Kimbrel shipped west on Opening Night
“Look, he’s a fan favorite, as he should be,” Hart begain. “If I had a son or a daughter – I’ve got grandchildren, and his poster’s hanging on the wall. He’s that kind of a guy. He’s a guy you want to look at. So yeah, did I think about that as I went through this? Absolutely. I mean, I’m a human being. I look at it and go, here’s a popular player, fan favorite, star quality player. It wasn’t something that I relished doing. I certainly understand the fans’ side of this piece, there’s no question. They’re Atlanta Braves fans, as well (as Kimbrel fans). This is a club that we don’t want to see just sort of sink into the morass here for a period of time. We think we’re doing some exciting things, so many good things going on behind the scenes. You leave spring training and look at what we’re doing in the minor leagues and the enthusiasm and the talent level that’s coming. We look up at the June draft and we’ve got five of the first 75 picks this year within this draft, and obviously we’ve made some changes within that scouting staff and we feel this is going to be a home-run draft for us. We’ve got the international piece — July 2 (international) signings are coming, we’re very excited about what we’re going to do down there. And I think at the end, it’s about the Braves.”
—Braves president of baseball operations John Hart, on trading away Craig Kimbrel—the centerpiece of Sunday night’s blockbuster trade between the Braves and Padres. (David O’Brien
"We have a lot of faith in (amateur scouting director) Mark Conner. We have to continue to bring in players. When you see a guy like Matt Wisler, who wasn't a first-round pick (he was drafted in the seventh round in 2011), that was really good identification by our group a little deeper in the draft. … We're going to have to continue to find guys like that. There's guys in our system, too, who continue to get better and have good years and get on the radar. I think we're going to have to hit the amateur, draft and international pretty hard."
—Padres general manager A.J. Preller, on how he plans to replace the talent in his farm system, which has been used as a way trade for immediate big-league talent this offseason. (Dennis Lin, San Diego Tribune)
“There's very few guys you look back on that had the shelf life of Trevor Hoffman or Mariano Rivera. I think we took that into account as we looked at the deal. With Craig, he's a guy who takes care of his body, a quality makeup guy. … He's a competitor. He told me he's going to be the last guy in the locker room every night.”
—Preller, on Kimbrel and acknowledging the volatility of relief pitchers.
“We have a chance to sit-down with Upton,” Preller said of Melvin, who was formerly known as B.J. “We have to get a sense of where he is health-wise. He's probably not going to be in a big-league game for at least three or four weeks, at least, and maybe the beginning part of May. It's really for us to get around him a little bit … see where the fit is on our club. Wil Myers, he's going to be our center fielder.”
—Preller, on acquiring Melvin Upton as part of the deal.
Kris Bryant officially sent down to Triple-A
“As a player, it sucks. But the quicker it took me to understand it when I was coming up, the quicker you can learn this game is a business, the better off you are. They can say ‘development, development, development’ all they want. But this game is a business, and it comes down to that, and it is what it is. Everyone in this clubhouse understands it.”
—Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester, on Kris Bryant being sent down to minor league camp last week. (Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune)
“I don't want to say I'm mad or anything, I'm just extremely disappointed," Bryant said Thursday. "I wanted my performance to matter, and to me it felt like it didn't matter as much as I thought it would. The dream is on hold for a little bit but I'm hungrier than ever.”
—Bryant, on starting the season in the minors. (Jesse Rogers, ESPN.com)
“I'm definitely learning it's a business. I just go out there and put my head down and play as hard as I can. Baseball is such a performance-driven industry. I'm a big believer if you go out there and perform and work hard and you earn it then I believe you should get that chance to play up there. I guess it was viewed differently than I thought.”
“I've never put a guy on an Opening Day roster who hadn't played in the big leagues previously. In 13 years, I've never done it. I'm not saying I'd never do it, but the general rule, the presumption, is to allow those guys to go out, play, get comfortable, get in rhythm, and come up when you handpick just the right moment for them to have success.”
—Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, on having Bryant start the season in the minors.
Indians lock up Kluber and Carassco to contract extensions
“It's not as easy as it looks. Because of other teams that are out there and pay structures we have to do things that work for us," manager Terry Francona told reporters in Houston on Sunday. "We can't be the trend setters. That is why (general manager) Chris (Antonetti) has had to work doubly hard to make it work. When you are around them (the players) you want them to be paid. You have that little bit of paternal feeling and take care of them.”
—Indians manager Terry Francona, on the Indians signing starting pitcher Corey Kluber to a five-year contract extension worth $38.5 million in guaranteed money with two club options. The deal also includes escalators based on Cy Young Award finishes that could potentially increase the total salary earned by Kluber to $77 million over the course of the contract. (Joe Reedy, FOX Sports Ohio)
"Corey was up front about this is where he wanted to be," Antonetti said. "The negotiations were challenging but you have to give credit to his agents (BB Abbott and Hank Sargent) for getting it done because it was a unique landscape. We offered more in guaranteed money. In exchange for that we were able to secure his future and at the end that was a risk worth taking."
—Indians general manager Chris Antonetti, on the extension.
"The financial security is important but more than any other thing I wanted to be here. The young core has been locked up plus what Tito and (pitching coach) Mickey (Callaway) have meant to me," Kluber said. "I think it shows the commitment the Dolans have to put a winning product out there."
—Kluber, on agreeing to the extension.
“It was obviously really nice to see him do what he did at the end of the season. He was the first guy in the weight room every morning in Spring Training. He really started to pay attention to Kluber last year, and really does a lot of the same things, as far as his work and consistency of work and things like that. And he's a relaxed, more open guy. I think that's the main part. He's confident. He's relaxed and he doesn't feel like there's a ton of pressure on him. I totally expect him to repeat what he's been doing.”
—Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, on Carlos Carassco’s success down the stretch last season. (Jordan Bastian, MLB.com)
“I don’t know how much I should read into prepared statements from other people at this point. I just think Josh came forward, he admitted fault, and that’s a very manly thing to do in this day and age, when everyone’s trying to cover things up and buy people off.”
—Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson, on the statement issued by general manager Jerry Dipoto following the news that Josh Hamilton would not be suspended for his substance abuse relapse. (Pedro Moura, Orange County Register)
“As much as it’s the same, it’s such a different way of doing business. It took both of us some time to recalibrate.”
—Dodgers senior vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes, on the adjustments both he and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman have had to make after being in small-market front offices. (Jeff Sanders, San Diego Tribune)
“It’s not that I’m not sure how the pieces fit together. It’s just that I think you can move the pieces around and put the puzzle together every night, as opposed to being so cut-and-dried, this is the way it is. I know what we have, and I know how I want to use them, but a lot of it is going to depend on the lineups those days. I just think because of the two arms we have there, you can do it. It’s an interesting thought.”
—Yankees manager Joe Girardi, on opening the season without naming a primary closer. Girardi indicated that both Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller could get opportunities to close out games depending on the situation on a given night. (Mark Feinsand, New York Daily News)
“It gets me out and about more. I know the shop’s being tended to. Boch, in his own right, could almost be like Whitey Herzog as a de facto general manager. And Bobby’s more than ready. It’s his turn to shine. Now I don’t have to be married, per se, to the major-league schedule. The international schedule is moving fast. I don’t see enough of our minor-league teams to draw my own conclusions. I hardly see any games before the June draft, which I used to do. Selfishly, I’d like to see some guys who could be in play trade-wise and free agents to be. This allows me to be more places. The quality control with this model, and other people have gone to it, is important now. The game’s changing so fast. It’s so competitive, and it all evolves around the talent acquisition.”
—Brian Sabean, on his promotion to executive vice president of baseball operations for the Giants. Former assistant general manager Bobby Evans will assume Sabean’s previous role as general manager. (Jon Shea, San Francisco Chronicle)
“The reason that you fight back against trading a young player you believe in, is that, when it does happen, when it works the way you hope it works and the way you think it might work at the major-league level, it’s really impactful. If we think a guy has a good shot to be successful in Boston, we are going to have a presumption to try to keep them.”
—Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, on the organization’s philosophy when it comes with its homegrown young players. (Brian MacPherson, Providence Journal)
“Because of the fact I’m throwing more two-seamers, that would obviously make the velocity go down a bit. As for my pitching style and my mechanics, I’m trying to relax a little bit more when I’m throwing, so that might have something to do with it.”
—Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, when asked whether his expectation that his velocity would be lower this season would be due to his elbow injury. (Dan Martin, New York Post)
“Trevor got the attention of a number of clubs, so we started getting calls from different clubs. It wasn't a question of let's trade him at some point. It came to a decision of Archie versus Trevor."
—Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, on Archie Bradley’s strong spring leading to the club trading Trevor Cahill to the Braves. (Zach Buchanan, Arizona Republic)
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