MLB Rumors: All the Latest Buzz Around the League Heading into the Season
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The final days of spring training can be a drag for a lot of MLB teams, as the players are just biding their time until the regular season begins. It can also be a time where the rumor mill starts heating up, as players learn their fate and some get thrown on the trade block.
Considering how long this spring has been, it's a miracle that so many players have been able to keep their sanity out in Arizona or Florida. Thanks to the World Baseball Classic, it feels like we have been talking about exhibition games for the last six months.
As one chapter ends and another begins, now is the time to start looking at the rumblings and grumblings coming from the world of Major League Baseball.
Here is a breakdown of the latest rumors heading into the start of the regular season.
Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted
Veteran Relievers to Find New Homes Soon?
It was a lonely October for Valverde, who lost his job closing games for Detroit and only pitched once in the World Series.
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All 30 teams, even as they prepare to make final roster decisions, are looking for bullpen help.
It is just the nature of the position, as well as a testament to the fact that no one ever has enough arms to throw at you.
Two of the most prominent relievers still on the free-agent market include Jose Valverde and Francisco Rodriguez. Both pitchers are on the wrong side of 30 and coming off poor seasons in which their stuff was noticeably worse than it had ever been before.
That isn't stopping their agent, Scott Boras, from pumping them out to anyone who wants to take a shot. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Boras expects Valverde and Rodriguez to get new homes soon.
Boras expects to find new teams for Valverde, K-Rod soon. Says Valverde has lost 18 pounds and is throwing 93 to 95 mph in bullpen sessions.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 25, 2013
While the weight loss can be an encouraging sign for Valverde, you wonder what, exactly, throwing 93-95 with his fastball means. Velocity wasn't really the problem for him last season, as his fastball averaged 93.4 mph (per Fangraphs), but where the ball was going after it left his hand.
As for Rodriguez, he is still missing bats (72 strikeouts in 72 innings last season). His command has just gotten to the point where he is very easy to hit, and when he isn't giving up hits, odds are he is working deep into counts and walking hitters. He walked 31 batters last year in just 72 innings.
Clayton Kershaw Extension Talks
With the Dodgers spending money like it's going out of style, you wonder how much Clayton Kershaw will command.
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Even though he can't become a free agent until after the 2014 season, Clayton Kershaw's performance, which includes a Cy Young award in 2011 and leading baseball in ERA each of the last two years, might make the Dodgers want to lock him up soon to keep his price from increasing with each passing year.
There certainly doesn't appear to be any progress on contract talks between Kershaw and the Dodgers, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
Hernandez reported that Kershaw's agents were in Dodgers camp last week, but they had "active talks with the Dodgers about a new deal for Kershaw, according to a person familiar with the situation."
It will be interesting to see the template that Kershaw and the Dodgers follow if/when they do start extension talks. Signing Zack Greinke to a $147 million, six-year deal certainly set the bar, which was later surpassed when Felix Hernandez signed his extension with Seattle.
Plus you have Detroit's Justin Verlander, who will also become a free agent after the 2014 season.
Both pitchers will look to see how the market shapes out over the next two years, but we could be staring at a situation where one or both becomes the first pitcher to get a $200 million contract.
Considering Kershaw's age when he enters the 2015 season (27), he has a much better chance to get that kind of deal than Verlander. The Tigers' ace is five years older than Kershaw, meaning he will be 32 when he signs his free-agent contract.
This assumes neither player signs an extension with his current team before hitting the market.
Julio Borbon Is the Odd-Man out in Texas
Julio Borbon's time in Texas appears to be coming to an end.
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The Texas Rangers have made two very important decision at the end of spring training, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
First, the center-field job will be handled by both Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin.
That seemed to be the best course of action for the team even before spring started. Gentry has a .294/.364/.392 slash line against left-handed pitching in his career, compared to .266/.327/.323 against righties.
Martin doesn't have a huge sample size to judge against big league pitching, but as a left-handed hitter, he should see plenty of time against right-handed pitching. Both Gentry and Martin are solid defenders in center field, so the team doesn't figure to lose a lot of production from the position.
The other big piece of news is that Julio Borbon, the 27-year-old who played in 137 games when the Rangers made it to the World Series in 2010, is on the trade block.
Sullivan reports that the Rangers have had "discussions with a couple of clubs" about Borbon. As a backup option, he would be an asset for a team. He can handle himself defensively, but is a liability with a bat in his hands.
Borbon appears to fit in that Four-A category, as he has gotten on base at every stop in the minors. But when he makes the leap to the big leagues, Borbon struggles to drive the ball and doesn't walk enough.
Rockies Shopping Ramon Hernandez?
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The Colorado Rockies don't have a lot to look forward to as the season starts, especially when you look at that starting rotation. Catcher Ramon Hernandez has become expendable with the emergence of Wilin Rosario and Yorvit Torrealba winning the back-up job.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Hernandez could be looking for a new team if the Rockies can't find a trade partner.
#Rockies might not find taker for R. Hernandez, who is due $3.2M. Release possible. Torrealba will back up Rosario.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 26, 2013
Even though he is 36, Hernandez is just one year removed from posting a .341 on-base and .446 slugging percentage with Cincinnati. His price tag is pretty steep right now, but if the Rockies do release him, he could make a valuable addition as a backup catcher.
Catchers, regardless of age, are always going to be in demand because you need to carry two and finding one who can add anything on offense is so rare. Hernandez could have some upside with the bat if he goes to the right situation, though it was alarming to see his OPS drop 187 points hitting in Colorado.
Marlins Making Late Roster Decisions
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With a completely rebuilt roster, the Miami Marlins have to figure out a lot of things before breaking camp this weekend. One thing that has been made official is outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, acquired in the Gaby Sanchez trade with Pittsburgh last July, will not be on the roster.
Hernandez played in 45 games with the Marlins at the end of last season, hitting .212/.288/.341 with 37 strikeouts in 132 at-bats.
Following a spring that saw him hit just .282/.370/.308, Joe Friasro of MLB.com reported that Hernandez will be put on the trade block. If no deal materializes, he will be moved to Triple-A at the start of the season.
The Marlins have informed Gorkys Hernandez that he will not be making their Opening Day roster.
In the next few days, the Marlins will explore possible trade options for the speedy outfielder.
Hernandez does present some upside for a team looking to acquire him. He is just 25 years old, has speed and can handle playing center field. He doesn't do much with the bat, showing little discipline, pitch recognition and having almost no power.
But Hernandez could turn into a defensive replacement at the end of games who can play all three outfield positions. Considering his age, someone might be willing to give him a shot in a backup role.
If not, the Marlins aren't exactly flush with big league talent right now, so Hernandez could be brought back very soon.
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