May 2011

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Stark On Twins, Reyes, Beltran, Draft

Jose Bautista and Josh Beckett are the player and starting pitcher of the month for ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. Here are Stark's latest rumblings from around the league:

  • Barring a miracle, the Twins will be sellers this July, but they aren’t ready to trade anyone yet.
  • One rival executive says they will eventually talk about trading prospective free agents including Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome and Matt Capps. The Twins would have interest in re-signing some of those players after the season and could conceivably do so even after trading them (the Indians did that with Austin Kearns last year).
  • Though Jose Reyes is the Mets’ most exciting player, the consensus is that the Mets are going to have an easier time trading Carlos Beltran, partly because they will feel the need to get more in return for Reyes.
  • The draft could be significantly different under a new collective bargaining agreement (baseball’s current CBA expires in December) and one scouting director says MLB needs to make changes, including a possible worldwide draft. "The dollars that are being asked now in Latin America are a joke,” the director said. “And this is the only way to address it."
  • One small-market official says a slotting system would hurt small market clubs, since it would prevent them from out-spending deep-pocketed teams on draft picks.
  • One GM suggests moving the draft back to the All-Star break and making it more of an event.



Rosenthal On Betemit, Reds, Indians

The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports...

  • The Marlins are "among the teams tracking" Royals third baseman Wilson Betemit.  The 29-year-old is a free agent after the season and has hit .303/.378/.488 in 492 plate appearances in his Royals career.  Betemit is earning only $1MM, so any team could fit him in.  He has experience all around the infield and has dabbled at the outfield corners as well.  MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith discussed his trade candidacy earlier this month.
  • "There is not a lot of pitching to be had. It would be tough to get anyone if we do need someone," remarked Reds GM Walt Jocketty to Rosenthal.  The Reds' rotation has been surprisingly lousy this year, but Travis Wood, Bronson Arroyo, and Mike Leake are not as bad as their cumulative 5.33 ERA suggests.
  • Orlando Cabrera's impact is "very difficult to quantify," Indians GM Chris Antonetti tells Rosenthal.  You have to wonder if O-Cab could provide the same intangibles off the bench, allowing the Tribe to start Cord Phelps or Jason Kipnis at second base.



2012 Contract Issues Series

The 2012 Contract Issues series is complete.  Below are links to our posts for each team, as well as a brief summary of what they face after the season.  Please take the estimated 2012 payroll flexibility numbers with a large grain of salt, because those figures involve me making assumptions on arbitration awards, options, and payrolls and do not reflect possible trades.

AL East

  • Orioles: Slew of veteran free agents in Vlad, Derrek Lee, Mike Gonzalez, Hardy. Jones, Guthrie, Scott due big arb raises. Could have $18MM+ to spend.
  • Red Sox: Major free agents include Drew, Ortiz, and Papelbon.  Ellsbury is biggest arb case.  Plenty of needs but only $23MM in estimated payroll flexibility, and must deal with luxury tax.
  • Yankees: Have to decide whether to re-sign Colon and/or Garcia; rotation will face huge uncertainty in likely event Sabathia opts out. Tough option decision on Swisher; Cashman could have $50MM to work with if declined.
  • Rays: Record-setting arb case for Price; arb raise due to Upton. Retaining all option and arb eligible players would require a payroll increase; major creativity required here.
  • Blue Jays: Club options on three relievers plus Hill; notable arb cases in Escobar and Morrow. Should have $24MM+ to spend.

AL Central

  • White Sox: Rotation questions with Buehrle and Jackson due for free agency; also Pierre. Solid arb raises due to Danks and Quentin; $13MM to spend unless payroll is raised or there's a trade.
  • Indians: Options on Sizemore and Carmona; big arb cases for Masterson, Choo, Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera. Retaining all key players would bring them to '11 payroll level, but playoff run would create some flexibility.
  • Tigers: Estimated $13MM in flexibility unless payroll is raised.  Scherzer in line for large raise as first-time arb player.
  • Royals: Opening Day rotation may be mostly replaced by top prospects; solid stopgaps Betemit and Francoeur up for free agency also.  Arb raise due to Gordon; sticky situation with affordable Soria option.  Could easily find $40MM+ to spend this offseason.
  • Twins: Five regular players hitting free agency; arb decisions due on Liriano and Young.  Estimated $30MM to spend but lots of needs.

AL West

  • Angels: Pineiro is biggest free agent; nice arb raise due to Kendrick and possibly a historic one to Weaver.  Should still have $24MM to spend.
  • Athletics: Likely that 60% of team's regular position players reach free agency. Large arb class headed by Gio Gonzalez and Bailey.  Might have $17MM to spend but lots of openings.
  • Mariners: Bedard is most notable free agent; pitchers Vargas and League due arb raises. Should have $20MM+ to spend.
  • Rangers: Crucial free agent in C.J. Wilson, and expensive arb raises coming for Cruz, Napoli, and others. No payroll flexibility even without Wilson unless payroll is raised significantly.

NL East

  • Braves: Notable arb case for Jurrjens; could have $15MM to put toward tinkering. More available if a starter is dealt.
  • Marlins: Disappointing free agents in Vazquez, Infante. Anibal Sanchez, Leo Nunez biggest arb cases.  Would have less than $10MM to spend with $70MM payroll.
  • Mets: Reyes, Beltran, and possibly K-Rod up for free agency if either is still around at season's end.  Solid arb raise due to Pelfrey. Would have $20MM to play with even with a drop to a $100MM payroll; future of franchise hinges on Picard lawsuit.
  • Phillies: Rollins, Madson are key free agents; Oswalt has mutual option. Massive arb raise due for Hamels; could still have $38MM to spend.
  • Nationals: Limited flexibility once decent arb class is accounted for, until the team gets a payroll bump.

NL Central

  • Cubs: Fukudome, Pena, Ramirez likely to depart as free agents; Dempster has player option. Notable arb cases for Soto, Garza. Even with Dempster they'd have over $60MM to spend if payroll is maintained, opening up possibility for big offseason led by bidding on Pujols or Fielder.
  • Reds: Option on Phillips; less than $10MM to spend if he's retained.
  • Astros: Big arb cases in Pence and Bourn; would leave less than $10MM to spend unless Crane raises payroll to previous levels.
  • Brewers: Expected to lose Fielder; big arb raise coming for Marcum.  May have only $10-15MM to spend.
  • Pirates: Lots of club options, most will be declined. Morton, Hanrahan up for arb; should have at least $25MM to spend.
  • Cardinals: Free agent monsters in Pujols and Berkman plus a tough option decision on Carpenter. Rasmus, Garcia enter arb.  Declining Carp would give about $26MM to spend, most of which would have to go to Pujols.

NL West

  • Diamondbacks: Kelly Johnson a free agent; Saunders a non-tender candidate. Should have over $20MM to spend.
  • Rockies: No big free agent or arb cases. Could have around $12MM to spend.
  • Dodgers: Kuroda eligible for free agency and uncertainty in the infield.  Large raises due for Kershaw, Kemp, and Ethier in arb; Loney may be non-tendered.  Maintaining payroll could leave $37MM to spend, though that could be reduced assuming ownership remains in flux.
  • Padres: Veteran free agents: Bell, Ludwick, Harang, Hawpe, Qualls. Adams, Gregerson, Stauffer lead a large arb group. Arb paydays could leave less than $10MM to spend.
  • Giants: Ground-breaking arb case for Lincecum; Sandoval and Sanchez also eligible. Even with several position players up for free agency, payroll flexibility appears to be under $10MM.



Keith Law's Updated Top 25 Prospects

ESPN's Keith Law has updated his top 25 prospect list, four months after publishing his top 100.  You'll need Insider to view these articles.  I can vouch that it's a good investment.  A few notes:


Full Story |  Comments (0) | Categories:

40-Man Roster Counts

A look at how many players each team currently has on its 40-man roster:

AL East

  • Orioles: 40
  • Red Sox: 40
  • Yankees: 39
  • Rays: 40
  • Blue Jays: 40

AL Central

  • White Sox: 37
  • Indians: 40
  • Tigers: 40
  • Royals: 40
  • Twins: 40

AL West

  • Angels: 37
  • Athletics: 40
  • Mariners: 40
  • Rangers: 40

NL East

  • Braves: 36
  • Marlins: 40
  • Mets: 40
  • Phillies: 39
  • Nationals: 38

NL Central

  • Cubs: 39
  • Reds 40
  • Astros: 40
  • Brewers: 40
  • Pirates: 40
  • Cardinals: 39

NL West

  • Diamondbacks: 40
  • Rockies: 39
  • Dodgers: 40
  • Padres: 40
  • Giants: 40

Updated: 3-8-12 at 2:59pm



If The Diamondbacks Become Buyers

Remember back on May 16th, when I wrote a post about what might happen if the Diamondbacks become trade deadline sellers?  They lost that day, then promptly won 13 of 14 games.  The first-place D'Backs are a half-game ahead of the Giants, and ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that they'll be aggressive before the trade deadline and are poised to spend.

Starting pitching could be considered a need for the D'Backs.  Their starters have a cumulative 4.20 ERA, which ranks 12th in the National League.  The rotation is led by Ian Kennedy and Dan Hudson.  Southpaw Joe Saunders has struggled, and despite an improved ERA in May his peripheral stats suggest his 4.77 ERA might not get much better.  Still, I think he'll remain in the rotation.

After those three it's Zach Duke and rookie Josh Collmenter.  Duke was excellent in his Saturday season debut and should have a fairly long leash in the rotation.  Collmenter has pitched well in three of four starts.  Right now GM Kevin Towers is probably thinking if it ain't broke he won't fix it, and obvious upgrades will be hard to come by on the trade market.  Back on May 11th, when Collmenter joined the rotation, Towers told Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic that his first choice is to look in-house, but they're exploring external options as well.  He's got two full months prior to the trade deadline to determine the staying power of the current starting five.       

Arizona's bullpen has been strong this year, but Towers should be proactive in adding reinforcements.  The pen is built around J.J. Putz and David Hernandez.  Putz must be handled with care - he hasn't pitched three days in a row since August of last year.  And while Hernandez has been a big addition, walking 5.9 batters per nine innings is rarely a sustainable approach.  Sam Demel and Juan Gutierrez are on the DL and Collmenter is in the rotation, leaving Joe Paterson, Esmerling Vasquez, Aaron Heilman, Zach Kroenke, and Micah Owings to round out the pen.  Paterson and Vasquez have been useful, but this bullpen could use more depth. 

Offensively the Diamondbacks are strong; they rank third in the league with 4.78 runs per game.  Of course, you can never score too many runs, so Towers could consider left field upgrades if he'd like to push Gerardo Parra to a fourth outfielder role.  But if Towers wants to swap defense for offense in left field, he can just call up Wily Mo Pena.

A team that is "poised to spend" would match up well with the Mets, who have useful but expensive players in Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez.  The Twins are another likely seller with several players who would fit with Arizona.  Towers is in a good position - his team's needs are not desperate, and if he can take on salary that will set him apart from many other buyers.



2012 Contract Issues: Minnesota Twins

The Twins conclude our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (4)

  • Michael Cuddyer hasn't been especially productive since 2009, so retaining him only makes sense at a drastic pay cut from this year's $10.5MM salary.
  • Though the Twins' 2012 bullpen is even less settled than their current one, investing in Matt Capps as the anchor might not be the best move.  He figures to look to at least match this year's $7MM salary on a multiyear deal.
  • Jason Kubel is among a handful of Twins having a solid year.  He's affordable too, giving him decent trade value.  Kubel could find his way to Type A status, and an arbitration offer would be justified, so the Twins may prefer to sort out his situation after the season.
  • Jim Thome is seven home runs from 600 and probably would not be traded before reaching that milestone.  Since he wouldn't fetch a ton anyway, the best course may be to keep him unless he prefers to play for a contender.

Contract Options (1)

  • Joe Nathan: $12.5MM club option with a $2MM buyout.  Perhaps Nathan will want to continue his Twins career, but it won't be by way of this option.

Arbitration Eligible (9)

A few of these players won't make it past the non-tender deadline.  The big cases belong to Young, Liriano, and Slowey.  Young's terrible season could earn him a non-tender, or else a modest raise to the $6.5MM range.  I can't picture Liriano being non-tendered, as his salary could sit around $5MM.  Slowey, the most likely to be dealt, could come in around $3.5MM.  Perkins and Mijares also seem likely to be tendered contracts.  In total I'll put the group around $17MM, though several of these players could wind up on other teams by December.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Twins' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $65.75MM.  Throw in $17MM for arbitration eligibles and we're around $83MM, about $30MM shy of this year's payroll before accounting for minimum salary players.  The Twins could shed millions more through trades or non-tenders.  I imagine they'll be built to contend for 2012, which should mean expenditures on the bullpen, outfield, middle infield, third base, and designated hitter.



West Notes: Murphy, D'Backs

The surging Diamondbacks are a hot topic these days. Here's more on the Snakes and an item of note about another ballclub residing in a west division.

  • Rangers outfielder David Murphy could be a hot trade commodity, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. This season has been an historically weak one with respect to production out of left fielders, writes Sullivan, and Murphy, Texas' fourth outfielder, is a solid hitter and pretty cheap. I could see this, but Murphy struggles against lefties (.257/.299/.363 career line), and it couldn't hurt for the Rangers to keep him around as insurance for the often-injured Josh Hamilton.
  • The D'Backs' success in 2011 can be chalked up to organizational stability, hard work, and a few shrewd offseason moves, writes Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com. After its bullpen posted a 5.74 ERA and 24 blown saves in 2010, Arizona added J.J. Putz via free agency, David Hernandez via trade and Joe Paterson through the Rule 5 Draft, and the D'Backs are now 13-7 in one-run decisions, notes Ringolsby. Twelve players currently on the 25-man roster were brought on by GM Kevin Towers, who Ringolsby says isn't trying to reinvent the proverbial wheel.



Elias Rankings Update

After the season the Elias Sports Bureau will take all players over the 2010-11 period, divide them into five groups for each league, and rank them based on various statistics.  Then each player will be labeled a Type A, B, or none.  Those designations and the possible accompanying arbitration offers determine draft pick compensation (click here for a refresher).

Eddie Bajek has reverse-engineered the Elias rankings, and he's providing that information exclusively at MLB Trade Rumors.  Here's a look at how the players rank for the period beginning with the 2010 season running through May 29th, 2011.  The Google spreadsheet below has separate tabs for each position group.  Please note that an error from our initial post has since been corrected.


Full Story |  Comments (0) | Categories: Elias Rankings

Draft Notes: Cole, Hultzen, Bradley, Springer

The draft takes place one week from today; here’s the latest as teams prepare their draft boards for next Monday... 

  • ESPN.com’s Keith Law projects the Pirates to select UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick, though he says they’re still seriously in on Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen and high school outfielder Bubba Starling. It’s too early to rule out Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon either. 
  • The D’Backs could take Hultzen, UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer or high schooler Dylan Bundy third overall, according to Law.
  • It looks like the Orioles will take an arm fourth overall; they have Bundy, high schooler Archie Bradley and Cole in their sights.
  • If Bauer falls to the Indians, they’ll take him, according to Law.
  • The Cubs “sent a small army” to watch outfielder George Springer at the Big East tournament.
  • The Padres are interested in UConn right-hander Matt Barnes and Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray
  • The top three players on one team’s draft board are advised by agent Scott Boras, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.
  • Rendon's stock is down a bit because of a dip in production and injury concerns, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, but Rendon's coach at Rice, Wayne Graham, expects the third baseman to go within the top two picks.
  • The Giants shouldn't (and won't) alter their draft strategy in response to Buster Posey's season-ending injury, writes Jim Callis of Baseball America in a mailbag.









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