Dodgers Designate Kyle Jensen For Assignment

The Dodgers announced that they have designated first baseman/outfielder Kyle Jensen for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Jimmy Rollins.


Padres Acquire Wil Myers In Three-Team Trade With Rays, Nats

FRIDAY: The trade is official, with all three teams announcing its completion as reported.

THURSDAY: The deal will likely be officially announced on Friday morning, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Tribune reports (via Twitter).

WEDNESDAY: The Padres, Rays, and Nationals have agreed to a much-anticipated three-team swap — pending physicals — that will deliver important pieces to and from each club, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. A rough structure of the deal seemed to have taken form in recent hours, and Bowden has reported its final contours in a series of tweets (links: 1, 2, 3, 4.) The deal is unlikely to be announced before Thursday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays

Outfielder Wil Myers will head to San Diego as the centerpiece of the trade, and indeed the entire pact will depend upon the health of his balky wrist, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports notes on Twitter. San Diego receives young hurlers Gerardo Reyes and Jose Castillo from Tampa as well, joined by veteran big league catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Heading to Tampa from San Diego are backstop Rene Rivera, righty Burch Smith, and first base prospect Jake Bauers. Much of Tampa’s haul, however, will come from another source, as the Nationals will send outfielder Steven Souza and young lefty Travis Ott to Tampa.

For the Nationals, their involvement in this complicated transaction nets them a pair of young players. Righty Joe Ross and shortstop Trea Turner (as a PTBNL) will each head from the Padres to D.C. by way of Tampa.

Unpacking this deal is not easy, but it certainly begins with Myers — not only the marquee piece of this trade, but also the key player in the deal that sent James Shields to the Royals two years ago. Since that time, Myers has had one year of immense promise and one injury-marred, unproductive season. There is risk, not least of which because Myers missed significant time with a wrist injury, but then again San Diego is adding a potentially premier hitter who only just turned 24 years of age and still has five years of control.

Myers will be expected to pair with Matt Kemp — if and when that deal is complete — to deliver a middle-of-the-order threat to what had been a punchless lineup. Both carry a broad spectrum of possible outcomes, which will if nothing else make San Diego a fascinating team to watch for the next several years. One wonders what the trade means for Seth Smith, who played well last year before signing an extension, but who took a step back in the season’s second half and no longer seems to have a place in the corner outfield.

San Diego will also roll some younger arms into a system that is now without a few of its more advanced pitching prospects in Smith and Ross. The right-handed Reyes, 21, spent last year working at the low-A level from the pen. He struck out 10.6 and walked 2.5 batters per nine, en route to a 4.09 ERA in 33 frames. Castillo, an 18-year-old lefty, signed to a $1.55MM bonus out of Venezuela and has spent each of the last two years with the Rays’ Rookie league affiliate, mostly as a reliever. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs recently gave an update on Castillo in his Rays prospect breakdown, noting that the projectable hurler has a big fastball and has returned to health after sitting out much of 2014 with a tender arm.

Then there is the swap of backstops. New Padres GM A.J. Preller has now moved both of last season’s primary catching options, and replaced them with a mix of the veteran Hanigan and, presumably, top prospect Austin Hedges. Hanigan, 34, came to Tampa last year in an even more confusing three-team swap, and the Rays promptly signed him to an extension. The Rays added him for his OBP skills and defensive chops, and he’ll bring the same out west. He’ll also carry $8MM in obligations over the next two years, including a buyout of a $3.75MM club option for 2017.

In Rivera, the Friars will lose and the Rays will add a 31-year-old journeyman who broke out last year in one of the most surprising, under-reported stories in the league. Rivera posted a .252/.319/.432 line — good for a 117 OPS+ at pitcher-friendly Petco Park — and swatted 11 home runs in 329 plate appearances. He also drew rave reviews for his overall defensive contribution, with Baseball Prospectus rating him among the game’s best behind the plate. Rivera will also be a good bit cheaper than Hanigan, as MLBTR/Matt Swartz project him to earn $1.3MM in his first run through arbitration.

In addition to making that switch behind the plate, Tampa will add a mix of younger players, among them two wild cards. Bauers is a 19-year-old, left-handed-hitting first baseman who has not yet tapped into his power in the low minors. The 19-year-old Ott was taken in the 25th round of the 2013 draft but has seemingly improved his stock since. A 6’4 lefty, Ott struggled upon being promoted to the Class A level, but apparently showed enough to draw Tampa’s interest.

The bulk of the return, however, comes with the effective swap of five years of Myers for 12 (or more) seasons of Smith and, in particular, Souza. The 24-year-old Smith struggled in a brief MLB debut in 2013, missing bats as well as spots (11.4 K/9 vs. 5.2 BB/9 in 36 1/3 frames). But he was excellent in 92 1/3 Triple-A frames that year, working to a 2.63 ERA with 9.9 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. Unfortunately, after being hit hard upon opening 2014 back in the PCL, Smith was shut down with a forearm strain and has not thrown since. That, combined with pre-existing questions about whether he had the secondary pitches to stick in the rotation, reduce his value significantly.

The real prize for new president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman appears to be Souza, who will present a cheaper and more controllable, but somewhat older, replacement for Myers. Last year’s International League MVP put himself firmly back on the map with a huge .345/.427/.577 triple-slash with 18 home runs and 28 steals in 419 plate appearances, completing a quick ascent back up the prospect ladder after initially languishing in the Nats’ system. As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs notes, the athletic Souza actually projects to be Myers’ equal next year and in some ways probably has just as much upside. Of course, he has not shown that ceiling in the big leagues, as has Myers, but Souza is more controllable with just 72 days of MLB service to his name.

That brings us to the Nationals, who parted with Souza in large part because the team is locked in at the corner outfield for the next several years. In return, GM Mike Rizzo added a 21-year-old righty who was taken in the first round of the 2011 draft and has shown signs of reaching his potential. Ross (Tyson’s younger brother) currently sits at eighth on MLB.com’s list of the Padres’ top prospects, with the publication citing his strong mid-90s heater, good power slider, and still-developing change in his ranking. He’ll be expected to join a talented new wave of arms that may have some big shoes to fill if Jordan Zimmermann and/or Doug Fister are not retained for the long run.

But the true motivation for the Nationals’ involvement probably lies with the player to be named, which will reportedly become Turner once he is eligible to be traded. Taken 13th overall from N.C. State in last year’s draft, the 21-year-old has done nothing but improve his stock since. Over 321 plate appearances at the low-A and Class A levels last year, Turner slashed .323/.406/.448 with five home runs and 23 stolen bases. Of course, his college-polished bat will face bigger challenges as he moves up in the system, but he is said to be a good defender with outstanding speed. MLB.com has him at fifth amongst San Diego prospects, but he is especially important to the Nationals as they look to fill in younger options behind incumbent Ian Desmond, who is of course entering his final year of team control.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rays Designate Brandon Gomes For Assignment

The Rays have designated right-hander Brandon Gomes for assignment and made the three-team trade sending Wil Myers to the Padres official, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.



Padres To Sign David Ross

Free agent catcher David Ross has agreed to terms with the Padres, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Ross is represented by Sports One Athlete Management.

The addition of Ross is just the latest in a whirlwind of transactions for the Padres under new hyper-aggressive GM A.J. Preller. Last night, the Padres made their acquisition of Matt Kemp official, and they’re slated to do the same with a three-team trade that will net them Wil Myers and Ryan Hanigan from the Rays today. The Padres have also struck deals to acquire Derek Norris from the A’s and Justin Upton from the Braves, and they won’t be hanging onto Hanigan; he’s reportedly headed to the Red Sox in a swap that will bring Will Middlebrooks to San Diego.

The veteran Ross hit .184/.260/.368 for the Red Sox last season but is well-regarded for his veteran presence, his 37 percent career caught-stealing rate, his pitch-framing skills and his work with pitchers. The addition of Ross likely squeezes Tim Federowicz out of some playing time and could lead to him being packaged in a trade as well, with Norris and Ross making up manager Bud Black’s primary backstop tandem.


Dodgers Acquire Jimmy Rollins

After more than a week of anticipation, the Phillies announced that they have traded shortstop Jimmy Rollins and cash considerations to the Dodgers in exchange for right-hander Zach Eflin and left-hander Tom Windle.

Jimmy Rollins

There was a significant hold-up in the trade, as the Phillies had to wait for the Dodgers to finalize their Matt Kemp trade with San Diego due to the fact that Eflin was part of the Dodgers’ return in that deal. Kemp’s physical dragged out the process for both trades, but each has now been announced.

After losing Hanley Ramirez to the Red Sox in free agency, Los Angeles filled its vacancy at shortstop with another high-profile veteran.  Rollins actually generated more fWAR (3.6 to 3.4) than Ramirez in 2014, as while Ramirez delivered more at the plate, Rollins far outpaced Ramirez defensively.  Rollins is no longer the offensive force that he was in his prime, but he still posted an above-average 102 wRC+ in 2014, hitting .243/.323/.394 with 17 homers and 28 steals over 609 plate appearances.

Rollins reached a vesting option in his previous contract that earned him an extra year and an $11MM salary for the 2015 season.  Since the Dodgers’ commitments to both Rollins and third baseman Juan Uribe will be up after 2015, that allows the club some flexibility in deciding the future of Corey Seager.  The top prospect is a shortstop now but many project him to eventually require a move to third base.

Rollins, 36, spent his entire 15-year career in Philadelphia, with the highlights including the NL MVP Award in 2007 and a World Series title in 2008.  Rollins is the Phillies’ all-time franchise leader in hits and doubles, and only Mike Schmidt played more games in a Phillie uniform.

Though parting with Rollins is bittersweet for Philadelphia, they’ll receive a pair of solid pitching prospects in return. Eflin, 20, was selected 33rd overall in the 2012 draft, and the 22-year-old Windle went 56th overall just a year later. At the time of the Kemp deal, ESPN’s Keith Law wrote (subscription required) that he felt Eflin was “at worst” a fourth starter in the Majors with the potential to become more. Baseball America ranked him 14th among Padres prospects last offseason, and MLB.com already ranks him fifth among Phillies prospects, calling him a potential mid-rotation workhorse with the build of a prototypical right-hander. BA noted in their scouting report that he sits comfortably at 90 to 92 mph with a sinking fastball but as touched the mid-90s in the past when needed. Eflin pitched to a 3.80 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 128 innings at Class-A Advanced last season.

Windle, drafted out of the University of Minnesota, also spent last season in High-A, compiling a 4.26 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 139 1/3 innings. BA ranked him 12th among Dodgers prospects a season ago, and MLB.com has him sixth among current Phillies farmhands. His changeup made serious progress in 2014, per MLB.com, giving him a chance at a solid third pitch to pair with a low-90s fastball and a “nasty” slider. BA feels that his slider a plus pitch that can befuddle both right- and left-handed batters, noting that even if he doesn’t pan out as a starter, Windle’s fastball/slider combo could play well in a high-leverage relief role. At the time the trade was reported, Law noted that Windle pitched in a brutal environment for pitchers last season, adding that he liked Windle’s chances to break out as a prospect in the Double-A Eastern League in 2015.

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury first reported the Rollins to the Dodgers was a done deal. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports indicated, on Twitter, that Eflin would head to the Dodgers, and Salisbury reported (also on Twitter) that Windle was the other player in the deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Padres, Red Sox Nearing Deal To Swap Hanigan, Middlebrooks

10:19am: WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets that the trade is indeed close but will be contingent on Middlebrooks passing a physical.

9:56am: The Padres and Red Sox are nearing a trade that would send catcher Ryan Hanigan from San Diego to Boston in exchange for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, reports Yahoo’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link).

The Padres have yet to so much as make their acquisition of Hanigan official, as the three-team deal that will net him and outfielder Wil Myers hasn’t been announced by the clubs. However, that hasn’t stopped them from shopping around one of their newest acquisitions and figuring out the framework for a deal that seemingly helps both parties involved.

Hanigan, 34, is an excellent defensive catcher coming off a season in which he batted just .218/.318/.324 in his first season with the Rays. He’s owed a total of $8MM over the next two seasons (including the $800K buyout on a $3.75MM club option for 2017) and could pair well behind the plate with Christian Vazquez in Boston.

The 26-year-old Middlebrooks was once one of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization, but he’s yet to replicate the .288/.325/.509 batting line he put together in his rookie season of 2012. Since that time, Middlebrooks has dealt with injuries and a rapidly rising strikeout rate, both of which have contributed to a paltry .213/.265/.364 batting line from 2013-14.

Despite those struggles, Middlebrooks still has upside, and he fills a need at third base for the Padres, who can now turn to Derek Norris and Tim Federowicz behind the plate in 2015. The Red Sox were unlikely to find significant playing time for Middlebrooks anyhow after signing both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez this offseason. While the return of a defensive-minded catcher is certainly less than Sox fans may have hoped for given past hype surrounding Middlebrooks, the swap does improve and deepen Boston’s roster for 2015.

San Diego can control Middlebrooks through the 2018 season, and he won’t be eligible for arbitration until next offseason.


Padres To Acquire Justin Upton

The Padres’ roster overhaul is not yet finished, as the team has now reportedly struck an agreement to acquire Justin Upton from the Braves. San Diego will send a sizable haul of left-hander Max Fried, second baseman/shortstop Jace Peterson, third baseman Dustin Peterson and outfielder Mallex Smith to the Braves in exchange for Upton and a low-level minor leaguer.

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Upton will be the third right-handed corner outfield bat acquired by the Padres in the past couple of days when the trade is finalized, as the team has announced the Matt Kemp deal and is on the verge of announcing the three-team Wil Myers trade as well. Obviously, the Padres have more corner outfielders than spots available, so the defensive alignment they’ll deploy is up for debate. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted earlier that the Padres had decided weeks ago they were OK with playing Kemp in center field, if need be. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears (Twitter links) that Myers will likely be the one to handle center at Petco Park in 2015.

New Padres GM A.J. Preller has completely reshaped his club’s offense in about one week’s time with the agreements to acquire Kemp, Myers, Derek Norris and now Upton. The group will give the Friars a rare wealth of right-handed power — a much-needed change after the team finished last season with a collective .226/.292/.342 batting line and scored a Major League worst 535 runs.

Upton has just one year of team control remaining and is owed $14.5MM before hitting the open market next winter. He’s coming off a season in which he batted .270/.342/.491 with 29 homers — his highest total since an MVP-caliber season back in 2011. Upton hasn’t been able to consistently turn in the superstar-level results he showed in that 2011 season, but he’s at least a well above-average player and still carries that elite upside as he heads into his age-27 campaign.

While the Padres will now have a year to potentially explore a long-term deal with Upton, MLB.com’s Corey Brock gets the sense that the Padres are content with knowing that he could simply be a one-year rental (Twitter link). Even if Upton departs after just one year with the Friars, San Diego will undoubtedly make a qualifying offer (barring a catastrophic injury or collapse) and net a compensatory draft pick that will recover some of the lost value in this deal.

While the Padres may now have their starting outfield in place, they’re far from done with outfield-related trades. The Friars still possess a deep pool of outfielders that could be potentially moved. Carlos Quentin, owed $8MM, was previously said to be willing to waive his no-trade clause and may be even more keen on doing so now that it’s clear at-bats for him in 2015 would be few and far between in San Diego.

The Padres also have Will Venable under contract through 2015 and Cameron Maybin and Seth Smith controlled through 2016. Venable is owed $4.25MM, while Maybin will earn $16MM over the next two seasons and Smith will take home $13MM.

Smith has significant trade value after hitting .266/.367/.440 last season. While he was assured that he wouldn’t be traded when he signed the extension, that sentiment came from previous Padres management and clearly may not hold weight under the Preller regime. Venable is coming off a down season but has a history of productivity, particularly away from Petco Park, and his price tag would likely be appealing to rival clubs. Maybin’s deal comes with negative trade value, though he could serve as an expensive fourth outfielder in San Diego, as he’s still capable of playing a solid center field.

The 20-year-old Fried, selected seventh overall in the 2012 draft, ranked as a consensus Top 100 prospect heading into the season, but he required Tommy John surgery early in the year that limited him to just 10 2/3 frames. He will be sidelined for most of the 2015 campaign as he recovers. Prior to the season, however, Baseball America ranked Fried 53rd (full scouting report requires subscription) among all prospects and noted that he had the ceiling of a No. 2 starter with potential for three plus pitches and an extremely projectable 6’4″, 185-pound frame that added to his ceiling. MLB.com’s most recent rankings had him third among San Diego farmhands and 68th in all of baseball.

Jace Peterson, 24, made his Major League debut this season, though he collected just 58 plate appearances and struggled to a .113/.161/.113 batting line. BA ranked him seventh among Padres prospects last offseason, noting that while he lacks a single plus tool, he has average tools across the board with great athleticism and instincts. BA praised his line-drive stroke and ability to handle left-on-left matchups, noting that he could be a table-setting shortstop if his ceiling is reached. Obviously, with Atlanta having Andrelton Simmons locked up for the foreseeable future, Peterson is more of a second-base candidate with the Braves, however.

The other Peterson in the deal, Dustin, could eventually see time as a third base option for Atlanta. The 2013 second-rounder is now 20 years old and struggled a bit as a 19-year-old against older competition in the Class-A Midwest League in 2014, hitting .233/.274/.361 with 10 homers. BA ranked him 22nd among Padres prospects last winter. The younger brother of Mariners top prospect D.J. Peterson, Dustin is regarded as a bat-first prospect who may have to shift from third to the right side of the infield or left field, per BA. His excellent bat speed and ability to use the whole field are among the traits that BA and MLB.com praise in their scouting reports. MLB.com ranked him 10th among Padres prospects recently.

Smith, 21, dropped off BA’s Top 30 list last offseason but ranked 20th on MLB.com’s current list of Padres prospects primarily due to his blazing speed. The outfielder possesses little power and has work to do on his routes, per their scouting report. He’s a career .290/.383/.388 hitter in the minors and has stolen 169 bases in 265 career games — including 88 steals this past season.

For those that are particularly interested in the Braves’ end of the return, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel wrote up scouting reports and posted video of each of the players acquired by Atlanta in this deal.

Yahoo’s Jeff Passan first reported (via Twitter) that the Braves were wrapping up an Upton deal. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman first listed the Padres as a possibility and then as a likely candidate (Twitter links). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that Upton was going to the Padres. Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio reported that Fried and Jace Peterson were in the deal (Twitter links). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that Smith and Dustin Peterson were in the trade with a low-level prospect going to San Diego.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Braves Finalizing Justin Upton Trade; Padres Possibly Involved

8:39am: Rosenthal definitively tweets that the Mariners are out of the mix on Upton at this juncture, further fueling the Padres scenario.

8:35am: Olney tweets that the Cubs aren’t in on Upton at this time. He adds that the Padres decided weeks ago that it Kemp had to play center field, they were OK with the idea. He also points out that the Braves have been trying to unload Chris Johnson in potential Upton deals, and San Diego does have an opening at third base.

8:31am: The Padres seem like the most likely club to acquire Upton, tweets Bowman. In addition to Renfroe, Bowman lists Matt Wisler, Max Fried and Austin Hedges as Padres prospects that intrigue the Braves.

8:23am: Buster Olney of ESPN tweets that the Astros aren’t the mystery club. He also tweets that the Braves asked San Diego for top outfield prospect Hunter Renfroe (their 2013 first-round pick) in Upton negotiations earlier this offseason.

8:13am: Bowman tweets that the early indication is that Upton isn’t heading to the A’s, Mariners or Rangers. Somewhat remarkably, Bowman notes that the Padres are a possibility to add Upton. San Diego has been hyper-aggressive of late, but they’ve also already added corner outfielders Matt Kemp and Wil Myers via trade.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the trade partner is not the Athletics. He, too, mentions the Padres as a possibility.

8:09am: Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets that the Rangers aren’t in the mix for Upton.

8:02am: MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets that the Braves have had recent talks with the A’s, Rangers and Mariners regarding Upton.

7:45am: The Braves are finalizing a trade of Justin Upton, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Late last night, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel reported that Atlanta appeared to be “down the road” on a deal sending Upton to an AL West team for young pitching (Twitter link).

Among AL West clubs, the Mariners have been prominently linked to Upton in trade rumors for much of the offseason, but the Rangers also have a need in the corner outfield, and the extremely active Athletics have been stocking up on young pitching in trades recently.

Just as a reminder, the Blue Jays, Cubs, Blue Jays and Brewers are the four clubs on Upton’s limited no-trade clause.


Giants To Re-Sign Jake Peavy

Pitcher Jake Peavy has agreed to a deal to return to the Giants, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  It’s a two-year, $24MM deal with a full no-trade clause, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.  Peavy, a CAA client, will be paid a $4MM signing bonus and salaries of $7MM in 2015 and $13MM in 2016, writes Crasnick.

Jake Peavy

Peavy, 34 in May, posted a 3.73 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.02 HR/9, and 38.5% groundball rate in 202 2/3 innings for the Red Sox and Giants this year.  The Red Sox traded him to the Giants on July 26th with cash for Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree.  Peavy posted a 2.17 ERA in 78 2/3 innings for the Giants after the trade.  While his control improved with the Giants, his sharp drop in homer-to-flyball rate (3.2 percent) isn’t sustainable, even in the pitcher friendly AT&T Park.

While the level of production he showed in the season’s second half is very likely to come back down to Earth, there’s no doubt that a full-time move to AT&T Park and the NL West will be of benefit to Peavy’s numbers.  He’ll provide the Giants with some much-needed stability in the rotation, as the team currently has a great deal of uncertainty behind ace Madison Bumgarner and veteran workhorse Tim Hudson.  Matt Cain is coming off elbow surgery, Ryan Vogelsong is also a free agent, Tim Lincecum hasn’t been reliable for the past three seasons and Yusmeiro Petit, while excellent in 2014, has never held down a rotation spot for a whole season.

Peavy’s contract closely mirrors that two-year, $25MM contract extension that fellow 34-year-old NL West hurler Jorge De La Rosa signed in August, and it’s also in line with what both Hudson and Bronson Arroyo signed for last winter.  While each of the latter two pitchers is considerably older than Peavy, they signed in a free agent market with less quality pitching available.  In a free agent profile back in late October, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd correctly predicted that Peavy would top Hudson and Arroyo, though Peavy’s final deal fell a bit shy of his $28MM prediction.

This marks only the second significant move for Giants GM Brian Sabean this offseason — he agreed to terms on a two-year, $15MM deal with Sergio Romo earlier in the week — though not for lack of trying.  The Giants made a legitimate run at re-signing Pablo Sandoval and have also been connected to Jon Lester, Yasmany Tomas and Chase Headley, among others, but each has signed elsewhere, leaving the Giants to seek upgrades elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Episode 11

This week on the MLB Trade Rumors Podcast, Ryan Sadowski of Global Sporting Integration joins host Jeff Todd to offer his insight on the Korea Baseball Organization, powerful infielder Jung-ho Kang, reliever Seung-hwan Oh, first baseman Byung-ho Park, and much more.  Sadowski is a former MLB and KBO pitcher who now works for a company helping baseball players transition to and from Asia.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


Quick Hits: Johnson, Twins, Rasmus, Correia

The Braves have reportedly been trying to package Chris Johnson or B.J. Upton along with one of their more desirable trade targets, and the Royals at least had some interest in Johnson, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports.  Kansas City’s greater interest was in Justin Upton, though the Royals were considering using Johnson as a platoon partner with Mike Moustakas at third base.  Now that K.C. has signed Alex Rios, however, they can probably be counted out of the running for the younger Upton brother.

Here’s some more from around the baseball world…

  • The Twins aren’t seriously interested in either Asdrubal Cabrera or Jung-ho Kang, ESPN 1500’s Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter links), though Minnesota might “place [a] small bid” on Kang’s services.  Teams have until Friday at 4pm CT to post their bids for Kang.
  • Also from Wolfson, the Twins aren’t interested in signing outfielder Colby Rasmus.
  • Three or four teams are getting “more engaged” with Kevin Correia, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets.  The clubs in question are looking at Correia as a low-cost add as a fourth or fifth starter.
  • The Cardinals could still add another starting pitcher as a depth option, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes as part of a reader mailbag.  This would be a low-cost signing, Langosch notes, speculating that the Cards would look for a pitcher trying to recover from either an injury or just a poor 2014 season.
  • The Giants could also be looking to make a similar buy-low signing, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) hears that the club could fill its left field hole with a player coming off a rough season.
  • It’s been a surprisingly busy offseason for scouting director moves, as MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo notes that eight different teams have installed new scouting directors since the start of October.
  • Padres director of baseball options Nick Ennis discusses analytics, the evaluation of new ideas and much more in an interview with Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris.

AL West Notes: Beachy, Asdrubal, A’s, Mather

Here’s the latest from around the AL West…

  • Brandon Beachy‘s agent, Robert Martin, tells Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News that the Rangers are one of multiple clubs who have shown interest in his client.  After missing all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery, Beachy was non-tendered by Atlanta and is now an intriguing buy-low option that would fit the Rangers’ offseason plan to upgrade their rotation at a relatively low cost.  “Several teams are still reviewing his medicals.  I do not think a decision is imminent, but he does have multiple offers,” Martin said.
  • The Athletics have never previously shown any interest in Asdrubal Cabrera, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links), and thus she would be “pretty surprised” to see the A’s pursue the veteran infielder this offseason.
  • The reviews of the Derek Norris trade are starting to file in, and ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider link) calls it a win for both the Athletics and Padres, though “the A’s probably get more value in the end.”  Fangraphs’ Paul Swydan also likes the trade for Oakland, saying that the A’s added to their pitching depth without necessarily losing anything at catcher.
  • In a radio interview with Dave Mahler of Sportsradio KJR (hat tip to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times for the partial transcript), Mariners president Kevin Mather discussed his club’s payroll increase for 2015, hinted that contract length may have been a reason why the M’s didn’t sign Melky Cabrera and said the team didn’t make an official offer to Nelson Cruz in the 2013-14 offseason.

Padres Acquire Derek Norris

The Padres and Athletics have continued their busy offseasons by announcing a multiplayer deal.  Catcher Derek Norris, right-hander Seth Streich and an international signing slot are on the way to San Diego. with right-handers Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez going to Oakland.  The #117 international signing slot carries a value of $144.1K (hat tip to Baseball America).

Norris, 25, hit .270/.361/.403 with 10 homers in 442 plate appearances with the A’s last season, earning his first All-Star appearance in the process.  The right-handed hitting Norris did much of his damage against lefty pitching (.863 OPS vs. LHP, .699 OPS vs. RHP) and in the first half of the season, as he hit only .240/.324/.335 after the All-Star break.  Norris is still a year away from arbitration eligibility and he’s under team control through the 2018 season.

The trade finishes off San Diego’s complete overhaul of their catching situation over the last week.  Once the Matt Kemp and Wil Myers trades are official, the Padres will have moved out Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera while adding Norris, Ryan Hanigan and Tim Federowicz.  With top prospect Austin Hedges also waiting in the wings behind the plate, Norris and the two veterans could essentially serve as a bridge for a season or two until Hedges (who has yet to hit Triple-A) is ready.

In that case Norris could be moved to first base in 2016 or sooner, given that he has graded out as a below-average defensive catcher in his brief Major League career, including an infamously tough game against the Royals in last year’s AL Wild Card game.  The Padres were known to be looking for corner infield help, so Norris could see some part-time action at first this year in a platoon with left-handed hitting Yonder Alonso.

Hahn, 25, was rumored as a possible trade chip as the Padres looked for hitters.  The righty posted a 3.07 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 2.19 K/BB and a 50.3% ground ball rate over 73 1/3 innings in 2014, his first taste of Major League action.  He came to San Diego last January from Tampa Bay as part of the Logan Forsythe trade.

Alvarez also made his MLB debut last season, allowing one earned run over eight relief innings out of the Padres’ bullpen.  The 25-year-old has a fastball that has touched the high-90’s and boasts some impressive minor league numbers, including a 2.41 ERA, 13.4 K/9 and 3.49 K/BB rate over 119 1/3 IP (mostly out of the bullpen).  This is Alvarez’s second trade in less than six months, as he was part of the prospect package that San Diego received from the Angels for Huston Street in July.

Hahn and Alvarez are each controllable through the 2020 season, giving the A’s two more quality young arms to go along with other offseason pitching acquisitions like Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman.  With the A’s so deep in starters, MLB.com’s Jane Lee opines (Twitter link) that the club is preparing to unload some of this pitching depth as part of a larger trade for a hitter.  Behind the plate, meanwhile, Stephen Vogt and the newly-acquired Josh Phegley look to be Oakland’s new catching platoon with Norris gone.

Streich, a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft, has a 3.37 ERA, 3.04 K/BB rate and 8.5 K/9 over 262 minor league innings, none above the high-A level.  He entered the year ranked by Baseball America as the 25th-best player in Oakland’s farm system.

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter links) was the first to report that Norris was going to the Padres.  FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi had Streich’s involvement while Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan was the first to report (via Twitter) the full trade.


Padres Acquire Matt Kemp

The NL West blockbuster between the Dodgers and Padres is finally a reality and outfielder Matt Kemp is on his way to the Padres.  The two teams officially announced the five-player trade that will send Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz to San Diego, with the Dodgers receiving catcher Yasmani Grandal, righty Joe Wieland, and pitching prospect Zach Eflin. The Dodgers will also include $32MM to help cover the $107MM remaining on Kemp’s contract, which runs through 2019.

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The two teams agreed to the trade over a week ago but, with so many moving parts involved, things naturally took a while to be finalized.  The Commissioner’s Office has to approve the deal given the large amount of money involved, the Dodgers’ other pending trade of Jimmy Rollins also played a role (as Elfin is widely-rumored to be flipped to the Phillies in that deal) and all of the players had to take physicals.

This last point might’ve been the main holdup, as Kemp’s physical revealed arthritis in both hips, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.  The Padres asked the Dodgers to add more than $32MM in the deal but L.A. refused, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported, and the trade went through as originally planned.

The deal gives the Padres a big bat and star power for their offense, which produced just 535 runs last year, a poor total even in the tough hitting environment in San Diego. The team lost out on Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas earlier this offseason, but Kemp, who hit .287/.346/.506 with the Dodgers in 2014, gives the Padres the dynamic offensive player they were hoping for. He’ll need to stay healthy, however — he missed significant time in 2012 and 2013 with a series of injuries, and he turned 30 in September. Kemp, who has struggled defensively in center field in recent years, could take one corner outfield spot for the Padres, with Seth Smith in the other. For the Dodgers, the deal clears salary and space in the outfield, where they also have Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke.

Federowicz, 27, should help the Padres compensate for the loss of Grandal. He has five seasons of team control remaining and is coming off a strong year in a good hitting environment at Triple-A Albuquerque, where he batted .328/.383/.555 in 329 plate appearances. He struggled, however, in a small sample of 78 plate appearances at the big-league level. He’ll likely share the Padres’ catching duties with Rene Rivera, whose unexpectedly strong season in 2014 gave the Padres a bit of flexibility at catcher.

Grandal, 26, will join A.J. Ellis in manning the catching position with the Dodgers. He hit .225/.327/.401 for San Diego last season and got good marks for his pitch framing. The latter characteristic is surely attractive to Dodgers executive Andrew Friedman, who employed framing specialist Jose Molina in Tampa Bay and tried to sign another excellent framer, Russell Martin, for the Dodgers earlier this offseason. Grandal also hit 15 home runs in 2014, a solid total for a young catcher, especially in PETCO Park. He can become eligible for arbitration next offseason and eligible for free agency after 2018.

Wieland, 24, had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and took a long time to recover, but he finally made it back to the Majors in September 2014. He posted good numbers coming through the minors (mostly in the Rangers system), but doesn’t have outstanding stuff and probably profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

The Padres drafted the 20-year-old Eflin (whose inclusion in the deal is not yet entirely certain) in the first round in 2012 out of high school. He posted a 3.80 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 128 innings with Class A+ Lake Elsinore in 2014.

The trade was just one of several major transactions for the Dodgers during a frenzied Winter Meetings.  Los Angeles also sent Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami in a seven-player deal, acquired second baseman Howie Kendrick from the Angels, signed righty Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal and agreed to acquire Rollins from the Phillies.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that the deal was close. Dennis Lin and Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the deal was finalized. Heyman reported (Twitter links) the final terms of the deal. 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Josh Johnson, Padres Nearing One-Year Deal

10:11pm: Johnson’s deal is “closer to $1MM” in base salary, a source tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).  The incentives could make the contract worth somewhere in the $7MM-$8MM range.

5:44pm: The base value of Johnson’s deal is worth slightly under $2MM, but with incentives that could raise the total value to $8MM, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.

5:00pm: The Padres and Josh Johnson are on the verge of completing a one-year deal, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The contract contains significant incentives for games started, but details are still being worked out, Passan adds.

Johnson signed a one-year, $8MM contract with the Padres last offseason that contained a conditional $4MM club option which would trigger if he failed to make seven starts for the Friars. While that did happen, the nature of his injury — Tommy John surgery — caused San Diego to decline the option anyway. Nonetheless, the Sosnick/Cobbe client has been widely expected to return to the Padres.

Johnson would mark the second high-risk, high-upside arm that GM A.J. Preller has landed this offseason, as the team recently agreed to terms with Brandon Morrow on an incentive-laden one-year deal with a $2.5MM guarantee. Johnson likely wouldn’t be ready until midseason anyhow, but he and Morrow could pair with some combination of Andrew CashnerTyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, Jesse Hahn Robbie Erlin and Odrisamer Despaigne, among others, in a deep rotation mix for the Padres.