Cafardo On Shields, Scherzer, Wieters, Tulowitzki

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe touches on Nathan Eovaldi, one of the newest members of the Yankees.  Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia feels that the young pitcher has only scratched the surface of what he can do.  “At the end of the year he figured out how to throw a new pitch that is really going to help him. He throws hard and all of his pitches are hard, so this new pitch will help that out because he’s got a fastball rotation with split action,” Salty said.  More from today’s column..

  • James Shields is expected to command close to the five years and $110MM remaining (if the option is picked up) on the Cole Hamels deal, one major league source who was privy to Shields’s demands told Cafardo.  The Giants and Red Sox are in the picture, and the Yankees may be another suitor.
  • Many baseball execs feel that Max Scherzer will end up back with the Tigers.  The executives Cafardo spoke with think that Scherzer will top Jon Lester‘s six-year, $155MM pact but fall well short of $200MM, unless option years are counted.
  • When it comes to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, there seems no urgency on either side to visit a possible extension.  Wieters’s return should be huge for the Orioles, but agent Scott Boras will likely not consider anything until the end of the season.
  • Cafardo checked in with Mets officials regarding the recent Troy Tulowitzki rumors and none of them felt that there was anything to them.
  • Agent Alan Nero tells Cafardo that he is having a lot of dialogue with teams about Asdrubal Cabrera but nothing has come together just yet.  Cafardo suggests that Cabrera could take a one-year deal somewhere to re-establish his value.
  • Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin is the odd man out in San Diego with Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton in the fold.  The Orioles, Mariners, and Rays could be trade candidates for Quentin, who hasn’t played 100 games since 2011.  He’d be a solid DH candidate and Seattle could also use him in right field from time to time.  Of course, with an $8MM salary in 2015 and a $10MM option in 2016 that comes with a $3MM buyout, the Padres will have to eat some money to move him.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Blue Jays, Rasmus, D’Backs

On this date in 2010, the Red Sox and Bobby Jenks agreed to a two-year, $12MM deal. Jenks was brought in to be a top notch setup man for Jonathan Papelbon, but health troubles ultimately derailed that plan – he made 19 appearances for Boston in 2011 and that was all for him.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..

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


Nexen Accepts Jung-ho Kang Posting Fee From Unknown MLB Team

SATURDAY 10:20pm: The Phillies or Nationals may be frontrunners, a source tells Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. Philadelphia has scouted Kang, and they traded incumbent shortstop Jimmy Rollins last week. Of course, we will update you when we hear more substantive news.

9:26am: The team that posted the winning bid isn’t yet known, but it isn’t the Mets, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes. It also isn’t the Padres, tweets CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, or the Dodgers, tweets the Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez. The Orioles aren’t the team, either, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets, and it’s not the Blue Jays, according to Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner (on Twitter), or the Yankees or Braves, via ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Twitter links). It also was not the Giants, tweets the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea. Add the A’s to the list of clubs who did not win the bidding, says John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). Meanwhile, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com is “led to believe” the Twins did not win (also Twitter). The Rays are also out, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Barring any surprises, it appears that 11 teams have been eliminated as potential landing spots for Kang.

FRIDAY 11:59pm: In an English-language article, Yonhap reports (h/t to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, on Twitter) that the club has in fact announced the acceptance of the bid. The article indicates that even Nexen is not sure which MLB club subitted the winning offer.

Per the article, Kang is seeking between $5MM and $6MM per season on a multi-year deal of up to four years in duration.

10:31pm: With the posting fee bids submitted for infielder Jung-ho Kang, the KBO’s Nexen Heroes are expected to accept an approximately $5MM bid for the right to negotiate a contract with the Korean star, as the Yonhap News Agency reports (Twitter link via Jeeho Yoo; Korean-language article, via Sun-Min Kim, on Twitter).

The MLB team with the winning bid has yet to be reported. If that club is unable to work out a deal with Kang, it would be refunded the amount of the posting fee. Otherwise, the team would owe that $5MM on top of whatever contractual terms it reaches with Kang.

Kang, 27, raised eyebrows with a 40 home run/1.198 OPS campaign last year. The star shortstop has been a productive hitter for some time now, but that impressive power display certainly raised his profile. The KBO has turned into a fairly drastic hitter’s league, though Kang’s numbers still look outstanding against league average.

Just how his tools translate to the big leagues remains to be seen, of course, and questions remain whether he can play up the middle at the game’s highest level. Be sure to give a listen to this week’s podcast for great insight on Kang from former MLB and KBO pitcher Ryan Sadowski of Global Sporting Integration.


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Quick Hits: Cuba, Padres

Earlier tonight, I asked MLBTR if the Padres will reach the postseason in 2015. Of the 33% respondents who said yes, most felt a Wild Card slot was more likely than a division title. Here’s the latest San Diego and Cuba news.

  • Teams are unlikely to establish academies in Cuba any time soon, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Cuban market is unlikely to be based on free agency, like in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. Some form of a posting system will probably be put in place. Alternatively, Cuba could be included in a rumored international draft. That means individual clubs will be loathe to invest in local infrastructure when all 30 teams could ultimately benefit.
  • Padres GM A.J. Preller is bringing a whole new level of tenacity and leadership to San Diego, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Preller, who Matt Kemp described as a “rock star,” is best known as a talent hawk. Despite a flurry of moves in the last couple days, more are expected. In addition to solving a roster crunch in the outfield, Preller is expected to dive into the international market and improve upon the organization’s amateur infrastructure.

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Poll: Will The Padres Reach The Postseason

The Padres have been busy over the last couple weeks, with more moves likely to come. Recently hired GM A.J. Preller has pivoted from the organization’s slow rebuilding process to add established major league stars. Preller reportedly recognized a rotation capable of competing now, and he decided to add win-now position players to complement that strength.

The Padres have made eight moves this month, trading a number of prospects and young major leaguers in the process. The headliners are the additions of outfielders Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers in separate trades. The club also added catcher Derek Norris in a swap with the A’s, third baseman Will Middlebrooks in a trade with the Red Sox, and signed three free agentsJosh Johnson, Brandon Morrow, and Clint Barmes.

More trades are likely to be on the horizon. The club currently has an overwhelming volume of outfield depth. In addition to Kemp, Upton, and Myers, the Padres also have Seth Smith, Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Abraham Almonte, and Rymer Liriano. Almonte and Liriano have options, but the Friars likely need to deal two of the remaining four. First baseman Yonder Alonso could also be a trade candidate if the club is comfortable with somebody like Quentin or Smith manning first.

The moves were clearly made with an eye on the postseason. The lineup is now a safe bet to improve upon it’s league worst 535 runs scored. Of course, adding a few stout bats doesn’t guarantee a good outcome. Last season, the Atlanta Braves received strong offensive performances from Upton, Freddie Freeman, and Jason Heyward. They finished second to last in runs scored with 573. Excluding Evan Gattis when healthy, the supporting cast failed the Atlanta lineup. The same could easily happen in San Diego, where Middlebrooks, Norris, Alonso, Barmes, and Jedd Gyorko appear to be the everyday cast. There are reasons to be concerned about the offensive ceiling of all five players.

The Padres also pulled from their pitching depth to swing the trades. Jesse Hahn, Joe Wieland, and Burch Smith were dealt as part of the mayhem. Internal depth plus the additions of Johnson and Morrow could help to offset the losses, of which Hahn is the most noteworthy. Of course, Johnson and Morrow are major injury risks – both pitchers are frequent guests of the disabled list.

Despite trading a large quantity of prospects, the Padres managed to hang onto their best, namely catcher Austin Hedges, pitcher Matt Wisler, and outfielder Hunter Renfroe. Assuming the club doesn’t have more big moves up their sleeve, this month’s activity doesn’t necessarily cripple the minor league pipeline.

And that brings us to tonight’s poll question. Has Preller accomplished enough for the Padres to reach the postseason? Remember, San Diego probably has to best at least one of the Dodgers and Giants.


McDaniel On International Bonus Pools

A number of teams are expected to break the bank on international talent next July, writes Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs.com. Due to international spending restrictions, teams that spend more than 15% above their allotted pool may not ink any international free agents for over $300,000 in the following two signing periods. However, there is growing consensus within the industry that an international draft will be implemented when baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is re-visited after the 2016 season. If a draft is put in place, teams will have only two years to live with the current arrangement.

McDaniel’s sources have suggested that as many as 10 teams may blow past their limit when the next signing period begins on July 2. The Cubs, Blue Jays, and Phillies will “almost definitely” exceed their respective pools. As McDaniel notes, plans will likely be affected by verbal commitments as we get closer to July. Additionally, the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Angels have greatly exceeded their budgets during the current signing period, meaning they will be penalized during the next two periods.

If there truly are only two more years before a draft is implemented, then teams have an interesting “strategic choice.” At least four clubs – possibly five pending the outcome of the Yoan Moncada bidding – will be handicapped. More will spend heavily next summer, making themselves ineligible for big signings in 2016. If enough teams are aggressive, it could be advantageous to wait until 2016 for a spending spree. McDaniel also points out that the penalized teams are mostly those who usually spend a lot on international talent.

Put it all together, and it’s increasingly clear that clubs are unconcerned about the international bonus pool. While small market clubs may be loathe to pay excessive taxes (100% on overages), those theoretically get passed onto the player via a lower signing bonus. In my opinion, if most of the big spenders are excluded from the marketplace in 2016, then we could see some nontraditional sources of big bonuses.


Angels To Sign Cuban Infielder Roberto Baldoquin For $8MM Bonus

TODAY: Baldoquin has passed his physical. The deal is done, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (via Twitter). Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (also Twitter) adds that there is still some paperwork to be filed before the deal is official.

DECEMBER 9: Baldoquin has arrived in the United States, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times).  The team hopes to have Baldoquin’s physical completed and the signing finalized by next week.

NOVEMBER 4: The Angels have reached an agreement with 20-year-old Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin on a record-setting $8MM bonus, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The agreement is pending a physical and the $8MM bonus is the most ever for an amateur player under the current international signing rules.

Baldoquin called his agreement a “dream come true” in speaking to Sanchez, going on to state, “I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. I’m ready for the next part of my journey.”

Baldoquin has three seasons of professional experience playing with Las Tunas in Serie Nacional, Sanchez writes, and he also appeared on the Cuban National 16-and-under team when he was eligible. Baldoquin left Cuba in February and has been training in the Dominican Republic. He can play both third base and the outfield, Sanchez adds.

Because Baldoquin was subject to the international signing bonus, the Angels have now clearly shattered their international bonus pool. By adding Baldoquin, the Halos are subjecting themselves to a 100 percent luxury tax on any dollars spent over their $2.383MM bonus pool, and they will also be ineligible to sign any player for more than $300K in either of the next two international signing periods. They can, however, spend as aggressively as they wish for the remainder of this signing period, which runs through mid-June. At this point, because they’ll already have been hit with the max penalties, the only further penalties they will incur will be the 100 percent on any further dollars that are spent on international free agents.

Information on Baldoquin is sparse, but Sanchez lists him at 5’10”, and interested fans can take a look at this 10-minute video compilation from YouTube that shows the right-handed hitter taking batting practice, fielding grounders, throwing across the diamond from third base and turning double plays as a shortstop with the help of a few workout partners.

At just 20 years of age and with only three seasons of experience in Serie Nacional, Baldoquin seems like a clear candidate to begin his Angels career in the minor leagues. The team lacks a current infield opening, although Howie Kendrick and David Freese are controlled only through the following season, while Erick Aybar is controlled through 2016.


Ohio Notes: Floyd, Murphy, Howard

With the addition of right-handed pitcher Gavin Floyd, the Indians have a wealth of rotation options, writes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The unit is more about projection than proven ability, which is why the club signed Floyd. Cleveland now has seven starting pitchers competing to fill out the rotation behind Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Zach McAllister, who is expected to join the bullpen, is out of options, as are Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco. The latter pair and Floyd are thought to have roles locked down, which leaves T.J. House, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin, and McAllister to battle for the last spot – assuming Floyd is healthy.

  • Speaking of Floyd, other pitchers with an injury history, like Brett Anderson, Kris Medlen, Luke Hochevar, and Justin Masterson signed for more guaranteed money than Floyd this offseason. That’s why Floyd was able to sign for $4MM plus another $6MM in incentives despite missing 2013 for Tommy John surgery and the second half of 2014 with a broken elbow. From his perspective, Floyd chose Cleveland in part due to their strong track record with injured and struggling veterans. Recently, Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez revived their careers with the Indians.
  • The Indians have a handful of left-handed outfielders, which leads Pluto to believe David Murphy will be traded. Murphy is owed $6MM in 2015. This is my speculation, but we learned earlier today that the Giants could turn to the trade market for a left-handed outfielder.
  • Nick Howard, the Reds first round pick (19th overall) has joined Jeff Randazzo and the Ballengee Group, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. For more agency related information, visit MLBTR’s Agency Database.

Cherington On Hanigan, Middlebrooks, Rotation

Here are the results of Red Sox GM Ben Cherington’s press conference this afternoon to discuss the Ryan Hanigan / Will Middlebrooks trade, via Tim Britton of the Providence Journal:

  • Cherington says the Sox have been interested in Hanigan for over a year, so they jumped at the chance to acquire him as a backup and insurance policy for youngster Christian Vazquez. “If you look at all the criteria we look for in a catcher, Ryan checks all the boxes: very good defender and game-caller, well-respected, a tough at-bat, capable of playing a lot — that’s a nice bonus,” Cherington says.
  • Cherington admits he sold low on Middlebrooks, who hit just .191/.256/.265 in 234 big-league plate appearances in 2014. “Obviously we’re not trading Will at a particularly high point right now,” says Cherington. “We still believe in him. The last few years haven’t gone well, but the talent is still in there.”
  • The Red Sox aren’t currently actively looking for rotation help, Cherington says. Britton notes, though, that given the pitching the Red Sox have already acquired this offseason (Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson), it wouldn’t make sense for the Red Sox to declare dissatisfaction with their current rotation, whether or not they were still hunting for starters.
  • Cherington says he’ll “keep an eye open” to potential bullpen upgrades.

NL West Notes: Preller, Giants, Kemp, Kendrick

The Padres‘ new lineup might not make them the best in the NL West, but GM A.J. Preller’s flurry of activity has made the team relevant again, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick writes. “I think he went in there very open-minded,” says Preller’s former boss Jon Daniels, who notes that Preller’s background in finding amateur talent with the Rangers might have made rebuilding the more obvious course than the one he ended up following. “To his credit, when he saw they had a strong pitching foundation and such a good environment with the staff, he knew they had an opportunity to build off that and not take it backwards.” Here’s more from the NL West.

  • Giants GM Brian Sabean says the team has not had discussions with Max Scherzer and does not plan to, the San Jose Mercury News’ Alex Pavlovic tweets. Pavlovic adds that Sabean does not think much of the current free agent market for left fielders, and instead could attempt to acquire one in a trade. Sabean says (via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle on Twitter) that the team has “limited financial flexibility,” given their recent signings of Jake Peavy and Sergio Romo and trade for Casey McGehee, and must decide whether to spend aggressively on James Shields or a left fielder.
  • Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is aware of the risks involved in trading Matt Kemp to San Diego, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times writes. “We get it. I have a lot of respect for what he can do in the batter’s box,” says Friedman. Nonetheless, the Kemp trade and the Dodgers’ many other offseason moves have been aimed at “mold[ing] our roster into the most highly-functioning baseball team, as opposed to a collection of talent,” he says.
  • The Dodgers’ acquisition of Howie Kendrick from the Angels for top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney might not work out unless the Dodgers can sign Kendrick to an extension, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times writes. If Heaney becomes a reliable starter for the Angels, the Dodgers will need to sign Kendrick to get good value from the deal. Both Kendrick and the Dodgers say the two sides have not yet discussed an extension, although Friedman suggests they could at some point.

Minor Moves: Lindblom, Rowen, Minicozzi

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

  • The Pirates have released pitcher Josh Lindblom, per the MLB.com transactions page. The Bucs claimed Lindblom earlier this month, then designated him days later. He’ll reportedly head to the Lotte Giants in Korea. Lindblom posted a 5.79 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in the rotation of the Athletics’ Triple-A Sacramento affiliate in 2014.
  • The Rangers have released pitcher Ben Rowen after designating him for assignment last week, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The 26-year-old Rowen posted a 3.45 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 47 innings of relief for Triple-A Round Rock in 2014, also appearing in eight big-league games. The Dallas Morning News’ Gerry Fraley explains that the Rangers were forced to place Rowen on release waivers, rather than outright waivers, due to an obscure rule that came into play due to an injury Rowen suffered early in the season and his time in the big leagues later on. The Rangers could re-sign him if he clears release waivers.
  • The Nationals have signed 1B/OF Mark Minicozzi to a minor-league deal, tweets CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly, noting that Minicozzi announced the news on his Facebook page. The 31-year-old independent league veteran posted an impressive .298/.400/.470 line at Triple-A Fresno in the Giants’ system in 2014, but he’s never played in the Majors.

East Notes: Phillies, McGehee, Eovaldi, Mets, Yankees

The Phillies could get involved in the bidding for infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, but they would need to clear some payroll first, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. The Phillies, of course, recently traded Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, and they currently have Freddy Galvis atop their depth chart at shortstop, so there’s a clear opening for Cabrera if they feel he can handle the position defensively. Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • Telling Casey McGehee he had been traded to the Giants was a difficult task for Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill, Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel writes. “Extremely difficult decision because he did mean so much on the field and in the clubhouse, a true pro in every sense in the word,” says Hill. The Marlins were able to deal McGehee for two young pitchers because they acquired Martin Prado from the Yankees to play third base.
  • Speaking of the Martin Prado trade, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues writes that the Yankees have acquired an interesting project in Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi has excellent velocity but hasn’t yet gotten great results, and Axisa (who cites Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris) wonders if Eovaldi might get better results by dropping his weak changeup and focusing on his fastball, slider and curveball. Axisa considers Garrett Jones more of a throw-in, but one who fits well with the Yankees given their veteran hitters’ struggles to stay healthy.
  • The Metstrade of reliever Gonzalez Germen to the Yankees on Friday was only the 16th transaction between the two clubs, the New York Daily News’ Anthony McCarron reports. It was also the only trade between the cross-town rivals in 10 years — in 2004, the Mets sent Mike Stanton to the Bronx for Felix Heredia.

AL East Notes: Duquette, Hundley, Rays

Orioles executive Dan Duquette is a great fit to replace Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston, but if the Jays want him, they should be willing to pay a significant price, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (subscription required). The right executive can make a huge difference for a franchise, but Duquette is under contract with the Orioles through 2018, so if the Blue Jays want him, the Orioles should ask for top young players (as in one or more of Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris, Jeff Hoffman, Max Pentecost or Richard Urena) in return. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • The Orioles had hoped they could re-sign catcher Nick Hundley, but it appears he has found a two-year offer with another team, so he likely won’t be returning, MASNsports’ Roch Kubatko tweets. Hundley, 31, posted a .243/.273/.358 line in 233 plate appearances with the Padres and Orioles last season, but he has a solid defensive reputation. The O’s declined their $5MM option on Hundley in October.
  • After trading Wil Myers to San Diego, the Rays remain optimistic about contending in 2015, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “While there’s been a lot of change, the talent level at the major-league level remains very high, and we should be a formidable club,” says president of baseball operations Matt Silverman. Silverman adds that although the Rays could continue making moves (Topkin mentions the possibility of a Ben Zobrist trade), they’re not likely to make “seismic changes.”

Indians Sign Scott Downs

The Indians have announced that they’ve signed lefty reliever Scott Downs to a minor league deal with a spring training invite. Downs will make $800K plus incentives if he makes the team, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets.

Downs pitched 38 innings last season for the White Sox and Royals, posting a 4.97 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 while suffering through diminished velocity — Downs was never a hard thrower, but his average fastball fell to 86.9 MPH in 2014. Downs had success as recently as the previous year, when he had a 2.49 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 for the Angels and Braves. In his 13-year career, the 38-year-old has also pitched for the Cubs, Expos and Blue Jays.


NL East Notes: Howard, Turner, Tulowitzki

GM Ruben Amaro says he’s told first baseman Ryan Howard the Phillies feel the team would be better off if he were elsewhere, Matt Lombardo of NJ.com writes (via Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic). “I told [Howard] that in our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him,” says Amaro. “With that said, if he’s with us, then we’ll work around him. We’ll hope he puts up the kind of numbers that we hope he can and we’ll see where it goes from there.” Amaro notes that the Phillies are not willing to release Howard. A trade, obviously, will be tricky, given the $60MM remaining on Howard’s contract. Here’s more from the NL East.

  • FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal wrote Friday night that Trea Turner‘s agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, is incensed that his client must remain with the Padres until June even though San Diego has agreed to trade him to the Nationals. Turner is stuck with the Padres for now because of a rule that a drafted player can’t be traded until a year after he signs his first contract. Rosenthal’s colleague Rob Neyer notes that Turner’s situation actually isn’t that unique, and players to be named later subject to the one-year rule have stayed in their original organizations until their trades can officially be completed, typically with few ill effects. (One example is 2013 draftee Blake Taylor, who stayed in the Pirates organization for two months after the Ike Davis deal earlier this year before eventually heading to the Mets.) One aspect of Turner’s situation that is unique, though, is that it’s widely known that he’s the player to be named. The one-year rule is in place because, for better or for worse, teams aren’t supposed to trade draft picks. If MLB were to allow Turner to head to the Nationals early just because his name had been leaked, the league would be getting close to simply allowing picks to be traded.
  • It would be a mistake for the Mets to trade for Troy Tulowitzki, Newsday’s David Lennon writes. Tulowitzki is a superstar when healthy, but his injury issues are a major concern for a player with six years left on his contract. The Mets have reportedly talked with the Rockies about Tulowitzki, but a deal appears unlikely right now.