MLB news roundup: Tanaka health concerns, Dave Duncan back in baseball, more

Jeff Curry

News and notes from around baseball on Tuesday.

Teams concerned about Tanaka's health

With bidding for Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka expected to reach record highs, some teams are concerned about his health going forward, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Sherman talked to numerous team officials, several of which talked about concerns with how hard the Rakuten Golden Eagles pushed their ace towards their eventual league championship. Tanaka made five postseason starts and two relief appearances. Four of those starts were complete games. In addition, he closed out the deciding game in the championship just one day after tossing 160 pitches in a start.

"That is not standard operating procedure for how you use someone you see as an investment," one official told Sherman.

Another official said Tanaka will have to take the "most thorough physical ever."

Tanaka, 25, is expected to see a potential $100 million bid from a team when he is posted. The MLB and Japanese league are currently in the process of finalizing a new posting system.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Duncan

Pitching guru Dave Duncan has accepted a job as a pitching consultant and special assistant to the general manager with the Arizona Diamondbacks, reports John Gambadoro of Sports 620 KTAR.

The Diamondbacks are currently without a pitching coach, but it can be expected that Duncan will work closely with the person hired for the job. Arizona may have asked Duncan to take the job himself, but at this point he no longer wants to work the full-time schedule that would require.

Duncan has been coaching baseball since 1978 and most recently was credited with the success the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff had when he was the coach there from 1996-2011. He left St. Louis in January 2012 to be with his wife, who passed away from cancer this summer.

J.P. Howell seeking a multi-year deal

Free agent reliever J.P. Howell is looking for a three-year deal in free agency, reports the Los Angeles Times. He says 15 teams--half of MLB--have shown an interest in signing him.

Howell says his first choice is to return to the Dodgers. Barring that, he wants to play for a team that will contend next season.

A left-hander, Howell has been more than a one-out pitcher over his career. He had perhaps his best season in 2013 with the Dodgers, posting a 2.03 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 67 games while striking out 54 batters.

Howell was on a one-year deal worth $2.85 million with the Dodgers. He had previously spent most of his career in Tampa Bay, where he notched a 3.08 ERA in 234 relief appearances.

Reds hire hitting and pitching coach

The Cincinnati Reds have hired Don Long and Jeff Pico as the team's hitting and pitching coaches, respectively, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Long had been with the division-rival Pirates as a hitting coach from 2008-2010. He also spent eight years with the Phillies as the team's minor league hitting coordinator. Pico was hired away from the Diamondbacks, where he was the team's minor league field coordinator.

The two will join bench coach Jay Bell on new manager Bryan Price's staff

Cubs targeting Mueller as coach

The Chicago Cubs are eyeing Bill Mueller to be their new hitting coach under manager Rick Renteria, reports Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago.

Chicago is hoping to find someone who can work with struggling stars Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo and help get them back on track, as well as aid the development of the team's top prospects. The Cubs believe that Mueller, who posted a .373 OBP over an 11-year career, can teach plate awareness.

Mueller, who played for the Cubs in two seasons, has been with the Dodgers since his retirement. He spent 2007 as the team's hitting coach, but gave up the position for a front office job.

White Sox open to trading all but four

The Chicago White Sox are willing to trade any player on their roster except Chris Sale, Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu and Jose QuintanaDan Hayes of CSN Chicago reports.

It's fairly obvious why Chicago wants to keep those four players. Sale has become one of the most electric starting pitchers in the MLB, Abreu just signed a big deal a month ago and Garcia was the big return from the Jake Peavy trade. Quintana is the team's No. 2 starter and has looked good through his first two major league seasons.

While general manager Rick Hahn says those four players are not available, the team would likely be willing to make any trade provided they get a big enough return. Hahn named those four specifically as players he would like to build around for the future, however.

Six teams in on Ayala

Free agent reliever Luis Ayala has received interest from six teams, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

The Dodgers, Giants, Royals, Braves, Orioles and Phillies are all looking into the reliever, who is seeking a two-year contract. He has not yet received a contract offer as teams may wait until deeper into the offseason before addressing middle relief concerns.

Ayala, 35, posted a 3.27 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 33 games split between the Orioles and Braves last season. He missed two months with what was called an anxiety disorder.

Marlins won't sign Cano

Just in case you thought they might.

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