Here’s the latest from around baseball as we head into the new week…

  • The Giants may carry five outfielders on the 25-man roster in an effort to keep Hunter Pence and Denard Span fresh,’s Chris Haft writes.  Giants skipper Bruce Bochy said the club may also carry four outfielders plus one bench player capable of backing up at both an infield position and an outfield spot.  Pence, Span, Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson are expected to be regulars in the San Francisco outfield this year, with Parker and Williamson platooning in left field (unless one wins the job outright).  Gorkys Hernandez, Mike Morse, Kyle Blanks, Kelby Tomlinson, Justin Ruggiano and Slade Heathcott are a few of the well-known names fighting for jobs in the Giants’ camp.
  • Lucas Giolito sees his trade to the White Sox as “an immediate breath of fresh air,” the young righty tells USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.  The highly-touted Giolito struggled in his MLB debut last season, posting a 6.75 ERA and walking 12 batters (against just 11 strikeouts) over 21 1/3 innings with the Nationals while being promoted and demoted multiple times.  “Every start was like I have to do well or I’m going to get sent down to Triple-A.  The team wanted to win, and if I wasn’t going to give them an opportunity to win, then they wouldn’t want me there.  It made sense,” Giolito said.  With the Sox in more of a rebuilding phase, Giolito is looking forward to getting more for an opportunity to properly acclimate himself to the majors.
  • Jhonny Peralta is fully healthy and fully prepared for a move to third base, the veteran Cardinals infielder tells’s Jenifer Langosch.  Bothered by a thumb injury for much of 2016, Peralta batted only .260/.307/.408 over 313 PA as he lost his starting shortstop job to Aledmys Diaz.  Peralta will now battle Jedd Gyorko for regular playing time at the hot corner while looking to re-establish himself before hitting free agency next winter.  Peralta, who turns 35 in May, is hopeful of continuing to play “for a couple more years.”
  • Offseason trade rumors ended up being “just talk” and thus of no concern to Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, the Associated Press reports.  Kinsler and several other Tigers veterans were mentioned as potential trade candidates this winter, and Kinsler praised GM Al Avila for being straight-forward about what was happening.  “To be up front and honest is always the best way to act in my opinion. That’s the way that I like to approach people, and that’s the way he approached us as a whole, as a team.  Was it different? Absolutely, it was different. Most GMs would not do that,” Kinsler said.

from MLB Trade Rumors

In the wake of Dellin Betancesunusually public war of words with Yankees ownership in the wake of Betances’ arbitration hearing, a seemingly far more civil salary disagreement between the Yankees and another star was settled on this day in 1935.  Long before salary arbitration was instituted in MLB, Lou Gehrig agreed to a $30K contract from New York for the upcoming season.  This hefty-for-the-era salary made Gehrig the highest-paid player on the club, though it was still $7K short of Gehrig’s original demand.  The Iron Horse didn’t seem too put off by the smaller paycheck, however, as he went on to hit .329/.466/.583 with 30 homers and a league-best 125 runs scored in a season that was, incredibly, a significant dropoff by Gehrig’s standards.  He “only” posted 8.7 fWAR in 1935, as compared to his 10.7 fWAR season in 1934…so *clearly* the Yankees made a shrewd move in withholding that extra $7K.  Gehrig, undoubtedly embarrassed by his subpar 1935 performance, rebounded for a 9.7 fWAR year in 1936.

Here’s the latest from around the AL East…

  • Jose Bautista was choosing “between five or six places” this offseason before ultimately deciding to return to the Blue Jays, the slugger told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and other reporters.  There wasn’t too much buzz surrounding Bautista’s market this winter, as he was ultimately able to land only one guaranteed year on an $18.5MM salary, though another two years and $36.5MM could be available in option years.  While the list of suitors was “not as many as I was expecting,” Bautista said he is happy to be returning to his first choice team.
  • Bautista also expressed some regrets about his public salary comments during last year’s Spring Training camp as well as comments made in private to Jays management.  “I think in retrospect – I believe I can speak for myself and not for them – but I feel like I definitely could have handled things differently and maybe things would have played out different….Not necessarily changing the things that I said, maybe voicing them in a different setting and in a different way that might not get misconstrued and misunderstood the way that they did,” Bautista said.  A lack of familiarity between the two sides contributed to the situation, he added.
  • Rusney Castillo is something of a forgotten man in the Red Sox camp, as’s Scott Lauber writes that the outfielder has no clear path to MLB playing time or even the 40-man roster.  Castillo is still hopeful of making an impact, as he is retooling his swing and is enjoying more personal comfort now that his five-year-old son and other family members have been able to leave Cuba to join him in the United States.  Castillo signed a seven-year, $72.5MM deal with Boston in August 2014 but has just a .679 OPS over 337 big league plate appearances.
  • The Rays essentially made “a coin-flip decision” to draft Delmon Young over Rickie Weeks with the first pick of the 2003 draft, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes.  Drafting Weeks would’ve obviously significantly changed not only the Rays’ franchise history, but likely a good chunk of baseball history over the last decade-plus, as Topkin chronicles the chain reaction of events that would’ve been altered had Young not gone first overall.  Weeks, after all these years, has finally ended up in a Tampa uniform after signing a minor league contract with the Rays earlier this month.

from MLB Trade Rumors

Here’s the latest from the NL East…

  • The Mets aren’t engaged in trade talks about their outfielders, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters (including Newsday’s Marc Carig).  Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and Jay Bruce have all been mentioned in trade rumors this winter, with Bruce generating the least buzz though he seems to be the player the Mets would be most eager to move.
  • Even with Bruce’s salary still on the books, the Mets were able to make moves to upgrade their bullpen later in the offseason.  With the club’s 2017 payroll now estimated to be just under $154MM according to Roster Resource, the Mets have vastly increased spending since beginning the 2014 season with a payroll over less than $85MM.  Alderson described the organization as being “all in” in pursuit of a championship, and he said he has the flexibility to add at the trade deadline if necessary.
  • Alderson told Mike Puma of the New York Post and other media that he spoke with Neil Walker’s representatives on Saturday and would soon be talking to Walker himself about a possible extension.  According to reports earlier this week, the two sides have been in contact for much of the winter about an extension, potentially in the range of three years and $40MM.
  • Jayson Werth told reporters (including Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post) that he and the Nationals had yet to discuss continuing their relationship beyond this season, though “there’s always a possibility.”  The 38-year-old Werth, perhaps half-jokingly, said he was hoping to play for five more seasons, though such a scenario would be easier playing for an American League team that could offer him DH at-bats.  Werth has hit .267/.358/.437 with 99 homers over 3138 plate appearances in his six years in Washington, a tenure marked by several injuries but also some outstanding play when healthy, particularly excellent seasons in 2013-14.  Rather than worry about his next contract, Werth is only focused on getting the Nats deep into the postseason.  “I feel like I’ve got a lot to prove, and I still feel like I’ve got a lot in the tank,” he said.
  • Werth’s decision to leave the Phillies for a seven-year, $126MM free agent deal from the Nationals after the 2010 season generated a lot of controversy at the time, directed at both the Nats for seemingly overpaying and at Werth for leaving a contender to join a perennial also-ran.  In hindsight, however, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes that Werth made the right choice in leaving the Phils just before their decline began, and just before the Nationals grew into an NL East power.  “My focus was on winning, but at the time that’s not really what it looked like.  Everybody was like, ’The Nats were crazy, Werth is money hungry’ and whatever else was said,” Werth said.  “Honestly, I was in a position to pick and choose what I wanted to do.  What I thought was cool about the Nats was that it was a total underdog situation, but they had good owners…and a core group of players with a high ceiling.  It was a situation where I thought we could build something.”

from MLB Trade Rumors

The Royals are discussing a contract extension with first baseman Eric Hosmer’s representatives, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports.  Hosmer has set Opening Day as the deadline for negotiations, as he doesn’t want ongoing talks to distract him during the season.  Should the two sides not reach an agreement by the Royals’ first game, Hosmer will test free agency after the season, though he did say he wants to remain in Kansas City.

We are talking about certain extensions, stuff like that. But the way I see it right now, I just want to make it that far [to free agency]. And if I do make it that far without signing anything, I feel like I deserve that right to see what’s out on the market,” Hosmer said.  “It’s not cutting this place out completely. It’s earning the right to see what else is out there, seeing my options, seeing what would be the best possible situation for me.”

Hosmer is far from the only Royals star scheduled to hit the open market next winter, though he appears to be the only one thus far contacted by the team about an extension.  Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas both tell Rosenthal that they haven’t been in talks about a new deal.  (It can be inferred that Alcides Escobar, another pending free agent, also hasn’t been in negotiations with the club.  Escobar was described by Rosenthal as “less of a priority” than the other three, given how Raul Mondesi Jr. could step in as Kansas City’s shortstop of the future.)  Since Spring Training has just begun, of course, it stands to reason that Royals GM Dayton Moore will at least touch base with these players about potentially remaining in K.C. beyond the 2017 campaign.

It could be that Hosmer drew the early attention from the Royals because his potential extension could be the most complicated.  The club expects Hosmer and agent Scott Boras to seek a ten-year deal, owing to both Hosmer’s young age (he is entering his age-27 season), the number of big-market teams that could be looking for first base help next winter.

Most players prefer to avoid having extension talks drag into the season, and in Hosmer’s case, he has some extra financial security — he has already earned $29.75MM through his four seasons of arbitration eligibility as a Super Two player, including a two-year extension and a $12.25MM deal for 2017 to avoid arbitration.

It should also be noted that Hosmer could use another full year to really establish himself as a player worthy of a mega-deal, as the first baseman has been rather inconsistent over his first six seasons.  Hosmer posted fWARs of 3.2 in 2013 and 3.4 in the Royals’ championship season of 2015, though he sandwiched those strong years in between three years of (according to the fWAR calculation) not even replacement-level play.  Hosmer posted a -1.7 fWAR in 2012, 0.0 in 2014 and -0.2 last season, when he hit .266/.328/.433 with 25 homers over 667 plate appearances.  Despite that seemingly good slash line, Hosmer was barely above average in terms of runs created (101 wRC+) and he was rated as a below-average baserunner and defender.  After mostly good grades in terms of Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150 in the previous three years, Hosmer’s first base work took a tumble as per those two metrics in 2016 (minus-6 DRS, -6.1 UZR/150).  Hosmer’s contact rate also declined last year, while he posted a career-worst 19.8% strikeout rate.

With so many key free agents, the coming offseason has been seen as a turning point for a Royals team that is trying to remain competitive while remaining fiscally responsible.  This winter, Kansas City has dealt two pending free agents in Wade Davis and Jarrod Dyson while extending another (Danny Duffy).  While the odds of re-signing everyone is next to impossible, Duffy’s extension would imply that K.C. also isn’t going to let everyone walk and go into a full rebuild, though one or two of the free agents could be moved at the trade deadline if the Royals aren’t in contention for a playoff berth.

from MLB Trade Rumors

Yankees To Sign Jon Niese

Posted: February 19, 2017 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

The Yankees are poised to sign left-handed Jon Niese to a minor league contract, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter link).  The deal will become official when Niese passes a physical.

from MLB Trade Rumors

The Orioles have designated left-hander T.J. McFarland for assignment, as per a club press release.  The move creates a 40-man roster spot for the newly-acquired Vidal Nuno.

from MLB Trade Rumors

Ace reliever Dellin Betances had more to say Sunday regarding his arbitration-related dispute with Yankees president Randy Levine, telling reporters – including George A. King III of the New York Post – that he has no regrets over comments he made Saturday. Betances added that he isn’t going to seek out Levine to potentially clear the air between the two. “I don’t feel I need to speak to him, I don’t know how [the Yankees] feel,’’ Betances said. “I am just going to try and prepare for the season and help the team as much as I can.’’ Further, on the heels of MLBPA executive Rick Shapiro calling Levine’s remarks “totally unprecedented” Saturday, union chief Tony Clark weighed in Sunday and referred to them as “unprofessional” (Twitter link via Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan).

More from around the majors:

  • In an attempt to shorten games, MLB is interested in placing a runner on second at the beginning of extra innings, but that’s not something the players are ever going to sign off on, Clark told the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner (Twitter link via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). Clark actually laughed at the idea while shooting it down, but he did note that players are open to changing the intentional walk (Twitter links via Passan).
  • While Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon’s name came up in trade rumors during the winter, GM Jeff Bridich didn’t show any interest in dealing him for anything but a massive return. Should a trade come together in the next two years, Blackmon’s final seasons of team control, it seems he’d understand. “I just think they value me pretty high, I guess, and that’s why nothing happened,” Blackmon told Thomas Harding of “I think that’s good. But it’s my opinion that if a deal had come along where they had gotten a deal worth more than what I was worth, then they would’ve made the deal. And I would expect that to happen.”
  • Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber caught a bullpen session Friday for the first time since he tore multiple knee ligaments last April and informed Carrie Muskat of on Sunday that he “loved it.” Schwarber realizes that he must “take it slow with the knee and the injury and everything like that,” though, and likely won’t do much catching this season with Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero on Chicago’s roster. “I’ve got to be ready at any time to come in late in the game from left field to maybe come catch and give those guys a blow,” Schwarber said. “It’s not like I’m going to be the everyday starter.”
  • Although he emerged as the Rays’ best first base option last season, Brad Miller indicated Sunday that he’s on board with moving to second base this year to take over for the departed Logan Forsythe. “I’m not going to prepare for first at all this spring,” Miller told Bill Chastain of “Just try to get as many reps at second and short right now with the makeup of the team. Obviously, I know it’s a long year. I’ve been through changing positions before. So I understand.” After the Rays’ workout Sunday, manager Kevin Cash opined that Miller “looked outstanding” and was “really fundamentally sound.” The middle infield is nothing new for Miller, who has played 369 games at shortstop and 37 at the keystone. The results haven’t been pretty, however, as Miller has posted minus-27 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-12.3 Ultimate Zone Rating in nearly 3,300 combined innings at the two positions.

from MLB Trade Rumors