Mariners, Rays swap Ramirez for Montgomery + notes

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According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays have acquired right-handed pitcher Erasmo Ramirez from the Seattle Mariners for left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery.

Ramirez, 24, was out of options and wasn’t going to make the team out of Spring Training. In 206.2 total innings at the big-league level he posted a 4.62 ERA 4.66 FIP with a 0.5 fWAR. He had an 18.4 K% and 8 BB%.

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Montgomery, 25, hasn’t seen the big leagues yet, but has posted a 4.28 ERA in 789.1 innings pitched in the minors including a 4.29 ERA in 2014. He is looking like a future relief man. 

- Notes

- Justin Maxwell made the Giants' roster and former first round pick Gary Brown was designated for assignment. With Hunter Pence fracturing his left forearm, there was going to be a roster spot open. Maxwell made the team over Brown, Juan Perez, and Jarrett Parker. Maxwell will likely platoon a bit with Gregor Blanco and Nori Aoki, maybe even give Angel Pagan multiple days off a week. In 919 career PA, he slashed .224/.311/.417 with a 97 wRC+, and a 3.2 fWAR.

- In 2015, the mean salary will be over $4 million, which is a new record. $4.25 million, to be exact, according to NBC.

- Ken Giles, Phillies' right-handed relief pitcher left his outing due to back tightness, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Salisbury added that Giles isn't worried about it and thinks he will be ready for Opening Day. Giles, 24, broke out last year posting a 1.18 ERA, 1.34 FIP in 45.2 innings pitched.

- Jose Mijares, 30, has been suspended 50 games for "drug of abuse" according to MLB HQ. Mijares won a World Series in 2012 with San Francisco while being a key middle reliever, specialist in the bullpen. He is currently a free agent.

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that free agent Minor League left-handed pitcher Jose Mijares has received a 50-game suspension without pay following a second positive test for a drug of abuse in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

- John Axford of the Rockies left Rockies' camp after his two-year old son was bit by a rattlesnake near the home they're staying at in Arizona. He was bit twice on the foot, according to Nick Groke of the Denver Post, and is now stable. Axford made Colorado's club and will make nearly $3 million in 2015. Get well, Jameson Axford.

- After leaving his start on Friday due to triceps cramps, Justin Verlander could end up starting the season on the disabled list, according to George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. He is going to pitch in a minor league game this Friday, meaning the decision will likely come soon after that. 

Five days left until Opening Day (Night? Whatever)

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Uggla wants to start, Vazquez will visit Dr. Andrews, Ludwick released

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

According to Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington, Nationals’ second baseman Dan Uggla won’t be happy with a bench role on the team. Uggla was asked if he would be comfortable in a bench role: 

“I’d have to say no,” Uggla said to Zuckerman. “I’ve never done it before. It’s not where I feel like I’m at in my career. That’s not what I’m looking to do.”

Uggla, 35, is coming off two poor seasons in a row slashing .179/.309/.362 in 2013 and .149/.229/.213 in 2014. He will be given his first World Series ring this year after spending a week with the Giants in 2014. 

Yunel Escobar is likely going to be the starting second baseman with Kevin Frandsen and Danny Espinosa as possible bench players. 

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According to Sean McAdam of CSN New England, Red Sox’ catcher Christian Vazquez is going to visit Dr. James Andrews to get his right elbow examined. Ryan Hanigan will likely be the Opening Day catcher.

“I don’t know about the severity of it right now,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Sunday to McAdam “We know there have been findings on it, based on the MRI, and I think anytime the elbow is talked about, you go to someone who’s probably the source in our industry — and that’s Dr. Andrews — to take a further look at this.”
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Outfielder Ryan Ludwick has been released by the Texas Rangers after struggling in Spring Training, according to John Blake, Rangers’ Vice President of Communications.

Ludwick, 36, had a dismal 2014 season slashing .244/.308/.375 with 9 home runs, 91 wRC+, and -0.6 fWAR. In 1065 career games he has a 110 wRC+, 13.7 fWAR. In 30 at-bats this spring he slashed just .200/.188/.300 with one home run.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Martinez of the Rangers has won the fifth starting rotation slot, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. He beat out Anthony Ranaudo, Lisalverto, Bonilla, and Nick Tepesch.

Martinez, 24, has posted a 4.55 ERA, 4.94 FIP in 140 career innings pitched while striking out 77 and walking 55. 

Also, this Puig throw was money:


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Mets, Lucas Duda talking extension

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, the Mets and Lucas Duda are discussing a long-term contract extension after his breakout 2014 season.

Duda, 29, is under control through 2017 and is making $4.2 million in 2015. A deal would likely be four to six seasons buying out some free agent years and all of his arbitration years.

In 503 games with the Mets he is slashing .248/.344/.442 with 74 home runs, 122 wRC+, and a 2.9 fWAR. In 2014, he posted a 136 wRC+, 3.2 fWAR in 596 plate appearances and was voted no. 22 in NL MVP voting. He does have some trouble against lefties, slashing .212/.291/.317 with a 75 wRC+, and 9 home runs in 469 plate appearances. Newly acquired Michael Cuddyer could platoon with him at times in the upcoming seasons at first base. 


This spring, Duda is slashing .171/.275/.326 with 2 home runs in 35 at-bats.

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Mariners' pitching prospect Victor Sanchez dies

According to Greg Johns of MLB.com, one of the Seattle Mariners’ prospects Victor Sanchez passed away in Venezuela after being in a boating accident last February. He signed a $2.5 million signing bonus in 2011 as a 16-year old out of Rio Chico.

He was struck in the head by while swimming in the eastern coastal city of Carupano on February 14, days before his trip to Arizona. After being unconscious and in a medically induced coma, he underwent brain surgery. He had several skull fractures and a hematoma.

Sanchez, 20, has pitched at Low-A Everett, High-A Clinton, and Double-A Jackson over his first three seasons in professional baseball. In 343 innings pitched he posted a 3.43 ERA, 245 strikeouts, and 79 walks. He was ranked the Mariners’ 11th best prospect by MLB.com last season. 

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Tigers' Verlander leaves start with triceps cramping + notes

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

After looking like the old Justin Verlander Friday in Florida, he called for the trainers to come out after experiencing triceps cramping in his right arm.

Jason Beck of MLB.com, says that Verlander is expected to make his next start and that he will be re-examined Saturday. Verlander mentioned that he thought it was dehydration.

Verlander, 32, went 2 2/3 innings Friday giving up one run on one hit while striking out two and walking one. Before today he had a 6.08 ERA this Spring in 12.1 innings pitched. He is trying to find his old self after struggling in 2014. He pitched 206 innings posting a 4.54 ERA, 3.74 FIP, and a 2.8 fWAR while K% went down from 23.5% to 17.8%.  

Notes: 

- Blue Jays' starter Marcus Stroman, who tore his ACL during pitcher drills, is planning on earning his college while rehabbing. The 23-year old will take classes at Duke University, where he pitched for three years. 

- Mets' second baseman Daniel Murphy will likely start the season on the disabled list due to a right hamstring strain. Murphy makes $8 million this year and then becomes a free agent this winter. The soon-to-be 30-year old could be replaced in the lineup by Matt Reynolds, Daniel Muno or Wilson Flores.

- Phillies' outfielder Domonic Brown is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day according to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. He has been dealing with a sore achilles. Brown will try to get back on track in 2015 after slashing .235/.285/.349 with a 77 OPS+, -1.4 WAR, and 10 home runs in 512 plate appearances. 

- White Sox claimed Kyle Drabek off waivers from Toronto. He has pitched 5 innings at the MLB level the past two seasons after posting a 4.67 ERA in 71 innings in 2012. 

- Mariners' Rule-5 selection David Rollins LHP has been suspended 80 games for PEDs. The 25-year old had a 3.39 ERA in 360 minor league innings pitched before being selected by Seattle in the Rule-5 draft from Houston.

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Brady Aiken undergoes Tommy John Surgery + notes

The 2014 first overall pick in the MLB Amateur Draft, Brady Aiken, had Tommy John – elbow ligament replacement surgery. It was reported last week that he had to be shut down after feeling tightness in his left arm after 12 pitches. He didn’t reach an agreement with Houston last year and is eligible for the 2015 draft. The 19-year old left-hander declined a $3.1 million offer from the Astros (wanted $6.5 million) after Houston found some things alarming during his physical. 


Notes:

- Indians’ top prospect, Francisco Lindor, was reassigned to Triple-A today after having a great spring training with the big league club. The 21-year old slashed .297/.308/.595 with 2 home runs, 5 runs batted in in 37 at-bats.

- The Boston Red Sox reassigned left-handed prospect Henry Owens (8.74 ERA in 11.1 innings) to their minor league camp and released hard-throwing right-hander Mitchell Boggs (9 ERA in 4 innings).

- The Toronto Blue Jays sent right-handed reliever Steve Delabar to Triple-A after making the 2013 All-Star team in 2013. He pitched 25.2 innings in 2014 and posted a 4.91 ERA, 5.59 FIP. This spring he posted a 3.86 ERA in 7 innings pitched. 

- The New York Yankees released right-hander Jared Burton. The 33-year old has pitched 361 innings at the big league level with the Reds and Twins posting a 3.44 ERA, 3.85 FIP, and a 2.7 fWAR. This spring he didn't give up a run in 4 innings pitched and struck out 2 batters.

- John Buck, 34, announced that he is retiring from the baseball after parts of ten seasons in the big leagues. He slashed .234/.301/.398 with 134 home runs, 84 wRC+, and a 10.2 fWAR in 1090 games. He played for the Royals, Blue Jays, Marlins, Mets, Pirates, Mariners, and Angels.

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Dodgers ink Hector Olivera to a $62.5 million deal

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According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Hector Olivera and the Dodgers have come to terms on a $62.5 million deal. The deal includes a $28 million signing bonus. He still needs to obtain a work visa.

Sanchez says they are waiting for the results of the physical, but there is indeed a slight UCL tear in his right elbow. His contract includes a clause that gives the team a seventh season at $1 million if he needs Tommy John surgery.

Ken Rosenthal says that Los Angeles will try him out at third base, second base, first base, and left field.

Los Angeles have Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, and Juan Uribe this season, but they are free agents this winter, so a spot could open up for Olivera. The Braves, Marlins, Giants, Padres, and Yankees were interested in the 26-year old Cuban.

Olivera was a high on base percentage, powerful in Cuba, but doesn't have the same kind of tools as Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Abreu or Yasiel Puig. 


The Dodgers continue to spend money and are already projected to win 90 games, according to FanGraphs

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Hyun-Jin Ryu shut down, sent back to Los Angeles

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers have shut down pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu after experiencing pain in his left shoulder while playing catch Sunday. He will be traveling back to Los Angeles to meet with the team doctor, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN.

Manager Don Mattingly said Ryu will start the season on the disabled list. He had shoulder discomfort last season, but managed to relax for a month and pitched without pain down the stretch.

Ryu, 27, has posted a 3.17 ERA, 2.97 FIP in 344 innings the last two seasons with a combined fWAR of 7.4 in 56 appearances. He is entering his third major league season after signing with the Dodgers before the 2013 season.

"I think he's feeling something. If he was feeling nothing, we wouldn't be trying to get him in front of Doc," Mattingly said to Mark Saxon of ESPN. "We know to move forward it's going to be a heavier workload, so we've got to be sure where we're at. I saw the look on Hyun-Jin's face and it wasn't typical Hyun-Jin."

Now that Ryu is likely out for a while, Los Angeles is reportedly searching the market for a starter to fill the rotation. They’ve been rumored to Phillies’ LHP Cole Hamels in the past, but Joe Wieland looks like the front-runner right now for the job. Carlos Frias and Mike Bolsinger are other in-house options.

"We've been looking for starting pitching depth all offseason and that's kind of continued into camp," Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said to Saxon. "This is just a hard time to go out there and acquire starting pitching depth. We're fielding calls from teams that are asking us about our starting pitching depth, so there aren't a lot of starting pitching sellers right now."

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Colorado Rockies release RHP Jhoulys Chacin

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the Rockies surprisingly released Jhoulys Chacin after parts of six seasons with the team. He appeared in 124 games, started 109 and will be free agent eligible after 2015.

Colorado signed him to a one-year, $5.5 million deal to avoid arbitration in the offseason after coming off a season where he had pitched only 63 1/3 innings because he had rotator cuff and labrum injuries. He rehabbed , instead of having the surgery.

Chacin, 27, had a great 2013 going 197 1/3 innings posting a 3.47 ERA and FIP with a 4.4 fWAR. That was by far his best season as he had a combined 11.1 fWAR in 672 innings with Colorado.

Chacin told Thomas Harding of MLB.com:

"They told me at the start of Spring Training that it depends on how I do, how good the rotation is this year," Chacin said to Harding. "I know I'm not 100 percent and my velocity isn't where I want it to be. I was just trying to get my arm ready. I wasn't trying to throw up zeros. But I understand how things work. This is a business, and it's a lot of money. I thank the Rockies and the fans for helping me reach my dreams. Best of luck to them. But I'll keep working. I'm just 27 years old, and I'll be ready when the season starts."

Now he will go through the waiver process giving teams a chance to pick him and his contract ($5.5 million) up for one season. He will likely find a place in somebody's rotation or bullpen before Opening Day.

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Utley easily attainable; Wieters likely to start season on DL

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

According to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is "easily attainable if you're willing to take on his contract." Utley also has 10/5 rights, which means he can block any trade.

Gonzalez is the Angels beat writer and they could use a solid second baseman after trading away Howie Kendrick and acquiring Josh Rutledge, who is at best a role player. 

Utley, 36, slashed .270/.339/.407 in 2014 with a 106 wRC+, and 4.1 fWAR in 155 games. Utley is set to make $15 million in 2015 and then has three seasons with vested options (at least 500 plate appearances) worth $15 million each season. If any option doesn't vest, then they become club options worth $4-12 million depending on disabled list time in the previous season. 

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According to Andrew Simon of MLB.com, Matt Wieters will likely not be ready for Opening Day after undergoing Tommy John Surgery last season. He's struggling with elbow tendinitis, but manager Buck Showalter is optimistic that it will go away.  He would be eligible to be back on April 11.

"We're on, if not ahead, of schedule [with Wieters]," Showalter said to Simon. "A lot of people, when [the surgery] originally happened, thought even May 1 was a push. So I think from Matt's standpoint, I don't want him to have some false deadline."

Wieters, 28, played 26 games last year before surgery posting a wRC+ of 134 and slashed .308/.339/.500 in 112 plate appearances. In 2013, he posted an 86 wRC+ in 579 plate appearances while slashing .235/.287/.415 with a 2.5 fWAR.

Notes:

- Kris Bryant hit two more home runs Saturday and now has eight in 25 at-bats. He could easily make the roster out of spring training, but since baseball is a business, he won't be called up until late April, early May to avoid free agency a year earlier.

-  Stephen Strasburg will miss his start after twisting his left ankle conditioning, according to Jamal Collier or MLB.com. Manager Matt Williams said it's not serious, but they want to be cautious.

- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports said the Nationals could trade Tyler Moore before the season, but wouldn't give him away. They like him as an average to above average outfielder based off minor league experience and projections. Giants are the front runners, but the Padres, Red Sox, Dodgers, Rays and Diamondbacks are all interested as well.

Slideshow:


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