GLENDALE, Ariz. — For teams interested in signing 19-year-old Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada, it’s essential to ask whether they have enough money to compete with the Dodgers in a bidding war.
For the Dodgers, whose 2014 payroll was the highest in baseball history, money might not be their greatest obstacle.
More than the cost of his signing bonus — estimated in various reports to be between $30-$50 million, plus a 100 percent tax — Moncada might not appeal to the Dodgers because they would be restricted from signing cap-eligible international players to massive contracts for two years starting in July. Are the Dodgers willing to not bid more than $300,000 on cap-eligible free agents in the upcoming international signing period? What about in 2016-17?
Dodgers president Andrew Friedman called this a topic for debate “that we’ll always have.”
Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis devoted time this off-season to improving his pitch-framing skills. (Karl Gehring/The Denver Post)
A.J. Ellis is bad at framing pitches.
Pitch F/X data has known this for years. People who analyze Pitch F/X data have known this for years.
Now Ellis knows this too.
A brief summary: Pitch F/X technology allows any casual fan with a computer to know how many actual strikes are called balls by the plate umpire, and how many actual balls are called strikes. Over the course of a full season, some catchers are measurably better than others at getting balls called strikes.
There are many nuances that go into receiving a pitch favorably and Ellis hasn’t mastered all of them. In 2014, BaseballProspectus.com tabulated framing data for 104 catchers. Ellis ranked 99th.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Day 1 of spring training was an uneventful one for the Dodgers. The only pitcher or catcher not in camp before noon was Joel Peralta, who is flying to Phoenix now and scheduled to take his physical this afternoon.
Several position players have reported early, including Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Scott Schebler, O’Koyea Dickson and Matt Carson, a non-roster invitee.
New pitcher David Aardsma, another non-roster invitee, is wearing number 58.
Kenley Jansen is not here — no surprise, since the pitcher underwent surgery on his left foot Tuesday in Los Angeles. Unless that changes, we won’t have any news today about the biggest (and so far only) injury of camp.
According to the website taxaball.com, Clayton Kershaw leads all of baseball in a category we didn’t know existed until today: Spring training tax savings.
Writes Jonathan Nehring:
Had Arizona decided to adopt the traditional duty day calculation that most states have adopted they would be collecting 4.54% of every MLB player’s salary during spring training while teams training in Florida would have been playing tax free. Fearful that players and teams would move their spring training locations to Florida (or another state that doesn’t charge income tax e.g. Texas), Arizona valued the economic impact that spring training brings them over the economic impact taxing MLB player’s salaries would bring Arizona.
To the right is a list of the MLB players who will save the most money by Arizona not taxing income earned in Spring Training.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen saved 44 games in 2014, his first full season as the Dodgers’ closer. (Getty Images)
About a month ago, I wrote that the Dodgers’ bullpen could be a weakness if Kenley Jansen got hurt.
We’re about to find out if that’s true.
Jansen, who saved 44 games in 49 opportunities in his first full season as the Dodgers’ closer last year, had surgery Tuesday to remove a growth from a bone in his left foot. He is expected to miss the next 8-12 weeks.
The 27-year-old pitcher had been training at Dodger Stadium since January. According to the team, Jansen first reported discomfort in his left foot while running last week. A subsequent x-ray, MRI and CT scan showed the problem in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot. The surgery was performed by Drs. Earl Brien and David Thordarson under the direction of Dr. Neal ElAttrache at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Continue reading
The Dodgers have signed David Aardsma to a minor-league contract, the pitcher announced on his Twitter page Sunday. The contract includes an invitation to spring training.
Aardsma, 33, saved 69 games in 78 opportunities with the Seattle Mariners from 2009-10. He underwent Tommy John surgery the following year and has only appeared in 44 major-league games since — all but one for the Mets in 2013.
In 33 games last year for the Memphis Redbirds, the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate, Aardsma went 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA.
Aardsma held a showcase for scouts Monday and reportedly hit 92 mph on the radar gun.
The Dodgers have extended invitations to 19 non-roster players.
Dodgers shortstop prospect Corey Seager, 20, slashed .345/.381/.534 after getting called up to Double-A last season. (Staff photo)
MLB.com is ranking its top 10 prospects by position, and Corey Seager checked in at number four on today’s list of the top shortstops.
Writes Jonathan Mayo:
Kyle Seager is an All-Star and Gold Glove third baseman who just got a big contract extension from the Mariners. Scary thing is his kid brother might have more upside. He’s as good a hitter as there is in the Minor Leagues, one who’s bat will profile well even if he has to eventually move to third, a move most foresee. He has All-Star potential wherever he plays.
Seager, 20, recently received his first invitation to the Dodgers’ major-league spring training camp.
Erik Bedard went 4-6 with a 4.76 earned-run average in 17 games (15 starts) for the Tampa Bay Rays last season.
The Dodgers announced the signing of right-handed pitcher Ben Rowen and left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard to minor-league contracts with invitations to major league spring training camp.
That brings the number of non-roster invitees to 18:
Pitchers (8): Chris Anderson, Erik Bedard, Ryan Buchter, David Huff, Josh Ravin, Ben Rowen, Sergio Santos, Julio Urias
Position players (10): Erisbel Arruebarrena, Buck Britton, Matt Carson, O’Koyea Dickson, Kyle Jensen, Chris O’Brien, Corey Seager, Ali Solis, Darnell Sweeney,Shawn Zarraga
Joc Pederson gave a seemingly mundane interview [above] to MLB.com today, talking about his personal development as a hitter and the rookie development camp going on this week in Los Angeles. Two things to keep in mind about what he said:
One question was posed to me several times this week: Are the Dodgers done making moves?
No. Ask Andrew Friedman or Farhan Zaidi or any GM, and he’ll say his work is never finished. There’s always an intriguing minor-league free agent somewhere (see: Chin-Hui Tsao), an injury waiting to happen. Some person or event will inevitably shift a team’s needs. Baseball is a dynamic sport. The only constant is change.
Furthermore, hasn’t the roster changed enough? As DodgersInsider.com recently pointed out, only 15 players on the current 40-man roster appeared in a game for the Dodgers in 2013. That was before Erisbel Arruebarrena was designated for assignment to make room for Brett Anderson (which doesn’t affect the stat I just cited, but still constitutes change).
OK, so the Dodgers have made a lot of moves recently and thrown around a lot of money in the process. But how much money, and where have all those moves left the 2015 club?
Here’s what got me thinking about this. Zaidi has already said that obtaining an eighth inning-type reliever is something the Dodgers will look at, either via trade or free agency. As I wrote yesterday, if the Dodgers have reason to be concerned with their roster, it might be what happens with the ninth inning if Kenley Jansen is hurt or sputtering.
Then I tried to figure out how adding a proven eighth-inning pitcher, someone who would cost more than your typical middle reliever, would impact the Dodgers’ current roster balance and payroll. That’s when this little thought exercise got messy. And complicated. Spreadsheets were needed. God help you if you’re a non-roster invitee trying to make this team out of spring training.
The Dodgers’ payroll is bursting at the seams because of pricey former players and potential 25-man roster guys. Still.