Storylines: Twins narrowing down managerial search
In this MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @AndrewIBI.
Here are the stories from Thursday, Oct. 2.
- The Twins met on Wednesday with Paul Molitor regarding their managerial search, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported. Molitor, ended his Hall-of-Fame playing career in a Twins uniform, served as a coach last year under Gardenhire. Minnesota intends to move quickly to find a new manager, GM Terry Ryan told Neal. The club also interviewed Doug Mientkiewicz yesterday for the opening, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported. The 40-year-old former first baseman spent seven years as a player with Minnesota. Since retiring, he has become the skipper for the Twins' High-A affiliate, the Fort Myers Miracle. Mientkiewicz and Paul Molitor are "finalists" for the position, Nightengale added. Neal listed Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo and White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing as being candidates that the club has considered. Other names recently noted, at least as possibilities, include Twins bench coach Terry Steinbach, Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, and former big league skipper Ozzie Guillen, as well as Orioles bench coach John Russell.
News and Notes:
- While multiple reports on Wednesday raised the possibility of the Athletics trading Josh Donaldson this offseason, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke with an A's official who completely dismissed the notion, bluntly stating, "That would be stupid." Of course, one such comment doesn't completely rule out the possibility, but it does seem unlikely that the A's are feeling too much pressure to move their All-Star third baseman, as he's just hitting arbitration for the first time.
- Athletics GM Billy Beane doesn't regret pulling the trigger on the trade that sent Yoenis Cespedes to Boston in exchange for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, he told reporters, including Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com. "Simply put, if we don't have Jon Lester, I don't think we make the playoffs," Beane said. First baseman Brandon Moss also spoke, noting that he doesn't think there was any way for the A's to catch the Angels based on their torrid second-half run.
- Athletics infielder Nick Punto's $2.75 million option vested, the infielder himself told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. As the switch-hitting utility man explained to Slusser, he had a fairly complicated formula that would determine whether or not the option would kick in, but he'll indeed be back with the club next season. Punto, who turns 37 next month, signed a one-year, $3 million contract that guaranteed him $2.75 million in 2014 in addition to a $250,000 buyout of the aforementioned $2.75 million option. All told, the Jeff Caulfield client will end up earning $5.5 million over his two seasons with the A's — a figure that is in line with contracts inked by other veteran utility types such as Willie Bloomquist (two years, $5.8 million) and Skip Schumaker (two years, $5 million).
- The A's could potentially have a strong pitching staff fronted by Sonny Gray, Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir in 2015, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group wrote, but they're left with question marks surrounding that strength. The team has no middle infield to speak of, and the free agent market doesn't offer much in the way of impact options. Meanwhile, a large portion of the roster — including Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Brandon Moss, Stephen Vogt, John Jaso, Derek Norris, Craig Gentry and Sean Doolittle – is marred by injury concerns. Building a team that can contend in 2015 is a long shot, in Hickey's estimation.
- The Rangers will interview Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reported. The 49-year-old has been a candidate for multiple managerial openings in recent years, including the just-filled Astros job.
- Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas was granted free agency by Major League Baseball, according to a tweet from his agent, Jay Alou. The 23-year-old outfielder had already been cleared by OFAC, meaning he is now free to sign with any club.
- Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News had some more details on Michael Young's upcoming role in the Rangers' front office. Young and the Rangers are finalizing a deal that will make him a special assistant to GM Jon Daniels — a role that the Rangers are also discussing with Darren Oliver. However, while many former players that land special assistant roles are loosely affiliated with the club and have a light workload, Grant reported that these roles would be far more significant. The Rangers feel they've lacked insight into the psychology of modern players when making recent decisions, and the presence of Young and Oliver could help to provide that insight. The roles will also involve field work and player evaluation at times.
- Perhaps the Mariners' biggest weakness was the lack of a productive DH this season, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times wrote. That flaw, he opined, should be remedied with a hard pursuit of Victor Martinez. Though he's 36, will cost a draft pick and is sure to be expensive, Stone pointed out that the time for exhibiting patience is waning, as Felix Hernandez and especially Robinson Cano move closer to the end of their primes. He also pointed out that Martinez "reveres" manager Lloyd McClendon, who was his hitting coach with the Tigers prior to becoming Seattle's manager.
- Longtime Braves executive Jose Martinez passed away suddenly at the age of 72, MLB.com's Mark Bowman wrote. A special assistant to the GM since being hired by John Schuerholz back in 1995, Martinez was beloved within the front office and by a large number of players whose careers he helped shape when working with Atlanta's minor leaguers. The Cuban-born Martinez played two seasons with the Pirates in 1969-70 and had a 15-year coaching career with the Cubs and Royals before being hired by the Braves.
- Greg Walker resigned as the Braves' hitting coach, Bowman also reported. It will be interesting to see if there are any further changes to the coaching staff once the Braves hire a replacement for the recently fired Frank Wren. Walker's resignation isn't surprising, given Atlanta's offensive struggles over the past two seasons.
- With his 14th big league season in the books, Brewers first baseman Lyle Overbay sounds ready to call it a career. The first baseman said on MLB Network Radio that he is "99.9 percent" certain that he will retire this offseason.