Ending speculation about the three-headed monster in the back-end of his bullpen, Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed during an appearance on YES Network tonight that the recently-acquired Aroldis Chapman will go into spring training as the team’s closer.
It’s not exactly an unexpected decision given Chapman’s history in the role, but this means that Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances will pitch in a set-up capacity in 2016. Miller was the primary closer for New York last season, posting a 2.04 ERA over 60 appearances while going 36-for-38 in save opportunities.
While Chapman is Girardi’s projected closer at the moment, his status for the start of the season remains in question. MLB is currently investigating him for a domestic violence incident from October and could levy a suspension.
We have mentioned the Rockies’ interest in free agent Gerardo Parra in recent weeks and now the outfielder’s agent, Jose Mijares, tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that the club is one of three finalists for his client.
The other finalists aren’t yet known, but Mijares said that Parra hopes to make a decision “within the next few days.”
“The Rockies are one of three teams in the mix,” agent Jose Mijares said from Venezuela where he was watching the winter baseball finals. “We are going to look at all the situations and do what is best for Gerardo and his family.”
The elephant in the room here is that the Rockies already have a full outfield with Carlos Gonzalez, Corey Dickerson, and Charlie Blackmon. The pursuit of Parra suggests that a trade is inevitable. With that in mind, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register expects the Angels to make a run at Blackmon.
Parra struggled after being traded from the Brewers to the Orioles at the non-waiver trade deadline last July 31, but he still finished with a solid .291/.328/.452 batting line. Mijares says the 28-year-old is looking for a three-year deal.
The Orioles have kicked around the idea of acquiring Maryland native Gavin Floyd in previous offseasons and Rich Dubroff of CSNmidatlantic.com reports that they are now mulling over a minor league contract.
Once a rotation staple for the White Sox, Floyd has thrown just 92 innings in the majors over the past three seasons and required surgery last March to repair a re-fracture of the right olecranon bone in his elbow. He turns 33 later this month.
Given the recent injury history, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said today that they’d like to get a look at Floyd in a tryout at the team’s minicamp this week. If all goes well, a spring training invite could be the next step. You can’t expect much at this point, but it’s worth a shot for depth purposes.
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.