D.J. Short

Texas Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson throws during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP Photo/LM Otero

Rangers, Shawn Tolleson avoid arbitration at $3.275 million

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The Rangers and closer Shawn Tolleson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.275 million contract, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

It’s a substantial raise for Tolleson, who was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old right-hander filed for $3.9 million and was offered $2.6 million by the Rangers when figures were exchanged earlier this month, so the two sides settled a little over the midpoint.

Tolleson spent most of last season as Texas’ closer and thrived in a big way, posting a 2.99 ERA and 76/17 K/BB ratio over 72 1/3 innings while going 35-for-37 in save opportunities. He might face some competition from the likes of Sam Dyson or Keone Kela in the near future, but he’s expected to go into 2016 as the team’s closer.

Rockies GM says interest in Yovani Gallardo has been “fairly overblown”

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

We heard on Friday that that free agent Yovani Gallardo is expected to choose between the Orioles, Astros, or Rockies, but it appears that at least one of those teams isn’t as interested as has been reported.

While speaking at the Rockies’ Fan Fest event today, general manager Jeff Bridich told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that the team’s interest has been “fairly overblown” by Gallardo’s agent, former major league pitcher Bobby Witt. It’s rare you hear this sort of thing, so it’s hard to believe they’ll work together to find a deal at this point.

You can’t blame Gallardo’s agent for trying to drum up his market. While the veteran right-hander is coming off a career-low 3.42 ERA in 33 starts for the Rangers last season, his strikeout rate is on the decline and he’s attached to draft pick compensation. It’s a tough sell.

Tim Lincecum planning to hold a showcase in February

Tim Lincecum
AP Photo/Ben Margot

There are still a handful of interesting free agent pitchers remaining on the market, highlighted by the likes of Yovani Gallardo and Doug Fister. A former two-time Cy Young Award winner is hoping to make his case to teams soon.

According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Lincecum is planning to hold a showcase for interested teams in the first two weeks of February. The 31-year-old underwent surgery last September to repair a torn labrum and an impingement in his left hip, but his agent told Shea that all has gone according to plan with his rehab.

“He’s throwing every day and says he’s doing great,” said Rick Thurman of the Beverly Hills Sports Council. “He’s got no instability in his hip, and he’s enthusiastic about his progress.”

Lincecum posted a 4.13 ERA (91 ERA+) and 60/38 K/BB ratio in 76 1/3 innings over 15 starts last season and owns a 4.68 ERA (75 ERA+) dating back to 2012. He’s a bit of a lottery ticket at this point, but the hope is that his velocity and command will rebound now that his hip has been repaired.

Thurman says that nearly all 30 teams have contacted him about Lincecum, with at least 20 requesting medicals. The Giants haven’t ruled out a return, though they would only have room for him in their bullpen.

Could Astros’ database have been hacked with “Eckstein” password?

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 09:  David Eckstein #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals chases a ground ball during the Pittsburgh Pirates' home opener April 9, 2007 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. St. Louis won the game 3-0.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This almost sounds too good to be true, but apparently it’s for real.

According to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, when former Cardinals front office employee Chris Correa pleaded guilty to five counts of hacking the Astros’ “Ground Control” database earlier this month, it was strongly suggested by U.S. Attorney Michael Chu that a password based off David Eckstein’s name was responsible for providing access. Seriously.

Take a look for yourself with the transcript below, which includes some entertaining banter from U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes:

THE COURT:   Has the Astros fellow changed his
password, because I want to know what you thought the obscure
password was.
MR. CHU:   He has changed it since then, Your Honor.
THE COURT:   Well, what was it, because you say it
was obscure, similar.
MR. CHU:   It was based on the name of a player who
was scrawny and who would not have been thought of to succeed
in the major leagues, but through effort and determination he
succeeded anyway.   So this user of the password just liked
that name, so he just kept on using that name over the years.
THE COURT:   That’s admirable.
MR. ADLER:   Kind of like Magidson123.
THE COURT:   Or Magidson1/2,1/4,1/3.
I like the scrawny people who succeed through
their hard work.
MR. CHU:   Thank you, Your Honor.

Eckstein played three seasons with the Cardinals from 2005-2007, so there’s obviously some overlap with executives who eventually made their way over to the Astros. This includes Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow. Eckstein, of course, enjoyed a lengthy career in the majors despite checking in at just 5-foot-6 and 170 pounds. Who else could it be, really? This situation has been bizarre enough already, but an “Eckstein-based” password adds another interesting wrinkle to things.

You can read the full transcript here.

(Thanks to Emma Span for the heads up on the Eckstein angle)

Report: Yoenis Cespedes will be eligible for a qualifying offer next winter

Yoenis Cespedes
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

As part of his reported three-year, $75 million deal with the Mets, Yoenis Cespedes will have the ability to opt out of the contract after the first year. He will receive a $27.5 million salary for 2016 if he decides to opt out. Due to his major league service time, there was some question about whether he’d be eligible for a qualifying offer from the Mets in the event of an opt-out. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal provided some clarity on the matter this afternoon:

In other words, this would be like any other normal free agent situation. At least assuming they remain with the same team for the entire season.

Barring an injury or a huge decline from his 2015 numbers, Cespedes will almost certainly exercise his opt-out and test the free agent market. The win-now Mets are fully-aware of this, but the potential draft pick compensation is yet another reason to like this deal from their perspective.