Phillies

MLB Notes: Yordano Ventura’s toxicology report will not be released to public

MLB Notes: Yordano Ventura’s toxicology report will not be released to public

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The toxicology report on Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura won't be released to the public following his death last month in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic.

Tessie Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the Dominican attorney general's office, said the toxicology report is not a public document, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/2ldVdLC ) reported Thursday. The findings only will be released to Ventura's family and attorneys.

Ventura was 25 on Jan. 22 when he died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. The right-hander pitched his entire career for the Royals, going 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA.

The toxicology results are an important piece in determining whether the Royals are obligated to pay the remainder of Ventura's contract, which is valued at $20.25 million. Royals officials initially said they were told toxicology results for Ventura would be completed in about three weeks. (see full story)

Giants: Hill signed to minor league deal
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Versatile infielder Aaron Hill has agreed to a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants and would get a $2 million, one-year deal if he is added to the 40-man roster.

Hill joins a growing list of veteran infielders in the mix to try to land a job out of spring training, along with Jimmy Rollins and Korean Jae-gyun Hwang. Eduardo Nunez is the projected starting third baseman with Conor Gillaspie expected to play as well.

The 34-year-old Hill, who has familiarity with the NL West from his years with the Arizona Diamondbacks, spent last season between Milwaukee and Boston. He batted .262 with 10 home runs, 14 doubles and 38 RBIs in 125 games. Hill spent the previous five seasons with the D-backs.

Orioles: Brach wins arbitration
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Brad Brach became the first player to beat the Baltimore Orioles in salary arbitration in 22 years, ending the team's nine-hearing winning streak.

Brach was awarded $3.05 million instead of the team's offer of $2,525,000 by arbitrators Edna Francis, Robert Herzog, Sylvia Skratek. The panel issued its decision, Friday, a day after hearing arguments.

A right-hander who turns 31 in April, Brach was 10-4 with a 2.05 ERA in a career-high 71 appearances last year and made $1.3 million. He struck out 92, also a career best, in 79 innings and had two saves.

Baltimore had not lost since its case against pitcher Ben McDonald in 1995. Orioles backup catcher Caleb Joseph lost his case this month and will get $700,000 rather this his $1 million request.

Players and teams have split 14 decisions. New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances was the final case Friday, and the 15 hearings are the most since clubs won 10 of 16 decisions in 1994.

Yankees: First arbitration case in 10 years
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Dellin Betances and the New York Yankees have argued the year's final salary arbitration case, the first for the team in nearly a decade.

Eligible for arbitration for the first time, Betances asked for $5 million. The Yankees argued during Friday's hearing he should be paid $3 million.

A decision by arbitrators Steven Wolf, Dan Brent and Sylvia Skratek is expected Saturday. Players and teams have split 14 decisions this year, and the 15 hearings are the most since clubs won 10 of 16 decisions in 1994.

New York renewed Betances at the major league minimum $507,500 last year. A setup man for the first four months, he took over as closer after the trades of Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs and Andrew Miller to Cleveland.

A right-hander who turns 28 in March, Betances figures to be primarily a setup man again following Chapman's decision to return to the Yankees, who gave him an $86 million, five-year contract -- a record for a relief pitcher. Betances struck out 126, leading big league relievers for the third straight year, and went 3-6 with a 3.08 ERA and 12 saves in 17 chances.

Since defeating Mariano Rivera in 2000, the Yankees' only arbitration hearing was in 2008 when pitcher Chien-Ming Wang was awarded a raise from $489,500 to the team's $4 million offer instead of his $4.6 million request.

Rays: Tommy Hunter agrees to minor league contract
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Reliever Tommy Hunter has agreed to a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, who are giving the 30-year right-hander an opportunity to earn a job in a revamped bullpen.

The team said details of the contract had yet to be finalized. The 30-year-old, who pitched for four other teams during his nine-year major league career, reported to spring training Friday.

Hunter was 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 33 appearances for Cleveland and Baltimore last year. in 2016. He also has pitched for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said Hunter "brings a ton of energy to the clubhouse" and is a "power pitcher who's pitched a lot of big innings in the AL East."

"It's always nice to have that experience," Cash said, adding that Tampa Bay also pursued the right-hander last offseason.

"Veteran arm, versatile, a guy who has shown the ability to go more than an inning," Cash said. "We're thrilled. We really recruited him hard."

Nationals: Murphy talks about Tebow’s power
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- No less an authority on hitting than last season's runner-up for NL MVP thinks Tim Tebow has some ability with a bat -- he just needs more work.

Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy said Friday at spring training that he recently spent some time working on batting with Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback who now is pursuing a baseball career. Tebow is expected to be in minor league camp with the New York Mets next month.

Murphy said he and Tebow live about 15 houses apart in Jacksonville but had never met.

"He's quite an impressive person," Murphy said.

And as for his assessment of Tebow's skills with a bat in hand, based on their hitting session at a Jacksonville high school?

"I think that the power is real. What he needs is at-bats," Murphy said. "He needs 500, 600 plate appearances to try to make adjustments on the fly. It's always interesting to see what happens when -- he's done all this work, and he's improved greatly -- you go from someone trying to hit your barrel to someone trying to not hit your barrel. He just needs that experience to pull from, which only a full season can give you."

Murphy finished second in the NL with a .347 average and fourth with 104 RBIs in 2016 for the NL East champion Nationals.

He enjoys talking and thinking about hitting -- and working on it with players, including at a clinic he runs with his brother for high schoolers from Jacksonville.

The Mets signed Tebow to a minor league contract late last year.

An outfielder who didn't play the sport in college, he hit .194 in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 20 times in 70 plate appearances.

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

ap-gabe-kapler.jpg
AP Images

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

stanton_altuve.jpg
USA Today Images

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.