Two things bear repeating. First:Tampa Bay understands that it doesn’t have to deal Price. It has room in its budget for him this season. If the Rays underachieve, he can go for a copious return at the trade deadline, and if they’re still among the lords of the AL East, he can find a new home next winter. Second: The Seattle Mariners can very easily get this done if they include starter Taijuan Walker, a maneuver sources said they’ve begun considering internally within the last week. Source: Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports
(I sure hope that “source” has been on the sauce and is full of it up to their ears. That would be dumb, compounded by stupid, multiplied by ignorant.)
A baseball source has confirmed that the Angels are close to a one-year deal with 41-year-old designated hitter Raul Ibanez, pending a physical. Ibanez slugged 29 home runs with a .249 average and 65 RBIs in his third stint with Seattle in 2013, when he earned $2.75 million, the same reported amount as his Angels deal, which is said to include incentives that could push the total value to $5 million. Source: Ken Gurnick at MLB.com
Illness and injuries have limited Franklin Gutierrez‘s playing time the past three seasons, but the former Gold Glove center fielder said he’s eager for another shot with the Mariners after signing a one-year contract Wednesday. “I’m really happy to be here again,” said Gutierrez, who’d become a free agent after Seattle declined a $7 million option for 2014. “You know, I’m just looking forward to contributing this year. I know it’s been tough all these past years, but I’m feeling good, that’s the most important thing. I’m just going to try to help my team again.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but ESPN Deportes is reporting the contract has a $1 million base salary, with the potential of an additional $2 million in incentives. Gutierrez said his agent was talking to the Indians, among other teams, but his situation clarified as soon as Seattle contacted him during last week’s Winter Meetings and indicated they were interested. “I didn’t think twice. I just said yes,” he said. “And the reason was, first of all, I feel like this is family for me. I’ve been here five years already and they already know me and how to use me. I know the city, the team, the fans are very good. I didn’t think twice. I just said, yes, I’m going to go back there.”
The Venezuela native was diagnosed with an inflammatory condition called ankylosing spondylitis about six months ago and is hopeful that medication will allow him to deal better with the hip and joint issues that have hindered him.“It was very important for me to find out what I had,” he said. “Now I have to try to manage this. I’m on medication that is working very well. I’m feeling more normal right now. I’m just feeling good. I’m trying to work on my batting, getting ready for Spring Training, and being ready for any situation, wherever the manager needs me.” Source: Greg Johns at MLB
The Mariners announced that right-hander Chance Ruffin has been designated for assignment. The move will make room on the M’s 40-man roster for Franklin Gutierrez. Ruffin, 25, made nine big league relief appearances last season but spent the bulk of the year in Double-A and Triple-A where he posted a combined 3.91 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. The Tigers took Ruffin with the 48th overall pick in the 2010 draft. The Mariners also announced that they’ve outrighted outfielder Travis Witherspoon to Triple-A Tacoma. The 24-year-old Witherspoon was designated for assignment last week to clear a roster spot for Corey Hart. Source: Zach Links at MLB Trade Rumors
Comment From CircuitHunter: What do you think of the Ibanez signing?
Dave Cameron: Waste of money.
AL West Commentary
In talking with a few folks last week, the sense is that the Rangers don’t want to go any more than two years or maybe two years and an option year [on Nelson Cruz]. Why? I think it’s more Cruz’s injury history than anything else. He stayed healthy in 2012, but missed the 50 games with a suspension last year. Before that, he was on the disabled list six times from 2009 to 2011, mainly with hamstring issues. As he gets older, what’s the guarantee that he’ll be able to stay in the lineup? I think that’s a legitimate concern. In his career, Cruz’s home and road splits are vastly different. He’s a .294 hitter in Arlington and a .242 hitter everywhere else.
Defensively, Cruz has struggled in right field. But perhaps it makes more sense that he rotate between outfield and DH. But he won’t help the club with a bat at the top of the order and he won’t give them a truly viable defensive option in the outfield. It comes down to how much do you think Cruz has left and how many games do you think he’ll play in the next few years. Perhaps, there’s another way to put it: Do you give Cruz a third guaranteed year or Choo a sixth?
I like the idea of Choo at the top of the order, but not at a Jacoby Ellsbury price. If Choo’s price doesn’t come down, Cruz would still give this club a bat that it needs. I agree with the two-year idea, but would probably do a vesting option for a third year based on Cruz’s health. Waiting now isn’t a bad move for the Rangers. They can see whether the price drops on either player and then make a call. Source: Richard Durrett at ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth
So they said
“It feels like this year is going to be different,” he said. “I feel in my heart that we are going to do better than the past seasons.” Franklin Gutierrez via Greg Johns at MLB
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Comment From AL: Do you think that Billy Butler to the A’s would make sense? The A’s have some additional younger pitching i.e. Tommy Milone type guys that could be included in a deal. Butler seems like the A’s type of player.
Dave Cameron: Expensive and overrated? He seems like the anti-A’s player
Comment From AL: ESPN article on Matt Kemp was interesting. I didn’t think that you were high on him coming into this season based on comments in these chats.
Dave Cameron: I’m not high on taking his entire contract. That’s different than thinking he’s done as a player. I just think for 6/130, you should be getting less risk.
Draft and Prospects
Outfielder Travis Witherspoon, who was designated for assignment last week, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Double-A Jackson by the Mariners. Witherspoon, 24, was acquired by Seattle on a waiver claim from the Angels on Oct. 8, but he had to be moved off the 40-man roster on Friday to make room for newly signed free agent Corey Hart.
Witherspoon spent last season at Double-A Arkansas in the Angels organization, where he hit .214 with 11 home runs, 38 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 129 games.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder has 140 steals in 173 attempts in his Minor League career, including 110 steals over the past three seasons. Witherspoon hit .319 with 25 stolen bases in 67 games for High Class A Inland Empire in 2012, and he is regarded as a potential five-tool prospect with a strong arm and defensive skills as a center fielder. But he has struggled making contact since his promotion to Double-A, and he hit just .202 in 54 games for Arkansas after a midseason promotion in ’12 and then posted a .214/.299/.342 line in a full season there last year. Witherspoon was a 12th-round Draft pick by the Angels out of Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina in 2009. Source:Greg Johns at MLB
The Mariners have also signed independent league outfielder Burt Reynolds to a Minor League contract. Reynolds, 25, is the cousin of Robinson Cano. He hit .247 with six home runs in 71 games for the Camden Riversharks in the Atlantic League last year. Reynolds, a native of the Dominican Republic, was originally drafted in the 30th round in 2006 by the Nationals and spent three years in the Rays’ Minor League system from 2008-10, compiling a .221 batting average in 68 games at the Class A level. Source: Greg Johns at MLB
Baseball Best Practice
“If a ball goes off the wall, you look lucky, and if it goes over the wall, your BABiP doesn’t get affected. Maybe a few of our doubles will go over the wall next year, so our home runs will go up and our BABiP will go down. Would the narrative be that our luck regressed or that we added power? It kind of depends on how you choose to categorize performance data.” Michael Girsch, Cardinals Assistant GM in interview by David Laurila at FanGraphs
(If you are interested in why the Cardinals are so good you should read this whole interview here. Now I know who I want for the M’s next GM.)
Less than two days after the highly sought Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka said he wanted to pitch in Major League Baseball next season, there was still no definitive word from his team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, whether it would let him leave. But on Thursday morning, several Japanese newspapers reported that the Eagles — who control the rights to Tanaka until the end of 2015 — would not permit major league teams to bid for him.
Instead, the Eagles will offer to double or even triple his annual salary of about $4 million, which could make him the highest-paid Japanese pitcher in history. By keeping Tanaka for at least another year, the Eagles would forgo a $20 million compensatory posting fee from the major league team that ultimately signed him. But they would enhance their chances at repeating as champions in Japan, and they would avoid millions of dollars in lost ticket, food and merchandise sales. One newspaper, Sports Hochi, reported that team officials planned to meet with Tanaka on Friday, not to negotiate his contract, but to tell him they would not permit him to depart to play in North America. Source: Ken Belson at the New Yprk Times
By The Numbers
In 1989, Fred McGriff led the league in homers and OPS and didn’t make the All-Star team. In 1993, he was fourth in MVP voting, and again not an All-Star. From age 23-38, he never had an OPS+ less than 100, and only once had one less than 110. Source: YCPB You Cant Predict Baseball
While the New York Yankees set another salary record, the Houston Astros had the lowest average salary in the major leagues in 14 years, as well as the attention of the players’ union. The overall big league average rose 5.4 percent this season to a record $3.39 million, according to the annual report released Wednesday by the Major League Baseball Players Association. The increase was the steepest since 2006. The Yankees had the highest average for the 15th consecutive season at $8.17 million, breaking the mark of $7.66 million when they won the World Series in 2009.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were second at $7.82 million. Houston’s average of $549,603 was the smallest since the 1999 Kansas City Royals at $534,460. The Miami Marlins were 29th at $830,069, down from $3.77 million in 2012, when they ranked 10th. Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement requires a team to use revenue-sharing money it receives “in an effort to improve its performance on the field.” The Marlins had been required to raise player payroll annually from 2010-12 under an agreement between MLB and the union. Source: The Japan News