NOVEMBER 28, 4:24pm: The Twins expect Park’s deal to be completed “soon,” a source tells Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. Park and the Twins have until December 8 to complete their deal, but Miller’s source believes it will be complete well in advance of that deadline. 9:23am: Park will head to Minneapolis on Sunday, with a brief stop in Chicago, Naver Sports reports (link in Korean; via Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press). In Minnesota, Park will meet with the Twins and take a physical. The Twins could potentially then announce Park’s signing next week. As Berardino notes, that suggests that, if Park and the Twins haven’t reached an agreement already, they appear to at least be fairly close. NOVEMBER 9: In what has to be considered a surprise, the Twins were the team to submit the $12.85MM winning bid on Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park, reports Daniel Kim of KBS Sports in Korea (Twitter link). Minnesota will now have 30 days to negotiate a contract with Park and his agent, Octagon’s Alan Nero. If a contract cannot be reached, the Twins would be refunded the $12.85MM fee, and Park would return to Korea’s Nexen Heroes for the 2016 season
Corner infielder Mike Hessman has announced his retirement, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America notes. Hessman initially tweeted that he was retiring to become a coach, although that tweet has since been deleted. Hessman’s retirement is a move that is minor by definition but more noteworthy than that term suggests — among fans of minor league baseball, Hessman’s career will be remembered as legendary. No minor league slugger, in fact, has been more prolific — this season, the 37-year-old Hessman topped Buzz Arlett’s record with his 433rd career minor league homer. The Braves selected Hessman in the 15th all the way back in 1996 — a draft in which they also took Jason Marquis, Mark DeRosa and Marcus Giles, which gives a sense of just how long Hessman was in the minors. He reached Triple-A six years later and made his big-league debut in 2003
Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league… The Seibu Lions announced the finalization of their contract with former Indians right-hander C.C. Lee, who will earn just under $700K in his first season pitching in Nippon Professional Baseball (per Graveyard Baseball, on Twitter). The Indians announced last week that Lee was released in order to pursue an opportunity with the Lions, and they reportedly received between $350K and $500K as compensation for allowing him to depart. Lee has a 4.50 ERA with a 33-to-16 K/BB ratio in 34 career innings at the big league level. Graveyard’s Christian Gin has some video and translated comments from Lee’s press conference.
The Royals released left-hander Wandy Rodriguez earlier this week, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. Rodriguez signed a minor league deal with Kansas City in August and made five relief appearances for Triple-A Omaha but was never called up to the big league roster. Rodriguez, who turns 37 in January, posted a 4.90 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 2.00 K/BB rate over 86 1/3 innings with Texas last season before being released in early August. The veteran had a 3.20 ERA in his first 11 starts with the Rangers and was even building some trade deadline buzz before getting hit hard over his next six outings. Once a stalwart of the Astros rotation, Rodriguez posted a 4.04 ERA over eight seasons and 1306 2/3 innings in Houston before being dealt to the Pirates in July 2012.
Here are the day’s minor moves: The Rays released catcher J.P. Arencibia after recently designating him for assignment, per the team’s transactions page. Arencibia, 29, had an impressive 24-game run with Tampa Bay late in the season, but it wasn’t enough for the club to tender him a contract. He ought to get plenty of interest as a free agent from teams looking for major-league-capable receiving options. Mariners lefty Danny Hultzen cleared outright waivers, the club announced. Though his talent has always been evident, Hultzen’s shoulder has not been willing. Despite going second overall in the 2011 draft, Hultzen has yet to tally 200 professional innings pitched. Backstop Adrian Nieto tweets that he’s signed on with the Marlins
The White Sox announced that they have signed catcher Alex Avila to a one-year deal worth $2.5MM. Avila, who has spent his entire career with the Tigers, will remain in the AL Central and presumably pair with Tyler Flowers behind the plate for the Sox.
The Pirates announced that they have signed first baseman/outfielder Jake Goebbert to a Major League contract. His signing brings the team’s 40-man roster to a total of 39. Goebbert, 28, spent the entire 2015 season in Triple-A with the Padres, where he batted .294/.392/.452 with 10 home runs. While the Pacific Coast League is known as an exceptionally hitter-friendly environment, Goebbert has long shown a discerning eye at the plate, walking in 11.1 percent of his plate appearances since being selected by the Astros in the 13th round of the 2009 draft. Houston sent Goebbert to the Athletics in April of 2013 in exchange for left-hander Travis Blackley, and he was traded again a year later, heading from Oakland to San Diego in exchange for fellow first baseman/outfielder Kyle Blanks. Goebbert received 115 plate appearances with the Padres in 2014 — his only Major League experience — and batted .218/.313/.317 with a homer, a double and three triples. Goebbert’s addition to the 40-man roster comes at a time when the Pirates are known to be shopping Pedro Alvarez, though his presence isn’t necessarily an indicator that Alvarez will be jettisoned. It’s unlikely he’d be slotted in for any kind of starting role, though the Pirates clearly like him enough that he has to be considered in the mix for a spot as a left-handed bat off the bench next year.
The Braves have announced the signings of ten players to minor league contracts. Righty David Carpenter is perhaps the most notable, but the list includes several other recognizable names. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported Carpenter’s signing on Twitter. Joining Carpenter in Atlanta’s camp this spring will be fellow righties Chris Volstad and Madison Younginer. Also reporting early for camp will be four catchers: former big leaguer Ryan Lavarnway, along with Willians Astudillo, Matt Kennelly, and Braeden Schlehuber. Veteran infielders Reid Brignac and Chase d’Arnaud, as well as outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo, are also joining the Braves
6:03pm: The deal includes some form of option for 2017, Iannetta indicated to reporters on a conference call to discuss the signing (via MLB.com’s Greg Johns, on Twitter). 5:07pm: The Mariners have signed catcher Chris Iannetta to a one-year deal, the club announced. Fellow backstop John Hicks was designated for assignment to clear roster space. A deal was said to be close during the GM Meetings, but it obviously took a bit longer to come together. Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto obviously continues to be a fan of the veteran, as he brought him to the Angels when he ran that club. Iannetta is entering his age-33 season on the heels of a rough 2015 campaign. In his 317 plate appearances last year, Iannetta slashed just .188/.293/.335.
The Dodgers have agreed to sign Cuban outfielder Yusniel Diaz to a $15.5MM deal, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Furthermore, the Dodgers and Omar Estevez have agreed to a pact that will pay the infielder $6MM. Even though he’s only 18, Diaz has been known in Cuban baseball circles for years thanks to his offensive prowess while playing center field in Cuba, Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required and recommended) wrote earlier this year. In fact, as a 14-year-old in Cuba’s 16-and-under league, Diaz garnered the attention of scouts when he slashed .367/.519/.517 across 80 plate appearances. In his writeup, Badler praised Diaz for his athleticism, speed, and his production in Serie Nacional, where he faced competition at his own age level as well as veteran talents