Mariners Mini Morsels: Valentine’s Day Edition

Negotiations between the Seattle Mariners and free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz are currently “on hold,” according to multiple league sources. One source believes that Cruz’s camp was unwilling to come down enough in asking price, and that the two sides were not seeing eye-to-eye in negotiations. At this point, it seems as though the Mariners are beginning to focus on other priorities.

The Mariners have been looking at options on the starting pitching market, and a source indicates that they have “slowly been coming along” in their pursuit of Ervin Santana. With Hisashi Iwakuma out for 4-6 weeks due to a finger strain and top prospect Taijuan Walker dealing with some shoulder soreness at the beginning of spring training, the Mariners are likely to look at some free agent starters–Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, or maybe Chris Capuano. Source: Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish

 

Like others, am hearing the Mariners are taking another look at available starting pitchers and have cooled on pursuit of OF Nelson Cruz. From: : Bob Dutton at The News Tribune

 

Mariners have touched base on Santana and presumably Jimenez as well. Like Orioles, seem to be surveying market, seeking best opportunity. From: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports Sources: Mariners trying to add another starter through trade or free agency. Effect on pursuit of Cruz unclear. Weighing all options. From: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports

 

The Rays produced 23 fewer homers and scored 76 more runs than the Mariners in 2013. Source: Lyle Spencer at MLB.com

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“We’ve had our problems in the Dominican Republic signing players,” said general manager Jack Zduriencik. [On the Mariners new Dominican academy.] “This will be a huge step toward improving that.” Source: Greg Johns at MLB

 

“You talk about evaluating in spring training,” McClendon said. “I think it’s important that you try to put as much intensity as you can into what they’re trying to accomplish. Make it as tough as possible. Because when the lights come on, that’s exactly what it is (like). When you try to go through the evaluation process, you want it to be tough for them. You want them to have anxious moments, and you want to see how they handle those moments.” Source: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune

 

Fernando Rodney said he had offers from Orioles, Mets, Indians. Chose Mariners at two years, $14 million. From: Barry MBloom at MLB_News
Seattle will hope that it gets the Rodney of the last two seasons rather than the less-than-stellar version of his earlier career. After strong seasons in 2005-06 in Detroit, Rodney posted five straight years in which he allowed over four runs per nine, though he saved 68 games for the Tigers and Angels over that stretch. Both the Steamer and Oliver projection systems like Rodney to produce solid results going forward, with each projecting him to post an ERA and FIP just north of 3.00.

In addition to control, one area to watch is Rodney’s performance against left-handed batters. The righty has exhibited fairly minimal career platoon splits, allowing a .641 OPS to same-handed hitters and a .698 mark to lefties. Last year, however, those splits became more pronounced: he limited righties to a .169/.250/.288 line while posting a 3.00 K:BB ratio, but left-handers slashed .248/.363/.353 against Rodney and fared better in terms of true outcomes (1.92 K:BB). (Of course, the third true outcome — home runs — remains one of Rodney’s calling cards: he has allowed just 0.32 long balls per nine over the last two years, one of the best rates in the game.) Source: Jeff Todd at MLB Trade Rumors

 

So they said

Jim Fregosi, who died at 2:36 ET this morning, had a beautiful life and will forever have an impact on everyone who knew him. Oakland As executive Billy Owens on Jim Fregosi: “He was the John Wayne of baseball. No doubt about it.” From: Bob Nightengale at USAToday

 

Mariner’s potential off-season targets

Heard yesterday that the Mariners had been “slowly coming along” in their pursuit of Ervin Santana. Will likely become more serious soon. From: Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish

 

Aledmys Diaz also scouted today by Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres, Giants. From: Jon Morosi at Fox Sports

 

Source: Cuban SS Aledmys Diaz will start fielding offers on the evening of 2/18, with hopes of deciding on a club on 2/21-2/22. From: Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish

 

Diaz & Despaigne scheduled for four more showcases in Florida starting this weekend. My guess is more teams based in FLA will see him there. Cuban pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne will have another open showcase on Saturday in Port Charlotte, Florida. Hopes to be in a camp by March. From: Jesse Sanchez at MLB.com

 

Baseball Best Practice

“The way I look at it, you look at the growth of the industry in general, and how we’re doing in revenues locally, and it makes sense. … The fans over the year have supported us, the national television dollars are increasing, the health of the game from a revenue perspective has never been greater, so it’s only natural and fitting that we use those monies to invest in our product.”

“I think fans have a correct instinct that, yes, payroll should be going up. With the way our team is constituted, we should have a payroll that stretches us. I don’t want to have a payroll where it’s very comfortable that, no matter what happens, we’re going to have a positive income number. I want us to be challenged as a business … and we go for it, and take risks and stretch ourselves from a financial perspective in a rational way. That’s what our fans want. I want to be in that position, to stretch ourselves financially so we have a chance to win a World Series.” Brewers CEO Rick Schlesinger to Adam McCalvy at MLB.com

 

Baseball Biz

MLB, despite earning more than $8 billion in revenue in 2013, voted in January to allow individual teams to slash or eliminate pension-plan offerings to their non-uniformed personnel. The vote, tabled a year earlier when the intention became public, quietly took place Jan. 16 at the quarterly owners meetings in Paradise Valley, Arizona; the same gathering at which instant-replay expansion unanimously was approved. The retirement plans of any baseball employee not wearing a big league uniform may be affected by the decision, including secretaries, scouts, front-office executives, and minor league staff. Some of those personnel, particularly at the minor league level and in amateur scouting, make less than $40,000 a year and rely on pensions in retirement.

Rob Manfred, MLB’s chief operating officer, noted no team has yet acted to reduce employee pension benefits.

“The change in the rule does not require a club to change anything,” Manfred said. “All 30 clubs are free to leave their plans exactly where they are and, in fact, no club has made a change. This change gives the clubs the ability to put together what they feel is a competitive pension program in their particular market.” Manfred also vehemently objected to any characterization that the owners are going after baseball’s employees while owners and players continue to reap huge sums.

Source: Adam Rubin at ESPN New York

 

“Major League Baseball may still enjoy immunity from federal antitrust laws, but that immunity doesn’t mean the league or its teams can ignore federal and state laws that require employees be paid a minimum wage.So say several lawsuits and other legal actions filed against MLB and several teams in the last year.

The latest lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in San Francisco, could significantly change the economics of the league were it to succeed. In that case, three former minor league players filed a complaint against MLB, the Giants, Marlins and Royals on behalf of 6,000 current and former minor leaguers claiming that minor league salaries violate federal and state wage and hour laws. Last summer, a volunteer at All-Star Week festivities in New York sued MLB in federal court in Manhattan for violations of federal and state wage and hour laws. He claimed that he provided services for which he should have been paid at least the minimum wage. The case is pending. And the federal Department of Labor is investigating the Giants and the Marlins for failing to pay team interns a minimum wage. It’s the second DOL investigation of the Giants. Last year, San Francisco settled a claim by DOL that the team had underpaid clubhouse attendants who often worked long hours for less than minimum wage and didn’t receive overtime pay. The Giants paid more than $500,000 to resolve claims involving 74 clubhouse workers.” Source: Wendy Thurm at FanGraphs

 

Alumni News

Hearing the Rays are likely to sign LHP Erik Bedard to a minor-league deal. He is 34, 10 years in majors, struggled recently. Would provide depth. From: Marc Topkin at Tampa Bay Times