Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez, whose long history of arm problems includes being shut down late last season with a shoulder injury, won’t throw until Monday at the earliest due to triceps inflammation.
Sanchez underwent an MRI exam and told Jason Beck of MLB.com that it’s a minor injury–“no big deal” was his exact quote–but given his track record any arm problems are noteworthy and worrisome.
Either way, Sanchez can certainly take his time getting into shape for the season and it won’t be surprising if the Tigers play things safer than letting him throw Monday. Sanchez is owed $16 million this season, $16 million next season, and $16 million or a $5 million buyout for 2018.
Chris Coghlan turned his career around in Chicago during the past two seasons and now he’s headed to Oakland, with the Cubs trading the former Rookie of the Year winner to the A’s for right-hander Aaron Brooks.
Coghlan was voted the NL’s top rookie for the Marlins in 2009, but then had four mostly injured and ineffective seasons before joining the Cubs in 2014. Since then he’s hit .265 with a .793 OPS in 273 games as a platoon player while seeing time at left field, right field, second base, and third base.
Moments after making the Coghlan trade the Cubs announced that free agent center fielder Dexter Fowler was spurning the Orioles to re-sign, which comes as a huge surprise and certainly explains the rush to deal Coghlan for a somewhat underwhelming return. Not only do the Cubs have Fowler, Jason Heyward, and Kyle Schwarber as their starting outfield, Jorge Soler is still around.
Brooks seems underwhelming in that he’s 26 years old with an 8.38 ERA in limited MLB action and was a secondary piece of the A’s trade with the Royals for Ben Zobrist. He’s a potential bullpen option, which the Cubs have been collecting this offseason.
Coghlan doesn’t have a clear path to playing time in Oakland at the moment, but the A’s like to platoon as much as any team and he’s best suited to play primarily versus right-handed pitching. He has a lifetime .784 OPS off righties, including .830 in 2014-2015. At age 30 he’s under contract for $4.8 million in his final season before free agency.
Domonic Brown, the one-time Phillies top prospect and starting outfielder who was dropped by the team in October, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Blue Jays.
Brown briefly lived up to the considerable hype in Philadelphia, smacking 27 homers and making the All-Star team as a 25-year-old in 2013, but in two years since then he hit just .233 with a .634 OPS while missing time with injuries.
Despite seemingly being around forever Brown is still only 28 years old and he has a .740 career OPS versus right-handed pitching, potentially making him a solid fit as a platoon player. His defense is pretty rough, though.
Toronto signing Brown comes on the heels of their reported deal with Cincinnati for outfielder Jay Bruce falling through, but Brown and current projected starting left fielder Michael Saunders are both left-handed hitters and thus don’t really fit in a platoon. They could also shift Edwin Encarnacion to first base and find Brown some time at designated hitter.
Whatever the case, Brown is a low-cost, no-risk pickup with some upside if the Blue Jays can tap into his power potential.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Dexter Fowler both inking late deals leaves shortstop Ian Desmond as the last unsigned free agent among the 16 players to turn down one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offers from their old teams at the start of the offseason.
Desmond returning to Washington has been ruled out by the Nationals and he hasn’t been linked to many teams, with the most recent being a few reports about the Rockies having interest a couple weeks ago. Jose Reyes‘ possible domestic violence suspension could leave Colorado in need of a shortstop, but it’s unclear if the Rockies want to cough up a draft pick to sign Desmond is a rebuilding year.
Earlier this week Desmond’s old Nationals teammates expressed shock that he remains unsigned, but it’s become very clear that the qualifying offer and draft pick compensation setup negative impacts the market for many non-star free agents. And in Desmond’s case he’s also seen his production decline dramatically, with his OPS going from .845 to .784 to .743 to .674 since making the All-Star team in 2012. Back then he rejected a $100 million extension offer from the Nationals, too.
Unfortunately for the 30-year-old shortstop “do you want to sign Ian Desmond to a sizable multi-year contract?” and “do you want to give up a draft pick to sign Ian Desmond to a sizable multi-year contract?” are proving to be very different questions.
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that the Braves have signed right-hander Carlos Portuondo, who defected from Cuba.
According to Sanchez it’s a minor-league deal worth $990,000 and because Portuondo is 28 years old that amount won’t count against Atlanta’s yearly international prospect spending pool.
Ben Badler of Baseball America’s scouting report on Portuondo notes that he throws in the low-90s with a good slider, but “never had much success pitching in Cuba.” Sure enough, his year-by-year numbers are ugly–with lots of ERAs above 5.00 and nearly as many walks as strikeouts–although much of that came as a starter and the Braves plan to use him as a reliever.