Facing a glut of young outfielders and needing help behind the plate, the Twins have traded center fielder Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy.
Hicks turned his career around this year, hitting .256 with 11 homers and a .721 OPS in 97 games for the Twins to show some of the promise that made him a top-100 prospect before back-to-back rough seasons in 2013 and 2014. He’s a speedy center fielder with a very good arm and the potential to be an above-average hitter, although so far the switch-hitting Hicks has struggled against right-handed pitching enough to question if he should be playing every day. He could fill Chris Young’s old platoon role or make Brett Gardner expendable.
Murphy has served in a backup role for the Yankees, hitting .267 with four homers and a .685 OPS in 115 total games from 2013-2015. His numbers in the minors are similar, including a .259 batting average and .736 OPS at Triple-A, so the 24-year-old Murphy is unlikely to be a standout hitter. He’ll split playing time with veteran Kurt Suzuki, whose struggles this year convinced the Twins they needed to find outside help at catcher.
Diamondbacks hitting coach Turner Ward never signed the contract he was offered in early October and Tuesday he informed the team he was leaving after three years on the job.
Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that a very “emotional” Ward called him to break the news, saying:
From what I understand, it’s strictly a baseball decision. He’s still going to be in the game. I think he might have a better opportunity somewhere else.
Piecoro notes that if Ward had signed the contract last month he would have had to get permission to speak to other teams, so clearly he was planning an exit to at least some extent.
Arizona ranked second among NL teams in runs scored this year and hitters like Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta have thrived working with Ward.
Dave Dombrowski traded for Joakim Soria as Tigers general manager and he’s interested in the two-time All-Star reliever again now that he’s running the Red Sox.
Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Red Sox “have expressed interest” in the free agent reliever, who logged 68 innings with a 2.53 ERA for the Tigers and Pirates this year.
Of course, as a 32-year-old with a 2.57 career ERA and experience setting up and closing Soria figures to draw interest from lots of teams. In fact, a few days ago the Tigers were said to be interested in bringing him back.
Fired as Nationals manager, Matt Williams has moved quickly to find a new job and it’s a familiar one: Williams is the Diamondbacks’ new third base coach, which is the same job he held–under different management–prior to being hired by the Nationals.
Williams was part of then-Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson’s coaching staff from 2010-2013, initially as first base coach and then as third base coach. He left to take the Nationals manager job and was named Manager of the Year in his first season before being fired after a disappointing season year.
This time around he’ll be part of manager Chip Hale’s coaching staff for a team that went 79-83 in 2015.
Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn will miss the entire 2016 season following Tommy John elbow surgery, the team announced.
Lynn dealt with a strained forearm around midseason and then had an ankle injury late in the year, finishing with a 3.03 ERA in 175 innings after topping 200 innings in 2013 and 2014.
He has a 3.37 ERA in 791 career innings, so this is a big blow for the Cardinals and could cause them to make an increased effort to re-sign free agent right-hander John Lackey.
Even if they don’t re-sign Lackey the Cardinals still have plenty of rotation depth in Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia, and several other inexperienced options with some upside, although there are a lot of health-related question marks in that group.
Lynn, who’ll turn 29 years old in May, will make $7.5 million while on the disabled list in 2016 and is also under contract for $7.5 million in 2017.