- The Yankees will be willing to deal pending free agents Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran if they’re not in serious contention for a playoff spot by the August 1 deadline, Rosenthal says. They do not want to trade Andrew Miller right now, however. It’s also possible they could deal starting pitchers like CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda, but they are not in active discussions to sell right now and they could wait to deal members of that trio this offseason, since all are under control in 2017.
- The Marlins would deal Adeiny Hechavarria and replace him at shortstop with Miguel Rojas if they could get a top starter like Chris Archer of the Rays in return, Rosenthal says. From this vantage point, that sounds like a lot to ask for a shortstop who has hit .238/.274/.336 this season (although Hechavarria is a stellar defender), and one would think Hechavarria would have limited value in a deal for an ace, even as part of a package. Rosenthal unsurprisingly notes that the Rays aren’t interested in trading Archer for a package that has Hechavarria as its centerpiece. The Marlins are also very interested in Archer’s fellow Rays starters Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore, although their weak minor league system poses difficulties in lining up a trade.
- The Rockies don’t seem overly motivated to trade Carlos Gonzalez and have passed on opportunities to do so, Rosenthal says. Gonzalez’s contract runs through 2017, coinciding with the end of GM Jeff Bridich’s deal, and Rosenthal implies it might be in Bridich’s best interest to keep Gonzalez around to increase the Rockies’ chances of being competitive until then.
- The Tigers aren’t likely to make big moves before the deadline, with a large payroll that will limit their flexibility and a number of tough-to-move contracts on the books. They could, however, become a seller if they do especially poorly in the next two weeks, potentially dealing Francisco Rodriguez and/or other relievers.
- Braves GM John Coppolella continues to insist his team will not deal Julio Teheran, Rosenthal says. Coppolella believes Teheran (who is under team control through 2020) can be a key player on the next contending Braves team, although he acknowledges that won’t happen this season.
The deadline for teams to exchange arbitration figures with eligible players is 1pm ET today. Dozens of arb agreements figure to flow in over the next few hours, and we’ll keep track of the smaller arb agreements in this post. All projections referenced are courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz and can be viewed on the full list of 156 players that filed for arbitration this year. Remember also that you can keep track of everyone that has avoided arbitration by checking out MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.
Onto the agreements…
- Shortstop Zack Cozart is in agreement with the Reds for an undisclosed sum, per a team announcement. He projected at $2.9MM in his second year of eligibility after a promising start to the 2015 season was cut short by a serious knee injury.
- The Diamondbacks announced that they have avoided arbitration with righty Rubby De La Rosa for an undisclosed sum. He was projected at $3.2MM but, per Jack Magruder of Fanragsports.com (on Twitter), will earn only $2.35MM.
- Reliever Fernando Rodriguez settled with the Athletics for $1.05MM — beneath his projected $1.3MM — per the Associated Press.
- Dodgers infielder Justin Turner will earn $5.1MM next season, Jon Heyman reports on Twitter. That’s just a shade under his $5.3MM projection.
- The Braves settled with reliever Arodys Vizcaino for $897,500, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets. He had a $1.1MM projection entering the fall.
- Both Zach Putnam will earn a $975K salary next year after agreeing with the White Sox, per a club announcement. That’s $175K over the projected arb value of the Super Two.
- The Cardinals settled with first baseman Matt Adams for $1.65MM, Heyman tweets. That’s a small bump over his $1.5MM projections. The team is also in agreement with right-hander Seth Maness, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Super Two reliever projected at $1.2MM but will receive $1.4MM, per MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter).
- Righty Tom Koehler receives a $3.5MM payday from the Marlins, per Jon Heyman (via Twitter). The team gets a break on the $3.9MM that had been projected. The team also has an agreement with righties David Phelps and Carter Capps, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets. Heyman adds (via Twitter) that Phelps will earn exactly his projected amount of $2.5MM. Capps was predicted to earn $800K, but his salary is yet to be reported.
- The Diamondbacks agreed to a $4.35MM rate with first-year-eligible starter Shelby Miller, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. He had projected at $4.9MM. Notably, Miller comes in just ahead of fellow 3+ service-class pitcher Harvey (who is covered below). Fellow Arizona hurler Patrick Corbin will earn $2.525MM next year, Passan also tweets.
- The Nationals have agreed with infielder Danny Espinosa for $2.875MM, Jon Heyman tweets. He gets a slight bump over his $2.7MM projection in his second season of arb eligibility.
- Nolan Arenado will receive a $5MM salary from the Rockies in his first season of eligibility, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. That’s exactly what fellow star young third baseman Manny Machado settled for as well, though Arenado was a Super Two. As Swartz explained recently, those two players’ cases may well have been tied together despite some important distinctions. He also explained why Arenado might not reach his sky-high $6.6MM projection in actuality.
- The Orioles have agreed with starter Miguel Gonzalez for $5.1MM, Eduardo Rodriguez of the Baltimore Sun reports on Twitter. Gonzalez projected for $4.9MM.
- Outfielder Chris Coghlan agreed at $4.8MM with the Cubs, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat tweets. That’s quite a nice increase over his projected $3.9MM. Also agreeing with Chicago was reliever Pedro Strop, who gets $4.4MM, per Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter). He had been projected at $4.7MM.
- Both righty Michael Pineda (for $4.3MM) and infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley ($3.2MM), according to Passan (via Twitter) and Jon Heyman (Twitter link). Those numbers largely track the projected amounts of $4.6MM and $3.1MM, respectively.
- Danny Duffy will play at $4.225MM next year after reaching terms with the Royals, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports (Twitter links). Catcher Drew Butera, meanwhile, will get $1,162,500 from Kansas City. Both represented small bumps over their projected values of $4MM and $1.1MM.
- Marlins closer A.J. Ramos will get $3.4MM in 2016, Heyman reports (Twitter links). Teammate Adeiny Hechavarria, meanwhile, will take down $2.625MM. Both first-year-eligible players went over their projections ($2.8MM and $2.3MM, respectively).
- The Mets will pay $4.325MM to Matt Harvey and $3MM to shortstop Ruben Tejada for 2016, ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin reports (Twitter links). Harvey approaches, but doesn’t quite reach, his $4.7MM projection. Though he’s still recovering from an unfortunate leg injury suffered during the post-season, Tejada will take home a cool half-million more than had been projected.
- Righty Joe Kelly has agreed with the Red Sox at $2.6MM, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. He falls a fair sight shy of the $3.2MM that MLBTR projected. Though he reached ten wins on the year, Kelly scuffled to a 4.82 ERA over his 134 1/3 innings.
- Righty Drew Hutchison agreed with the Blue Jays for $2.2MM, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. He falls short of a $2.6MM projection after a tough 2015 campaign.
- The Tigers have reached terms with shortstop Jose Iglesias for $2.1MM, per another Heyman tweet. The deal also includes some incentives, per the report. That’s a healthy jump up over the $1.5MM projection for the slick-fielding infielder, who did have a strong 2015 season.
- The Mariners announced that they reached agreement with lefty Charlie Furbush and righty Evan Scribner. Furbush will receive $1.7MM, while Scribner will get $807.5K, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
- Both shortstop Jean Segura and righty Wily Peralta are under contract with the Brewers, per a team announcement. Segura gets $2.6MM after being projected at $3.2MM, per Heyman (Twitter link). Matt Swartz’s system pegged Peralta at $2.8MM, and that’s exactly what he’ll earn, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter).
There are plenty more after the jump:
The Nationals reportedly agreed to hire Bud Black as their manager before going with Dusty Baker, but GM Mike Rizzo has a slightly different version of events. “We definitely had financial parameters discussed with (both), at the same time,” Rizzo said at a press conference, according to The Associated Press.
“We felt that was the best track to go by,” Rizzo said, “because sometimes the negotiating process also tells you a lot about the people that you’re negotiating with. As we discussed baseball in the interview process, and parameters in the financial process, we came to the conclusion that Dusty Baker was the perfect guy for us.”
Here’s more from the NL East..
- The Marlins will explore making an extension offer to second baseman Dee Gordon, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. For his part, Gordon says that he would be receptive to such an offer. The NL batting and stolen base champ is under team control for a few more years and will not be eligible to hit the open market until after the 2019 season. Recently, team president David Samson remarked that the organization has “three of the top ten players in baseball” — referring to Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez, and Gordon.
- The Marlins are less optimistic about signing shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, however. Miami is under the impression that the 26-year-old (27 in April) will seek a deal in the neighborhood of Elvis Andrus’ eight-year, $120MM pact. Hechavarria, under team control through 2018, slashed a career-best .281/.315/.374 in 2015. Of course, he is valued more for his glove, which resulted in a stellar 17.7 UZR/150 this past season.
- Catcher Jeff Mathis remains a possibility to return to the Marlins because of his defense and the way he handles the pitching staff, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Mathis, 33 in March, slashed just .161/.214/.290 in 103 plate appearances last season. For his career, he owns a slash line of .194/.254/.306 over the course of eleven big league campaigns. While he won’t be winning any battling titles soon, Mathis is valued for plenty of other things outside of his bat.
The Marlins’ top two extension priorities over the offseason are middle infielders Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports. It remains to be seen whether Miami will be able to gain traction in talks with the pair, which it already controls through the 2018 campaign. But, per Frisaro, the club is more concerned with striking new deals with Gordon and/or Hechavarria than it is with acquiring any particular player on the open market. A deal with Jose Fernandez still seems unlikely, he writes, and the same holds true of Marcell Ozuna.
More from Miami and the rest of the NL East:
- While it remains unclear whether Fernandez will make it back to the Marlins this year, slugger Giancarlo Stanton appears to be on track to return to action at some point, as the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com). Stanton began hitting yesterday, though his precise timetable remains unclear. The club will surely be cautious given its place in the standings and massive commitment to the 25-year-old.
- Nationals ownership is “unhappy” with the team’s performance this year, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It would be hard to imagine any other general reaction to a club that suddenly finds itself below the .500 mark despite a big payroll and high expectations, of course, and it’s not at all clear whether that sentiment will manifest itself in any modification in the decisionmaking structure. Rosenthal goes on to discuss the team’s front office situation, but it all seems to boil down to one key point: change is unlikely unless the Lerner family no longer wishes to place its trust in GM and president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo. (For what it’s worth, from my perspective, it seems difficult to blame him for the sudden fall-off of numerous key contributors, and the organization appears well-prepared for a coming offseason that will feature roster turnover at multiple key positions.)
- The insurance policy on Matt Harrison’s contract — which was acquired by the Phillies in the Cole Hamels deal — could still pay out to Philadelphia, Rosenthal suggests, though there is plenty of uncertainty. As he notes, too, the Phils would need to use at least some of any savings to fill in innings that might otherwise be occupied by the veteran lefty.
- The future for the Phillies, of course, will depend less on freeing some extra cash than it will on the development of the team’s best young players. Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News profiles one if the organization’s most important assets: 20-year-old shortstop J.P. Crawford.
- Braves reliever Chris Withrow, who was acquired along with Juan Uribe earlier this year, is progressing but likely won’t pitch this year, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Withrow is still working back from Tommy John and back surgeries. Meanwhile, another Atlanta upside grab — Rule 5 pick Daniel Winkler — is on track to take the bump in fall or winter league action, O’Brien adds on Twitter. Once activated from the DL, Winkler will need to stick on the active roster next year for the club to retain his rights.
In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports provides a laundry list of free agent and trade-related info. He kicks off the piece with a lengthy look at the curiously passive approaches of two teams that were seen as likely to be active sellers: the Reds and Padres. San Diego GM A.J. Preller told Heyman that his team discussed a number of deals and felt that, ultimately, the long-term nature of most of the Padres’ trade chips outweighed the value they were offered. The one notable exception is Justin Upton, who, as first reported by Buster Olney, could’ve fetched Michael Fulmer from the Mets. Regarding Upton talks, Preller told Heyman: “…the evaluation was what we’re being offered versus the value of the pick and having Justin for the rest of the year. There were offers right on the line, but none that made us move.” As for the Reds, Heyman notes that many are questioning the team’s decision to hang onto Aroldis Chapman, who is controlled through 2016, when the Reds may not be competitive until 2017. The Reds backed out of a Jay Bruce-for-Zack Wheeler swap, a source tells Heyman, with a second source telling him that Cincinnati simply “got cold feet” when it came to dealing Bruce. He also spoke to a number of executives who expressed disbelief that neither team was more active at the deadline.
Some more highlights from his column, though there’s far more in the full article than can be summarized here, so it’s worth reading in its entirety…
- The Diamondbacks are still seeking an elite closer after coming up empty in their pursuit of Aroldis Chapman, and they might pursue him again this winter. Heyman lists their priorities as: a closer, a starting pitcher (someone below the tier of Johnny Cueto/David Price) and a bat to slot behind Paul Goldschmidt in the order. The Snakes talked about deals for Jeremy Hellickson, Oliver Perez and Cliff Pennington. They came the closest to trading Hellickson, who drew interest from the Pirates and Blue Jays, he adds.
- Kevin Gausman’s name was very popular in trade talks with the Orioles, as he was asked for by the Rockies (in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez), the Tigers (Yoenis Cespedes) and Padres (Justin Upton). The Orioles also talked to the Dodgers about Carl Crawford (for a lesser package) but found his injury history and contract too risky.
- Others are “convinced” that the Cubs will land one of the top starting pitchers on the market this winter, with Price as a leading candidate but Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann and Cueto all landing on Chicago’s radar as well. The Cubs are expected to shop both Starlin Castro and Javier Baez this winter. The Padres’ interest in Baez has been reported many places, though they do have some reservations about Baez’s approach at the plate (as, I would imagine, most teams do).
- The Blue Jays, Astros and Giants all expressed interest in White Sox righty Jeff Samardzija, but the White Sox’ winning streak plus so-so offers led the team to hold onto the right-hander. Heyman hears that the return would’ve been similar to the one the Reds ultimately got in exchange for Mike Leake, so the Sox simply held onto Samardzija. (Speaking of Leake, he adds that industry consensus pegs Leake as the most likely rental to stay with his new club — perhaps not surprising given Leake’s ties to California and the Giants’ history of retaining such pieces.)
- The Indians received interest not only in Carlos Carrasco, but also in Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber. The Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox all tried for Carrasco.
- The Rockies were always more motivated to trade Troy Tulowitzki than Carlos Gonzalez, as the drama surrounding Tulo had become soap-opera-esque. The team didn’t shop Jose Reyes after the Tulo deal but did have his name come up in talks; Heyman writes that the Yankees are one club that “may have fit,” as they could’ve used him at second base.
- The Angels made a brief run at Yoenis Cespedes but didn’t come close to landing him. Cespedes won the hearts of Mets fans in part by expressing an interest in signing long-term to remain in Queens, but as Heyman notes, Cespedes did the same in Boston and Detroit without any results. A long-term pact between the Mets and Cespedes is more likely than a reunion with the Tigers though, Heyman writes, as Detroit isn’t likely to enter a bidding war for the outfielder, let alone win one.
- The Dodgers showed more interest in Cole Hamels than they did in either Price or Cueto. They were completely closed off to the idea of trading either Corey Seager or Julio Urias, though. He adds that right-hander Jose DeLeon wasn’t available in talks for rental pieces, which could imply that he was at least attainable in Hamels talks.
- Dan Jennings is expected to be welcomed back to the Marlins’ front office this winter, when the team will search for a long-term manager to replace him. The Marlins are also planning on trying to extend Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria this offseason, he hears. Talks for Hechavarria went nowhere last winter, and the shortstop’s batting line is nearly identical to its 2014 mark. Defensive metrics are far more impressed with Hechavarria’s work this season, though, for what it’s worth.
- While Rays relief aces Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger were oft-mentioned in rumors leading up to the deadline, other teams came away with the impression that Tampa Bay wasn’t that interested in moving either.
- There’s an “unhappy scene” surrounding the Nationals and manager Matt Williams, Heyman hears. Williams isn’t beloved by many of the team’s players, who feel that he’s “not loose” and “never relaxed.” There are those who have also questioned his bullpen usage, from the decision not to use Drew Storen/Tyler Clippard in the final game of last year’s NLDS to leaving both Jonathan Papelbon and Storen in the bullpen in close road games versus the Mets shortly after acquiring Papelbon (only to have both pitch with a five-run deficit in the next series). Heyman spoke to one Nats player who said the team is loose and has fun regardless of Williams’ demeanor. “I don’t think it affects us,” said the player. “That’s just how he is.”
The Marlins have already locked up Giancarlo Stanton to a record-setting 13-year deal, and they’re now focusing on extending the rest of their young core. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Fish have made long-term offers to ace Jose Fernandez, left fielder Christian Yelich and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, with an offer to center fielder Marcell Ozuna expected to come this week.
Heyman doesn’t have specifics on all four of the deals, but he reports that the Fernandez proposal is said to be for six years and about $40MM. It also contains two club options. While that payday may seem light in comparison to Stanton’s contract, it’s worth noting how different the situations of Fernandez and Stanton are. Both are cornerstone players, but Stanton signed his deal with just two years of team control remaining when he was due to earn roughly $13MM in 2015 already. Fernandez is not yet even arbitration eligible (he’ll earn close to the league minimum next year) and is also coming off a season cut short by Tommy John surgery. Stanton, on the other hand, was coming off a second-place MVP finish.
According to Heyman, the offer to Fernandez would be the largest ever for a pitcher with his service time, though there appears to be a bit of disconnect there. Heyman notes that the offer is for “close to” $40MM. Fernandez currently has exactly two years of MLB service, and Gio Gonzalez’s six-year, $42MM contract is the biggest extension ever signed by a pitcher with two to three years of MLB service (as can be seen in MLBTR’s Extension Tracker). It’s possible that Heyman is simply referring to a player with exactly two years of service or even a player in the low two-year range, but in terms of service class, anything short of $42MM in guaranteed money would fall a bit shy of a record.
The offer to Yelich, according to Heyman, is said to be modeled after Starling Marte’s six-year, $31.5MM contract, but it contains a smaller guarantee than that deal. There’s still some work to do before the two sides are close to an agreement, he notes. Yelich, who quietly posted roughly a four-WAR season, has just one year and 69 days of MLB service time. Marte’s contract is the second-largest ever for an outfielder with one to two years of service (Ryan Braun’s $45MM deal is king), but as the Extension Tracker shows, recent extensions for Paul Goldschmidt (five years, $32MM), Jedd Gyorko (five years, $35MM), Anthony Rizzo (seven years, $41MM) and Andrelton Simmons (seven years, $58MM) have all topped the Marte deal in terms of guarantee.
General manager Dan Jennings wouldn’t comment on specific situations, but he expressed confidence to Heyman in locking up his young stars, even Fernandez, who is represented by Scott Boras. “We’ll get it done,” said Jennings. “We’ll get it done with Scott, too; we’ll just have to rassle a little harder.” Boras, of course, is typically averse to advising his young talents to accept extensions before hitting free agency, though there are notable exceptions (including recent cases of Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Gomez).
To this point, Heyman writes, there’s yet to be an inclination that Fernandez is amenable to a long-term contract with such little experience under his belt and given his injury status. The pair of proposed club options, in particular, would seem to go against Boras’ typical philosophy. However, Jennings maintained optimism and felt that extension talks with all four of his young players are going well: “We’ve had some great exchanges. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”
The Marlins have opened long-term extension talks with injured ace Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich and Adeiny Hechavarria, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. As Rosenthal notes, nothing is close with any of the three. Fernandez, a client of Scott Boras, is a particularly long shot to be extended. Boras typically encourages his clients to test the open market, and while his players have on rare occasion signed long-term deals before reaching that point (e.g. Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Gomez), Fernandez isn’t in a great spot to talk contract as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.
It’s not hard to see why Miami would have interest in extending Fernandez, however, as he was among the game’s most dominant young arms before undergoing surgery and figures to get back to that point in the near future. The former first-rounder skipped Double-A and Triple-A entirely and debuted in the Majors as a 20-year-old. While that jump would be difficult for most, Fernandez had no trouble acclimating to the Majors and notched a ludicrous 2.25 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 through his first 224 1/3 innings. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 and finished third in the NL Cy Young balloting that season.
Fernandez is controlled through 2018, although now that he’s missed a season with injury, the Marlins’ decision to have him break camp in 2013 looks even more questionable; Miami could’ve secured another year of team control by leaving him in the minors for just three weeks or so. Of course, if an extension is worked out, that will be a relatively moot point (though still puzzling, in principle).
Yelich, 23 in a month, quietly enjoyed a breakout season. Also a former first-round pick, he batted .284/.362/.402 with nine homers, 21 steals and excellent defense in left field. Baseball-Reference valued him at 3.6 WAR, while Fangraphs pegged him for 4.3 WAR. Yelich can be controlled through 2019 and won’t be arbitration eligible for two more years, so there’s no immediate urgency for the Marlins to extend him. He’s repped by Paragon Sports.
Hechavarria, 26 next April, is a client of Praver-Shapiro Sports and is a more curious case. While most acknowledge that he has the tools to be an excellent shortstop, most defensive metrics peg him as below-average at shortstop despite his affinity for highlight-reel plays. He’s under control through 2018 and isn’t arbitration eligible until next winter. Hechavarria posted an improved .276/.308/.356 batting line in 2014, though his offense still hasn’t caught up to its minor league levels, where he slashed .327/.376/.446 with eight homers in 606 Triple-A plate appearances.
In addition to this group, the Marlins are, of course, trying to extend franchise cornerstone Giancarlo Stanton. Earlier today, reports indicated that talks are ongoing and the Marlins are aware of and comfortable with the fact that Stanton may cost $28-30MM annually.
It's already been a busy day for shortstop news as we've heard that the Diamondbacks are looking to trade Didi Gregorius for pitching, the Cardinals are shopping Pete Kozma, and the Tigers have been asking teams about available shortstops, even scouting such options as Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney. Here are some more shortstop-related rumors…
- The Tigers aren't likely "to make a serious push" for Kozma, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports opines (Twitter link), because they have a similar player in Danny Worth.
- There haven't been any reports linking the Tigers to the Mariners' Nick Franklin, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Franklin is perhaps better suited as a second baseman and may not have the glove to handle short, Heyman suggests.
- One scout suggested that Adeiny Hechavarria might be the sort of defensive specialist that Detroit would want at short. A Marlins source, however, tells Heyman that the Fish have yet to be contacted about Hechavarria.
- Several executives around baseball believe that signing Drew would be the best solution to the Mets' shortstop problem, Heyman reports. A multiyear deal for Drew would give the Mets an answer at short for 2015, when the team could look to contend once Matt Harvey is healthy.
- The Mets would be interested in Drew on a one-year, $9MM contract or possibly a two-year, $20MM deal, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. There haven't been any signs that Scott Boras, Drew's agent, would settle for either price.
- Also from Martino, the view on current Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada from opposing scouts is that he's "a solid player, who appears spooked by the pressures of playing in the New York market, and hearing criticism from his own front office." One scout believes that Tejada “could be OK, but he needs to get out of New York. [He's] a classic change-of-scenery guy.”
- A source not connected to either the Mets or Diamondbacks tells Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (Twitter link) that the rumor of Gregorius going to New York "has legs" and is a situation to watch.
The Prospect Rumor Roundup returns for a second week with a look back at the biggest trade of the offseason…
With Toronto almost 10 games out of first place at the beginning of May, and with the bandwagon already set ablaze by fickle fans, it's safe to say that this is not the type of start to the year that the Blue Jays front office was expecting. The organization orchestrated two key trades during the 2012-13 offseason, which brought a number of high-profile veterans north of the border, including R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio. A month into the season, those five players have accumulated a combined 0.3 fWAR (Wins Above Replacement).
With arguably a top five minor league system prior to the deals, Toronto mortgaged a good deal of its future for a chance to win now. While the veterans are struggling, the majority of the prospects — no longer under the Jays' control — are thriving in their new digs.
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud reportedly came close to winning a big league roster spot out of spring training with the Mets. He was assigned to Triple-A where six of his nine hits went for extra bases. He also added 12 walks before going down with a broken foot. He'll miss about eight weeks, but veteran catcher John Buck is holding down the fort in the Majors. D'Arnaud was added to the 40-man roster in November 2011 and is currently in his second of three option years, so he'll have to establish himself in the Majors by the end of the 2014 season to avoid being sent through waivers to be demoted to the minors.
One of three top young arms in Toronto's system prior to being dealt to the Mets, Noah Syndergaard has a 3.24 ERA in five High-A ball starts. He's been even better than it appears, though, as he allowed seven of his nine earned runs on the year in just one start. Jonathan Raymond of MiLB.com recently spoke to the prospect's A-ball pitching coach to learn more about his approach. The Texas native is eligible for the Rule 5 draft in 2014 so he'll have to be added to the 40-man roster after next season to avoid being snatched away from the Mets.
Outfielder Wuilmer Becerra suffered a scary injury last year in rookie ball when he was hit in the face during an at-bat, ending his season after just 11 games. The 18-year-old was originally signed out of Venezuela for $1.3MM and was considered one of the top Latin amateur free agents in 2011. He's currently playing in extended spring training and should be assigned to a short-season club in June.
Adeiny Hechavarria was signed out of Cuba by the Jays and has taken over the starting shortstop gig in Miami, although he's currently on the disabled list. His offense hasn't kicked in yet but he's playing steady ball in the field and is known for being a plus defender capable of providing a ton of value with his glove alone. Hechavarria's traditional three option years expired at the end of 2012 but he was granted a rare fourth option year for the 2013 season, so he can be sent down to the minors this year — if need be — without being exposed to waivers.
Like Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino was a member of Toronto's top pitching trio. The Florida native has enjoyed his time in the Miami Marlins organization despite an inconsistent year to date and has a 3.60 ERA in five starts in the High-A Florida State League. Nicolino's adjustment to his hometown organization was recently outlined by Guy Curtright at MiLB.com. He doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2014 season. I recently spoke with Marlins Director of Player Development Brian Chattin, who said the organization was happy with all the players they acquired. "Nicolino has shown an above-average changeup and a mature approach to his development," he added.
An injury to outfielder Jake Marisnick kept him on the sidelines until this past weekend. After spending 55 games at the Double-A level in 2013, he got his feet wet back in High-A ball before moving back to Double-A. He has plus defensive skills but a front office contact within the Jays organization told me during the offseason — shortly before the big trade — that he's still getting used to some adjustments made to his batting stance and swing mechanics. Chattin told MLBTR, "[Jake has] excellent makeup, he's a well-above-average athlete, impressive defender in center field and has the tools to be an impact major leaguer." Marisnick will have to be added to the 40-man roster this coming November to shield him from the Rule 5 draft.
The lesser known name of the group of prospects sent to Miami, Anthony DeSclafani arguably has had the most success of the four players. The University of Florida alum has a 0.44 ERA with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 20.2 innings pitched. A reliever with inconsistent results in college, the organization is trying to stretch him out as a starter in pro ball. "Anthony has thrown strikes and lived at the bottom of the zone in each of his starts," Chattin told MLBTR. "We are allowing him to use his curveball in addition to his slider/fastball/changeup combination. He has confidence in his curveball and is using it well as a complement to the rest of his arsenal." Like Nicolino, DeSclafani has to be added to the 40-man roster after the 2014 season.
Prospect Tidbits: With the recent success of 2012 National League Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey, the knuckleball is enjoying renewed popularity. Orioles minor leaguer Eddie Gamboa is attempting to become the next successful big league knuckleballer. Benjamin Hill of MLB.com explained that the pitching prospect received some guidance from Hall of Famer Phil Niekro during spring training. Gamboa said that he's currently throwing his new pitch about 50 percent of the time in game situations, much to his surprise. Said Gamboa:
"I always put up okay numbers, enough to keep getting a job again but not enough to get a promotion… My game was stuck… The knuckleball was always something that I had practiced just in case, but I didn't think that just in case was going to be this year."
A talented two-way player in high school, Stetson Allie signed with the Pirates for a $2.25MM bonus in 2010 and began his career on the mound. When he was unable to harness his control (29 walks in 26 innings in 2011), the organization took a huge gamble by shifting the strong-armed prospect to first base. It took a year of struggling to find his footing but Allie is finally tapping into his plus raw power and has eight home runs in 24 A-ball games. Mike Newman of FanGraphs.com recently watched the Pirates prospect play and he also spoke with Allie, as well as Pittsburgh's assistant general manager Kyle Stark.
The NL East includes a broad range of payrolls, from the Phillies at $150MM-plus to the Marlins below $40MM. Here's are some notes from the division…
- Carlos Beltran told Mike Puma of the New York Post that David Wright should be able to handle the pressure that comes with a nine-figure contract. "He’s been with the organization a long time, so there is nothing he needs to change,” said Beltran, who signed a seven-year $119MM deal with the Mets as a free agent following the 2004 season.
- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said newcomer Adeiny Hechavarria has Hanley Ramirez’s endorsement, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. “When Hanley tells you ‘He is better than I am, you’ve got a great guy with great hands,’ it’s amusing to listen to,” Loria said. The Marlins, who traded Ramirez to Los Angeles last summer, acquired Hechavarria from Toronto in a blockbuster deal with the Blue Jays in November.
- Reliever Mike Adams would likely be with a different team had the Phillies completed their deal with the Astros for Wilton Lopez, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledged that the Phillies "probably would not have" signed Adams had the club not pulled back from trading for Lopez (since dealt to the Rockies) for undisclosed reasons following his physical.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.