Results tagged ‘ Mitchell Boggs ’

2/7 Roundup

And then there were three. With free-agent right-hander Bronson Arroyo agreeing Friday to a two-year deal with the D-backs that includes a club option, the remaining big-name starters on the market are A.J. Burnett, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez.

Like Arroyo, whichever club signs Burnett will not lose a first round pick in this year’s First-Year Player Draft. Santana and Jimenez, on the other hand, don’t fall into that category. So where will Burnett land?

The Pirates could have the inside track, writes MLB.com’s Tom Singer, but the Orioles and Nationals are also in the running. Burnett and his camp have kept their thought process secret thus far, but with Spring Training on the horizon, something is likely to happen soon.

The Phillies appear to be out of the Burnett sweepstakes, and will instead turn their attention to former closer Ryan Madson, who has not pitched since 2011 because of Tommy John surgery and complications following the procedure.

In other Hot Stove news:

• Nelson Cruz remains on the market, and MLB.com’s Mike Bauman examined the potential risks and rewards for clubs looking to sign the outfielder. Cruz would significantly boost any lineup, however, the slugger has a history of injury, will turn 34 in July and served a 50-game PED suspension last year.

• Meanwhile, the A’s locked up outfielder Coco Crisp through at least 2016 with a two-year contract extension that includes a vesting option for 2017. Last year, Crisp became just the 10th player in Oakland history with at least 20 doubles and 20 home runs in a single season.

• The Brewers brought back reliever Francisco Rodriguez, this time on a one-year deal worth at least $3.25 million. In a corresponding roster move, pitcher Donovan Hand was designated for assignment.

• The White Sox also added to their bullpen mix, signing right-hander Mitchell Boggs to a one-year, $1.1 million contract.

• Outfielder Jimmy Paredes was designated for assignment by the Marlins to open a roster spot for infielder Jeff Baker, who agreed to a two-year deal this week.

• The Nationals agreed to terms with veteran reliever Luis Ayala on a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Ayala, 36, is one of the few remaining players to have appeared with the Expos.

• The Pirates inked catcher Omir Santos to a Minor League deal that includes an invitation to big league camp.

• First baseman Matt LaPorta and the Orioles agreed to a Minor League contract. LaPorta has not appeared in a Major League game since 2012, when he played 22 games with the Indians.

• Royals pitcher Everett Teaford cleared waivers and remained in the organization with an assignment to Triple-A Omaha. The left-hander has been invited to Major League Spring Training.

-Austin Laymance

A look at the Rockies’ plans with Hawkins and Brothers, plus notes on batting and pitching pursuits

The Rockies’ pursuit of veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, which resulted in a one-year, $2.5 million guarantee that will become official once Hawkins passes a physical, can be seen in an odd way as a compliment to young lefty Rex Brothers, who served capably as closer when veteran Rafael Betancourt was injured.

Brothers, who turns 26 on Dec. 18, went 19-of-21 on save chances and finished with a 1.74 ERA last season. At times he struggled putting away hitters early in innings but he still struck out 76 (against 36 walks) in 67 1/3 innings. It certainly is a signal that he could become even more effective.

But before Betancourt went through a right groin strain, an appendectomy and finally a season-ending elbow injury, many of Betancourt’s save opportunities came partly because of Brothers’ effectiveness as a setup man. Brothers’ club-record 30-inning scoreless streak, which covered 32 games, ran from April 10 to June 27. Only the final nine games of the streak came while he was in the closer role.

As the season progressed, several games ended with Brothers not even taking the mound, because the middle relief and setup men pitched away the lead. It’s the old sabermetric argument: Why have the best option sitting in the bullpen while lesser pitchers blow it?

Hawkins ended up an effective closer for the Mets late last season. He earned all 12 of his saves and blew just one from Aug. 6 to season’s end. He struck out 18 against one walk and held opponents to a .222 batting average in those 23 appearances. At 41, he still throws hard enough and deceptively enough to be trusted with the final inning. The Rockies believe if he holds the closer job, it frees them to use Brothers when the game is tight before the ninth. And if plans change and Brothers at some point ends up the closer — which has been his plan his entire career — Hawkins gives them an attractive option in a setup role.

The Rockies still want to shore up the setup roles through free agency. Signing Hawkins as closer likely takes them out of the chase for Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour, who could be invited to pitch the ninth inning by another club. But a hard throwers such as Jesse Crain, Joe Smith or Jose Veras could further fill the Rockies’ needs.

The attempt to load up the back of the bullpen makes for intriguing competition and decisions when it comes to holdovers from last season. The club likes the 96 mph-plus fastball that righty Chad Bettis brought last season when used in relief, and will keep him there rather than revisit him in the rotation. They tested righty Adam Ottavino in late innings and there were some encouraging numbers, such as a 2.00 ERA at Coors Field. Righty Mitchell Boggs finished up with the Rockies after struggling mightily with the Cardinals when forced into the closer role, and the club is having internal discussions about returning him to a starter role. Boggs started 15 of his first 24 big-league appearances when breaking in with the Cards in 2008 and 2009.

The Rockies also continue to be in the market for starting pitching, although it’s unclear exactly where they’ll look. They’re often leery of accomplishment elsewhere because of the Mike Hampton-Denny Neagle experiment a few years back, but Tim Hudson profiled well. However, Hudson decided to take his passion and intensity to the NL West with the Giants.

Left-handed hitting outfielder-first baseman James Loney continues to be a prime candidate for the corner bat the Rockies seek. Corey Hart, coming off a knee injury, told a satellite radio audience on Tuesday that the Rockies, Red Sox and his former team, the Brewers, have checked in with him. Not much will be known until next month, when he is cleared for full activity. What isn’t clear is how strongly the Rockies are pursuing first baseman Mike Napoli, whose ability to make a pitcher work would fit nicely at first base. However, with his 2013 team, the World Series champion Red Sox, and others in the mix, the Rockies may drop out of the bidding the way they did with catcher Carlos Ruiz, who re-signed with the Phillies on Monday.

– Thomas Harding

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