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MLB Off Season Thread  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 01:30 am
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lobo316



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The New York Yankees have pulled off a second trade Wednesday, as New York acquired versatile outfielder Aaron Hicks from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for catcher John Ryan Murphy.

Hicks, 26, will fill the Yankees' fourth outfielder void left by Chris Young, who's a free agent. He can play all three outfield positions, and the switch-hitter thrives against left-handed pitching, just like Young. Hicks hit .256/.323/.398 with 11 homers and 33 RBIs in 97 games for the Twins last season, but his slash line inflates to an impressive .307/.375/.495 when squaring off against southpaws.

Reports surfaced earlier Wednesday of the Yankees discussing a potential deal that would send outfielder Brett Gardner to the Seattle Mariners. Gardner is definitely potential trade bait now with the addition of Hicks. The Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles, and Los Angeles Angels are just a few of the teams seeking outfield upgrades this fall.

Murphy, 24, a second-round pick by the Yankees in 2009, appeared in 65 games behind the plate for New York in a timeshare with heavy-hitting catcher Brian McCann. He'll be blocked by another All-Star backstop in Minnesota, in Kurt Suzuki.

The Yankees traded utility infielder Jose Pirela to the San Diego Padres in exchange for pitching prospect Ron Herrera earlier in the day.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 01:31 am
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San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller added to an area of weakness with help from the other coast.

The Padres acquired utility infielder Jose Pirela from the New York Yankees on Wednesday in exchange for minor-league pitcher Ron Herrera.

Signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 2006, the 25-year-old Pirela hit .230/.247/.311 with one home run and 16 strikeouts in 74 at-bats last season. While he appeared almost exclusively at second base, Pirela appeared at third, shortstop, and all three outfield positions throughout his time in the minors.

The Padres are thin in the infield, with Cory Spangenberg, Jedd Gyorko, Will Middlebrooks, and Yangervis Solarte all internal options for next season at second, third, and shortstop.

Herrera split last season between Single- and Double-A, with the right-hander going 8-7 with a 4.08 ERA and 104 strikeouts across 145 2/3 innings.

It's the second time in as many years the teams made a deal involving an infielder. The Padres traded Chase Headley to the Yankees in July 2014 for Solarte and Rafael De Paula.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 01:33 am
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If the 2016 season unfolds the way New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman hopes, first baseman Greg Bird will spend the summer plying his trade in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, roughly 130 miles west of the Bronx.

Though Bird made a strong impression upon joining the Yankees in August, managing an .871 OPS with 11 homers in his first 46 MLB games, Cashman would prefer the 23-year-old get some more work in at Triple-A while incumbent first baseman Mark Teixiera plays out the final year of his contract.

"That's the optimal," Cashman told the New York Post on Tuesday at the GM meetings. "Not for Bird, but optimally period, that would be the best. Currently, (Teixeira) is the better player."

Bird won't contend for at-bats in the designated hitter's spot, either, with veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran the most likely candidate to fill in at DH if incumbent Alex Rodriguez, who blasted 33 homers with an .842 OPS in 2015, lands on the disabled list. Frankly, Cashman added, he can't envision a scenario where Bird, Teixeira, and Rodriguez are all on the 25-man roster concurrently.

"It happens on a yearly basis in the game," Cashman said. "It's something that's not new. It's something where you hope you have that type of depth in every position. Unfortunately, you don't. But it would be nice to have something like that, some high-end guy pushing up in the mix, can't get up at times because somebody who's really high end is blocking him. It creates a good dynamic. It means your system is catching up with your roster."

The auspicious start to his MLB career notwithstanding, Bird barely spent any time in Triple-A before joining the Yankees. Though he made it to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by early July after opening the season in Double-A, the former fifth-round pick logged just 34 games in the International League before being summoned to New York.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 01:33 am
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The Seattle Mariners announced a new addition to their coaching staff on Tuesday.

Former big-league manager Manny Acta will join the club as a third base coach.

"I believe Manny will be a great addition to our staff," Mariners manager Scott Servais told the team's official website. "I've known him for over 25 years, since we were teammates in 1989. His experience as a major league third base coach and manager, paired with his extensive player development background, will be very valuable to me, and to our players, as we move forward."

Acta joins a staff that includes Servais as manager, Tim Bogar as bench coach, Edgar Martinez as hitting coach, and Mel Stottlemyre as pitching coach.

The 46-year-old Acta served as manager of the Washington Nationals from 2007-09 and Cleveland Indians from 2010-12. He also has big-league experience as a third base coach with both the New York Mets and Montreal Expos.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 04:45 am
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Scott Boras, the bombastic agent who represents Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, told reporters Wednesday at the GM meetings that his client had a non-cancerous growth removed from his back about one month ago.

Boras stressed that Strasburg is doing well, but said the growth - which was "muscular" in origin - caused discomfort during the 27-year-old's injury-riddled 2015 campaign.

After finishing ninth in National League Cy Young voting in 2014, Strasburg stumbled out of the gate this season, posting a 6.55 ERA over his first 10 starts while failing to complete four innings in all but one of his five May outings. On May 30, he landed on the disabled list with a strained left trapezius muscle, less than 24 hours after he was removed from his start against the Cincinnati Reds after just one inning.

Though he returned from injury with aplomb, throwing five shutout innings against the Atlanta Braves on June 23, Strasburg was sent back to the disabled list less than two weeks later with an oblique strain that sidelined him for another month.

The extended rest yielded impressive results, though, as he crafted a 1.90 ERA with a remarkable 37.4 percent strikeout rate over his final 10 starts, limiting opponents to a .179 batting average over that span.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 04:46 am
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Scott Boras never shies away from speaking his mind, and Wednesday was no different.

The super-agent discussed many subjects at the general manager's meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., and the New York Mets' handling of right-hander Matt Harvey was front and center.

Boras praised the Mets' plan of limiting Harvey's innings as best as they could, while also allowing the 26-year-old to pitch in the postseason.

He was also pleased with how the organization treated his client through the enduring process that started when Harvey's innings pitched were in question last September.

Along with Harvey, Boras also discussed the following:

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

Boras dove into a discussion about the revenue distribution in Major League Baseball, which he strongly believes is too beneficial for owners. The agent is in favor of players and teams splitting revenues 50/50, rather than the current 57/43 split in favor of owners.

The profits should be "divvied up in a different fashion," he told reporters, adding that players should claim a 60/40 revenue share like they did "way back when."

Boras also thinks qualifying offers represent something "wrong with baseball," because they impede the rights of free agents, and said amateur spending caps have given teams more incentive to redirect finances toward higher salaries for executives and Cuban free agents.

MORE ON THE METS

Along with the praise for Harvey, the agent also had more compliments for the Mets, who he once said shopped in the "fruits-and-nuts" section of the grocery store when they could be buying "steaks."

Boras didn't have any supermarket jokes for them this time around, though. "They have a pennant at the end of their aisle," he said. "That allows them to go where they want to go."

HIS CLIENTS

Boras had brief discussions about a number of his clients. Most notably, Stephen Strasburg, Jose Fernandez, Marcell Ozuna, Mike Moustakas, and Greg Holland.

He let the media know that Strasburg had a non-cancerous growth removed from his back about one month ago, and is doing well.

He expects Fernandez, who pitched just 64 2/3 innings in 2015 after coming back from Tommy John surgery while also dealing with a biceps strain, to be subjected to an innings program prescribed by doctors next season. He also mentioned that there haven't been any extension talks between Fernandez and the Marlins in 9-10 months.

His client Marcell Ozuna should have never been demoted to the minor leagues, according to Boras, who also believes the Marlins' odd handling of the 24-year-old was to "send a message to everyone" that "there is a calculus going on that is beyond performance."

Ozuna was demoted to Triple-A New Orleans in July after a rough start to the season, but turned it around after being recalled.

Lastly, Boras discussed Moustakas and Holland. The agent said he expected Moustakas to be tendered a contract this winter from the Kansas City Royals, and is confident Holland - a former Royals closer with 145 career saves under his belt - will receive a two-year deal, even after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 04:47 am
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Franklin Gutierrez, the oft-injured 32-year-old outfielder, agreed to a one-year deal with the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon, re-signing with the club after enjoying an impressive bounce-back season with Seattle in 2015. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

After missing the entire 2014 campaign due to a variety of health problems, including ankylosing spondylitis and irritable bowel syndrome, Gutierrez appeared in 59 games this season - his most since 2011 - while posting career highs in both OPS (.974) and batting average (.292). Gutierrez, a Gold Glove award winner in 2010, also clobbered 15 home runs and finished third among Seattle's position players with 2.3 wins above replacement.

Gutierrez, however, has averaged just 58 games per season since 2011 - not including the 2014 campaign he sat out - and compiled an underwhelming .256/.306/.391 line (90 OPS+) over parts of nine seasons prior to 2015.

Still, he'll likely platoon in left field with Seth Smith in 2016, though he could also receive semi-regular playing time in center field following the losses of Austin Jackson and Brad Miller - both of whom were traded away in recent months.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 04:47 am
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A.J. Pierzynski is returning to Atlanta.

The 38-year-old catcher has agreed to return to the Atlanta Braves on a one-year deal, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The deal is pending a physical.

Pierzynski caught 113 games behind the dish for the Braves in 2015, and proved to still be an offensive threat, hitting .300/.339/.430 with nine home runs and 49 RBIs.

The veteran backstop owns a career .282/.321/.424 hitting line with 186 home runs and 886 RBIs.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 04:48 am
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ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Lou Brock, a former base stealing champion, has had his left leg amputated below the knee due to an infection related to diabetes.

The Cardinals and a longtime friend, Dick Zitzmann, confirmed Wednesday that the 76-year-old Brock had had surgery last month. Brock is undergoing therapy at an area hospital and will be fitted for a prosthetic leg.

Brock was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about 15 years ago and had the procedure done Oct. 27, Zitzmann said.

''He's got a long road ahead, but he's a tough guy,'' Zitzmann said. ''He's got a great attitude.''

Brock has been a national spokesman for a diabetes drug manufacturer the last five years or so. Zitzmann said Brock ''watched his diet meticulously.''

Brock stole a National League-record 938 bases, including 118 in 1974, and was known as the Base Burglar. He also had 3,023 hits, becoming a star after a celebrated trade from the Cubs in 1964 for pitcher Ernie Broglio. Brock batted .391 with four home runs and 10 steals in 21 World Series games.

Zitzmann arranges appearances for Brock and other Cardinals Hall of Famers. He said Brock complained of leg pain on the return flight from a show in Washington, D.C., about a month before the operation.

''The infection got real bad, real quick,'' Zitzmann said. ''It just happened so fast.''

Visits from former Cardinals teammates, including fellow Hall of Famers Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson and Whitey Herzog, have helped keep Brock's spirits high.

Brock has been a regular guest instructor at spring training for many years. Zitzmann said Brock promised Schoendienst, who managed him on two World Series teams in the 1960s, that he'd be there on opening day.

The 92-year-old Schoendienst, an assistant to general manager John Mozeliak who often suits up before games, wasn't satisfied, Zitzmann said. He told Brock to aim for spring training.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 04:50 am
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Major League Baseball is taking action to protect middle infielders from baserunners attempting to break up double plays.

Joe Torre, MLB's chief baseball officer, said he's looking at a rule change requiring baserunners to slide directly into second base.

"We don't want to have anybody carried off the field," Torre said.

The issue of second base collisions came to the forefront during Game 2 of the NLCS after an aggressive takeout slide by Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley fractured the fibula of New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.

That wasn't the only instance where a serious injury was sustained on a similar play, however. Pittsburgh Pirates rookie shortstop Jung Ho Kang required surgery after Chicago Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan took his legs out while breaking up a double play in September.

Torre didn't reveal a timeline for potential rule changes or possible disciplinary measures. The topic will surely be discussed when MLB team owners meet in Dallas next week, and elaborated on at December's winter meetings.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 08:00 pm
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Despite falling shy of his third straight Gold Glove award less than 24 hours ago, Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons was recognized Wednesday for his efforts in the field in 2015 with the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award.

The top defenders at each position across both leagues, as determined by a comprehensive sabermetric assessment, also received accolades, while theArizona Diamondbacks were lauded as the game's top defensive team.

POS  WINNER                DRS
C     Buster Posey            9
1B   Paul Goldschmidt     18
2B   Dee Gordon             13
3B   Nolan Arenado         18
SS   Andrelton Simmons  25
LF    Starling Marte         24
CF    Kevin Pillar             14 
RF    Jason Heyward       22
P      Jacob deGrom          6

Simmons, however, wasn't the only player to be recognized by Wilson after failing to corral a Gold Glove award.

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey lost out Tuesday to St. Louis Cardinals veteran Yadier Molina - who earned his eighth consecutive Gold Glove - but was hailed by Wilson as the game's top defender behind the plate. Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar was also honored despite watching Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays earn the Gold Glove award, just as New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom - another Defensive Player of the Year honoree - lost out to Zack Greinke for the Gold Glove.

Simmons, interestingly, is the third Braves player in the last four years to be recognized as the game's foremost defender. In 2014, right fielder Jason Heyward - now with the St. Louis Cardinals - earned the honor, while center fielder Michael Bourn received the award in 2012.

Last edited on Thu Nov 12th, 2015 08:05 pm by lobo316

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 08:39 pm
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MIAMI - The Miami Marlins' feud with agent Scott Boras escalated Wednesday, and the team said he'll be left out of any future conversations regarding the workload of Jose Fernandez.

Team president David Samson pledged to exclude Boras after the agent complained about the Marlins' handling of another one of his clients, outfielder Marcell Ozuna. The dispute reduces the already slim likelihood the Marlins will sign Fernandez to a long-term deal.

An exchange of barbs began with Boras criticizing the Marlins for demoting Ozuna to Triple-A last year when he was in a 1-for-36 slump. The comments brought an angry response from Samson.

''My strong suggestion to Mr. Boras is that instead of resting on his 5 percent that he collects from his stable of players, he write a check and buy a team,'' Samson said. ''Then he would have the opportunity to run a team that he claims to be so able to do. Until that time, he is in no position to comment how any Major League Baseball team is operated.''

Boras, speaking at the general managers' meetings in Boca Raton, questioned the Marlins' motivation for sending Ozuna to the minors. The lost service time prevented Ozuna from becoming eligible for salary arbitration this offseason.

''He's a lifetime .265 hitter, and I can find you 30 players in the major leagues that went 1 for 36 some time in their career, and they did not get sent to the minor leagues,'' Boras said. ''When you do those things, it sends a message to players, sends a message to the locker room and sends a message to everyone that looks at the organization that there is a calculus going on that is beyond performance.''

Samson responded: ''Every decision we make is based on the best interests of the team, and always has been.''

Ozuna is believed to be on the trading block this offseason.

Regarding Fernandez, the Marlins have never been optimistic about reaching a long-term deal. The right-hander, who came back this year from Tommy John surgery, rejected a long-term offer before the season, Samson said.

Boras was outspoken this year regarding the Mets' use of pitcher Matt Harvey, another client who was coming back from Tommy John surgery. The Marlins don't plan to consult Boras regarding Fernandez's 2016 workload.

''He will not be involved in any discussion as it relates to Jose Fernandez,'' Samson said. ''We will be in touch with the doctors and Jose as we formulate a plan.''

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 Posted: Thu Nov 12th, 2015 11:28 pm
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The Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres have been the most aggressive teams to kick start the offseason, and the pair concluded the general manager's meetings on Thursday with a trade.
The Seattle Mariners acquired reliever Joaquin Benoit from the San Diego Padres for pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos and infielder Nelson Ward.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto is eager to turn the Mariners back into contenders and the addition of Benoit goes a long way in addressing one of the league's worst bullpens from a season ago.
The 38-year-old posted a 2.34 ERA and 63 strikeouts over 65 1/3 innings last season, and owns a 1.98 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over the last three seasons. Benoit has closer experience, having 50 converted saves on the resume and could serve at the back end of the Mariners pen.
San Diego clears the $8-million remaining on Benoit's deal, while acquiring a pair of Single-A prospects. De Los Santos, 19, was 6-0 with a 3.47 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 13 starts last season. Ward, 23, slashed .278/.365.436 with nine home runs, 19 doubles and 13 triples in 122 games, while playing three infield positions.
The trade was the third in as many days for Padres GM A.J. Preller, who anticipates another active winter.
"We'll go out there and look at more trade possibilities and free agents," Preller told reporters. "This gives us additional room."

Last edited on Fri Nov 13th, 2015 12:00 am by lobo316

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 Posted: Fri Nov 13th, 2015 12:01 am
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Eager to get the Boston Red Sox out of the AL East basement, president Dave Dombrowski acknowledges there are likely some tough personnel decisions on the horizon.

Armed with one of the strongest farm systems and a crop of talented young players that have already reached the major-league level, Dombrowski appears prepared to make a bold deal that involves parting with pieces of the future in order to win now.

"We have a lot of players that people are asking about," Dombrowski told reporters. "We have a lot of major-league and minor-league players they ask about.

"Again, at some point we're going to most likely do something that is painful one way or the other. But if you're trying to get quality talent, you're going to have to do that at some point."

Dombrowski left the general manager meetings Thursday, and while he said no deal is imminent, he stated there was more activity at the event than in years past.

"We've had many more conversations at these meetings then we've ever had, that is unequivocal," Dombrowski said. "As far as what comes from here, you never can tell. A lot of times you think you're close and you're knocking on the door and it doesn't happen right away. There's still a long way to go."

Dombrowski added, "We had some more conversations last night and I'm sure we'll follow up on them."

The Red Sox front office has stated numerous times that acquiring pitching is the primary focus this offseason, and they could look to deal from a surplus of position players if they don't fill their needs through free agency.

Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Blake Swihart are names on the major-league roster that are expected to generate interest, while Rafael Devers, Manuel Margot, and Andrew Benintendi could also be in play.

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 Posted: Fri Nov 13th, 2015 12:39 am
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Former Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams has accepted a position as third base coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks offered Williams the gig last week, and made a formal announcement Thursday.

"Matt Williams has been a baseball lifer and brings with him knowledge, intensity, and a passion for the game," senior vice president and general manager Dave Stewart said about the hire. "Those attributes are key for the makeup of our coaching staff and team. He has the reputation of being a teacher and hard worker, and we are happy to have him back with the organization."

Williams played for the organization from 1998-2003, and also served as a first and third base coach for the club from 2010-13.

The 49-year-old was fired following a disappointing season with the Nationals. He earned National League Manager of the Year honors in 2014, his first campaign in Washington as the skipper.

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