Baseball Today: AJ, Trades And Rumors

Welcome to today’s Roundup, where we’ll recap the happenings of the day. Today included the first free agent signings of the offseason, Scott Boras’ yearly powwow with the media, and more:

TRANSACTIONS

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski re-signs with Braves (1 year, $3M + $1M in possible incentives)

First reported: Ken Rosenthal

Pierzynski reportedly had larger offers in hand, but elected to return to Atlanta in order to be closer to his Orlando home during Spring Training. Pierzynski will continue to guide the young Braves pitching staff, as he did last season, in what will be his 19th big league season.

Pierzynski is just 11 hits away from 2000, and can still swing it, as evidenced by his .300/.339/.430 batting line last year, his best OPS since 2012 with the White Sox.

Pierzynski is projected to hit fifth in a weak Braves lineup, and the Braves certainly aren’t done making moves this offseason; don’t be surprised if Pierzynski moves up in the lineup as the team is expected to continue its large-scale rebuild.

Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez re-signs with Mariners (1 year, terms not yet reported)

Deal reported by Seattle Mariners

No longer the man dubbed “Death To Flying Things” during his Gold Glove season in 2010, Gutierrez has morphed into an average defensive corner outfielder with a new skill: mashing the crud out of a baseball. Gutierrez posted a .974 OPS last season, and his .620 SLG was the second-highest in the majors when setting a minimum of 150 at-bats, behind only Bryce Harper.

Gutierrez probably won’t be able to maintain that level of success in 2016 with more at bats, but he’ll still receive plenty of reps as a platoon outfielder, and it’s good to see him getting back into the game after dealing with hamstring injuries in 2013 and a gastrointestinal illness that kept him out for the entirety of the 2014 season.

Yankees and Twins swap C John Ryan Murphy, OF Aaron Hicks

This was an intriguing one-for-one swap with more to it than meets the eye. Murphy spent last season as Brian McCann’s backup, mostly spelling him against tough lefties while posting a .770 OPS against southpaws, whereas Hicks is more known for his tools, showing pop and speed (11 HR, 13 SB) while playing solid defense and also mashing lefties (.870 OPS against them).

Murphy will battle for the Twins’ starting catcher spot with Kurt Suzuki, who was awful last year, whereas Hicks is currently slotted in as the Yankees’ fourth outfielder behind Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran.

What makes this trade interesting, though, is what the Yankees can do now that they have Hicks. Hicks has shown he’s more than capable of starting– his upside alone is something worth trying out– and the team has a big trade chip in Gardner, who they can use to acquire more consistent pitching. Gardner has already been tied to the Mariners, and would be a fit for any team in need of an outfielder who’d look nicely atop any lineup.

Yankees and Padres swap Jose Pirela, Ronald Herrera

This was a minor depth trade; Herrera was a middling starter in High-A and Double-A (although it should be noted he’s only 20 years of age, advanced for that level) and Pirela is a super-utility type with some speed who’s been dubbed a 25th-man type on most rosters. Herrera gives the Yankees some pitching depth in the middle portion of their minor league system whereas Pirela gives the Padres some badly needed infield depth. Don’t be surprised if Pirela makes the Padres roster out of Spring Training, but he probably won’t make much of an impact.

INJURY BULLETS

-Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco has finally started to squat after left hip injuries took away most of his 2015 season; he’s probable to be ready for Spring Training but it’s not a given.

-Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will soon resume his hitting program after having his hamate bone removed from his left hand in July. Stanton was expected to be back before the season ended, but obviously never did as he hadn’t been able to get into a consistent hitting rhythm. He should be fine for Spring Training.

-Yoenis Cespedes won’t need treatment for his shoulder injury that forced him out of action during the NLCS, rest will be enough for the slugger, who’s expected to receive a huge contract in free agency.

-Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was shut down from the Arizona Fall League with a muscle strain in his right forearm. It’s yet another disappointing injury for the righty, still trying to make his way back from Tommy John surgery.

-Rangers OF Josh Hamilton had another procedure on his knee, re-injured when he crashed into an outfield wall towards the end of the season. It was a minor procedure and he’s good to go for Spring Training.

-Dodgers 3B Justin Turner had a microfracture procedure done on his left knee, a more serious procedure than what was initially thought. Nevertheless, he’ll be ready for Spring Training.

-Oft-injured Dodgers LHSP Hyun-Jin Ryu is long-tossing from 90 feet; it’s still not a given that he’ll be ready for Spring Training, though. Ryu underwent surgery for a torn labrum in May.

-Nationals RHSP Stephen Strasburg had a non-cancerous growth removed from his back. It could have been the source of his recurring back and neck troubles throughout last season, but we won’t know for sure until he gets back on a mound.

RUMBLINGS

-The Mariners have discussed Brett Gardner with the Yankees; they’re in the market for a CF and the Yankees acquired Aaron Hicks today, so it’s something to keep an eye on.

-The Cubs have been in contact with three of the biggest free agent starting pitchers: David Price (rumored to be their top target), Zack Greinke and Jordan Zimmermann. This is all preliminary, but the Cubs are expected to add one or two solid starters this offseason.

-The Braves have made Cameron Maybin available in trade. Maybin bounced back nicely last year with a near-.700 OPS and solid defense, but has always been inconsistent and a team won’t give up too much for him.

-The Marlins are “intrigued” by Tim Lincecum, Colby Lewis and Scott Kazmir as candidates for their rotation; the team is reportedly looking for a number two starter in exchange for Marcell Ozuna, but these three (except for Lincecum) would slot in nicely in that spot without having to give up Ozuna.

-1B/OF Mike Napoli is getting attention on the free agent market, and is willing to catch a little to increase his value.

-The Mariners are interested in Chris Iannetta, and could be close to signing him, although they haven’t made a formal offer yet.

-The Diamondbacks and Reds have discussed a trade centered around second basemen Aaron Hill and Brandon Phillips, a bad-contract for bad-contract swap that wouldn’t make sense if those two players were the only two pieces.

-Phillies closer Ken Giles is drawing trade interest; he’s controlled through 2020, however, so new GM Matt Klentak isn’t inclined to move him.

-Many a team have expressed interest in FA RP Darren O’Day, none more so than the Dodgers, who have the money to burn and need a solid arm behind Kenley Jansen in the ‘pen.

-Plenty of teams are also expressing interest in Joakim Soria, who was the Tigers’ closer before being traded to the Pirates and serving as a setup man down the stretch. The relief pitching market could move quickly.

-The Blue Jays and SP Marco Estrada are discussing a multi-year deal. Estrada was offered a $15.8MM qualifying offer which could greatly reduce his market value, so re-upping with the Jays for lower AAV but more guaranteed money would be a smart move for the righty, who had his strongest season yet in 2015.

-Korean OF Ah-Seop Son will be posted next week; the 27-year-old hits for a good average, gets on base and has a bit of pop. He’ll follow Byung-Ho Park, for whom the Twins won rights to with a $12.85M bid.

Please note: Ball Eight is not the first source for ANY of these rumblings, injury reports or transactions; the sources have been included for larger transactions that have not yet been officially reported on by the player’s team. 

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