The Rockies announced on Thursday that they have optioned right-handed pitchers Jose Mujica, Ryan Castellani and Jesus Tinoco, as well as outfielder Yonathan Daza to Triple-A Albuquerque (Twitter link).
The most noteworthy name in the bunch is Mujica, as he was the only free agent signing for the Rockies this past offseason. Mujica had Tommy John surgery in September of 2018 and was cut loose by the Rays shortly thereafter. After missing all of 2019, the Rockies signed him in November. However, it appears the team viewed that signing as more of a long-term investment, given that he doesn’t have a spot in the rotation for the short term. But since he’s still only 23 years old, there’s still time for him to force his way into the picture.
Castellani should also be in the Triple-A rotation, battling Mujica for position on the depth chart. The 24-year-old will be looking to get back on track after a miserable 2019, during which injuries limited him to 43 1/3 innings of 8.31 ERA ball. Castellani did have an encouraging conclusion to his season in the Arizona Fall League, though, as he put up a 2.16 ERA through 16 2/3 innings.
Tinoco logged decent bottom-line production in 2019, with an ERA of 4.75 in 36 innings out of the bullpen. But FIP and xFIP weren’t nearly as impressed, pegging him at 7.91 and 5.84, respectively. He was optioned and recalled three times over the year and seems poised for a similar fate in 2020.
As for Daza, the 26-year-old has put up solid numbers in the minors but didn’t impress during his 105 plate appearances at the big league level in 2019. He slashed .206/.257/.237 for a wRC+ of 19.
The Rays and Reds have worked out the final details of a pair of offseason trades between the two clubs, as per multiple reporters (including MLB.com’s Juan Toribio). Back in November, the two clubs engaged in two trades, one that sent right-hander Jose De Leon to Cincinnati and (a week later) another that sent first baseman/outfielder Brian O’Grady to Tampa Bay. Both trades saw the players exchanged for either cash considerations or a player to be named later, and today’s news confirms that the two teams have agreed to accept money to complete the transactions.
Cincinnati optioned De Leon to the minors two weeks ago, after the righty posted a 6.75 ERA over 2 2/3 Spring Training innings. When and if the season gets underway, the 27-year-old De Leon will continue to work to get back to the form that made him a highly-touted top-40 prospect prior to the 2016 and 2017 seasons. De Leon’s progress was halted, however, by Tommy John surgery in March 2018. He returned to throw 56 minor league and four Major League innings in 2019.
O’Grady was also optioned to Triple-A just earlier today, which was expected given that the Rays already have a number of left-handed hitting first base options. O’Grady’s ability to handle all three outfield positions could end up being his clearer path to playing time in Tampa Bay, as the Rays are forever looking for players with defensive versatility. An eighth-round pick for the Reds in the 2014 draft, O’Grady made his MLB debut in 2019, making 48 plate appearances (and hitting .190/.292/.429) over 28 games. The 27-year-old O’Grady has a .252/.354/.453 slash line over 2276 career PA in the minor leagues.
With the coronavirus at least delaying the Major League Baseball season, MLB and the MLBPA reached an agreement on several key issues Thursday night, as Jeff Passan of ESPN first reported. Service time, players’ salaries, roster moves, the draft and the upcoming international signing period are all addressed in the deal, which owners will vote on Friday. If it’s ratified, a roster freeze will go into an effect for an indeterminate period of time, according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic.
A typical season would have featured 186 days overall, giving players up to 172 days of service time. We don’t know how many there will be this season, though, and that could have had lasting effects on players and teams had the two sides not hammered something out. Now, thanks to this agreement, all players who are active or on the injured list for the entirety of a shortened 2020 season will receive a full year of service time, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Players’ service time will be pro-rated in the event of a truncated campaign, Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds. So, if there’s a 100-day season and a player’s active for 50 of those days, he’ll get half a year of service. If no season happens at all, service time accrued will be based on the amount of days the player earned in 2019, per Rosenthal.
The service time portion of this pact is especially welcome news for many who are due to become free agents next winter. The likes of Mookie Betts, J.T. Realmuto and George Springer will all remain in position to reach free agency then even if a season does not take place. Meanwhile, pre-arbitration players (including names like Matt Chapman and Gleyber Torres) will stay on track to go through the arb process for the first time.
For now, those major leaguers and the rest around MLB will receive a $170MM advance (3 to 4 percent of their full salaries) spread over two months, Rosenthal reports. The players’ salaries will be pro-rated based on how long the season lasts, and they won’t be able to sue for their full amounts. Rosenthal adds.
Looking ahead to the summer, this year’s amateur draft could go down to five rounds, per Passan, but MLB will have the ability to increase that total, Rosenthal relays, adding that the event won’t occur later than July. Players’ signing bonuses will be deferred, not given out up-front, and they’ll receive 10 percent now and 45 percent over the next two years. Meanwhile, undrafted free agents will be able to sign for up to $20K, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
In another decision that will have some effect on young talent from around the game, the upcoming international signing period could be delayed until as late as January 2021, Passan writes.
These are certainly noteworthy steps for baseball during a time of such uncertainty, though there are still more details to work out. For example, as Rosenthal notes, agreements on spring training and roster size have not come together to this point. Under normal circumstances, we’d have seen 26-man rosters this year, but it’s possible that number will increase for 2020 if a season does occur.
Astros legend Jimmy Wynn passed away today at age 78, the team announced. The Astros’ official statement:
Today, we lost a very big part of the Astros family with the passing of Jimmy Wynn. His contributions to our organization both on and off the field are too numerous to mention. As an All-Star player in the 1960s and 70s, Jimmys success on the field helped build our franchise from its beginnings. After his retirement, his tireless work in the community impacted thousands of young people in Houston. Although he is no longer with us, his legacy will live on at Minute Maid Park, at the Astros Youth Academy and beyond. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Marie, daughter, Kimberly, son, James, Jr., to the other members of his family and to his many fans and admirers.
Wynn hit .250/.366/.436 with 291 homers, 225 steals, and 1105 runs scored over his 8011 career Major League plate appearances, with the first 11 of his 15 seasons coming in Houston. Wynn first played for the Astros (known as the Colt .45s) in 1963, the franchise’s second season in existence, and he was one of the headline stars of the early days of Houston baseball. Between his 5’9″ height and big throwing arm, Wynn also boasted one of the era’s best nicknames, as he became known as the “Toy Cannon.”
While Wynn’s numbers are already impressive on the surface, he is often cited as a player who true ceiling as a hitter may have been obscured by a pair of extra factors. Firstly, his prime years came in the 1960’s, the most pitching-friendly decade in modern baseball history. Secondly, Wynn played the majority of his home games in the huge Astrodome, which suppressed his power numbers.
Despite these obstacles, Wynn twice topped the 33-homer plateau while playing for Houston, including a 37-homer campaign in 1967 that stood as the Astros’ team record until Jeff Bagwell broke the mark in 1994. Even among all the great offensive players who have suited up for the Astros in more hitter-friendly era, Wynn still sits prominently within the top ten in most of the franchise’s all-time offensive lists. Wynn also set a new National League record with 148 walks during the 1969 season, and that total is still tied for the 14th-highest single-season walk total in baseball history
Wynn posted a 129 OPS+ and 130 wRC+ over his career, which also includes stints with the Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, and Brewers. He was a three-time All-Star, with two of those appearances coming during his two seasons in Los Angeles. Wynn’s first year with the Dodgers, 1974, saw him bat .271/.387/.497 with 32 homers, helping carry the team to a National League pennant before falling to the A’s in the World Series.
We at MLBTR send our best wishes to Wynn’s family and legions of fans around the game.
The Yankees pared down their roster Thursday, optioning three pitchers – Deivi Garcia, Mike King and Ben Heller – as well as infielder Thairo Estrada to the minors. The club sent Garcia to Double-A Trenton and the rest to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Garcia and King may be the most intriguing names in this quartet. It wasn’t long ago that both pitchers were competing for season-opening roles in the Yankees’ banged up rotation. But if the coronavirus does delay Opening Day until June or later, injured left-hander James Paxton figures to begin the year in the Yankees’ starting staff. That would give them a complete five-man rotation with Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery complementing Gerrit Cole.
While Garcia and King aren’t ticketed for season-opening roles in New York, the pair could find themselves in the majors soon enough. The two undoubtedly count among the Yankees’ best farmhands, with Baseball America ranking the 20-year-old Garcia as their No. 3 prospect and placing King, 24, at No. 13.
Estrada, also 24, made his MLB debut in 2019 and batted .250/.294/.438 with three home runs in 69 plate appearances. He played both middle infield positions and both corner outfield spots during that brief stint.
Heller, whom the Yankees acquired from the Indians in the teams’ 2016 trade centering on Andrew Miller, has totaled just 25 1/3 major league innings thus far. He underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2018, thereby sidelining the 28-year-old for all of that season and for the majority of last year.
The Diamondbacks have optioned right-hander Taylor Clarke and infielder Kevin Cron to Triple-A Reno, the team announced.
The 26-year-old Clarke, a third-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2015, got an extended look in the club’s staff last year. The D-backs battled injuries to Luke Weaver and Taijuan Walker, and they subtracted Zack Greinke via trade, which helped lead to 23 appearances and 15 starts for Clarke. But Clarke didn’t show especially well in that 84 2/3-inning span, pitching to a 5.31 ERA/6.41 FIP with 7.23 K/9 and 3.19 BB/9. Clarke was worse with Reno, though, as he put up a 6.63 ERA/5.87 FIP and 6.87 K/9 against 4.17 BB/9 over 36 2/3 innings in the offensively charged Pacific Coast League.
Cron, on the other hand, was among the players who thrived the most in the PCL last year. He slashed an otherworldly .331/.449/.777 (good for a 182 wRC+) with 38 home runs 377 plate appearances. The 27-year-old walked nearly as much he struck out in Reno (61 free passes, 77 Ks), but wasn’t able to carry that success to the game’s highest level. While Cron did put his his prodigious power on display as a Diamondback (six home runs, .310 ISO in 78 trips to the plate), a 35.9 percent strikeout rate against a 5.1 percent walk mark had a hand in holding him to an unspectacular .211/.269/.521 line.
The Phillies shuffled six players off of their 26-man roster, according to a team announcement. They are lefties Austin Davis and Cole Irvin, righties Edgar Garcia and Reggie McClain and outfielders Kyle Garlick and Nick Williams
On what was originally scheduled to be Opening Day, the big baseball action of the day has instead been reruns of past games and procedural moves such as this one. None of these moves are particularly surprising.
The four pitchers all saw some time in MLB in 2019. But since they all posted ERAs north of 5.75 in their respective seasons, they will all have to go back down to the minors and wait for their next opportunity.
As for Garlick and Williams, they each had a decent shot of earning a roster spot a couple of weeks ago. But that was because Andrew McCutchen was not going to be ready to rejoin the team until April and therefore open the season on the IL. Now that the start to the season has been delayed until at least May, McCutchen should be able to get healthy in time to reclaim his regular role in left field. And with Bryce Harper, Adam Haseley, Jay Bruce and Roman Quinn also on the roster, that seems to push Garlick and Williams down the depth charts and into the minors.
St. Louis is among many teams that has trimmed down its roster Thursday. The team announced that it has optioned four players – right-handers Alex Reyes and Junior Fernandez, lefty Genesis Cabrera and catcher Andrew Knizner – to Triple-A Memphis.
Reyes, once among the highest-rated prospects in the game, is the most recognizable name in the group. Thanks in large part to a variety of injuries, the 25-year-old hasn’t been able to live up to the vast hype he generated in his younger days. As of a couple months ago, the hope was that he’d at least emerge as a quality bullpen piece this season for the Cardinals. Perhaps that will indeed happen, but he’ll have to work his way back from the minors first. Thus far, Reyes has endured his fair share of difficulty in Triple-A, including during a 2019 showing in which he stumbled to a 7.39 ERA with 12.2 K/9 and 7.7 BB/9 in 28 innings.
The hard-throwing Cabrera, 23, wasn’t a great deal more successful at preventing runs than Reyes last year in Memphis, where he put up a 5.91 ERA with 9.64 K/9 and 3.55 BB/9 over 99 innings. But Cabrera, like Reyes, still counts as one of the Cardinals’ most promising young arms. Baseball America ranked Cabrera as the Cardinals’ No. 4 prospect after last season, when he totaled 20 1/3 major league innings with a 4.87 ERA and 8.41 K/9 against 4.87 BB/9.
BA also has favorable opinions of Fernandez (the Cardinals’ No. 13 prospect) and Knizner (No. 8). The 23-year-old Fernandez debuted at both the Triple-A and major league levels last season. He was especially strong in 24 1/3 frames as a member of Memphis, with which he logged a 1.48 ERA, induced grounders at a 61.7 percent clip and struck out 9.99 batters per nine with 4.07 BB/9.
Knizner batted .276/.357/.463 with 12 home runs in 280 Triple-A plate appearances a year ago, though the .226/.293/.377 line he registered in his first 58 PA in the majors fell well short. He’ll continue to remain behind Yadier Molina and Matt Wieters in the Cardinals’ pecking order at catcher.
The Indians announced today that four players have been optioned to Triple-A (Twitter link), as outfielder Bradley Zimmer and right-handers Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, and James Karinchak were all cut from the 26-man roster.
Of all the roster assignments we’ve seen in recent days as teams make procedural tweaks well in advance of when the 2020 season could actually begin, the Tribe’s moves may have been the ones least likely to happen had the season begun today as scheduled. Optioning this quartet of players gives the Indians a bit more flexibility in determining tougher roster decisions, and obviously any can (and likely will) be recalled prior to the beginning of official games.
Due to injuries to Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco, Civale and Plesac were both penciled into Cleveland’s Opening Day rotation, and it’s a fair bet that both pitchers could have remained in the starting five throughout the year. Adam Plutko was also in the mix for a starting job and, since he is out of options, perhaps had some advantage over Civale and Plesac in that regard, though the Indians could also have kept Plutko on the 26-man roster as a reliever.
Likewise, the hard-throwing Karinchak was expected to play an important role in the Tribe’s bullpen in the wake of a solid Spring Training and an impressive brief cameo (5 1/3 innings) during the 2019 regular season. Karinchak has dealt with some control issues through his three pro seasons, though the righty’s minor league strikeout totals are nothing short of outstanding, with a whopping 186 strikeouts over 102 1/3 innings in the Cleveland farm system.
The Rays cut seven players from their 26-man roster today, as per a team announcement (Twitter link). Outfielder Randy Arozarena, right-hander Trevor Richards, left-hander Anthony Banda, infielders Nate Lowe and Mike Brosseau, first baseman/outfielder Brian O’Grady and two-way player Brendan McKay are were all optioned to Triple-A.
Given how the Rays so often shuttle players from Triple-A and the big leagues, it’s safe to assume all seven of these names will wind up seeing action for the club this season, should the season get underway. Tampa Bay is perhaps better equipped than most teams to handle the challenges posed by a potential shortened schedule and an effort to fit as many games as possible into an abbreviated period of time, as the Rays’ strong farm system gives them a lot of extra depth, and many of their players (especially pitchers) are already used to frequent trips up and down the ladder.
Since Lowe, Ji-Man Choi, and the newly-acquired Yoshitomo Tsutsugo are all left-handed hitters, it made sense that the younger Lowe would be the odd man out of the first base/DH mix. The same is true for O’Grady, acquired in a trade with the Reds back in November.
Arozarena is also a newcomer to Tampa Bay, having been acquired as part of the multi-player trade with the Cardinals in January that brought Jose Martinez to the Rays. Martinez is the right-handed complement to Choi and Tsutsugo (though the Rays have been experimenting with Tsutsugo as a part-time third baseman and outfielder), while Arozarena will provide outfield depth at Triple-A. Arozarena’s chances of making the Opening Day roster were lessened when the Rays picked up Manuel Margot from the Padres, though Arozarena’s ability to play all three outfield positions will very likely make him the first call-up should an injury or need arise in the Rays’ outfield.
The delayed start to the season should give Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow time to get fully healthy, which meant McKay and Richards were suddenly expendable. Since the Rays still plan to occasionally spell their starters by using openers, Richards will probably get action either in a traditional starting role or as a bulk pitcher behind an opener — he served in both capacities after being acquired by the Marlins at last year’s trade deadline. In fact, it could be easy to see a scenario where Richards and “Two Way McKay” are combined together in a piggyback outing, with the intriguing McKay (one of the game’s top prospects) also serving as an X-factor at the plate.