Greg Bird impressed in his rookie season. Now, we'll have to wait until 2017 for an encore.
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Bird will miss the entire 2016 season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Bird should be fine for 2017 as long as he doesn't encounter any post-surgery setbacks.
“The operating surgeon is optimistic that after surgery, the player will be ready and available for the 2017 season,” Cashman said prior to Tuesday's surgery. Bird posted a photo to Instagram after the surgery thanking the surgical staff and vowing to "work as efficiently as I possibly can to return, stronger than before, as soon as I can to help this team win games."
It's a disappointing end to Bird's season before it even had a chance to begin. The 23-year-old played 46 games last season for the Yankees, batting .261/.343/.529 with 11 homers and 31 RBI filling in for Mark Teixeira.
Despite the good showing, Bird may not have been ticketed for a regular role -- or any role at all, at least to start the year -- with the big club, according to Cashman.
“If everyone were healthy, Bird would not have opened the season on the 25-man roster,” Cashman said.
With Teixeira in the final year of his contract, the team will surely rely on Bird in 2017. They'll have to hope he's up to it.
Bucs Take A Shot On Biddle
The Pirates did a Pirates thing, and it could end up paying off in a big way down the line.
The Bucs acquired former top prospect Jesse Biddle from the Phillies in exchange for Yoervis Medina on Wednesday, taking a chance on a talented left-hander with a laundry list of injuries in his past. The team designated right-hander A.J. Schugel for assignment to make room for Biddle on the 40-man roster.
He'll occupy a spot, but Biddle won't be pitching for the Pirates any time soon after the 24-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in October. He has already been ruled out for the 2016 season.
Even so, it was a shot worth taking on an "upside play," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.
“This wasn’t a move made to benefit the 2016 club,” Huntington said. “This is a move made to benefit us three years down the road.”
The elbow surgery was the latest in a line of injuries that have, in theory, kept him from fulfilling his promise to this point. Biddle has battled whooping cough and a concussion, among other ailments, in his road to the majors.
The road was easy to see when the Phillies made Biddle the No. 27 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Biddle quickly rewarded their faith, posting a 2.98 ERA over 133 innings at Class-A Lakewood in 2011. He showed up on many of the major prospect lists prior to the 2012 season and rated as high as the No. 53 prospect in baseball by MLB.com heading into the 2014 season.
Things have gone downhill since -- Biddle held a 6.25 ERA in nine starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this past season -- but the Pirates have a good track record of reclamation projects. Huntington said with a pedigree like Biddle's, the risk is worth the potential reward.
“We recognize that as you trade for a player that’s in the early stages of a Tommy John rehabilitation, there’s risk,” Huntington said. “We recognize that, but we felt the upside this young man brings to the organization is worth that opportunity.”
No Shortage Of Interest In 'Lazarito'
The next big thing is set to be a free agent, and more than a few teams are lining up for their shot.
Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros, known by the nickname "Lazarito," will be an MLB free agent on February 10, and as many as nine teams are "heavily involved" in the bidding for the 16-year-old, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale. The Braves are believed to be among those teams, and they will hold a private workout for the teen on Saturday in the Dominican Republic.
The possibility exists that the courtship could be a long one as well. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported Wednesday that Lazarito is considering his options and whether to sign when first eligible or to wait until after July 2, when the next international signing period begins. By waiting until July, some teams who wouldn't currently be in play could join in the bidding, which is expected to be around $15-20 million when it's all said and done.
It's a steep price to pay but one that could be worth it for a five-tool player drawing Bo Jackson and Willie Mays comparisons. His arrival may take a while, a contrast from the likes of other Cuban stars like Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu, but his rawness may actually be part of his appeal -- teams rarely have a chance to mold a player from the time he's 16 years old. Let alone a player with the physical attributes of Armenteros.
Quick Hits: The Orioles have interest in Padres starter Andrew Cashner, MASN's Roch Kubatko reports. It's unclear what the Padres would want in return or if they would even deal Cashner, as they appear set on being just good enough to maybe finish fourth in the National League West again this year ... The White Sox are "exploring" the possibility of a trade for Andre Ethier, per MLB.com's Phil Rogers. The Dodgers have a logjam in their outfield and surely wouldn't mind moving Ethier, who is still owed $38 million over the next two seasons, but Rogers says the club "would prefer" to deal Carl Crawford instead. Then again, beggars can't be choosers ... Jonathan Lucroy has an eight-team list of clubs he can't be traded to, and the Nationals are on it, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Lucroy has been outspoken about his dissatisfaction with the Brewers' rebuilding situation so it's unlikely that he would flatly veto a trade, but he could use the limited no-trade clause as leverage to work out an extension with the Nationals, or any other team on his list, prior to a deal ... The Mariners signed Korean bopper Dae-ho Lee to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Lee can reportedly make up to $4 million if he maxes out on all his incentives. The 33-year-old has a body that makes Jesus Montero look good, but he slashed .303/.387/.514 with 323 home runs over 15 seasons between the KBO and Japan and could surprise if he catches on quickly in spring ... The Indians are reportedly still targeting free agent Juan Uribe, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Uribe isn't an everyday starter anymore, but he could be a decent complement to Giovanny Urshela at the hot corner for the Tribe ... The Twins signed Carlos Quentin to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Quentin actually retired from baseball last May but is making a comeback attempt after several injury-riddled seasons ... Cardinals signee Seung-Hwan Oh is still waiting on a work visa, a process that could make him late for pitchers and catchers reporting in mid-February. The Final Boss is tough, but not as tough as scoring an interview at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, it seems.