Detroit Tigers – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-01-23T13:58:32Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Gordon Beckham]]> 2019-01-22T22:04:47Z 2019-01-22T20:36:24Z In announcing their non-roster invitees, the Tigers revealed that they have signed veteran infielder Gordon Beckham. Clearly, he’ll be on hand in camp this spring. Fancred’s Jon Heyman tweets that Beckham’s contract comes with a $700K base salary if he makes the big league roster.

Beckham will be looking to win a job as a bench piece in Detroit. While the club has little reason to utilize veterans in a manner that would block younger talent, it surely also wants to install some respected players and maintain a certain standard during another transition year. If he can’t crack the roster, Beckham would potentially represent worthwhile depth at Triple-A.

The opportunities have been sporadic of late for Beckham, who was once a regular with the White Sox. Still, he has appeared in every one of the past ten MLB seasons, compiling a cumulative .239/.302/.366 slash in 3542 plate appearances. Beckham, who’s an option at second and third base, did post a strong .302/.400/.458 batting line last year at Triple-A while drawing more walks (57) than strikeouts (52) in his 425 trips to the plate.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Nicholas Castellanos]]> 2019-01-22T15:37:10Z 2019-01-22T14:14:53Z
  • If there’s a key remaining question for the Tigers this winter, it probably relates to the future of Nicholas CastellanosAnthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press takes stock of the situation. Critically, as he notes, it’s largely unclear just how much interest there is among rival clubs. Castellanos is still just 26 years of age and out-hit most remaining free agents in 2018, but he’s also still considered a defensive liability and is earning a hefty $9.95MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility. Whether a significant offer will materialize remains to be seen; as Fenech suggests, though, it’s hard to fault the Tigers for holding on to a reasonably steep asking price to this point.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers To Sign Hector Sanchez]]> 2019-01-22T01:20:58Z 2019-01-22T01:20:58Z The Tigers have agreed to a minor-league deal with backstop Hector Sanchez, according to Venezuelan journalist Ignacio Serrano (Twitter link). The contract comes with an invitation to MLB Spring Training.

    Now 29 years of age, Sanchez had appeared in seven consecutive major-league campaigns before failing to earn a nod last year. Though he showed early promise, he owns only a .238/.273/.367 batting line at the game’s highest level. It’s fair to note that he’s a .267/.330/.438 hitter through eight hundred career plate appearances at Triple-A.

    Sanchez had returned last year to the Giants, his original professional organization and the place he broke into the majors. Things didn’t work out, however, and he was given his release just two months into the season. Now, Sanchez will try to get back on track with a Detroit organization that has a somewhat unsettled catching situation after dropping James McCann earlier in the winter. John Hicks is the most established player on the roster, while newcomer Grayson Greiner is seen as a possible long-term piece. Sanchez joins veteran Bobby Wilson as non-roster competition and veteran depth.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: American League]]> 2019-01-12T20:28:12Z 2019-01-12T20:19:32Z The deadline for players and teams to exchange arbitration figures passed at 1pm ET yesterday, meaning over the next few hours, there will be a landslide of settlements on one-year deals to avoid an arbitration hearing. We’ll track today’s minor settlements from the American League in this post. Once all of the day’s settlements have filtered in, I’ll organize them by division to make them a bit easier to parse.

    It’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of teams have adopted a “file and trial” approach to arbitration, meaning that once arbitration figures are exchanged with a player, negotiations on a one-year deal will cease. The two parties may still discuss a multi-year deal after that point, but the majority of players who exchange figures with their team today will head to an arbitration hearing.

    As always, all salary projections referenced within this post are courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and we’ll also be updating our 2019 Arbitration Tracker throughout the day…

    Today’s Updates

    • Yankees 1B Greg Bird will make $1.2 MM next season, per Bob Nightengale on Twitter.
    • The controversial Roberto Osuna will make $6.5MM next season, per Feinsand. Teammate Jake Marisnick, who again scuffled in ’18 after a promising 2017, will make $2.2125MM.
    • Per Mark Feinsand on Twitter, A’s lefty Sean Manaea $3.15MM in what’s sure to be an injury-marred 2019.
    • Hard-throwing reliever Mychal Givens will make $2.15MM, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter), with additional incentives for making the All-Star team or placing in the Top-3 for the Rivera/Hoffman Reliever of the Year Awards, added’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
    • The Mariners agreed on a $1.95MM deal with outfielder Domingo Santana, per’s Greg Johns (via Twitter). Santana is the second and last of the Mariners’ arbitration-eligible players.
    • The Angels agreed to contracts with a pair of players yesterday, per Maria Torres of the LA Times (via Twitter). Reliever Hansel Robles signed for $1.4MM. Robles threw 36 1/3 innings of 2.97 ERA baseball after the Angels claimed him off waivers from the Mets in June. Luis Garcia, acquired via trade from the Phillies this winter, signed for $1.675MM.
    • The Tigers and reliever Shane Greene settled on $4MM, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • The Yankees reached an agreement with Sonny Gray for $7.5MM, per Nightengale. Gray, of course, has been involved trade rumors most of the winter, but for the time being, he stands to play a role in the Yankee pen while providing insurance for the rotation.
    • Didi Gregorius has also come to an agreement with the Yankees on a one-year, $11.75MM deal in his final season before free agency, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links).
    • New Yankee James Paxton signed for $8.575, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Paxton is under contract for the 2020 season as well.
    • The Houston Astros came to an agreement with Collin McHugh for $5.8MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). McHugh could be moving back into the rotation after a stellar season in the pen, either way this will be his final season of arb eligibility before hitting the open market.
    • Jonathan Villar comes away with $4.825MM for what will be his first full season in Baltimore, per Nightengale (via Twitter).

    Earlier Updates

    Read more

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Unresolved 2019 Arbitration Cases]]> 2019-01-12T15:29:32Z 2019-01-12T15:15:14Z Yesterday’s arbitration deadline wasn’t a firm date for agreeing to terms. Rather, it was the end of the period to negotiate before submitting numbers for possible hearings. Negotiations can continue thereafter, but teams and players will now have to defend their submission numbers if they can’t bridge the gap before a hearing. Baseball arb panels simply pick one side’s number; that aspect of the process is designed to force the parties to the bargaining table.

    [RELATED: MLBTR Arbitration Projections; MLBTR Arbitration Tracker]

    Here’s what we know thus far about the still-unresolved cases:

    Today’s Updates

    • The Yankees have yet to come to a deal with ace starter Luis Severino, and they may be heading to arbitration. The Yanks have submitted their bid at $4.4MM, while Severino has asked for $5.25MM, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • Tommy Pham and the Rays have submitted their numbers for arbitration, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter). Pham filed at $4.1MM while the Rays submitted a bid of $3.5MM. Pham has had no problem expressing his honest opinion about the Rays fanbase of late, and it will be interesting to see if he gets an equal portion of honest feedback in return in his arbitration hearing.
    • The Oakland A’s and their closer Blake Treinen have both submitted their numbers, with the team coming in at $5.6MM while Treinen files for $6.4MM, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). It’s not a shock to see these sides far apart, given Treinen’s remarkable 2018 and how far above his usual standard of production last season’s numbers fell.
    • Washington Nationals filed at $1.725MM for newcomer Kyle Barraclough, who counters at $2MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). The former Marlin was acquired in an uncommonly early offseason trade that sent international bonus pool money the Marlins’ way.
    • The Diamondbacks have only one player they did not reach an agreement with, lefty reliever T.J. McFarland. The Dbacks submitted a bid of $1.275MM, while McFarland is asking for $1.675MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • Alex Wood submitted $9.65MM for his 2019 salary, while his new club the Cincinnati Reds countered at $8.7MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Wood will be a free agent at season’s end.
    • The Detroit Tigers reached agreements with all of their arbitration eligible players except for right-handed starter Michael Fulmer. Fulmer comes in at $3.4MM with the team countering at $2.8MM, the difference being 600K, per Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • Ryan Tepera has filed for $1.8MM while the Blue Jays submitted their bid at $1.525MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Tepera has been a reliable bullpen arm for the Jays through his first four seasons. He has two more seasons of arbitration remaining, set to reach free agency in advance of the 2022 season.
    • Reserve outfielder Michael A. Taylor and the Washington Nationals are a 250K apart, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Seems like a rather small sum to quibble over in the grand scheme of things, but every cent counts right now in Washington, it seems. Taylor submitted a bid of $3.5MM, with the Nats countering at $3.25MM.

    Earlier Updates

    • Rockies star Nolan Arenado is headed for a record arb salary, unsurprisingly. The question is by how much. He has filed at a whopping $30MM, with the club countering at $24MM, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Even the lower figure would represent a record. It doesn’t seem as if the sides will go to a high-stakes hearing on this one; Jeff Passan of tweets that the odds are good they’ll find common ground. MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz projected Arenado to earn $26.1MM, though he also explained that it’s not hard to see that number swaying in either direction based upon a close examination of the (few relevant) comps.
    • Despite a monster 2018 season, Phillies righty Aaron Nola isn’t seeking to set a record first-year arb starter salary. (That belongs to Dallas Keuchel, at $7.25MM, when he was coming off of a Cy Young season.) Nola did file at a hefty $6.75MM, per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia (via Twitter), while the club entered just $4.5MM. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. The Keuchel salary represented a sea change for young starters, but few others have tested the process since. MLBTR’s projection system spit out a $6.6MM figure for Nola.
    • Righty Gerrit Cole filed at $13.5MM, while the Astros countered at $11.425MM, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter link). Teammates Carlos Correa and Chris Devenski have also yet to agree to terms. MLBTR projected Cole to earn $13.1MM in his final arb season, Correa to check in at $5.1MM in his first arb year, and Devenski to take home $1.4MM his first time through the process.
    • Indians righty Trevor Bauer is seeking a $13MM payday, while the club will argue instead for $11MM, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). The Cleveland org has long utilized a file-and-trial approach on a case-by-case basis. It’s not totally clear whether that’ll be the approach here, but as Hoynes notes, the sides did go to a hearing already last year. (Bauer won.) MLBTR projected a $11.6MM payday; Swartz also explained why he thought the model was likely in the right ballpark for Bauer in a detailed post.
    • Passan provides a list of other players who have yet to agree to terms and who could therefore still end up before a panel. There are fifteen in total, including those already noted above as well as Kyle Barraclough and Michael Taylor (Nationals), Michael Fulmer (Tigers), T.J. McFarland (Diamondbacks), Tommy Pham (Rays), Luis Severino (Yankees), Ryan Tepera (Blue Jays), Blake Treinen (Athletics), and Alex Wood (Reds).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday]]> 2019-01-11T02:52:05Z 2019-01-11T02:51:58Z The deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration figures is tomorrow afternoon at 1pm ET. With the vast majority of teams now adopting a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration — that is, halting negotiations on one-year contracts once figures have been exchanged and simply going to a hearing at that point — there will be a deluge of arbitration agreements in the next 24 hours. It’s a minor deadline day in terms of newsworthiness — outside of the largest cases, at least — as few arbitration cases will have a significant impact on their team’s overall payroll picture. From a broader perspective, though, the exchange of arb figures is perhaps more notable. With most or all of their arbitration cases out of the way, teams can focus more heavily on the trade and free-agent markets.

    As always, it’s interesting to refer back to MLBTR’s annual arbitration projections. Here are the day’s deals:

    • The Tigers will pay Shane Greene $4MM for the coming campaign, Murray tweets. Entering his second year of eligibility, the 30-year-old had projected at $4.8MM, owing largely to his strong tally of 32 saves. Despite appealing K/BB numbers, though, Greene finished the season with an unsightly 5.12 ERA.
    • Righty Nick Tropeano settled with the Angels at $1.075MM. (That’s also via Murray, on Twitter.) That falls well shy of his $1.6MM projection. The first-year arb-eligible hurler was not terribly effective in his 14 starts last year and has just over two hundred career frames in the big leagues, due in no small part to a long rehab owing to Tommy John surgery.

    Earlier Updates

    • Newly acquired outfielder Domingo Santana will earn $1.95MM in his first season with the Mariners, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. That’s just a touch below the $2.0MM that MLBTR & Matt Swartz had projected. The 26-year-old Santana swatted thirty long balls and had a productive overall 2017 season, but only received 235 plate appearances in the ensuing campaign — over which he hit five home runs and carried a .265/.328/.412 slash — before being dealt to Seattle.
    • The Angels are on the hook for $1,901,000 to rehabbing righty J.C. Ramirez, Robert Murray of The Athletic tweets. Ramirez will receive a nominal raise on his 2018 salary after requiring Tommy John surgery after just two starts.
    • Phillies righty Hector Neris has settled at $1.8MM, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia (Twitter links). He had projected at $2.0MM but will settle for a bit less in his first season of arb eligibility. Right-handed starter Jerad Eickhoff, meanwhile, is slated to receive $975K. His projected first-year salary was much higher, at $1.7MM, but Eickhoff presented a tough case since he missed virtually all of his platform season with arm troubles.
    • Southpaw Ryan Buchter has agreed with the Athletics on a $1.4MM deal, Nightengale of reports on Twitter. That lands just a smidge over his $1.3MM projection. Soon to turn 32, Buchter worked to a sub-3.00 for the third-straight season in 2018, but only threw 39 1/3 innings while working as a lefty specialist.
    • Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree will receive a $1,312,500 salary next year, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports (Twitter link). Starter Steven Wright checks in just a shade higher, at $1.375MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Both players had projected in this range, with Swartz pegging $1.2MM for the former and $1.4MM for the latter. It’s Hembree’s first time through the process and Wright’s second.
    • First-time arb-eligible righty Scott Oberg settled with the Rockies for $1.3MM, according to Nightengale (via Twitter). It’s $100K over the projected rate for the 28-year-old hurler, who turned in far and away his most productive MLB season in 2018.
    • The Yankees have a $1.2MM deal in place with first baseman Greg Bird, Nightengale was first to tweet. Though he had projected a bit higher, at $1.5MM, Bird’s relatively robust number of home runs (31 total in 659 career plate appearances) were threatened to be overshadowed in a hypothetical hearing by his rough overall stats over the past two seasons. He’ll need to earn his way back into a larger share of playing time in 2019.
    • Infielder Travis Jankowski will earn $1.165MM with the Padres, per Murray (via Twitter). He projected at a heftier $1.4MM, but the Super Two qualifier will still earn a nice raise after his best season in the big leagues. Jankowski will be looking to crack 400 plate appearances for the first time in the season to come.
    • The Nationals have agreed to a $1MM contract with righty Joe Ross, Murray also tweets. Though Ross projected at $1.5MM for his first season of eligibility, that was based largely upon the innings he accumulated over the prior three seasons. Ross made it back from Tommy John surgery in time for only three outings in 2018.
    • A pair of backstops have also put pen to paper on new salaries. Curt Casali will earn $950K with the Reds, per Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). John Ryan Murphy has a $900K agreement with the Diamondbacks, the elder Nightengale tweets. Casali, a Super Two, had projected for a $1.3MM salary, while Murphy projected at $1.1MM in his first arb year.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Castellanos Talks Between Tigers, Braves Never Progressed]]> 2019-01-10T03:23:39Z 2019-01-10T03:15:16Z
  • Meanwhile, talks between the Braves and the Tigers regarding outfielder Nicholas Castellanos have gone nowhere since the two sides talked at last month’s Winter Meetings, Morosi tweets. The Braves are, of course, still looking far and wide for a corner outfielder and are “active” in their pursuit of that key need. With many options seemingly still on the table, though, the club appears to be content not to push hard for any particular player, which might increase the acquisition cost.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[AL Notes: Machado, Yankees, Tigers, White Sox]]> 2019-01-08T14:51:45Z 2019-01-08T14:39:16Z The market for Manny Machado is by most accounts down to three teams, though perhaps it’s not too late for others to get involved. Interestingly, the Yankees are still the least aggressive of that group, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter links), who suggests that the New York powerhouse has not yet and may not ever put more than $200MM on the table for one of the game’s best players. Meanwhile, the White Sox have now made two intriguing acquisitions of players with close personal ties to Machado, with Jon Jay joining Yonder Alonso on the South Side. And the Phillies are reportedly lining up a second offer to present to Machado.

    • Ken Davidoff of the New York Post looks further at the Yanks’ thus-far tepid pursuit of Machado, noting that the club hasn’t yet even made him a formal offer. Clearly, there’s a point at which the Bronx Bombers would be thrilled to land Machado, but there isn’t much indication at this point that the team is going to bid up a massive, long-term guarantee. Meanwhile, the club’s recent signing of veteran Troy Tulowitzki may have been an interesting development, but it likely won’t have any kind of impact on the possible pursuit of Machado. As Davidoff notes, Tulo is hardly a clear difference-maker at this stage of his career. And the veteran himself tells’s Bryan Hoch (via Twitter) that he’d be thrilled to have Machado join him in New York.
    • In years past, we might have been wondering whether the Tigers might be a surprise entrant to the Machado market. But the Detroit org is now deep in a rebuild, the timing of which is unclear. As Evan Woodbery of writes, that’s by design. While the club has intentionally not put any dates on its anticipated return to competition, though, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some in mind. As GM Al Avila has acknowledged, the club’s ledger will be clear of some hefty obligations after the 2020 season. In the meantime, there’s still quite a lot to be done to build a new competitive core.
    • In other Tigers news, the club has added former MLB infielder Josh Wilson, albeit in a non-playing capacity. The 37-year-old is an eight-year big-league veteran who played his final season with the Detroit organization back in 2015. Wilson will begin his new career in the game in a scouting capacity. As Lynn Henning of the Detroit News covers, the club also announced a series of other staffing moves.
    • The White Sox are hoping their own rebound will occur much more quickly than that of their division rivals. Accordingly, the team is not only pursuing Machado but continues to hunt for quality veteran pieces to plug into its roster. Before agreeing to sign Kelvin Herrera yesterday, the Sox “were among the finalists” to ink fellow hard-throwing, right-handed reliever Joe Kelly, according to Rob Bradford of (via Twitter). Kelly, of course, landed with the Dodgers for three years and $25MM. Clearly, the White Sox have knocked down quite a few doors this winter. It’ll be fascinating to see what other players they end up adding to the MLB roster.
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Tulo, Napoli, Castellanos, Rays]]> 2019-01-04T17:53:07Z 2019-01-04T17:43:23Z Troy Tulowitzki impressed enough in his December 16th showcase to draw genuine interest from as many as 16 major league clubs, per Andy Martino of The Cubs were reportedly willing to hand Tulo their starting shortstop position at least until the end of Addison Russell’s suspension. The Pirates, as well, liked Tulo’s lateral mobility and overall athleticism enough to install him as their starting shortstop. The Angels were interested in him as a third baseman. By signing with the Yankees, however, Tulo arguably sees more playing time certainly than in Chicago, assuming Didi Gregorius’ injury will keep him out for longer than Russell. The Yankees fulfill (at least for now) his desire to stick at short, and they certainly figure to be more competitive than the Pirates. In context, there’s ample reason to understand New York’s appeal to Tulowitzki and vice versa, though the story changes if Manny Machado winds up in pinstripes. Of course, Tulo’s minimum salary deal would hardly be a deterrent to a Machado signing, but it could be yet another sign that Brian Cashman and the Yankees are more than content to enter 2019 without the divisive superstar. Let’s check in on a few other notes from around the game…

    • Interestingly, Mike Napoli interviewed with the Chicago Cubs before they filled their recent coaching vacancies, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). It’s been less than a month since the former All-Star announced his retirement, but now that the Cubs went in a different direction, Napoli will have no trouble enjoying his time off. Napoli was always touted as a positive influence who buoyed clubhouse morale with intensity and charm, and there’s plenty reason to believe there is a future in coaching for him, if he so chooses.
    • The Tigers are no-doubt ready to deal Nick Castellanos, but they’re not ready to give him away, per’s Evan Woodbery. GM Al Avila faced a similar quandary last offseason in trying to find a match for veteran Ian Kinsler. He settled on returning a pair of lower-tier prospects from the Angels, only one of whom registers on their list of top-30 prospects from (Troy Montgomery at #29). Kinsler’s situation was complicated by a partial no-trade list, but the Tigers still ended up with a package not much different from what the Angels received when they moved him to Boston mid-season. The Tigers don’t appear ready to settle this time around, even if it means getting a lesser prospect mid-season or letting him walk at year’s end. The crux of the issue is that the Tigers view Castellanos as a robust offensive producer on a one-year deal coming off a career season and entering his prime. Trade partners, meanwhile, can paint Castellanos as an $11MM defensive liability. Of potential trade partners, the division rival Indians are still the most logical fit, and they’ve partnered even recently on the Leonys Martin deal last season. Still, finding middle ground on appropriate compensation for a player with such evaluative extremes is proving difficult. Avila and the Tigers, however, will not be cowed by the challenge, nor will they give in to it – at least for now.
    • The Tampa Bay Rays are reducing the seating capacity of Tropicana Field in order to create “a more intimate, entertaining, and appealing experience [for our fans],” per Carl Lisciandrello of the Tampa Bay Times. The new renovation plan will lower the seating capacity by roughly 6,000 to around 25,000 to 26,000. With an average daily attendance in 2018 of 14,258 that exceeded only the Marlins, the Rays are certainly taking a creative approach to attract more fans by lowering their capacity ceiling. While the initial optics of this renovation plan certainly invites a degree of ribbing, Rays ownership is wise to take a creative approach to growing a fanbase that has been historically lackluster, especially given the recent failure to finalize a deal for a new stadium in Ybor City. Outfielder Tommy Pham was the latest to criticize Rays’ fans in a recent interview on MLB Network Radio, saying, “It sucks going from playing in front of a great fan base to a team with really no fan base at all,” as chronicled by Anthony Barstow of the New York Post. The Rays have done the job of putting a competitive and exciting team on the field, now they’ll embark on better utilizing areas within the ballpark. Hopefully, there will be more fans there in 2019 to notice.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Bryan Garcia Progressing Well In Tommy John Rehab]]> 2019-01-03T17:49:55Z 2019-01-03T17:49:55Z
  • Chris McCosky of the Detroit News chats with Tigers prospect Bryan Garcia, who is now 11 months removed from Tommy John surgery and is nearing a return to the mound. As McCosky notes, the Detroit farm system looks dramatically different now than it did a year ago, when Garcia was ranked among the organization’s more promising young arms. still ranks Garcia as the Tigers’ No. 22 farmhand, but he’s been leapfrogged by numerous pitchers over the course of the year he missed. None of that bothers Garcia, who discusses his decision to undergo surgery, his mindset during rehab and his 2019 outlook at lengthy with McCosky. A sixth-rounder in 2016, Garcia enjoyed a meteoric rise through Detroit’s system in ’17, ascending from Low-A to Triple-A and amassing 55 innings of 2.13 ERA ball with 12.8 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9 along the way. Tigers VP of player development Dave Littlefield tells McCosky that the goal is for Garcia to be pitching competitively by May. The 23-year-old could well emerge as a ’pen option in Detroit in late 2019 or in 2020, though Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen wrote last May that Garcia could also have the stuff to start.
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    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[3 Remaining Needs: AL Central]]> 2019-01-03T09:42:23Z 2019-01-03T02:24:34Z Our 3 Remaining Needs series skips over to the Cleveland-dominated American League Central, home to three of MLB’s least successful franchises in 2018. The Tribe still figure to have a stranglehold on the division, though the upstart Twins have kicked off the winter with a flurry of moves, and prospect-rich White Sox are shooting well beyond their typical free-agent moon. Here’s a look at the three most pressing needs for each team in the division (listed in order of 2018 finish) . . .

    [Previous installments: NL WestNL EastNL Central, AL West]

    Cleveland Indians

    • Find an outfielder (or three). The Tribe probably don’t need to do anything this winter if their aim is simply to lock down a fourth straight division crown, but surely the title-starved club, rife with franchise icons on the infield and in the rotation, has set its sights a good deal higher. If so, they’ll need to fix their desolate outfield situation, which currently features some haphazard mix of Jordan Luplow, Jake Bauers, Leonys Martin, Greg Allen, and Tyler Naquin. Jason Kipnis could be an option as well, though the club has already swapped penciled-in third baseman Yandy Diaz for Bauers, which should force Jose Ramirez back to the hot corner and Kipnis – who suffered through a second consecutive subpar season in ’18 – back to second. The Indians saved about $18MM by dealing Yonder Alonso and Edwin Encarnacion, so this should be their first priority.
    • Address the pen. Behind star-level closer Brad Hand, the Tribe pen is surprisingly thin. Tyler Olson, essentially a LOOGY at this point in his career, is otherwise the club’s highest-producing returner, with a 2.94 xFIP in just 29 IP. Stunningly, not a single other returning Indian reliever posted higher than 0.1 fWAR in 2018, with heralded midseason acquisition Adam Cimber posting a dreadful 3.15 K/9 over an identical 3.15 BB/9 in his stint with the club. Cleveland has long treasured bargain pickups in this area, and may again be left shuffling through the bin in search of help.
    • Acquire a catcher. Recent deals have stripped the club of star prospect Francisco Mejia and the up-and-down Yan Gomes, leaving just a combination of Roberto Perez and Eric Haase behind the dish, each of whom project around replacement level. An upper-minors savior isn’t in the wings, so the club will likely be forced to look elsewhere for an upgrade.

    Minnesota Twins

    • Solidify the back end of the rotation.  The Twins have gone all-in on righty power (Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop) this winter, but have still yet to address a number of staff holes.  A top end of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, and Kyle Gibson – plus a returning Michael Pineda – is a nice start, but three of the four are free agents after the season, and the club has little in the way of track record after that. Youngsters Stephen Gonsalves, Lewis Thorpe, and Fernando Romero could fill in eventually, but none appear poised to immediately lock down a role.
    • Shore up the pen. Taylor Rogers quietly had one of MLB’s best relief seasons in 2018 (a dominant 54 FIP-) and Trevor May is a quality arm, but the Twins lack anything in the way of cohesion beyond that. Figureheads Addison Reed and Trevor Hildenberger struggled mightily with the long ball last year and, with the fickle nature of even longtime bullpen success stories, can hardly be counted on in the season to come. Lefty Andrew Vasquez deserves at least an early-season look after sporting minor league numbers that nearly defy belief, but the club would do well to hunt down two or three more proven performers in the back end.
    • Don’t mess with Kepler. German-born Max Kepler has accrued nearly three full seasons’ worth of MLB at-bats in his young career and has yet to produce even a league-average line, but a closer look suggests there may be much more to come. Indeed, the 25-year-old quietly accumulated a solid 2.6 fWAR last season despite a balls-in-play average of just .236, and his plate-discipline profile (11.6 BB%/15.7 K%) stood as one of the AL’s best. Kepler earns plus defensive marks wherever he plays, and could be a breakout center-field candidate if Byron Buxton again sputters early in the season. Kepler is an apparently a sought-after commodity on the trade market this winter, but the man who Steamer projects to produce a 110 wRC+ (Brandon Nimmo, by comparison, is at 112) should have a long-term home in Minneapolis.

    Detroit Tigers

    • Find a taker for Nick Castellanos. Castellanos, 26, had his best offensive season last year, slashing .298/.354/.500 (130 wRC+) with a celestial 48% hard-hit rate. He’s entering the last year of team control, though, and would seem to have to have little on-field value for a rebuilding Tiger club; numerous teams are said to have had interest, but the price (somewhat oddly, given his defensive ineptitude) remains exorbitant.
    • Continue to hunt for flip candidates. Thus far in the offseason, Detroit has signed Matt Moore, Tyson Ross, and Jordy Mercer, all of whom (but especially the former two) could have legitimate mid-season trade value if they unexpectedly return to form. Pickups of this ilk seem ideal for a Tiger team in flux; a few more, perhaps at multiple spots in the outfield and in the bullpen, could be an excellent jumpstart for the nascent rebuild.
    • Add prospect depth. It’s been years – decades, maybe – since the Tiger farm churned out multiple big leaguers at a time, with the team instead preferring to assemble their best clubs through shrewd trades and lavish free-agent signings. Now, though, seems the perfect time to amass a burgeoning juggernaut on the farm; the club is off to a great start, with three of the league’s top-50 prospects in place, but strength in numbers will be the order of the next few seasons in Motown.

    Chicago White Sox

    • Sign one of (or both) Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.  This remains a long shot, to be sure, but the talk in Chicagoland seems to be intensifying around each superstar. Whether the White Sox, who’ve never handed out a free-agent contract north of $70MM in club history, are willing to meet the respective enormous demands is unclear, but a seat at the table may be sufficient for the long-suffering fans on the Southside.
    • Find guys who put the ball in play. The White Sox led baseball with a hard-to-believe 26.3 K% last year, and received meager ancillary benefit, with a mid-pack team ISO of just .160. Among regulars, only Jose Abreu had a strikeout percentage under 20%, which may well be a first in major-league history. A power-driven lineup makes sense in the homer-happy Guaranteed Rate Field, but it won’t mean much if the club continues to strike out at a historic collective pace.
    • Find guys who keep the ball in play. Chicago’s 115 xFIP- was dead-last in MLB last year, aided in no small part by a league-worst 4.09 BB/9 and the tendency of its starters to deliver up the gopher ball. Head culprit James Shields is gone, but the club needs, urgently, to be on the scent of pitchers with a track record of limiting the home run. Perhaps no pitcher would be a better fit than Marcus Stroman (0.81 career HR/9), but others, like Gio Gonzalez, Mike Leake, Sonny Gray, and even perhaps Martin Perez, who was homer-allergic in his previous few seasons prior to last, would be excellent choices as well.

    Kansas City Royals

    • Scour the depths for pitching help. Kansas City’s pitching staff was, by any account, an unmitigated disaster last season, as the team’s hurlers struck out a mere 7.27 men per nine on the way to near-league-worst output. The team, oddly, has poured so much of its resources into finding high-contact offensive players, but seems thoroughly disinterested in identifying their inverse on the pitching staff. The 2018 Royals featured nine regular contributors who struck out seven or fewer men last season, none of whom received much help from the unit’s highest-priced contingent of Ian Kennedy and Danny Duffy. Put simply, the Royals need mound help wherever they can find it.
    • Cash in peak-value assets. 30-year-old Whit Merrifield’s value will likely never be higher – fresh off a 5.2 fWAR season, the versatile IF/OF has already piqued the interest of a number of a clubs, all of whom have been informed that he likely is not available. Such a strategy seems unsound – Merrifield, after all, projects around league-average next season, would seem to have hit his zenith, and doesn’t figure to be a key cog in the next contending Royals club. Plus, there’s the troubling track record – it took Whit three tries to progress beyond Double-A, and another three to get past AAA. If a crater is on the horizon, Kansas City will certainly be kicking themselves in the seasons to come.
    • Find regular at-bats for Brett Phillips and Jorge Soler. The two former top-50 prospects have seen their value slide precipitously over the last two seasons, but it’s certainly not time to give up on either yet. Alex Gordon and the newly-signed Billy Hamilton figure to take up two-thirds of the outfield slots, and team favorite Jorge Bonifacio is likely to contend at the other, but the non-contending Royals must find a way to get both of these players at least 400 plate appearances in 2019.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Unlikely To Land LeMahieu]]> 2018-12-31T05:50:24Z 2018-12-31T05:50:24Z While DJ LeMahieu played his high school ball in Michigan, a return to his old stomping grounds in the form of a Tigers contract “isn’t likely,”’s Jason Beck writes.  Detroit figures to wait until closer to Spring Training to land a second baseman, so LeMahieu will likely be off the market by then, plus his desire for a multi-year deal probably also doesn’t fit with the Tigers’ plan to acquire a short-term bridge to prospect Dawel Lugo.  The Nationals, Dodgers, and Athletics have all been linked to LeMahieu at various points this offseason, though it’s probably safe to count Oakland out of the running after the team’s acquisition of Jurickson Profar.  In general, Beck feels the Tigers could wait until later in the offseason to address several needs, looking for low-cost veterans or potential bargains to fill holes in the rotation, bullpen, catcher, or on the bench.  The Tigers may also have to hold off on dealing Nick Castellanos until after Bryce Harper signs with a new team, in order to take stock of a newly-shuffled outfield market.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Rumors: Grandal, Mets, Dodgers, Tigers, Castellanos]]> 2018-12-29T00:40:56Z 2018-12-29T00:04:30Z The Mets found a veteran catcher in free agency earlier this month when they signed Wilson Ramos to a two-year, $19MM guarantee. However, the club had been willing to pay a much steeper price for the premier backstop on the open market, Yasmani Grandal, whom it offered a four-year, $60MM contract, Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reports. Grandal rejected the Mets’ proposal, leading them to sign Ramos for far less.

    The Mets’ offer to Grandal was in the ballpark of the four-year, $64MM prediction MLBTR made for accomplished catcher entering the offseason. Of course, because Grandal declined the Dodgers’ one-year, $17.9MM qualifying offer after the season, the team that signs him will have to pay more than just money to secure his services. In the Mets’ case, adding Grandal would have meant surrendering their second-highest draft pick and $500K in international bonus pool space in 2019.

    Aside from the Mets, the 30-year-old Grandal has also drawn reported interest from the Dodgers, Reds, Angels and White Sox this winter. Other than the White Sox, who traded Omar Narvaez and signed James McCann, those teams haven’t addressed the catcher position in any meaningful way since last season ended. As such, it stands to reason the Dodgers, Reds and Angels could still be among the teams in on Grandal. The Dodgers are “unlikely” to re-sign Grandal, though, unless he unexpectedly settles for a short-term contract, according to Castillo.

    In the event the Dodgers do bring back Grandal, he’d give them another righty-capable batter, which is something the lefty-heavy club is reportedly seeking after trading away outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. Grandal is one of several such hitters who have been connected to the Dodgers this offseason, with Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos also among those in the mix. But the Dodgers have found the Tigers’ asking price to be prohibitive, per Castillo, who hears that Detroit initially requested either young outfielder Alex Verdugo or catcher prospect Keibert Ruiz from Los Angeles.

    Unsurprisingly, the Dodgers balked at giving up either Verdugo or Ruiz for the defensively challenged Castellanos, who’s only under control for another year (at a projected $11.1MM). The 22-year-old Verdugo ranks as the Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect and baseball’s 32nd-best farmhand at, and could be a prominent member of their 2019 outfield or a major piece in an offseason trade revolving around someone more valuable than Castellanos. Ruiz, 20, is the Dodgers’ second-ranked prospect at, which places him 39th overall. Along with fellow catcher prospect Will Smith, Ruiz could be part of the long-term solution for the club behind the plate.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Norris Needs To Earn Place In Tigers' Rotation]]> 2018-12-26T20:16:48Z 2018-12-26T20:16:48Z
  • As part of his latest mailbag column, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press takes a look at what the addition of both Matt Moore and Tyson Ross means for Daniel Norris’ future with the Tigers. As Fenech notes, the pair of additions sends a message to Norris that he won’t be guaranteed a starting job and will need to force his way into the rotation. Once considered one of the game’s premier pitching prospects — Norris ranked as a Top 20 overall prospect per both Baseball America and in 2015 — the now-25-year-old Norris has just a 4.61 ERA in 252 innings with the Tigers. His development was undeniably slowed by a frightening battle with thyroid cancer in 2016, and Norris also underwent surgery to repair a groin tear earlier this season. Fenech adds that “behind-the-scenes, [the Tigers] have not been bashful in their views that Norris needs to take a step forward, and soon.” Detroit controls Norris through the 2021 season.
  • ]]>
    George Miller <![CDATA[Looking For A Match In A Nicholas Castellanos Trade]]> 2018-12-26T07:15:30Z 2018-12-26T06:29:31Z Nick Castellanos enjoyed the best offensive season of his career in 2018, posting a robust .298/.354/.500 batting line with 23 home runs, good for a 130 OPS+. He was the best hitter in an underwhelming Tigers lineup, making him a natural trade candidate as he enters the final year of arbitration eligibility. While his offensive profile leaves little to be desired, there is, as always, a caveat: Castellanos is a liability in the field, whether at third base, where he began his career, or in right field, where he started 142 games last season. After transitioning to right late in 2017, Castellanos did improve in 2018 when given the opportunity to play the position full-time – his UZR/150 innings improved from -57.6 in 2017 to -12.3 last season – but he remains an underwhelming defensive performer, and therefore best suited as a designated hitter with an American League club.

    If the Tigers plan to deal Castellanos, and they’re said to be “determined” to do so, now is the time. Even if teams are less willing to surrender significant pieces than they might have been a year ago, when he still had two years of team control remaining, he will still be just 27 years of age during the 2019 season, and the single year of team control can be an asset. If Detroit can’t find a match, there is an argument to be made that he could attract a more robust market in July when half of his 2019 salary has already been paid, especially if he continues on his upward trajectory. Regardless, the Tigers, who will almost certainly find themselves well outside of playoff contention in 2019, would likely prefer to cash in now, if only to avoid the worst case scenario of an unceremonious (and uncompensated) free agent departure next winter. The rub here being they need to find a trade partner.

    After trading away Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers could certainly add an outfielder, and they happen to be the most recent team linked to Castellanos. Carrying more traditional platoon splits than Puig, Castellanos fits as the right-handed impact bat the Dodgers reportedly seek. Still, the scuttlebutt around Los Angeles paints two different pictures: one where the above trade clears the necessary payroll to approach big fish like Bryce Harper or A.J. Pollock, while the other tale insists management plans to dip under the luxury tax again in 2019. If the latter is true, Castellanos would be a reasonable (and considerably cheaper) alternative.

    Much like the Dodgers, the Rays have plainly stated their intentions to bolster their lineup with a right-handed power hitter. Recent acquisition Yandy Diaz might be that guy, but they’ve also been linked to Cardinals’ slugger Jose Martinez and free agent Nelson Cruz, both of whom would fill a similar role as Castellanos. On the other hand, C.J. Cron provides a similar profile at half the cost, and the Rays non-tendered him. Even if the Rays’ value Castellanos’ “versatility,” or simply, if they (understandably) believe him the better overall hitter – it would still be quite the leap to pay Castellanos twice as much as Cron, while also giving up a prospect to get him.

    With Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yonder Alonso all donning new uniforms in 2019, the Indians need to replace a considerable amount of the offensive production that carried them to another AL Central title last season. Couple that with their need in the outfield and Castellanos seems a natural target. Still, with the recent trade that brought Jake Bauers and Carlos Santana, both 1B/DH types, to Cleveland, there may not be room for Castellanos if they don’t like his defense in right. As a trio they could rotate between first base, right field and DH, whether that means Bauers in right, Santana at first and Castellanos at DH, or Castellanos in right, Bauers at first and Santana at DH. Add Bradley Zimmer to the mix when he returns from injury and manager Tito Francona would have a defensive option for right to mix-and-match with as well. Whichever particular permutation Francona likes best, there’s enough playing time to keep everyone fed. Given the Indians’ reluctance to add payroll this offseason, however, Castellanos may prove too costly. As a short-term rental, his $11.3MM projected salary is palatable – the prospect cost may be a bigger deterrent, especially if Detroit charges an intra-division premium.

    Same goes for the Twins, who with their surprising amount of free payroll space are dark-horse players for many big name free agents/trade targets. They have been tied to Cruz as a free agent for the void left at DH after Robbie Grossman’s non-tender, and they should know Castellanos game intimately, for better or for worse. Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario are penciled into the outfield corners, but both are flexible players who can move around the diamond a little as needed to make room for an impact bat. Besides, the Twins are lapping the the field in the number of players in need of a PR re-launch, so adding Castellanos to a lineup already featuring Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Cron and Jonathan Schoop keeps the Twins on brand. Still, just because someone likes butterscotch doesn’t mean they only like butterscotch, and it might be the Twins have enough [big-bodied right-handed sluggers] butterscotch on hand already.

    Returning to the NL, the Rockies or Giants could theoretically find room for Castellanos as a platoon bat, but the best fit is probably Atlanta. The Braves have an open spot in their outfield if Nick Markakis signs elsewhere, and they’ve checked in with the Tigers about Castellanos. But the same questions abound for the Braves as would any National League team. Namely, does Castellanos’ bat make up for his poor defense, and if not, is the $11.3MM price tag plus Detroit’s prospect ask too much to pay for a platoon/bench bat? For non-contenders, almost certainly not, which limits the field of potential dance partners for Detroit. The free agent outfield market is fairly barren, however, and considering the left-leaning rotations among contenders like the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox – plus Patrick Corbin in Washington, Kyle Freeland in Colorado, and Blake Snell in Tampa – there should be no shortage of pennant hopefuls capable of putting a lefty masher like Castellanos to work.