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Adrian Beltre Rumors
In a surprising decision, the Rangers have activated Adrian Beltre from the disabled list and reinserted him into the cleanup spot, the team announced. Beltre has been on the DL since June 2 with a thumb injury, and as recently as last Thursday, he told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan that he was not even capable of swinging a bat. It would seem unreasonable to expect that Beltre is 100 percent, and Sullivan even tweeted that he’s in “total shock” to see Beltre come off the DL so soon. Asked by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) about managing expectations for Beltre upon his return, GM Jon Daniels replied by saying, “He’s a freak. Freaky players do freaky things.” Righty Jon Edwards was optioned to Triple-A to clear a roster spot for Beltre, and top prospect Joey Gallo has shifted from third base to left field to accommodate Beltre’s return.
Here’s more from the AL West…
- Earlier this morning, Grant examined some of the obstacles that stand between the Rangers and a potential Hamels trade. For one, he notes, both Chi Chi Gonzalez and Gallo have been so impressive in their big league debuts that they’re likely more untouchable than they were as prospects. (I’ll interject to point out that Gonzalez’s 10-to-12 K/BB ratio is worth at least some concern, though it’s an admittedly small sample.) Beyond that, Hamels’ salary would be difficult to take on without significantly bumping payroll, and candidates with notable salaries that could theoretically be moved to offset the $23.5MM annual sum are currently injured (e.g. Derek Holland, Matt Harrison). Grant also points to the need for a right-handed bat and bullpen reinforcements. The eventual return of Holland, Harrison and Martin Perez may give the Rangers’ rotation the boost it needs, Grant speculates, but there are no such looming upgrades for the ‘pen or lineup.
- Daniels told Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he expects to be a buyer next month and spoke about the inconsistency he’s had in his bullpen. “Everyone in that bullpen has done it for periods in the big leagues, but we are inconsistent there,” Daniels told Engel. “There are good arms with plus-stuff, and when they are on, they are good. But that is an area we have been inconsistent.”
- The Astros are getting closer to finalizing agreements with No. 2 overall pick Alex Bregman and No. 37 overall pick Daz Cameron, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Nothing will be announced in the next day or two, but GM Jeff Luhnow told Drellich he’s hopeful of having a pair of signings to announce during the upcoming homestand, which begins on Thursday. As Drellich notes, Cameron’s signing figures to be the final one, as he will sign well over slot.
- Though the Angels said from the get-go that Tyler Skaggs wouldn’t pitch in 2015 following Tommy John surgery last August, the left-hander tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that he thinks he can help the team this year. Skaggs said he’d be happy to pitch out of the bullpen if there’s no room in the rotation, though clearly whether or not he throws for the big league club in 2015 is not his decision to make. Fletcher writes that it might be more likely that Skaggs will pitch in the instructional league, if he pitches at all this year.
The Blue Jays‘ acquisition of Josh Donaldson now appears to be one of GM Alex Anthopoulos’ better moves, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets. The third baseman has 15 homers and an outstanding .312/.372/.604 slash line through his first 227 plate appearances, and Donaldson’s 3.0 fWAR (entering today’s action) is topped only by Bryce Harper. Donaldson is controlled through 2018 and looks to be a cornerstone piece for the Jays both now and in future seasons. Here’s some more from around the American League…
- Adrian Beltre left today’s game with a sprained left thumb and while x-rays were negative, he’ll very likely be placed on the 15-day disabled list, MLB.com’s Dave Sessions writes. The Rangers have enough internal infield options that they aren’t likely to explore outside help unless Beltre is forced to miss an extended period of time. The 36-year-old Beltre has been having a down season (.257/.294/.408 in 221 PA) but was still providing his customary excellent third base defense.
- The much-maligned Tigers bullpen has become a strength for the team, Mlive.com’s James Schmehl writes. Detroit’s relievers entered Sunday with a 2.91 ERA, the seventh-lowest bullpen ERA in baseball. Advanced metrics (3.69 FIP, 4.07 xFIP) paint a more pessimistic view of the bullpen’s performance, yet the Tigers will happily take it after some frustrating relief breakdowns in recent years.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan told reporters (including Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) that his team will make the sixth overall pick in the amateur draft based on talent, and won’t be scared off from taking a player due to injury concerns. This could be a reference to Brady Aiken or Michael Matuella, two top draft prospects who recently underwent Tommy John surgery. ESPN1500’s Darren Wolfson tweets that the Twins and other clubs recently received some new information about Aiken and that Minnesota was “very high on” Aiken last year.
- Rule 5 Draft pick Taylor Featherston is appreciating his time in the majors as a learning experience, though as Fangraphs’ David Laurila points out, having Rule 5 status isn’t necessarily a good thing for a player’s development. Featherston has just one hit in 33 PA with the Angels and has appeared in just 25 games for the club. He must remain on the Halos’ Major League roster all season or else be offered back to his old club (the Rockies) for $25K.
- Also from Laurila’s notes piece, veteran catcher Eddy Rodriguez had more or less called it a career and planning to take a year away from the game before being offered a minor league contract from the Yankees. “When the pinstripes come calling, it’s hard to say no,” Rodriguez said. He is already unofficially working as a player-coach and mentor at the Triple-A level and seems a lock to find a coaching job once he finally hangs up his cleats.
Here’s the latest from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, via a video on FOX Sports:
- When the Orioles discussed an extension with Chris Tillman this spring, Tillman favored a contract similar to Lance Lynn‘s three-year, $22MM deal with the Cardinals. That contract did not buy out any of Lynn’s free-agent years. The Orioles were interested in a longer deal for Tillman that would have delayed his free agency eligibility.
- The Brewers‘ poor start suggests that they could be sellers at the trade deadline, and Rosenthal notes that they could deal Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Gerardo Parra or even Aramis Ramirez (despite Ramirez’s plans to retire at the end of the season). A player who could bring a much greater return, though, is Carlos Gomez, who is signed to a bargain contract the next two years.
- The Rangers could trade anyone if they fall out of contention, but it might be somewhat tricky for them to deal Adrian Beltre, who has limited no-trade protection and who has about $34MM left on his contract. Beltre also recently turned 36 and is off to a slow .149/.167/.298 start offensively. One might think that would only impede a trade if it were to continue deep into the summer, however — Beltre has a long history of providing excellent value both offensively and defensively.
2:11pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that in exchange for guaranteeing the option in advance, Beltre has agreed to juggle his salaries a bit (Twitter link). Beltre will now earn $16MM in 2015 instead of $18MM, while his 2016 salary will jump from $16MM to $18MM.
1:07pm: The Rangers announced today that they have exercised their 2016 option on Adrian Beltre in advance, meaning that he will be guaranteed $16MM. The Rangers had the ability to void the option if Beltre didn’t reach 600 plate appearances in 2015, but GM Jon Daniels said over the weekend that he was considering removing the clause and locking in Beltre’s salary, as he didn’t want the clause to become a storyline.
Beltre, 36 in April, is coming off another typically excellent season, having batted .324/.388/.492 with 19 home runs and excellent defense at third base. He had been slated to enter the final guaranteed year of a five-year, $80MM contract signed in the 2010-11 offseason, but he’s now guaranteed to earn the full $96MM maximum that was available to him on the contract.
While one could argue that there’s risk involved with locking in that salary ahead of time, it’s unlikely that Beltre would suddenly deteriorate to the point at which a $16MM salary in 2016 would look like a substantial overpay. His defense alone gives him a considerably higher floor than most players, and he’s been very durable over the past three seasons, averaging 155 games per year.
Adrian Beltre‘s contract can be voided prior to the 2016 season if he doesn’t reach 586 plate appearances this season. However, Rangers GM Jon Daniels says that he’s considering taking that clause out of the equation and bringing him back regardless, as T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes.
Beltre’s deal isn’t exactly a traditional vesting option – the contract states that the 2016 season becomes voidable for Texas if he does not reach 1,200 plate appearances between 2014 and 2015 or hit 600 plate appearances in ’15. After notching 614 PAs last season, Beltre would need 586 to satisfy the clause. Daniels isn’t certain that he’ll lock in that extra season for Beltre, but it called it a “possibility” in a chat with reporters on Sunday morning.
“I just don’t want the clause to be a story,” Daniels said, according to Jeff Wilson of the Star Telegram. “We will handle it accordingly. I don’t want that to be even a thought.”
This season, Beltre will earn $18MM in the final year of his five-year, $80MM pact signed in January of 2011. The third baseman would bank $16MM in 2016 if retained.
Beltre, 36 in April, earned his fourth career All-Star selection in 2014. The veteran slashed .324./388/.492 on the year with 19 homers. Across his four seasons in Arlington, Beltre has hit .315/.364/.530 with an average of ~29 homers per campaign.
A group of high-profile Rangers players has cleared revocable waivers, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Ace Yu Darvish, star third baseman Adrian Beltre, young shortstop Elvis Andrus, and recent free agent-signee Shin-Soo Choo have all cleared. (Outfielder Alex Rios has already cleared waivers.) Meanwhile, lefty Neal Cotts is still on waivers, with his period set to expire tomorrow.
Of course, just because that set of big names has cleared names does not necessarily mean that other teams do not want them, let alone that they are likely to be dealt. As Heyman notes, even if a team was interested in adding Darvish or Beltre, placing a claim would start a clock that could well be too short to complete such a significant deal. In the case of Choo, his down year and massive contract made it quite unlikely that another team would want to take his contract.
Andrus, on the other hand, is a more interesting case. His eight-year, $120MM extension (which includes both opt-out and vesting option provisions) does not kick in until next year. The 25-year-old has struggled to take the next step at the plate, and owns a .271/.326/.337 batting line over the 2013-14 time frame. Though he is a productive fielder and baserunner, that batting line has limited his cumulative value over that period to 4.4 fWAR and 4.9 rWAR. While his name has been mentioned as a trade possibility, the contract would certainly be a major complication, and it is perhaps somewhat telling that he was left unclaimed.
Ultimately, Cotts seems the most likely to actually change hands. Executives tell Heyman that the setup man will likely be claimed, in which case Texas will have the option of working out a trade, allowing his contract to be assumed by the claiming team, or pulling him back. The 34-year-old is earning just $2.2MM this year and will be a free agent at season’s end, making some sort of transaction seem rather likely. Though he has taken a step back from a stellar 2013 (1.11 ERA with 10.3 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9), Cotts has still been fairly productive this year. He owns a 3.54 ERA and 9.6 K/9 versus 3.4 BB/9 over 53 1/3 frames, with peripherals that suggest he has pitched slightly better. The veteran has actually been somewhat more effective against righties (.673 OPS) than lefties (.731 OPS) on the season.
As a reminder, you can check here for MLBTR’s updated list of players who have cleared revocable waivers.
While the Rangers find themselves at least facing the unexpected possibility that they will be sellers in July, GM Jon Daniels tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the team isn’t thinking of trading Adrian Beltre. “We haven’t really considered it,” Daniels said when asked. “He’s our best player, team leader, Hall of Famer.” More from Heyman’s article and more on the AL West below…
- Beltre’s future aside, Heyman writes that the Rangers will have to look hard at dealing veteran pieces such as Joakim Soria, Alex Rios and even Elvis Andrus as they look to retool for the future in what has become a lost year due to injuries. However, Daniels says that his team isn’t giving up on 2014 yet, and it would take a “compelling baseball deal” to move one of the Rangers’ core players.
- Heyman also sheds some light on the Rangers‘ pursuit of Kendrys Morales. Texas made just a $3MM offer to agent Scott Boras to secure Morales’ services, only to be outbid by a Twins team that offered $12MM pro-rated. Shortly thereafter, the Rangers saw another first base/DH option go down with an injury, as Mitch Moreland suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
- The Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich looks at the oddity of service time by pointing out that Astros right-hander Asher Wojciechowski, who has never pitched an inning in the Major Leagues, is closer to free agency and has more service time than standout rookie George Springer. Wojciechowski was added to the 40-man roster this offseason and injured himself on Feb. 1, long before Spring Training was underway and players could be demoted to the minors. Because injured players cannot be demote to the minors — otherwise teams could demote injured players to save countless dollars — Wojciechowski has been on the Major League 15-day DL all season, earning service time and a $500K salary.
- The Athletics were keeping tabs on lefty Brad Mills for awhile before acquiring him from the Brewers, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The team has little starting pitching depth and was aware of the opt-out in Mills’ contract. Of being acquired in exchange for $1 (yes, one dollar), Mills told Slusser: “I thought it was a joke at first. I try not to take it as a value judgment on my worth. Whatever they had to do to make it work.”
Adrian Beltre made his first career appearance at Nationals Park this weekend, but he confirmed to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he came very close to calling that stadium home for a long time back in 2010. Beltre said that he was close to choosing the Nationals over the Rangers, with whom he signed a five-year, $80MM in 2010. He and agent Scott Boras met with the Nats’ front office at the 2010 Winter Meetings and had advanced talks. Beltre notes that the meeting took place before Washington signed his friend, Jayson Werth, to a seven-year, $126MM deal. It’s unclear if Washington could’ve afforded both, but it’s interesting to wonder how different the franchise would look and whether or not they could’ve afforded Ryan Zimmerman‘s $100MM contract extension with Beltre in the fold.
More on the Nats…
- Kilgore also examines the remarkable story of Blake Treinen, who was refused a walk-on tryout by the University of Arkansas and got his first shot at a Division I baseball program after attending a $20 pitching camp attended primarily by middle school children. Treinen, who nearly developed diabetes due to an unhealthy lifestyle in early high school, was throwing just 79 mph late in high school but worked his way up to the seventh round of the draft and now fires a 98 mph sinker for the Nationals.
- Looking ahead to the summer, the Nationals are one club that needs to make a roster upgrade via trade, opines Paul Swydan of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). The situation is a difficult one for the stagnant Nats, says Swydan, given that the club lacks obvious places to make an impact. It is hard to imagine how Washington would go about upgrading the pitching staff, and the everyday lineup does not have any spots that are truly ripe for a move. Nevertheless, Swydan argues that the team’s bench could stand to be improved. The club put a priority on bolstering its reserves in the offseason, adding Nate McLouth, Jose Lobaton, and Kevin Frandsen, but the group has struggled on the whole. Of course, things have not been helped by the fact that the loss of several regulars for long stretches has at times pressed reserves into everyday duty.
- Aside from the obvious possibility of swapping out bench pieces, it could be that the Nationals will largely need to sink or swim with the players they have. It is easy to imagine a more productive option than Denard Span in center or even the struggling Wilson Ramos at catcher, but actually getting such a player would be extremely expensive and may not even be a realistic possibility. (Looking at the center field and catcher leaderboards, it is hard to identify reasonably plausible targets that would really move the needle.) And that is even before considering how Washington would deal with the fallout of such a move, both in the present and in the future. Given the uncertainty surrounding the role of Zimmerman, who is apparently set for time in left field and both corner infield spots when he returns, it seems that versatility could be an important factor should GM Mike Rizzo choose to go after a truly impactful player. In that respect, it is worth wondering — and this is pure speculation — whether Ben Zobrist of the Rays would be a viable target, if Tampa decides to sell off veterans. He is under control next season through a bargain $7.5MM club option, and could theoretically play any number of positions depending upon how the rest of this season and the coming offseason shake out. It is worth noting here, too, that Tampa is familiar with the Nats’ system after negotiating the Lobaton deal, and has long been said to have interest in Danny Espinosa, whose role in D.C. would largely disappear were the Nats to add a player like Zobrist.
Jeff Todd wrote the latter two bullets to this post.
The Rangers advanced to their second consecutive World Series last night. Today, Buster Olney of ESPN.com breaks down some of the crucial moves Texas made — and didn't make — that helped them return to the Fall Classic. More on that and a couple other items of note out of the AL and NL West …
- Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com feels that while the Rangers proved they didn't need Cliff Lee to win the American League pennant, they would not have done so had they traded Michael Young last offseason.
- The Rockies will move their Rookie level affiliate from Casper, WY to Grand Junction, CO, writes William Browning of the Casper Star-Tribune.
- The Rangers considered acquiring starters such as Zack Greinke and Matt Garza when Lee walked in free agency, writes Olney, but because the Rangers were stocked with young power arms, they decided to address other needs. Instead, they acquired players in Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli who were seemingly undervalued by their former organizations. Beltre, after the Red Sox moved on from him quickly by acquiring Adrian Gonzalez and moving Kevin Youkilis to third, nearly signed with the Angels but felt he had a better chance to win with the Rangers.
- Though it appears unlikely the Athletics will gain approval to build a new stadium in a different nearby city, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle wonders whether they'd be able to build a new stadium at the site of the Oakland Coliseum. The NFL's Raiders, with whom the A's share the Coliseum, may relocate to a shared stadium with the 49ers in Santa Clara, which would leave the A's as sole tenants of their current digs, so they wouldn't have to consider any other team's needs.
- Mark Ellis provided some stability at second base when the Rockies acquired him this season, but the key stone has persisted as a unanswered question throughout Colorado's existence, writes Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post. Ellis, an impending free agent, "figures to return" to the Rox in 2012, according to Armstrong.
- Elsewhere in Armstrong's piece, he writes that the Rockies will "dive into the offseason trade market in hopes of landing a quality starting pitcher." Three prospects whom other teams might seek are outfielder Tim Wheeler, infielder Nolan Arenado and pitcher Chad Bettis.
At least one division series per league is going to a full five games this year, with the first elimination game taking place in the Bronx tomorrow night. Here are some links to read in the meantime…
- A's GM Billy Beane and MLB.com's Peter Gammons reflect on the decision Beane made in 2002, when he nearly joined the Red Sox before realizing he wanted to remain in Oakland. Gammons compares Beane to Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, who is at a similar career crossroads now that Boston missed the playoffs and the Cubs are interested in him as their next GM.
- The Angels are also looking for a new general manager and former GM Jim Bowden compiles a list of candidates at ESPN.com. Kim Ng of MLB, Jason McLeod of the Padres and Bill Geivett of the Rockies are among the names on Bowden's list (MLBTR's list of GM Candidates offers some more candidates to consider).
- Though the Rangers wanted Cliff Lee last offseason, they have many reasons to celebrate the near-miss, Jon Paul Morosi writes at FOX Sports. Texas signed Adrian Beltre, whose three-homer game sent them back to the ALCS, instead.
- Jim Margalus of South Side Sox looks back at Mark Buehrle's last contract and determines that it was a good one for the White Sox because the left-hander didn't really age.
- Carlos Zambrano knows his future with the Cubs is undetermined until they hire a GM, but he says he is talking with new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen on a near-daily basis, according to Ormúz Jesús Sojo of Líder en Deportes (translation via MLBTR's Nick Collias).
- Check out Rumores de Béisbol for all of the latest rumors in Spanish.