Latest On Diamondacks’ GM Search

Here’s the latest on the Diamondbacks’ search for a new GM following the removal of Kevin Towers from that role last week.

SUNDAY, September 14:

  • Dave Stewart will have an interview for the job this week, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. Rosenthal had previously reported that Stewart might be a key candidate for the position, but that Stewart could not demonstrate overt interest in it unless he thought he could get it, since he might risk losing his clients as a player agent.
  • Tony La Russa is nearing a decision on the finalists to replace Towers with the first round of talks possibly ending by the middle of this week, baseball sources tell MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. Discussions have involved ten candidates, who Gilbert lists as: Allard Baird, Larry Beinfest, Billy Eppler, Gary LaRocque, Thad Levine, Ray Montgomery, Hal Morris, Tim Purpura, Dave Stewart and De Jon Watson. 
  • The Diamondbacks requested and received permission from the Yankees to speak with Eppler, but Gilbert reports Eppler declined the opportunity for a formal interview because of his commitment to the Yankees telling La Russa he only interviewed for the Padres’ opening because he is a native of the San Diego area. 

SATURDAY, September 13:

  • Eppler will not interview for the Arizona GM job, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. Rosenthal also notes that Stewart will decide next week whether he’s interested in the position.

WEDNESDAY:

  • Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine is also now in the running, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Levine drew some early mention as a possible candidate for the Padres’ recent GM opening, though the club ultimately decided only to interview one member of the Texas organization: A.J. Preller, the man who ultimately took that job.

SUNDAY:

  • CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes that Beinfest met with the team on Saturday. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert also notes (via Twitter) that the Diamondbacks’ candidates include former Astros GM and current Rangers executive Tim Purpura, and Heyman writes that the Diamondbacks will speak to Purpura this week. Another candidate is Red Sox player personnel director (and former Royals GM) Allard Baird, Gilbert writes.

SATURDAY:

  • Two more candidates have turned up in the Diamondbacks search, tweets Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. Larry Beinfest and De Jon Watson are the newcomers. That brings us to seven candidates, with Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa expected to interview about ten people. Beinfest, the former GM of the Marlins, was also on the Padres list, while Watson is an assistant GM with the Dodgers.

FRIDAY: 

  • Candidates for the position include player agent Dave Stewart, Cardinals exec Gary LaRocque, Diamondbacks scouting director Ray Montgomery, Angels director of pro scouting Hal Morris, and Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona writes. Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall says the team would like to hire its new GM by the end of the season.
  • Stewart is trying to sell his agent business and intends to take a front office job, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweets, noting that it’s not clear whether that’s the Diamondbacks job.
  • Of course, Stewart does say that he wouldn’t leave his agent business for a job with anyone but Tony La Russa and Kevin Towers, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. (The Diamondbacks have offered Towers a scouting job instead of the GM position, but it’s currently unclear whether he’ll stick with the organization.)
  • La Russa says that the Diamondbacks will decide by the end of the season whether they’ll retain manager Kirk Gibson, Bob Young of AZCentral.com reports. “I think everybody involved doesn’t want to go into offseason without understanding what future holds,” says La Russa. “Definitely, by time we get to end, something will be decided.”

Brad Johnson and Edward Creech contributed to this post.


MLBTR Originals

A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR this past week:


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Minor Moves: P.J. Walters, Cutter Dykstra

Here are some recent minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Blue Jays have released right-hander P.J. Walters, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America. The 29-year-old, acquired by the Blue Jays in May from the Royals, pitched to a 4.82 ERA, 7.9 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 in 142 innings this year covering 27 appearances, 25 of which were starts. Walters last saw MLB action in 2013 with the Twins.
  • Infielder Cutter Dykstra has avoided minor league free agency by re-signing with the Nationals, Eddy reports. Dykstra, perhaps better known for being the son of ex-MLB outfielder Lenny Dykstra or the fiance of The Sopranos actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, slashed .279/.356/.399 in 433 plate appearances for Washington’s Double-A and Class A-Short Season affiliates.
  • The DodgersRed Patterson is the only player currently in DFA limbo, per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.


NL East Notes: Soriano, Utley, Kendrick, Eveland

Today is the bicentennial of The Star-Spangled BannerMLB.com’s Doug Miller chronicles the link between our country’s national anthem and its national pastime from the first time it was sung before a baseball game (May 15, 1862) to the great and not-so-great renditions. From the national anthem to the National League East, here are today’s notes from the division:

  • Rafael Soriano is making progress after working on his mechanics, but there is no timetable to reinstall him as the Nationals‘ closer, according to James Wagner of the Washington PostMLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted recently Soriano’s $14MM club option for 2015 will not vest and the Nationals are all but certain to decline the option making him an interesting free agent to watch.
  • Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg won’t speak ill of Ryan Howard or suggest a trade would make sense, but he admits a move to first base could be beneficial for Chase Utley, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. “I think playing first base would eliminate a little wear and tear at that position,” Sandberg said. “Whether that’s a consideration or not has yet to be seen.” Gelb suggests a plan for 2015 where Utley is slated to play about 130 games with 100 of them at first base.
  • Kyle Kendrick isn’t sure if he made his final home start in a Phillies‘ uniform last night, but it sounds like he’d like to stay put in Philadelphia, if possible. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s out of my control. But if I’m somewhere else, I’ll miss it,” Kendrick told reporters, including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
  • The Mets have shut down left-hander Dana Eveland for the remainder of the season because of elbow inflammation, reports MLB.com’s Tim Healey. The 30-year-old, who will become a free agent at the end of the season, has had a career year with the Mets posting a 2.63 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 30 relief outings (27 1/3 innings).

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


AL Notes: Indians, Astros, Kipnis, Aiken

Some might argue that Mike Trout has taken his focus away from speed and put more into being a middle-of-the-order hitter, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia says that’s not really the case, writes Pedro Moura of the Orange Country Register.  “If your point is, has he lost speed, the answer is no,” Scioscia said. “Is his game shifting more toward the middle-of-the-order hitter where he won’t run again? No. There’s been no strategic change in how we view his assets or how he should play the game, philosophically, this year.”  Here’s more out of the AL..

  • In theory, the Indians could move Jason Kipnis to the outfield in 2015 with the emergence of Jose Ramirez at shortstop and Francisco Lindor breaking in at Triple-A, but now is not the time, argues Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer.  It’s not clear where Kipnis would fit considering Michael Brantley‘s season in left field and the less-than-stellar trade values of Michael Bourn and David Murphy.  Nick Swisher could also be slotted in the outfield next year.
  • The Indians will certainly look out-of-house for offseason improvements, but there’s a lot to like about what they have for 2015, writes Hoynes. The Indians have a number of young pitchers emerging at the same time and and bullpen has been sharp all year.  Even though the bats haven’t been there this year, Hoynes says 2015 is looking like one of the best situations the Tribe has been in in a while.
  • A reader asked Jim Callis of MLB.com (on Twitter) if Brady Aiken will have to disclose his medicals to all interested clubs next year and Callis responded in the affirmative.  Aiken’s name came up in the news again when commissioner Bud Selig inadvertently implied that the Astros could still sign him.  It seems rather unlikely that Houston would be allowed to do that.

Cafardo On Hamels, Cruz, Hardy, Tomas

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at Jake Peavy‘s effect on the Giants this season. “He brings a lot of intensity, he brings a lot of energy, he brings a lot of veteran leadership, he brings a lot of guts,” Hunter Pence said last week. “He’s been a big charge to this run we’ve made. That energy is exciting to be around. It’s a different dugout when he’s in it.”  More from today’s column..

  • John Boggs, the agent for Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, told Cafardo he will sit down with his client and put together a new 20-team no-trade list by November 1.  Boggs says the Red Sox were on Hamels’s 2014 no-trade list and the Phillies would have to have asked permission to deal him to Boston. “It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have accepted it,” Boggs said. “We are still deliberating on what teams will be on that list for 2015.”
  • After a one-year pillow offer, Nelson Cruz appears to have riches awaiting for him this winter.  The Orioles will make him the $15MM+ qualifying offer, but he’ll be in demand as one of the few right-handed power hitters out there.  The Yankees can be expected to have interest and the Rangers could look to bring him back.
  • Manager Buck Showalter has talked with J.J. Hardy about how much the Orioles want him to re-sign, but they may not offer the most money. Showalter said the team would make him a fair offer, but he tried to appeal to how much Hardy has enjoyed playing in Baltimore.
  • Showalter is a realist when it comes to the Orioles‘ financial limitations, but he feels he can still come up with good players going the minor league free agent route. The Orioles did it with journeyman first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce, who has had an excellent season.  Showalter feels that he can do it again with 28-32 year old hitters that are just starting to figure it out.
  • One team’s international scout tells Cafardo that Yasmani Tomas could command as much as $100MM.  The scout said Tomas has gotten himself in shape and if he performs well at his showcase later in the month, the money will get “really high.”
  • One American League evaluator thinks it’s possible for the Phillies to move Ryan Howard to the American League, where he could be a full-time DH. “He’s not a lost cause,” said the evaluator. “He’s knocked in 92 runs for a bad team, so there’s obviously something still there. He could help an American League team as a DH.” However, that would require the Phillies to eat a good portion of the $60MM left on his contract.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Blue Jays, Tomas, Davis

On this date in 2005 Braves center fielder Andruw Jones hit his 50th home run in the eighth inning of a 12-4 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.  The Curacao native became the first major leaguer to reach the plateau since Alex Rodriguez hit 57 homers playing shortstop for the Rangers in 2002.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..

Please send submissions to Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.


Quick Hits: Prospects, Lindor

Top prospects must often react to failure for the first time in their career at the major league level, writes the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson in a pair of articles (first, second). Red Sox manager John Farrell points to the mental side and getting to know his young players. Their ability to handle adversity can explain the different developmental patterns for players like Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley - all of whom have experienced similar struggles this season. Bogaerts has played through the worst of his slump while Middlebrooks and Bradley Jr. spent time in the minors. Teams can also use veterans like David Ross to help young players like Christian Vazquez transition to the majors.

  • Continuing our theme, Eno Sarris of FanGraphs wonders if the Indians ought to trade Francisco Lindor this offseason. The club is pleasantly surprised with Jose Ramirez, who features superb defense and a typical bat for a shortstop. While his .256/.298/.339 slash is unexciting, it’s comparable to the average line produced by all major league shortstops – .250/.306/.362 (and that line includes Troy Tulowitzki). Shortstop prospects are the most common in baseball, and they bust 10 percent more frequently than any other position. Perhaps the Indians ought to consider acquiring a “sure thing” for their top prospect.

NL Notes: Mets Payroll, Martin

Earlier in the week, we learned the Mets expect to maintain a steady payroll in the low-to-mid-$80MM range. Although the club may prefer to avoid trading from their pitching depth or adding significant payroll, they’ll need to be opportunistic to succeed in 2015, writes The New York Post’s Joel Sherman. The club is well aware that free agent signings can backfire and pitching depth can vanish with the pop of a couple ligaments. Per Sherman, the New York’s perceived plan to spend when fans return to the ballpark is “backwards.” The franchise spends less on player salaries than the mid-market Braves, yet they have powerful potential revenue streams from their Northeast location, relatively new stadium, and TV network. Sherman suggests the club remain open to signing a few veterans like Melky Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, or Mike Morse. An alternative source of value could be to pick up possible castoffs like Matt Kemp or Jose Reyes.

  • Alderson is “right” to note that money doesn’t equate to success, says Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Madden emphasizes the Mets woeful performance in recent free agent markets, but he also believes the club should be open to expanding payroll in the right move – including trades. He mentions Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as a sort of ideal trade target.
  • Russell Martin is a stealth MVP candidate and the Pirates need to re-sign him, writes David Golebiewski of GammonsDaily.com. Martin blends offense and defense at a critical position. While the Pirates are generally penny pinchers, they should do what is necessary to retain the 31-year-old free agent. In addition to his personal virtues, Pittsburgh lacks a viable internal replacement. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes believes “a four-year deal north of $50MM” to be possible.

Yankees Notes: Playoffs, Tanaka, Player Development

Yankees GM Brian Cashman isn’t ready to throw in the towel on the 2014 season, reports Jake Kring-Schreifels of MLB.com. While nobody should be surprised by the comments, the Yankees do face an uphill battle. They currently trail the second Wild Card by 4.5 games with 15 left to play. More daunting than the deficit in the standings is the sheer number of teams in the race – the Yankees will have to leapfrog four teams to reach the Wild Card game. As Cashman says, “we’ve just got to win games.”

  • Of course, with a need to win every game possible, many will be watching the progress of pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, writes Kring-Schreifels. Tanaka is currently rehabbing from a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament – an injury that often requires Tommy John surgery. According to Cashman, “we’re trying to finish off his rehab in a proper way, guided by the experts on the medical staff.” If the club isn’t able to get him back in time to help for the 2014 season, they’ll continue his rehab into the offseason. The goal is to determine if he can reach full health without the time intensive surgery.
  • The retirement of Senior VP of Operations Mark Newman presents an opportunity to improve the farm system, according to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Under Newman, the Yankees failed to draft any star players since 1996. Madden notes that the Yankees could benefit from better scouting personnel while wondering if Cashman is the right man to oversee a pivot.

Quick Hits: Castillo, Ryu, Dunn, Orioles

The Red Sox are “expected” to promote Rusney Castillo on Tuesday, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets. This wouldn’t be shocking news, given that Ben Cherington has already said that Castillo is on track to be promoted this month and Triple-A Pawtucket’s season is about to come to an end, with the final game of the International League championship series taking place tonight. Castillo has played three games so far for Pawtucket. Here are more notes from around baseball.

  • Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu is set to have his sore shoulder examined today, and Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times wonders what might happen if the results are unfavorable. Ryu missed several weeks with a shoulder inflammation earlier this season. Losing Ryu for the rest of the season would leave a Dodgers rotation (which has already lost Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley and Paul Maholm) thin, and they’re in a tight race with the Giants for the NL West pennant. Of course, the cross-town Angels faced a similarly tough-looking situation when they lost Garrett Richards for the season, and they’ve been fine since then.
  • If this is the last year for Athletics slugger Adam Dunn, it will be the end of an extremely unusual career, ESPN’s Jayson Stark writes, noting that more than half of Dunn’s career plate appearances have ended without him putting the ball in play. Players with similarly high strikeout, walk and homer totals usually have shorter careers, but Dunn has managed over 8,000 plate appearances (over 2,300 of which ended in strikeouts).
  • Despite Chris Davis‘ suspension, the Orioles aren’t inclined to promote first base prospect Christian Walker, CSNBaltimore.com’s Rich Dubroff writes. Walker has hit .288/.357/.489 in 599 plate appearances split between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk this year, but he isn’t on the Orioles’ 40-man roster. “[S]ome guys don’t have to be protected this off-season, so unless I’m going to play them every day or mostly every day, or if I know they’re going to be on our team next year, then you’re really doing something that’s not very smart,” says Buck Showalter.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Stewart, Orioles, Levine, Rockies

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:

  • Some within baseball believe Dave Stewart might be a top candidate for the Diamondbacks‘ open GM position, but that he can’t confirm that he’s overly interested in the job until he knows it can be his. Otherwise, he risks losing clients as a player agent.
  • The Orioles are lucky to have avoided signing Manny Machado, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, Rosenthal suggests. Machado and Wieters are dealing with injuries, while Davis has struggled through a disappointing season and is now serving a 25-game suspension for amphetamine use. The Orioles, meanwhile, have Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy and potentially Nick Markakis due for free agency this winter, and they’ll need to have money available if they want to keep them.
  • Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine could be a candidate for a top position with the Rockies if Colorado decides to make changes in its front office. Levine is also a potential candidate for the open GM job in Arizona. The Rockies could choose an internal candidate if they do replace or reassign Dan O’Dowd and/or Bill Geivett, however.

AL Notes: Rodriguez, Hughes, Young

Eduardo Rodriguez, the pitching prospect the Red Sox acquired from the Orioles for Andrew Miller in July, could end up being a key acquisition, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier writes. “Steal of the trade deadline…I know Miller is doing great in Baltimore, but this kid will make that trade look real bad,” says one evaluator. Rodriguez was dominant for Double-A Portland, posting an 0.96 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 37 1/3 innings there before being promoted to make his debut for Triple-A Pawtucket Friday in the International League Championship Series. Here’s more from around the American League.

  • The Twins‘ rainout on Friday could cost Phil Hughes $500K, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes. Hughes’ start was delayed until today, and now, in order to pitch the Twins’ last game of the season on September 28, he’ll need to pitch on short rest, since the Twins have a day off on September 18. With 187 2/3 innings so far this season, Hughes could, as a result, miss 210 innings, a total that would earn him a $500K bonus.
  • Chris Young‘s former Mets manager is happy the outfielder has found success so far with the Yankees, Mike Vorkunov of NJ.com writes. “He came and we were hoping the best and just had a rough go here, but as I told somebody here, he hit big homers here for us too, big ones,” says Terry Collins. “Just didn’t enough. Happy for him and I hope he makes a contribution over there.” The Mets designated Young for assignment and then released him last month after he hit a disappointing .205/.283/.346 in 287 plate appearances there, and he’s now hit three home runs on three straight days (including one in yesterday’s doubleheader) with the Yankees.

Yasmani Tomas Showcase Scheduled For Next Week

SATURDAY: Tomas will work out for teams September 21 at the Giants’ Dominican complex, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes.

THURSDAY: Slugging Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas has been unblocked by the United States Foreign Office of Assets Control and is currently waiting to be declared a free agent by Major League clubs, and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez now reports that Tomas will soon showcase for MLB clubs. His showcase is “tentatively scheduled” for the end of next week, according to Sanchez.

Needless to say, it would be a surprise if all 30 clubs didn’t have some degree of representation at a showcase for a prospect of Tomas’ stature. The 24-year-old is said to possess 70-grade raw power (on the 20-80 scouting scale), and as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted when writing about Tomas being cleared by OFAC, both youth and power are prized commodities on the free agent market.

Tomas isn’t thought to be as advanced a hitter as Jose Abreu, but Sanchez reports that as has been the case with other recent Cuban signees, Tomas looks to be in markedly better shape now than when he was playing in Cuba. (Both Rusney Castillo and Yasiel Puig got themselves into much better shape upon defecting.) Sanchez notes that for his size — Tomas is listed at 6’4″ and 240 pounds — Tomas is surprisingly agile, and he also possesses a strong throwing arm. However, there are some questions about his glovework overall, and some international scouts do consider Tomas to be a fairly high-risk/high-reward prospect, Sanchez writes. Adding to the risk, Dr. Francis Montesinos has said to Cuban media outlets that Tomas did deal with a wrist injury recently in Cuba.

Nonetheless, Tomas ranks seventh on MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings and should command a significant contract this offseason, as he is not subject to the international spending limitations due to his age and professional experience. The Phillies will reportedly make a push for Tomas, though he will of course have numerous serious suitors. It’s possible that he could top Castillo’s record $72.5MM guarantee with the Red Sox and/or Abreu’s $11.33MM average annual salary with the White Sox, but it’s still too early to tell what kind of contract he will command once cleared by MLB.


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Phil Bickford To Pitch For Southern Nevada

Former Blue Jays top draft pick Phil Bickford will pitch for the College of Southern Nevada this season, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports. The move to a two-year college will officially make Bickford eligible for next year’s draft. CSN is already known in baseball circles for being the school attended by 2010 top overall pick Bryce Harper.

The Jays took Bickford tenth overall out of high school in 2013, but the two sides couldn’t agree to a deal, and Bickford headed to Cal State Fullerton. His stock improved this summer after showing great stuff in the Cape Cod League, and he currently appears likely to go even higher than tenth overall next time he’s draft eligible — Callis notes that Bickford could be a candidate to go first overall. Had Bickford gone back to Cal State Fullerton, he would not have been eligible for the draft until 2016.

He had the best arm in the league,” says John Schiffner, an opposing Cape Cod manager. “He threw one of our guys a slider in a big situation, and three kids’ knees buckled in our dugout. And that’s not even his best pitch, because we saw 97 mph.”