When the Braves signed Nick Markakis to a four-year, $44 million contract they knew the veteran outfielder might need surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck and sure enough he’s now scheduled to go under the knife Wednesday.
Markakis’ “fusion surgery” carries with it an expected eight-week recovery timetable, which doesn’t leave a ton of extra time before the start of spring training.
He was initially diagnosed with the injury in March of 2013 and has hit just .274 with a .707 OPS in 315 games since then.
Last week the Braves signed 25-year-old Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano and now we know the details, with Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reporting that he’ll get $6 million over four years. Atlanta will also have a fifth-year team option built into the contract, which would bring the total value to $7.5 million.
At the time of the signing several sources described Toscano as a low-upside player who might be best suited for a fourth outfielder gig, but clearly the Braves think he has the potential to be a productive regular.
His power is limited, but he’s posted strong batting averages with good strike-zone control in Cuba and figures to be a corner outfielder in the majors.
To make room on the 40-man roster for outfielder John Mayberry Jr. the Mets have designated for assignment right-hander Gonzalez Germen.
Germen spent parts of the past two seasons in the Mets’ bullpen, posting a combined 4.31 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 65 innings. However, he also walked 4.2 batters per nine innings and is 27 years old.
He should latch on somewhere as a useful middle reliever and it’s a little surprising that the Mets were willing to give up on him for nothing so soon.
Non-tendered by the A’s two weeks ago, Kyle Blanks has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Rangers.
Blanks was once a top prospect in the Padres’ farm system and had an impressive rookie season in 2009, but injuries have derailed him since then and now at age 28 he’s trying to stick in the majors as a role player.
Blanks is a huge first baseman with some ability to play the outfield corners if needed and has hit .301 with 34 homers and a .969 OPS in 148 games at Triple-A. Texas seems like a pretty good landing spot for him and if nothing else Blanks should be able to knock around left-handed pitching.
For months Dan Haren indicated that he’d rather retire than play for a non-California team, which became an issue last week when the Dodgers traded him to the Marlins.
Haren is under contract for $10 million in 2015, which the Dodgers essentially paid the Marlins to take whether he retires or not, but now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says Miami may try to trade Haren “if he plans to retire.”
Assuming that Haren sticks to his California-or-bust plan, the Angels, Padres, A’s, and Giants are the only options and he’s already played for the A’s and Angels. Haren’s performance has slipped from his prime levels as a top-of-the-rotation starter, but he still looks capable of being a solid third or fourth starter at age 34.