There is always a lot of “avoided arbitration” news around this time, so enjoy the exciting news.
Per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers and reliever Neal Cotts avoided arbitration on a one-year deal worth $2.2 million. Cotts, soon to be 34, had a fantastic 2013 season, his first in the big leagues since 2009. He finished up the year with a 1.11 ERA in 57 innings, averaging well over a strikeout per inning and 3.6 strikeouts for every one walk.
The Red Sox and reliever Burke Badenhop agreed to a one-year non-guaranteed contract, the Red Sox reported. WEEI’s Alex Speier says Badenhop’s non-guaranteed salary is $2.15 million. Badenhop turns 31 on February 8 and is coming off of a solid 2013 campaign with the Brewers. In 62 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, the right-hander posted a 3.47 ERA with a 3.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Finally, Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that the Rockies and Franklin Morales agreed to a one-year deal. Troy Renck of the Denver Post adds that Morales will earn $1,712,500. The Rockies recently acquired Morales, soon to be 28, from the Red Sox for infielder Jonathan Herrera. In 25 1/3 innings with the Red Sox last season, Morales posted a 4.62 ERA with a high walk rate (13 unintentional).
Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.
Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.
The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.
A surprising move out of Oakland: the Athletics have designated catcher Stephen Vogt for assignment.
Vogt is suffering through a bad season at the plate, hitting .217/.287/.357, so on the basis of pure performance it’s understandable that the A’s may want to part ways with the 32-year-old former All-Star. That said, Vogt is considered to be a leader in the Oakland clubhouse and is one of the last players remaining from the A’s 2013-14 playoff teams.
Catcher Bruce Maxwell has been recalled from Triple-A to take Vogt’s place on the roster. Main catching duties will belong to Josh Phegley.