Stat of the Day: Triple-A OPS leaders

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PCL Top 10
1. John Bowker (Giants) – 1047
2. Sean Rodriguez (Angels) – 1017
3. Mitch Jones (Dodgers) – 1015
4. Randy Ruiz (Blue Jays) – 976
5. Allen Craig (Cardinals) – 921
6. Brandon Wood (Angels) – 910
7. Chris Shelton (Mariners) – 905
8. Dee Brown (Dodgers) – 905
9. Adam Heether (Brewers) – 902
10. Prentice Redman (Mariners) – 900
– Bowker’s season was truly exceptonal, as he finished with a 64/74 K/BB ratio to go along with his 21 homers and 83 RBI in 366 at-bats. Also, he wasn’t helped by his home park quite as much as some of the others here (he had a 1080 road OPS). For the Giants, though, he hit .205/.238/.385 with a 12/1 K/BB ratio in 39 at-bats. He was more impressive as a 24-year-old rookie in 2008, hitting .255/.300/.408 in 326 at-bats. There’s little doubt that he’s one of the Giants’ best hitters, though that’s not saying much. He deserves a real crack at the starting job in left field or at first base next year.
– They couldn’t crack the top 10 because of mediocre power numbers, but infielders Ruben Gotay (429), Esteban German (419) and Mike McCoy (.405) finished second, third and fourth in the league in OBP behind Bowker. Gotay worked a remarkable 102 walks in 371 at-bats and finished at .272/.429/.450. The Diamondbacks didn’t call him up, though. He’ll be a minor league free agent this winter, and one of the teams more focused on OBP could look at him as a potential backup. He’d make a lot of sense in Oakland. German is currently helping the Rangers at third with Michael Young out, and McCoy was also rewarded for his fine performance, though there’s little for him to do with the Rockies.
– Other notables: Jesus Guzman (Giants) – 885, Jeff Clement (Mariners-Pirates) – 871, Eric Patterson (Athletics) – 870, Jai Miller (Marlins) – 870, Kila Ka’aihue (Royals) – 825, Mike Carp (Mariners) – 818, Eric Young Jr. (Rockies) – 817, Brett Wallace (Cardinals-Athletics) – 815, Blake DeWitt (Dodgers) – 775, Alcides Escobar (Brewers) – 762, Julio Borbon (Rangers) – 753, Brian Bogusevic (Astros) 707, John Raynor (Marlins) – 687
International League Top 10
1. Kevin Barker (Reds) – 927
2. Matt LaPorta (Indians) – 917
3. Shelley Duncan (Yankees) – 916
4. Brian Myrow (Pirates) – 915
5. Jordan Brown (Indians) – 913
6. Jeff Fiorentino (Orioles) – 896
7. Chris Richard (Rays) – 885
8. Jon Weber (Rays) – 879
9. Michael Restovich (White Sox) – 871
10. Don Kelly (Tigers) – 869
– LaPorta is the only player here currently up and playing regularly in the majors. Fiorentino, though, has a chance to audition for a bench spot in Baltimore with Adam Jones out and now Felix Pie sidelined as well.
– That Brown, the league batting average leader at .336, was passed over for a callup had a lot to do with the Indians wanting a look at Andy Marte at first base. Still, the 25-year-old deserved better. He was the Carolina League MVP in 2006 and the Eastern League MVP in 2007. He’s not nearly a top prospect, but he should be able to hold his own against right-handers in the majors.
– Next on the list were the Yankees’ Juan Miranda, at 866, and the Rays’ Matt Joyce, at 855. It was stunning to see the Rays decline to give Joyce a September callup. He hit .252/.339/.492 in 242 at-bats for the Tigers last season, causing Tampa Bay to trade Edwin Jackson for him, yet the Rays have given him just 32 major league at-bats this season.
– Other notables: Jeff Frazier (Reds) – 792, Neil Walker (Pirates) – 791, Austin Jackson (Yankees) – 759, Reid Brignac (Rays) – 744, Drew Stubbs (Reds) – 713, Michael Brantley (Indians) – 711, Chris Valaika Reds – (615)

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.