Link-O-Rama: Shinskie goes from pitcher to quarterback

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* A fourth-round pick in 2003, David Shinskie has opted to retire from baseball at the age of 25 to compete for the starting quarterback job at Boston College. Shinskie led his high school team to the Pennsylvania state championship as a senior and has four years of eligibility remaining after the 6-foot-4 right-hander went 24-30 with a 4.61 ERA in seven seasons as a minor-league pitcher.
* Shaquille O’Neal probably won’t be switching sports like Shinskie. Shaq threw out the first pitch in St. Louis yesterday and the baseball looked more like a golf ball coming out of his hands, but the 7-foot-1 right-hander fired a strike.
* Justin Duchscherer finally looks ready to make his season debut following spring elbow surgery and could get the nod as soon as Friday against the White Sox. Duchscherer was 20 innings short of leading the league in ERA last season, so a couple decent outings could make him attractive to contenders looking for a last-minute addition.
* Alex Rios joined the White Sox yesterday, but didn’t play against the Mariners and couldn’t talk rookie Gordon Beckham into giving up No. 15. Rios will go with No. 51 instead.
* Signed to a minor-league contract last month in the hopes that he could provide the Twins with a viable alternative at second base down the stretch, Mark Grudzielanek was released Monday after going 8-for-30 with zero extra-base hits and two errors in eight games at Double-A. Twins minor-league director Jim Rantz explained that “it just wasn’t the right fit.” Grudzielanek had a slightly different take, saying that “they just wasted my time.” Sounds like both were probably right, especially now that Minnesota is 54-58.
* Derek Jeter is apparently clutch off the field too.

Tigers agree to deal with starter Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.

Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.

Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.

Video: Statcast’s 10 longest home runs from 2015

Giancarlo Stanton
AP Photo/Joe Skipper

Here’s a pretty good way to finally break out of that turkey-induced Thanksgiving tryptophan coma.

It’s a compilation of the 10 longest home runs from the 2015 season, with’s Statcast technology providing data along the path of each blast …

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.