16-year-old Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros is getting a lot of attention these days, but a countryman twice his age is also busy making his case for a contract with an MLB team.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that 13 teams attended the showcase for Cuban outfielder Alexei Bell today in Mexicali, Mexico. He was able to identify all of the clubs in attendance:
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com has more details on the three-hour showcase, as Bell slugged 15 home runs during batting practice and against live pitching. He also made throws from right field and did some running. He could begin private workouts for teams in Florida and Arizona soon, but he’ll need to be approved for a visitor visa first.
Listed at 5-foot-7 and 187 pounds on Baseball Reference, the 32-year-old Bell batted .319/.417/.547 over 14 seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He spent last season with Capitales of Quebec in the Canadian-American Association while batting .317/.363/.424 over 59 games. It was reported last month that Bell left Cuba legally to seek an opportunity in MLB. While he might not be the player he was a few years ago, he’s still drawing plenty of interest.
As opposed to Armenteros, Bell is not subject to MLB’s international bonus pool limits.
Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson tore a ligament in his left thumb on a slide into second base during the NLCS against the Cubs. You wouldn’t know it by his production during the World Series against the Royals, as he slugged three home runs while posting a 1.060 OPS. The injury required surgery after the Mets lost the series in five games, but upon reporting to Mets camp today, Granderson told Marc Carig of Newsday that he’s fully recovered and began hitting as normal in January.
While Yoenis Cespedes got most of the attention for helping reshape the offense after the trade deadline last season, Granderson was the team’s most valuable position player. Serving as the regular leadoff hitter and right fielder, he batted .259/.364/.457 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 11 stolen bases, and 98 runs scored over 157 games. His .821 OPS was his best since 2011 as a member of the Yankees. The Mets have designs on a return to the World Series, so the big question is whether he can come close to a repeat as he moves into his age-35 season.
As part of his four-year, $60 million contract with New York, Granderson is owed $16 million this season and $15 million in 2017.
Ryan Braun was the Brewers’ regular left fielder from 2008-2013 before making the move to right field two years ago. The decision was made in order to give regular playing time to slugger Khris Davis, who didn’t have a strong enough arm to play right. That’s not an issue now that Davis has been traded to the Athletics, so Brewers general manager David Stearns told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the club is considering whether to move Braun back to left while installing Domingo Santana in right field.
“That could be a possibility,” general manager David Stearns said Monday. “We’re still discussing our various options.”
Santana primarily played center field after being acquired from the Astros in the Carlos Gomez deal last July, but he’s best-suited for a corner spot. This is a very different situation than what the Brewers had with Davis, as Santana has the arm (and then some) for right field. Braun is coming off back surgery, so the thought is that a move back to left field could take less of a toll on his body. Stearns and manager Craig Counsell are expected to talk over the situation with Braun before an official decision is made, but it sounds like a win-win.
The real drama in the Brewers’ outfield revolves around who will end up playing center. Rymer Liriano, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Keon Broxton, and Eric Young, Jr. are among the names in the mix as spring training approaches.
It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.
Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.
“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”
Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.
The Brewers acquired prospects Jake Nottingham and Bubba Derby from the Athletics on Friday in exchange for slugging outfielder Khris Davis. The hope is that Nottingham will develop into the Brewers’ catcher of the future, so you could say that the club is planning for life after Jonathan Lucroy. However, Brewers general manager David Stearns said today that the trade doesn’t change Lucroy’s immediate status.
The Brewers are in rebuild-mode and Lucroy is an excellent trade chip if healthy, as his contract includes a $5.25 million club option for 2017. It’s likely just a matter of time before he’s shipped elsewhere, but yesterday’s trade shouldn’t change the timeline for a potential deal. Nottingham doesn’t turn 21 until April and has yet to play in Double-A, so he’s still a ways off from the majors. The Brewers can afford to wait on the right offer for Lucroy, whether it’s in spring training or at the trade deadline or perhaps later.
Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Nottingham batted .316/.372/.505 with 17 home runs over 109 games last season between Class A and High-A. He was traded from the Astros to the Athletics as part of the Scott Kazmir deal last July. It’s worth noting that Stearns was the assistant GM for Houston when Nottingham was drafted in the sixth round back in 2013, so he’s clearly a fan.