A's give up on Jake Fox, trade him to Orioles for Ross Wolf

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Jake Fox’s time in Oakland lasted all of 39 games, as the A’s traded him to the Orioles today after giving up three minor-league pitchers to get him from the Cubs this winter. Fox certainly didn’t do himself any favors by hitting just .214 with a .591 OPS, but giving up on him after just 106 plate appearances is another example of general manager Billy Beane and the A’s being increasingly impatient with many moves lately.
None of which is to suggest Fox is any kind of special player. He’s already 27 years old despite having just 368 career plate appearances in the majors, hasn’t hit much with a .711 OPS, and isn’t really a good defender anywhere despite being versatile enough to see time at first base, left field, right field, third base, and catcher.
In return for Fox the A’s get 27-year-old right-hander Ross Wolf from the Orioles, which is significantly less than they gave up to get Fox in December. Wolf has a 3.81 ERA and 171/95 K/BB ratio in 255 innings at Triple-A and was rocked for 16 runs in 12 innings during his only big-league stint in 2007, so it’s pretty close to a giveaway.
Baltimore likely represents Fox’s last chance to show that his success in the minors was for real. He’s hit .298 with 77 homers, 100 doubles, and a .920 OPS in 350 games between Double-A and Triple-A, but poor plate discipline and little defensive value make him more of a part-time player and bench bat than starter material. Either way, the A’s just bought relatively high and sold relatively low on Fox, and the Orioles picked up a potentially useful player on the cheap.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.