Rumors

  • NL East Notes: Duda, Wilpon, Gonzalez, Turner

    The Mets and Lucas Duda intend to cut off extension negotiations when the season opens, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. It remains to be seen whether anything gets done, of course, especially since the 29-year-old still has just one complete season of strong performance on his ledger. A league executive tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that the comparables suggest a deal in the four-year, $30MM range could make sense, pointing to the cases of Allen Craig, Alex Gordon, and Billy Butler. In spite of his somewhat late start, Duda could have a higher earning capacity than that trio if he keeps hitting thirty-plus home runs.

    • One notable new feature of Mets camp has been the presence of owner Fred Wilpon, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. Though Wilpon has not said much publicly, he has been fairly visible and active behind the scenes, says Martino, consistently conveying the message that he expects winning baseball.
    • Phillies righty Miguel Gonzalez looks like he may never pay off on the team’s investment, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes, particularly since he has not managed to earn a job in spite of the team’s desperate need for arms. “He hasn’t pitched well enough to be a major league starter for us,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “His stuff and his command just weren’t good enough. It’s kind of simple. He needs to be better for us to utilize him in our rotation. He’ll go down and pitch and hopefully he improves. If he doesn’t, then he doesn’t.” Amaro continued to acknowledge: “He hasn’t performed as well as we would have liked. He may never perform as well as we would have liked, but that’s the risk you take. Sometimes, you’ve got to take a risk.”
    • Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post takes a look in at Nationals shortstop-to-be Trea Turner, who is currently still with the Padres until he can formally be sent to D.C. The club had to check with the league to see if the deal could be structured that way, and pulled the trigger when it found it would be permitted. Washington had been intrigued with Turner in last year’s draft, says Svrluga, and a strong entry into the professional ranks has only raised his stock. For his part, as he waits to get introduced to a new organization, Turner says that his former team has “treated me just like one of their players.”
  • Dodgers To Sign Freddy Garcia

    The Dodgers have agreed to a minor league deal with veteran righty Freddy Garcia, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports on Twitter. Garcia, 38, agreed to sign with Taiwan’s EDA Rhinos last year.

    While details of Garcia’s stint in Taiwan are hard to dig up, it appears that he at least threw a full season as the Taipei Times credits him with picking up a Gold Glove award. Garcia had seemed ticketed for the Braves rotation last spring before the club dropped him in favor of Aaron Harang — a decision that delivered Atlanta a surprisingly excellent season from Harang and sent Garcia out of the bigs for the first time since he broke into the league in 1999.

    Garcia came up with the Mariners, promptly reeling off 200+ inning campaigns in seven of his first eight years. He carried a 4.01 ERA with 6.6 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 to that point. Injuries intervened, however, and Garcia did not even crack the 60-inning barrier from 2007 through 2009 (even while working as a starter).

    He has been a useful swingman since then, however, and figures to provide a depth option for a Los Angeles club that is approaching the season looking somewhat thin on pitching.

  • Nationals Sign Reed Johnson To Minor League Deal

    9:23pm: Johnson will earn $1MM if he makes the roster, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson tweets.

    3:36pm: Though outfielder Reed Johnson was released by the Marlins earlier this morning, his brush with unemployment will apparently be fleeting, as the Nationals announced that they’ve signed him to a Minor League contract. Johnson, 38, will report to big league camp and be in the mix for a bench spot.

    The Nationals could use some additional outfield depth with Denard Span likely out through mid-May and Jayson Werth unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. As I noted this morning in discussing Johnson’s release, while his overall work with the bat is light, he’s still a solid option against left-handed pitching. Johnson batted .303/.319/.409 in 69 PA against lefties last year and is a lifetime .310/.363/.454 hitter when facing opposite-handed pitching. He has experience in center field but is likely best suited for left field at this stage of his career.

    It remains unclear exactly how the Nationals’ outfield situation will play out, but prospect Michael Taylor figures to slide into Span’s spot and receive the bulk of the playing time in center field.

  • Added To The 40-Man Roster: Monday

    With teams making decisions on the final piece of their Opening Day rosters, especially regarding Article XX(B) players, we’ll keep tabs on the day’s moves to add non-roster invitees to the 40-man.

    Right-handed relievers, somewhat unsurprisingly, dominate today’s news in this arena:

    • Lefty specialist Joe Thatcher has been added to the Astros‘ 40-man roster, Rosenthal reports on Twitter. The Article XX(B) veteran will receive a $1MM salary and can add an additional $1.3MM through incentives. If he can return to form, Thatcher could be quite a nice addition to a Houston pen that was an area targeted heavily for upgrades this offseason.
    • Fellow non-roster invitee Roberto Hernandez will also make the club, the Astros have announced. As MLBTR originally reported, Hernandez will earn $2.65MM on the year. The 34-year-old joined the fold in Houston late in the spring, but provides a sturdy and versatile presence as the club seeks to take the next step this year.

    Earlier Updates

    • The Twins have announced that righty Blaine Boyer is now a member of the team’s major league roster. Boyer’s deal will pay him $750K at the big league level and includes up to $100K in incentives tied to appearances, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. MLBTR’s Zach Links recently spoke with Boyer about his interesting professional journey.
    • Likewise, right-handed Carlos Villanueva has been added to the Cardinals‘ 40-man roster, the club announced. That means that the veteran swingman will be entitled to a $2MM salary this year with St. Louis. Villanueva, 31, has racked up 863 2/3 MLB innings in 76 starts and over 300 relief appearances. Though he had only a 4.64 ERA last year with the Cubs, Villanueva’s peripherals earned him strong marks from ERA estimators.
    • The Indians have informed righty Anthony Swarzak that he will make the pen, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune tweets. Though it does not appear he has been officially added to the 40-man, that will need to occur. The 29-year-old has a 4.48 career ERA in 439 2/3 frames at the major league level, most of them coming from the pen. Swarzak will take home a $900K salary and can earn up to $350K in incentives.
    • Similarly, the Cubs have told southpaw Phil Coke that he will be on the club, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Coke had exercised his opt-out clause on Friday when he was not added to the 40-man at that time, says Rosenthal. Now, it appears he will receive the $2.25MM (and up to $900K in bonuses) that his deal allows; indeed, the team has now announced that his contract was selected.
  • MLBPA Issues Statement On Bryant, Prospect Promotions

    The MLB Player’s Association has released a sternly worded statement (links to Twitter) regarding the Cubs’ decision to option super-prospect Kris Bryant to start the year.

    “Today is a bad day for baseball. We all know that if @KrisBryant_23 were a combination of the greatest Players to play our great game, and perhaps he will be before it’s all said and done, the @Cubs still would have made the decision they made today. This decision, and other similar decisions made by clubs will be addressed in litigation, bargaining or both.”

    There are several items in this statement to unpack, of course. For starters, it seems difficult to disagree with the sentiment that it is unfortunate for the game as a whole that Bryant will not start the year in the big leagues. While imagining a mutually agreeable rule tweak to make that happen in the future will not be easy, it certainly seems a worthy pursuit.

    Then, there is the interesting second sentence, which seems to draw attention away from the Cubs’ particular decision and focus it instead on the set of incentives that seemingly made it inevitable. Certainly, those words strike a somewhat different posture than that adopted by Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras.

    Finally, and most ominously, the union fired a parting shot suggesting that “litigation” could be a method employed in “address[ing]” the Bryant decision and others like it. Presumably, that refers to the possibility of pursuing grievance proceedings under the CBA, rather than some kind of action in open court, but it is interesting regardless because it suggests the union may seek to argue that weighing service time at the start of a player’s career violates the current iteration of the CBA.

    Of course, the statement also notes that collective bargaining may be the route pursued to deal with the issue, and regardless of the MLBPA’s actual intentions, the union clearly wishes to put the league on notice that the promotion timeline of top prospects will be at or near the top of the labor agenda in the next round of bargaining. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has recently come out strongly in favor of some form of international draft, and both sides increasingly appear to be lining up their positions. Negotiations are expected to launch in earnest next winter.

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