The Red Sox give Pablo Sandoval's job away, the Orioles are in a snit with Hyun-Soo Kim, and the Rangers and Indians might be the best bet for a last-second big-league swap.
Pablo Sandoval Loses His Job To Travis Shaw
After a flurry of moves that included the signing of Pablo Sandoval, the 2014 Red Sox romped to the American League pennant, then swept the World Series. General Manager Ben Cherington received many an accolade for his work, and Sandoval became an instant fan favorite.
A closer battle in Philadelphia, urination in Queens, and another year of Ricky Nolasco clogging up your Probable Starters options.
Ricky Nolasco takes Twins fifth-starter role
That one of the largest free agent contracts in Twins history belongs to none other than Ricky Nolasco can be used as a stand-in for several larger points. It can be an example of how extreme the market for free agent pitching has become; it can be ammunition for fans frustrated with the front office; it can be a cautionary tale about the volatility of middle-of-the-rotation pitching. And in addition to representing all of the above, Nolasco and his contract can now represent something else—the Twins’ fifth starter.
Velasquez, who turns 24 in June, debuted with the Astros last year in a swingman capacity. He made seven starts and appeared 12 times in relief, racking up 58 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings, a reflection of big-league-ready stuff. Chris Crawford wrote in our Transaction Analysis of the Giles trade, “At worst, Velasquez marks a strong central piece as a potential high-leverage reliever,” but the Phillies will let him start until he proves he can’t, and his ceiling could be substantially loftier than the late-inning floor.
The Braves’ outfield battle is down to three contenders, while the Orioles and Yankees try to round out their pitching staffs before Opening Day.
The Braves’ fourth outfield spot is still open to Jeff Francoeur, Michael Bourn, or Emilio Bonifacio Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn may have been a package deal for the Braves at the 2015 deadline, but it’s almost certain that they’ll be parting ways by Opening Day. The Braves are narrowing down their bench candidates, and according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, Nick Swisher is likely to get the boot by the end of spring training if he fails to net a trade offer. Assuming the Braves offload the veteran outfielder by absorbing the rest of his $15 million contract, they’ll still have to rid themselves of another outfield candidate to set their 25-man roster. That leaves just three outfielders to duke it out: Bourn, clubhouse personality Jeff Francoeur, and bargain backup Emilio Bonifacio.
The challenge of upgrading on Daniel Nava in Anaheim, the Braves' surprising semi-bid on Justin Upton, and the closer who wants to be a starter.
The Los Angeles Angels are trying to acquire an everyday left fielder
The Angels are currently set to go into this season with 33-year-old Daniel Nava as their starting left fielder, joining the 2014 Red Sox, the 2011 Pawtucket Red Sox and the 2007 Chico Outlaws as the only teams who can say that. Although Nava is smashing in spring training, his PECOTA projection (1.5 WARP) and his 2015 output (Zero.Zip WARP) have a little more authority than his .500/.619/.719 Cactus League line. As a result, the Angels are reportedly looking for an everyday left fielder to replace him.
Injuries to Andre Ethier and Carson Smith are the latest to mess with their clubs' depth.
With Andre Ethier out, Dodgers turn to outfield depth
Subscribing to the conventional wisdom that Spring Training is meaningful only in its injuries, the Dodgers are continuing with a frustratingly meaningful March. Yesterday in this space, we reviewed the deteriorating state of the team’s rotation; today, Andre Ethier reminds us not to take position player health for granted, either. The Dodgers announced Tuesday that the left fielder is expected to be out for 10 to 14 weeks with a fractured tibia.
Initial x-rays did not show any damage after Ethier fouled a ball off his leg on Friday, but results from follow-up exams were not so encouraging. Though it certainly isn’t ideal for the Dodgers to have the 33-year old sidelined until June, the team’s outfield depth makes it a little more palatable. It was already expected that the left-handed Ethier would share time with right-handed Scott van Slyke, and in his absence, left field will probably be filled by a platoon team of van Slyke and Carl Crawford. It’s something of an outside shot at redemption for Crawford, who wasn’t expected to receive much playing time after three seasons in LA that have been disappointing and injury-plagued (and, of course, expensive)—though projections suggest only continued decline for the erstwhile star.
Many a fifth starter is down in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Pablo's gain might be Travis Shaw's... gain.
Dodgers fifth-starter spot back up for grabs
The theme song for the Dodgers rotation this spring has been “Another One Bites the Dust”—and that’s not a reference to opposing hitters digging in against Clayton Kershaw. Over the weekend, manager Dave Roberts revealed that the group’s latest ailing member is right-hander Mike Bolsinger, who was supposed to be the failsafe when the fragile veterans ahead of him went down. Now, the 28-year-old Bolsinger is sidelined with an oblique injury, and while it’s not believed to be a long-term matter, it does open up another void in Roberts’ Opening Day rotation.
Ruben Tejada is released, Johnny Cueto is rattled, and Adam LaRoche is retired.
Adam LaRoche would rather kick it with his boy than play for the Chicago White Sox
Earlier this week, Adam LaRoche shocked the Chicago White Sox by abruptly announcing his retirement from baseball. The timing of this move was particularly interesting, as it’s the middle of spring training and he’s also walking away from $13 million. Even when you consider that he didn’t exactly have a glorious 2015 season—he hit .207/.293/.340 with a TAv of .233, same as Tyson Ross—and was entering his age-36 season on a bit of a slow start due to health concern, it was hard to see why LaRoche would choose to walk away from so much money and a starting job.
The Brewers look to settle the battle for center field, while Eric Sogaard might be facing Triple-A.
Keon Broxton emerging as possible center-field favorite in Brewers camp
The Brew Crew arrived in Arizona with a vacancy in center field, where Carlos Gomez once roamed before then-general manager Doug Melvin shipped him to the Astros at the 2015 trade deadline. At the time, now-GM David Stearns was in Houston, but since the Brewers hired him away in late September, it was Stearns’ job to fill the void created by his predecessor. And if Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat writer Tom Haudricourt is reading the situation correctly, Stearns may have done so in a relatively nondescript December trade.
As Christmas approached, the Brewers struck a deal with the Pirates, sending first baseman Jason Rogers to Pittsburgh in exchange for two minor-leaguers: right-hander Trey Supak and outfielder Keon Broxton. The latter hit .273/.357/.438 in 133 plate appearances split between Double-A and Triple-A last year and has the athleticism to play up the middle, but with his 26th birthday looming in May, Broxton was running out of time to prove his major-league value. Now, his chance seems to have arrived.