The Astros have a new plan for their minor-league starters, and the regular season is set to kick off with a showdown in Texas.
The Astros take center stage in the last Rumor Roundup of the offseason, as they prepare to kick off the regular season against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park on Sunday night.
Astros unveil new minor-league pitching development plan
While the major-league club heads into the season with bleak short-term hopes, general manager Jeff Luhnow is focused on improving the Astros’ player development system. And, after a year of talent acquisition through trades and his first draft last June, Luhnow is now implementing a new system for developing the pitchers that will come through the Astros’ pipeline and hopefully one day land in their big-league rotation.
The Blue Jays have a superstar roster, but the decision to carry 13 pitchers leaves their bench extremely thin. The Royals will also consider starting Eric Hosmer in right field.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos spent the early part of the offseason shuffling pitchers onto and off of his 40-man roster through minor trades and waiver claims. Amid the scrounging effort, during which it seemed as though no pitcher could hit the wire without being claimed by the Jays, Anthopoulos acquiredJeremy Jeffress from the Royals for cash considerations on November 8. Now, in order to retain Jeffress, Anthopoulos could leave first-year manager John Gibbons with a suboptimal roster.
The Reds kept Devin Mesoraco in the majors for the duration of last season, even though the young catcher scuffled in a cup of coffee at the end of 2011 (.180/.226/.360) and was not overly impressive in Cactus League play (.250/.295/.450). Once considered among the top catching prospects in baseball, Mesoraco ranked as the second-best minor leaguer in the Reds system in back-to-back years, according to Kevin Goldstein, who also billed him as the 24th-best prospect across all organizations and positions entering 2012.
Potential roster moves could leave the Athletics and Orioles juggling multiple platoon options.
Could a player who was unable to stick with last year’s cellar dwellers find a home with a team that won 94 games and captured its division title? Apparently, the answer to that question is affirmative—or, at least, the A’s are trying to make it so.
Athletics could send Hiroyuki Nakajima to Triple-A Sacramento
Late last week, Oakland claimed Nate Freiman off waivers from the Astros, who had plucked the first baseman from the Padres in the Rule Five draft earlier this offseason. Houston turned out to be a poor landing spot for Freiman, especially after general manager Jeff Luhnow obtained Chris Carter from the A’s, further fortifying a first-base mix that already included Carlos Pena and Brett Wallace. But Freiman’s trip back to San Diego, which nabbed him out of Duke University in the eighth round of the 2009 draft, was interrupted by Billy Beane’s waiver claim.
The Red Sox could put Jackie Bradley on the Opening Day roster, Shelby Miller appears to have the fifth rotation spot locked down, and the O's could deal Luis Ayala.
The last week of spring training offers a prime opportunity for near-ready prospects that are still in major-league camp to impress their teams’ coaching staffs and shed the “near-“ from their labels. Today’s Roundup features three young players who are on the verge of doing just that.
The Dodgers may have a packed rotation, but it's a different story in their infield. It also looks like Aroldis Chapman's days as a starter are over.
Happy March Madness, everybody! It’s the only tournament we’re actually less excited for as it moves along, and somehow everyone’s okay with that. No matter—we’ve got baseball news: The Dodgers are juggling their infield, the Yankees are looking “fill vacancies at Scranton,” and The Man is holding down Aroldis Chapman (and he likes it that way).
Hanley out eight weeks; Dodgers look inward
Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez will have surgery today to repair a torn tendon in his left thumb. Ramirez sustained the injury diving for a ball in the World Baseball Classic final, when he could have been sitting in a protective formaldehyde tank like every other baseball player does at this time of year.
In late August, the Marlins promoted Turner—who had struggled in his first two big-league stints with the Tigers—back to the majors, and he performed well, allowing no more than three earned runs in all but one of his seven starts. Turner collected only 29 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings, but he also issued only nine walks, surrendering less than one base runner per inning, with the benefit of some batted-ball luck. All in all, it was a strong showing for a 21-year-old, and Turner was widely expected to retain his spot in the starting five heading into 2013.
The Diamondbacks are nearing a decision on their number-five starter, and the Indians hope to extend two of their young position players.
Of the three pitchers who entered the spring in a competition for the final spot in the Diamondbacks rotation, Tyler Skaggs has the highest upside and likely the brightest future. Jason Parks ranked the lefty as the team’s number-one prospect and, since Justin Upton was shipped to the Braves after the list was published, Mark Anderson would have considered Skaggs its best under-25 talent. The 21-year-old shouldn’t need to wait long for his next major-league look, but after being optioned to Triple-A on Monday, he will need to pitch well in Reno to earn a trip back to Phoenix.
Diamondbacks’ rotation battle down to two
Skaggs’ demotion came on the heels of a disastrous start to the Cactus League season, which saw him surrender 16 runs (11 earned) on 14 hits and eight walks over just nine innings. Manager Kirk Gibson attributed the lefty’s struggles in a weekend outing versus the Padres to “thinking too much,” and the ticket to minor-league camp may simply be the organization’s attempt to help Skaggs clear his mind. Regardless of the motive behind the decision, the result is a two-horse race for the opportunity to round out the starting five, pitting Patrick Corbin against Randall Delgado.
Dayton Moore's off-season dealings have left him without an adequate offense, and multiple teams are searching for back-up backstops.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore spent the first half of the offseason overhauling his rotation—at the cost, in part, of his top prospect, Wil Myers. And although Moore was able to obtain Wade Davis, Ervin Santana, and James Shields, he did little to address the Royals’ offensive concerns, one of which was and is the performance of right fielder Jeff Francoeur.
Were Myers still around, the Royals might have had a ready-made replacement for Francoeur. The 22-year-old could have displaced the veteran with a strong spring, or supplanted him before the All-Star break with an encore at Triple-A Omaha, where he hit .304/.378/.554 in 99 games last year. But Kansas City’s starters ranked 26th in the league with a 5.01 ERA in 2012, and Moore decided that the rotation was a more pressing concern—pressing enough to overlook a short-term need and create a void that he is now scrambling to address.
The Rangers seem to have a plan with Elvis Andrus' upcoming free agency, and the Indians have several options to round out their rotation.
Four months ago, and two-and-a-half months before the Braves acquired Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks, the Rangers were considered the favorites to land the right fielder. Unfortunately for Texas, Kevin Towers’ insistence on obtaining a young shortstop became an impasse in his negotiations with Jon Daniels, who had two at his disposal, but did not view either of them as expendable. The Rangers would not part with Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, and the Diamondbacks would not send Upton to Arlington without one of them coming back.
But in the backdrop of those talks, it appears the Rangers were quietly shaping their plans to resolve the enviable shortstop logjam, looking one winter ahead instead of focusing on the present. As CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman wrote on Thursday, the most likely scenario has Andrus on the trade block next offseason and Profar being groomed in the meantime to fill his shoes.
Dayton Moore’s price tag turns teams away from Hochevar
According to CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler, teams that have called the Royals to inquire about Hochevar have found the going rate surprisingly high for a pitcher that, based on WARP, has yet to produce even a single one-win season. The 29-year-old Hochevar is two years away from his first tour of free agency, but general manager Dayton Moore’s busy offseason—which brought Wade Davis, Ervin Santana, and James Shields into the fold—seemed to make him expendable.