Author: D.J. Short

Masahiro Tanaka AP

Masahiro Tanaka says he’s changing his style, doesn’t expect to throw as hard this season


Where the Yankees go this season could hinge on the health and effectiveness of right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, which is why his comments today are pretty interesting:

Tanaka was good this spring, posting a 3.07 ERA and 13/1 K/BB ratio over 14 2/3 innings, but his velocity has been noticeably lower than it was last year and he’s relying more on his two-seam fastball. He previously told Bryan Hoch of that he’s adjusting his pitch mix because his four-seamer was “vulnerable” last year, but this is also presumably part of a plan to protect the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Whether it will keep Tanaka from requiring Tommy John surgery is anybody’s guess, but seeing him try to get by on diminished stuff this year will be fascinating.

Tanaka, who had a 2.77 ERA over 20 starts in his first year stateside, is scheduled to pitch Opening Day on Monday against the Blue Jays.

Report: Aaron Hill, Cameron Maybin, and Ben Revere are available in trades

New York Yankees v Philadelphia Phillies

Could we see some last-minute wheeling and dealing prior to Opening Day. According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, three familiar names are available:

We have known about the situation involving Hill, who is a bench player with the Diamondbacks now that they plan to go with Nick Ahmed as their starting shortstop and Chris Owings at second base. Moving him won’t be easy, as he’s owed $12 million for 2015 and 2016. Arizona will almost certainly have to cover a significant part of his contract to get a deal done.

Maybin is part of a logjam of outfielders in San Diego, so something has to give there before the start of the season. The former top prospect is still just 28 years old, but injuries have limited him to just 109 games over the past two seasons. He’s owed $7 million this season and $8 million for 2016 while his contract includes a $9 million club option for 2017. There’s some risk here, but he could be a decent buy-low for someone if the Padres pick up part of the tab.

There’s no urgency for the Phillies to move the 26-year-old Revere, as he’s owed $4.1 million this season and is under team control through 2017, but the club is in rebuild mode right now and plan on playing Rule 5 Draft pick Odubel Herrera in center field. This slides Revere over to left field. While Revere is a .291 career hitter and stole 49 bases last year, he only managed an OPS+ of 93. It makes sense to at least see what’s out there, as he’s going to get pricier as he continues to move through arbitration, but the Phillies could easily revisit the situation as the season moves along.

This is just speculation on my part, but the A’s could be a decent fit for either Maybin or Revere.

Jayson Werth could join Nationals within first week of regular season

Washington Nationals Photo Day

The Nationals have had all sorts of injury issues this spring, but here’s a bit of good news for a change.

Jayson Werth continues to make solid progress from January surgery to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder, as Mark Zuckerman of reports that he played five innings in left field yesterday in a minor league game and got four at-bats. He will begin the season on the disabled list, but the belief is that he could be ready to join the Nationals within a week.

That’s welcome news for a lineup which will also be without Denard Span and Anthony Rendon to begin the year. We could see Michael Taylor and Tyler Moore in the outfield and Dan Uggla at second base on Opening Day against the Mets on Monday.

Johnny Giavotella officially wins starting second base job with Angels

Johnny Giavotella Getty

The Angels made a host of moves after their game last night, which made it official that former Royals prospect Johnny Giavotella has secured the team’s starting second base job.

Josh Rutledge entered spring training as the frontrunner after coming over from the Rockies this offseason, but he batted just .192 (10-for-52) this spring and will begin the regular season in Triple-A. Prospect left-hander Andrew Heaney, who was acquired from the Dodgers for Howie Kendrick this winter, was also sent down after Friday’s game.

The 27-year-old Giavotella was acquired from the Royals for right-hander Brian Broderick in December and owns a .238/.277/.334 batting line over 465 plate appearances in the majors. That doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but his playing time was sporadic with Kansas City and the Angels are clearly hoping that his solid minor league numbers will finally translate. He’s hitting .315/.373/.537 with one home run, five doubles, and two triples across 57 plate appearances this spring.