Tag:MLB Rumors
Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:48 pm
 

Juan Cruz signs minor-league deal with Pirates

By Matt Snyder

The Pirates have signed free agent relief pitcher Juan Cruz to a minor-league contract with a spring training invite, the club announced Wednesday afternoon.

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Cruz, 33, will now join his seventh team in 12 big-league seasons, should he make the team. He spent last season with the Rays, where he had the good fortune of going 5-0 -- which, as a reliever doesn't really mean much -- with a 3.88 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 46 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings. He's been inconsistent season to season in his career, as Cruz was very effective in 2004 and 2008 while being awful in 2005 and 2009, with several other seasons falling in between.

Should Cruz make the roster, he won't be ticketed for a late-inning role. The Pirates have Joel Hanrahan locked in as the closer with Evan Meek and Jason Grilli setting up.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 5:53 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 6:03 pm
 

Livan Hernandez signs with Astros

By Matt Snyder

Free agent pitcher Livan Hernandez has signed with the Astros, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported by Fox Sports.

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The Astros seemed to have their starting five set in Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, J.A. Happ and Jordan Lyles, but perhaps they'll make a trade or get the 21-year-old Lyles some more seasoning in Triple-A. I say this because signing Hernandez for anything other than the purpose of being a back-end-of-the-rotation innings eater wouldn't make much sense. The one thing he still does well is log innings.

Hernandez, 36, was 8-13 with a 4.47 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 175 1/3 innings last season for the Nationals. He would have surely hit 200 innings had the Nats not pulled him from the rotation in early September to make room for Stephen Strasburg.

In 2010, Hernandez was 10-12 with a 3.66 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 211 2/3 innings. He's logged 3,121 2/3 regular-season innings in his 16-season big-league career.

In addition to the Hernandez and the other five pitchers mentioned above, the Astros also have Henry Sosa, Kyle Weiland, Zach Duke and highly-touted prospect Jarred Cosart in the mix.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 12:38 pm
 

Report: Mariners wanted Lawrie for Pineda



By Matt Snyder


The Blue Jays had to field some questions from a few disgruntled fans Monday night in their State of the Franchise meeting concerning a seeming lack of major moves this offseason. At one point, general manager Alex Anthopolous reportedly discussed a trade that he didn't make because he would have had to give up a "major-league ready player" in return.

And reliable Toronto Globe and Mail reporter Jeff Blair says sources tell him the proposed deal was third baseman Brett Lawrie for then-Seattle starting pitcher Michael Pineda (Update: Geoff Baker of the The Seattle Times back up this assertion). The Blue Jays refused to deal Lawrie, so instead the Mariners went out and flipped Pineda for then-Yankees designated hitter Jesus Montero.

Interesting.

Pineda-for-Montero swap
The Mariners interest in Lawrie makes a ton of sense. Not only is he a great young talent, but M's GM Jack Zduriencik was the Brewers director of amateur scouting when they drafted Lawrie in the first round 2008. Plus, the Mainers have a hole at third.

But, personally, the most interesting part here is from the Blue Jays' angle. Lawrie is only 22 and had a great debut for the Jays last season, hitting .293/.373/.580 with nine homers, 25 RBI and 26 runs in just 171 plate appearances. That's a line that has future star written all over it. Pineda, though, is only 23 and was an All-Star for Seattle last season. He faded down the stretch, but still struck out 173 hitters in 171 innings. Considering the Blue Jays need pitching more than hitting at this point, that they could play Jose Bautista at third and also that they have a handful of young outfielders, this move might have made some sense.

Instead, it seems Anthopolous played his own little game of Would You Rather Have and elected he wanted Lawrie more than Pineda (but wait, how could he possibly "compare" a third baseman and a pitcher?!?).

And when Anthopolous did balk at making the move, it opened the door for the Yankees to make a deal that strengthened their pitching staff.

Only time will tell on what would have been the right move here for the Blue Jays, but it's certainly an interesting nugget on a slow Tuesday to chew on.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:26 am
Edited on: January 31, 2012 11:29 am
 

Phillies sign reliever Chad Qualls

By Matt Snyder

Free agent relief pitcher Chad Qualls has signed a one-year, $1.15 million contract with the Phillies, the club announced Tuesday.

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Qualls, 33, appeared in 77 games for the Padres last season, putting up a 3.51 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 74 1/3 innings. He struck out 43 while walking 20. He has 51 career saves, mostly from a stint as the Diamondbacks closer, but Qualls has been a setup type for the majority of his career.

One item that is cause for concern is that Qualls was destroyed on the road last season. His home games came in notorious pitchers' park Petco Park. On the road, he had a 5.05 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. He gave up 43 hits in just 35 2/3 innings on the road. Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia generally plays around league average to slightly above average for hitters, so Qualls may be in trouble if he doesn't have a much better season.

The good news for Qualls and the Phillies is he won't be counted on for an overly significant role. Jonathan Papelbon is the closer while Antonio Bastardo and Jose Contreras (should he return healthy at some point) can set up. That leaves Qualls as a middle man eventually, though he does provide insurance in case Contreras suffers any setbacks in his return from elbow surgery.

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Posted on: January 27, 2012 12:00 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 12:05 pm
 

Ryan Theriot signs with Giants

By Matt Snyder

Free agent infielder Ryan Theriot has signed a one-year contract with the Giants, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned. The deal is worth $1.25 million and has $750,000 worth of incentives.

Though Theriot better fits defensively as a second baseman, he has a great shot at significant playing time at shortstop for the Giants. The only person standing in his way is Brandon Crawford, who hit just .204/.288/.296 last season, which is dreadful. Crawford could then fit well as a late-inning defensive replacement, as he's the superior defender. It's just that the Giants need the most offense they can get from any spot.

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Theriot, 32, hit .271/.321/.342 with 26 doubles for the World Series champion Cardinals last season. He has spent all but 54 games of his career in the NL Central, mostly with the Cubs, but those other 54 games were in the NL West with the Dodgers in 2010.

Also of note, Theriot rejoins former LSU and Cubs teammate Mike Fontenot. Those two just can't be kept apart, huh?

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Posted on: January 27, 2012 11:33 am
Edited on: January 27, 2012 11:54 am
 

Phillies sign Pierre to minor-league deal

By Matt Snyder

Free agent outfielder Juan Pierre has signed a minor-league contract with the Phillies, the club announced Friday.

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The 34-year-old Pierre is a true pro in every sense of the word, but his on-field value at this point isn't much. He hit .279 last season, but he rarely walks and has no power, so his .657 OPS is pretty poor. Plus, he's a corner outfielder now, so the lack of power hurts his value even more. He did steal 27 bases last year, but was caught stealing 17 times.

Pierre is only going to be providing depth for the Phillies, though it's not too much a stretch to see him playing quite a bit at some point. Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence aren't going anywhere, but the left field job belongs to Laynce Nix right now, with John Mayberry the backup. You'd think Domonic Brown would get another look, but if not, Pierre is waiting in the wings.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 10:49 pm
 

Reds sign Francis to minor-league contract

By Matt Snyder

Free agent pitcher Jeff Francis has signed a minor-league contract with the Cincinnati Reds, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned.

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Francis, a 31-year-old left-hander, was 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 91 strikeouts in 183 innings for the Royals last season. He was once an effective starter, but that was back in 2006-07 with the Rockies.

Not only that, but the Reds have plenty of starting pitching. Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto are the top two in the rotation, with Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey in tow as well. Plus, left-handed fireballer Aroldis Chapman is being converted to a starter this spring as well. So even if Francis gets a nod in the rotation before long reliever Sam LeCure, he is the seventh option.

On the other hand, Latos, Cueto, Arroyo, Leake and Bailey are all right handed. If Chapman doesn't cut it as a starter, it's entirely possible Francis gets a look as the fifth starter at some point, just to have a lefty in there.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 8:04 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 10:40 pm
 

Keppinger close to signing with Rays

By Matt Snyder

The Rays are close to an agreement with free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported Wednesday night by the Tampa Bay Times, which reported that we should expect the signing by the end of the week.

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Keppinger, 31, split last season between the Astros and the Giants. He only appeared defensively at second base, which was a departure from his utility infielder role in the previous five seasons. He hit .277/.300/.377 with 20 doubles. He is a career .281 hitter with a .332 OBP.

Keppinger won't be counted on as an everyday starter with the Rays. They already have Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez to play up the middle. Reid Brignac can backup shortstop, so Keppinger looks likely to be the backup at second base. That also means he's an available fill-in if Ben Zobrist plays in the outfield, where he started 33 games in 2011. But, again, this won't be happening regularly as the Rays have Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce in the outfield.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com