MLB Draft – Picks No. 9-16

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Tigers selected high school RHP Jacob Turner with the ninth pick in the draft.
Turner has a quality fastball that shows up in the mid-90s at times,
but his slider is soft and he doesn’t have much of a changeup yet. The
upside is there, but he seems like a reach in the top 10.

Nationals selected Stanford RHP Drew Storen with the 10th pick in the 2009 draft.
The Nats weren’t going to go for another big upside guy at No. 10, not
when they’re going to have to spend so much of Stephen Strasburg.
Storen is an excellent relief prospect, and the Nationals figure to
bring him along that way, though he does have the stuff to start. His
low-90s fastball and big-breaking slider could make him a closer, and
like Strasburg, he could contribute next year.

Rockies selected LHP Tyler Matzek with the 11th overall pick in the draft.
On talent alone, Matzek looked like the top high school pitcher
available. His bonus demands, however, caused some to shy away. If the
Rockies can get him signed, they’ll have made one of the best picks of
the first round. Matzek throws 91-94 mph, and both his curve and slider
are potential strikeout pitches.

Royals chose RHP Aaron Crow with the 12th pick in the 2009 draft.
Crow, a Missouri product, was drafted ninth overall last year. His
bonus demands remain quite high or else he might have went in the top
five this time around. Crow has a strong fastball-slider combination,
and reports indicate that his changeup has improved over the last year.
He could develop into a second or third starter.

Athletics selected USC shortstop Grant Green with the 13th pick in the draft.
The A’s may well have gone with Mike Leake if he was still sitting
there, but Green provides solid value as well. He could possess 15- or
20-homer power down the line. He doesn’t have terrific range at
shortstop, but he should be able to stay there, which is very important
with the A’s loaded with potential second basemen. His bat probably
wouldn’t play particularly well at third.

Rangers chose high school LHP Matthew Purke with the 14th pick.
Purke has a very good fastball for a left-hander, and both his changeup
and curveball project as major league pitches. If his arm holds up, he
has No. 2 starter potential. However, he looks like even more of an
injury risk than the typical high school pitcher.

Indians selected North Carolina RHP Alex White with the 15th pick.
White generates some sinking action on his 89-93 mph fastball and has a
quality slider, but with no useful third pitch and only adequate
command, he’s not as far as long as one would expect from a college
pitcher drafted in the first round. He probably won’t help next year.

Diamondbacks selected high school third baseman Bobby Borchering with the 16th pick in the draft.
The Twins were thought to want Borchering, a switch-hitter with
potential 25-homer power. If he were a legitimate third baseman, he
could have gone in the top 10. Unfortunately, he’s probably going to
need to move to first base.

Report: MLB, union making progress on new slide rule at second base

New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada falls after a slide by Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley during the seventh inning of an NL Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP
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After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.

The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:

Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.

However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.

There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”

Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:

And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang:

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.

Free agent reliever Eric O’Flaherty weighing interest from four teams

New York Mets pitcher Eric O'Flaherty throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. The Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 8-6. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
AP Photo/Joe Skipper
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Veteran reliever Eric O'Flaherty is coming off the worst season of his career, but there’s still plenty of interest in a bounceback, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that he’s deciding between four teams and “should sign a deal by the weekend.”

You really can’t sugarcoat O’Flaherty’s 2015. The 31-year-old was flat-out bad, posting an 8.41 ERA and 21/18 K/BB ratio over 30 innings of work between the Athletics and Mets. Opposing batters hit .343/.427/.482 against him. I keep going back to check if that’s a misprint, but nope, it’s real. He also missed some time with shoulder inflammation. On the bright side, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported last month that O’Flaherty feels healthy and believes that he has fixed his mechanics.

O’Flaherty’s career has veered off track since Tommy John surgery in 2013, but he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past and throws from the left side. He’s the kind of guy who will continue to get chances.

Mets sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

Cincinnati Reds v Arizona Diamondbacks
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Veteran outfielder Roger Bernadina has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mets that includes an invitation to spring training.

Bernadina was a semi-regular for the Nationals from 2010-2012, but never developed as much as hoped offensively and didn’t play in the majors at all last season.

At age 32 he’s a career .236 hitter with a .661 OPS in 548 games as a big leaguer and given the Mets’ outfield depth–they already have Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares in bench/part-time roles–Bernadina seems likely to begin the season in the minors.