The Latest on Major League Baseball’s winter meetings (all times local):
The Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants have added players on waiver claims.
The Mariners made the most interesting move, taking Kaleb Cowart from the Los Angeles Angels and announcing him as an infielder and right-handed pitcher.
A prep star on the mound and at the plate, the 26-year-old Cowart has not pitched since the Angels drafted in the first round in 2010. He hit .134 with 10 RBIs in 47 games with Los Angeles last season.
Texas acquired infielder Carlos Asuaje after he was cut by San Diego last week. The 27-year-old hit .240 in parts of the last three seasons with the Padres, and did well in the field at second base.
The Giants got outfielder Mike Gerber from Detroit. The 26-year-old made his big league debut last season and went 4 for 42 in 18 games for the Tigers.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler intends to be publicly critical of his players more in his second season following his team’s late fade.
Philadelphia led the NL East in early August, then went 16-33 and wound up with its sixth straight losing record at 80-82.
“One thing that I can do immediately that I think will really resonate well with our fans in Philadelphia is … as much as I illuminate some of the things we’re doing very well, I can be a little more assertive in illuminating the things that we need to work on. And I’m committed to taking that step,” he said.
Kapler said he wouldn’t get on a player “just for the sake of calling them out.”
“However, I do think that our fans demand that we hold them accountable. I think that I’ve shared and demonstrated to our fans that I do that behind closed doors. And I think that many of them would like to see me create that really high bar publicly. And I’m committed to doing that,” he said.
Speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton is running to the Kansas City Royals.
A person familiar with the negotiations says the Royals and Hamilton have agreed to a $5.25 million contract for next season that includes up to $1 million in incentives. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a physical.
Hamilton made $4.6 million with Cincinnati last season, when he was their everyday center fielder. The Reds didn’t offer him a contract for next year.
Hamilton is considered the fastest player in the majors and stole at least 50 bases four straight seasons before dipping to 34 last season. He’s outstanding in the field, but he struggled at the plate — he’s a career .236 hitter.
Don Mattingly says he’s not dwelling on whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
A day after Harold Baines was a surprising choice for the Hall, Mattingly says he’s content knowing what he accomplished on the field.
The Miami manager was a six-time All-Star, won nine Gold Gloves at first base for the Yankees and hit .307 lifetime. Mattingly was the 1985 AL MVP and four times finished in the top seven of the MVP voting.
Mattingly finished with 2,153 hits, 222 home runs and 1,099 RBIs in 14 seasons in a career limited by back trouble.
“I just didn’t play long enough. Wasn’t able to stay healthy long enough to really put that pile of numbers together,” he said at the winter meetings. “So there was a period of time that I could hit with anybody and do things on the field at my position and with the bat that nobody was doing.”
Baines also was a six-time All-Star. He never finished higher than ninth in MVP voting, and had 1,628 RBIs, 384 home runs, 2,866 hits and a .289 average in a 22-year career, mostly as a designated hitter.
“When I think of myself, when you see Harold, played 22 years or something like that and you end up with a pile of numbers that grow and grow, you know, I think Harold had 2,800 hits. I hit 21-something. I do it in 13 years, 12 years, less than 13,” Mattingly said.
Baines and Lee Smith were elected Sunday by a 16-member panel picked by the Hall. Baines’ choice raised debate about whether the likes of Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Dwight Evans also deserved to be in Cooperstown.
“Just happy for Harold and Lee. I played with Lee just a brief time in New York and watched Harold over the years. He’s a great hitter,” Mattingly said.
“I don’t worry much about myself from the whole situation, because quite honestly, the Hall of Fame comes, if you get in, you say, OK, write ‘HOF’ on the ball, and after that your life’s going to be the same.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. and CC Sabathia are about to give baseball the royal treatment.
The Boston outfielder and New York Yankees pitcher are traveling to London this week, six months ahead of the two-game series between the teams in the British capital.
Bradley and Sabathia will tour the city’s sights, visit the Lords Cricket Ground and see Premier League soccer matches in Manchester and Liverpool.
The World Series champion Red Sox and Yankees play June 29-30 at Olympic Stadium.
“I welcome the opportunity to promote our great sport and the history of our rivalry across the pond,” Sabathia said. “I also love traveling … Consider me the Yankees’ advance scout for London.”
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash will stick with using an “opener” next season.
The Rays deviated from baseball tradition last season, regularly using a relief pitcher to begin games rather than a traditional starting pitcher. Tampa Bay went 46-38 with usual starters and 44-34 when utilizing the bullpen.
“I think right now we’re discussing internally whether we do it two times through the rotation or three times through the rotation,” Cash said Monday at the winter meetings. “But the nice thing is we’ve got all that information last year and we have a bunch of candidates that we can fill in as a traditional starter if need be. Yonny Chirinos, Yarbs (Ryan Yarbrough), Wilmer Font, Jalen Beeks.”
Tampa Bay’s innovation was copied by Oakland, which started reliever Liam Hendriks in the AL wild-card game against the New York Yankees, and Milwaukee. Brewers manager Craig Counsell used left-hander Wade Miley for just one batter in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, then brought in right-hander Brandon Woodruff. While Cash let opposing managers know when he was using an opener and would have a quick hook, Counsell sprung his move as a surprise.
“Yes, it can definitely make it difficult. But I personally don’t see anything wrong with that,” Cash said. “Each manager, each club, each organization, they’re trying to get the best out of their roster. If they feel that’s the best way to do it, the opposition, you’ve kind of got to deal with it. It’s going to happen to us. We did it with other clubs, not that quickly, but playoff baseball you see different things.”
Source: The Associated Press