Arizona has been relatively quiet on the first baseman front despite letting 2010 starter Adam LaRoche walk as a free agent, and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes that the Diamondbacks seem likely to give minor-league veteran Juan Miranda a chance to claim the everyday job.
Acquired from the Yankees for a mid-level prospect last month, Miranda has consistently posted solid numbers in the minors and is a career .287 hitter with a .374 on-base percentage and .481 slugging percentage in 301 games at Triple-A.
He was never going to get a chance stuck behind Mark Teixeira in New York, but if platooned and given starts primarily versus right-handed pitching the 27-year-old is capable of being very useful for the league minimum.
According to Piecoro “new general manager Kevin Towers is rolling the dice on a few buy-low candidates” like Miranda and “seems keen on giving him an opportunity.”
Rather than give him a shot to earn a bench job, the Diamondbacks have sold 27-year-old utility man Rusty Ryal to Yomiuri Giants in Japan. He was released last week in preparation for the move.
Ryal debuted in 2006 by batting .271 with 11 extra-base hits and a .946 OPS in 68 plate appearances and got off to a similarly strong start this year by going 10-for-24 (.417) through mid-May, but then hit just .240 with a .610 OPS in his final 196 trips to the plate.
He has a solid track record in the minors, including a .290/.347/.527 mark at Triple-A, but Ryal will no doubt make more than the $400,000 big-league minimum salary in Japan and at age 27 probably didn’t feel like shuttling between the majors and minors again in the hopes of a bench gig.
Baltimore is “closing in on signing” first baseman Adam LaRoche, according to Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse.
Craig wrote this morning that the Orioles, Nationals, and Padres are seemingly fighting it out for LaRoche and Derrek Lee, so perhaps Lee could generate a nice little bidding war now.
Arizona declined its $7.5 million option on LaRoche for 2011, choosing a $1.5 million buyout instead, and then LaRoche turned down the Diamondbacks’ arbitration offer, so they’ll receive a compensatory draft pick between the first and second rounds for letting him walk.
LaRoche drove in a career-high 100 runs this year, but also had his lowest batting average (.261), on-base percentage (.320), and OPS (.788) since 2005. He’s typically been a slightly above-average first baseman offensively and adds some extra value with a good glove.
If the Orioles end up signing LaRoche he’ll join trade acquisitions Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy as part of a new-look infield that includes just one holdover in second baseman Brian Roberts.