• Red Sox Notes: Maddon, Davis, Breslow

    Manager Joe Maddon is now available, but the Red Sox won’t be hiring him, owner John Henry tells the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo (via Twitter). “Joe Maddon is an excellent manager. But we are extremely happy with John,” says Henry. Farrell, of course, led the Sox to a World Series victory in his first season on the job before a disappointing 71-win season in 2014. Here are more notes out of Boston.

    • New Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis’ new three-year contract runs a year past the expiration of that of manager John Farrell, Cafardo writes.  Generally, coaches’ contracts don’t extend longer than those of their manager. Cafardo cautions us not to read into this too deeply, however — the Red Sox offered three years to prevent Davis from signing on with the Yankees instead.Farrell is heading into the third year of a four-year deal that will expire after the 2016 season.
    • Reliever Craig Breslow does not sound optimistic that the Sox will pick up his $4MM 2015 option rather than paying him a $100K buyout,’s Rob Bradford writes. “If you were to strictly look at 2014 with blinders without what had happened previously and what you might expect to happen going forward, $4 million is probably a hefty price tag,” says the lefty, who posted a 5.96 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 54 1/3 innings in 2014. Nonetheless, Breslow remains confident that he’ll have a bounce-back season. “If they were to decline it I would be a bargain for somebody and I’€™ll pitch to the value of the contract,” he says.
  • NL Notes: D-Backs, Nationals, Braves, Mets, Pirates

    The Diamondbacks expect new assistant GM Bryan Minniti to focus on the administrative side of baseball operations while also contributing to the organization’s analytical development, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic“I won’t say [administration is] a weakness for me, but it’s part of my job that I don’t necessarily want to embrace on a day-to-day basis,” said GM Dave Stewart. “He picks me up in that area and is very knowledgeable in that area. People in the industry say he’s one of the best in the business at that position.” Minniti said he is not an “analytics guy,” though he does have a statistical background and is said to have played an important role in that regard with the Nationals. Here are more notes out of the National League.

    • As Minniti settles into his new job, the Nationals have begun the process of replacing him, as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. They made a variety of moves in their front office, including promoting director of baseball operations Adam Cromie to assistant general manager and hiring two analysts.
    • Braves president John Schuerholz says that he never approached Royals GM Dayton Moore about a return to Atlanta and would not have done so since Moore has two years left on his contract, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. Reports had suggested that the Braves were considering making a run at bringing back Moore as general manager, but the team ultimately convinced John Hart to take over baseball operations and says it has no plans of hiring a new GM under him.
    • The Mets have hired Kevin Long as their hitting coach, the club announced via Twitter. Long had served as the Yankees’ hitting coach before his recent firing after eight years with the team.
    • The Brewers have named a new hitting coach as well, hiring Darnell Coles to replace Johnny Narron, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on Twitter. Coles served as the Tigers’ assistant hitting coach in 2014 and managed the Brewers’ Double-A Huntsville affiliate in 2012 and 2013.
    • As the Pirates look forward to 2015, the club faces a number of complicated arbitration decisions, as Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review discusses. Two of those were seemingly resolved this morning when the Bucs designated John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez for assignment, but the Pirates still have 11 arbitration-eligible players, including three first basemen (or likely first basemen) in Pedro Alvarez, Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez.
  • Notes On Joe Maddon: Rays, Cubs, Sandberg

    Here’s the latest on Joe Maddon, whose agent Alan Nero (via a tweet from the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo) says is still “early in the process” of deciding what to do in 2015.

    • Joe Maddon exercising the out clause in his contract might have been the result of a deliberate strategy by the Rays, Cork Gaines of Rays Index speculates. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted yesterday that Maddon wasn’t even aware he had an opt-out clause until Rays president Matt Silverman told him. So why, Gaines wonders, did the Rays tell Maddon? With Andrew Friedman heading to the Dodgers, Maddon had lost a close friend. One possibility is that, with only one year left on his contract, it would have been a foregone conclusion that Maddon would leave after 2015 anyway, given the salary he might have sought. That would have made him a lame duck, and the Rays might have wanted a fresh start rather than continuing with a manager who they knew would be gone within months anyway.
    • The Cubs need to hire Maddon as soon as possible, Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Triune writes. Maddon’s approach to the game is consistent with those of Theo Epstein and the Cubs, and his reputation as a player-friendly manager might help the Cubs attract free agents.
    • One team Maddon will not be managing to open the 2015 season is the Phillies, Jim Salisbury of writes. “We have a manager,” says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “Ryne Sandberg is our manager.” Maddon is a Pennsylvania native, and he has connections to Amaro. Salisbury notes that there is the possibility that Amaro will be fired at some point in 2015, in which case Sandberg might be dismissed as well. If Maddon hasn’t found another team to manage at that time, he would likely become a contender for the Phillies position.
  • Offseason Outlook: Pittsburgh Pirates

    Led by outstanding seasons from Andrew McCutchen, Russell Martin and Josh Harrison, the Pirates made the playoffs for the second straight year in 2014, but the possible departures of Martin and Francisco Liriano cloud their immediate future. Guaranteed Contracts Andrew … Continue reading
  • Pirates Acquire Sellers, Designate Axford And Gomez

    The Pirates have announced that they’ve acquired shortstop Justin Sellers from the Indians for cash considerations. They’ve also designated relievers John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez for assignment and reinstated starter Charlie Morton from the 60-day disabled list.

    Sellers spent most of the 2014 season with Triple-A Columbus, hitting .254/.307/.355. The 28-year-old has hit sparingly in parts of four seasons with the Dodgers and Indians, but he can play second and third as well as shortstop and he has a strong defensive reputation. He will be on the Pirates’ 40-man roster.

    Axford and Gomez were both non-tender candidates, so it’s no surprise that the Bucs would designate them for assignment. Axford, a former closer, would have received a small raise on this year’s $4.5MM salary, even though he had a walk-heavy 2014 season in which the Indians let him head to the Pirates via waivers. Gomez served as a long reliever for the Pirates in 2014 and posted a 3.19 ERA, but with an underwhelming 5.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.