<span class="vcard">Matthew Pouliot</span>

Cory Gearrin

Braves release reliever Cory Gearrin post-Tommy John surgery

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Overwork ’em and let ’em go. That what the Braves decided to do to reliever Cory Gearrin on Tuesday, releasing him seven months after he underwent Tommy John surgery.

Gearrin, 28, had a 4.28 ERA in 77 relief appearances for the Braves from 2013, striking out 68 in 69 1/3 innings.

In 2013, Gearrin made the Braves out of spring training for the first time and got off to a great start. Too great for his own good, in fact. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez used him eight times in a 10-day span in late April. By the end of May, he had appeared in 30 of Atlanta’s 54 games. He started struggling, got sent down and then finished the season on the shelf with shoulder tendinitis. He came down with the sore elbow last spring and had Tommy John surgery a week into the regular season.

Gearrin might not  be the only rehabbing pitching the Braves cut loose this winter. Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy are similarly coming back from Tommy John surgery, only they’re arbitration eligible and are set to make a lot more money than Gearrin, who was earning the major league minimum. Medlen received $5.8 million last year, while Beachy earned $1.45 million. One or both could be non-tendered in December.

Report: Cubs trying to acquire Jordan Zimmermann from Nationals

Jordan Zimmermann
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10:30 p.m. EST update: CSNChicago’s Patrick Mooney is among the chorus shooting down the Zimmerman-to-the-Cubs rumor, reporting that there’s nothing going on between the two teams.

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Multiple sources told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer that the Cubs are actively engaged in talks to acquire Jordan Zimmermann from the Nationals, though without any mention of whom the Cubs might be giving up.

From the report:

One source said the teams have enough mutual interest that names have been discussed. Another said he expected the Cubs to complete the deal – along with Cardinals free agent Justin Masterson, who blamed minor injuries for season-long struggles in 2014 after a 2013 All-Star season.

Zimmermann is due $16.5 million next year in his final year before free agency. He signed a backloaded two-year, $24 million deal a year ago that covered his last two seasons of arbitration.

The 28-year-old right-hander was one of the NL’s top five pitchers last season, going 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 199 2/3 innings. Over the last three years, he’s 45-22 with a 2.96 ERA and more than four strikeouts for each walk he’s allowed (496/112 K/BB in 608 2/3 IP).

The Nationals have the pitching depth to be able to afford to trade Zimmermann, though they certainly wouldn’t part with him lightly. The Cubs would be an ideal suitor, with several possible long-term options to fill the Nationals’ hole at second base. Those options include Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara. Russell for Zimmermann straight up might make the most sense. The Nationals would probably want more than Alcantara alone, and it’s unclear whether the Cubs would part with Baez in a one-for-one; he was a disappointment after being called up last season, but he has the bat speed to become a superstar if he learns to lay off bad pitches.

 

Examining the DH market

Victor Martinez
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In light of the surprising and quite likely erroneous report that free agent Billy Butler is sitting on a three-year, $30 million offer, let’s take a quick look at who is actually searching for a DH this winter. There would seem to be plenty of options, with Victor Martinez, Butler and Kendrys Morales essentially locked in as a designated hitters and Nelson Cruz more valuable there than he is in the outfield. Fellow free agents Adam LaRoche, Mike Morse, Jonny Gomes, Josh Willingham, Delmon Young, Corey Hart and Ryan Ludwick could also be viewed as at least part-time designated hitters.

So, who needs a DH?

Baltimore: The Orioles will address the spot somehow, whether it’s re-signing Cruz or bringing in a part-time option to mix in with Steve Pearce.

Boston: This is the one team we can be certain won’t be signing any DH types.

New York: The Yankees will almost certainly need to rotate Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in as designated hitters at times, making it highly unlikely that they’ll sign a regular for the position. They could add another role player who would DH on occasion.

Tampa Bay: The Rays are trying to reduce payroll. Ideally, they’d probably trade Matt Joyce or David DeJesus and then find a cheap part-time DH to help out, probably one of the guys who slips through the cracks.

Toronto: The Jays dealt Adam Lind in part because they wanted to increase their flexibility in the DH role. One angle that’s gotten some play is signing Russell Martin and putting Dioner Navarro into the DH mix, though that’s a long shot. It’s hard to imagine they’ll sign a Butler or a Morales, but they will want some help here.

Chicago: If Dayan Viciedo is back, it should be as a designated hitter. The White Sox, though, would be better off trading him and bringing in a mid-priced veteran.

Cleveland: Between Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana, the Indians are settled at DH and first base.

Detroit: The Tigers will certainly sign a designated hitter, though all they really want to do is retain Martinez.

Kansas City: The Royals will re-sign or replace Butler, but they’d probably prefer it wasn’t a full-time DH. They’re more worried about the pitching market right now, and it seems they’re rightfully figuring someone will fall into their laps laterr.

Minnesota: Between Kennys Vargas, Oswaldo Arcia and Josmyl Pinto, the Twins have more young designated hitter options than they know what to do with.

Houston: Jonathan Singleton looked bad enough last season that the Astros could consider adding a first baseman-DH to pair with Chris Carter. It’d likely be a cheap one, though.

Los Angeles: Since Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols both will likely need to spend some time DHing next year, the Angels won’t spend here. They’ll probably stick with C.J. Cron.

Oakland: Between their three-headed catching monster (Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt and John Jaso) and first base options like Brandon Moss, Kyle Blanks and Nate Freiman, the A’s should be covered here.

Seattle: The Mariners are the Tigers’ chief rival for Martinez, with Butler looming as a fallback. It’d be a surprise if they didn’t sign one of them or maybe Cruz.

Texas: The Rangers are saying they’ll tender Mitch Moreland, suggesting that he’ll be the primary DH with Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo also logging time there.

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So, to wrap it up, that’s Detroit and Seattle almost surely signing starting DHs, with Kansas City and Baltimore in the probable camp and Chicago, Toronto and Tampa Bay as the maybes.

That’d seem to make it a buyer’s market. My guess is that the Tigers bring back Martinez and the Mariners sign Butler. If Cruz signs as a DH or one or two other teams decide on trades to plug the hole, that could leave Morales scrambling for work and potentially facing more competition from a field of non-tenders that could include Viciedo, Ike Davis and Juan Francisco.

In other words, if you’re a player not named Victor Martinez and you get a solid offer early, you should probably take it.

Report: Billy Butler gets a three-year, $30 million offer

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Take it with a huge grain of salt, since it’s Phil Rogers. But this is what he wrote on MLB.com:

A source indicated to MLB.com that Butler has received a three-year, $30 million offer. That team is widely believed to be the Orioles.

Orioles GM Dan Duquette denied it, telling FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal that it’s “not true. Not even close.”

It’s hard to imagine any team would make such a commitment to a player as limited as Butler. On the one hand, he’s just 28 and he was one of the AL’s better hitters in 2012. However, he’s slipped from 29 homers in 2012 to 15 in 2013 to nine last season. His OPS has declined from .883 to .786 to .712. And even if he does bounce back, he’ll do so as a one-dimensional, terribly slow designated hitter.

Given that there are only 15 teams using the DH and that many of them now prefer not being locked into a single option at the position, it really shouldn’t take a large commitment to sign Butler. If someone really bid $30 million for three years… well, it’s hard to see who they could be bidding against.

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Related: Examining the DH market.

Orioles’ Buck Showalter named AL Manager of the Year

Buck Showalter
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Having led the Orioles to their first AL East time since 1997, Buck Showalter was selected as the American League Manager of the Year in balloting released Tuesday, beating out the Angels’ Mike Scioscia and the Royals’ Ned Yost for the award.

Showalter got 25 of the 30 first-place votes and was named on 29 ballots. Scioscia got four first-place votes and was named on 23 ballots. Yost was second on 11 ballots and third on eight. The one other first-place vote went to the Mariners’ Lloyd McClendon, who finished fourth.

It’s Showalter’s third time receiving the honor, each spaced 10 years apart. He won in 1994 in his third year with the Yankees and in 2004 in his second year with the Rangers. He also finished second in 1993 and 2012.

Voting for the award took part before the postseason. Otherwise, the nod might have gone to Yost, who skippered his team to the World Series, beating the Orioles along the way, after finishing second in the AL Central and claiming a wild card spot.

Like Showalter, Scioscia had won the award twice before, though from 2010-13, he was named on a ballot only once, finishing sixth in 2011. His Angels finished with baseball’s best record this year, improving from 78-84 in 2013 to 98-64. That’s a bigger leap than either the Orioles (11 games) or Royals (three games) made, and that leap forward in record is usually what rules in the day in Manager of the Year award voting. However, in this case, Showalter most certainly got some extra credit for doing so well with a team that lost Matt Wieters and Manny Machado to season-ending injuries.