The 67th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers was greeted with tributes, ceremonies, remembrances and hundreds of uniform No. 42s across baseball on Tuesday.
As we at MLBTR did in 2013, we’ll constantly be looking toward the future over the course of the season to see which players are positioning themselves for a healthy payday on the 2014-15 open market. Remember that you can always find a full list of next season’s free agents here (or on the right-hand sidebar under “MLBTR Features), and keep an eye out for future editions of these rankings. For now, here’s the first entry in our 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings series. 1. Hanley Ramirez. Fragile or not, there’s no debating that when Ramirez is on the field, he’s one of the best-hitting shortstops of this generation
Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton was back at the ballpark for the first time on Monday, three days after undergoing thumb surgery that’s expected to keep him out for six to eight weeks.
The White Sox have signed right-hander Frank Francisco and assigned him to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, according to the Knights’ official Twitter account. Francisco is a client of Praver/Shapiro. The 34-year-old Francisco spent the past two seasons with the Mets after signing a two-year, $12MM contract that proved to be a regrettable move for New York. Over the life of the deal, Francisco pitched just 48 2/3 innings of 5.36 ERA ball, averaging 9.8 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9. He missed nearly all of the 2013 season with elbow issues. The White Sox will hope that Francisco can get back to the form he showed with the Rangers and Blue Jays from 2009-11 when he posted a 3.71 ERA 10.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 36 percent ground-ball rate that led to a 3.41 FIP and 3.32 xFIP. During that time, opponents batted just .236/.299/.382 against Francisco, who racked up 44 saves between the two teams. Chicago manager Robin Ventura named Matt Lindstrom his closer to open the season, much to the surprise of many pundits that had pegged Nate Jones as Addison Reed’s replacement
The Brewers entered Monday’s series opener against St. Louis riding a nine-game winning streak, making them the hottest team in the game. At 10-2, they also boast the best record in the Major Leagues. And their 1.80 team ERA is the best in the big leagues.
In the first inning of the Angels’ 14-2 win over the Mets, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Raul Ibanez homered in succession. Before this record-tying feat (for the franchise), there had been nine times when three straight Angels players homered.
Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball. The Mets have announced that they’ve traded catcher Blake Forsythe to the Athletics for future considerations. Forsythe, 24, hit .192/.271/.362 for Double-A Binghamton in 2013. He was a third-round pick in the 2010 draft out of the University of Tennessee.
In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Keith Law blasted the North Carolina State coaching staff’s decision to let Carlos Rodon throw 134 pitches in a start on Friday night. Rodon is expected to be one of the top picks in June’s amateur draft, yet Law felt the southpaw’s promising future was being risked by a coaching staff desperate to reach the NCAA tournament. Here’s some news from around the Majors… If Alfonso Soriano doesn’t retire at season’s end, he’d like to play through 2016, preferably as a member of the Yankees, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Insider-only link). If he has a tough season this year, however, Soriano will retire. The veteran outfielder is in last year of his contract and has previously discussed retiring after 2014, as Soriano’s health will also factor into his decision. Bobby Abreu is hitting .500 in Triple-A and is “the best hitter Las Vegas has got by far,” a talent evaluator tells Mike Puma of the New York Post
In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Keith Law blasted the North Carolina State coaching staff’s decision to let Carlos Rodon throw 134 pitches in a start on Friday night. Rodon is expected to be one of the top picks in June’s amateur draft, yet Law felt the southpaw’s promising future was being risked by a coaching staff desperate to reach the NCAA tournament. Here’s some news from around the Majors… If Alfonso Soriano doesn’t retire at season’s end, he’d like to play through 2016, preferably as a member of the Yankees, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Insider-only link).
The possibility exists that at some point this season, the Red Sox could field a lineup, along with a good chunk of their rotation and bullpen, that is comprised almost exclusively of players and pitchers who have played only for Boston, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. Thanks to the club’s emphasis on homegrown talent, injuries/days off for David Ortiz, A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross, and Mike Napoli could make this idea a reality sometime this summer. Here’s more out of the AL East.. Two winters ago, the Red Sox were able to find success by overpaying free agents on an average annual basis while avoiding long-term deals, but they’re mistaken if they think they can do the same with Jon Lester, writes Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. Boston reportedly offered the standout pitcher a four-year, $70MM contract extension before the start of the season. Alex Speier of WEEI.com agrees that the Red Sox are making a mistake in their handling of the contract talks with Lester. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe believes that the Yankees are the best bet to sign free agent reliever Joel Hanrahan. The former Pirates closer is set to audition for teams on Thursday in Tampa, Florida. The Mets, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Athletics, Red Sox, and Rays are also said to be among the teams with interest in the 32-year-old. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times looks at the Rays and their ability to keep their young players under team control.