Stat of the day: Triple-A ERA leaders

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International League top 10
1. Carlos Torres (White Sox) – 2.39
2. Matt Maloney (Reds) – 3.08
3. Michael Bowden (Red Sox) – 3.13
4. Justin Lehr (Reds) – 3.31
5. Kyle Kendrick (Phillies) – 3.34
6. Drew Carpenter (Phillies) – 3.35
7. Wade Davis (Rays) – 3.40
8. Daniel McCutchen (Pirates) – 3.46
9. Marco Estrada (Nationals) – 3.63
10. Chris Lambert (Tigers-Mets) – 3.84
– Of course, most of the International League’s most talented pitchers didn’t qualify for the list. Tommy Hanson had a 1.49 ERA in 11 starts, Clay Buchholz had a 2.36 ERA in 16 starts and Chris Tillman had a 2.70 ERA in 18 starts.
– The league strikeout leader was Carlos Carrasco at 148. He also had just a 1.24 WHIP, but he finished with a 4.64 ERA. It’s becoming easier to see why since the Indians added him to their rotation at the beginning of the month.
– Making Bowden’s season remarkable was that he finished 4-6 with a whopping 14 no-decisions in his 24 starts. He did average just 5.3 innings per start, but that’s still pretty incredible.
– It will be interesting to see if anyone wants to take a chance on Kendrick after the season he had. To go along with his 3.34 ERA, he had a fine 1.17 WHIP and he allowed only nine homers in 143 innings. However, he also struck out just 68 batters. The Phillies will probably opt to keep him around as insurance unless they get offered a quality prospect for his services.
PCL top 10
1. Bud Norris (Astros) – 2.63
2. Ramon Ortiz (Giants) – 3.05
3. Yorman Bazardo (Astros) – 3.20
4. Lenny DiNardo (Royals) – 3.32
5. Josh Banks (Padres) – 3.46
6. Giancarlo Alvarado (Dodgers) – 3.49
7. Charlie Haeger (Dodgers) – 3.55
8. Clay Hensley (Astros-Marlins) – 3.56
9. J.R. Mathes (Cubs) – 3.62
10. Willie Collazo (Marlins) – 3.70
– Brandon Hynick, the pitcher the White Sox got from the Rockies for Jose Contreras earlier this month, also deserves mention. He finished 11th at 3.83, but given that he was pitching at Colorado Springs, his performance was more impressive than that of a few guys ahead of him on the list.
– Hensley came in at 3.24 in his 19 starts with New Orleans after a failed stint at the Astros organization at the beginning of the year.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.