Ivan Rodriguez

UPDATE: Royals inquire about Ivan Rodriguez, who is “not ready” to join team

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UPDATE: Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that, contrary to Heyman’s report, the Royals have not made an offer to Rodriguez or invited him to camp. The club has “inquired” about the veteran backstop, but have also looked into “20 or more” players.

Hard to tell whether an official offer was ever actually made, but Moore told Heyman that Rodriguez is not ready to join the team right now. It’s not clear why that is, but I can’t imagine there are any other legitimate chances for playing time out there at this point. Perhaps he’s injured or just not in the proper playing shape.

4:35 PM: In Heyman’s latest update, Royals’ general manager Dayton Moore said he was told that Rodriguez still wants to play “at some point,” but is not ready to join the team right now.

3:45 PM: Heyman reports that the Royals “admit” they have called Rodriguez to express interest, but it sounds like they’re downplaying whether they have made an official offer.

2:49 PM: In the wake of Salvador Perez’s knee injury, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star speculated yesterday morning that the Royals could have interest in 40-year-old Ivan Rodriguez as a stopgap option behind the plate. It appears he was right on the money.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Royals are interested in bringing Rodriguez to camp, but that’s he’s currently mulling the opportunity and hasn’t decided whether he’ll accept the offer. It’s not clear if he is fielding offers from other teams, though Scott Miller of CBSSports.com reported yesterday that the Rays were expected to look for catching depth.

Rodriguez was limited to just 44 games with the Nationals last season due to an oblique injury, batting .218/.281/.323 with two homers, 19 RBI and a .604 OPS over 137 plate appearances. However, he managed to throw out 13 of 25 (52 percent) of would-be basestealers. The 40-year-old backstop is 156 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.

If signed, Rodriguez would likely share the workload with Brayan Pena, who owns an underwhelming .251/.293/.359 batting line and a .652 OPS over 728 plate appearances in the majors.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.