Bob Nightingale of USA Today reports that the White Sox have “engaged in serious talks” with the A’s for Jeff Samardzija and “are looming as the front-runners” to acquire the right-hander.
Samardzija spent the first six-and-a-half seasons of his career in Chicago pitching for the Cubs before being traded to the A’s in July and was first linked to the White Sox a couple weeks ago.
Top prospects Marcus Semien and Tim Anderson would seemingly be likely A’s targets in a potential Samardzija deal, but Nightingale didn’t get into any specifics in terms of their asking price.
Samardzija is one season away from free agency and coming off a career-year in which he started 33 games and threw 220 innings with a 2.99 ERA and 202/43 K/BB ratio at age 29.
OK, so it turns out new acquisition Didi Gregorius won’t be Derek Jeter’s replacement. He’ll only be Derek Jeter’s replacement about two-thirds of the time.
General manager Brian Cashman said on WFAN radio in New York that the plan is to platoon the left-handed-hitting Gregorius, sitting him versus left-handed pitching in favor of the right-handed-hitting Brendan Ryan.
Gregorius has definitely struggled versus lefties, hitting just .184 off them, but it’s only 180 total plate appearances and he’s only 24 years old. Plus, while Ryan does hit from the right side of the plate he doesn’t really “hit” from the right side of the plate, batting just .208 with a .556 OPS off lefties from 2012-2014.
Catcher/first baseman Ryan Lavarnway, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox last week, has been claimed off waivers by the Dodgers. To make room for him on the 40-man roster Los Angeles designated for assignment catcher Drew Butera.
Lavarnway never hit much in some brief stints with the Red Sox and isn’t considered a reliable enough defender to see regular action behind the plate, but his minor-league track record suggests he could be useful as a part-time catcher/first baseman/bench bat. He’s a career .277 hitter with an .824 OPS at Triple-A.
Butera was acquired from Minnesota in mid-2013 and predictably hit .186 for the Dodgers after batting .182 for the Twins. He’s a good-glove, no-hit catcher whose bat may be too weak for even a backup role.
Clint Barmes’ deal with the Padres is now official: He’ll get $1.5 million in 2015 and the Padres will have an option for 2016 that begins at $2 million and can rise based on incentives reached.
Barmes has long been one of MLB’s best defensive shortstops, although counting on that continuing at age 36 is always iffy. And he’s terrible offensively, hitting .245 with a .622 OPS in 48 games for the Pirates this past season and failing to crack a .700 OPS since 2009.
He figures to serve as the backup to Alexi Amarista and the Padres were in the market for middle infield depth after non-tendering Everth Cabrera.
Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash is the Rays’ pick to replace Joe Maddon as manager, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
Cash was one of three finalists for the job along with Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu and not-yet-officially-retired player Raul Ibanez, but Ibanez removed himself from consideration due to personal reasons.
Cash is just 36 years old and last played in the majors with the Red Sox in 2010. He was a good-glove, no-hit catcher who logged parts of eight seasons in the big leagues with five different teams, never cracking 200 plate appearances in a season while batting .183 overall.
He retired following the 2011 season and took a scouting job with the Blue Jays before joining manager Terry Francona’s coaching staff in Cleveland for the 2013 season.