Hot Stove Update – 11/17

Here are the top stories from today’s Hot Stove action.

Tigers Acquire Francisco Rodriguez from Brewers

In a not-so-surprising deal, the Milwaukee Brewers parted ways with their closer of five seasons, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, affectionately dubbed “K-Rod”. On the other end of the deal were the Detroit Tigers, who sent a Class A Advanced infielder, Javier Betancourt.  The deal makes sense for the Tigers, who’ve struggled in the bullpen for the past few seasons, especially considering Rodriguez’s stellar 2.21 ERA in 57 innings pitched in 2015, with 38 saves. Over his fourteen-year career, Rodriguez has a 2.69 ERA with 386 saves. The Brewers are slated to get a player to be named later, and the Tigers possibly may acquire one as well, according to GM Al Avila, who told MLB.com that there’s a scenario where Detroit “could receive a second player as well”. Rodriguez will make $7.5 million next season, and has a $6 million club option for 2017.

TL;DR: The Tigers get a great closer for a relatively low price.

-There were almost serious discussions Freddie Freeman deal which sent him to the Astros

Continuing the Braves’ crazy fire sale of the past year, which has been capitalized by sending SS Andrelton Simmons to the Angels, an exclamation point could’ve been put on the sequence with a trade of the face of the franchise, 1B Freddie Freeman. The trade would’ve involved five players, and Freeman was apparently a key part of the discussion, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jeff Passan. Talks fell apart, and some hypothesize it’s due to Freeman’s monstrous contract of over $100 million (an extension signed after the Braves’ 2013 season, the last one in which they won over 80 games.) Even though Freeman didn’t leave in that instance, with the current state of the Atlanta Braves and Freeman’s talent, he could easily be wearing another uniform of a team on the brink by opening day.

TL;DR: Freeman stays a Brave… for now.

The Pirates are listening to inquiries about Neil Walker

After 3B Jung-Ho Kang’s breakout rookie season, there are questions in Pittsburgh about SS Neil Walker, especially with IF/OF Josh Harrison waiting and ready, and even more questions now, as his free agency looms next winter. Naturally, the Pirates are listening to offers. According to Roch Kubato of MASN Sports, the Baltimore Orioles and the Pirates discussed a deal, but nothing came of it. Walker is an above average hitter (career .272 hitter), and posted a .269/.328/.427 (OPS+) line last season with 16 home runs and 71 RBI over 603 plate appearances. However, Roch notes that the belief is that the Pirates would be much happier to part with 3B/1B Pedro Alvarez (positions the Orioles are weak at), but would like young pitching, which the Orioles aren’t eager to give up. Walker is slated to make around $10 million next season, per Roch.

TL;DR: Mainly speculation and inquiries for now, but the Winter Meetings may send Walker to Baltimore. 

The Dodgers’ managerial search is down to two candidates

It’ll either be Gabe Kapler (already in the Dodgers front office) or Dave Roberts (San Diego Padres coach), according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. The second interviews are underway and a decision will be made by Friday or Saturday.

Bud Black and Ron Roenicke will join the Angels

 Black will join the Angels in a front office role, and Roenicke will join as the third base coach. A kind of happy ending to Black’s long odyssey that took him from coast to coast.

Jake Arrieta and Dallas Keuchel took home the Cy Young awards.

Both won 20+ games, while Keuchel (LHP) posted a 2.48 ERA and led the Houston Astros to the playoffs, and Arrieta (RHP) posted a 1.77 ERA and led the Chicago Cubs to the NLCS. There was more question in the NL as many wondered if Zach Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers deserved the award more. Arietta won by an extremely slim margin (four votes).

Dodgers, Hector Olivera, agree on six-year deal

Hector Olivera exists, ladies and gentlemen. Hector Olivera is a real, living person. This was proved today when Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com announced that the Los Angeles Dodgers signed the 29-year-old Cuban infielder to a six-year deal worth $62.5 million, including a $28 million signing bonus. (All pending a physical).

The Dodgers completely refurbished their middle infield this offseason, with the additions of Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, and already boasted two of the best corner infielders in the game in Juan Uribe and Adrian Gonzalez. However, considering that Uribe and Kendrick both hit free agency this year, Olivera can fill in at any position for the next year or even compete for a starting job, or provide more depth in the outfield, which is already a heavily contested area. He’ll take the full-time job provided either Kendrick or Uribe leaves. Los Angeles is known to shop in the Cuban market (Yasiel Puig, Alex Guerrero, Pablo Fernandez), but this is the most expensive signing they’ve ever completed.

The most interesting part of the situation is what it took to get Olivera to the Major Leagues. It was first reported that he had torn his UCL, and there were rumors that he would shoot a video showing that he was fully able to throw and was at his full ability. He then decided to switch agents in the middle of the process, putting many conversations to a halt, and then finally switching agents. Throughout that entire process, he fielded offers worth $30 million to over $70 million over durations of four to seven years. He signed with the Dodgers after seeing interest from the Marlins, Braves, Giants, Yankees However, the deal does have a clause in it that protects the Dodgers if Olivera’s UCL is in fact problematic; Los Angeles would gain a seventh season of Olivera’s work for a mere $1 million if Olivera needs UCL reconstruction surgery.

There are still questions remaining – Olivera missed over one season in Cuba with a blood clot in his arm and played DH for the majority of the 2013 season, which left some scouts concerned. He also still needs to obtain a visa and will still need time in the minor leagues.

Last season, in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, he hit .316/.412/.474 with 7 home runs and 38 RBI over 273 plate appearances. Over his 10-year career in Cuba, he hit .323/.407/.505 with 96 home runs and 433 RBI.

Spring Training Notes for March 11th

-The Los Angeles Dodgers have reportedly made an offer to Cuban infield prospect Hector Olivera, according to Robert Murray of MLB Daily Rumors. Olivera is one of the last major names on the board, if not the last major name on the board. Things are apparently “heating up”. This comes less than 24 hours after Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that the San Diego Padres had an offer on the table worth $50 million. The Atlanta Braves had reportedly also been in contact with Olivera’s camp.

Continue reading

Spring Training notes from March 7th

*Weekend update music plays* Good evening, I’m Will from Piece of the Plate. Here are tonights top stories from Spring Training.

-The long and winding road of problems for the Texas Rangers just won’t let up. After leaving his start with what was thought to be a minor triceps scare, multiple reports have determined that ace pitcher Yu Darvish has sprained his UCL and will in all likelihood undergo season ending surgery. If he doesn’t, he’ll rest for at least four months. Texas has already lost star prospect Jurckison Profar to season ending shoulder surgery, so this would qualify as another big blow. In 2014, the Rangers were absolutely plagued by injuries, as the amount of games missed by players on the DL went over 2000. Continue reading

Spring Training Notes for March 1st

We’ve passed a milestone in the waiting process – today brings the first day of March, which brings us one month closer to opening day. But before we get there, many drills have to be performed, many players have to be sent down or called up, lineups and rotations and bullpens have to be configured and spring training games have to be played. So for now, here are today’s notes. Continue reading

Brandon Beachy agrees to one-year deal with Los Angeles Dodgers

RHP Brandon Beachy has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth $2.75 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Beachy spent last season in the dugout recovering from Tommy John Surgery with the Atlanta Braves. In 2013, he missed considerable time with a bone spur and inflamed tissue in his elbow, and missed the second half of 2012 after an earlier Tommy John Surgery. Needless to say, the 28-year old hasn’t seen too much time playing – he’s only pitched 110 innings in the last three seasons. He’ll continue his streak of time lost, as he is expected to start the season on the DL. But when he’s been healthy, Beachy has been good; since 2012, he’s gone 7-6 with a 2.68 ERA over 18 games.

Despite his good track record, there might not be room for him in a crowded Dodgers rotation, which already has Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin-Ryu, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. Barring injury, he’ll likely start in the bullpen due to the current depth.

The value of the deal makes sense for the most part. Beachy has only two full seasons of Major League experience and 267 innings pitched under his belt. The Dodgers are taking a small chance due to how injury-prone he is, but he has the ability to shine in Hollywood and possibly take on a larger role if and when Greinke and others leave the rotation.

Over four years, Beachy has gone 14-11 with a 3.23 ERA and 275 strikeouts.