Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sources: Gomez, Rangers reach 1-year deal

The Rangers have addressed their center-field situation by agreeing with outfielder Carlos Gomez on a one-year, $11.5 million contract late Tuesday night, Major League sources said.
The club has not confirmed the news. An official announcement is pending a physical.
Center field was a top priority for the Rangers coming into the Winter Meetings and they explored every possibility. The deal with Gomez likely rules out the possibility of the Rangers re-signing Ian Desmond.
The Rangers acquired Gomez as a free agent on Aug. 20 after he had been released by the Astros. He played in 33 games for the Rangers and hit .284 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs. He had a .362 on-base percentage and a .543 slugging percentage.
Gomez is a 10-year Major League veteran who was an All-Star with the Brewers in 2013-14. He won a Gold Glove with the Brewers in '13.
The Rangers had discussions about potential deals for the Reds' Billy Hamilton, the Royals' Lorenzo Cain and the Padres' Travis Jankowski before reaching a deal with Gomez.
The Rangers are still looking for more starting pitching as well as possibly first base/designated hitter options at the Winter Meetings.

Cubs in discussion with Royals about Davis

The Cubs, hoping to add more depth to the bullpen and possibly a new closer, were talking to the Royals about acquiring Wade Davis.
Late Tuesday, Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network and FOX Sports reported a deal between the two teams was close, and would involve outfielder Jorge Soler going to the Royals for Davis. Team officials would not confirm the reports.
Soler seemed to be the odd man out in the Cubs outfield with the return of Kyle Schwarber. In three seasons, Soler has batted .258 with 27 home runs and 98 RBIs. A right-handed hitter, he is entering the sixth year of a nine-year, $30 million contract. Leg injuries have limited Soler, who played 101 games in 2015, hitting .262.
This season, Davis was on the disabled list twice because of a right forearm strain and a right flexor strain. When he came off the DL in September, he finished with a 3.12 ERA in nine games, going six for seven in save opportunities. The Cubs would need to have Davis examined by their medical staff before any deal is finalized.
The Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman last July to help them get to the postseason and the lefty was a key part of the team's playoff run. Chapman is reportedly seeking a six-year deal, which doesn't fit in the Cubs' budget.
The Cubs do have in-house options to close, and Maddon said Tuesday that Hector Rondon could return to that role next season. Rondon was 18-for-23 in save situations this past season, and posted a 1.72 ERA in the first half. He was bothered by a strained right triceps in the second half, and had a 6.41 ERA in 22 games. The Cubs acquired Chapman in late July to take over the role.
"I think it's safe to say we're kicking the tires on any pitching that's available," general manager Jed Hoyer said Monday.

Source: Rays, Ramos agree on 2-year deal

The Rays have reached a two-year agreement with free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos -- pending a physical -- sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi on Tuesday. The club has not confirmed the deal.
Ramos is recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee sustained on Sept. 26, making the physical all the more important.
According to multiple reports, Ramos' deal is for $12.5 million and includes playing time incentives to make up to $18.25 million over the two years.
The 29-year-old Ramos was a first-time All-Star for the Nationals in 2016 before the season-ending injury. He underwent surgery on Oct. 14, after which the Nationals set a tentative six-to-eight month recovery timetable. That would place Ramos' potential return somewhere from mid-April to mid-June next season.
With the uncertainty surrounding Ramos' knee, Washington did not extend him a qualifying offer after this past season.
Before his injury, Ramos hit .307 with 22 home runs and 80 RBIs in 131 games for the Nationals.

Source: Moreland agrees to 1-year deal with Red Sox

The Red Sox capped their wild Tuesday at the Winter Meetings by agreeing to terms with first baseman Mitch Moreland on a one-year deal that is contingent on a physical, MLB.com has learned.
MLB Network contributor Ken Rosenthal was first to report the news, which the Red Sox have not confirmed yet. MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported the deal is worth $5.5 million.
Assuming the signing comes to fruition, the Red Sox seemingly filled all of their offseason needs in one day.
Earlier on Tuesday, Boston acquired five-time All-Star ace Chris Sale from the White Sox and stud righty setup man Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers. The one other piece that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was seeking was a left-handed-hitting first baseman.
That piece is Moreland, who won the American League Gold Glove Award in 2016 while playing for the Texas Rangers.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said shortly before the Moreland news came out that Hanley Ramirez -- Boston's first baseman in 2016 -- will spend the majority of his time at designated hitter in '17.
While speaking last weekend in the Dominican Republic, Ramirez sounded enthusiastic about switching to DH to replace his close friend David Ortiz, who retired at the end of the season, if that's what the Red Sox needed.
The 31-year-old Moreland hit .233/.298/.422 with 22 home runs and 60 RBIs in 147 games for the Rangers in 2016. His best season was '15, when he had an .812 OPS to go with 23 homers and 85 RBIs.
When the Red Sox parted with Travis Shaw to acquire Thornburg, a first baseman became a pressing need.
It took Dombrowski just hours to fill it.
Boston's lineup has a strong core of right-handed hitters, led by Mookie Betts, Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts. Moreland joins Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi from the left side. Pablo Sandoval and Sandy Leon are switch-hitters.

Giants find their closer, give Melancon 4-year deal

Committing an unprecedented sum of money in an attempt to offset unprecedented lapses in performance, the Giants announced Monday that they obtained the closer they sought by agreeing to a four-year contract with free-agent right-hander Mark Melancon. An industry source confirmed Melancon's contract is worth a total of $62 million, including a $20 million signing bonus of which $12 million will be paid up front. The deal includes salaries of $4 million in 2017 and $10 million in 2018, after which Melancon may opt out of the deal. If Melancon opts into the last two years, the salary is $14 million per season.
The pact's average annual value of $15.5 million and the total figure established highs for relief pitchers. Both all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera, whose salary topped out at $15 million annually, and Jonathan Papelbon, who signed for $50 million over four years with Philadelphia before the 2012 season, were eclipsed.
Melancon is not expected to remain the game's highest-paid reliever for very long. Right-hander Kenley Jansen and left-hander Aroldis Chapman -- two other top closers available in free agency -- likely will command more lucrative deals.
Big money in the bullpen
Total valueYearsPlayer/team
$62 million(4 years, 2017-20)Mark Melancon, Giants
$50 million(4 years, 2012-15)Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies
$47 million(4 years, 2008-11)Joe Nathan, Twins*
$47 million(5 years, 2006-10)B.J. Ryan, Blue Jays
$46 million(4 years, 2008-11)Francisco Cordero, Reds
$46 million(4 years, 2015-18)David Robertson, White Sox
$45 million(3 years, 2008-10)Mariano Rivera, Yankees
*=wasn't a free agent; signed extension
"To be able to land a closer first is kind of nice," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said.
The unique circumstances of this offseason, featuring a short supply of closers combined with considerable demand for their services, forced Melancon's contract skyward. So did the Giants' near-desperate need to find a closer who could not only protect ninth-inning leads, but also provide stability for San Francisco's other relievers, whose roles were ill-defined last season.
"It gives the club peace of mind, with so many close games that we play, that we have a lockdown guy for the ninth inning," Evans said.
While losing faith in Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, San Francisco blew 30 saves in 2016, the most in franchise history since saves became an official statistic in 1969. That included nine defeats in games when the Giants led entering the ninth inning, another franchise mark. Five of those losses occurred in September. Moreover, they absorbed six defeats after leading by at least four runs, compared with five such setbacks in 2014-15 combined.
Melancon inherits the responsibility of curing these ills. A three-time All-Star, he has pitched for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals since 2009. San Francisco tried to obtain him from Pittsburgh at last season's non-waiver Trade Deadline, but Washington gained his services instead.
Though Melancon will be 35 years old when his contract expires, Evans cited his durability as a factor that eased any anxiety the Giants might have felt. Melancon has appeared in at least 71 games in five of the previous six seasons.
Melancon tends to coax a high percentage of ground balls -- 56.1 percent lifetime, according to Fangraphs.com -- which should complement San Francisco's sure-handed infield.
"He's perfect for our defense," Evans said. "We just feel like this is going to be a great fit for us."
Melancon's capable of relying on strikeouts, a closer's best friend, though he's not exceedingly overpowering. His 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 2016 matched his career average. That represented an improvement from 2014, when he averaged 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Melancon has recorded 168 career saves, reaching a personal best with a Major League-leading 51 in 2015 with Pittsburgh. He has converted 98 of 104 save opportunities in the past two seasons and is coming off a 2016 campaign in which he recorded a 1.64 ERA and 47 saves in 51 chances over 75 games.

Hill emotional over LA return, 1st big contract

 Contract-signing announcements at the Winter Meetings are routine, but not for Rich Hill.
Speaking Monday after signing a three-year, $48 million deal to remain with the Dodgers, an emotional Hill choked up several times as he recounted the "incredible journey" to get to this payday, only three months from his 37th birthday.
Hill thanked the Dodgers, his wife, Caitlin, and his sons, Brice, who attended the news conference, and Brooks, who died from complications after birth during the spring of 2014.
"I told myself I wouldn't do this," Hill said, composing himself after a long pause. "It's been an incredible journey, but I never felt like packing it all in. You fail, you learn. When you fail, you learn. I don't think you really know what failure is -- or I didn't know what failure was until I got older and understood that that was experience. Baseball teaches us to deal with things off the field that are far greater than what you deal with on the field."
Nothing compares to the loss of a child. But Hill's professional career has also endured setbacks, from multiple injuries to banishments to the bullpen, and even to an independent league. Even in his breakout season of 2016, his first with double-digit victories since 2007, the lefty made only 20 starts because of finger blisters and a strained groin. Hill said he believes making 30 starts is realistic, although the Dodgers have the starting pitching depth to manage him carefully.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman felt the risk was worth making Hill the third free-agent pitcher in three years to get a $48 million contract (joining Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir). Friedman said the Dodgers nearly signed Hill last winter, only to trade for him during the season.
"We spent a tremendous amount time digging into the guy's makeup, the type of competitor and type of teammate he was, and everything we got back was off the charts," Friedman said. "But being around for three months, he exceeded even our expectations. That gave us the confidence to bet on him, what he's persevered through in his career. The type of person and competitor fit us very well, and he was a huge priority for us."
The contract reportedly is somewhat backloaded, with Hill receiving a $2 million bonus and salaries of $12 million, $16 million and $18 million.
Hill said his finger blisters are behind him. Friedman seconded that.
"I inspected it," said Friedman. "I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night."
Hill slots behind ace Clayton Kershaw -- who Hill cited for his intensity and passion -- and ahead of Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias to give the Dodgers the starting-pitching quality that has enabled them to win four consecutive National League West titles.
And there's now plenty of depth from which to select a fifth starter and deal in trades, as the club has McCarthy, Kazmir, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Wood on the rebound from injuries, along with talented young right-handers Jose De LeonRoss Stripling and Brock Stewart, who already have Major League experience.
Relying on a wicked curveball, Hill went 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA this past season, going 9-3 before Oakland traded him and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers on Aug. 1. The southpaw was on the disabled list with finger blisters when he was traded, and they continued to plague him the rest of the season. But when he was on the mound, Hill could be dominant, going 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP in five starts for the Dodgers.
That included seven perfect innings in Miami on Sept. 10, his bid at history ending when manager Dave Roberts removed him six outs shy of a perfect game rather than risk damage to his fingers. In the postseason, Hill struggled in two starts against the Nationals (0-1, 6.43 ERA), but he beat the Cubs in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series with six scoreless innings on two hits.

D-backs add Mathis, continue search for relievers

 As the Winter Meetings got underway Monday, the D-backs officially announced the signing of free-agent catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million deal, and general manager Mike Hazen and his staff spent the day working on more additions.
"We're doing our due diligence still," Hazen said. "Following up on things that started at the GM Meetings and through the period prior to this point. So we have things going on, but nothing close yet. We're having active conversations."
Most of those conversations figure to revolve around acquiring bullpen help, which is the chief need for the D-backs at this point. The exact number of arms they hope to acquire is not certain, but it sounds like they're hoping for more than one.
The cost of relief pitching is not cheap these days -- witness Mark Melancon agreeing to a four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants on Monday -- but so far the price has not surprised the D-backs, who figure to be looking a tier or two below that of Melancon, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen.
Hazen said the team was exploring both free agents and trades when it came to bullpen help.
"I think we would like somebody that pitches in the back end, certainly, to help out those younger guys back there," Hazen said. "And then I think we're open-minded about how the rest of the bullpen can come together. I think 'options' is probably one of the key words for us, giving us versatility. Left or right, certainly you can find right-handers who can get lefties out and vice versa. We're open-minded to how we can create that. I think volume is something that we're going to look at, making sure that we have a flexible and dynamic enough bullpen that we can make changes if we need to. You get into situations where you have to run your bullpen pretty hard some days, some weeks, and making sure you can withstand that is something that we're going to be focused on."
Though they seem optimistic about getting something done during these Meetings, the D-backs are also well aware that the market -- both for free agents and trades -- for relievers can easily slip into January.
Despite the addition of Mathis to go with Chris Herrmann, the D-backs are still open to acquiring another catcher. Herrmann's ability to play the infield corners as well as all three outfield positions makes carrying three catchers much easier.
"We feel like we have some games to cover back there," Hazen said. "So I would think we're going to make some other additions."

D-backs get Walker in 5-player trade with Mariners

Mike Hazen made his first trade as D-backs GM on Wednesday night, acquiring right-hander Taijuan Walker and infielder Ketel Marte from the Mariners in exchange for infielder Jean Segura, outfielder Mitch Haniger and left-handed reliever Zac Curtis.
The D-backs got younger and picked up extra years of club control in the deal, banking on the upside of Walker and Marte while dealing Segura on the heels of a career year when he hit .319 with 20 homers and 33 stolen bases.
Walker is the headliner in the deal, a 24-year-old who has outstanding stuff that he is still working to harness on a consistent basis. He has pitched in parts of four seasons for the Mariners going 22-22 with a 4.18 ERA in 65 games (62 starts). Haniger, who was named Arizona's 2016 Minor League player of the Year, now ranks as Seattle's No. 14 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. The 25-year-old made his Major League debut in 2016, hitting .229 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 34 games, after finishing with a .321 average, 25 homers and 94 RBIs between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno.
Walker joins a rotation that includes holdovers Zack GreinkeShelby MillerRobbie RayArchie BradleyPatrick CorbinBraden ShipleyMatt KochZack Godley and Rubby De La Rosa. The D-backs tried to acquire Walker prior to the 2013 season, but the deal fell apart when outfielder Justin Upton exercised his no-trade clause.
"Obviously, Jean is a great fit for them and was for us, but in order for us to get a starting pitcher the caliber of Taijuan, we felt like this was the opportunity we had to take, given the market," Hazen said. "It takes a lot of starting pitching to get through the season. Depth in your rotation and talent in your rotation is critical to being successful."
The D-backs were last in the Majors in ERA last season, and improving the staff was a top priority for Hazen.
Walker also comes with four years left of club control. MLBTraderumors.com projects him to earn $2.8 million in 2017 as a "Super Two" player.
"It's not one of those guys that you're able to acquire all the time, with the state of the game now with pitching and the premium, especially on starting pitching," Hazen said. "We felt like this was an opportunity we needed to take."
Marte, 23, appeared in 57 games for the Mariners in 2015 before becoming their primary shortstop last season, slashing .259/.287/.323 in 466 plate appearances. He has also played second base and in the outfield.
"We think he can play anywhere, really," Hazen said. "We just think we love the athleticism and the all-around player. When he was in the Minor Leagues, the way he controlled the strike zone, he got up to the big leagues quick as a 22-year-old, and we think there's definitely some upside in the bat and the defensive ability and the speed and the athleticism. All around, we feel he adds quite a bit to our club."
Segura had two years of club control left and is projected to make a little more than $7 million in arbitration this winter. His departure opens up playing time in the middle of the diamond, and the D-backs certainly have plenty of depth there.
Segura, who turns 27 in March, gives the Mariners their much-coveted shortstop to pair with second baseman Robinson Cano -- and one who quietly enjoyed one of the better offensive performances in the National League last season. Segura hit .319 with 20 home runs and 64 RBIs in 153 games for Arizona, adding 33 steals and posting an .867 OPS. His 203 hits ranked first in the National League.
"We just feel at this point, this trade made more sense with where our roster is," Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto said, "and Jean Segura fit this club about as well as any player we were looking at in the trade market."
Chris Owings, like Marte, can play both short and second. Shortstop Nick Ahmed is expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training after suffering a hip injury last season. Phil Gosselin can play second and third, as can Brandon Drury.
Drury showed his potential with the bat last season, but he is blocked at third by Jake Lamb, and the outfield doesn't seem like a long-term fit for him. So moving Segura could lead to Drury getting more at-bats, depending on whether Ahmed, Owings or Marte plays shortstop.
"There's going to be a lot of competition coming into Spring Training," Hazen said, "and I think that's a good thing for our club, a good thing for our players."
Haniger was the D-backs' Minor League Player of the Year in 2016, and he made his big league debut in September, showing he can play an above-average center field.
Curtis jumped all the way from Class A Advanced Visalia to the big leagues when the D-backs needed left-handed help in the bullpen.