Grossman is a productive offensive player owing to his outstanding plate discipline, which has allowed him to maintain a .371 on-base percentage over three seasons in Minnesota. Unfortunately, he delivers little in the way of power and is more or less limited to appearing in the corner outfield, a place where teams typically prefer more than a smattering of home runs.
10:54AM: Twins manager Paul Molitor told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (Twitter links) and other reporters that a new recovery plan for Santana will emerge after he visits a hand specialist on Tuesday. “I don’t know when the next time he’s going to pitch will be,” Molitor said, in regards to the possibility of Santana being shut down for the season.
10:11AM: The Twins placed right-hander Ervin Santana on the 10-day disabled list due to “reoccurring symptoms related to his original injury to his third finger MCP joint on his right hand.” Santana’s roster spot will be taken by outfielder Robbie Grossman, who was activated from the DL after missing time due to a hamstring strain. The team also announced that outfielder Johnny Field was optioned to Triple-A, while righty Alan Busenitz was called up.
Santana underwent surgery on his finger in February and, after a much lengthier-than-expected rehab period, only made his season debut on July 25. Some good performances might have made Santana into a trade candidate during the August waiver period, though the veteran righty didn’t look sharp in any of his outings, posting an 8.03 ERA and 5.8 K/9 over 24 2/3 innings, while allowing a whopping nine home runs in that brief stretch. Given today’s news, it’s fair to assume that Santana’s struggles were due in part to continued issues with his finger.
With only six weeks remaining on the schedule, the Twins could potentially just shut Santana down for the remainder of the season. That also creates the possibility that Santana has pitched his last game for the franchise, as it seems unlikely that Minnesota would exercise its $14MM club option on Santana for 2019 given his disastrous 2018 campaign. The Twins could decline the option and then look to re-sign Santana at a lower salary, though several teams could be interested in such a buy-low arrangement with a pitcher who is less than a year removed from a seventh-place finish in AL Cy Young voting.
The Tigers announced that lefty Travis Wood, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, left his debut with a sprained left knee today. Wood suffered the injury in a rundown and, per MLive.com’s Evan Woodbery, was “writhing on the ground” before eventually managing to limp off the field (Twitter link). Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweets that Wood was on crutches in the clubhouse following the injury. Wood, who was released by the Padres this offseason, was in competition either for a rotation or bullpen spot, though today’s injury certainly doesn’t bode well for his chances of doing so. More information on his status figures to be available after the game.
More from the Central…
- Following Minnesota’s signing of Logan Morrison, manager Paul Molitor sat down with first baseman/DH Kennys Vargas, outfielder/DH Robbie Grossman and utility infielder Eduardo Escobar to discuss how the trio’s status could be impacted, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Grossman and Vargas will be the most directly impacted with LoMo set to be the Twins’ primary DH, and both are out of minor league options. Grossman, who agreed to a $2MM salary in arbitration this offseason (albeit a non-guaranteed one, as is standard with arb deals), had a “very professional response” per Molitor. The switch-hitter acknowledged that he needs to demonstrate improved defensive skills in order to play a significant role on the team. While the Twins don’t technically need their fourth outfielder to be center-field capable due to the ability of corner outfielders Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler to man center, the lack of DH at-bats is problematic for Grossman, who made 61 appearances in that slot last season. It’s even tougher to see how Vargas fits into the equation, as he’s strictly limited to first and DH and is now behind both Morrison and Joe Mauer on the depth chart.
- Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune chats with White Sox skipper Rick Renteria, GM Rick Hahn and several of the team’s non-roster relievers about the battle for bullpen spots on the South Side of Chicago. The Pale Hose are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle as they did in 2017 with Anthony Swarzak (and Gregory Infante), Kuc notes, having brought in a host of veterans on minor league deals, including Jeanmar Gomez, Xavier Cedeno, Rob Scahill, Chris Volstad and Bruce Rondon. It’s obviously too early to anoint any sort of favorite to make the club — though Kuc does note that Gomez has whiffed five of the six hitters he’s faced — and Hahn spoke about various goals for each of those relievers in camp. “You take a guy like Xavier Cedeno, who battled injuries all last year — the first box he has to check is: be healthy,” says Hahn. “A guy like Bruce Rondon (has) to find the strike zone more, (so) his goals this spring might be a little different than for Cedeno.” The Sox should have at least two spots in the ’pen up for grabs. Joakim Soria, Infante, Juan Minaya and Luis Avilan are likely penciled in, and Danny Farquhar figures to have a spot too, given his lack of options.
The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)
Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salarie
American League West
- The Astros and Evan Gattis agreed to a $6.7MM deal for 2018, per FanRag’s Robert Murray (Twitter link). A free agent next season, Gattis lands within $100K of his $6.6MM projection. The club also has deals (for values unknown) with starters Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., and Brad Peacock, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
- The Rangers agreed to a $1.05MM deal with infielder Jurickson Profar, tweets Murray. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, meanwhile, tweets that lefty Jake Diekman landed a $2.7125MM deal and righty Keone Kela will earn $1.2MM. Profar had been projected at $1.1MM and is controllable another three seasons. Diekman, a free agent next winter, was projected at $2.8MM. And Kela, still controlled for three more years, matched his $1.2MM projection on the dot.
- The Athletics and closer Blake Treinen agreed to a $2.15MM deal for next year, tweets Murray. The A’s can control Treinen for another three years. He was projected at $2.3MM. Shortstop Marcus Semien has settled for $3.125MM, Heyman tweets; his $3.2MM projection was nearly spot-on. Oakland has announced that it has avoided arbitration with Liam Hendriks and Josh Phegley as well, but their salaries have yet to be reported.
- The Angels have a one-year, $7.3MM agreement in place with right-hander Garrett Richards, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Richards, a free agent next offseason, tops his $7MM projection by a margin of $300K. The Halos have also avoided arb with first baseman C.J. Cron ($2.3MM) and left-hander Tyler Skaggs ($1.875MM), tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Cron’s total falls a ways shy of his $2.8MM projection, while Skaggs comes in just $25K south of his $1.9MM projection. Both are controllable through the 2020 season. Lastly, Murray tweets that Matt Shoemaker agreed to a $4.125MM deal. He’s controlled through 2020 and projected at $4.4MM. Fletcher also tweets that the club has agreed with righty J.C. Ramirez ($1.9MM salary vs. $2.6MM projection) and lefty Jose Alvarez ($1.05MM salary vs. $1.1MM projection). Finally, righty Cam Bedrosian has agreed at $1.1MM, Flecher tweets, which represents a payday close to his projection of $1.2MM.
- Left-hander James Paxton will earn $4.9MM with the Mariners in 2018, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Murray tweets that the Mariners and David Phelps agreed to a $5.55MM deal. Paxton, controlled through 2020, projected to earn $5.6MM, while Phelps was pegged at $5.8MM. He’s a free agent next winter. Righty Erasmo Ramirez took a $4.2MM deal, MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports. That’s half a million shy of what the model suggested. Fellow right-hander Nick Vincent also has an agreement, but the terms aren’t yet known.
American League Central
- New lefty Luis Avilan has agreed to a $2.45MM deal with the White Sox, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports via Twitter. The recent trade acquisition came with a projected $2.3MM price tag. Fellow southpaw Carlos Rodon will receive $2.3MM, a bit of a bump over the $2MM he projected to receive. Also, utilityman Leury Garcia gets $1.175MM, which is just $25K short of his projected value.
- The Royals and righty Nate Karns agreed to a $1.375MM deal for 2018, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports (on Twitter). That lands within $25K of his $1.4MM projection for the coming season. Kansas City controls Karns through 2020. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports (via Twitter) that Kelvin Herrera will earn $7.9375MM in 2018, landing a bit shy of his $8.3MM projection. Herrera is a free agent next winter.
- The Indians have a $5MM agreement with righty Danny Salazar, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. He had projected to earn just $200K more, this falls right in line with expectations. Cleveland also agreed with Lonnie Chisenhall on a $5.5875MM deal, tweets Nightengale. The third baseman-turned-outfielder, who was projected to earn $5.8MM, will be a free agent following the 2018 season.
- Trevor May has a $650K agreement with the Twins for the 2018 season, according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. May, who missed the entire season due to Tommy John surgery (and did some writing for MLBTR during his rehab process), had been projected at $600K. The Twins also agreed to a $1MM deal with infielder Ehire Adrianza, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. Meanwhile, righty Ryan Pressly has agreed to a $1.6MM deal, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Both deals are identical matches with their projections. Adrianza has three years of team control remaining, while Pressly has two. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that outfielder Robbie Grossman settled at $2MM, leaving him $400K shy of his projection. Grossman is controlled for another three seasons.
- Tigers third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos will earn $6.05MM, per Heyman (via Twitter). He had projected at a much heftier $7.6MM in his second-to-last season of arb eligibility. MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports (Twitter links) that the Tigers and right-handed reliever Alex Wilson settled at $1.925MM, while fellow righty Shane Greene will earn $1.95MM. Wilson was projected to earn $2.1MM, while Greene was at $1.7MM. Wilson is controlled through 2019, while Greene is under control through 2020.
American League East
- The Yankees have knocked out some of their biggest arb cases, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links). Shortstop Didi Gregorius receives $8.25MM and righty Sonny Gray checks in at $6.5MM. The former had projected to earn $9.0MM while the algorithm was just $100K high on the latter.Backstop Austin Romine will earn $1.1MM, Heyman also tweets, which is also $100K below the projection. Righty Adam Warren and the Yankees have a $3.315MM deal, per Murray (Twitter link). This is Warren’s final season of eligibility before hitting the open market next winter. He’d been projected at $3.1MM. Meanwhile, fellow right-hander Dellin Betances has agreed to a $5.1MM deal, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). That’s just $100K more than Betances had sought last year, when he took his case to a hearing that he ultimately lost. But it’s quite a bit more than the $4.4MM he projected to receive after a subpar season in which he played at a $3MM salary.
- The Red Sox have agreed to pay $8.5MM to southpaw Drew Pomeranz, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). That’s short of the $9.1MM that had been projected after Pomeranz turned in a productive 2017 season. Boston and Jackie Bradley Jr. settled at $6.1MM, tweets Murray. That’s a bit north of the $5.9MM at which he’d been projected for the upcoming season. Bradley Jr., a Super Two player, has another three seasons of club control remaining. Nightengale tweets that righty Joe Kelly ($3.6MM projection) agreed to a $3.825MM deal. He’ll be a free agent next winter. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez ($2.375MM salary vs. $2.7MM projection) and righty Brandon Workman ($835K salary vs. $900K projection) are two other Sox hurlers that have agreed to terms, Speier reports (Twitter links). On the position player side, catcher Sandy Leon falls a bit under his projection $1.95MM (via Speier, on Twitter) while utilityman Brock Holt just beats expectations at $2.225MM (per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, on Twitter). The team also agreed with shortstop Xander Bogaerts for $7.05MM, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston tweets, which comes in a bit shy of his $7.6MM projection. Boston also announced agreement with backstop Christian Vazquez, who’ll earn $1.425MM, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne (via Twitter). That’s just under the projection of $1.5MM.
- The Blue Jays and righty Aaron Sanchez agreed to a $2.7MM deal for 2018, according to Nightengale (Twitter link). That crushes his $1.9MM projection, which was likely suppressed due Sanchez’s lack of innings (just 36) in 2017. He’s under Jays control through 2020. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, meanwhile, tweets that second baseman Devon Travis will make $1.45MM next year, falling a bit shy of his $1.7MM forecast. Other Toronto players agreeing to terms include Kevin Pillar ($3.25MM vs. $4.0MM projection) and Dominic Leone ($1.085MM vs. $1.2MM projection), MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm tweets.
- The Rays and closer Alex Colome settled at $5.3M, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (on Twitter). He’d been projected at $5.5MM and is controllable for three more years. They also settled at $5.95MM with outfielder/DH Corey Dickerson ($6.4MM projection) and $4.5MM with infielder Brad Miller ($4.4MM projection), per Murray (all Twitter links). Steven Souza, according to Murray will earn $3.55MM, placing him right in line with his $3.6MM projection. Dickerson and Miller are controlled through 2019. Souza is controlled through 2020.
Twins outfielder/DH Robbie Grossman has been diagnosed with a fractured left thumb, the club announced (h/t Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, on Twitter). Grossman is expected to miss at least three weeks, manager Paul Molitor said (also via Berardino, on Twitter).
The Twins have come to lean rather heavily on the switch-hitter over the past two seasons. This year, in particular, he has seen near-regular time in the corners and as the designated hitter. Grossman carries a .242/.367/.363 batting line with seven home runs on the year. He has also walked 60 times against just 64 strikeouts.
Minnesota has managed to remain in the AL Wild Card picture despite moving a few veterans at the deadline. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the club will be angling to add players to make up for the loss of Grossman.
In all likelihood, the Twins will dip into their system for a replacement. Assuming the club prioritizes a bat over outfield capability, Kennys Vargas would be the obvious choice. He has managed only a .243/.289/.429 batting line in 190 major league plate appearances this year, but brings big power from the left side. Byung Ho Park is also still down at Rochester, though he carries a .254/.312/.413 slash in 382 trips to the plate and isn’t on the 40-man roster. Young outfielder Zack Granite will also be a consideration, though he didn’t hit much in his first run at the majors earlier this year.
If the Twins prefer an outfielder and decide to consider outside acquisitions, then Mets veteran Curtis Granderson could represent a potential targets. Role players such as Matt Joyce of the Athletics could also be hypothetical possibilities, or perhaps the Twins could get creative and go after a non-40-man player such as Scott Van Slyke of the Reds. It seems somewhat unlikely that the Rangers will dangle Carlos Gomez, given that they too are still a plausible Wild Card team.
MAY 18: The Twins demoted Rosario to Triple-A Rochester following today’s game, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Additionally, Neal reports that Grossman will be in uniform for the Twins tomorrow night, meaning his contract will be selected and added to the 40-man roster. Minnesota’s 40-man roster currently stands at 39, so a corresponding move to accommodate Grossman is not necessary.
MAY 17: The Twins and outfielder Robbie Grossman are in agreement on a minor league pact, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). Grossman, a Lagardere client, will be assigned to Triple-A Rochester. He had opted out of a minor league pact with Cleveland earlier this week and, per Neal (Twitter link), has a June 15 opt-out in his new deal with Minnesota.
The 26-year-old Grossman will add some outfield depth to a Twins organization that has seen its fair share of struggles across all three outfield positions. Opening Day center fielder Byron Buxton was optioned to Triple-A after again looking overmatched by big league pitching, and fellow top prospect Max Kepler struggled in limited Major League action as well. Eddie Rosario, the club’s sophomore left fielder, is batting a dismal .213/.232/.343 in 114 plate appearances. Even 2015 Rookie of the Year contender Miguel Sano is hitting a solid but unremarkable .235/.331/.412 with just six homers on the season.
The Twins made a somewhat similar depth pickup earlier this year when they signed veteran David Murphy and assigned him to Rochester, but Murphy ultimately requested his released and elected to retire. That’s highly unlikely to be the outcome with the much younger Grossman, though there is of course no guarantee that he’ll see the big league roster with Minnesota before his mid-June opt-out date.
Grossman was once looked at as a potential long-term piece for the Astros, who acquired him in the 2012 trade that sent left-hander Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates. Baseball Prospectus once ranked Grossman as a Top 100 prospect, and he showed some promise as a 23-year-old rookie in 2013 when he batted .268/.332/.370 in 288 plate appearances. However, the switch hitter’s production slipped to .222/.323/.323 across the next two seasons, and the Astros ultimately released him this past winter.
From a defensive standpoint, Grossman has experience at all three outfield positions, though he received poor marks in both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved in a small sample of 250 center field innings between 2013-14. His corner work has generated much more positive reviews, with the majority of his big league experience having come in left field. And, it’s worth noting that Grossman has been quite productive at the Triple-A level this season, batting .256/.370/.453 with six homers and three steals in 134 plate appearances for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate.
Grossman, 26, signed a minor league pact with Cleveland this winter but didn’t make the club out of Spring Training despite the club’s thin outfield mix (though he slashed a rather solid .231/.348/.385 with three homers). The former Astro has hit quite well in the early stages of the 2016 campaign, batting .256/.370/.453 with six homers and three steals for Triple-A Columbus. He was once looked at as a possible building block in Houston, who acquired him alongside Rudy Owens and Colton Cain in the 2012 trade that sent Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates. However, after a strong .268/.332/.370 debut as a 23-year-old in 2013, Grossman went on to bat just .222/.323/.323 in the two subsequent seasons. Lackluster performance in 2014-15 notwithstanding, the switch-hitting Grossman should draw some interest as a free agent given his relative youth, solid Triple-A production and experience in the Majors.
He joins a growing list of players that have exercised mid-May opt-out clauses, joining veteran lefties Brian Duensing and David Huff — each of whom opted out of their respective contracts with the Royals on Sunday — and catcher Michael McKenry, who opted out of a minor league pact with the Rangers on Saturday.
With Opening Day fast approaching, and a variety of deadlines hitting clubs around the league, we’re seeing plenty of final roster and initial playing time decisions being made. While many don’t necessarily implicate control rights or other contractual matters, some are particularly noteworthy….
- Robbie Grossman will remain with the Indians and go to Triple-A, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (Twitter link). The team informed Grossman a few days ago that he didn’t make the team, and Grossman’s minor league deal allowed him to opt out and become a free agent if he wasn’t on the roster. Grossman played just 24 games with Houston last season and was released in November as the Astros decided to go with other outfield options.
- Left-hander Cory Luebke has made the Pirates’ bullpen, Bucs GM Neal Huntington told reporters (including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Luebke hasn’t thrown a big league pitch since 2012 due to two Tommy John surgeries and other injuries, though he impressed many as a non-roster invitee in Pittsburgh’s camp. Luebke had the option of opting out of his minor league contract if he wasn’t placed on the Opening Day roster. With Matt Joyce also making the team, Brink notes in another tweet that the Pirates will have to make at least two 40-man roster moves to create spaces for both Joyce and Luebke.
The Indians have agreed to terms with outfielder Robbie Grossman on a minor league deal, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). Grossman, who turned 26 in September, was released by the Astros back in November as clubs set their 40-man rosters to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.
Not long ago, Grossman was considered a potential building block for the Astros. Acquired in the trade that sent Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates, Grossman debuted as a 23-year-old with Houston and batted .268/.332/.370 in 288 plate appearances. Over the next two seasons, he’d go on to bat just .222/.323/.323, however. Though he was generally regarded as a positive defender in the outfield corners, that level offensive output wasn’t enough to keep him in Houston’s plans, particularly not with players like George Springer emerging in the Majors and the acquisitions of Carlos Gomez and Colby Rasmus blocking a road to playing time.
For Cleveland, Grossman will bring a still-young asset to the table with the potential to rebuild some of the stock that made him a top 100 prospect in the eyes of Baseball Prospectus four years ago. Grossman has consistently produced strong OBP marks throughout his minor league tenure and batted .254/.354/.349 in Triple-A this past season as a 25-year-old. (He’s a career .281/.382/.387 hitter at that level). He’ll provide further depth for a club in need of outfield options with Michael Brantley slated to miss the first month or two of the season and little certainty elsewhere on the roster.
The Astros announced today that outfielder Robbie Grossman and minor league left-hander Luis Cruz have been granted their unconditional releases. The pair of moves frees up two spots on Houston’s 40-man roster that can be reallocated before tomorrow’s deadline to protect players from the 2015 Rule 5 Draft.
It wasn’t long ago that the now-26-year-old Grossman was viewed as a potential long-term piece with the Astros. The switch-hitting outfielder, originally acquired in the trade that sent Wandy Rodriguez to Pittsburgh, had a respectable rookie debut at the plate with Houston back in 2013 when he batted .268/.332/.370 in 288 plate appearances. That led to an increased role in 2014, which saw Grossman slash .233/.337/.330 in 422 PAs while playing above-average defense in the outfield corners.
Grossman’s potential was at one point seen as significant enough that the Astros were rumored to be discussing an early-career extension that would’ve reportedly guaranteed him $13.5MM over six years and come with a pair of club options attached. Grossman’s situation exemplifies the difficult decisions with which young players are faced when approached regarding extensions. Had Grossman developed into an average (or even below-average) regular, that contract probably would have underpaid him substantially while also delaying his free agency by two years at what were presumably also relatively low prices. However, the ultimate downside for a player in rejecting such a contract is today’s outcome — a disappointing end to said player’s tenure with the organization.
However, Grossman only recently turned 26 and is still young enough to latch on with another club and establish himself a useful big league piece. He has a year and 95 days of Major League service time, so a team that signs him (presumably to a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp) could conceivably control him for five more seasons if he takes a step forward and realizes some of the potential that made him Baseball Prospectus’ No. 76 overall prospect prior to the 2012 season. If nothing else, Grossman has proven himself capable of hitting at the Triple-A level, where he owns a .281/.382/.387 batting line in 917 plate appearances. And, of course, players who have shown to be quality contributors in the minors often receive interest on the international front from clubs in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
As for Cruz, the 25-year-old Puerto Rican hurler was selected in the ninth round of the 2008 draft. Cruz’s strong work in Double-A back in 2013-14 landed him a spot on the Astros’ Major League roster, but he’s struggled to adapt to the top minor league level, as he owns a career 4.55 ERA with 7.6 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9 in 140 1/3 innings at that level.