Aaron Gleeman

Pete Kozma

Cardinals tell Pete Kozma to “strap on catching equipment”

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Pete Kozma went from being the Cardinals’ starting shortstop to an afterthought once the clock struck midnight and turned him back into light-hitting pumpkin, and now he might be learning to catch.

Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has told Kozma and fellow utility infielder candidate Greg Garcia “to strap on catching equipment, whether it be in batting practice, or even a game.”

For now Matheny is simply trying to find an emergency catcher option behind starter Yadier Molina and backup Tony Cruz. Daniel Descalso had been the emergency catcher, but now he’s with the Rockies.

Hummel notes that Kozma is also likely to see some time in the outfield this spring, as he basically tries to do anything possible to look more appealing to the Cardinals as a potential bench player.

Alejandro De Aza on losing his arbitration hearing: “Honestly, I thought it was going to be worse”

Alejandro De Aza AP
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It’s often assumed that teams try to avoid going through with arbitration hearings because they involve saying negative things about a player in front of that player, but Alejandro De Aza says it wasn’t so bad.

De Aza lost his hearing with the Orioles last week and here’s what he told Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun about the experience:

Honestly, I thought it was going to be worse. It was something that they needed to do. It happened, and now [I have] a fresh mind going into spring training. … I know this is a business and it is what it is. At the beginning of the season, they said I was going to be in arbitration. Win or lose, life goes on. Everything is going to be the same.

Of course, it helps that even in losing the hearing De Aza was awarded a $5 million salary for 2015 and based on those quotes he seems to have a pretty good attitude about things in general.

Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada reportedly signs with the Red Sox for $31.5 million, plus $31.5 million in penalties

cuba hat
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After months in the making 19-year-old Cuban switch-hitter Yoan Moncada has settled on a team, signing with the Red Sox for what Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com says is $31.5 million.

Most projections had Moncada getting $30-$40 million and by committing that much money to a prospect the Red Sox a) pay a 100 percent tax for exceeding the international bonus pool, meaning it’s really a $63 million investment, and b) forfeit their ability to spend significant money on international prospects for the next couple seasons.

But if Moncada develops into the type of player many people think he’s capable of being, they won’t care one bit. Ben Badler of Baseball America writes that Moncada is now one of the top-10 prospects in all of baseball and ranks as the Red Sox’s top prospect, projecting him to become a power-hitting third baseman or second baseman.

Angels add another month to Josh Hamilton’s post-surgery recovery timetable

josh hamilton getty
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Initially when Josh Hamilton underwent shoulder surgery on February 4 the Angels announced that he’d be out for 6-8 weeks, but today general manager Jerry Dipoto said the team now expects to add another month to the recovery timetable.

Dipoto told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times “it could be as much as 12 weeks” while adding that “until he gets on site and on the field, it’s tough to determine how long it will take.”

DiGiovanna notes that Hamilton is currently rehabbing on his own in Houston and suggests that he may not even show up to the Angels’ spring training complex in Arizona. And if he ends up missing 12 weeks Hamilton wouldn’t be ready to come off the disabled list until sometime in May.

Nick Punto tells Diamondbacks he’s sitting out the season

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers
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Nick Punto, who signed a minor-league deal with the Diamondbacks in January, has decided to sit out the season according to Jody Jackson of FOX Sports Arizona. He hasn’t officially retired, but at age 37 and considering he was already looking like a fairly marginal big leaguer the odds would be stacked against Punto playing again.

Punto signed a two-year deal with the A’s last offseason and hit .207 with two homers and a .589 OPS in 73 games as a utility man, at which point Oakland released him and ate the remaining $2.75 million on his contract.

A speedy, slick-fielding, light-hitting infielder, Punto played parts of 14 seasons in the majors and earned nearly $25 million despite topping a .700 OPS just three times. His best year came in 2006 for the Twins, when he took over as the starting third baseman and hit .290 with a .352 on-base percentage in 135 games.

If he’s indeed finished, Punto retires as MLB’s all-time leader in head-first slides into first base and exaggerated claps after head-first slides into first base.