Health problems forced Rocco Baldelli into early retirement in his twenties, but he’s stayed in baseball working for the Rays’ in a front office role and now he’s back on the field as Tampa Bay’s new first base coach.
Baldelli, who’s still just 33 years old, joins 37-year-old rookie manager Kevin Cash’s coaching staff along with longtime Triple-A Durham manager Charlie Montoyo as third base coach. Tom Foley shifts to bench coach.
Baldelli was the sixth overall pick in the 2000 draft and ranked as the No. 2 prospect on Baseball America’s list for 2003. He debuted that season at age 21 and had back-to-back productive years as a speedy, good-hitting center fielder, but then the injuries started to pile up and he logged a grand total of just 429 plate appearances from age 25 on.
Andrew Albers is headed back to MLB after a rough 2014 season in Korea, signing a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays that includes an invitation to spring training.
Albers debuted for the Twins in 2013 and held his own in 10 starts as a 27-year-old rookie, but with an Opening Day roster spot looking like a long shot for 2014 he agreed to be sold to the Hanwha Eagles in Korea.
He struggled there, going 6-13 with a 5.89 ERA in a very hitter-friendly environment. Albers throws strikes and had lots of success in the minors, but the left-hander’s low-velocity approach means he’ll have to really impress to get back to the big leagues.
Never say never, of course, but team president Randy Levine made it pretty clear Thursday that the Yankees won’t be signing free agent ace Max Scherzer.
While speaking at a media event, Levine said “the chances of us bringing in a guy for six [years] and $25 million” per year is “virtually none.”
Levine never actually mentioned Scherzer’s name specifically, but reading between the lines seems easy enough.
Scherzer is said to be seeking a $200 million contract, but if the Yankees are out of the mix and the Tigers aren’t actively looking to re-sign him for huge money … who knows.
In search of some depth behind the plate, the White Sox have signed veteran catcher George Kottaras to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.
He’ll compete for a roster spot with Tyler Flowers, Rob Brantly, and Adrian Neito, so there’s definitely an opportunity for the 32-year-old journeyman to stick in Chicago.
Kottaras hits for poor batting averages and struggles to throw out runners, which is why he’s bounced around so much, but he has solid power and draws lots of walks on the way to a career .737 OPS that’s above average for the position.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Kris Medlen the Royals designated for assignment second baseman Johnny Giavotella, a former second-round draft pick who’s been stuck in the minors.
Giavotella is a career .315 hitter with an .835 OPS and as many walks as strikeouts in nearly 2,000 plate appearances at Triple-A, but he’s struggled in a few stints in the majors and last offseason the Royals signed Omar Infante for $30 million rather than handing him a job.
At age 27 he’s no longer a prospect and Giavotella is limited defensively, but there should be room on some team’s roster for an infielder who can hit.