Nick Hundley and the Padres have agreed to a multi-year contract that covers 2013 and 2014 while including a team option for 2015.
Hundley was already signed for $2 million this season and under team control through 2014 via the arbitration process, so the Padres will pre-pay for two seasons of arbitration eligibility in exchange for some cost certainty and the option of buying out his first year of free agency.
Hundley has had trouble staying healthy, playing fewer than 90 games in each of his four seasons, but the 28-year-old hit .288 with a .347 on-base percentage and .477 slugging percentage in 82 games last season and has thrown out 28 percent of steal attempts for his career.
Prior to last season’s .824 OPS his career mark was just .699, so committing to Hundley rather than going year-to-year via arbitration is certainly a risk. However, he’s a rare player who actually thrives in the majors’ most pitcher-friendly ballpark, as Hundley has hit .271 with an .818 OPS at Petco Park compared to .240 with a .657 OPS on the road. Those splits are tough to explain and probably aren’t sustainable, but either way he’s a solid-hitting catcher with decent defensive chops and the Padres now have him locked up through age 31.
Now that Hundley is signed long term it’ll be interesting to see what the Padres do with catching prospect Yasmani Grandal, who was acquired from the Reds in the Mat Latos trade and ranks as the No. 53 prospect in the majors according Baseball America. Grandal is 23 years old and figures to begin this season at Triple-A, so he’ll be MLB-ready long before Hundley’s deal expires.
UPDATE: Corey Brock of MLB.com has the breakdown of Hundley’s deal. He’ll get $3 million in 2013 and $4 million in 2014, and the 2015 option is for $5 million. Cheap enough that he could be traded or perhaps even move into a backup role once Grandal arrives, maybe.
In a special for USA TODAY Sports, Mike Vorkunov details how six teams — the Mets in particular — provide an education program that helps their Dominican prospects earn high school diplomas. It seems like an obvious win-win: smarter players make smarter decisions, making them more likely to achieve their potential as athletes. That, of course, requires spending money, which is why only six teams make the investment. For the players, if baseball doesn’t work out, they are better able to support themselves in other ways.
Vorkunov lists the Pirates, Tigers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners as the other teams who provide an education program for their Dominican prospects. We learned earlier this month that the Phillies were also investing in making sure their minor leaguers eat healthy. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “few teams” supply their minor league players with healthy food options.
Juan Henderson, the head of the Mets’ Dominican academy, said, “We see the benefit of it. I gotta tell you, we’re working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy. Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop.”
Kudos to the six teams for making a great decision and here’s hoping the other 24 teams follow suit.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols cranked out a two-run home run in the third inning against Rangers starter Derek Holland, breaking a scoreless tie. It’s the ninth homer of the season for Pujols and the 569th of his career, putting him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.
Harmon Killebrew is Pujols’ next target at 573, followed by Mark McGwire at 583 and Frank Robinson at 586.
Pujols hadn’t homered since May 13. He entered Monday night hitting a mediocre .228/.309/.395 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 188 plate appearances.
Monday has unfortunately been a day of injury news. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is the latest to hit the 15-day disabled list, as he has been diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist. The club has recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert from Triple-A Omaha.
Gordon suffered the injury colliding with third baseman Mike Moustakas attempting to catch a fly ball on Sunday afternoon. He is expected to miss three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports.
Gordon was having a tough 2016 campaign and the injury only makes it worse. He’s hitting .211/.319/.331 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 166 plate appearances on the year.
The Royals will likely use Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in left field in Gordon’s absence.
The Orioles announced on Monday night that the club has traded reliever Brian Matusz to the Braves in exchange for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves are also receiving a Competitive Balance Round B pick (76th overall) in the 2016 draft.
Matusz, 29, made his season debut on April 23 after battling a back injury since early March. It’s been a struggle, as the lefty has yielded eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks with just one strikeout in six innings. He is earning $3.9 million and can become a free agent after the season.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are expected to designate Matusz for assignment. Essentially, the Braves bought the draft pick for Matusz’s remaining salary of $3 million of $3.9 million total.
Barker, 23, has been pitching at Double-A Mississippi after getting a taste of Triple-A last year. So far this season, the right-hander has a 2.00 ERA with a 40/12 K/BB ratio in 45 innings spanning eight starts and a relief appearance.
Belicek, a 23-year-old left-hander, has spent most of the year with Single-A Rome, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 29/1 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings over 11 relief appearances.