Friday's minor moves: Rangers, Dodgers, Marlins

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Rangers claimed infielder Joe Inglett off waivers from the Blue Jays.
Inglett, 31, played a key role of the 2008 Jays, but he spent most of last season back in the minors, as the team preferred the right-handed-hitting Jose Bautista in the spot the lefty-swinging Inglett could have occupied. He’s a career .293/.349/.396 hitter in 639 at-bats, but since he can’t play shortstop and he’s below average at second base, he’s had a difficult time establishing himself. He’d make plenty of sense as a 25th man for a Rangers team that will rarely if ever take its second and third basemen out of the lineup.
Dodgers signed RHP Justin Miller to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Miller likely would have gotten a major league deal had he not injured his elbow late in the year and required surgery. He had a 3.18 ERA in 56 2/3 innings for the Giants last season. Still, his peripherals suggest it was a fluke. He possesses a nice slider, but his fastball isn’t what it used to be and he’s always walked a few too many guys. The minor league contract was appropriate.
Brewers signed outfielder Trent Oeltjen to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Oeltjen, a 26-year-old out of Australia, was a brief sensation for the Diamondbacks last season, going 12-for-24 with three homers, a triple and two doubles in his first five major league games. Unfortunately, he went 5-for-46 the rest of the way and was dropped from the 40-man roster at season’s end. Oeltjen is a quality defender in an outfield corner and a left-handed hitter, so he has a shot at a career as a bench player. Still, there’s no clear strength to his game that’s going to help carry him. The Brewers figure to have him start out at Triple-A.
Orioles re-signed catcher Chad Moeller to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Moeller looked around for a guaranteed deal, but he couldn’t find one. He hit .258/.313/.438 in 89 at-bats while backing up Matt Wieters last season, and he’ll probably be the favorite to hold the job next year, though Craig Tatum and Michel Hernandez will get a chance to compete.
Marlins signed RHP Jesse Foppert, RHP John Fulton, RHP Kasey Olenberger, INF-OF Hector Luna, INF Vinny Rottino and OF Brandon Tripp to minor league contracts.
Olenberger, Luna and Rottino received invitations to spring training. Olenberger, 31, is being re-signed after posting a 1.10 ERA in 65 2/3 innings for the Marlins’ Double-A club last season. It’s surprising he opted to stick around, given that the Marlins called up all kinds of pitchers last season yet never gave him a second thought.
Luna, 29, batted .351/.414/.610 in 313 at-bats for the Dodgers’ Triple-A club in Las Vegas last season. If only he kept himself in better shape, he’d be in the middle of a fine career as a utilityman. As is, he’s too poor of an infielder to be of real use.
Foppert is still kicking around after all this time. The one-time elite prospect hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2005. He had a 6.27 ERA in eight starts and two relief appearances for the Giants’ Double-A affiliate last season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.

Marlins announcer Tommy Hutton was let go because he was “too negative”

marlins logo wide

We heard earlier this week that Marlins television analyst Tommy Hutton was let go after 19 seasons on the job. By all accounts, he’s well-liked and respected, so it smelled a little fishy with a team that has owner Jeffrey Loria calling the shots. Well, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald was told by a source close to the Marlins that Hutton was let go because he was “too negative.”

Jackson was also able to get in touch with Hutton, who provided some details about how things went down.

“I know there were times I was negative, but I thought those times were called for,” he said. “Ninety percent of what I said was positive. I tried not to be a homer, but you could tell I wanted the Marlins to do well.”

After being told that his salary wasn’t a factor in the decision, Hutton suspected that his candid, blunt analysis might be the impetus for his ouster.

So after learning his fate on Monday, he asked that question – whether they thought he was too negative — to both a Fox producer (at a meeting at Starbucks) and the Marlins’ vice president/communications (by phone).

He said the question was met with silence by both executives.

“I couldn’t get a yes or a no,” he said.

Hutton said there were three incident in recent years where he was told the Marlins were uncomfortable with something he said. He disclosed one example where he was exasperated at the ballpark’s dimensions after former catcher John Buck flew out to the warning track for the final out of a game. He was told by a Marlins vice president after the game that Loria prefer he not talk about the ballpark’s dimensions. Of course, the team is moving in the fences this winter.

To be clear, Hutton said he was told it was a “mutual decision” between the Marlins and FOX to let him go, but Jackson’s source hears that the concern about his “negativity” came from the team.

Hey, do you know the best way to prevent “negative” talk about your team? Fielding a winning baseball team without a dysfunctional ownership and front office. Crazy idea, I know, but it could be cool?

Report: Indians have been in touch with Shane Victorino

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 01:  Shane Victorino #18 of the Los Angeles Angels makes a catch for an out against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 1, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Outfield is a glaring need for the Indians, but they aren’t expected to shop for any of the big names on the free agent market. Instead, they are looking at potential bargains on short-term deals. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that Shane Victorino falls under this classification and that the veteran outfielder is among many names the Indians have contacted.

Victorino, who turns 35 on Monday, has been limited to just 101 games over the past two seasons due to injury. Coming off back surgery, he batted just .230/.308/.292 with one home run and seven RBI over 204 plate appearances this past season between the Red Sox and Angels while battling calf and hamstring injuries. It’s hard to see the upside at this point, but the Indians could promise him regular at-bats, especially with Michael Brantley likely to miss the start of the 2016 season following shoulder surgery.

The Indians have also reportedly discussed trading either Danny Salazar or Carlos Carrasco for a bat, which represents their best chance of adding a big name to their outfield this winter.

Korean slugger Byung-ho Park is reportedly traveling to Minnesota

Byung-ho Park

Could the Twins and Korean slugger Byung-ho Park be close to finalizing a contract?

According to Naver Sports (via a translated report from Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press), Park is scheduled to travel to the United States on Sunday. The 29-year-old is expected to make a quick stop in Chicago to meet with his agent, Alan Nero, before coming to Minnesota to see Twins officials and take a physical exam. If all goes well, a contract could be finalized as soon as next week.

The Twins bid $12.85 million last month to secure exclusive negotiating rights with Park. The deadline to complete a deal is December 8. If a deal is not worked out, Park would remain with the Nexen Heroes in the KBO (Korea Baseball Organization) and the Twins would not have to pay the posting fee.

Right now, it’s unclear how far along the two sides are in negotiations. However, Berardino hears that a guarantee in the range of $20-30 million is reasonable to expect.

Park, a two-time MVP in the KBO, has amassed 105 home runs in 268 games over the past two seasons. It’s hard to tell how those numbers will translate, even after the success of Jung Ho Kang this season, but the Twins are hoping he can be a middle-of-the-order force.