Nearly ten years ago, the Twins traded top catching prospect Wilson Ramos to the Nationals for closer Matt Capps. Was the move justified? MLBTR’s Steve Adams makes his video debut in today’s discussion with Jeff Todd.
Quick Hits: Rule Changes, Capps, Adrianza, Utley
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale spoke to a number of active players that voiced extreme displeasure for many of the proposed rule changes that have been mentioned in news and rumors this winter. Brandon Moss, Jonathan Lucroy, Cole Hamels, Chris Young, Peter Moylan, Jason Grilli and Jimmy Rollins were among those to weigh in, with none sounding the slightest bit enthused by the notion of changes such as pitch clocks and automatic intentional walks. Young took a level-headed approach to the topics and suggested that while commissioner Rob Manfred’s “mind is in the right place” — keeping an open mind about progressive ways to improve the game — the players need to be more involved in talks. “It can’t be just unilateral that we’re going to implement this,” Young said to Nightengale. “…The game’s a partnership between the players and the owners. We can’t just mandate that every team has a $200 million payroll. They can’t mandate that the rules are going to be changed without our consent, either. I think there are definite ways to improve the game, but let’s do this together.”
Those who have been following the proposed rule changes this winter will absolutely want to read Nightengale’s column in full, as it’s stuffed with impassioned quotes from the game’s current wave of players. Here are a few more notes from around the league…
- Former big league closer Matt Capps is set to work out for MLB clubs this coming Sunday (Feb. 26) in Marietta, Ga. The right-hander, now 33 years of age, hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2012, when he posted a 3.68 ERA with 18 strikeouts against four walks in 29 1/3 innings with Minnesota. Shoulder injuries limited his workload that season and plagued him for several years thereafter, as he attempted comebacks with the Indians and Braves. Capps spent the 2016 season in the Diamondbacks organization, and while he didn’t generate positive results in Triple-A Reno — 5.15 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 — he did manage to stay healthy, logging 50 2/3 innings. Prior to his injury troubles, Capps logged a 3.52 ERA in 439 2/3 Major League innings from 2005-12, compensating for a lack of strikeouts (career 6.5 K/9) by demonstrating stellar control (1.7 BB/9).
- The Twins claimed Ehire Adrianza off waivers from the Giants based on his defensive prowess, writes Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the 27-year-old’s glove is already drawing attention early in camp. Twins third base coach/infield coach Gene Glynn lauded Adrianza’s instincts and defensive tools, while manager Paul Molitor noted that the report he received on Adrianza was that “he’s going to be the best defensive shortstop on the field when he’s out there.” Adrianza will compete with Eduardo Escobar for a utility role, Miller notes, and his glove could seemingly give him a viable chance of making the roster. Adrianza is just a career .220/.292/.313 hitter, though Molitor offered some optimism about being able to help him improve at the dish.
- Prior to Chase Utley’s agreement to return to the Dodgers, the Cubs briefly spoke to the veteran infielder about a bench/pinch-hitting role, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently tweeted. The talks never became serious, however, and a formal offer was never made to Utley’s camp. The Cubs clearly value depth, though it’s tough to imagine how Utley would receive any semblance of regular playing time with the reigning World Series champs. Javier Baez’s emergence may have already pushed Ben Zobrist into a crowded outfield, and the team also has Tommy La Stella on the roster as an additional infield option on the bench.
Minor MLB Transactions: 2/29/16
Outfielder Andrew Brown, who had been in big league camp with the Angels as a non-roster invitee, has now elected to retire from baseball rather than embark on a 10th professional season, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. According to Gonzalez, the 31-year-old Brown decided he would rather spend time with his children than continue to pursue a playing career. Brown last appeared in the Majors as a member of the 2014 Mets. In parts of four big league seasons, the former 18th-rounder batted .220/.281/.390 with 14 homers in 362 plate appearances. Brown went overseas and enjoyed great success in Korea last year, where he batted .261/.360/.496 with 28 homers in his lone KBO experience. Best wishes to Andrew in whatever steps he takes following his playing career.
Here are the day’s minor transactions from around the league…
- The D-backs have signed former Pirates/Nationals/Twins closer Matt Capps to a minor league contract, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. Earlier this month, FOX’s Jon Morosi reported that Capps was eyeing a big league comeback after having been absent from the Majors since 2012. After being non-tendered by the Pirates and signed to a one-year deal by the Nationals prior to the 2010 season, Capps was traded to the Twins in one of the more lopsided swaps in recent memory, with Wilson Ramos heading to the Nats in exchange. Capps did go on to pitch well in his first half-season with Minnesota before struggling in 2011 and 2012. The 32-year-old has a lifetime 3.52 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 39.5 percent ground-ball rate in 439 2/3 innings as a big league reliever.
Quick Hits: Granderson, Molina, Braun, Capps
Dave Cameron of Fangraphs provides his ten favorite transactions of the winter thus far, with the Braves’ haul in the Shelby Miller trade topping the list. For an additional look back at the market action that’s already in the books, Steve Adams and I discussed a few under-the-radar acquisitions that we liked in the most recent edition of the MLBTR Podcast.
Here are a few more notes as camp approaches:
- Upon arriving at Spring Training today, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson told reporters, including ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin, that team doctors have told him that his surgically repaired thumb is “all good to go.” Granderson went under the knife in November to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and spent about a month and a half in a brace, but he appears to be mostly back up to speed now. As Rubin notes, Granderson is again projected to be the Mets’ primary leadoff hitter, though his struggles against left-handed pitching would seem to create a reasonable opportunity to get Juan Lagares into the lineup.
- Likewise, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has had his cast removed and is beginning to strengthen his own thumb, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes. The veteran’s importance to his club is hard to overstate, and he says he’s going to try to be ready by Opening Day. He was delayed when the injured digit required a second surgery, so a full recovery by the start of the season may be a big ask.
- The Brewers are weighing a move of Ryan Braun back to left field, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. It seems as if the organization will weigh several options, but getting Domingo Santana and his live arm into right field would appear to have some appeal.
- Right-handed reliever Matt Capps is preparing a comeback bid, agent Paul Kinzer tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The former Pirates, Nationals, and Twins closer hasn’t worked in the bigs since 2012 while struggling with health issues. He did not appear in the regular season at all last year after spending camp with the Braves.
Minor Moves: Blackley, Flores, Capps, Ciriaco
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
- A pair of veterans are headed to the Marlins, per Matt Eddy of Baseball America (via Twitter). Lefty Travis Blackley and catcher Jesus Flores will join the Miami organization after being cut loose by other clubs earlier in the spring. Blackley, 32, has not seen big league action since 2013 and struggled in a brief stint in Japan last year. The 30-year-old Flores, meanwhile, has never returned to the majors since a five-year run with the Nationals. At Triple-A last year with the Royals, he slashed .230/.299/.373 over 271 plate appearances.
- The Braves have released veteran reliever Matt Capps, according to the International League transactions page. Capps, a former closer for the Pirates, Nationals and Twins, last appeared in the big leagues in 2012. He pitched just 12 minor-league innings in the last two seasons in the Indians system while dealing with shoulder issues, and he had not yet appeared in a game in 2015.
- The Braves have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of utilityman Pedro Ciriaco. To make space on their active roster, they’ve optioned lefty Ian Thomas to Triple-A Gwinnett. With Chris Johnson out with a hand injury, the Braves plan to go with Alberto Callaspo and Phil Gosselin at third base, and Ciriaco could provide extra help at third and elsewhere in the infield. The 29-year-old has a career .270/.299/.372 line in 498 plate appearances over five seasons with the Pirates, Red Sox, Padres and Royals. The Braves signed him to a minor-league deal in October.
Minor Moves: White, Presley, Capps, Perez, Smoker
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Astros outfielder Alex Presley has cleared waivers and is now deciding whether to accept his outright assignment, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). He is expected to accept the assignment in order to retain his $1MM salary, per the report. Righty Alex White has also cleared waivers and has been assigned to Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets.
- Veteran righty Matt Capps has re-signed with the Braves, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports on Twitter. The former Nationals closer had been with the club this spring but was released. Capps, 31, gave up two long balls in his only two innings of work, and has thrown just 12 professional innings over the last two seasons.
- The Mariners have loaned lefty Rafael Perez to Mexico’s Quintana Roo Tigers, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets. Perez, 32, was once a mainstay in the Indians’ pen and owns a 3.64 ERA over 329 big league innings. His peripherals declined, however, and he has not pitched in the big leagues since 2012. Perez has put up strong numbers in the upper minors over the last two years, however, and even returned to working as a starter last year.
- Former top draft pick Josh Smoker has signed with the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. The 26-year-old, who washed out of the Nationals’ system, is said to be working back into the mid-90s with his fastball.
Minor Moves: Tomas, Oliver, Brignac, Zito
Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Diamondbacks have optioned Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the team reports via Twitter. The club signed Tomas for $68.5MM over the offseason. He struggled both defensively and offensively this spring. A stint in Triple-A should give him time to adjust to the outfield and improve his plate approach.
- Phillies Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver has elected free agency after he was outrighted, the club announced via Twitter. The hard throwing lefty has struggled with walks throughout his career. That continued this spring with 11 walks and 22 strikeouts in 12 and two-thirds innings. The club also announced on Twitter that they reassigned catcher Rene Garcia, first baseman Russ Canzler, and infielder Cord Phelps to Triple-A.
- Marlins utility infielder Reid Brignac has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. In 905 major league plate appearances, Brignac has a .222/.266/.314 line.
- Athletics pitcher Barry Zito has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Jane Lee of MLB.com. The former star is working his way back from a one-year hiatus. He posted a 4.79 ERA in 20 and two-thirds spring innings. The 37-year-old struck out 14 and walked five. A former ninth overall pick of the A’s, the southpaw struggled after moving across the Bay to San Francisco on a seven-year, $126MM contract. That deal concluded after the 2013 season.
- The Red Sox have released Casey Crosby, Bryan LaHair, and Matt Hoffman per the MLB transactions page. Crosby was once a top prospect with the Tigers, but the 26-year-old lefty has yet to develop command. Lahair, 32, had a nice run with the Cubs in 2012 when he hit .259/.334/.450 with 16 home runs in 380 plate appearances. He spent the 2013 season in Japan and split 2014 between Cleveland’s Double and Triple-A clubs.
- The Phillies have released shortstop Tyler Greene according to the MLB transactions page. Greene, an 11th round pick, was once rated among the Phillies’ best prospects. He missed the entire 2014 season and has never posted a strikeout rate below 33 percent at any level.
- The Giants have released pitcher Edgmer Escalona per the MLB transactions page. Escalona pitched in parts of four seasons for the Rockies, accruing 100 innings. He has a career 4.50 ERA with 6.39 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9.
- The Cubs have released lefty pitcher Francisley Bueno according to the transactions page. The 34-year-old has pitched in parts of four season for the Braves and Royals. The soft tossing lefty has a career 2.98 ERA with 4.92 K/9 and 1.79 BB/9 in 60 innings. He’s a pure platoon pitcher.
- The Braves released former closer Matt Capps per MLB.com. The righty last appeared in the majors in 2012. He has a career 3.52 ERA with 6.53 K/9 and 1.72 BB/9. He’s thrown just 12 minor league innings over the last two seasons – both with the Indians.
Braves To Sign Matt Capps
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- The Braves have inked righty Matt Capps to a minor league deal, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. An eight-year big league veteran, Capps has not worked in the majors since 2012 and has thrown few minor league innings over the last two seasons owing to injury struggles. The former Pirates, Nationals, and Twins closer is still only 31 years old. He owns a 3.52 ERA over 439 2/3 lifetime frames at the game’s highest level, with 6.5 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9.
Indians Re-Sign Matt Capps
The Indians announced that they have re-signed reliever Matt Capps to a minor league deal. The pact comes with a non-roster invitation to Major League spring training camp.
Capps, 30, joined the Tribe on a minor league deal last offseason. The veteran couldn't stay healthy in 2013 and wound up pitching in just six games for the club's Triple-A affiliate. In eight big league seasons, Capps owns a 3.52 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.
Indians Re-Sign Matsuzaka, Capps
The Indians re-signed pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Matt Capps to minor league deals, according to a press release. The pair had been released recently so the team could avoid paying them $100K retention bonuses. It looks like they'll head to Columbus, providing the organization with veteran depth for the rotation and bullpen.