 4.00 ERA in 92 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level last year with the Phillies organization. That represented the first season in which he hadn’t cracked the majors since he first reached the bigs in 2009. Ramos carries a lifetime 4.02 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 346 2/3 MLB innings, most of them coming as a reliever. He has typically been fairly stingy against opposing lefty hitters, who carry a .245/.314/.339 overall batting line against him.
- More than 10 teams are set to attend Tim Lincecum’s showcase on Thursday, it seems. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com respectively report that the Tigers, Twins and Orioles will have scouts in attendance (all Twitter links). Heyman adds another handful of clubs, listing the Rangers, Phillies, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Brewers, Padres and Braves as attendees (links to Twitter for the last three), in addition to the previously reported Giants. If anything, it’s perhaps more notable which clubs have elected not to attend the showcase, as there’s no real downside to at least taking a look and the showcase is shaping up to be reasonably well-attended. To that end, the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan wrote over the weekend that the Mets aren’t planning to have a scout in attendance.
Before Yu Darvish agreed to join the Cubs on a six-year, $126MM contract Saturday, the Dodgers joined them with a willingness to offer six years, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). However, the value of Los Angeles’ proposal was worth less (closer to $100MM) and contingent on the team jettisoning money via trade, Heyman adds. Unsurprisingly, LA couldn’t find a taker for at least a portion of its worst contract – outfielder Matt Kemp’s two years and $43.5MM – which helped lead to Darvish’s exit in free agency.
- The Dodgers, Darvish’s other ex-team, made him an offer, but it fell short of the Cubs’, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times report. Contrarily, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets that LA was “said to have offered in the same ballpark” as Chicago. Although, signing Darvish would have made it difficult for the Dodgers to achieve their goal of staying under the $197MM luxury tax threshold in 2018.
- In addition to the previously listed Twins and Brewers, the Dodgers and the Phillies are still targeting starters in the wake of the Darvish deal, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Philadelphia is aggressively pursuing a short-term addition, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman, Jaime Garcia and Jason Vargas are all possibilities, Feinsand adds.
The Wasserman agency announced Wednesday that it has “terminated” its relationship with Yasiel Puig. The news, obviously, comes as a surprise given that Puig is a fairly high-profile client that stands to receive a raise on his $7.5MM salary next winter, via arbitration, before reaching free agency as a 28-year-old upon conclusion of the 2019 season. J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group tweets that, at present, it does not seem that Puig has an agent representing him.
It’s not clear what exactly prompted the decision to cut ties with Puig, though SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets that the issue related to Puig’s behavior. He further adds that it’s unlikely the Dodgers will take any sort of action. Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times tweets a similar sentiment.
Puig, 27, turned in a strong bounceback effort in 2017 after a lackluster 2016 season. In 570 plate appearances for the NL Champion Dodgers, Puig slashed .263/.346/.487 with a career-high 28 homers and 15 stolen bases. Defensive Runs Saved (+18) and Ultimate Zone Rating (+12.1) pegged him as one of the game’s best defenders in right field as well.
For all the promise he shows on the field, Puig’s off-field behavior has been a constant topic throughout his big league career. Since coming to the Majors in 2013, there have been stories about his clubhouse clashes with teammates, a bar fight in Miami back in 2015, and Snapchat videos of Puig partying with Triple-A teammates just days after being optioned to the minors in 2016 (videos that Puig himself posted) — among other issues.
Of course, it should be noted that Puig drew praise throughout his strong rebound campaign in 2017 not only for his play on the field but for his improved maturity off the field and in the clubhouse. Veterans Chase Utley and Kenley Jansen were among the teammates to join manager Dave Roberts in publicly praising Puig’s improved attitude and clubhouse demeanor (via Bill Plunkett of the O.C. Register).
As it stands, Puig figures to once again be the team’s primary right fielder in 2018. Trade talk surrounding Puig died down in 2017 after his rebound season, though the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier did report earlier this offseason that the Red Sox declined a proposal that would’ve sent Puig to Boston in exchange for Jackie Bradley.
- Top free agent starter Yu Darvish is sitting on multiple five-year offers, per Nightengale. At the moment, he’s still hoping an organization will decide to give him an extra year — or, in a longer-shot scenario, that the Dodgers or Yankees will find a way to move other contracts to open the door to a Darvish signing. For the most part, this seems to represent a continuation of the status quo, as is the case for the other top starters.
The Dodgers’ best chance of moving Matt Kemp may be to package the veteran outfielder (and the $43MM remaining on his contract) along with some good minor league talent to a team with payroll space that is willing to “buy a prospect,” Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes. Such moves are becoming increasingly common around baseball, such as the Padres’ acquisition of Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell from the Yankees earlier this offseason. The Dodgers have a deep enough farm system that they might not necessarily have to offer one of their top-tier prospects to unload Kemp; Sullivan cites righty Wilmer Font as the type of MLB-ready minor leaguer that could step right into the rotation of a rebuilding team. Some creativity may be required to work out a Kemp trade, though the five-player, luxury tax-bending deal with the Braves that brought Kemp back to L.A. was itself pretty unique. If it costs the Dodgers a star prospect to get Kemp off the books, it might be worth it in the long run if the trade frees up enough money for the Dodgers to re-sign Yu Darvish.