Well, this helps explain why the Orioles backed away from re-signing Nick Markakis before he wound up going to the Braves for four years and $44 million.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Markakis is “leaning toward” undergoing surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck that would carry an expected 12-week recovery timetable.
Atlanta and Baltimore were both aware of the possibility he’d need surgery and perhaps the Orioles were particularly worried about his health after seeing Markakis on a day-to-day basis for nearly a decade.
Andre Ethier accepted a reduced role with the Dodgers this year without making much of a fuss, but the 32-year-old former All-Star told Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times that he wants to start again in 2015 even if that requires being traded to another team:
Whether to play here every day or play somewhere else. … I’d rather play every day and help this team win–or whatever team it is–to the best of my ability. I feel I can, if given a role. As I stand here today, I’m preparing every day to be a starting outfielder for the Dodgers, until I’m told otherwise. I’m not changing my mind about that. It’s probably going to be a little less wanting to take the same role as I did last year.
Fair enough. On almost any other team Ethier would be a starter, because while his 2014 performance was not good–hitting just .249 with four homers and a .691 OPS in 130 games–his track record is good enough to give him the benefit of the doubt as a productive player in 2015.
However, even if the Dodgers follow through on the rumors about them trading Matt Kemp there still might not be room in their outfield for Ethier with Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford in the corners and top prospect Joc Pederson in center field. Ethier isn’t good enough defensively to reliably play center field and his offense is declining.
Ethier is owed $18 million in 2015, $18 million in 2016, $17.5 million in 2017, and $17.5 million or a $2.5 million buyout for 2018. In other words, if the Dodgers are going to trade him it’ll involve eating a bunch of that money.
Now we know who’ll be filling Derek Jeter’s big shoes in New York, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Yankees have acquired Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius in a three-team trade that also involves the Tigers.
According to Rosenthal–following up on an initial report by Sweeny Murti of WFAN radio in New York–the Yankees will send right-hander Shane Green to the Tigers, who will send left-hander Robbie Ray and minor-league infielder Domingo Leyba to the Diamondbacks.
Gregorius was pegged as the Diamondbacks’ long-term shortstop when they acquired him from the Reds in the three-team deal that sent away Trevor Bauer, but that was under the old regime. And he also didn’t play well in 2014, hitting .226 with six homers and a .653 OPS in 80 games at age 24.
[ RELATED: How the trade impacts both teams ]
Former general manager Kevin Towers once said of Gregorius: “When I saw him he reminded me of a young Derek Jeter.” And now he’ll get a chance to replace an old Derek Jeter.
Greene debuted this year after six seasons in the minors and pitched well as a 25-year-old rookie, throwing 79 innings with a 3.78 ERA and 81/29 K/BB ratio. He’ll presumably step right into the Tigers’ rotation, giving them a cheap complement to all the expensive veterans.
Detroit acquired Ray from Washington in last offseason’s swap for Doug Fister, but he pitched poorly in the minors this year and got knocked around in a 29-inning debut for the Tigers. He’s still just 23 years old, but his stock has definitely dipped. Leyba is 19 years old and played this past season at low Single-A, hitting .323 in 67 games.
San Francisco has avoided arbitration with another player, following up a one-year, $1.1 million deal with Travis Ishikawa by signing catcher Hector Sanchez to a one-year, $800,000 contract.
Sanchez served as Buster Posey’s backup this past season, but hit just .196 in 66 games and missed the final two months of the year due to a concussion.
At age 25 he’s a career .246 hitter with a .630 OPS in 216 games and there had been some speculation that the Giants preferred rookie Andrew Susac as Posey’s new backup.
Right-hander Michael Kohn has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Braves that includes an invitation to spring training.
Kohn was dropped by the Angels in September and later signed with the Rays, but was dropped by Tampa Bay last month as well when he declined an assignment to Triple-A.
During the past two seasons Kohn had a 3.52 ERA in 88 appearances for the Angels, striking out 78 batters in 77 innings to go with a mid-90s fastball, but he also walked 5.6 batters per nine frames.
He’ll compete for a middle relief gig.