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On The Move: Trades & Transactions

Grichuk eyes bigger production with Toronto

Slugger's offseason task focused on eye-strengthening work
MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' newest outfielder, Randal Grichuk, knows he needs to improve his pitch recognition and plate discipline. He's taking some rather unique steps to make sure it happens.

Grichuk purchased a pitching machine at the end of last season and has spent the offseason tracking pitches and taking extended batting practice. The machine has the ability to randomly alternate between balls and strikes, and Grichuk has challenged himself to call out each pitch before it arrived.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' newest outfielder, Randal Grichuk, knows he needs to improve his pitch recognition and plate discipline. He's taking some rather unique steps to make sure it happens.

Grichuk purchased a pitching machine at the end of last season and has spent the offseason tracking pitches and taking extended batting practice. The machine has the ability to randomly alternate between balls and strikes, and Grichuk has challenged himself to call out each pitch before it arrived.

With a career on-base percentage below .300, Grichuk is all too aware that his strikeouts need to come down and his walk rate needs to go up. The pitching machine was one possible solution to becoming a more well-rounded hitter. The learning process didn't stop there.

"One of the things that I've been really trying to focus on is training the eyes," Grichuk said. "I took a course on vision training, to work the muscles in the eyes. So many people don't really work out their eyes and there are a lot of muscles in the eyes that are just like a normal muscle in the body. You need to train it, you need to work it out. I've been doing a lot of things to help improve plate discipline for the upcoming season."

Video: Atkins on Blue Jays acquiring Randal Grichuk

Grichuk received a vote of confidence from Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins immediately following the trade with St. Louis. Atkins strongly hinted that Grichuk would be Toronto's right fielder on Opening Day and that the 26-year-old would receive every opportunity to play every day.

The shot at regular playing time is what excited Grichuk most about changing locations. It's not a luxury he was always afforded in the Cardinals organization, because a glut of outfielders made for an intense battle over playing time. There was the constant pressure of needing to perform in order to remain in the lineup, and sometimes in baseball that only makes things worse.

In Toronto, Grichuk is expected to become a focal point of the lineup. He'll likely hit in a run-producing spot of the batting order and will be expected to hit for a lot of power. The opportunity is there. Now it's up to Grichuk to hang onto it.

Video: Gibbons discusses new additions to Blue Jays' roster

"In St. Louis, we had a lot of outfielders and it was kind of looking over your shoulder," Grichuk said. "If we play good, we'll be in there. If not, we might not be. That wasn't necessarily just me, it was multiple guys.

"It's a tough game to play and it's even tougher when you're looking over your shoulder or questioning what's going on. The confidence of just being able to go out there and play and say, 'You're going to be the guy' or whatever the case. If I earn it in spring, I think that's a big thing for me on the mental side of being successful."

Grichuk topped 20 home runs during each of the last two seasons, but the Blue Jays believe there is potential for that number to go much higher. According to Statcast™, Grichuk had the second-highest barrel percentage among all National League hitters with at least 200 plate appearances. The only player who squared up more balls was Giancarlo Stanton.

The Blue Jays believe a higher number of at-bats will result in a higher number of home runs. The expectations become even more heightened when ballpark factors are considered. Busch Stadium in St. Louis typically is regarded as pitcher-friendly, while Rogers Centre -- and every other ballpark in the AL East -- favors hitters.

"Busch Stadium, I think technically they say it's a neutral stadium, but everybody who played there over the four seasons that I was there, definitely did not think that," Grichuk said. "We feel like it's a pitcher-friendly ballpark and the ball does not fly. Plenty of times you think you crushed one, you think it should have been a home run, and it's caught at the track.

"I'm thankful to get another opportunity elsewhere and even more so in a hitter-friendly ballpark and a hitter-friendly division."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

 

Toronto Blue Jays, Randal Grichuk

Giants find center fielder, sign free agent A-Jax

Outfielder could solidify position or platoon after club added Cutch to play right
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants completed their outfield upgrade, at least on paper, by agreeing with free-agent center fielder Austin Jackson on a two-year, $6 million deal on Monday.

The club confirmed the accord shortly after a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that the sides had reached a deal that could be worth up to $8.5 million with incentives.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants completed their outfield upgrade, at least on paper, by agreeing with free-agent center fielder Austin Jackson on a two-year, $6 million deal on Monday.

The club confirmed the accord shortly after a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that the sides had reached a deal that could be worth up to $8.5 million with incentives.

Adding Jackson, who will turn 31 on Feb. 1, conceivably represents the final step in San Francisco's attempt to improve its outfield defense. Jackson gives the Giants a legitimate center fielder, though Steven Duggar -- their No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- will compete for playing time during Spring Training. Former Pirates star Andrew McCutchen, obtained in a trade last week, is expected to play right field. Hunter Pence, San Francisco's regular right fielder since he was acquired from Philadelphia at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2012, will play left or become the fourth outfielder.

Video: Rosenthal on Jackson's deal with the Giants

Giants general manager Bobby Evans said in a statement that Jackson "is a talented and versatile player who will strengthen our roster and provide additional depth at all three outfield positions."

This indicated that Jackson, a right-handed batter, could platoon with the left-handed-swinging Duggar. Playing left field part-time is also a possibility for Jackson, who has made 42 appearances there during eight Major League seasons.

Jackson thrived with the Indians last season, recording a slash line of .318/.387/.482 with seven home runs in 85 games while mostly occupying a platoon role against left-handed pitchers. In 141 plate appearances against lefties in 2017, he posted a 1.013 OPS with four homers.

Video: Sabean, Evans on Jackson signing a two-year deal

Jackson owns a lifetime slash line of .275/.336/.403, with 111 stolen bases and 62 home runs. The Giants limited him to a .231 batting average (3-for-13) while sweeping the Tigers, with whom he spent his first 4 1/2 seasons, in the 2012 World Series.

Though Jackson's defensive statistics aren't stunning, his presence ought to help improve the Giants' outfield defense overall. According to Statcast™, they ranked next-to-last in the Majors with minus-16 Outs Above Average (OAA) last year. Jackson had a minus-2 OAA. Denard Span, San Francisco's primary center fielder, and Pence ranked among the National League's bottom 20 outfielders in terms of average arm strength.

The Giants were said to have interest in other free-agent center fielders, including Jarrod Dyson (plus-7 OAA in 2017), Cameron Maybin (plus-2) and Jon Jay (minus-3).

Video: Bochy on signing Jackson, usage in outfield

According to FanGraphs, San Francisco also recorded minus-45 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), worst in the Majors last season. Its minus-11.4 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) ranked third-to-last among the 30 teams.

Jackson had a minus-2 DRS and a minus-4.4 UZR in 2017.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

 

San Francisco Giants, Austin Jackson

Duensing, Cubs complete two-year deal

Veteran left-hander worked in 68 games for Chicago last season
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs welcomed Brian Duensing back on Monday, signing the left-handed reliever to a two-year, $7 million deal.

Duensing, who turns 35 next month, ranked second among Cubs relievers last season in innings pitched (62 1/3) in his first season with the team. He posted a 2.74 ERA in 68 appearances, striking out 61. He became a free agent after the season. The agreement on a deal was first reported last week.

CHICAGO -- The Cubs welcomed Brian Duensing back on Monday, signing the left-handed reliever to a two-year, $7 million deal.

Duensing, who turns 35 next month, ranked second among Cubs relievers last season in innings pitched (62 1/3) in his first season with the team. He posted a 2.74 ERA in 68 appearances, striking out 61. He became a free agent after the season. The agreement on a deal was first reported last week.

His return gives the Cubs at least three lefties in the bullpen, joining Mike Montgomery and Justin Wilson. However, Montgomery may be in the rotation if the Cubs don't add another starter this offseason. The Cubs have been linked to free-agent starters Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb, all of whom remain unsigned.

So far this offseason, the Cubs have focused on pitching, signing relievers Dario Alvarez, Brandon Morrow, and Steve Cishek and adding starters Tyler Chatwood and Drew Smyly, although Smyly is coming back from elbow surgery and is not expected to contribute in 2018.

Duensing reportedly had other offers but wanted to remain with Chicago. He began last season on the disabled list with a back problem and gave up six runs in his first five appearances, but pitched to a 2.05 ERA in his final 63 outings, limiting opponents to a .232 batting average and .299 on-base percentage while recording a 1.18 WHIP.

Duensing took to Twitter on Monday to share his excitement:

Tweet from @BrianDuensing52: My family and I are excited to be back in Chicago to try and win a ring with the @Cubs Thank you for all the kind words from everybody. #youcandanceifyouwantto #oryoucanleaveyourfriendsbehind

The two hashtags are reference to the Cubs' relievers celebratory dancing in the bullpen after one of their teammates hits a home run.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

 

Chicago Cubs, Brian Duensing

MLB Buzz: Crew jumps in with offer for Yelich

MLB.com

Brewers showing interest in Yelich
The Brewers, who reportedly made an offer to free-agent hurler Yu Darvish on Monday, have also put together a trade proposal for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, a source told Craig Mish of SiriusXM Radio on Tuesday.

The details of the offer are not known at this time, though Mish notes Milwaukee has "shown strong interest" in Yelich as the Brewers look to build upon a promising 2017 campaign.

Brewers showing interest in Yelich
The Brewers, who reportedly made an offer to free-agent hurler Yu Darvish on Monday, have also put together a trade proposal for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, a source told Craig Mish of SiriusXM Radio on Tuesday.

The details of the offer are not known at this time, though Mish notes Milwaukee has "shown strong interest" in Yelich as the Brewers look to build upon a promising 2017 campaign.

Mish adds there are other teams in the mix for the Marlins outfielder, who is under team control through 2022 and is set to earn around $43.25 million over the next four seasons.

The Brewers have a strong farm system, but it's unclear whether the club would be willing to part with top outfield prospects Lewis Brinson and Corey Ray.

Yelich, 26, has been a hot topic of trade discussions this offseason as the Marlins begin a new era in Miami. The new management has already dealt outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton, and may be willing to also part with Yelich for the right return.

The former first-round pick is a career .290/.369/.432 hitter over five Major League seasons. He has hit 39 of his 59 career home runs over the past two years and set career highs in runs scored (100) and walks (80) in 2017.

Hot Stove Tracker

Cubs setting sights on Darvish?
The Cubs are having "active talks" with pitcher Yu Darvish, according to a report Monday night by the Associated Press.

There is no agreement in place, according to the AP. Still, it appears the market for Darvish is beginning to pick up. Earlier Monday, ESPN reported that Darvish had received a five-year offer from an unknown team.

In addition to the Cubs, the free-agent right-hander has been linked to the Twins, Rangers, Dodgers, Yankees and Brewers. The Twins' front office has "expressed doubt about their chances of landing" Darvish, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. With Darvish's market heating up, Minnesota could be taken out of the running if they are not willing to meet his asking price. A club official in contact with the team's front office told Berardino, "They aren't giving him $150 million."

News of talks between the Cubs and Darvish comes on the heels of a report that Chicago has agreed to a Minor League pact with veteran catcher Chris Gimenez, a former teammate of Darvish's with the Rangers.

Darvish, who finished last season with the Dodgers and started Game 7 of the World Series, beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.

Mets interested in reunion with Colon
At 44 years young, Bartolo Colon is still angling for one more year in the Majors, and the right-hander may already have one suitor. The Mets are interested in a potential reunion with Colon, according to former Twins teammate Ervin Santana, who discussed Colon in an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Colon was a fan favorite with the Mets from 2014-16, a span in which the veteran went 44-34 with a 3.90 ERA and 3.79 FIP. The reunion could make sense for both sides, as the pitcher figures to carry a low price tag and has a specific goal to reach before retirement.

Colon has reportedly been striving to play another season in an effort to pass Dennis Martinez as the Majors' all-time winningest Latin American pitcher. With 240 wins, Colon is just five victories behind Martinez's record. Colon already holds the record for Dominican-born pitchers, having passed Pedro Martinez in 2016.

Working against Colon's goal is the fact that he posted a career-worst 6.48 ERA last season with the Braves and Twins. Colon did manage to add seven more wins -- along with 14 losses -- to his career total last season, but he will likely have to improve on last year's performance if he wants an opportunity to reach his goal.

Indians discussing Moylan
The Indians may be interested in signing veteran reliever Peter Moylan according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Cleveland is looking to fill the bullpen vacancies left by Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith, each of whom departed via free agency (Shaw to the Rockies and Smith to the Astros).

Moylan, 39, was tied with Shaw for most appearances (79) in MLB last season. He posted a 3.49 ERA in 59 1/3 innings for the Royals, though his walk rate per nine innings was 3.8. He missed the entire 2014 season and part of 2015 recovering from a second Tommy John surgery on his elbow, but in three seasons since then, has a 3.46 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.

After two years out of big leagues, Craig will try to make a comeback
The Padres have signed the 33-year-old veteran outfielder and first baseman Allen Craig -- who last played a Major League game in 2015 -- to a Minor League deal, according to a report from SB Nation's Chris Cotillo on Monday. The team has not confirmed the report.

Craig was a Cardinal from 2010-14 and helped St. Louis win the 2011 World Series, with some memorable hits in the Fall Classic, including the go-ahead home run against the Rangers in Game 7.

Video: Padres ink Craig to Minors pact, invite him to ST

He was traded to the Red Sox at the 2014 Trade Deadline and struggled for the next two seasons, then spent 2016 and '17 in the Minors before being released last June.

In 534 career Major League games, Craig is a .276/.333/.435 hitter with 59 home runs and 296 RBIs. He was an All-Star with the Cards in 2013.

Koji eyeing one-year deal
Koji Uehara may still have one more season in him. The 43-year-old free-agent reliever said that he wants to play one more year before retiring -- assuming he gets a Major League contract offer.

Uehara talked about his future at a baseball clinic in Fukushima, Japan, as first reported by Kyodo News.

One key stipulation for Uehara is that he would not be interested in signing a Minor League contract with a team. The veteran right-hander said that he's been talking with teams but hasn't received an offer, so retirement remains an option.

Despite his age, Uehara was very serviceable last year with the Cubs. He held a 3.98 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 12 walks over 43 innings. Uehara also held a 1.16 WHIP, which, while still impressive, broke a streak of seven straight seasons with a sub-1.00 mark.

If Uehara plays in 2018, it will be his 10th Major League season after spending 10 years with the Yomiuri Giants in Nippon Professional Baseball. However, Uehara hasn't completely shut the door on playing beyond then.

"If I get a major league contract, and I do put up good numbers, then I'll think about another year," Uehara said, "but right now I'm focused on just this one year."

Orioles may be a fit for Dyson
The Orioles are looking for a left-handed hitter to play right field and back up center fielder Adam Jones, and Jarrod Dyson remains a possibility, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports.

The speedy Dyson, who has stolen 204 bases in 661 career games, could be ideal for Baltimore, which has placed last in the Majors in stolen bases each of the last four seasons. Dyson was limited to 111 games with the Mariners in 2017, spending time on the disabled list in August with a right groin strain before undergoing season-ending hernia surgery in September. If his health checks out and he's ready by Spring Training, the O's may be interested in platooning Dyson for his defense and speed.

Dyson, 33, hasn't played more than 120 games in a season throughout his eight-year career. Dyson slashed .251/.324/.350 with 13 doubles, three triples, 30 RBIs, five home runs and 28 stolen bases in 35 attempts last season.

Red Sox's offer to Martinez reportedly $125 million
The Red Sox's much-discussed interest in free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez reached a new level on Friday with a report from the Boston Herald that the club has made Martinez an offer of five years and approximately $125 million. The club hasn't confirmed the report.

It had been reported recently that the Red Sox had extended an offer to Martinez of five years and about $100 million.

Martinez's agent, Scott Boras, told MLB Network insider Jon Heyman that the reports of the first offer, which was said to be less than what Martinez was seeking, were "not accurate." Heyman reported last week that Martinez is looking for a six-year deal valued at $30 million per year. Boston has been seen as the favorite to land Martinez.

Heyman reported last week that Martinez is willing to hold out until Spring Training for a contract that he believes meets his market value, which indicates other clubs are also involved in negotiations. Martinez was a catalyst for the D-backs last year in helping them reach the postseason for the first time since 2011, and Arizona is reportedly still interested in bringing him back, per Heyman.

Martinez hit 29 homers with 65 RBIs in just 62 games for the D-backs after being acquired on July 18, trailing only National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton in each category during that span. Martinez hit 45 homers during the 2017 season, despite playing in just 119 games. He became the first player in MLB history with that many home runs in so few games.

If the Red Sox do indeed sign Martinez, that would create a dilemma in the outfield. Martinez would reportedly prefer to play outfield, but Boston already has Gold Glove Award winner Mookie Betts, along with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi. That means Martinez would likely be the club's designated hitter, which in turn may give Arizona an edge, in addition to the fact that the club recently hired Martinez's personal hitting coach.

Twins have interest in Miley
The Twins have been connected to several starting pitchers on the free-agent market this offseason, and left-hander Wade Miley is also on that list, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis.

According to Wolfson's report, the Twins "are maintaining regular dialogue" with Miley's agent, in addition to agents for Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Chris Tillman, among others.

Video: BAL@TB: Miley fans Longoria to end the 1st

Miley, 31, posted a 5.61 ERA with 5.3 walks per nine innings in 32 starts for the Orioles last season. He hasn't posted an ERA below 4.34 since 2013 with the D-backs. He was an All-Star and runner-up in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2012, finishing with a 3.33 ERA in 32 appearances (29 starts) for Arizona.

The Twins have been pursuing frontline starters to add to a rotation that features Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, but the interest in Miley is in keeping with chief baseball officer Derek Falvey's comments that the club is also looking for "value adds."

Miley could fit the bill if he continues being as durable as he's been in his career, and proves that the career-high walk rate, which doubled from the prior season, was an outlier.

Yankees, Rangers, Marlins favorites for Cuban prospect Martinez
Twenty-one-year-old Cuban outfield prospect Julio Pablo Martinez is still waiting to be cleared by Major League Baseball to sign, but three teams have emerged as favorites to sign him if and when he becomes eligible.

The Marlins, Rangers and Yankees have separated themselves as favorites to sign Martinez, who is among the top young players from Cuba, sources tell MLB.com and as was first reported by Baseball America. Because of his age, Martinez will be subject to international bonus pool rules.

Martinez's talent is on par with a first-round Draft pick and that he would likely be ready for a Class A Advanced or Double-A assignment. At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, the left-handed hitter has a promising combination of speed, power and athleticism that should allow him to stick in center field.

Martinez slashed .333/.469/.498 with six home runs and 24 stolen bases last season in the Cuban Serie Nacional while walking 52 times compared to 30 strikeouts. He also competed in the Canadian-American Association in 2017 and posted a .297/.345/.449 line with seven home runs and 20 stolen bases.

Martinez is likely to be cleared by Major League Baseball before the current signing period ends on June 15, but depending on which team he chooses, he could opt to sign in either the 2017-18 or 2018-19 period.

Because the Marlins and Yankees -- both of whom have held private workouts for him this week in Florida -- have limited bonus pool space left, Martinez would likely wait until July 2 to sign with either team. The Rangers, however, have significant international money left after failing to sign Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani and would likely choose to sign him in the current period.

Nunez works out for Red Sox
Free-agent utility infielder Eduardo Nunez recently worked out for the Red Sox in the Dominican Republic, according to the Boston Herald. Nunez spent part of last season with Boston, slashing .321/.353/.539 with eight home runs in 38 games following a trade from the Giants.

Nunez injured his right knee on Sept. 9, and though he tried twice to return -- once in the American League Division Series against the Astros -- he ended up aggravating the injury. According to the Herald report, doctors have declared the knee fully healthy, and Nunez's market is gaining steam, as he has been in contact with at least eight clubs.

If the Red Sox were to sign Nunez, they'd likely play him at second base to start the season, with veteran Dustin Pedroia recovering from knee surgery.

Per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Mets are also showing serious interest in signing Nunez, particularly with their own need at second base.

Reynolds wants to return to Rockies on Major League deal
Free-agent first baseman Mark Reynolds would like to return to the Rockies, but not on a Minor League deal like he signed prior to the 2017 season, according to the Denver Post.

The 34-year-old Reynolds slashed .267/.352/.487 with 30 home runs in 148 games for Colorado in 2017, providing a lift when Ian Desmond, whom the club signed to a five-year, $70 million contract to play first base, was injured to open the season.

Despite slumping in the second half (.762 OPS with 11 homers), Reynolds produced a 105 OPS+ overall, his best since 2012. He did have stark home-road splits, however, slashing .294/.393/.584 at Coors Field, and .242/.311/.392 away from Denver.

When the Rockies signed Reynolds to a Minor League deal last February, he was coming off an injury-shortened season in which he posted an .806 OPS with 14 homers in 118 games for Colorado.

"I think I proved last year that I can produce and help a team," Reynolds told the Post. "I am looking to sign a Major League deal. ... Things are different this year."

The Rockies could use a first baseman, with Ryan McMahon waiting in the wings. Signing Reynolds could open the possibility of a platoon between him and McMahon, especially given that the 148 games Reynolds played in last season were his most since 2011.

Video: LAD@COL: Reynolds reaches 30 homers with two-run shot

 

 

Versatile vet Amarista reportedly signs deal

MLB.com

DETROIT -- The Tigers have reportedly added another veteran candidate to their utility infield competition by agreeing to terms with shortstop Alexi Amarista on a Minor League contract with a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

Amarista, currently playing winter ball in his native Venezuela, confirmed the deal with Venezuelan journalist Cesar Sequera Ramos. The Tigers have not announced the deal.

DETROIT -- The Tigers have reportedly added another veteran candidate to their utility infield competition by agreeing to terms with shortstop Alexi Amarista on a Minor League contract with a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

Amarista, currently playing winter ball in his native Venezuela, confirmed the deal with Venezuelan journalist Cesar Sequera Ramos. The Tigers have not announced the deal.

The 28-year-old Amarista spent last season in Colorado, where he batted .238 (40-for-168) with 10 doubles, three home runs and 19 RBIs in 96 games. He was an everyday player for three seasons in San Diego, starting out in center field before moving to shortstop and then around the infield. He started everywhere but first base and catcher with the Rockies last season, and he made pitching appearances for the Padres in 2015 and '16.

Video: NL WC: Amarista plates the fourth run with a single

He's also a left-handed hitter, a facet the Tigers have in short supply on their bench.

Amarista's versatility is similar to that of Andrew Romine, who served as Detroit's superutility player off the bench for four seasons before the Tigers waived him at the end of last season. The Mariners claimed Romine off waivers in November.

Once the Tigers traded Ian Kinsler to the Angels last month, they moved Dixon Machado into the likely starting role at second base, eliminating their other utility option from last season. Detroit has been busy bringing in candidates, signing ex-Twins prospect Niko Goodrum, former Indians farmhand Ronny Rodriguez and Major League journeyman Pete Kozma to Minor League contracts with non-roster invites.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

 

Detroit Tigers, Alexi Amarista

Cardinals land 2 arms from Jays for Grichuk

St. Louis acquires Leone, who enjoyed breakout '17, and RHP prospect Greene
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- Days after publicly expressing his disappointment in the prospect of entering Spring Training as the Cardinals' fourth outfielder, Randal Grichuk is on the move.

St. Louis dealt Grichuk to the Blue Jays on Friday in exchange for right-handed pitchers Dominic Leone and Conner Greene. Leone, 26, gives the Cardinals another reliever for their retooled bullpen. Greene, who rose to Double-A last season, ranked 11th on the Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects list, according to MLB Pipeline.

ST. LOUIS -- Days after publicly expressing his disappointment in the prospect of entering Spring Training as the Cardinals' fourth outfielder, Randal Grichuk is on the move.

St. Louis dealt Grichuk to the Blue Jays on Friday in exchange for right-handed pitchers Dominic Leone and Conner Greene. Leone, 26, gives the Cardinals another reliever for their retooled bullpen. Greene, who rose to Double-A last season, ranked 11th on the Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects list, according to MLB Pipeline.

The trade furthers the Cardinals' efforts to eliminate the outfield logjam that became more complicated with the addition of right fielder Marcell Ozuna last month. The Cardinals have now dealt three outfielders -- Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and Magneuris Sierra -- from their 40-man roster since the season ended.

Had they not gotten their desired return, the Cardinals were prepared to keep Grichuk as depth behind starting outfielders Tommy Pham, Dexter Fowler and Ozuna. But with Jose Martinez likely to make the Opening Day roster, and prospects Harrison Bader, Tyler O'Neill and Oscar Mercado capable of playing all three outfield positions, Grichuk's presence wasn't a necessity.

What was pressing, however, was to further reinforce a bullpen that lost four key members -- Trevor Rosenthal, Seung Hwan Oh, Zach Duke and Juan Nicasio -- this offseason. Before Friday, the Cardinals' only addition to the 'pen had been Luke Gregerson, who is currently in line to open the season as the club's closer.

Video: BAL@TOR: Leone fans Trumbo for his first MLB save

If Leone can build upon his breakout season from 2017, he could slot into a late-inning role with the Cardinals. Leone ranked 12th among qualifying American League relievers with a 2.56 ERA last season and struck out 81 in 70 1/3 innings.

Leone had success against both right-handed (.211 average) and left-handed (.183) batters while posting a 1.05 WHIP and registering 11 holds. Leone stranded 78 percent of inherited runners, the 13th-highest percentage among AL relievers.

Leone made his Major League debut with the Mariners in 2014 and also spent time with the D-backs. The Cardinals will have him under team control for another four seasons.

Video: TB@TOR: Leone gets out of a bases-loaded jam

Greene, 22, had been methodically climbing through Toronto's system since signing as a seventh-round pick out of high school in 2013. The right-hander reached Double-A last year and finished 5-10 with a 5.29 ERA in 26 games (25 starts). He struck out 92 and walked 83 over 132 2/3 innings.

According to MLB Pipeline's scouting report, Greene features a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s, as well as an above-average changeup. He is also developing a slider and curveball, both of which scouts believe will improve once he finds a more consistent release point.

Video: Top Prospects: Conner Greene, RHP, Cardinals

As for Grichuk, he departs St. Louis four years after the Cardinals acquired him in a four-player swap with the Angels. He debuted in 2014 and opened the next two years as a starting outfielder and cleanup hitter. But the potential that had long intrigued the Cardinals never developed into consistent production.

Grichuk was shuttled to the Minors each of the last two seasons when his confidence waned and his swing got out of whack. Along the way, he lost his starting job with the big league club. During his time with the Cards, Grichuk hit .249/.297/.488 with a .785 OPS. His 63 home runs since 2015 rank second-most on the team (Matt Carpenter, 72).

With the additions of Leone and Greene, the Cardinals' 40-man roster is once again full. This marks the second trade the Cardinals have made with the Blue Jays this winter. In December, the Cardinals dealt away shortstop Aledmys Diaz for Minor League outfielder J.B. Woodman.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

St. Louis Cardinals, Conner Greene, Randal Grichuk, Dominic Leone

D-backs sign Medlen, Bastardo, Salas, Blazek

Veteran pitchers get Minor League contracts with spring invites
MLB.com

The D-backs reached deals with four pitchers on Tuesday, announcing Minor League contracts with right-handers Michael Blazek, Kris Medlen and Fernando Salas and left-hander Antonio Bastardo.

USA Today reported that Medlen's deal comes with an invitation to Major League Spring Training and will pay him $1.1 million if he reaches the big leagues. He can opt out of the contract if he is not on the 40-man roster by March 27. The 32-year-old last pitched in MLB in 2016 with the Royals, going 1-3 with a 7.77 ERA in six starts. He went 6-2 with a 4.01 ERA in 15 games (eight starts) with Kansas City in 2015.

The D-backs reached deals with four pitchers on Tuesday, announcing Minor League contracts with right-handers Michael Blazek, Kris Medlen and Fernando Salas and left-hander Antonio Bastardo.

USA Today reported that Medlen's deal comes with an invitation to Major League Spring Training and will pay him $1.1 million if he reaches the big leagues. He can opt out of the contract if he is not on the 40-man roster by March 27. The 32-year-old last pitched in MLB in 2016 with the Royals, going 1-3 with a 7.77 ERA in six starts. He went 6-2 with a 4.01 ERA in 15 games (eight starts) with Kansas City in 2015.

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Bastardo's deal will pay him $1.5 million if he earns a Major League roster spot, per USA Today, and he can make $4 million in incentives if he becomes the team's closer. If Bastardo is not on the 25-man roster by March 25, he can become a free agent. Bastardo appeared in nine games for the Pirates in 2017, allowing five homers and 15 earned runs in nine innings. The 32-year-old is 27-20 with a 4.01 ERA in 393 career innings across nine big league seasons.

Blazek, 28, worked five games for the Brewers in 2017, allowing nine runs on 12 hits, including six home runs. The righty owns a career 8-6 record and 4.39 ERA over 109 big league appearances, all but one of them in relief.

Salas, 32, split time with the Mets and Angels last season, finishing 2-2 with a 5.22 ERA over 61 appearances. The right-hander owns a career 21-24 mark with a 3.85 ERA over eight big league seasons.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks, Antonio Bastardo, Kris Medlen

Blue Jays sign Granderson to 1-year deal

MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday that they have officially signed Curtis Granderson to a one-year deal.

Granderson, who will earn $5 million, with additional performance incentives built into the contract, is coming off a season in which he hit .212 with 26 home runs and 70 RBIs over 147 games with the Mets and Dodgers. The 36-year-old made a handful of appearances for Los Angeles during the postseason, but was left off the roster for the World Series.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday that they have officially signed Curtis Granderson to a one-year deal.

Granderson, who will earn $5 million, with additional performance incentives built into the contract, is coming off a season in which he hit .212 with 26 home runs and 70 RBIs over 147 games with the Mets and Dodgers. The 36-year-old made a handful of appearances for Los Angeles during the postseason, but was left off the roster for the World Series.

Video: Justice discusses Blue Jays' deal with Granderson

Since the Granderson deal was first reported last Monday, Toronto acquired outfielder Randal Grichuk in a three-player trade with the Cardinals on Friday. President Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins appear to have a clear strategy this offseason of spreading their available money around to multiple players instead of spending most of it on one player.

Video: MLB Tonight on Granderson agreeing to join Blue Jays

Toronto has a projected payroll of $151 million after factoring in arbitration and pre-arbitration players on the roster. Per club policy, the Blue Jays do not publicly disclose payroll parameters, but the range for 2018 is expected to be the same as it was for '17, which was approximately $165 million.

That left the Blue Jays with a range of $10 million to $15 million to spend this offseason. In addition to another outfielder, the club is in the market for a fifth starter and possibly an additional lefty reliever. With multiple needs, that money will have to be divided up, so a big signing through free agency may prove difficult.

Granderson is entering the latter stages of his career, but he still possesses quite a bit of power. The 15-year veteran has at least 20 home runs in four consecutive seasons and can play either corner outfield spot. He also struck out 123 times in 449 at-bats last season, and six stolen bases showed Granderson is no longer a speed threat.

 

Toronto Blue Jays, Curtis Granderson

Source: Cubs ink Gimenez to Minors deal

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs may have found a backup catcher in Chris Gimenez.

A source confirmed reports that the Cubs have signed Gimenez, 35, to a Minor League deal with an invitation to big league Spring Training camp. The right-handed hitter played in 74 games last season with the Twins, batting .220 with seven home runs, nine doubles and 16 RBIs.

CHICAGO -- The Cubs may have found a backup catcher in Chris Gimenez.

A source confirmed reports that the Cubs have signed Gimenez, 35, to a Minor League deal with an invitation to big league Spring Training camp. The right-handed hitter played in 74 games last season with the Twins, batting .220 with seven home runs, nine doubles and 16 RBIs.

Willson Contreras, 25, is the Cubs' No. 1 catcher but his only backup was Victor Caratini, 24, who made his Major League debut last season and batted .254 in 31 games.

If Gimenez makes the team, Caratini would most likely open at Triple-A Iowa, where he could get more regular playing time.

Besides the Twins, Gimenez has played for the Indians, Mariners, Rays and Rangers. Not only is Gimenez able to catch, but he made six relief appearances totaling five innings for the Twins last season.

The Cubs did need another catcher, but they also may get free agent Yu Darvish's attention. When Gimenez was with the Rangers in 2014, he made 26 starts and caught Darvish 12 times.

The Cubs have yet to release a list of their non-roster invitees for Spring Training.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

 

Chicago Cubs, Chris Gimenez

Tribe adds Wilk, Murphy on Minor League deals

MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- The Indians added two more players to the preseason mix Monday, signing left-hander Adam Wilk and switch-hitting catcher Jack Murphy to Minor League contracts that include an invitation to attend Major League Spring Training.

Cleveland's pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 14, with the first official workout for that group scheduled for Feb. 16. The remainder of the Tribe's position players are slated to report to Arizona on Feb. 18, leading up to the first full-squad workout on Feb. 20.

CLEVELAND -- The Indians added two more players to the preseason mix Monday, signing left-hander Adam Wilk and switch-hitting catcher Jack Murphy to Minor League contracts that include an invitation to attend Major League Spring Training.

Cleveland's pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 14, with the first official workout for that group scheduled for Feb. 16. The remainder of the Tribe's position players are slated to report to Arizona on Feb. 18, leading up to the first full-squad workout on Feb. 20.

With Wilk and Murphy joining the fold, the Indians have 19 non-roster invitees, bringing the camp total to 59.

Wilk, 30, split the 2017 season between the Mets and Twins, appearing in four games (two starts), in which he allowed 14 earned runs in 14 innings. In 44 1/3 innings at Triple-A last year, the left-hander posted a 5.48 ERA with 35 strikeouts against eight walks. Wilk has a 7.36 ERA in 40 1/3 career innings in the Majors between stops with the Tigers, Angels, Mets and Twins, dating back to 2011.

Video: MIN@CLE: Wilk strikes out Encarnacion swinging

The Indians already have a sound MLB catching duo in Roberto Perez and Yan Gomes -- not to mention MLB Pipeline's No. 1 catching prospect in Francisco Mejia knocking on the big league door -- but Murphy will give the team another catcher to serve as depth and help divvy up the Spring Training workload.

Murphy has spent the past nine seasons in the Blue Jays' and Dodgers' farm systems, hitting .222 (.649 OPS) with a career 29 percent caught-stealing rate. Last year, Murphy hit .141 in 187 plate appearances between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Beyond Wild and Murphy, the Indians' list of non-roster invitees includes: Pitchers Jeff Beliveau, Lisalverto Bonilla, Louis Head, Cameron Hill, Evan Marshall, Josh Martin, Alexi Ogando, Neil Ramirez, Cole Sulser and Robert Zarate; infielders Bobby Bradley, Drew Maggi, Michael Martinez and Nellie Rodriguez; and outfielders Brandon Barnes, Richie Shaffer and Melvin Upton Jr.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

 

Cleveland Indians, Jack Murphy, Adam Wilk

Astros claim lefty reliever Boshers from Twins

MLB.com

The Astros claimed left-hander Buddy Boshers off waivers from the Twins on Monday.

The 29-year-old had a 4.89 ERA in 38 relief appearances with Minnesota last season. Boshers held left-handed batters in check, allowing a .224 batting average and a .258 on-base percentage.

The Astros claimed left-hander Buddy Boshers off waivers from the Twins on Monday.

The 29-year-old had a 4.89 ERA in 38 relief appearances with Minnesota last season. Boshers held left-handed batters in check, allowing a .224 batting average and a .258 on-base percentage.

He spent the past two seasons with the Twins and pitched for the Angels in 2013.

With the addition of Boshers, the Astros' 40-man roster stands at 39.

Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com.

 

Houston Astros, Buddy Boshers

Mariners pluck righty Bradford from waivers

MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Chasen Bradford, a 28-year-old reliever with the Mets, was claimed off waivers by the Mariners on Friday.

Bradford was designated for assignment by the Mets on Thursday to make room for the signing of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The right-hander went 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA in 33 2/3 innings over 28 appearances last season after making his Major League debut in late June.

SEATTLE -- Chasen Bradford, a 28-year-old reliever with the Mets, was claimed off waivers by the Mariners on Friday.

Bradford was designated for assignment by the Mets on Thursday to make room for the signing of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The right-hander went 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA in 33 2/3 innings over 28 appearances last season after making his Major League debut in late June.

Bradford spent half of 2017 with Triple-A Las Vegas, where he was 1-1 with a 4.04 ERA in 33 relief outings. Over seven Minor League seasons, he's gone 28-20 with 47 saves and a 3.48 ERA with 333 strikeouts in 391 innings after being drafted in the 35th round out of the University of Central Florida.

Bradford isn't a power arm, with a fastball in the 90-91 mph range, but he's posted strong ground-ball rates and low walk totals in his Minor League career.

Bradford's addition puts Seattle's 40-man roster at 40. The Mariners are less than a month from the start of Spring Training, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Peoria, Ariz., on Feb. 14.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

 

Seattle Mariners, Chasen Bradford

Frieri gets Minors pact from Brewers

Reliever receives invitation to Spring Training to compete for 'pen spot
MLB.com

The Brewers signed former Angels closer Ernesto Frieri to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training camp on Friday.

Frieri, 32, saved 23 games for the Angels in 2012 and followed that with 37 saves in '13.

The Brewers signed former Angels closer Ernesto Frieri to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training camp on Friday.

Frieri, 32, saved 23 games for the Angels in 2012 and followed that with 37 saves in '13.

He began last year with the Yankees but was released in June, then signed with the Rangers and appeared in six games from mid June to early July, giving up four runs on six hits over seven innings. On Aug. 8, he was sold by the Rangers to the Mariners for $1 and assigned to Triple-A Tacoma. He appeared in seven games with Tacoma and gave up seven earned runs over 12 innings.

Frieri did not pitch in the Major Leagues in 2016.

Carrie Muskat is reporter for MLB.com.

 

Milwaukee Brewers, Ernesto Frieri

Blue Jays land Grichuk from Cards for 2 arms

Right-hander Leone, pitching prospect Greene headed to St. Louis for outfielder
MLB.com