- The Mets were considering Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough for bench coach after he impressed in his managerial interview with New York, but a hiring doesn’t seem likely to come to fruition. Jon Heyman of the MLB Network tweets that New York brass doesn’t believe McCullough would leave Los Angeles for a coaching position elsewhere. Instead, it seems he’s lined up to return for a second season on Dave Roberts’ staff. Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News reported yesterday that the Mets were looking into a potential “headline-grabbing hire” for bench coach.
- The Mets already made a notable coaching move this morning, tabbing longtime big league third baseman Eric Chávez as hitting coach. Chávez had accepted a position as one of two Yankees assistant hitting coaches just a few weeks ago, leaving the Bronx club with an unanticipated vacancy on staff. Lindsey Adler of the Athletic reports (on Twitter) that the Yankees do plan to replace Chávez this offseason. That aligns with general manager Brian Cashman’s stated wish to enter the season with three hitting instructors on staff. Dillon Lawson is slated to be the team’s lead hitting coach, with Casey Dykes lined up for an assistant role.
- Though the club has confirmed that Ray Montgomery will make the unusual transition from front office to bench coach on Joe Maddon’s staff, the Angels have not yet announced assignments for either former bench coach Mike Gallego (who will remain on the staff) or newcomers Phil Nevin, Benji Gil, and Bill Haselman (per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register). This may be due to the club’s pursuit of Adam Eaton for its staff should he choose to retire — which, given that he remains an active member of the MLBPA, cannot be completed during the lockout.
- The Mets announced their full slate of minor league coaches Thursday, including new managers at all four affiliates: former Cubs farmhand Kevin Boles at Triple-A Syracuse; journeyman infielder Reid Brignac at Double-A Binghamton; former Expos, Red Sox, and (briefly) Mets shortstop Luis Rivera at High-A Brooklyn; and former Mets catching instructor Robbie Robinson at Low-A St. Lucie. A full list of Mets minor league coaches, compiled by SNY contributor Jacob Resnick, can be found here.
- The Reds have hired sixteen-year big-league veteran Juan Samuel as a minor league hitting instructor, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, though his precise role has not yet been announced. Since retiring, the three-time All-Star has held a number of positions, including as a major league base coach and, briefly, as interim manager of the Orioles following the 2010 mid-season firing of Dave Trembley. In addition to his long and productive playing career, Samuel is remembered as the Mets’ return in the 1989 deal that sent Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell, cornerstones of the 1986 World Series champs, to the Phillies.
- The Rangers announced two members of their 2022 big-league coaching staff, including the promotion of former journeyman catcher, advanced scout, and so-called “coordinator of run prevention” Brett Hayes to bullpen coach and the hiring of former Jays farmhand and Dodgers minor league hitting instructor Seth Conner as assistant hitting coach. Both will join Chris Woodward’s staff for a season the Rangers hope will represent a major step forward in the rebuilding process following the club’s recent big-ticket signings of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Jon Gray.
Here are the latest minor moves from around the league:
- The Rangers have added backstop Brett Hayes on a minor-league deal, as Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News recently tweeted. Soon to turn 33, Hayes has appeared in seven MLB campaigns, though he has accumulated just 464 big league plate appearances in that span. He compiled a .205/.250/.359 lifetime batting line in the bigs. Last year, Hayes failed to crack the game’s highest level but spent time at Triple-A in the Diamondbacks and White Sox organizations.
- Also joining the Rangers on a non-roster arrangement is righty Anthony Bass, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Bass, 29, spent last year pitching in Japan, where he put up 3.65 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 over 103 2/3 innings split between the rotation and bullpen. He had appeared in each of the five prior MLB seasons — most recently with Texas — pitching to a 4.40 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 across 278 1/3 frames.
- Lefty Luis Perez is heading to the Indians on a minors pact, the club announced. Like Bass, the 32-year-old Perez will return from a NPB stint. He struggled with his control in a brief run with the Yakult Swallows and hasn’t seen the big leagues since 2013. In his three seasons with the Blue Jays, Perez compiled a 4.50 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over 112 frames.
- Outfielder Joey Butler is joining the Nationals on a minor-league deal, Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweets. Butler, who’ll turn 31 in March, scuffled last year at the Triple-A level with the Indians organization and never earned a call-up. But he had provided the Rays with 276 plate appearances of .276/.326/.416 hitting in the season prior.
- The Twins inked a minors pact with outfielder Quintin Berry, Cotillo also tweets. The speedy Berry broke into the league in 2012 with the Tigers as a fourth outfielder, but hasn’t seen much big league time since. He appeared in every postseason round in both 2012 and 2013, receiving little in the way of playing time but nevertheless swiping five bases. Last year, the 32-year-old hit .261/.341/.313 and swiped 35 bags at the Triple-A level with the Angels and Blue Jays organizations.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman discussed his team’s oft-debated trade deadline stance in an appearance on the podcast of ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (audio link). He said that the club is “open to everything and anything” over the month to come, noting that he’d raise any interest in the organization’s major league assets with ownership. Cashman made clear that New York isn’t going into a selling stance, but also suggested that such a time may come and has been discussed internally. “The clock is ticking,” he said, “and the more that we stay in this mode that we’re currently in, I think it’s going to force us into some tough decisions that we didn’t want to be in. There’s some time on the clock, but it’s getting late, as people would say.”
Here’s more from the American League:
- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says that trade chatter is picking up around the game, Scott Lauber of ESPN Boston was among those to report (Twitter links). Boston had contact with ten rival organizations just yesterday, he added. Meanwhile, the club announced that director of pitching analysis and development Brian Bannister will don a uniform to aid pitching coach Carl Willis in working with the staff. Bannister will not be in the dugout during games, but will seemingly take more of a hands-on approach in trying to solve the organization’s pitching woes.
- It’s always concerning when a pitcher hits the DL with forearm issues, as was the case earlier today for Royals closer Wade Davis, but Kansas City doesn’t seem to be ringing any alarm bells. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports (links to Twitter), manager Ned Yost says that Davis’s ligament isn’t implicated. Yost added that Davis pitched through a similar problem last year, and Davis himself notes that he isn’t too concerned at this point.
- The Tigers have placed lefty Daniel Norris on the DL with an oblique strain. That’s not great news for a team that has had some rotation questions arise, as Norris had showed some interesting results in his four big league appearances this year. He has allowed seven earned runs and 17 hits in 13 innings, but his sparkling 16:3 K/BB ratio is certainly promising.
- White Sox backstop Alex Avila is headed to the DL after leaving tonight’s game with a hamstring strain, as Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago tweets. It’s too soon to know how long he’ll be out, but hamstring problems can linger. The 29-year-old has compiled a sturdy .231/.361/.347 batting line on the year while serving as part of a platoon with Dioner Navarro behind the dish. Brett Hayes could be an option behind the dish for the Sox, though he’d need to be added to the 40-man roster. The seven-year big league veteran has a .225/.354/.425 batting line through 13 games for Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate since being acquired in a minor trade earlier this summer.
Here are the day’s most notable moves from around the game, all coming courtesy of Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, unless otherwise noted…
- The Nationals brought back infielder Steve Lombardozzi on a minors deal, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports. Lombardozzi, 27, saw minimal playing time in each of the last two years at the major league level after playing a significant role in D.C. during his 2011-13 stint. After failing to find a suitable opportunity over the winter, Lombardozzi joined the independent league Southern Maryland Blue Crabs to start 2016. He was off to a .367/.401/.428 start with eight steals before the Nats came calling.
- Righty Nick Tepesch has joined the Dodgers on a minor league deal and will take the ball tonight at Triple-A, as Oklahoma City Dodgers broadcaster Alex Freeman tweets. Interestingly, he’s squaring off against his recent teammates at the Rangers’ top affiliate. The 27-year-old recorded over 200 frames for the Rangers over 2013-14, posting a 4.66 ERA with 5.4 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9, but missed all of 2015 and eventually underwent thoracic outlet surgery. After returning for 11 starts at the Triple-A level this year, where he tallied a 4.11 ERA, Tepesch opted out of his minor league deal with Texas.
- Outfielder Jake Goebbert has been outrighted to Triple-A Durham by the Rays after being designated for assignment. The 28-year-old entered the season as an accomplished Triple-A hitter, but he’s struggled mightily with Durham this season, hitting just .183/.288/.275. Even with his career numbers at Triple-A weighed down by his 2016 performance, Goebbert is a lifetime .271/.375/.444 hitter at that level. The Pirates saw enough in him to give him a big league deal this winter, but he didn’t make it through Spring Training and was ultimately claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay after being designated for assignment. He’ll look to get back to his productive ways now that he’s been removed from the 40-man roster and hope to factor into Tampa Bay’s big league plans later in the year.
- The White Sox outrighted outfielder Daniel Fields off their 40-man roster over the weekend, and the 25-year-old was released shortly thereafter (presumably upon refusing the assignment, as was his right having been previously outrighted). Fields is a career .281/.359/.423 hitter in in 672 plate appearances at the Double-A level, but he’s struggled to a .223/.312/.345 line in 957 PAs at the Triple-A level. The former sixth-round pick (2009) had spent his entire career in the Tigers organization prior to this season.
- The White Sox also picked up veteran catcher Brett Hayes in a trade that sent cash considerations to the Diamondbacks. The 32-year-old Hayes tallied 32 plate appearances with Cleveland last season and has appeared in parts of each of the past seven Major League seasons, splitting his time between the Marlins, Royals and Indians. He’s a career .205/.250/.359 hitter at the big league level and a .239/.279/.387 hitter in nearly 1200 PAs at the Triple-A level.
- The Cardinals have signed right-hander Daniel Bard to a minor league deal after he was released by the division-rival Pirates. St. Louis will become the latest organization to attempt to revitalize Bard’s once dominant right arm in the hope that he can resurface as a quality bullpen piece. Bard, a former first-round pick, was a strong setup piece for the Red Sox from 2009-11 (specifically in 2010) but struggled terribly in 2012 and had a cataclysmic decline in the years to follow, as he lost the ability to throw the ball over the plate entirely. His last stint in affiliated ball came with the Rangers’ Class-A affiliate in 2014 when he faced just 18 men and walked nine of them in addition to hitting another seven.
- Right-hander Felipe Paulino, who was granted his release from the Indians in order to pursue a deal in Japan late last month, has signed a deal with the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, his agents at Octagon tweeted last week. The 32-year-old Paulino, a veteran of six Major League seasons, was pitching quite well for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate, having logged a 2.77 ERA in 10 relief appearances. He’s worked as a starter for the vast majority of his career and has displayed an ability to miss bats at the big league level but has nonetheless struggled to a 5.22 ERA in 403 2/3 big league frames. This will be Paulino’s first stint in NPB, but as we often see, players that have struggled to thrive in the Majors can still make an excellent living pitching in Asia.
Some minor signings and outrights from around the game…
- The Athletics announced yesterday that catcher Carson Blair has been outrighted to Triple-A Nashville. Blair, who turned 26 after the season ended, made his big league debut with Oakland in 2015 and collected four hits in 31 at-bats over the course of 11 contests. The former Red Sox farmhand has a brilliant track record at the Double-A level but reached Triple-A for the first time this year and struggled there in addition to in the Majors. Blair is eligible for minor league free agency.
- The Padres have outrighted first baseman Cody Decker off the club’s 40-man roster, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter). The 28-year-old went 0-for-11 in his Major League debut this past season but has a solid track record of hitting for power at the Triple-A level, as evidenced by his lifetime .257/.336/.501 batting line at the minor leagues’ top level.
- Baseball America’ Matt Eddy reported this week (via Twitter) that veteran catcher Brett Hayes has signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks, while utility man Steve Lombardozzi has latched on with the White Sox on a minors pact as well. The 31-year-old Hayes displayed good pop with the Indians in a limited sample this past season and is a lifetime .205/.250/.359 hitter in 464 big league plate appearances. Lombardozzi, 27, has spent most of his career with the Nationals and owns a .263/.294/.336 triple-slash in the Majors. Most of his time has come at second base, but he’s also played a fair bit of left field and has limited experience at third base in the Majors as well.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Indians catcher Brett Hayes has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Hayes was designated for assignment after Yan Gomes was activated from the disabled list, and he could have elected free agency rather than heading back to Triple-A.
- The Giants have outrighted reliever Erik Cordier after he cleared waivers, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News tweets. Cordier, 29, allowed just one earned run and struck out nine (versus two walks) in six MLB innings last year, but has yet to receive another MLB opportunity. The fireballing righty will return to Triple-A, where he carries a 1.50 ERA over 12 innings on the back of twenty strikeouts against eight walks. Cordier will have an opportunity to reject the assignment in preference for free agency.
- Third baseman Deibinson Romero has received his release from the Pirates to pursue an opportunity in Korea, as had been expected. The 28-year-old has been tearing up Triple-A thus far, and will now look to provide the same blend of power and patience to the KBO’s Doosan Bears.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league…
- The Indians announced today that catcher Brett Hayes has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Columbus. However, Hayes has been previously outrighted and therefore has the ability to reject the assignment in favor of free agency. The 31-year-old picked up 36 plate appearances while Yan Gomes was on the disabled list and batted .156/.229/.438 with three homers. Hayes has decent pop for a catcher — career .154 ISO — and has caught 25 percent of baserunners that have attempted to steal against him in parts of seven big league seasons. A lifetime .205/.250/.359 hitter in 464 plate appearances, Hayes was designated for assignment Sunday when Gomes was activated from the DL.
- Former Rockies outfielder Cole Garner has agreed to a minor league deal with the Blue Jays and will report to Double-A New Hampshire, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Garner hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2011 — his lone taste of the big leagues — but he was hitting .342/.392/.584 in 166 plate appearances in the Mexican League this season. Garner, who once ranked as Colorado’s No. 22 prospect, per Baseball America, has batted .284/.343/.480 in more than 1300 career PAs between Triple-A and the Mexican League.
- With Hayes’ outright, there are now eight players in DFA limbo (as shown in MLBTR’s DFA Tracker): Ryan Lavarnway, Travis Ishikawa, Radhames Liz, Carlos Peguero, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Todd Redmond, Phil Coke and Erik Cordier.
As Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer outlined last week, the Indians had to choose between Hayes and Roberto Perez in order to make room for Gomes. Neither has hit for much in terms of average, but Hayes has shown more power in a smaller sample, whereas Perez has shown more in terms of on-base skills, walking 20 times in 104 plate appearances.
Hayes, 31, appeared in 14 games for the Indians this season. In a small sample size of 36 games, Hayes slashed .156/.229/.438 and hit three home runs. Over parts of seven big league seasons with the Marlins, Royals, and Indians, Hayes owns a lifetime .205/.250/.359 slash line. He has fared better over the years at the Triple-A level, hitting .253/.294/.420, also over a seven season period.
Injured catcher Yan Gomes will be activated from the disabled list and start just his sixth game of the season for the Indians on Sunday, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A sprained medial collateral ligament in Gomes’ right knee caused him to miss roughly six weeks of action, and the loss of one of the game’s most valuable (and underrated) catchers has likely contributed to Cleveland’s slow start, to an extent. With Gomes nearing activation, Hoynes notes that one of Roberto Perez or Brett Hayes will have to go to make room. Neither has hit for much in terms of average, but Hayes has shown more power in a smaller sample, whereas Perez has shown more in terms of on-base skills, walking at a surprising 17.5 percent clip in 97 plate appearances. Manager Terry Francona feels the team has been fortunate to have Perez and Hayes fill in. “They haven’t hit for average, but each have hit three homers and done a pretty good job behind the plate,” said Francona. The 26-year-old Perez has options remaining, whereas Hayes does not and would have to clear waivers before he could be sent back to the minors.
A bit more from Cleveland…
- Within the linked piece above, Hoynes notes that T.J. House has been activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A, leaving Shaun Marcum as the owner of the No. 5 spot in Cleveland’s rotation. House has struggled nearly all season, and he has an option remaining. Marcum does not. “The reality of it was who should we get rid of?” Francona asked rhetorically. “Would it have been fair to say to Shaun Marcum, “Hey, man, thanks for the seven dazzling innings.'” Marcum made his first Major League start since 2013 earlier this week and fired 6 2/3 innings with just two runs allowed on four hits and no walks with six strikeouts.
- In a separate article from earlier this week, Hoynes looks at how David Murphy has seemingly gone from expendable trade chip to indispensable asset. When the Indians acquired Brandon Moss this offseason, it created a logjam in the outfield with Moss, Murphy and Nick Swisher all appearing to cut into each others’ roles. However, Murphy has been one of the team’s most consistent bats against right-handed pitching this season after struggling in 2014, and he’s playing better defense this season as well.
Though the Indians will be without Yan Gomes for up to eight weeks, the team will not pursue starting catcher alternatives, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Cleveland believes that Roberto Perez can fill in as an everyday option behind the dish, according to Rosenthal. However, they may look to acquire a backup catching option that they consider to be an upgrade over Brett Hayes, who currently will fill the role with Perez’s playing time increasing.
The 31-year-old Hayes has seen Major League playing time in each of the past six seasons, though in some cases the sample was smaller than 20 plate appearances in a season. Despite the fact that Hayes is a pretty light-hitting option — as evidenced by his career .209/.252/.353 batting line — he’s still logged 175 games and 428 plate appearances in the Majors. He’s been roughly average in terms of catching base-stealers (25 percent) and has added some value with his ability to block pitches, though he does grade out as a below-average framer.
Earlier today I speculated that Dioner Navarro may be a fit in Cleveland, as he’d have an everyday role in Cleveland for the next couple of months (something both Navarro and Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos have hoped to find), but it seems that GM Chris Antonetti and his staff will pursue moves on a smaller scale.
Looking at the free agent market, there isn’t much presently available, at least not in terms of players who accumulated notable Major League action in 2014. J.P. Arencibia, 29, was released by the Orioles last week, and veteran switch-hitter Ryan Doumit didn’t sign a contract this offseason. However, Arencibia’s batting average and on-base percentage have continued a downward spiral over the past few seasons, and Doumit’s glove behind the plate has never drawn strong reviews.
Looking to the trade market, the Yankees may be willing to part with the recently outrighted Austin Romine, though they were likely happy to sneak him through waivers given his former top prospect status. Baltimore has a few viable options, most notably Steve Clevenger, whose agent has recently hinted that a trade may be more preferable than further time at the Triple-A level. The White Sox also have quite a bit of catching depth, with five backstops on their 40-man roster — Rob Brantly, Adrian Nieto and Kevan Smith are all in the Minors — and veteran George Kottaras at Triple-A as well. Colorado’s Wilin Rosario was known to be available for much of the winter, but he’s a poor defender behind the plate and likely qualifies as a higher-profile acquisition than Cleveland hopes to make.