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.
It’s well known that the Nationals have been trying to trade Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen this offseason. The club found a match for Storen with the Blue Jays on Friday, acquiring outfielder Ben Revere in return, but where does this leave Papelbon?
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was asked that question in a conference call this afternoon. While he didn’t dismiss the possibility of a trade, he indicated that they are planning on having Papelbon in their bullpen in 2016.
Here’s the quote from Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com:
“We make baseball trades. If there’s a baseball trade out there, then we’ll make it. We see Papelbon as being one of our late-inning relievers. He’s been very effective at it his entire career, including last year except for the last portion of the season. This guy is a quality reliever, quality closer. He’s been in the biggest stage that you can be in. He pitched the last out of a World Series game and has a World Series ring. He knows how to win. He brings a swagger to the bullpen and he’s a guy that we’re going to rely on to pitch late and leverage innings.”
It’s not like Rizzo is going to say bad things about someone he’s trying to move, but trading Papelbon has always been easier said than done. In addition to his reputation, he’s owed $11 million in 2016 and has a 17-team no-trade list.
There’s also the question of what the Nationals would do with the back-end of their bullpen if they trade Papelbon. With Storen gone, the internal options include the likes of Felipe Rivero, Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, Trevor Gott, Yusmeiro Petit, and Oliver Perez. There aren’t many proven options remaining in free agency outside of Tyler Clippard or Antonio Bastardo, so they might just be forced to embrace the awkwardness and keep Papelbon around.
While Papelbon’s 2015 ended in ugly fashion after choking teammate Bryce Harper, the 35-year-old had a 2.13 ERA and 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
The Orioles’ reported $150 million offer apparently hasn’t been enough to convince Chris Davis to come back, but his agent Scott Boras is trying to get creative in order to find a better offer from another team.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Boras has been selling Davis “hard” as a regular corner outfielder, as well as a first baseman. Davis has some experience in the outfield, but he’s never been a regular. The 29-year-old slugger has made 57 starts in right field during his career (including 24 last season) and 11 in left field.
The outfield market is quickly becoming a musical chairs of sorts, as Alex Gordon and Denard Span signed with teams this week and the Nationals acquired Ben Revere on Friday. Meanwhile, a handful of quality names are still available, including Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler, and Gerardo Parra. There’s still a lot left unsettled compared to past offseasons.