Dodgers starter Dan Haren now holds a $10MM player option for next season after notching his 180th inning on the year. By reaching that mark, he also triggered a $500K bonus (on top of $1.5MM in innings-pitched and games-started bonuses already met).
Haren, who just turned 34, joined the Dodgers on a one-year, $10MM deal that was filled with a variety of incentives. He has now achieved most of them, including the most valuable: the $10MM player option for next year. At one point, 180 innings seemed like a long shot, but Haren fought through a mid-season swoon and re-emerged as a much-needed piece of an injury-riddled rotation. Barring a decision to retire, Haren would seem to be fairly likely to take the option to continue throwing in his native California.
Of course, Haren could in theory still be tempted to test the open market. He has had an up-and-down year, but entered the day with a 4.14 ERA on the back of 6.9 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9. That strikeout total would be his lowest since he became a full-time big league starter back in 2005.
But Haren remains a solid innings-eater (at worst) with plenty of value. Though his days of logging well over 200 frames a year in the low-to-mid 3.00 ERA range are probably over, he has still managed to make 30 starts a year going all the way back to that ’05 campaign. And ERA estimators believe Haren to be as good or better than his earned run totals would suggest: this year, he owns a 4.19 FIP, 3.74 xFIP, and 3.80 SIERA.
Rays outfielder Matt Joyce says that he believes he will be dealt in the offseason, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The 30-year-old is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility after earning $3.7MM this season. “I think there’s a good chance [of a trade], just knowing the organization and how they operate and how many young guys that they have in the outfield and coming up through the system,” said Joyce. The left-handed hitting outfielder owns a .252/.348/.379 slash over 477 plate appearances this year, continuing a trend of declining power numbers since he broke into the league.
The top offseason priority for the Twins will be the rotation, GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Of course, that seemed to be the case last year, when the team made significant commitments to free agent hurlers Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Mike Pelfrey. Only Hughes has been a hit, though he does look to be a legitimate bargain.
For the Astros, meanwhile, the bullpen figures to receive the most attention this winter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports. GM Jeff Luhnow said that the club might have seen a significant jump had two of its expected pen pieces — Matt Albers and Jesse Crain — been able to contribute more innings. Looking forward, he said that the team has no choice but to take its chances adding relief arms. “We’ve reflected on our process last year and made some improvements and we feel good about that,” said Luhnow. “It’s always a risk with relievers because there’s a lot of variables year to year, but we feel good we’ll identify the right guys and go after them, and hopefully get a good roll of the dice this time in terms of the health side of the equation.”
The 27-year-old Escobar has enjoyed a bounceback season after a woeful 2013 at the plate, improving his slash line from .234/.259/.300 to .281/.314/.376. Ultimate Zone Rating has pegged Escobar as an above-average throughout his career, and Fangraphs rates his baserunning ability among the best in the game. Over the past three seasons, only Mike Trout, Jacoby Ellsbury and Rajai Davis have provided more value on the basepaths.
Escobar signed a four-year, $10.5MM extension back in Spring Training of the 2012 season. (That contract was signed when Escobar was with the Wasserman Media Group, which Kinzer Management split from in October of 2012.) He’s set to earn $3MM in 2015, and the Royals hold a pair of club options on him for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, which are valued at $5.25MM and $6.5MM, respectively. Each contains a $500K buyout. Those options seem like no-brainers for the Royals, given Escobar’s solid glove and strong baserunning skills, and the fact that in two of the past three seasons, he’s posted OPS+ and wRC+ marks north of 90.
The Diamondbacks will announce their new GM on Thursday, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitterlinks). Dave Stewart is the heavy favorite for the job, although DeJon Watson is still under consideration. The team will also be promoting scouting director Ray Montgomery, according to Nightengale. In a third tweet, Nightengale says it wouldn’t be far-fetched to see Stewart named GM, Watson hired as an assistant GM, Montgomery promoted and Towers retained in a senior scouting capacity.
Nightengale also tweets that while a decision won’t come until after the season, a managerial change appears likely given the team’s poor performance.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that Stewart, Watson and former Royals GM Allard Baird are the three finalists and runs down some of the qualifications of each candidate.
Gary LaRocque will remain in his current position as the Cardinals’ farm director, the team confirms to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link).
The “strong industry belief” is that Dave Stewart will be hired as the Diamondbacks’ new GM, though Gary LaRocque may also join the organization in some capacity, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitterlinks). LaRocque is also still a candidate for the GM job and he and Stewart may be the final two names in contention.
The Diamondbacks completed the GM interview process today, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert tweets.
The Braves’ offseason has already begun with the firing of general manager Frank Wren earlier today. Here’s some more about the Braves’ decision and what’s next for the team…
Interim GM John Hart, team president John Schuerholz and long-time former manager Bobby Cox met with the media to discuss the move. Schuerholz said he became concerned about the team’s dysfunction during the summer and felt a change was necessary before the end of the season (tweets from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale).
Hart is happy in his interim GM role and he’ll stay as an organizational advisor after a new general manager is hired, though Schuerholz left open the possibility that Hart could still be the Braves’ full-time GM (tweet from David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
Any decisions on Fredi Gonzalez and the Braves’ coaching staff will wait until after the new GM is hired. Cox praised Gonzalez’s work and feels he should stay on as the team’s manager (tweets from Nightengale).
Bruce Manno, the Braves’ assistant GM and director of player development, was also fired, Schuerholz announced.
Jeff Wren, Frank’s brother and a Braves scout and special assistant, has been fired, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link).
In a full column, Crasnick writes that the strained relationship between Cox and Wren has been evident since Cox omitted Wren from a list of people he wished to thank at his Hall of Fame induction speech. Cox will likely have a bigger role and voice going forward, Crasnick continues. He also notes that even if Gonzalez survives as the manager, there will assuredly be changes to the coaching staff.
Some in the Braves organization questioned the lack of veteran leadership on the current roster, David O’Brien writes in a summary of Wren’s tenure. Wren also made some questionable coaching hires and allowed some key members of the Braves’ baseball operations staff to leave for other jobs. Highly-regarded pitching coach Roger McDowell was prepared to leave for Philadelphia last winter before Schuerholz convinced him to stay.
Even before the team’s 4-14 record in September, a high-ranking Braves source told Bob Nightengale that Wren and maybe Gonzalez would be fired if Atlanta missed the postseason.
There’s already been speculation regarding Royals GM Dayton Moore returning to Atlanta, and Royals owner David Glass tells MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel that he wouldn’t stand in Moore’s way if he wished to leave. However, Glass also says he “can’t imagine” Moore wanting to leave, adding that the organization is committed to Moore, and he feels that commitment is mutual. As Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star points out (on Twitter), Moore has spent eight years with the Royals building toward what could be the team’s first postseason appearance in nearly 30 years, and it’d be a shock for him to leave that behind. He is under contract through 2016.
The Yankees announced that they have designated left-hander Josh Outman for assignment in order to clear roster space for outfielder Eury Perez, who was claimed off waivers from the Nationals earlier today. Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network first tweeted that Outman was packing up his locker, bringing about speculation that he’d be the corresponding roster move for Perez.
Outman, who turned 30 last week, appeared in nine games for the Yankees, totaling 3 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball. He faced a dozen hitters and set down 10 of them, dropping his season ERA to just 2.86. However, Outman’s lofty walk rate — he 16 free passes in 24 2/3 innings with Cleveland before being acquired by New York — kept him in the minors for much of the season and caused sabermetric marks such as FIP (4.82) to predict his ERA to be a mirage.
Right-handed hitters have always given Outman trouble, but he’s been lights-out against lefties in his career, yielding just a .186/.254/.283 batting line. Outman will finish the season with less than five years of Major League service, meaning that he can be controlled via arbitration for the 2015 and 2016 campaigns.
2:05pm: Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets will announce an extension for Alderson after the season, and he adds that there will also be an announcement that manager Terry Collins has been retained (Twitterlinks).
1:38pm: Alderson’s contract extension will be for “about three years,” reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter). However, the deal is not yet complete, and there are still details to be worked out, he hears.
1:25pm: The Mets will exercise their 2015 option on general manager Sandy Alderson and the two side are working toward a contract extension, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
Alderson, 66, was hired as the Mets’ GM following the 2010 season and signed to a four-year contract which contained the aforementioned option for the 2015 season. While the Mets have yet to have a winning season under his watch, Alderson has assisted the Mets in bolstering a farm system and stockpiling an enviable crop of young talent. Alderson acquired Zack Wheeler from the Giants in exchange for a two-month rental of Carlos Beltran, and he chose to trade R.A. Dickey rather than extend him following the knuckleballer’s Cy Young season in 2012. That move netted the Amazins top prospect Noah Syndergaard as well as current catcher Travis d’Arnaud. Last summer, after striking gold on a minor league pickup of Marlon Byrd, the Mets packaged Byrd and John Buck (also acquired in the Dickey trade) to land Dilson Herrera and Vic Black from the Pirates. Additionally, he appears to have made the correct choice in retaining Lucas Duda, rather than Ike Davis, as the team’s first baseman going forward.
Of course, not all of Alderson’s moves have panned out quite so well. The signing of Chris B. Young to a one-year, $7.25MM contract this offseason proved to be a failure, and while Bartolo Colon has pitched well enough to justify the first season of his two-year, $20MM deal, his $11MM salary for 2015 made him too difficult to trade this summer. Curtis Granderson‘s four-year, $60MM contract has the potential to be a negative, though Granderson is in the midst of a torrid finish, perhaps giving hope that he can be more productive in 2015 than he was in an up-and-down 2014.
Alderson’s largest move to date has been the eight-year, $138MM extension signed by David Wright. While “Captain America” looked well worth the money even in an injury-shortened 2013 — he batted .307/.390/.514 with 18 homers and 17 steals — Wright’s power vanished in 2014, which eventually proved to be his second straight injury-shortened season. The 31-year-old batted .269/.324/.374 with just eight homers this season as he battled shoulder and neck problems that finally caused his season to conclude on Sept. 8.
The Yankees announced that they have claimed outfielder Eury Perez off waivers from the Nationals. Perez was designated for assignment last week when the Nats claimed Pedro Florimon off waivers from the Twins.
The 24-year-old Perez has a very limited big league track record, as he’s totaled just 13 plate appearances in 22 games with the Nats over the past two seasons. He’s spent most of his time in the Majors as a defensive replacement and/or a pinch-runner. Given Perez’s speed — he swiped 64 bases as a minor leaguer in 2010, 45 in 2011 and 51 in 2012 — it’s not surprising that he’d find himself in such a role.
However, it’s not surprising to see a team express interest in perhaps giving Perez a larger role; he’s slashed .310/.354/.411 in 844 Triple-A plate appearances and is considered to be a plus defender. Baseball America has ranked Perez among Washington’s top 30 prospects in each of the past five offseasons, and their most recent scouting report notes that some scouts give his speed a rare 80 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale.
The Reds’ hopes of challenging in the NL Central were dimmed by several major injuries this year, and this visit from the injury bug was particularly damaging to a team who already faced some big decisions in the offseason. With just over $71MM committed to 10 players on the 2015 payroll, the mid-market Reds may be forced to save some money by moving a starting pitcher. Though Cincinnati’s durable and deep rotation has been a big part of the club’s success in recent years, pitching seems like a natural area for payroll reduction simply due to the fact that three starters will enter their third year of arbitration eligibility.
Two pitchers who won’t be dealt are Homer Bailey and Tony Cingrani. The Reds have already committed to Bailey in the form of a six-year, $105MM extension, and wouldn’t have been likely to move him even if Bailey hadn’t recently undergone forearm surgery. Cingrani has also had injury problems, spending most of 2014 on the DL with shoulder problems. Had Cingrani been able to build off of his impressive 2013 rookie season, the Reds would’ve felt at least a bit better about trading one of their more established starters (Bronson Arroyo wasn’t re-signed last winter in part because the Reds were comfortable with Cingrani).
It’s possible Cincinnati could trade multiple starters, though I’d suspect that the team wouldn’t want to lose too much pitching depth until they know Bailey and Cingrani are fully healthy. The Reds would probably rather not have David Holmberg or Dylan Axelrod as full-time rotation members next year, top prospect Robert Stephenson still needs some seasoning (a 4.74 ERA in 136 2/3 IP at Double-A in 2014) and the newly-signedRaisel Iglesias could still wind up in the bullpen.
The Reds’ other four pitchers are all controlled only through 2015, so the team likely wouldn’t score a truly huge return in a trade but all carry value even as one-year pitchers. The candidates…
Johnny Cueto: The Reds have a $10MM option on Cueto for 2015 that is sure to be exercised given how well Cueto has pitched. After an injury-shorted 2013, Cueto bounced back in a major way by posting a 2.15 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 3.73 K/BB rate over a league-leading 222 innings.
Cueto’s next contract will be in the nine-figure range, and it’s unclear if the Reds would be willing ink another major extension given how much money has been tied up in recent deals with Bailey, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. Cueto would net the biggest return in a trade, though moving their ace would seem to hint that the Reds are punting on 2015, which I doubt they’re prepared to do. On the other hand, the Reds could trade Cueto for Major League parts (such what the Rays and Red Sox received for David Price, John Lackey and Jon Lester before last July’s trade deadline) and use a Cueto deal to reload rather than rebuild.
Keeping Cueto would give the Reds stability at the top of their rotation, and they could still explore dealing Cueto at next year’s trade deadline if they fall out of the race. If they’re contending and wanted to keep Cueto, Cincinnati could then get a compensatory draft pick via the qualifying offer if he leaves in free agency after the 2015 season.
In a recent Insider-only piece, ESPN’s Buster Olney recently explored Cueto’s trade market and raised the possibility that the Reds could clear some payroll space by attaching Phillips, for example, to Cueto in a trade package. With several notable starters available as free agents this winter, Olney believes some teams might prefer trading for a year of Cueto rather than making an expensive multiyear commitment for an ace on the open market. Also, a contending team that potentially loses their ace in free agency (such as if Max Scherzer leaves the Tigers or James Shields leaves the Royals) could look to Cueto as a short-term replacement to keep their rotation strong for another run in 2015.
Mat Latos: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently cited Latos as perhaps the likeliest of the Reds’ starters to be dealt, as both Latos and Cueto can make a case for commanding an extension larger than Bailey’s deal. While Cueto is two years older than Latos, presumably the Reds would be more inclined to extend their homegrown product than they would Latos, who missed part of 2014 with an elbow injury. Latos has a 3.25 ERA in 102 1/3 IP this year, though ERA indicators show that he hasn’t pitched quite that well (3.64 FIP, 4.00 xFIP, 4.08 SIERA) and both his ground ball and strikeout rates dropped significantly below his career averages. The right-hander’s average fastball velocity also dropped to 90.7 mph, down from 92.5 mph in 2013.
The Reds already tested the market for Latos at the trade deadline, so I tend to agree with Rosenthal that if a Cincy starter is moved, it’ll probably be Latos. His declined numbers could be explained by his elbow issues, and if fully healthy, Latos could be a standout front-of-the-rotation starter for several teams. He earned $7.25MM in 2014 in the last year of a two-year extension, and he’ll be eligible for arbitration for a third and final time this winter.
Mike Leake: Another pitcher with a third arb year remaining, Leake will get a raise from his $5.925MM salary in 2014. The right-hander has been a reliable rotation piece over his five Major League seasons, not missing many bats (career 6.1 K/9) but inducing a lot of grounders (49.8% ground ball rate) and eating a lot of innings, averaging 191 IP over the last three years.
Leake comes with the fewest question marks of any Cincinnati starter, lacking the injury histories of Cueto and Latos but also never pitching nearly as well as those two have at their peaks. While Leake’s ceiling in the bigs may never surpass the “solid” level (he has an even 100 ERA+ over his career), this also means that the Reds could extend him at a much lower price than Cueto or Latos. A Leake extension could look something like the five-year, $65MM deal the White Sox gave John Danks a few years ago, as Leake and Danks are decent comparables in terms of age and career numbers to that point in their careers, plus both had one arb year left before free agency.
The Reds put Leake and Latos on revocable waivers in August, possibly in a move to gauge trade interest for the upcoming offseason. I’d guess there’s a better chance Leake stays in Cincinnati than goes, though the Reds will certainly get interest in the durable 26-year-old.
Alfredo Simon: The big surprise of the group, the 33-year-old Simon moved from the bullpen to the rotation as an injury fill-in and wound up making his first All-Star team. Though his performance has very much come back to earth in the second half, Simon still has a 3.48 ERA through 178 1/3 innings on the season despite a middling 5.9 K/9.
Simon is arb-eligible for the third time this winter and he’ll earn a healthy raise over his $1.5MM salary, though the raise will hardly break the bank. Simon’s age and career track record give him a very modest amount of trade value, so it’s likely he stays with the Reds and competes for the fifth starter’s job (or returns to the pen) if and when a rotation spot opens up via trade.
With this variety of available starters and a wide variance in asking prices for each of the four pitchers, many teams could fit as potential trade partners for the Reds under the “you can never have too much pitching” argument. If the Reds look to deal a starter and fill an everyday lineup hole at the same time, they’ll likely target a left fielder or a shortstop as upgrades on Ryan Ludwick and Zack Cozart, respectively. Ludwick has a $9MM mutual option for 2015 but after two negative fWAR seasons, the Reds might instead buy him out (for a deferred $4.5MM) and look for other options.
Using these needs to speculate about trade partners, the Cubs, Diamondbacks and possibly the Indians stand out as teams with a shortstop surplus. The Red Sox have a glut of outfielders and are known to be looking for starting pitching. The Dodgers could finally solve their long-standing logjam in the outfield and, if it meant getting back Cueto or Latos, would be willing to eat a lot of salary on one of their high-priced outfield bats.
As Ken Rosenthal noted (video link), the Reds could employ some gamesmanship with their starters and perhaps leverage them against each other in figuring out which (if any) pitchers they want to sign over the long term. Between these negotiations and waiting for the free agent pitching market to play out, Cincinnati might wait until January or even February to move a starter. At this point, the only thing that seems certain about the Reds’ 2015 rotation is that at least one of Cueto, Latos, Leake or Simon won’t be on the roster come Opening Day.
Photo courtesy of Joy R. Absalon/USA Today Sports Images
The Braves have fired general manager Frank Wren, the team announced. John Hart, a senior advisor with the club, will become the interim GM and will also be part of a three-man team (along with team president John Schuerholz and former manager Bobby Cox) in charge of finding a permanent general manager.
It was reported earlier today by David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a front office move was on the verge of happening, and Wren’s firing comes just a day after the Braves were officially eliminated from postseason contention. The team is in the midst of a dreadful 4-14 stretch and the slump brought with it severalrumors that Wren was on the hot seat. The Braves will also make changes to their international scouting and player development departments, Peter Gammons reports, though manager Fredi Gonzalez’s job appears to be safe according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter link).
Wren had been a member of the Braves front office since 2000, first serving as Schuerholz’s assistant GM and then taking over the general manager’s job following the 2007 season. While Wren obviously had a tough act to follow given Atlanta’s string of consecutive playoff appearances under Schuerholz, the Braves “only” reached the postseason three times during his seven seasons as general manager and never advanced further than the NLDS. The Braves were in playoff contention for much of this season before their September collapse sunk their chances and left the team in danger of only its third sub-.500 record in the last 24 years.
What ultimately doomed the 2014 Braves, however, was a lack of hitting, which underlined Wren’s two biggest mistakes — signing B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75.25MM free agent deal and signing Dan Uggla to a five-year, $62MM extension after acquiring the second baseman in a trade from the Marlins. As ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick put it, these two moves alone probably cost Wren his job, since Uggla was released earlier this year and Upton has been a bust since coming to Atlanta.
Photo courtesy of Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images
“If you had to ask me now, I would assume that I would have to move on, unfortunately,” Adam LaRoche told CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman about his future with the Nationals. Though LaRoche is having a strong season and is well-respected within the Nats’ clubhouse, the team may need to create a spot at first base for Ryan Zimmerman next season since Zimmerman is no longer able to play third. If the Nationals do decline their side of LaRoche’s $15MM mutual option for 2015, expect the veteran to draw interest from several teams on the free agent market. LaRoche will turn 35 in November but he’s still playing well enough to help any team in need of left-handed pop.
Here’s some more from around the NL East…
The Phillies haven’t had much success in trying to trade Jonathan Papelbon over the last year and releasing him would be a waste of an asset, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes in an analysis of the team’s options with the controversial closer. Papelbon’s no-trade clause and 2016 vesting option make it complicated to either deal him or demote him from the closer’s job, so Salisbury notes that the team could just bring him back next season and hope to swing a trade next summer.
Also from Salisbury’s piece, he notes that the Phillies were willing to eat $13MM (of half) of Papelbon’s remaining salary in negotiations last offseason. The Phillies shopped Papelbon to the Tigers but Detroit wasn’t interested due to concerns that Papelbon wouldn’t be a fit in the team’s clubhouse.
The Phillies will conduct a private workout with Yasmany Tomas today in the Dominican Republic, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports, and GM Ruben Amaro will be in attendance. The Cuban outfielder’s open showcase on the weekend attracted scouts from several teams, and Tomas is expected to have private sessions with multiple teams in the near future.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had had his leadership questioned by some members of the organization during the team’s September collapse, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. Along those same lines, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC subscription required) thinks the Braves’ woeful performance over the last week has the appearance of a team that has quit on its manager. The Braves seem on the verge of making a GM change, and while Gonzalez’s job may not be in as much jeopardy, obviously he’d be on the hot seat unless the club improves in 2015.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution believes (Twitter link) that the contract extensions signed by Gonzalez and GM Frank Wren last February ran through the end of the 2016 season. Gonzalez and Wren’s previous contracts were both set to expire at the end of the current season.
The Braves’ rumored front office changes could quickly become a reality, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link) reports that a “move is going to happen very soon.” This move will likely be the removal of Frank Wren from the general manager’s job — O’Brien would be surprised if the move is anything besides Wren’s firing and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitterlinks) that Wren is gone “barring a last-minute reversal” from upper management. Wren could be fired as early as today, Rosenthal reports.
A 4-14 record in September both ended the Braves’ postseason hopes and generatedspeculation about Wren’s job security. The most heavily-rumored scenario would see team president John Schuerholz or senior advisor John Hart take a larger role in the team’s baseball operations department, with assistant GM John Coppolella promoted to the general manager’s job on at least an interim basis. (If Wren is indeed ousted today or before the season ends, Coppolella seems like the obvious candidate to be in the interim GM anyway.)
The Red Sox‘ trades of Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront this summer created opportunities for younger Red Sox starters, but those young pitchers haven’t taken advantage, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo have all been underwhelming this season. “What that group is learning is that it’s a sizable jump from Triple-A to here,” says manager John Farrell. “It’s a matter of learning challenges at the major-league level.” The Red Sox aren’t necessarily planning for all those pitchers to be successful, and they figure to pursue starters this offseason, but getting one or more solid starters out of the group of De La Rosa, Workman, Webster and Ranaudo would provide a big boost next season. Here’s more from throughout the big leagues.
The Pirates‘ organizational philosophy of finding buy-low players is likely to keep them from re-signing impending free agent Russell Martin, David Manel of Bucs Dugout writes. The Pirates appear to be bracing for fan backlash if they don’t re-sign Martin, and GM Neal Huntington points out that his organization might be about to become a “victim of its own success,” as Manel puts it. “Russ is one of those unique circumstances where we got beat up and highly criticized for signing him when we did,” says Huntington. “And if he does walk out the door, we’ll get highly criticized when he does walk out the door.”
The results of the Cardinals‘ in-season trades have been mixed, but their outfield has improved thanks to the team’s flexible approach, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com writes. Justin Masterson hasn’t pitched well and Lackey hasn’t made a huge impact, and Oscar Taveras hasn’t hit well filling in for the departed Allen Craig. The Cardinals have, however, done well in the second half throughout their outfield in general, with Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk putting up solid numbers in center and right field, respectively.
Nearing the end of a disappointing season, the Braves could fire GM Frank Wren, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes, noting that the Braves’ collapse appears “sure to lead to some sort of significant change.” Manager Fredi Gonzalez’s job does not appear to be in danger at this time, Heyman adds.
These aren’t the first rumblings that the Braves’ front office might be in for a shakeup. Earlier this week, it emerged that the Braves might have either senior advisor John Hart or president John Schuerholz take an increased role in baseball operations. There have also been indications that, if Wren loses his job, the team might look to former Braves assistant GM and current Royals GM Dayton Moore, although Heyman suggests that’s unlikely. Earlier today, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman wrote that the Braves could consider dismissing Wren and/or Gonzalez “within the next few days.”
If the Braves were to fire Wren, they would likely turn to assistant GM John Coppolella, who would take the job on an interim basis and be mentored by Hart. Bowman writes, however, that Hart enjoys working as an MLB Network analyst and would not be interested in taking a full-time role with the Braves.
It’s been a tough September for the Braves — they’re currently 4-14 for the month and have fallen three games below .500. After spending much of the year in playoff contention, they were mathematically eliminated from the race today. Over the course of the season, the Braves have struggled with a weak group of position players, getting little from hitters like B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla, Ryan Doumit and Tommy La Stella, the first two of whom Wren signed to expensive long-term deals. If the Braves were to dismiss Wren, he would be the third GM fired or reassigned this year, following Josh Byrnes of the Padres and Kevin Towers of the Diamondbacks.