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James Loney Released by Rays: Latest Comments and Reaction

The Tampa Bay Rays have released first baseman James Loney just ahead of their regular-season opener on Sunday, according to Bill Chastain of

The team had made the decision earlier this week, per Chastain, but waited to make the move as it was seeking to trade Loney before Sunday’s deadline to have its 25-man roster finalized.   

The Rays still owe Loney $8 million in base salary in 2016, per Spotrac, as he had one season left on a three-year, $21 million deal he signed in January 2014. 

Loney, 31, had been the Rays’ starter at first base the past three seasons, but his future seemed in doubt when the team added Logan Morrison, Steve Pearce and Corey Dickerson this offseason. 

“It was a difficult decision, but especially for a guy, he did a lot of good things for this organization over the last couple of years,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said, per Chastain. “He was a leader for us. He had some good seasons. But sometimes, we all know in this business, there’s decisions that need to be made.”

This spring, Loney hit .265/.286/.353 with zero home runs and one RBI in 34 at-bats over 12 games. He played in at least 155 games in each of his first two seasons in Tampa Bay but suffered injuries early in the 2015 season.

Loney wishes he could stick around as the Rays continue their rebuilding process but thanked the team for the opportunity, per Chastain:

The team was great. Obviously, I wish them the best. The guys were great. Loved my time here. Loved the organization, how they gave me a chance after 2012. But at the end of the day, you want to play in the big leagues and you want to win, obviously. So we’ll see how that goes.

 … I would have liked to win with these guys. But at the end of the day, it is a business. So those aren’t my decisions. I had nothing to do with that.

Loney should find another job, particularly early in the season as rosters continue to shuffle, but he may have to settle for a minor league contract. That might not be a huge issue for him, though, as he’s earned nearly $27 million over the course of his 10-year career, per

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Jeremy Guthrie to Padres: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

The San Diego Padres are reportedly “in agreement” on a minor league deal with veteran starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of on Friday.  

Guthrie was released from his minor league deal with the Texas Rangers on Thursday, per John Blake, the team’s executive vice president of communications.

Guthrie is coming off a season with the Kansas City Royals in which he posted career worsts in ERA (5.95) and WHIP (1.551) since becoming a full-time starter in 2007. He also allowed an American League-high 29 home runs at a whopping 14.1 percent home run rate with a minus-1.8 bWAR.

The team left him off the playoff roster in the fall less than a year after he started Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. The Royals declined to pick up his $10 million mutual option to keep him in 2016 and bought him out for $3.2 million.

His departure was expected, given the high value of his contract and his underperformance. 

Guthrie signed with the Rangers in late February as an insurance starter who would compete for the fifth and final rotation spot with Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez. Cole Hamels, Martin Perez and Colby Lewis are slated at the top, respectively, with ace Yu Darvish expected to rejoin the team midseason. 

The Padres are a better fit for Guthrie, given their lack of starting pitching depth beyond Tyson Ross, James Shields and Andrew Cashner.

Guthrie’s days as a top-of-the-rotation hurler are probably over, but he could vie for big league time toward the back end of the rotation in San Diego.


All advanced stats courtesy of and FanGraphs.

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Jamey Wright Retires: Latest Comments and Reaction

Veteran Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Jamey Wright is hanging up his glove after a 19-year career, according to a Monday report by Ken Gurnick of

Wright hasn’t pitched since in the majors since 2014 and spent all of last year in the Dodgers’ farm system, signing with the team after the Texas Rangers released him during spring training.

Wright will retire with 2,036.2 innings of service and a collective 4.81 ERA and 1.545 WHIP over 19 years with nine teams—nearly a third of the league.

As Barry Petchesky of Deadspin noted, Wright was a regular trailblazer across the MLB transaction wire:

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports shared a fact that added context on the longevity of Wright’s professional career, which began when the Colorado Rockies took him with the 28th overall pick in the 1993 draft:

Wright, 41, was a late invite to the Dodgers’ camp this year, per Doug Padilla of He allowed nine earned runs on 14 hits with six strikeouts and six walks in 6.2 innings over eight appearances in spring training. 

He was never destined to make the big league roster, but at least he went out trying.

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Jesus Montero Claimed off Waivers by Blue Jays: Latest Comments, Reaction

The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly claimed hybrid catcher and first baseman Jesus Montero from the Seattle Mariners on Monday, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.  

Montero had been placed on waivers by Seattle on Sunday, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network. 

The Blue Jays made a corresponding roster move by designating A.J. Jimenez for assignment, according to Gregor Chisholm of

Montero was once among the top prospects in the New York Yankees’ farm system, ranking as high as No. 3 in Baseball America’s top 100 behind only Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in 2011.

At the time, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had ambitious hopes for Montero, holding him in the same conversation as some of the greats of the past generation. 

“In terms of hitting ability, Montero can be a Manny Ramirez or a Miguel Cabrera,” Cashman told ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor (h/t Andrew Marchand of “As a catcher, he’s got a cannon for an arm. As far as everything and what I want him to be, I want him to be Jorge Posada.”

But Montero only played 18 games with the Yankees and was dealt to the Mariners the following offseason in the Michael Pineda trade. 

He played one full season in Seattle, compiling a .260/.298/.386 slash line with 15 home runs and 62 RBI in 135 games before spending most of the next three seasons in the minors. 

He’s had an underachieving spring thus far, hitting .237 in 38 at-bats after showing promise in Triple-A last year, where he had a slash line of .355/.398/.569 with 18 home runs and 85 RBI.

The Blue Jays already have a three-headed platoon at first base with Chris Colabello, Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Smoak, as well as All-Star Russell Martin at catcher—last offseason’s big free-agent addition. 

Montero will likely spend most of his time in the minors and be a reliable option should the Blue Jays run into attrition during the season. At this point, he appears to be a cost-effective experiment who could see an occasional big league call-up if he’s able to consistently perform at a high level in Triple-A like last year.

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Tyler Moore Traded for Nate Freiman: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The Atlanta Braves continued to make personnel adjustments Sunday, announcing they’ve made a first baseman swap in acquiring Tyler Moore from the Washington Nationals for Nate Freiman.   

The Braves also acquired left-handed reliever pitcher Eric O’Flaherty from the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier Sunday. 

Moore will report to the team’s minor league camp. The hybrid utility man has largely spent his career playing outfield, but the Braves view him as a viable backup for Freddie Freeman if the All-Star first baseman continues to experience lingering wrist pain, per Mark Bowman of

The Nationals waived Moore on Thursday and outrighted him to Triple-A, nearly four months after he signed a one-year, $900,000 deal with the team to avoid arbitration.

Over four years with Washington, Moore is a career .228/.281/.401 hitter who has belted 24 home runs and had 91 RBI. 

After a strong rookie campaign in which he hit .263 and hit 10 homers, Moore has struggled since. In 18 games this spring, he’s just 4-for-31 with a double, two home runs and three walks with six strikeouts. 

Freiman has also struggled mightily this spring with a .120 average in 25 at-bats. At 6’8″ and 250 pounds, Freiman has the rare yet coveted frame of a powerful first baseman, but the struggling 29-year-old hasn’t seen MLB action since 2014.

Moore might have the better chance of making the Opening Day roster, as the Braves are in the midst of a major rebuild and lack offensive talent across the board. And if Freeman’s wrist becomes a problem, there could be a chance for Moore to contribute. However, the face of Atlanta’s struggling franchise has said the pain in his arm has largely subsided this spring, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s David O’Brien. 

Freiman’s chances seem far less likely. Ryan Zimmerman will retain his post at first for the Nationals, and Clint Robinson has been a reliable backup, hitting .272 in 309 at-bats last year. 

With Opening Day just a week away and rosters starting to take a sturdier form, there probably will be more trades like the one Sunday featuring players not likely to see much MLB time. 

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Eric O’Flaherty to Braves: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Eric O’Flaherty is returning to the Atlanta Braves

The veteran left-handed reliever, who spent five seasons in Atlanta, was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday for undisclosed cash considerations, according to Mark Bowman of

The Braves gave their former ace reliever a hearty welcome following the announcement:

The crafty lefty has a five-pitch repertoire, per FanGraphs, that includes a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider, an off-the-table curveball and a strong changeup. 

Such an arsenal made him a coveted target for a Braves bunch that has a huge need for southpaw relievers—particularly one who’s had such success against left-handed hitters. 

General manager John Coppolella said O’Flaherty caught his eye during a spring training game against his club just last week.

“When we saw him, [his fastball] was 89-92 [mph] and he had the good hard slider,” Coppolella said, per Bowman. “He struck out [Braves third baseman] Hector Olivera with that slider. We’ve seen how he used to run in against right-handers with that slider. He used to really eat them up.”

O’Flaherty, 31, underwent Tommy John surgery while playing for the Braves in 2013 and hasn’t been quite the same pitcher since. He finished last year with an 8.10 ERA and 2.167 WHIP in 30 innings over 41 games with the New York Mets and Oakland Athletics

But during a run from 2009 to 2013, he was arguably the top reliever out of the Braves bullpen outside lights-out closer Craig Kimbrel. O’Flaherty and Kimbrel tallied the best ERAs among qualified relievers from 2010 to 2012 at 1.59 and 1.46, respectively, per Bowman. 

Coppolella said the chance to add a veteran the Braves know and are comfortable with was also a huge sell, per Carl Kotala of the Associated Press:

We’ve been trying to find a left-hander all spring. He’s somebody we know. When our scouts saw him and when our field staff saw him, we felt like he was somebody who could help us out.

Obviously, we know this guy’s great off the field. He was great on it with us. We’re hoping he can fill a need a help us get better.

O’Flaherty’s return to the Braves is a win-win for both parties. 

He’s currently on a minor league contract, per Rotoworld, meaning he’ll be a cost-effective addition for a team that’s firmly in rebuild mode. And for the lefty, it’s a shot at redemption in the latter stages of his career. 

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Mike Schmidt Blasts Jose Bautista’s Bat Flip, Antics

Add Mike Schmidt to the list of Hall of Famers not impressed with Jose Bautista’s celebratory antics. 

Penning a piece for the Associated Press outlining the contrasts of what’s acceptable celebratory behavior and what’s not, Schmidt criticized Bautista for flamboyantly flipping his bat after smashing a towering, tiebreaking home run that propelled the Toronto Blue Jays to the American League Championship Series last October:  

Why do so many players today feel the need to embellish their success with some sort of hand signal to the dugout? What got more attention in last year’s postseason than a bat toss by Jose Bautista? Pointing to the sky is child’s play compared to that moment in the postseason on national TV. A flagrant disrespect of the opponent like that would have gotten somebody hurt back in the day.

The onslaught of criticism Bautista fielded for the celebration prompted the star slugger to justify himself in an essay for the Players’ Tribune last November titled “Are You Flipping Kidding Me?”

Bautista credited his behavior to being in the heat of the moment. The Blue Jays were in the playoffs for the first time since 1993, and he was at the plate with two runners on and two outs with the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning. This was all coming in a Game 5 that sent the loser home. 

“There was no script. I didn’t plan it. It just happened. … It wasn’t out of contempt for the pitcher. It wasn’t because I don’t respect the unwritten rules of the game. I was caught up in the emotion of the moment,” Bautista wrote.

Here is a look at the mammoth home run, courtesy of MLB, which was arguably one of the defining moments of last year’s postseason:

Schmidt noted Bautista isn’t the only player who has violated such unwritten laws of respect, but his gesture was among the most glaring last year:

That’s the problem with these on-field displays, it shows a lack of respect for your opponent and the history of the game. But today there is a faction of players that say damn respect — that guy on the mound gestures to the dugout when he strikes me out, so why can’t I flip my bat on a home run? That’s a good point, I guess it does go both ways. But who wouldn’t agree Bautista crossed the line?

Schmidt, who sits 16th on the all-time home runs list with 548, was among the many old-schoolers who played under the unwritten rules of respect that he believes Bautista’s bat flip defied.

Yet even the three-time National League MVP couldn’t help himself in the colossal moment when he joined the 500 home run club, as relayed by Jonah Keri of CBS Sports, which he said was the one moment in his career when he showed the most emotion:

Schmidt and Bautista come from completely different upbringings.

The former was a college star at Ohio University and made his major league debut when Richard Nixon was in the White House. 

Bautista grew up in the Dominican Republic and struggled mightily in his early years before breaking out as an MVP-caliber player in Toronto. Some of those differences may account for the players’ varying approaches to the game.

Bautista has always been among this era’s most passionate players, and even though another iconic old-timer publicly voiced his displeasure, the six-time All-Star likely won’t change his style.  

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Rymer Liriano Injury: Updates on Brewers of After Getting Hit in Face by Pitch

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Rymer Liriano suffered a gruesome injury Sunday when taking a pitch to the face in an exhibition game in Phoenix against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Continue for updates.

Liriano Taken to Hospital for Further Evaluation

Sunday, March 20

Liriano was hit under the brim of his helmet and immediately went to the ground in pain. Trainers assessed his condition for an extended period at the plate before strapping him to a backboard so he could be taken to a hospital, according to the Associated Press.

SB Nation MLB shared a picture of him being carted off the field after the fateful pitch from Dodgers pitcher Matt West:

“It’s serious,” manager Craig Counsell initially said of Liriano’s injury, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He got hit in the head. I can’t give you many details.”

Haudricourt later added the team reported Liriano suffered “multiple facial fractures” and will undergo further evaluation at the hospital.

“Players who saw Liriano before he was taken to the hospital said his left eye was swollen shut,” reported Haudricourt

It’s a huge blow for the 24-year-old who is trying to make the big league roster. The Brewers acquired him in a Jan. 28 trade with the San Diego Padres, and he spent all of last season in the minors after making his MLB debut in 2014.

In 131 games with San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate, Liriano hit .292.383/.460 with 14 home runs and 53 RBI.

Milwaukee is in the midst of a major rebuild, and a young player with promise such as Liriano fits the direction the Brewers are taking toward stocking young talent.

But a significant injury will throw a major wrench in his development with the team.

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Jon Lester Comments on Bone Chip in Throwing Elbow

One alarming concern for the Chicago Cubs is a bone chip in Jon Lester‘s throwing elbow.

On Friday, Lester said it’s been a “non-issue,” according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times:

It’s just a matter of hopefully it stays put, and we don’t have any worry about it. And then if it does become a concern, if I start having inflammation or missing starts because of it, then that’s when we’ll probably sit down and talk to somebody about getting it removed.

As of now, knock on wood, I haven’t had any concern with it.

Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan first reported the chip existed in his new book, The Arm, which is set to be released in April. The book, which discusses the epidemic of elbow injuries suffered by pitchers, chronicles Lester’s path to joining the Cubs.

Lester’s bone chip was discovered when he underwent an MRI in 2014, well before the Cubs signed him to a six-year, $155 million deal in December of that year.

Passan reported (h/t Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic) that Lester’s ulnar collateral ligament—the tissue that, when torn, requires Tommy John surgery—looked fine. Passan noted that “at some point it would warrant surgery,” though doctors weren’t recommending it at the time.

Lester is fearful that surgery could spark a separate injury.

“It’s kind of one of those deals if it’s not bothering you, don’t mess with it,” he said, per Wittenmyer. “You start getting cut on and doing rehab, and that’s when maybe they’re in there, taking that bone chip out, and it puts more stress on something else. You don’t know. If-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it-type thing.”

Lester, who has a track record of good health, was upfront about the issue with the Cubs, who weren’t fazed, per Passan.

The North Siders are a little more than two weeks away from embarking on one of their most highly anticipated seasons in recent memory.

Coming off a 97-win campaign in 2015 that culminated with a berth in the National League Championship Series, expectations are sky-high for the franchise that hasn’t won a title since 1908.

Last year, Lester was overshadowed by NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, who emerged as the ace by the All-Star break. But the hard-hurling lefty will be as vital as any other piece of the team if it hopes to make another lengthy run in October.

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Jonathan Lucroy Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation Surrounding Brewers C

Jonathan Lucroy has remained a trade chip for the Milwaukee Brewers all offseason, and the Texas Rangers may be interested in the All-Star catcher, according to Ken Rosenthal of   

Continue for updates. 

Trade Talks Among Interested Parties Remain Quiet

Monday, March 14

Rosenthal reported Monday no talks between Milwaukee and Texas have taken place recently. The Houston Astros and the Oakland Athletics are two other teams that had interest in the veteran backstop, per Rosenthal. 

The Brewers are in the midst of a massive rebuild that has seen longtime fixtures Carlos Gomez, Francisco Rodriguez and Adam Lind traded. Every move thus far has indicated the team is going younger, and dealing Lucroy, 29, would fit that objective. 

His production declined some in 2015, but he was also battling multiple injuries and played in just 103 games. As a career .282 hitter, he’s an everyday backstop most teams would covet. 

Lucroy would also come with two years remaining on a team-friendly contract. He’s due $4.35 million next season and has a $5.25 million option for 2017, per Spotrac

Mike Axisa of CBS Sports outlined why it would be in the Brewers’ best interest to move him sooner rather than later:

Teams right now want to buy low on Lucroy and acquire him for two full seasons. If the Brewers wait until the deadline, they’re only selling one and a half seasons of Lucroy. Teams won’t be willing to pay as much. Those first few months of the season have real value. Waiting until next offseason means the price would be even lower.

The Rangers were reportedly in discussions with the Brewers over Lucroy in January but backed off because Milwaukee’s asking price was “too high,” per Rosenthal

Lucroy has a limited no-trade clause, but he may be willing to waive that if a trade manifests. He’s openly admitted he doesn’t have conviction the Brewers can contend this year, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to compete for the playoffs this year. If I did that, you’d call me a liar. I’d lose credibility and respect.

I want to win and I don’t see us winning in the foreseeable future. I want to go to a World Series. That’s what all players want. Rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy.

Texas would be a great fit for the veteran. The Rangers are coming off an 88-win season and brought back most of their corps that won the American League West last year. They’ll also get ace Yu Darvish back from Tommy John surgery at some point in 2016.

Lucroy would likely supplant incumbent starter Robinson Chirinos and bolster a lineup that last year ranked third with 751 runs scored. 

The fit with Texas is certainly there, but the Brewers may need to adjust their asking price if they hope to strike a deal before Opening Day.

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