Plenty of outfielders still up for grabs

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Jim Edmonds, Jay Payton, Shannon Stewart, Luis Gonzalez, Geoff Jenkins. All had their careers cut short a year ago because teams decided to go young and cheap in the outfield. Edmonds and Jenkins are currently contemplating comebacks, but there’s still a crunch at the position, with few spots available and more than enough players to fill them.
A rundown of the current free agent outfielders:
Johnny Damon
Jermaine Dye
Rick Ankiel
Xavier Nady
Randy Winn
Jonny Gomes
Gary Sheffield
Marcus Thames
Rocco Baldelli
Garret Anderson
Gabe Gross
Brian Giles
Chris Duncan
Endy Chavez
Alfredo Amezaga
Jacque Jones
Matt Stairs
Cory Sullivan
Ryan Freel
Darin Erstad
Jeremy Reed
Wily Mo Pena
There’s something for everyone in that list. Damon is the only player left guaranteed to help a contender as an everyday player, but Dye can still hit and Ankiel offers plenty of upside. Winn would be a terrific fourth outfielder for a good team if he gives up on the idea of starting for a mediocre one. And all Gomes did last year was hit .267/.338/541 in 281 at-bats for the Reds.
As for matching them up all with teams, that’s where it gets difficult. The Blue Jays and Reds are the only remaining clubs that look like locks to bring in starting outfielders, and they’re both bargain hunting. The Giants, Marlins, Royals, Tigers and Yankees are the teams that could add a regular. The Royals and Tigers, though, might go the DH route instead, with Jim Thome, Hank Blalock and Russell Branyan still lurking.
So, it seems to me too many of these guys are going to have to end up settling for minor league deals. Here’s one person’s guess as to where the notable names will end up:
Johnny Damon – Yankees
Jermaine Dye – Reds
Rick Ankiel – Blue Jays
Xavier Nady – Mets
Randy Winn – Cardinals
Jonny Gomes – Cubs
Gary Sheffield – Royals
Marcus Thames – Blue Jays
Rocco Baldelli – Twins
Endy Chavez – Mariners

The Orioles and Yovani Gallardo are “making progress”

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles are “making progress” in talks with free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo.

Gallardo has been on the market so long because he has a first round pick tied to him due to his declining the Rangers’ qualifying offer. The Orioles would have to forfeit the 14th overall pick in order to sign him. That has been too steep a price to pay for them all winter, but as we’re mere days away from pitchers and catchers reporting, it’s likely that Gallardo’s price has dropped enough to make it worth their while.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons — and had a career-low 3.42 ERA in 2015 — but his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012, suggesting that trouble could be on the horizon.

If the O’s do burn their pick to get Gallardo, it might make sense for them to go all-in with another free agent like Dexter Fowler, given that they’d not have to give up anything else to do it.

Rangers avoid arbitration with Mitch Moreland

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First baseman/outfielder Mitch Moreland and the Rangers have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $5.7 million deal.

Moreland requested $6 million and the Rangers countered at $4.675 million, so the two sides settled on the player-friendly side of the midpoint.

Moreland bounced back from an injury wrecked 2014 season to have a career-year in 2015, hitting .278 with 23 homers and an .812 OPS in 132 games. Arbitration eligible for the final time at age 30, he’s set to be a free agent next offseason.

Tiger Stadium redevelopment group loses $50K because of its preference for artificial turf

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Craig Calcaterra
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We’ve posted frequently on the topic of the old Tiger Stadium site. If you’ve kept up with it you know that the site, nearly overgrown with weeds and strewn with trash before being rescued by a group of volunteers called the Navin Field Grounds Crew, is now being slated for redevelopment by the Detroit Police Athletic League.

The PAL is committed to keeping a baseball field as part of the development, but they are also, quite unfortunately, committed to putting artificial turf down over the bit of Earth where baseball legends once walked and ran.

Backlash to the plan has begun, however. Not just from people like me or the Navin Field Grounds Crew, who are opposed to fake grass, but to an actual donor to the Detroit Police Athletic League:

With an annual contribution of $50,000 to Detroit PAL’s programs, the Lear Corporation has been a major benefactor of the nonprofit for years. But in light of PAL’s controversial plan to redevelop the Tiger Stadium site with artificial turf, Lear’s CEO is speaking out.

Matthew Simoncini says that Lear is withdrawing its financial support of PAL for its mishandling of this delicate issue.

“I believe the [PAL] plan is severely flawed [and] a terrible use of resources,” says Simoncini. “[It] does not preserve this site and provides [an] unsafe playing surface for the children,”

I’m guessing $50,000 is not the sort of money that will seriously hinder a real estate redevelopment plan, but it’s good to hear someone with a stake in all of this voting with their wallet. Here’s hoping more do and that, eventually, PAL understands that there are some things more important than saving some money at the front end of a project.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America
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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.