Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cubs trade Brigham back to Rangers for Loux


Jake Brigham is headed back to Texas.
The Cubs acquired right-handed pitcher Barret Loux and a player to be named from the Rangers on Tuesday for Brigham, a right-handed pitcher, who was acquired in July from Texas for catcher Geovany Soto.
Brigham had been on the Cubs' 40-man roster. Loux does not need to be added to the 40-man.
Loux, 23, was named the 2012 Double-A Texas League Pitcher of the Year after going 14-1 with a 3.47 ERA in 25 regular-season starts with Frisco. He helped the team reach the Texas League Championship Series, led the league in wins and finished sixth in ERA while striking out 100 batters and walking 41 over 127 innings.
Originally selected by the D-backs sixth overall in the 2010 Draft out of Texas A&M, Loux was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and signed with the Rangers on Nov. 18, 2010. He was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, presented annually to the nation's top amateur player.
Brigham, 24, was assigned to Double-A Tennessee after being acquired by the Cubs, but he was limited to two starts, going 0-2 with a 19.64 ERA because of right elbow strain that ended his season. When they made the trade in July, the Cubs and Rangers had agreed to revisit the deal at the end of the season.

Banuelos among six added to Yankees' roster


Rehabbing prospect Manny Banuelos is among six players the Yankees added to their 40-man roster on Tuesday, thus protecting them from next month's Rule 5 Draft.
The team also claimed right-hander Mickey Storey off waivers from the Astros and added outfielder Ramon Flores, right-handers Brett Marshall and Jose Ramirez, and lefties Francisco Rondon and Nik Turley to the 40-man roster, which now stands at 39. Right-hander Dave Herndon elected for free agency rather than accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Storey, 26, made his big league debut with the Astros in August, posting a 3.86 ERA in 26 relief appearances. A 31st-round Draft pick of the A's, he began the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he went 7-4 with two saves and a 3.05 ERA in 36 relief appearances and two starts.
Banuelos, 21, missed almost the entire season with a sore left elbow, and he underwent Tommy John surgery on Oct. 4. He made only six starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA after opening the year as the Yankees' fourth-ranked prospect on MLB.com's 2012 Prospect Watch.
Flores, 20, spent the majority of the season with Class A Tampa, batting .302 with six home runs and 39 RBIs in 131 games. He also appeared in one game with Double-A Trenton, hitting a home run.
Marshall, 22, spent the 2012 season with Trenton, going 13-7 with a 3.52 ERA and a team-leading 120 strikeouts in 27 starts.
Ramirez, 22, went 7-6 with a 3.19 ERA in 21 games (18 starts) with Tampa in 2012. Rondon, 24, combined to go 5-0 with one save and a 3.93 ERA in 44 relief appearances for Tampa, Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. And Turley, 23, went 9-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 23 games (21 starts) for Tampa before a late-season promotion to Trenton.
Major League regulations stipulate that any player who signed his first professional contract before age 19 and has been in the organization for five years, or who signed after age 19 and has been in the organization for four years, is eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft if left unprotected. Thus, such players as Banuelos and Flores must be added to the 40-man roster, whereas younger prospects are safe.
If selected, a player must remain on his new team's active roster or disabled list all season or be offered back to his original club at a discounted price.

Mets agree to Minors contracts with Rice, Torres


The Mets have agreed to Minor League contracts with left-hander Scott Rice and right-hander Carlos Torres and invited both to Spring Training, the team announced on Tuesday. The team also signed outfielder Jamie Hoffman, according to a tweet from Paul DePodesta, vice president of amateur scouting.
Rice, 31, spent last season in the Dodgers organization, posting a 4.40 ERA and nine saves in 54 games for Triple-A Albuquerque. A first-round Draft pick of the Orioles, he has spent the past 14 seasons in the Minors and independent leagues without cracking the Majors.
Torres, 30, split last season between the Majors and Minors, posting a 5.26 ERA in 31 relief appearances for the Rockies. He also went 5-4 with a 3.98 ERA in 13 starts and one relief appearance for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He made his Major League debut with the White Sox in 2009 and is 6-6 with a 5.97 ERA in 44 career big league games, including six starts.
The two will battle a growing group of contenders for spots in the Opening Day bullpen.
Hoffman, 28, hit .254 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 366 at-bats with Triple-A Norfolk last season. He appeared in two games for the Dodgers in 2011 and in 14 games in 2009, spending most of his time from 2009-11 at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Dodgers add Ames, Magill to 40-man roster


The Dodgers added right-handed reliever Steven Ames and right-handed starting pitcher Matt Magill to their 40-man roster Tuesday, the deadline for submitting names for protection in the Rule 5 Draft to be held at next month's Winter Meetings.
Both pitchers spent the 2012 season at Double-A Chattanooga with pitching coach Chuck Crim, who has since been promoted to the Dodgers' Major League bullpen coach. The Dodgers now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.
Ames, 24, was 3-3 with 18 saves and a 1.56 ERA in 54 games during the 2012 season. He struck out 72 in 63 1/3 innings and held right-handed hitters to a .177 average. Ames was a 17th-round pick in the '09 First-Year Player Draft out of Gonzaga University.
Magill, 23, went 11-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 26 starts in 2012, with 168 strikeouts in 146 1/3 innings. He was a 31st-round pick in '08 out of Royal High School in Simi Valley, having fallen in the Draft because of signability concerns. He was signed by Crim, who was scouting for the Dodgers at the time.
Among the players left unprotected by the Dodgers is outfielder Tony Gwynn, although any club taking him would also get his guaranteed $1.15 million salary.
Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, held at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings on Dec. 6 in Nashville, Tenn. If that player doesn't remain on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.

Rockies add three to 40-man roster


Shortly after dealing pitcher Matt Reynolds to the D-backs for corner infielder Ryan Wheeler on Tuesday, the Rockies added three prospects to their 40-man Major League roster and outrighted a pair to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Added to the roster were right-handed pitcher Joe Gardner, infielder Cristhian Adames and outfielder Tim Wheeler. Outrighted were outfielder Andrew Brown and infielder/outfielder Matt McBride. The Rockies now have 38 players on the Major League roster.
The moves were made on the deadline for protecting players from next month's Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings. Brown and McBride will be exposed to selection by other clubs.
Gardner, 24, was promoted after going 8-8 with a 3.97 as a starter and reliever at Double-A Tulsa. He was acquired by Colorado with Drew Pomeranz, Alex White and McBride in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade to Cleveland.
Adames, 21, hit .280 with 54 RBIs and 59 runs scored at Class A Modesto as the club's regular shortstop in 2012. The Dominican Republic native was originally signed by Colorado as a non-drafted free agent in '07.
Tim Wheeler, 24, hit .303 with 37 RBIs and 67 runs scored as a starting outfielder for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He was a first-round pick in 2009 out of Sacramento State University. In '11, Wheeler set a Rockies Double-A record with 33 home runs for the Tulsa Drillers.
Brown, 28, hit .232 in 46 games for the Rockies in 2012, splitting time at Colorado Springs, where he was an All-Star by hitting .308 with 24 homers and 98 RBIs. McBride, 27, made his Major League debut in '12 with Colorado, appearing in 31 games and batting .205. He hit .344 with 10 homers and 87 RBIs while at Colorado Springs and was a Pacific Coast League All-Star.
Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, held at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings on Dec. 6 in Nashville, Tenn. If that player doesn't remain on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.

Tribe adds four Minor Leaguers to 40-man roster


Each offseason, teams must weigh the risk involved in exposing eligible players to the Rule 5 Draft process. For a club such as Cleveland, protecting players on the cusp of reaching the big leagues is an important part of the team's winter maneuvering.
On Tuesday's deadline day, the Indians chose not to take any chances with four of their Minor League players: Chen-Chang Lee, Trey Haley, T.J. House and Tim Fedroff. The Tribe added that group to the club's 40-man roster, removing them from the pool of players teams can draw from during the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
Cleveland purchased the contracts of Lee and Fedroff from Triple-A Columbus and did the same for Haley and House from Double-A Akron. To clear room on the roster, the Indians sent first baseman Matt LaPorta and utility man Brent Lillibridge outright to Columbus, and designated right-hander Fabio Martinez for assignment. Cleveland's 40-man roster is currently at capacity.
LaPorta, who is out of Minor League options, can't refuse the assignment since this is the first time in his career he has been outrighted. Lillibridge has the right to decline the assignment in favor of electing to become a free agent.
The Rule 5 Draft is scheduled to take place on Dec. 6 during the final day of this year's Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. Selecting a player in the Major League phase of the Draft costs $50,000, and the player must remain on the acquiring team's 25-man roster for the entire regular season. If the club wants to remove him from their roster, he must be offered back to his original team for $25,000.
There are two types of non-roster players who are eligible for Rule 5 selection: those with at least five years of Minor League experience who were 18 years old or younger when they signed, or those with at least four years of Minor League experience who were 19 years old or older when signed.
The 26-year-old Lee missed most of the 2012 season due to a right elbow injury which required Tommy John surgery. Despite missing time with the injury, he was considered nearly Major League ready. With a low arm angle, a fastball that has been clocked around 92-96 mph and a strong slider, Lee was viewed as a realistic option for the Indians' bullpen prior to his injury.
Lee might not be deemed ready for game action until late May or early June, but he could be stashed away on the 60-day disabled list while rehabbing, if he were selected by another team. Cleveland could take the same approach, while keeping a valuable relief prospect in its system.
Last year, Lee joined the Indians in big league camp for Spring Training and then posted a 2.57 ERA with eight strikeouts and one walk over seven innings with Triple-A Columbus prior to his injury. In 2011, when Lee was Cleveland's Minor League pitcher of the year, the right-hander went 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings between Double-A Akron and Triple-A.
Haley, 22, is viewed as one of the most promising young arms within Cleveland's system and he could figure into the big league bullpen picture at some point during the 2013 season. Haley spent time in Class A last season, but Cody Allen's rise from Class A to the Majors last year showed Cleveland's willingness to reward performance with rapid ascension.
In 25 games between Rookie League Arizona, Class A (high) Carolina and Double-A Akron, the right-handed Haley went 4-1 with a 2.33 ERA. Haley, who missed roughly two months due to a sports hernia procedure, piled up 49 strikeouts against 19 walks in 38 2/3 innings. His fastball can hit triple digits and he also features a curveball and sinker.
The 23-year-old House went 10-5 with a 3.56 ERA across 27 starts between stints with Class A Carolina and Double-A Akron last season. Over 149 1/3 innings, the lefty struck out 116 batters and issued 50 walks.
Had Fedroff, 25, been on the 40-man roster last season, he might have made his big league debut down the stretch for the Indians. If the young outfielder's performance in 2013 is similar to last year's showing, that step in his career could come at some point this summer.
Last season, Fedroff hit a combined .316 with an .879 OPS in 123 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. The center fielder churned out 12 home runs, 23 doubles, 10 triples, 14 stolen bases, 54 RBIs and 79 runs in the process.
Fedroff's production was consistent at both levels, too. In 54 games at Double-A, the lefty-swinging Fedroff hit .305 with an .839 OPS. In his 69 games with Columbus, he increased his pace, posting a .325 average to go along with a .910 OPS for the Clippers.
LaPorta, 27, hit .241 with one home run and five RBIs in an abbreviated stay with Cleveland this past summer and is currently working his way back from left hip surgery, which was performed in October. In 101 games with Triple-A Columbus, he hit at a .264 clip with 19 homers, 19 doubles and 62 RBIs for the Clippers.
The Indians acquired Lillibridge in a trade with the Red Sox on July 24, but the versatile fielder hit just .216 in 43 games with the Tribe down the stretch. Lillibridge hit a combined .195 in 102 games with the White Sox, Red Sox and Indians last season.
Lillibridge, 29, is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and would be a candidate to be non-tendered by the Indians if he chose to accept his Triple-A assignment.
Martinez, 23, went a combined 0-7 with a 10.24 ERA in 16 appearances (eight starts) for Class A Inland Empire (Angels) and Class A Carolina (Indians) this past season. Cleveland claimed Martinez off waivers from Los Angeles in August. The team now has 10 days to either trade or release Martinez, or to assign him to a Minor League affiliate if he clears waivers.

Padres add three Minor Leaguers to 40-man roster


The Padres added outfielders Yeison Asencio and Jaff Decker and pitcher Adys Portillo to the 40-man roster on Tuesday.
The team also designated right-handed pitcher Cory Burns for assignment. The moves give the Padres a full 40-man roster.
Major League Baseball's deadline to protect players was Tuesday at 8:59 p.m. PT. Players who were first signed at the age of 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five years or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations in the Rule 5 Draft. Those players who were signed at age 19 need to be protected within four years.
The Rule 5 Draft is set for Dec. 6 during the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
Portillo, a 20-year-old right-hander who is ranked No. 7 among the Padres' top prospects, was 8-11 with a 3.34 ERA over 26 starts in 2012 between Class A Fort Wayne and Double-A San Antonio. He was 6-6 with a 1.87 ERA in 18 starts for Fort Wayne before earning a promotion -- skipping Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore -- for San Antonio.
Asencio, 23, hit .323 with eight home runs and 61 RBIs in 92 games for Fort Wayne. He won the Midwest League batting title. Asencio is a .306 hitter in parts of three seasons in the Padres' organization.
Decker, 22, hit .201 in 56 games in 2012 with rookie-level Peoria and San Antonio. A foot injury cost him much of his season. Decker, the 42nd overall pick in 2008, is a career .264 hitter in parts of his five years in the Padres' system.
Burns, 25, made his Major League debut with the Padres in 2012, going 0-1 with a 5.50 ERA over 17 appearances. He spent most of the season with Triple-A Tucson, going 1-2 with a 3.14 ERA in 54 games.
Also, the Padres on Monday agreed to a pre-arbitration deal with outfielder Kyle Blanks that will be worth $605,000. Blanks played in four games with the Padres last season before landing on the disabled list April 14 with a strained left shoulder. On May 2, he had season-ending arthroscopic surgery.

Twins add eight players to 40-man roster


The Minnesota Twins completed their 40-man roster with eight new additions before Tuesday's 10:59 p.m. CT deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.
Outfielder Aaron Hicks, ranked by MLB.com as the club's No. 3 prospect; catcher Josmil Pinto; left-handed pitcher Caleb Thielbar; infielder Danny Santana; and right-handed pitchers Kyle Gibson (No. 16), B.J. Hermsen (No. 14), Michael Tonkin and Tim Wood were added to their Major League roster.
Gibson played for three Minor League teams during the 2012 season, logging a combined 4.13 ERA over 13 games, 11 starts. Hermsen racked up a 3.22 ERA in 22 starts with Double-A New Britain.
Wood had 21 saves in 70 innings for the Pirates' Triple-A Indianapolis affiliate during the '12 season, with a 2.19 ERA. Tonkin had a 2.08 ERA through 44 games with Class A Beloit and Class A Advanced Fort Myers. Thielbar had a 2.43 ERA with six saves through 48 games combined with Fort Myers, New Britain and Triple-A Rochester.
Hicks batted .286 with 13 homers and and 61 RBIs in 129 games for New Britain. Santana sported a .286 batting average with 145 hits and 60 RBIs for Fort Myers, and Pinto launched 14 homers while racking up a .295 average combined with Fort Myers and New Britain.
The move protected the players from the Rule 5 Draft. Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years.
Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, held at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings on Dec. 6 in Nashville, Tenn. If that player doesn't remain on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.

Red Sox name Beyeler first-base coach


The Red Sox promoted former Minor League manager Arnie Beyeler to the position of first-base coach for the big league club.
Beyeler will embark on his 10th season in Boston's organization and his first on a Major League staff. He spent the last two seasons as skipper for Triple-A Pawtucket and became the third manager to lead the PawSox to consecutive postseason appearances.
"Arnie has had a successful professional career as a player, coach and manager," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "This allows him to bring a wealth of experience to this position."
Beyeler, 48, directed the PawSox to the Governors' Cup in 2012, marking the club's first International League championship in 28 years. Before his stint at Pawtucket, he managed Double-A Portland from 2007-10 and piloted the Sea Dogs to a pair of Eastern League playoff trips. Beyeler got his first taste at managing with the Red Sox organization's Class A Lowell affiliate in 2000-01. He also served as skipper for Class A Augusta in 2002.
Beyeler spent three seasons from 2003-05 managing the Rangers' Class A affiliate. He also served as hitting coach for the Padres' Double-A Mobile club in 2006.
An infielder by trade, Beyeler spent six seasons in the Tigers' farm system, climbing as high as Triple-A in 1991. He joins a reconstructed coaching staff in Boston that includes a new manager in Farrell, as well as pitching coach Juan Nieves, third-base coach Brian Butterfield and bench coach Torey Lovullo.

Rox acquire infielder Wheeler in deal with D-backs


The Rockies acquired corner infielder Ryan Wheeler from the D-backs for left-handed pitcher Matt Reynolds on Tuesday, only hours before the deadline for submitting the 40-man protection roster.
The 24-year-old Wheeler split the 2012 season between Arizona and Triple-A Reno. Called up by the D-backs on July 20, he hit .239 in 50 games with one home run and 10 RBIs, playing mostly at third base.
While at Reno, he hit .351 with 15 homers, 90 RBIs and a .960 OPS in only 93 games and was a Triple-A All-Star. He was a fifth-round Draft pick in 2009 out of Loyola Marymount University and was Arizona's Minor League Player of the Year.
Major League Baseball's deadline to protect players is Tuesday at 9:59 p.m. MT. Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five years or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years old are to be protected within four years.
Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, to be held on Dec. 6 at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
Wheeler's younger brother, Jason, was an eighth-round pick of Minnesota in 2011 and was a Class A All-Star in 2011 for Cedar Rapids.
Reynolds, 28, went 3-1 with a 4.40 ERA in 71 appearances for the Rockies in 2012.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

LaHair designated as Cubs set 40-man roster


he Cubs selected the contracts of four players, including Logan Watkins, their Minor League Player of the Year, and added them to the 40-man roster but also designated All-Star Bryan LaHair for assignment.
Besides Watkins, right-handed pitcher Trey McNutt, infielder Christian Villanueva and right-handed pitcher Robert Whitenack were added to the Cubs' roster, which is now at 40.
Major League Baseball's deadline to protect players is Tuesday at 10:59 p.m. CT. Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five years or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years old are to be protected within four years.
Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, to be held on Dec. 6 at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
Among the players left unprotected was right-hander Nick Struck, who was the organization's 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
The Cubs are pursuing an opportunity for LaHair, 30, with a Japanese team. He batted .259 with 16 home runs and 40 RBIs in 130 games but lost the first-base job to rookie Anthony Rizzo.
The Cubs also announced right-handed pitcher Carlos Gutierrez, 26, who was claimed off waivers from the Twins on Oct. 24, has cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A Iowa.
Watkins, 23, a 21st-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, batted .281 for Tennessee and finished second in the league in walks and triples. He led the league in runs scored (93) and compiled a 13-game hitting streak in June, collecting seven multihit games in that stretch.
McNutt, 23, has been considered a top prospect since he went 10-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 2010 for Class A Peoria, Daytona and Tennessee. In 2011, he was 5-6 with a 4.55 ERA in 23 games for the Smokies, and this season, went 9-8 with a 4.26 ERA in 34 games (17 starts).
Villanueva, 21, was acquired from the Rangers in the Ryan Dempster deal in July, and batted .279 for Class A Myrtle Beach and Daytona combined, with 14 home runs, 24 doubles and 68 RBIs. He was playing for Obregon in the Mexican Winter League. He began his Cubs career by hitting a home run in each of his first two at-bats in his first game with Daytona.
An eighth-round pick in 2009, Whitenack, who turned 24 on Tuesday, has been slowed after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2011. He began the 2011 season 7-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 11 starts between Daytona and Tennessee, earning Southern League All-Star honors, before he was sidelined with an elbow injury.
Besides Struck, other players not protected include Frank Batista, 23, who converted 23 of his first 24 save opportunities for Tennessee. A Southern League All-Star, he compiled a 2.22 ERA in 43 games, but did struggle in a brief stint with Triple-A Iowa, posting a 5.87 ERA in six games.

Kuroda re-signs with Yankees on one-year deal


Hiroki Kuroda will be back with the Yankees next season on a one-year contract. The Yankees did not release details, but ESPN's Buster Olney reported the deal to be worth $15 million, plus incentives of less than $1 million.
Most important for the Yankees, Kuroda should provide the same sort of stability he did in 2012, when he went 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA in 33 starts, leading the team in wins, ERA, starts, complete games and shutouts.
Though Kuroda recently rejected the Yankees' one-year, $13 million qualifying offer, it was widely assumed that he was still interested in a one-year deal. He was also reportedly considering a return to Los Angeles, where he played from 2008 to 2011 with the Dodgers, or Japan, where he broke into professional baseball with the Hiroshima Carp in 1997.
"I am very happy and excited to re-sign with the Yankees," said Kuroda. "I am very grateful for all of the interest and all of the offers that I received from the various teams that courted me. It was a tough decision for me to make, but at the end of the day, I wanted to try to win a championship with the teammates that I went to battle with last season."
Kuroda, who will turn 38 before Opening Day, has found little but success since leaving the Carp to try his hand in the Majors. He posted a 3.45 ERA over four seasons with the Dodgers, striking out more than three times as many batters as he walked. He answered all questions about his readiness to tackle the American League East last season, proving immune to the regression that haunts most pitchers upon a jump from the National League.
He quickly became indispensable to the Yankees, who would have been hard-pressed to replace him considering the state of their rotation. CC Sabathia should again anchor the rotation next season, and Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova or David Phelps could round out the bunch behind him. But beyond the very top of the rotation, the situation grows murky.
"He can play a really important role here as he did last year," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "He's a pro. He did everything on the field and had a seamless transition to New York in our clubhouse and off the field, so he was a welcome addition last year and I look forward to him this year slotting behind CC and make our starting rotation deeper."
Kuroda was one of three players to reject qualifying offers from the Yankees. The others, Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher, are not as likely to re-sign, though the Yankees are good bets to pursue Soriano for bullpen insurance behind Mariano Rivera. Because the Yankees gave Kuroda a qualifying offer, they would have been eligible for Draft pick compensation had he signed with another club.
In his five big league seasons, Kuroda has never produced an ERA lower than 3.07 or higher than 3.76. He has thrown at least 196 innings in each of his last three seasons, which could be his most valuable trait for a team searching for rotation consistency. Nor did hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium adversely affect him; he went 11-6 with a 2.72 ERA at home compared with 5-5 with a 4.23 mark on the road.
"As a pitcher, I try to evolve and be creative every year that I pitch," Kuroda said during the regular season. "I like to believe that I'm evolving and that I'm a better pitcher now than I was before."
He apparently evolved enough to become one of the few Yankees who carried his regular-season success into the postseason, giving up five runs over a combined 16 innings against the Orioles and Tigers. He struck out 14 and walked five, though the Yankees supported him with a total of three runs in his two outings.
Next up for the Yankees could be Andy Pettitte, who is deciding whether to play another season at age 41. Though it is widely expected that Pettitte, who went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts last season, will return for another go, it is possible he could choose to retire for the second time in two years. He missed three months last summer with a broken left fibula after coming out of retirement to rejoin the Yankees.

Wilpon hopes Mets can lock up Wright, Dickey


Characterizing himself as "more optimistic" than he was two months ago regarding contract extensions for David Wright and R.A. Dickey, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said Tuesday that trading either player would be a last resort for the team.
Speaking in Far Rockaway, Queens, where he and pitcher Matt Harvey served meals to Hurricane Sandy victims at the United Methodist Center, Wilpon said his first priority is still to ink Wright and Dickey to contract extensions. The Mets' backup plan is to enter next season with those two on their current expiring contracts, while their final option is a trade.
"We hope to have a resolution," Wilpon said. "And you know what? Part of that resolution might be that we get deals done with both of them or one of them. Part of that might be that they both come back and play for us next year. They're both under contract. This is not a free-agent situation. This is not an arbitration situation. They're both under contract. We have all the flexibility in the world with that."
Both Wright and Dickey are entering the option years of their respective contracts, after which they can become free agents. General manager Sandy Alderson has hinted that the thinking might be focused on signing those players to new deals or looking to trade at least one of them.
As recently as last week, Alderson said that he would like to have new clarity on the situation by the Winter Meetings, which begin Dec. 3 in Nashville.
But Wilpon said he would rather retain both players on their current contracts than trade either of them.
"The process is ongoing -- that's all I can say," Wilpon said. "I know there's some misconception in the marketplace about what's going on, and that's because we're not talking and the other sides are not talking. I don't want to get into where we are, what offers have been there, what haven't. The process is ongoing. It's a good process right now.
"They're both important to the franchise and fan favorites. So we'd like to keep it that way."
Rumors have swirled regarding the Mets since before the end of the regular season, though the team has made no official moves outside of a spate of Minor League signings. Earlier this month, Alderson preached caution regarding trades, even while naming Dickey, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee as potential candidates for a deal.
Like Gee, Harvey brushed off speculation that the rotation will not report to Port St. Lucie, Fla., in February intact.
"It's baseball," Harvey said. "A lot of it is a business and everybody's trying to win, so trades are always possible. Not being here, not being in New York is always possible. You never know, but I'm happy to be here. I'm happy to be a New York Met. I'm ready for the season to start."
To that end, Harvey spent two weeks earlier this season at agent Scott Boras' training facility in Newport Beach, Calif., where he worked alongside NHL players Dustin Penner and Shane O'Brien, among others. Harvey plans to spend the holidays at home in Connecticut, before ramping up his throwing in Atlanta after New Year's.
In the meantime, Harvey joined a growing list of Mets players aiding hurricane relief efforts around the tri-state area. Johan Santana, Gee and Bobby Parnell were in Queens to help at Coney Island and Breezy Point last week, and Niese will travel to the area for volunteer work in Long Beach, N.Y., next Wednesday.
"It's a huge honor to come out here with Jeff and be able to help out and do everything we possibly can to help the community," Harvey said. "The New York Mets are doing a great job. We're here to do everything we possibly can to help."
That work will continue for the Mets, even as they continue to train one eye on negotiations for Wright and Dickey.
If the team has its way, resolutions will come soon.

News Corporation to acquire equity stake in YES


News Corporation and Yankees Global Enterprises announced an agreement on Tuesday that calls for News Corporation to acquire a 49 percent equity stake in the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES).
The YES Network broadcasts exclusive live television coverage of Yankees baseball and Nets basketball, as well as other local and national sports programming. In addition, the network announced an agreement to keep Yankees baseball on YES through 2042.
"This transaction underscores the great value we and our partners created in establishing the YES Network and sets the network on the path for even greater achievements in the future," Hal Steinbrenner, chairman of Yankee Global Enterprises, said in a statement. "We are excited to have News Corporation as a partner. Its stature and acumen in sports broadcasting on a global scale is unmatched. We look forward to the many opportunities for growth and development that this investment by News Corporation will bring to YES. The Steinbrenner family expects to have a continuing, long-term ownership stake in the YES Network, and we will continue our yearly commitment of fielding a championship caliber team for decades to come."
The media rights agreement is subject to the approval of Major League Baseball, and the investment is expected to close by the end of the calendar year, according to a team release. According to the release, after three years, News Corporation can acquire an additional stake in the network that could bring its ownership up to 80 percent.
YES currently shows live Yankees and Nets games to approximately 9 million households in the teams' television territory in the New York area.
"We've long been a believer in the unique appeal of sports entertainment," James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation, said in a statement. "Partnering upstream with rights holders is even more important today in the dynamic media marketplace in which we compete. This is a tremendous opportunity to enhance News Corporation's industry-leading portfolio of sports properties, while also strategically re-entering the New York market. The YES Network represents the gold standard for regional sports networks and is a pioneer in sports media. We look forward to working with Yankee Global Enterprises, the network's management team, and all of our partners to build on a decade of success and take the YES Network to even greater heights."

Tigers release Raburn, open up spot for Rondon


Ryan Raburn's Tigers tenure is over. Bruce Rondon's time in Detroit might be just beginning.
After years of tantalizing stretches and frustrating slumps that left the Tigers wondering what Raburn could do over a full, effective season, the team parted ways with the versatile right-handed hitter on Tuesday. Detroit released Raburn part of a series of moves to set its 40-man roster by Tuesday's league-imposed deadline.
The Tigers also outrighted the contract of right-hander Tyler Stohr to Triple-A Toledo. The moves created room to add Rondon, fellow right-handed reliever Melvin Mercedes and shortstop Dixon Machado.
The moves leave the Tigers' roster at 39 players ahead of next month's Winter Meetings, giving them room to sign a free agent or make some other move in the weeks ahead without having to designate a player.
The Tigers could have designated Raburn's contract for assignment, but considering the club had three weeks to find a trading partner for Raburn since the season ended, they would've eventually come to this point.
If Raburn has a breakout season in him, it's going to have to come somewhere else. The move ends what had quietly become one of the longer tenures for a player in the Tigers' organization.
Once Detroit released Brandon Inge in April, no player on the roster had been in the organization longer than Raburn, a fifth-round pick in 2001. This was hoped to be the year he blossomed in close to everyday duty, splitting time at second while getting some starts in left field against left-handed pitching.
Raburn seemed poised to rise to the opportunity, heading into St. Patrick's Day with six home runs in Spring Training. His season fell apart from there.
The fact that Raburn struggled at season's start followed the pattern that has dogged him the past few years in Detroit. Unlike previous seasons, however, he never hit his way out of it, despite a long stretch of playing time at second base from manager Jim Leyland to try to find him a spark.
In hindsight, Leyland said at the end of the regular season playing Raburn regularly for as long as he did was his biggest mistake. He was pretty much an everyday player for the first two months before a brief stint to Triple-A Toledo to try to work on his swing. He was batting just .146 (18-for-123) with 35 strikeouts at the time of the move.
Raburn was back in Detroit by mid-June, but never got going. After stints of playing time against left-handed pitchers in June and July, Raburn went on the disabled list with a sprained right thumb. He made it back for a couple weeks in September, but played little before going back on the DL for good with a strained right quadriceps.
For the season, Raburn batted .171 (35-for-205) with one home run, 12 RBIs and 53 strikeouts. In so doing, he finished up a two-year, $3.4 million contract the Tigers reached two years ago to avoid arbitration.
Raburn would've been eligible for arbitration this year had Detroit kept him. In the end, that was a bigger reason for the move than making room to place prospects on the 40-man roster and protect them from next month's Rule 5 Draft.
Foremost among those prospects is Rondon, the big, hard-throwing right-hander who will go to Spring Training. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski has been touting him as a closer candidate for next season.
Rondon, who turns 22 in December, rose from Class A Lakeland to Double-A Erie and then Triple-A Toledo this summer, and simultaneously emerged as one of the game's most formidable relief prospects. His fastball consistently hit triple digits, topping out at 102 mph, but the key to his breakout was better command, including secondary pitches to keep hitters off-balance.
Add up his performances at three different levels, and Rondon allowed nine earned runs on 32 hits over 53 innings with 26 walks and 66 strikeouts. The Venezuelan made the World Team roster for the 2012 All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City, where he hit 102 on the Kauffman Stadium radar gun en route to an impressive appearance.
The Tigers have similarly high hopes for Mercedes despite a slow rise up the organizational ladder. The 22-year-old recorded nine saves in 37 appearances for low Class A West Michigan, with a 2.80 ERA and 54 hits over 64 1/3 innings. He struck out 43.
Machado, who will turn 21 in February, had a disappointing 2012 season at Class A Lakeland after a 2011 campaign that landed him in the Arizona Fall League among some of baseball's top prospects. The speedy defender hit just .195 (82-for-421) for the Flying Tigers with 19 extra-base hits, 59 runs scored, 37 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 28 attempts.

O's add prospects Schoop, Belfiore to 40-man roster


The Orioles on Tuesday selected the contracts of infielder Jonathan Schoop, who is ranked No. 3among Baltimore prospects, and left-hander Mike Belfiore (No. 14) from Double-A Bowie, and outrighted right-hander Oliver Drake to Triple-A Norfolk.
Schoop and Belfiore were added to the Orioles' 40-man roster and thus are protected from selection in the Rule 5 Draft. With the additions, Baltimore's 40-man roster is full.
Major League Baseball's deadline to protect players is Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. ET. Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five years or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years old are to be protected within four years.
Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, to be held on Dec. 6 at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings in Nashville. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.

Rizzo named top exec by Boston chapter of BBWAA


Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was named the Executive of the Year by the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Rizzo will officially receive the award, presented annually since 1967, at a ceremony on Jan. 24 in Boston.
Rizzo is the third member of the Nationals to win a postseason award. Outfielder Bryce Harper was named National League Rookie of the Year, while Davey Johnson won NL Manager of the Year honors.
Rizzo was one of the biggest reasons the Nats won their first NL East title this past season. The GM made the trade for left-hander Gio Gonzalez last winter, and Gonzalez went on to lead the Major Leagues in victories with 21.
Rizzo also has the distinction of selecting pitcher Steven Strasburg and Harper in the First-Year Player Draft in 2009 and '10, respectively.
But Rizzo's best signing of all might have come in June 2011, when he inked Johnson as manager.
Under Rizzo, the Nationals have won at least 10 more games each of the last three years (59 wins in 2009, 69 in '10, 80 in '11, 98 in '12). The last team to do so was the Boston Red Sox from 1906-09.
Prior to this past season, Washington's Minor League system was named the best in baseball per the 2012 Prospect Handbook, which is published annually by Baseball America. The Nats' No. 1 ranking stands in stark contrast to the 2007 season, when their system ranked 30th.

Bethancourt among five added to Braves' 40-man


Highly regarded catching prospect Christian Bethancourt headlines the group of five players the Braves have added to their 40-man roster. The other additions were right-handed pitchers Zeke Spruill, Cory Rasmus, David Hale and Aaron Northcraft.
Major League Baseball's deadline to protect players is Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. ET. Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five years or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years old are to be protected within four years.
Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, to be held on Dec. 6 at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings in Nashville. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
Atlanta now has 36 players on its 40-man roster.
The Braves have signed veteran backup catcher Gerald Laird with the expectation that he will serve as their starting catcher for most of April while Brian McCann recovers from right shoulder surgery. Bethancourt will be among the candidates who could begin next season as Laird's backup.
But the expectations are that the Braves will give the 21-year-old Bethancourt -- ranked No. 2 onMLB.com's Top 20 Braves prospects list -- a chance to spend most of the 2013 season enhancing his offensive skills at the Minor League level. His rifle arm and great athletic skills have drawn rave reviews from a defensive standpoint. But he hit .243 with a .566 OPS while playing 71 games with Double-A Mississippi last year.
Bethancourt broke his left hand when he was hit with a pitch in early August. But after allowing the injury to heal for two months, he has spent the past couple of weeks playing in the Dominican Winter League. In 11 games with Licey, he has batted .286 (8-for-28) with three doubles.
Spruill caught the attention of manager Fredi Gonzalez during Spring Training, and then posted a 3.67 ERA in 27 starts for Mississippi this past summer. The 23-year-old right-hander from suburban Atlanta posted a 3.63 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .250 in seven starts during this year's Arizona Fall League.
Hale produced some encouragement while serving as a full-time starting pitcher for the first time in his career this year. The 25-year-old product of Princeton University posted a 3.77 ERA in 27 starts with Mississippi. He recorded 124 strikeouts and issued 67 walks in 145 2/3 innings.
Rasmus has endured an injury-plagued career since being selected by the Braves in the first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. The 25-year-old right-hander posted a 3.68 ERA and recorded 62 strikeouts while issuing 32 walks in 58 2/3 relief innings with Mississippi this year. He surrendered 18 hits and 12 earned runs in 14 innings during the AFL.
Northcraft compiled a 3.98 ERA in 27 starts for Class Advanced Lynchburg this year. The 22-year-old right-hander recorded 160 strikeouts and issued 53 walks in 151 2/3 innings.

Corcino among six added to Reds' 40-man roster


Ahead of Tuesday's deadline, the Reds added six players to their 40-man roster to protect them from being selected in next month's Rule 5 Draft.
The list includes two top 20 prospects in the organization, as ranked by MLB.com -- right-handed starting pitcher Daniel Corcino (No. 4) and outfielder Yorman Rodriguez (No. 19). Also protected were right-handed pitchers Carlos Contreras, Curtis Partch and Josh Ravin and left-handed starter Ismael Guillon.
Major League Baseball's deadline to protect players was Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. ET. Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five years or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years old are to be protected within four years.
Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, to be held on Dec. 6 at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings in Nashville. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
With the additions, the Reds' 40-man roster currently sits at 39 players.
Corcino skipped a level by going from low Class A Dayton to Double-A Pensacola. In 26 starts, the 22-year-old was 8-8 with a 3.01 ERA, 65 walks, 111 hits and 126 strikeouts in 143 1/3 innings. In June, the Dominican pitcher took part in a tandem no-hitter by throwing the first eight innings before reaching his pitch limit.
Rodriguez, 20, struggled to bat .156 in 23 games at Class A-Advanced Bakersfield before he was sent back to Dayton. With the Dragons, he batted .271 with six homers and 44 RBIs in 65 games. Rodriguez was signed as a teenager out of Venezuela in 2008.
A 21-year-old reliever from the Dominican Republic, Contreras posted a 3.12 ERA in 49 games with Dayton and Bakersfield. He spent most of the season in the Midwest League, where he had 19 walks with 51 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings.
Partch, who just completed a stint in the Arizona Fall League, was a 26th-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. In 52 regular-season games, including seven near the end at Pensacola after playing with Bakersfield, he was 7-4 with a 4.26 ERA. The 26-year-old had 36 walks and 79 strikeouts over 82 1/3 innings.
A fifth-round pick in the 2006 Draft, Ravin was limited to 23 games this season because of an oblique injury. Twenty of those relief appearances were at Pensacola, where he was 1-3 with a 5.25 ERA. It was the 24-year-old Ravin's first year as a reliever after being a starter his whole career.
In 15 games, including 14 starts for Rookie-level Billings and Dayton, Guillon was 6-1 with a 2.38 ERA, 61 hits, 31 walks and 90 strikeouts over 75 2/3 innings. The 20-year-old was signed as a free agent out of Venezuela in 2008.

Appel focused on senior season, not return to Draft


In many ways, Mark Appel's life today is just like it has been for the past few years. He's a student-athlete who walks comfortably among classmates on Stanford's campus, spending his fall preparing for another season as the ace of the Cardinal's staff.
"It hasn't really been that much different than the years past, except I know more what to expect, how hard we have to work in the fall to accomplish the goals we want to have in the spring," Appel said. At the same time, things aren't exactly as before. It's not often that a player who was considered at or near the top of a Draft class as a college junior returns for his senior season.
A year ago at this time, Appel was ranked No. 1 on MLB.com's Draft Top 50. He's there again now, returning to campus after not signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had taken him No. 8 overall.
"I don't think about the Draft at all, what happened over the summer," Appel said. "The guys here keep me grounded and humbled. We're working as a team to keep getting better."
That team is different than it was a year ago, though there are constant reminders of the past, as well as what could have been for the big right-hander. Stanford players who do go the pro route after their junior season often head back in the fall to work towards getting their degree. Appel has run into old teammates Stephen Piscotty, the Cardinals' supplemental-round pick, and Kenny Diekroeger, now with the Kansas City Royals after going in the fourth round.
"It's a little strange," Appel said. "For the most part, I see guys who come back, finish their degree and workout, every year. I understand what they're going through. Kenny tells me has too much time on his hands because he's so used to the 7 a.m. workouts and being at the field all weekend during the fall."
That could've been Appel this fall, heading to class but not to the field. He could have accepted the Pirates' offer and started his pro career. But in a world that's often full of could-haves and regrets, Appel does not appear to have any.
"Whenever I think about big decisions I have to make in life, I try to imagine what it would be like if I make one decision or another," Appel explained. "I try to use past experiences I have to help me make that decision. I thought about signing vs. coming back. Coming back, based on the last three years, that's something that I love doing. Being out there with the guys, going to class -- as much as doing homework sucks, it's part of what makes it so great.
"I think I was ready to play pro ball, but it came down to whether I wanted to or not. I've never been to Omaha [for the College World Series] and I hear what a great experience that is. I haven't graduated yet, and I'll be able to do that the following quarter. I'll be able to play most of the spring without taking classes."
And he will be playing for another talent-laden Stanford team, joined by fellow Top 50 prospects Austin Wilson (No. 9), A.J. Vanegas (No. 23) and Brian Ragira (No. 45). Appel is very much the pitcher who has taken the ball every Friday for the past two years. There's a reason why scouts consider him the top prospect yet again. He has the stuff and presence to pitch at or near the top of a rotation in the future.
"He's the same guy he was at the end of last season," one scout said. "He has three power pitches and is a top-three-pick talent."
Draft status is clearly the last thing on Appel's mind, but he is quick to point out that he's working on getting better this fall. One knock against him last year was that he wasn't as consistently dominant as someone with his pure stuff should have been. He's been focused on improving his command down in the zone, pounding the inside part of the strike zone, maybe even adding a pitch to his repertoire. The Appel who comes out in the 2013 Draft might be better than the one from last June.
"A lot of people think, 'If he goes back, he's losing a year in pro ball. It's a terrible decision,'" Appel said. "It's not like I'm doing nothing, just trying to survive. I'm hungry, I want to get better."
If he does that, then Appel can potentially have his cake and eat it too, with the kind of trifecta few can even dream of. Of course, Appel says the third part -- going early in the first round again and then making a beeline to the big leagues -- isn't in his sights right now.
"Knowing I'm walking out of here with a Stanford degree and hopefully a trip to Omaha, I don't think anyone can put a price tag on that," Appel said. "I'm not thinking about the Draft at all. I don't think I really thought about it last year. It was there. The day before the Draft, I looked at myself in the mirror [and said], 'I did everything I can. I focused on the process; the results are out of your hands.'
"I haven't had a single regret since the signing deadline. I think if I dwelled on it too much that I could be doing different things this fall. I think if I thought about that it would upset me. Not because I want to do those things, just because I'd be doubting myself. I think we're going to have a really talented team this year."

Ahead of deadline, Sox add five to 40-man roster


The White Sox on Tuesday added four players to their 40-man roster, bringing the total to 38 before Tuesday's 10:59 p.m. CT deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.
With one remaining spot, the White Sox can add a free agent without making a corresponding move or make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft.
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five years or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years old are to be protected within four years.
Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, to be held on Dec. 6 at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings in Nashville. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
The five players whose contracts Chicago selected Tuesday were outfielder Jared Mitchell, catcher Josh Phegley, right-handers Andre Rienzo and Charles Shirek and left-hander Santos Rodriguez, all from Triple-A Charlotte.
Mitchell, 24, was the club's first-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. He hit .237 with 11 home runs and 21 stolen bases last year, spending two-thirds of his season at Double-A Birmingham before his promotion to Charlotte. He is the club's No. 9 prospect, according to MLB.com.
Phegley, 24, was the 38th overall in the 2009 Draft. He spent the 2012 season in Charlotte, hitting .266 with six home runs and 22 doubles. He is MLB.com's 11th-ranked prospect in the White Sox system and has impressed defensively.
Rienzo, 24, pitched at three Minor League levels last season as a starter, spending most of his time in Double-A. He combined to go 7-3 with a 2.53 ERA in 18 starts and struck out 113 in 103 1/3 innings. He is the 18th-best prospect in Chicago's Minor Leagues, according to MLB.com. He will miss part of Spring Training because of his commitment to pitch for Team Brazil in the World Baseball Classic.
Rodriguez, 24, posted a 2.90 ERA and eight saves in 42 relief appearances last season, most of which came with Birmingham. He struck out 69 in 71 1/3 innings and gives the White Sox more left-handed reliever depth.
Shirek, 27, went 11-5, with a 3.65 ERA last year.

Mariners acquire Andino from Orioles for Robinson


Looking to add depth to their infield, the Mariners acquired veteran utility man Robert Andino from the Orioles on Tuesday in a trade for outfielder Trayvon Robinson.
Andino, 28, is a career .235 hitter in parts of eight seasons with the Marlins and Orioles. He started 233 games for Baltimore over the past two seasons, mostly at second base and shortstop, and earned $1.3 million last year in his first season of arbitration eligibility.
"The addition of Robert Andino gives us some experienced infield depth with a player who has played multiple positions," said Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik. "With Robert having Major League and playoff experience and still relatively young, we thought that it made sense to make this trade and let him come in and compete."
Unless he signs a longer-term deal, Andino will have two seasons of arbitration eligibility with the Mariners before becoming a free agent in 2015.
Robinson, 25, hit .215 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 90 games over the past two years for Seattle while earning the MLB minimum of $480,000 as a midseason addition in 2012.
The Mariners are looking for a versatile infielder to replace Munenori Kawasaki, who was released after batting .192 in 104 at-bats in his first season after coming over from Japan. Andino could also be capable of challenging incumbent starter Brendan Ryan at shortstop, if he can bounce back to his 2011 form when he played a career-best 139 games and hit .263 with five home runs and 36 RBIs.
Andino, a 6-foot, 195-pounder, saw that average fall to .211 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 127 games this past season, with 99 of those games coming at second base.
Andino is regarded as a quality defender who has played 211 games at second base, 123 at shortstop and 39 at third base in his career, along with five games in the outfield in four seasons each with the Marlins and Orioles.
The Miami native saw considerable action at second base the past two seasons for Baltimore in place of Brian Roberts, but the Orioles expect to have Roberts healthy in 2013 and also recently claimed Omar Quintanilla off waivers from the Twins. The Orioles thus were debating whether to non-tender Andino rather than face a pay increase in arbitration.
Robinson, 25, was in a similar position with the Mariners, fighting the numbers game at a position where Seattle likely will add more competition in free agency or trades this offseason. Like fellow outfielders Mike Carp and Casper Wells, Robinson is out of Minor League options, so he would have had to either make the 25-man roster next spring or be exposed to waivers before being sent down.
After being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on July 23, he played 46 games for Seattle last season, including 39 starts in left field, while batting .221 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

Heyman on Owners' Meetings

Best available pitchers

Gammons reviews Blue Jays' moves

Final thoughts on the AL MVP

2013 Hall of Fame nominees

Melvin joins Network's Hot Stove

Petti on AL Cy Young, Blue Jays

Larkin on team Brazil

Draft class of 2013 starting to take shape


Much of the baseball world's attention is on the Hot Stove scuttlebutt -- who is going where via trade or free agency. In the world of amateur scouting, however, the focus is on the Draft class of 2013.
Sure, the First-Year Player Draft is still more than six months away (June 6-8, 2013), but after a summer filled with showcases, elite leagues and All-American games, the class has started to take some shape. And with the final 2012 Major League standings set in stone, the 2013 Draft order has been established, too.
With scouts adding to their summer reports with fall baseball viewings, it's a good time to unveil MLB.com's Top 50 Draft Prospects list.
It's a fairly consistent ritual that the scouting industry reports at the end of the summer indicate that the upcoming Draft class won't be very special. Maybe it's a case of maintaining expectations, perhaps it's the harshly keen eye of the scouts, but once again, some scouts did not rave about the level of talent in this class
2013 Draft order
Below is the 2013 First-Year Player Draft order as it currently stands. If a team signs a free agent who was given a qualifying offer, it will lose its first-round pick (unless the club has a top-10 selection). Former teams receive a compensation-round pick, following the reverse order of standings, for losing one of those free agents.
First round
  1. Astros
  2. Cubs
  3. Rockies
  4. Twins
  5. Indians
  6. Marlins
  7. Red Sox
  8. Royals
  9. Pirates*
  10. Blue Jays
  11. Mets
  12. Mariners
  13. Padres
  14. Pirates
  15. D-backs
  16. Phillies
  17. Brewers
  18. White Sox
  19. Dodgers
  20. Cardinals
  21. Tigers
  22. Angels
  23. Rays
  24. Orioles
  25. Rangers
  26. Athletics
  27. Giants
  28. Braves
  29. Yankees
  30. Reds
  31. Nationals
Compensatory round
  1. Cardinals+
  2. Rays+
  3. Rangers+
  4. Braves+
  5. Yankees+
  6. Yankees+
  7. Yankees+
  8. Nationals+
* Compensation for not signing 2012 first-round pick Mark Appel
+ If team doesn't re-sign free agent in question
For the second year in a row, Stanford right-hander Mark Appel sits atop the rankings. Appel was taken No. 8 in last year's Draft by the Pirates but returned to Stanford instead of signing with Pittsburgh. While one scout did say that Appel is again a pitcher worthy of a selection at the top of the first round, a scouting director wondered if Appel's placement at the top of most rankings has led many to consider this class as less than extraordinary.
"The issue is, people look at this Draft, and there's no stand-out, absolute top-of-the-Draft guys," the scouting director said. "It's to be determined. Most say the guy who didn't sign last year is at the top of the Draft, and that puts a damper on things. I'm not ready to hand that [ranking ]over to [Appel]. I think there are a lot of candidates for what could be the top pick in the Draft. It'll play out in the spring."
This fall's Top 50 is split down the middle between college and high school players, who are evenly spread throughout the list. The top two players are college arms, in Appel and Arkansas righty Ryne Stanek, but they are followed up by a pair of Georgia high school outfielders, Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier. There are even two college bats -- considered to be the weakest part of the class -- in the top 10: San Diego's Kris Bryant and Stanford's Austin Wilson. There are six high school catchers in the Top 50 as well, an unusually high number, though it remains to be seen how many will remain behind the plate for the long term.
"I think there are enough position players," the scouting director said. "We'd all like to see the college position players as a more defined group [at the top], but there will be a few guys who'll push their way in there."
There are 26 pitchers in the Top 50 -- 15 from the college ranks and 11 prepsters. Scouts like the potential upside of the crop of high school pitchers, with Kohl Stewart leading the way at No. 6. There are a fair amount of young lefties -- six prep southpaws in the Top 50, to be exact -- who will get a lot of attention in the spring.
That depth in young arms is another reason evaluators are hesitant to hand out too good of a grade to this class just yet. Many of the high school pitchers may have shown glimpses during the summer showcase tour, enough to make scouts excited to see more. They are the young arms filling in the back half of the Top 50, pitchers like Brett Morales and Dustin Driver. That crop annually tends to be a mercurial group, and the kind of leaps forward those in it take might greatly define how strong this class ultimately is.
"How many actually take that step in the spring, that's what makes the Draft or doesn't make the Draft," the scouting director said. "They often populate the bottom of the first round, down through the sandwich round. I think there are a lot of those guys. A lot of times it [depends on their] velocity. If the fastball clicks up a little bit, that pushes them up top."
Even if some of those young pitchers don't take a step forward, there is talent to be had in 2013. If it's lacking in elite, sure-fire prospects at the top, it might make up for it in depth. Reports this fall, largely from college campuses, have been encouraging, meaning even those who were skeptical might be singing a different tune by the time June rolls around.
"The depth of the Draft will be solid," the scouting director said. "I'm getting stuff from this fall -- guys who were discouraged coming into the fall are saying their area is shaping up now.
"I'm not discouraged at all from the crop we have to choose from. It's not heavy with big names, but there is plenty of depth and, as always, there will be plenty of big leaguers in this Draft."