<span class="vcard">Bill Baer</span>

Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Travis Ishikawa hits an RBI-single off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Raisel Iglesias to drive home Neil Walker in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015, in Cincinnati. The Reds won 4-3. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo

Mariners’ minor league deal with Travis Ishikawa unlikely to be finalized

5 Comments

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Mariners’ minor league deal with 1B/OF Travis Ishikawainitially reported on January 16 — is likely to fizzle out. Dutton suggests that the club’s signing of Gaby Sanchez to a minor league deal might have been a factor. Sanchez signed on the 22nd.

Ishikawa, 32, played in 44 games with the Pirates and Giants, taking only 72 trips to the plate in the majors last season, putting up a paltry .607 OPS. He spent some time on the disabled list with a lower back strain as well as 39 games in the minors.

Sanchez will compete with Jesus Montero for the right to platoon with Adam Lind at first base, Dutton notes.

Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart open to acquiring a closer

Arizona Diamondbacks' Brad Ziegler works against the San Francisco Giants during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, June 12, 2015, in San Francisco. Arizona won 1-0. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
1 Comment

Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said that while current closer Brad Ziegler hasn’t done anything to merit losing his grip on the closer’s role, he would be open to acquiring another closer or at least another high leverage reliever.

Following Saturday’s trade with the Brewers which brought Jean Segura into the fold, the D-Backs have a surfeit of depth up the middle including Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings. One of them could potentially be put in a trade to bring a reliever back to Arizona.

Ziegler, 36, performed quite well as the Diamondbacks’ regular closer last season, saving 30 games in 31 opportunities since taking over on May 21. In his 68 total innings, he struck a grand total of 36 batters but walked only 17 while inducing a rather high amount of ground balls. Among relievers who racked up at least 50 innings last season, Ziegler’s 72.8 percent ground ball rate was bested only by the Orioles’ Zach Britton (79.1 percent). Ziegler isn’t the prototypical closer and given his age, it’s understandable why the club would look for better options elsewhere.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has spoken to Howie Kendrick about playing some third base

Howie Kendrick
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Leave a comment

With Chase Utley, Enrique Hernandez, and Micah Johnson at second base on the depth chart, new Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he has spoken to new signee Howie Kendrick about mixing in some time at third base, Eric Stephen of SB Nation’s True Blue LA reports. Justin Turner is recovering from surgery on his left knee but is expected to be ready for Opening Day. However, the Dodgers likely want to give him some time off so as not to overwork him.

Kendrick has six innings of experience at third base in the major leagues, accrued in one game during his rookie season in 2006. He also logged 66 innings at third base in the minors.

The Kendrick signing hasn’t been made official, but as Stephen notes, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said “the reports that are out there are accurate.” The club inked him to a two-year, $20 million deal on Friday.

Kendrick, 32, hit .295/.336/.409 with nine home runs and 54 RBI in 495 plate appearances with the Dodgers last season.

Brewers trade Jean Segura in five-player swap with Diamondbacks

Milwaukee Brewers' Jean Segura hits a single off Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Ryan Mattheus to drive in Adam Lind in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 4, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo
17 Comments

ESPN’s Keith Law broke the news, which has since been confirmed: the Brewers have sent shortstop Jean Segura and pitcher Tyler Wagner to the Diamondbacks in exchange for pitcher Chase Anderson, second baseman Aaron Hill, and young minor league infielder Isan Diaz.

Brewers GM David Stearns said of the trade, “In Chase Anderson and Aaron Hill, we are adding two proven Major League contributors who will impact our team this year.”

The rebuilding Brewers cut ties with Jean Segura, who will earn $2.6 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility. The 25-year-old shortstop was an All-Star in 2013, but has posted underwhelming numbers since, batting an aggregate .252/.285/.331 over 1,141 plate appearances since the beginning of the 2014 season. Jonathan Villar will take over shortstop with Segura out of the picture. Per Tom Haudicourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Stearns confirmed that shortstop prospect Orlando Arcia will start the season with Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Wagner, 25, made his major league debut last season, putting up a 7.24 ERA with five strikeouts and seven walks in 13 2/3 innings spanning three starts. However, his numbers at Double-A Biloxi — where he spent most of his 2015 campaign — were impressive, as he had a 2.25 ERA with 120 strikeouts and 45 walks over 152 1/3 innings.

Anderson, 28, joins the Brewers with the ability to provide some rotation stability for a while, as he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season. The right-hander has a career 4.18 ERA in his first two seasons as a big leaguer. While Anderson’s numbers aren’t impressive, he is a decent bet to hit six innings most of the time he starts.

Hill, 33, finally gets a new address as the Diamondbacks had been trying to move him throughout the offseason. The veteran second baseman has battled injuries in his 30’s, limiting him to a meager .238/.290/.359 batting line with 16 home runs and 99 RBI in 894 plate appearances over the last two seasons. He’ll earn $12 million this season before hitting free agency, some of which will be covered by the D-Backs. Hill will likely platoon at second base with Scooter Gennett.

Diaz, 19, was selected by the Diamondbacks in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Springfield Central High School in Massachusetts. In 312 plate appearances in rookie ball last season, he hit .360/.436/.640. Diaz is a long way from the majors, but he makes for a nice lottery ticket for the Brewers.

Twins GM Terry Ryan confirms Joe Mauer is done catching

Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer follows through on the first Twins' hit of the baseball game in the fourth inning off Houston Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
AP Photo/Jim Mone
9 Comments

If there were any inkling that Twins veteran Joe Mauer would ever catch again, GM Terry Ryan put it to bed on Saturday when speaking to fans at TwinsFest. Per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Ryan said, “…there isn’t a physician, especially concussion experts, that could trust he’s not going to take another bop in the head on a foul tip or a collision at the plate.”

Ryan continued, “If he took the wrong type of foul tip off that mask and all of a sudden he got knocked silly, I couldn’t forgive myself. So he’s going to be a first baseman. I think if Joe could have stayed behind the plate he would have been a hall-of-fame candidate. He was excellent back there. Unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Mauer, 32, moved to first base full-time after the 2013 season. He has managed to stay mostly healthy, playing in 278 games while hitting .270/.348/.376 with 14 home runs and 121 RBI over 1,184 plate appearances. The numbers are a far cry from the 2008-10 era during which Mauer was a perennial MVP candidate, including a first place finish in the ’09 balloting.

Mauer is signed for three more seasons at $23 million annually.