While Marcell Ozuna‘s future with the Marlins remains in question, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that the club is “looking” at some right-handed bats, including free agent outfielder Jeff Francoeur.
After spending nearly all of 2014 in the minors, the 32-year-old Francoeur latched on with the rebuilding Phillies last season and batted .258 with 13 home runs and a .718 OPS over 343 plate appearances. That’s not great production, but he’s a popular clubhouse guy and figures to get another opportunity somewhere. Our own Craig Calcaterra is still holding out hope for a reunion with the Braves.
If the Marlins were to trade Ozuna, they’d likely move Christian Yelich to center field and utilize Derek Dietrich on the strong side of a platoon in left field. This is where someone like Francoeur could fit in.
According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, the Reds have agreed to a $6 million deal with Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez. Because of his age and experience level, he is subject to MLB’s international spending limit. Signing Rodriguez puts the Reds over, so they’ll have to pay a $6 million penalty in addition to the contract.
Rodriguez, 21, left Cuba after being named the 2014-15 Serie Nacional Rookie of the Year. He batted only .265/.301/.284 over 304 plate appearances last year, so he doesn’t do much with the bat, but Ben Badler of Baseball America notes that he was “arguably the best defensive shortstop in Cuba” and has plus-speed.
The Reds already have Zack Cozart, Eugenio Suarez, and Jose Peraza as potential shortstop options, so it’s unclear where Rodriguez fits on the roster in the short-term. At the very least, they can afford to give him some time in the minors.
Get used to hearing this name, though it’s not as if you can forget it. According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, 16-year-old Cuban prospect Lazaro Armenteros has been declared a free agent by MLB and will be eligible to sign with a team beginning on February 10.
Known as “Lazarito” on the international baseball scene, Armenteros has been profiled by Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com in recent months. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, he’s expected to end up in a corner outfield spot in the long run, but he has experience at both corner infield positions. Ben Badler of Baseball America has some video of him here. Armenteros had an open showcase at the Padres academy in the Dominican Republic last Friday, but ESPN’s Keith Law writes that he got “multiple less-than-flattering reports.” Still, the expectation is that demand will be high.
It’s important to note that because of Armenteros’ age and experience level, he will be subject to MLB’s international spending limits. You might recall that there was a similar situation with Yoan Moncada about a year ago. He ended up signing a $31.5 million deal with the Red Sox. The total outlay of the deal ended up being $63 million due to the penalties involved for exceeding the international spending limit. Granted, it doesn’t sound like Armenteros is quite on Moncada’s level.
MLB Network will premiere a new documentary on Mets manager Terry Collins titled, “Terry Collins: A Life In Baseball,” on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. Through conversations with Tom Verducci, it chronicles his four-plus decade journey from the minor leagues, both as a player and a coach, to the World Series with the Mets last season.
As you’ll see in the preview clip below, the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series is discussed in great detail, specifically Collins’ decision to send Matt Harvey back out for the ninth inning. That didn’t turn out so well. As a Mets fan, it was a painful thing to rewatch and pick apart. And you could tell it was still painful for Collins to discuss. He’s not ready to see it again either.
As someone who has been fortunate enough to watch the full documentary already, I’ll tell you that it’s mostly about the unlikely circumstances that brought Collins to the World Series. The odds were against him even before he was an undersized middle infielder in the Dodgers minor league system. After giving up his playing career for coaching, Collins eventually found a kindred spirit in Jim Leyland, who added him to his staff in Pittsburgh and opened the door for him to become a major league manager. They remain great friends.
Collins’ first two stints as a major league manager ended in disappointment, partially due to his fiery personality, but he came to the Mets a little more mellow and a little more willing to trust his players. Sometimes that works against him, as we saw with Harvey in the ninth inning Game 5, but he’s comfortable in his own skin. Or at least as comfortable as you can be as a manager of a New York baseball team.
Roberto Osuna did an excellent job as a 20-year-old rookie out of the Blue Jays’ bullpen last season, posting a 2.58 ERA and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 innings while notching 20 saves. He made a strong case to open 2016 as the closer, but Friday’s acquisition of Drew Storen has suddenly thrown his role into question.
Storen has had extensive closing experience in the past, so the Blue Jays will weigh their options for now:
It’s worth noting that former Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said back in October that the team still envisioned Osuna as a starter in the long-term. While Anthopoulos is no longer with the organization, it will be interesting to see if they revisit things now. They are already planning to stretch out Aaron Sanchez as a starter in the spring.
According to John Lott of the National Post, Storen said in a conference call today that his struggles after the Jonathan Papelbon trade last season were due to him not getting enough rest between outings while pitching in a set-up role. He didn’t come out and say it, but he’d clearly prefer to close.