Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. issued the following statement today regarding the respective passings of Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, who was 25, and former Major League infielder Andy Marte, who was 33.
Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. The tragic news was confirmed by his agency, ISE Baseball, and the Royals. Ventura was 25 years old.
The baseball world mourned the unexpected deaths of Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and third baseman Andy Marte on Sunday. Ventura, 25, died in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. Marte, 33, also died in a separate car crash Sunday in the Dominican Republic.
At the Astros Urban Youth Academy on Saturday, 35 high school baseball players from around Texas participated in a Prospect Development Pipeline event. In these one-day, invitation-only workouts, players have a chance to increase their exposure in front of representatives from all 30 teams.
Matt Wieters is still looking for a new team, and the catcher is short one more potential landing spot now that Braves have agreed to sign Kurt Suzuki. Atlanta had long been cited as a candidate to sign Georgia Tech alum Wieters; just under 30% of MLBTR readers predicted the Braves as Wieters’ next team in a poll last month. ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick explored the Wieters market in a series of tweets (1, 2, 3, 4), including the news that there is some sentiment within the Orioles organization to re-sign Wieters to a one-year deal. Under this arrangement, Wieters would split time with Welington Castillo behind the plate while also getting some at-bats as a DH. While Wieters is popular with Baltimore’s on-field staff, however, Crasnick describes the O’s as “a long shot” for Wieters since the team’s analytics staff has reservations. Wieters would certainly be an upgrade over current backup catcher Caleb Joseph, and a one-year deal would give the Orioles future flexibility at catcher — Castillo has a player option for 2018 and top prospect Chance Sisco is close to being ready for the big leagues. Wieters would still carry a not-insignificant price tag even on a one-year contract, and the Orioles might not be keen to spend that much on the catcher position when Joseph is still in the fold at a low price and could rebound from his dismal 2016 season. A timeshare-esque situation in Baltimore also wouldn’t necessarily help Wieters’ chances at scoring his sought-after multi-year contract next winter, so he could prefer a clearer path to playing time
Parting with righty Dan Straily wasn’t particularly easy for the Reds, who surely valued the cheap innings he might have provided, but as GM Dick Williams explains and MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports, the team finally found an offer it couldn’t say no to from the Marlins. Per Williams, the team “identified some of [the acquired prospects] as guys we were absolutely targeting,” informing Miami “that we wouldn’t go forward if we couldn’t get access to those guys.” While the Fish initially declined, says Williams, they steadily upped their offer over a span of several months. While the team wasn’t keen to give up Straily, Williams says it “just couldn’t pass on” the chance to add “impact talent” in the form of right-handers Luis Castillo and Austin Brice along with outfielder Isaiah White. Here are a few more notes out of the National League: The Marlins’ stockpiling of arms this winter — including, most recently, the acquisition of Straily — may result in atypical pitcher usage patterns, president of baseball operations Michael Hill says (via Tim Healey of the Miami Sun-Sentinel, on Twitter). Miami may look to rely heavily on what it considers to be a deep pen, Hill suggested. “There may be situations where the starter is out in the fourth or the fifth, and a bridge guy takes you to the sixth, and you’ve got a setup man in the seventh and the eighth, and a closer in the ninth,” he explained, dubbing the expected approach “non-traditional.” Another team that has already added a few hurlers, the Padres, could still be in the market for more, according to AJ Cassavell of MLB.com (via Twitter).
The Rangers have agreed to a minor-league deal with first baseman James Loney, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). The veteran will make $1MM if he can break onto the MLB roster. Loney, 32, played an even 100 games last year for the Mets, who acquired him in May from the Padres after losing Lucas Duda for a lengthy stretch. (San Diego had added Loney over the winter on a minor-league deal.) In his 366 MLB plate appearances in 2016, Loney slashed .265/.307/.397 and hit nine home runs. Clearly, that wasn’t quite as much production as most teams would like to see out of the first base position
With South Korea’s past success in the World Baseball Classic — and after the success of former Korea Baseball Organization players in the Major Leagues over the last two years — no one should be sleeping on Team South Korea in the upcoming Classic.
The Padres have designated outfielder Jabari Blash for assignment, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Twitter links). His roster spot will go to righty Trevor Cahill, whose previously reported signing is now official. Blash, 27, has long been an intriguing talent. He struggled in limited MLB opportunities last year, though he has continued to thrive in the upper minors. In 646 total plate appearances at the Triple-A level, he owns a .246/.364/.550 batting line with 45 home runs. San Diego had taken Blash in the Rule 5 draft, but couldn’t hold him on the major league roster after his tepid start to the year. The club ultimately acquired his rights permanently via trade, but evidently doesn’t see him as a likely part of the 2017 outfield mix