Results tagged ‘ Astros ’

1/21 Roundup

Masahiro Tanaka has captivated Hot Stove followers for much of the offseason, and now that the deadline for the Japanese free agent to choose a Major League team is fast approaching, Tanaka Watch is only intensifying. Several interested teams, including the D-backs, are waiting intently for his decision.

As MLB.com’s Doug Miller writes, Tuesday was another day with much speculation but little actual news, starting with an innocuous Tanaka tweet that quickly was misinterpreted.

Regardless of where Tanaka ends up, the long process will leave him with huge expectations and several disppointed suitors, as MLB.com columnist Phil Rogers writes. Tanaka also is a shining reminder of baseball’s international growth, according to columnist Mike Bauman.

In other news from around the league on Tuesday:

  • The Indians have not taken part in an arbitration hearing since 1991, but as MLB.com Indians beat writer Jordan Bastian reports, the longest streak in the Majors seems likely to end this year. The club and All-Star righty Justin Masterson exchanged salary figures that stand nearly $4 million apart, a gap that could be too wide to cross without a hearing. Bastian also reports that the two sides remain far apart on a possible contract extension, with Masterson set for free agency after this season.
  • Astros owner Jim Crane confirmed that his club, underdogs in the Tanaka sweepstakes, nonetheless has participated in the bidding.
  • The White Sox have a Tanaka-or-bust mentality when it comes to adding to their rotation, reports beat writer Scott Merkin, who doesn’t believe the club will explore other free-agent options, such as Matt Garza or Ubaldo Jimenez.
  • The Angels, on the other hand, have targeted Garza, as Alden Gonzalez writes in his latest inbox. Bronson Arroyo, Paul Maholm and Chris Capuano could be some of their other options as they try to bolster their rotation.
  • Reds beat writer Mark Sheldon addresses several issues in his inbox, including a potential signing of Grady Sizemore and the status of Homer Bailey.
  • The Phillies had a busy day, highlighted by signing Bobby Abreu to a Minor League deal. Abreu, a star with the club from 1998-2006, didn’t play in the Majors last season but parlayed a strong winter ball campaign in Venezuela into another chance. Philadelphia also avoided arbitration with lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo and signed veteran righty Chad Gaudin to a Minor League deal, getting a pitcher with the versatility to start or come out of the bullpen.
  • As part of this notebook, Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers are “cautiously optimistic” that starters Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis, both on the comeback trail from injuries, will be 100 percent for Spring Training. Lewis is one candidate for the No. 5 starter job, in a race that also includes second-year righty Nick Tepesch.
  • The Royals signed outfielder Justin Maxwell to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration and leaving them with two unsigned arbitration-eligible players.

– Andrew Simon

Astros reportedly sign IF Izturis

The Astros have signed veteran infielder Cesar Izturis to a minor league contract, CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman has reported, with the possibility of Izturis joining the club as a utility man. 

MLB.com‘s Anthony DiComo tweeted that the Mets also had interest in Izturis, who appeared in 63 games for the Reds last season. 

Izturis, 33, has spent 13 years in the Major Leagues. He won a Gold Glove with the Dodgers in 2004 and was an All-Star in 2005.

– Joey Nowak

1/3 Hot Stove Roundup

With cold weather and snow blanketing much of the country as the calendar turns over to 2014, baseball fans are growing more and more excited for Spring Training.

The Hot Stove quieted down over the holidays, but you can expect things to heat up again as teams make final pushes for the remaining free agents and cross the final items off their to-do lists before reporting to either Arizona or Florida. Here’s a recap of Friday’s Hot Stove action:

  • The biggest news of the day came out of St. Petersburg, where the Rays officially inked first baseman James Loney to a three-year deal. It’s the largest deal awarded to a free agent by the Rays under the current ownership and was a priority for the team coming into the winter, executive vice president Andrew Friedman said.
  • The other deal of the day came out of Baltimore, where the Orioles signed speedster Quintin Berry to a minor league deal. The outfielder has been valuable in stints with the Tiger and Red Sox, with whom he’s demonstrated a prowess in stealing bases. Berry, 29, has played all three outfield spots and is a close friend of Orioles center fielder Adam Jones. But, perhaps most importantly, he is 29-for-29 in career stolen base attempts.
  • The Reds, down an impact outfielder since losing Shin-Soo Choo to free agency, have reportedly explored adding Grady Sizemore, MLB.com‘s Mark Sheldon reported today. Sizemore hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2011 but has showed plenty of potential while healthy in his time with the Indians.
  • Shortstop Stephen Drew remains a free agent, which comes as a bit of a surprise now that he’s proven healthy and capable of helping a club, Marc Nordmandin writes for Sports on Earth. There’s been more chatter about who Drew will not be playing for, Normandin writes, than who he will be playing for.
  • CBS Sports‘ Jon Heyman reported the details of Houston’s one-year deal with reliever Jesse Crain on Friday, noting that the right-hander will receive $3.25 million in guaranteed money.
  • There figure to be plenty of teams in the running for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, and Fox Sports‘ Ken Rosenthal reports the D-backs will most assuredly be one of them. He writes that the money the team had earmarked to potentially spend on Choo is now available for other uses — namely a top-tier starting pitcher.

– Joey Nowak

Astros sign reliever Crain

The Astros have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free agent right-handed pitcher Jesse Crain, who played at the University of Houston.

Crain, an American League All-Star in 2013, posted an 0.74 ERA in 37 relief appearances for the White Sox with 11 walks and 46 strikeouts in 36 2/3innings pitched for an 11.29 strikeouts per nine innings ratio. Other highlights from 2013 included holding right-handed hitters to a .174 average (12-for-69), no home runs allowed and a  streak of 29 consecutive scoreless appearances from April 17 through June 22.

Crain’s season ended prematurely due to a right shoulder strain. The White Sox traded Crain to the Rays on July 29, but he did not appear in a game for the Rays.

– Brian McTaggart

12/18 Roundup

Wednesday marked another busy day on the Hot Stove, especially out West where the Rockies made a pair of deals as they continue to try to improve on back-to-back last-place finishes in the National League West.

Colorado on Wednesday landed outfielder Drew Stubbs in a trade with the Indians in exchange for left-handed pitcher Josh Outman. The Rox also acquired lefty Franklin Morales and right-handed reliever prospect Chris Martin from the Red Sox in exchange for infielder Jonathan Herrera.

While it was clearly a busy day for the Rockies, plenty of other teams either made, or are on the verge of making, moves of their own.

Here’s a look at some of Wednesday’s other news and notes from around the league:

  • The Angels are reportedly closing in on a one-year deal with veteran Raul Ibanez. The 41-year-old designated hitter connected for 29 home runs and 65 RBIs for the Mariners last season. The Halos are also believed to be interested in Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, if he is made available, as well as free-agent righty Matt Garza.
  • The Padres seemingly ended their search for a late-innings reliever, reportedly signing veteran Joaquin Benoit to a two-year deal. The deal is worth $15.5 million, including a $1.5 million buyout for 2016.
  • The Braves gave manager Fredi Gonzalez some added flexibility with his lineup, acquiring catcher Ryan Doumit in a trade with the Twins for Minor League pitcher Sean Gilmartin. Doumit provides the Braves with a third catcher alongside Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird, as well as another option at first base or either corner-outfield position. Doumit could also provide some pop off the bench in a pinch-hitting role.
  • Infielder Eric Chavez will reportedly return to the D-backs on a one-year contract. Chavez, who hit .281 with an .810 OPS after signing on as a free agent last season, will give the D-backs a left-handed bat off the bench, as well as a veteran backup to Paul Goldschmidt and Martin Prado at first base and third base, respectively.
  • Houston continued its busy offseason, acquiring first baseman and outfielder Jesus Guzman in a trade with the Padres for infielder Ryan Jackson. Guzman will be given the chance to play first base for the Astros, while also providing manager Bo Porter with another outfield option. Jackson had been claimed off waivers from the Cardinals less than a month ago.
  • The Mariners are reportedly showing continued interest in free agent Ervin Santana, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. With David Price apparently out of Seattle’s reach at this point, the club seems to be focusing its efforts on Santana for the time being.

    The Mariners also added to their outfield depth by re-signing oft-injured outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to a one-year deal.

– Paul Casella

12/17 Roundup

The pool of potential closers available on the free-agent market shrank on Tuesday, when the Hot Stove was focused on relief pitching.

The Orioles were on the hunt for a closer after trading Jim Johnson to the A’s earlier this offseason, and they now appear set to use some of the savings from that deal on Oakland’s former closer. Grant Balfour, who saved 38 games for the A’s in 2013, reportedly is in agreement on a two-year contract with Baltimore.

The Cubs also might have snatched up a new ninth-inning man after reaching a reported one-year pact with Jose Veras. That would leave Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Betancourt and Chris Perez among a dwindling group of free agents with recent success as closers. The Padres appear to be targeting Benoit for an eighth-inning role in front of Huston Street.

In other news from around the league:

  • Highly touted Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has informed his Nippon Professional Baseball club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, that he wants to be made available to Major League teams. But even with NPB and MLB having a new posting agreement in place, the Eagles do not have to post Tanaka, and it appears they might be reluctant to do so.
  • One club that figures to pursue Tanaka if he becomes available is Arizona, which is looking to add more starting pitching this offseason.
  • The Yankees are close to signing a pair of veteran players, reportedly reaching an agreement on a one-year deal with second baseman Brian Roberts and a two-year contract with left-handed reliever Matt Thornton. Meanwhile, New York still would like to add free agent Mark Reynolds but is facing competition from the Angels and Twins, among others, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network. Jeff Baker is another veteran bat drawing interest from the club, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
  • The Braves’ search for additional starting pitching likely concluded with Monday’s signing of Gavin Floyd to a one-year contract, despite the fact that the righty won’t be ready until May as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Atlanta had explored trades for the likes of the Rays’ David Price and the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija but found the asking prices too steep.
  • Our Tom Singer checks in on free-agent righty A.J. Burnett, who has yet to make a decision about whether to retire, return to the Pirates or perhaps pitch for another team. It’s a delay that is making things difficult for Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington.
  • After losing out on Juan Uribe, the Marlins continue to search for a third baseman. The club is looking at both free agents and trade possibilities.
  • The Mets’ top priority is to trade one of its first basemen, Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. The Brewers and Pirates are the two remaining clubs that seem like obvious trade partners for such a deal. Pittsburgh is interested in both Davis and the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland, according to Heyman.
  • The Cardinals’ recent signing of free-agent second baseman Mark Ellis likely will turn out to be their last significant move of the offseason, as GM John Mozeliak acknowledged on Tuesday.
  • On the other hand, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said his club still is looking hard at free agents, with the bullpen one area to address. Houston already has signed relievers Chad Qualls and Matt Albers.

– Andrew Simon

12/16 Roundup

The most significant Hot Stove news to break on Monday likely wasn’t a trade or a signing. Instead, it might have been Major League Baseball’s announcement that it had agreed with Nippon Professional Baseball on revised protocols for the leagues’ posting system.

The agreement allows NPB’s Rakuten Golden Eagles to post right-hander Masahiro Tanaka this offseason, a move that likely would make him the most sought-after pitcher on the market. While Rakuten would not have to let Tanaka go, owner Hiroshi Mikitani will allow him to leave, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez, relaying the news from the Japanese website Sanspo.

In other news from around the league:

  • The D-backs, one of many teams that could go after Tanaka, made a move for another pitcher, trading third-base prospect Matt Davidson to the White Sox for closer Addison Reed. While Davidson was ranked as Arizona’s No. 2 prospect by MLB.com, Reed saved 40 games for Chicago last season. Meanwhile, D-backs general manager Kevin Towers is hoping to work out a contract with veteran third baseman Eric Chavez, tweets our Steve Gilbert.
  • The Dodgers are closing in on a two-year deal to re-sign left-handed reliever J.P. Howell, a source tells our Ken Gurnick. Howell would make $11.25 million, with a $6.25 million vesting option for 2016.
  • The Braves signed free-agent right-hander Gavin Floyd to a one-year contract, taking a chance on a pitcher still recovering from Tommy John surgery.
  • The Indians also will give a shot to a veteran pitcher coming off injury, after agreeing to a Minor League deal with righty Shaun Marcum.
  • The Astros added another piece to their bullpen, signing Matt Albers to a one-year contract.
  • The Yankees are considering veteran free-agent infielders Mark Reynolds, Michael Young and Brian Roberts, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network.
  • The Phillies have let other teams know they are “very willing” to trade shortstop Jimmy Rollins, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, but Rollins has a no-trade clause and will make $11 million this season, with an $11 million vesting option for 2015.

– Andrew Simon

Albers signs to return to Houston

The Astros have struck a one-year deal with an option for 2015 with veteran relief pitcher Matt Albers, who confirmed the deal for MLB.com.

Albers was drafted and developed by Houston before being traded to Baltimore after the 2007 season. Albers, who returns to Houston much in the same fashion as Chad Qualls did earlier this month, appeared in 56 games last season for Cleveland and was 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA. He’s pitched eight years in the Majors, including his first two with Houston (2006-07) and three with Baltimore (2008-10).

– Brian McTaggart

Astros pushing for Veras, acquire Bass

While the Astros are trying to sign veteran right-hander Jose Veras to a deal to return to Houston, the club on Wednesday added another arm to their bullpen mix by trading for right-handed pitcher Anthony Bass from the Padres.

The Astros acquired Bass and a player to be named later or cash considerations in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Bass, 26, made 24 appearances, pitching 42 innings in four stints out of the Padres bullpen in 2013. He also spent three months at Triple-A Tucson and made 15 starts for the Tucson Padres.

– Brian McTaggart

12/11 Afternoon Roundup

No transactions went down on Wednesday morning, as the third day of the Winter Meetings got underway at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. But there are plenty of rumors and buzz going around. Here is a look at the latest:

  • The agent for Rays left-hander David Price told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com and MLB Network that his client wouldn’t consider an extension with the Mariners if traded to Seattle but might do so with other, unspecified teams. Price has two seasons remaining before he hits free agency. Our Greg Johns calls Price and the Mariners “an extremely remote match.”
  • Free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo could command a seven-year, $140 million deal, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The Mariners and Rangers are in the lead for his services, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
  • The Rangers are staying patient as they wait for asking prices to come down on the likes of Choo and Nelson Cruz, writes our T.R. Sullivan.
  • The D-backs are in the market for a starting pitcher, Rosenthal tweets. ESPN’s Jayson Stark mentions free-agent right-hander Matt Garza as a possibility.
  • The Nationals’ quest for a left-handed reliever could end soon, according to Rosenthal.
  • Rosenthal also describes Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips as “in play” for trade talks.
  • Our Carrie Muskat updates the Jeff Samardzija situation, as the Cubs explore a contract extension with the right-hander, who also has been involved in plenty of trade rumors this offseason.
  • The Astros are one of the teams interested in often-injured former All-Star outfielder Grady Sizemore.
  • The Marlins are listening to offers for outfielder Justin Ruggiano, writes our Joe Frisaro. They also have interest in outfielder Delmon Young, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
  • The Orioles have talked with free-agent reliever John Axford, tweets Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com.

– Andrew Simon

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