The Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization announced on Friday that they’ve signed veteran Major League right-hander Carlos Villanueva to a one-year contract (h/t: Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net and Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency). The ISE Baseball client will earn $1.5MM in his first venture into pro ball overseas. He’ll join former big leaguers Alexi Ogando and Wilin Rosario on the Eagles’ roster for the 2017 campaign. Villanueva, who turned 33 this offseason, spent the 2016 campaign with the Padres and struggled to a 5.96 ERA in in 74 innings of relief. The veteran swingman did display some more encouraging peripherals, including a 7.4 K/9 rate, 1.7 BB/9 and an 11 percent swinging-strike rate, but interest in the soft-tossing righty (88.1 mph average fastball in ’16) never picked up much steam this winter. In fact, today’s signing marks the first time that Villanueva’s name has been tagged here at MLBTR since inking his one-year deal with San Diego in Jan. 2016. Prior to his ugly 2016 season, Villanueva enjoyed a terrific year with the Cardinals, during which he logged 61 innings with a 2.95 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 42.4 percent ground-ball rate. That year served as an exclamation point on a nice five-year run that saw Villanueva toss 499 2/3 innings of 4.03 ERA ball while pitching for the Blue Jays, Cubs and Cards. Next year’s crop of free-agent pitchers is superior to the group that hit the open market this year, but a rebound campaign in the hitters’ paradise that is the KBO could either create renewed Major League interest in Villanueva or earn him a more substantial payday overseas in 2018 and beyond
MLB.TV, the world’s longest-running and most successful live streaming sports product, returns for its 15th-anniversary year, starting with Phillies at Yankees at 1:05 p.m. ET today, followed by seven live games on Saturday and another eight on Sunday.
The Braves have signed former NFL defensive back Sanders Commings to a Minor League deal, a team source told MLB.com’s Mark Bowman.
Rob Manfred and baseball face a delicate challenge: changing the game without making it feel like change, keeping the continuity that captivates lifelong baseball fans while capturing new fans who are seeing the game for the first time. It isn’t easy.
The Cardinals took their workouts off campus on Thursday for a team-building exercise that featured, among other things, alien abductions and pirates’ treasure. It was an unexpected field trip for players, who split up into two groups and took turns loading a bus to depart for a destination unknown. When they disembarked, players found themselves thrust into an escape room challenge.
Pitchers are generally ahead of hitters at this point of the spring, but for Brett Gardner and Chase Headley, taking their first at-bats of the year against Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka proved to be an especially unfair matchup.
Free-agent righty Jake Peavy remains unsigned with Spring Training well underway, but as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports, that’s due largely to personal matters impacting the veteran starter. Peavy says he is currently focused on being with his four sons while he and his wife finalize a divorce. Peavy says he still expects to return to the hill, so it doesn’t seem that the 35-year-old is heading toward retirement despite a sub-par, injury-plagued 2016 season. Instead, his representatives have informed teams that he is not yet ready to commit to an organization, but Peavy says he’s working out and will hold a showcase when he is ready. “It hurts not to be in spring training,” Peavy tells Crasnick. “I know that day is coming, but right now being a dad is absolutely No. 1. There’s no way in a million years that I could leave my boys at this time.” There’s little doubt that Peavy will draw interest when he is prepared to sign; indeed, we’ve already heard that the Padres had interest at one stage of the winter. Last season’s struggles may be attributable in part to back issues
David Ortiz is enjoying retirement. That much is clear, especially after the former slugger posted a long video on Twitter over the weekend of himself enjoying his vacation.
Rockies shortstop Trevor Story hit 27 home runs in his rookie season, but he also wants to be known for his defense.
Zack Greinke’s first year in Arizona didn’t live up to expectations, and while that’s somewhat on him, it’s also about the fact that the team around him didn’t offer much help. In 2017, better pitch framing and better outfield defense ought to benefit him greatly.