So limited are the scraps from the hot stove that we’ve been reduced to scavenging for second harvest. But fear not, we may yet be able to make chicken salad out of this stuff.
• According to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, the Rockies are looking into various options at closer. It had been thought that they’d try to retain Greg Holland, who closed for them last year and who turned down both his $15 million player option and the $17.4 qualifying offer from Colorado. Despite plenty of familiarity, Holland clearly isn’t interested in a one-year deal and there’s risk in a 32-year-old who missed 2016 after TJS.
Hence the Rockies’ interest in both Wade Davis and Zach Britton, the latter of whom would be just a one-year rental and would also cost them prospects. It’s possible this tire-kicking is all part of the dance when it comes to negotiations with Holland, so we’ll have to see where it goes. The Rockies do appear very intent on having a proven closer in 2018, though, so they won’t want to wait too long.
• Alex Avila was expected to parlay the best offensive season of his career into new starting gig with a relatively big payday, but the low-key vet isn’t necessarily looking for that. In fact, he was quite clear in an appearance on MLB Network Radio that winning is the priority, even if that means serving as a backup or in a platoon situation.
“The number on thing is having an opportunity to get to the playoffs,” Avila said. “I’ve told teams this, my agent this. I have no issue being a backup, I have no issue being a platoon player. I have no issue going to a team and being a starter. For me, it’s all about the opportunity to win. That’s the way I look at it.”
I’m not sure how happy the folks at Excel Sports Management were about Avila essentially devaluing his own stock there, but this may have been a calculated move. He figures to earn a two-year deal, three at the most, for something in the $7-8 AAV range, so perhaps he’s trying to boost that character appeal and max what should be his final deal. It’s just hard to imagine a team paying that much for a backup.
Avila certainly displayed a fair bit of value in a secondary role with the Cubs, who had to use him as the starter for much of their stretch run after Willson Contreras went down with a hamstring injury. Because the list of serious contenders willing to pay that kind of money for a backup is pretty limited, though, I would still imagine the bearded backstop ends up with a starting gig.
MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Avila would sign with the Yankees, which would satisfy pretty much all of the criteria he mentioned. The Cubs could be a possibility as well, but it seems far more likely that they’d pursue a lower-profile backup to Contreras.
• Former Cubs pitcher Neil Ramirez has agreed to a minor league deal with the Indians. After a dazzling rookie campaign in 2014 that saw him tally a 1.44 ERA and 10.92 K/9, Ramirez missed most of 2015 with shoulder and other injuries and has never been the same since. Though he’s continued to miss bats (9 K/9 in 2017 and 12.6 K/9 in 2017), he’s had a devil of a time finding the zone (6.8 and 6 BB/9 over last two seasons, respectively).
Last season also saw him give up 1.7 HR/9 to go with a 7.81 ERA and 1.787 WHIP over 31.1 innings with the Mets and Giants. His 4.95 FIP wasn’t great by any stretch, but it’s significantly better than that gaudy ERA and indicates that Ramirez could maybe at least be serviceable with a few tweaks.
In addition to the high number of walks and hits, velocity has been an issue for the righty reliever. A fastball that used to average a hair over 95 mph has been a couple ticks slower since the injuries, thereby limiting his margin for error. He won’t turn 29 until May, so there’s still enough tread on the tires to take another few laps.