Two weeks after being traded to the Blue Jays in the deal that sent manager John Farrell to the Red Sox, Mike Aviles is on the move again.
Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that the Blue Jays have shipped Aviles and utility man Yan Gomes to the Indians in exchange for right-hander Esmil Rogers.
Aviles, who turns 32 next March, batted .250/.282/.381 with 13 home runs, 60 RBI and a .663 OPS in 136 games this season for the Red Sox. He earned $1.2 million in 2012 and is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter.
The Indians already have Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis as starters at shortstop and second base respectively, so Aviles could be in the mix at third base or as a backup infielder. It helps that he’s right-handed, as the Indians batted just .234/.312/.352 with a .664 OPS against southpaws this season. Aviles has a .797 career OPS against left-handed pitching.
Gomes, 25, batted .204/.264/.367 with four home runs, 13 RBI and a .631 OPS in 43 games with the Blue Jays this season while making starts at first base, third base, left field and behind the plate. The Brazil native could provide some versatility off the bench and some pop from the right side of the plate.
Rogers began this season with the Rockies, but posted a brutal 8.06 ERA over his first 23 appearances before being traded to the Indians in June. The 27-year-old was quietly very effective with his new club, compiling a 3.06 ERA and 54/12 K/BB ratio over 53 innings. The hard-throwing right-hander has experience as a starter, but it looks like he has found his niche out of the bullpen.
The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.
Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”
Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”
Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.
Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.
According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.
While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.