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2014 Baseball Thread  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Sun Dec 21st, 2014 12:51 pm
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lobo316
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics have released infielder Nick Punto.

The A's made the announcement Friday, saying Punto was released to clear room on the 40-man roster. A day earlier, Oakland acquired right-handers Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez along with an international signing bonus slot from San Diego for catcher Derek Norris.

Punto, a 14-year veteran, was due to make $2.75 million after his contract option for the 2015 season vested.

Punto was limited by a hamstring injury during the 2014 season, when he batted .207 with two home runs and 14 RBIs with seven doubles and two triples in 73 games in his first season with the A's.

The San Francisco Chronicle first reported Punto's release.

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 Posted: Mon Dec 22nd, 2014 04:56 pm
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lobo316
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Suitors for free-agent hurler James Shields had better have deep pockets.

The right-hander is seeking a five-year deal in excess of $110 million, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports.

Left-hander Jon Lester set the market this offseason after inking a six-year, $155-million contract with the Chicago Cubs. Shields, however, is three years older (33) and has thrown 314 more innings in his career than Lester, who boasts a superior postseason resume.

Cafardo notes that the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants are in pursuit of Shields, but also cautions not to count out the New York Yankees.

The Red Sox have added starters Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson to bolster a depleted rotation this offseason, but still lack a true ace. The Giants have also shown they're willing to spend big on pitching by making their push to sign Lester public.

Shields has proven extremely durable throughout his nine-year career, making at least 31 starts in each of his past eight seasons. He posted a 14-8 record with a 3.21 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 34 appearances for the Kansas City Royals in 2014.

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 Posted: Mon Dec 22nd, 2014 08:22 pm
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lobo316
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When the Minnesota Twins signed free-agent pitcher Phil Hughes last winter, they were hoping they landed a No. 1 arm. After pitching to the best results of his career, it appears the Twins found what they're looking for.

Hughes was rewarded for his efforts Monday, reportedly agreeing to a three-year, $42-million extension that keeps the right-hander in Minnesota through the 2019 season. 

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports the extension supersedes his current deal - which called for $16 million over the next two seasons - to essentially give him a new five-year, $58-million contract. 





PHIL HUGHES
SO
BB/9
WHIP
WAR


2014 (AL Rank)
186 (7)
0.69 (1)
1.13 (8)
6.1 (t-3)
The deal represents the largest contract the franchise has ever awarded a pitcher and reportedly includes a limited no-trade clause and $1 million in incentives. It also marks the second significant transaction of the offseason for Minnesota's pitching staff.

Last month the Twins inked free-agent right-hander Ervin Santana to a four-year, $55-million pact - the richest free-agent contract in team history.

Under terms of the new agreement, Hughes will now earn $9.2 million in each of the next two years, followed by salaries of $13.2 million during the 2017-19 seasons.

The 28-year-old is coming off a record-setting 2014 that saw him establish an all-time best 11.63 strikeout-to-walk rate. His career year also included personal bests as a starter in strikeouts, innings, ERA, WHIP, FIP and WAR. Hughes issued just 16 walks in 32 starts.

Hughes's historic year capped a remarkable turnaround for the former top prospect who was drafted with the 23rd overall pick by the New York Yankees in 2004. 







YEAR
IP
SO
ERA
K:BB


2012 (NYY)
191.1
165
4.19
3.59

2013 (NYY)
145.2
121
5.19
2.88

2014 (MIN)
209.2
186
3.52
11.63
The 6-foot-5 right-hander failed to live up to lofty expectations in the Bronx, suffering through an inconsistent seven seasons plagued by injuries and frequent minor-league demotions. Prior to making the jump to pitcher-friendly Target Field, Hughes owned a pedestrian 4.53 ERA and 1.32 career WHIP with a K:BB ratio of just 3.23.

What a difference a change of scenery makes.

Hughes worked through a rocky April to provide his finest season to date, posting a 2.97 ERA during the second half to secure a seventh-place finish in Cy Young voting. He turned out to be even better on the road - 2.78 ERA compared to a 4.25 mark at home - and his 2.65 FIP was the lowest result by a Twins starting pitcher in 40 years.

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 Posted: Mon Dec 22nd, 2014 08:25 pm
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lobo316
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Another day, another Troy Tulowitzki rumor.

The New York Yankees are the latest team to approach the Colorado Rockies regarding the All-Star shortstop, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. New York's interest at the moment is believed to be exploratory.

Heyman notes the Yankees are one of a few teams to check in on the Rockies superstar following a report last week that suggested the New York Mets were having preliminary discussions regarding a trade for Tulowitzki. Multiple reports stated the chances of a deal involving the Mets were remote.

Colorado isn't believed to be actively shopping their star player and any potential deal would face several obstacles, including Tulowitzki's contract and health. The 28-year-old is owed $118 million over the next six seasons.

The Yankees had been long rumored to have interest in replacing Derek Jeter with Tulowitzki, who grew up idolizing the club's former shortstop and is said to be fond of the idea of playing in the Bronx.

New York already traded for a shortstop this offseason, acquiring Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team deal with the Detroit Tigers.

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 Posted: Mon Dec 22nd, 2014 09:28 pm
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lobo316
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The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with free-agent reliever Heath Bell, the player confirmed Monday.

Bell announced the deal - believed to be a minor-league contract, according to CSN's Mark Zuckerman - on The Players' Tribune website.

More to come.

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 Posted: Mon Dec 22nd, 2014 11:35 pm
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lobo316 wrote: Another day, another Troy Tulowitzki rumor.

The New York Yankees are the latest team to approach the Colorado Rockies regarding the All-Star shortstop, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. New York's interest at the moment is believed to be exploratory.

Heyman notes the Yankees are one of a few teams to check in on the Rockies superstar following a report last week that suggested the New York Mets were having preliminary discussions regarding a trade for Tulowitzki. Multiple reports stated the chances of a deal involving the Mets were remote.

Colorado isn't believed to be actively shopping their star player and any potential deal would face several obstacles, including Tulowitzki's contract and health. The 28-year-old is owed $118 million over the next six seasons.

The Yankees had been long rumored to have interest in replacing Derek Jeter with Tulowitzki, who grew up idolizing the club's former shortstop and is said to be fond of the idea of playing in the Bronx.

New York already traded for a shortstop this offseason, acquiring Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team deal with the Detroit Tigers.

I guess they could try to move Didi to second with the surprise trade of Prado, but I don't really get it.  I'm trying to hold off criticism until Spring Training because I'm hoping they have a plan.  So far, I'm still not seeing any improvement offensively, although we are getting a tad bit younger at least.



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 Posted: Tue Dec 23rd, 2014 04:25 am
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lobo316
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San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro underwent back fusion surgery Sunday and will miss four-to-six months, the team announced Monday.

Scutaro, 39, is set to make $6.66 million in 2015 and there's speculation the injury could end his career. The veteran was limited to only five games due to recurring back problems.

Scutaro was part of the 2012 Giants squad that achieved World Series glory and was named the National League Championship Series MVP during the titile run.

Scutaro, who can also play shortstop and third base, boasts a .277/.341/.388 career slash line.

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 Posted: Tue Dec 23rd, 2014 04:28 am
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lobo316
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The Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping they just landed themselves a rare power-hitting shortstop on the open market.

Pittsburgh secured exclusive negotiating rights for Korean infielder Jung-Ho Kang after submitting a successful bid of roughly $5 million, the club announced Monday.

Jung Ho Kang’s agent, Alan Nero, told me after #Pirates won negotiating rights Kang is “very excited” about “challenge” of playing in MLB.

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 22, 2014
Nero on Jung Ho Kang: “He knows Pittsburgh had a good team last year and hopes he can help them to the playoffs and World Series . . . ”

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 22, 2014
It was reported Saturday that Kang's club in Korea, the Nexen Heroes, accepted the winning bid from an unidentified major league team.

The Pirates have 30 days - starting the day the bid was accepted - to negotiate a deal with Kang, who's reportedly seeking contract terms anywhere from two years at $12 million to a four-year pact worth $5 million per season.

Kang slashed .356/.459/.739 with 40 homers and 36 doubles in 117 games for the Heroes in the Korean Baseball Organization last season - eye-popping numbers for a middle infielder. Several teams reportedly entered bids for the 27-year-old shortstop, who some scouts project as a bench bat or utility piece.

Kang is said to have a plus arm for a shortstop, but critics question his range at the major league level and wonder whether he's better suited at second. His tantalizing power at a position that's usually offense-challenged is an attractive tool, though scouts remain skeptical of his numbers, which could have been assisted by playing in the hitter-friendly KBO.

The Pirates may soon find out.

Pittsburgh is well-stocked at second after Neil Walker continued his steady development this past season. The 29-year-old earned a Silver Slugger award for his offensive production at the position, including 23 homers and a career-high .467 slugging percentage. Walker remains under club control through 2016.

Pittsburgh is, however, in search of an offensive upgrade at Kang's natural position. Jordy Mercer hit 12 homers in 149 games as the starting shortstop in 2014, but was exposed as a below-average offensive contributor after adjusting for park and league factors.

Mercer, who fared well defensively last year by advanced metrics, has another season of pre-arbitration left, but at 28, he doesn't offer the type of upside the Pirates are likely to build around up the middle.

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 Posted: Tue Dec 23rd, 2014 04:29 am
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lobo316
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NEW YORK - The Los Angeles Dodgers owe the Padres $18 million next year as part of the $32 million they agreed to pay in last week's trade that sent outfielder Matt Kemp to San Diego.

Los Angeles will give San Diego six $3 million installments in 2015, payable on the first of each month during regular season, according to information obtained by The Associated Press.

The Dodgers owe $3.5 million annually in each of the following four seasons, $600,000 on the first of each month from April through August and $500,000 on Sept. 1.

Kemp is due $107 million in the remaining five seasons of the $160 million, eight-year deal he signed with the Dodgers before the 2012 season: $21 million next year and $21.5 million in each of the final four seasons.

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 Posted: Tue Dec 23rd, 2014 04:30 am
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ST. LOUIS - The Internal Revenue Service is auctioning the deferred compensation agreement that was part of Darryl Strawberry's 1985-90 contract with the New York Mets to satisfy taxes owed by the former All-Star outfielder.

The IRS said in a statement Monday the agreement is worth about $1,279,000. The minimum bid is $550,000 in the auction, which is scheduled for Jan. 20 at the IRS office in Fairview Heights, Illinois. Mail-in bids must be received by Jan. 16.

Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rogers in Pensacola, Florida, issued an order Sept. 5 that the agreement be auctioned to satisfy tax liens for Strawberry's federal tax debts for 1989, 1990, 2003 and 2004.

A payment of 20 percent of the minimum must accompany the bid, and the remainder is due within 60 days of the bid's acceptance.

The auction was first reported by ESPN.

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 Posted: Tue Dec 23rd, 2014 04:53 pm
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lobo316
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lobo316 wrote: The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with free-agent reliever Heath Bell, the player confirmed Monday.

Bell announced the deal - believed to be a minor-league contract, according to CSN's Mark Zuckerman - on The Players' Tribune website.

More to come.


 

The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with free-agent reliever Heath Bell, the player confirmed Monday.

Bell announced the deal - believed to be a minor-league contract, according to CSN's Mark Zuckerman  - on The Players' Tribune website.

"Today I'm in DC because I'm still chasing that dream," Bell wrote. "At around noon today, I signed with the Nationals."

Bell joins his sixth organization in four years after earning three straight All-Star selections with the San Diego Padres from 2009-11. The right-hander made 13 appearances for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014, allowing 14 earned runs in just 17 1/3 innings.







HEATH BELL
ERA
K/9
SV


2009-11
2.36
9.6
132

2012-14
4.91
8.8
34
Despite his recent struggles, Bell published an essay on Derek Jeter's media website saying he still has the itch to compete:

I wouldn’t want to do anything else: you live and die by your last outing, by your last at-bat, by your last pitch. It’s what it means to be a closer. There’s nothing like it. Sure, you’re going to have hot streaks and cold streaks. But what I’ve learned from years of pitching on the biggest and not-so-biggest stages is that maybe more than any other position, the reliever’s challenge is mental. 
Bell's deal reportedly includes an invitation to spring training.

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 Posted: Tue Dec 23rd, 2014 11:42 pm
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lobo316
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Bad news for the National League West: the San Diego Padres aren't finished with their offseason makeover just yet.

Padres general manager A.J. Preller has been aggressive in his pursuit this winter of improving his club's fortunes, bringing in All-Stars Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Derek Norris, in addition to 2013 Rookie of the Year Wil Myers. The flurry of activity has left the Padres with a surplus of outfielders and more roster spots to upgrade.

Fortunately for the first-year GM, he has the support of his superiors.

"(There are) additional moves to come," Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler told Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego on Monday.

Fowler added that he won't curb Preller's spending, despite the team being well on its way to surpassing last year's Opening Day-record payroll of $90 million.

"He felt with the starting pitching, if we added some offense, we had a good chance to take a run at it this year," Fowler said of Preller. "He set out to do that, and he had a number of ideas. Frankly, these have been percolating for a time. ... I said, OK, let's go do it. If you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly."

Assisting Preller's efforts was his ability to get the Los Angeles Dodgers to absorb more than a quarter of what remains on Kemp's contract. Fowler confirmed a report from the Associated Press on Monday that said the Padres will receive six $3 million installments from the Dodgers next season.

"That is one of the reasons we went after (impending free agent) Upton for 2015," Fowler admitted.

U-T San Diego reports the Dodgers will pay $32 million of Kemp's contract over the next five years.

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 Posted: Wed Dec 24th, 2014 04:03 am
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lobo316
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New York Mets prospect L.J. Mazzilli has received a 50-game suspension after his second violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy.

The suspension is without pay and was triggered by a second positive test for a drug of abuse, according to a statement released by the commissioner's office.

Mazzilli's positive test violated terms of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the league said.

The second-base prospect was the Mets' fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft, and hit .301 with 11 homers, 29 doubles and 14 stolen bases across three levels last season.

Mazilli, who is currently on the roster of the St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League, is scheduled to begin his suspension at the start of the 2015 season.

He is the son of former major-league player and manager Lee Mazzilli.

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 Posted: Wed Dec 24th, 2014 04:08 am
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The Minnesota Twins have signed right-hander Tim Stauffer to a one-year, $2.2-million contract, the team announced Tuesday.

Stauffer has spent his entire nine-year career pitching for the San Diego Padres. The 32-year-old began his career as a starter, but successfully transitioned to the bullpen the past two seasons.

Stauffer has certainly benefited from playing at pitcher-friendly Petco Park, as evidenced by his 3.07 lifetime ERA at the stadium. His 4.64 mark everywhere else is less impressive.

Stauffer should slot in as a middle reliever for the Twins.

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 Posted: Wed Dec 24th, 2014 04:09 am
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NEW YORK - Major League Baseball's average salary has shot up to more than $3.8 million following the steepest rise since 2001.

According to final figures from the players' association, the increase put big leaguers on track to top the $4 million barrier for the first time next year.

The union said Tuesday the 910 players on big league rosters and disabled lists as of Aug. 31 averaged $3,818,923. The 12.78 percent hike was the biggest since a 12.83 percent rise from 2000 to 2001.

Player salaries are increasing after several years of more modest increases. The gain is fueled by record revenue in the $9 billion range, much of it from national TV contracts and regional sports networks.

The average topped $1 million for the first time in 1992, crossed the $2 million barrier in 2001 and the $3 million mark in 2010.

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