CLEARWATER — There was a moving ceremony before today’s Braves-Phillies game honoring the late Jim Fregosi.
Fregosi, the former Phillies manager and a long-time scout and executive with the Braves, died last month following a stroke. Today, however, was a day of fond and often funny remembrance, with Phillies and Braves officials remembering a loud, opinionated but eminently respected and unquestionably loved friend and colleague.
Fregosi’s family and former teammates and players participated in the ceremony. In a nice touch, each of the uniforms worn by Fregosi during his playing, managing and coaching careers were worn by someone who played with or for Fregosi. Kent Tekulve wore a late-70s Pirates pinstripe. Darren Daulton — himself looking good following cancer surgery — wore an early 90s-Phillies uniform. Braves hitting coach Greg Walker wore an early-80s White Sox ensemble, etc.:
They left the seat he’d sit in behind home plate when scouting empty today, but for his cap, placed there by Braves GM Frank Wren. They left a table in the media/scout dining room empty, with a black table cloth and a photo of Fregosi.
Sometimes tributes are overwrought or overthought. This one struck all the right notes. It was beautiful in its simplicity and its thoughtfulness.
Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.
We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.
Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.
The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.
Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.
In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.
Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.
He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.
Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.
Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.
At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.
Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.
Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.
He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.