Travis Snider

Blue Jays designate Juan Rivera, call up Travis Snider

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When the Blue Jays took back Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli as the price for shedding Vernon Wells’ deal in a trade with the Angels, it was with the idea of sending both elsewhere before the season started.  It worked out fine with Napoli, who was moved on to Texas for Frank Francisco, but the Jays never could find a taker for Rivera and they designated him for assignment following Sunday’s game.

With a .243/.305/.360 line, six homers and 28 RBI in 248 at-bats this season, Rivera hadn’t done anything since Opening Day to enhance his trade value.  He was hitting .327 in 55 at-bats against lefties, but versus righties, he came in at .219.  Considering that he’s making $5.25 million and he has no defensive value at all, no team was too interested in adding him to its bench.  Perhaps that will change if he gets his release and a club will only have to pay him the minimum.

Getting another chance in Toronto is 23-year-old Travis Snider.  Snider was sent down after hitting .184/.276/.264 with one homer in 87 at-bats to begin the season, but he had come in at .333/.403/.488 in 201 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas.  There is a huge caveat there: Las Vegas is a premier offensive environment in the already hitter friendly PCL.  However, Snider hit .380/.449/.570 in his 19 road games while playing with the 51s.

What isn’t so impressive was that Snider had just two homers.  He did have 21 doubles and two triples, but for the year now, he has just three homers in 288 at-bats between the majors and minors.  That’s a far cry from what was expected from the 14th overall pick in the 2006 draft.

Snider is still plenty young, but he really needs to seize this latest chance the Blue Jays are giving him.  He’ll likely be pretty much an everyday outfielder with Jose Bautista back at third.  If he fails again, he might turn into offseason trade bait for the club.

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

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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.