A.J. Burnett Rumors

Stark’s Latest: Lester, Burnett, Lee, Kennedy, Lackey, Suzuki

Jon Lester remains the most-discussed name at the moment, and ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark contributes his take after discussing the lefty with several club executives who will not be involved in any deals. He discusses the possibility of eight teams going after Lester: the Dodgers, Cardinals, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, and Pirates. Though Los Angeles still seems unwilling to part with any of its premium prospects, Stark tabs them the likeliest landing spot.

Of course, Stark also provides a number of important updates from elsewhere in the market in his latest post. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Talks between the Phillies and Pirates regarding A.J. Burnett are “all but dead,” writes Stark. The issue is that Burnett has been unwilling to give an assurance that he would not pick up his player option for next season, creating too much financial uncertainty for Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, the Phillies have not yet abandoned hope of dealing fellow starter Cliff Lee before the deadline, though an official says that they want significant prospects in return.
  • Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if David Price of the Rays or Ian Kennedy of the Padres are moved, with Stark writing that the former will be a last-minute decision and the latter remains a 50-50 proposition. With the GM seat still unfilled in San Diego, and given that Kennedy remains under control for next year, the club is unwilling to move him unless the return includes a starter capable of stepping into the rotation along with another prospect.
  • The Red Sox are asking for a strong return on John Lackey in discussions. The club wants an established major league starter, presumably with additional control. If that is part of the return on Lester, however, the club might be open to more flexibility in a return for Lackey.
  • The Twins are telling inquiring clubs that they have not yet given up on extending Kurt Suzuki, and could keep him past the deadline. If that occurs, the team could still consider August deals, though the waiver process (and Suzuki’s cheap contract) could prove a hindrance.
  • Scouting trips can obviously be undertaken for many purposes, but Stark provides a few interesting ones to note: The Rangers have scouted the Nationals‘ top affiliate this weekend; though rumors quickly died down, Washington was said to have inquired about Adrian Beltre. The White Sox are looking at the affiliates of the YankeesBlue Jays, and Red Sox as they consider offers for John Danks. And the Red Sox have scouted the Triple-A affiliate of the Braves, who are said to be very interested in lefty Andrew Miller.

NL Notes: Tulowitzki, Murphy, De La Rosa, Burnett, Nationals, Marlins, Dodgers

The Rockies are not prepared to deal star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at present (not least of which because he is on the DL), but the Mets have reached out to indicate that they would be interested if he is marketed, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. A National League executive tells Sherman that he thinks the Mets could match up well given their young pitching depth and Colorado’s need for the same. On the other hand, sources tell Sherman that the Cardinals think very highly of the star shortstop and would give up a substantial haul to add him. And of course, Sherman also notes, Tulowitzki would have a wider market given his top-tier abilities.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has drawn recent trade interest, sources tell Marc Carig of Newsday. It still seems likely that Murphy will remain in New York, however, according to Carig.
  • The Rockies could be willing to listen on current closer LaTroy Hawkins and starter Jorge De La Rosa, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com. One team that has been connected to De La Rosa is the Orioles, though Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today that talks have not progressed given Colorado’s high asking price of top prospect Kevin Gausman. Harding says that the Rockies do have interest in other Baltimore minor leaguers, including lefty Tim Berry, rising prospect Hunter Harvey, and righties Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson.
  • The Pirates‘ interest in Phillies righty A.J. Burnett is “mild at best,” according to Heyman. And that is even before addressing the issue of Burnett’s 2015 player option, which seems likely to rise through escalators to $12.75MM. Neither the Orioles nor the Yankees appear to be interested in Burnett, Heyman adds.
  • There are varying reports coming out of Washington, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Some clubs have indicated that the Nationals are looking for a second baseman and left-handed reliever. But the Nats themselves have said that they are merely fielding inquiries from teams offering second baggers and would only look to pick up a southpaw pen piece if they can upgrade the team’s current options. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, likewise, tweets that an executive of one selling team sees the Nationals as pursuing multiple possibilities, with a particular focus on adding relief pitching.
  • The Marlins are looking to add players that will contribute this year and in the future, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. The Fish are not currently shopping their veterans, Bowden adds. In an opinion piece, Rosenthal writes that the club should trade star Giancarlo Stanton sooner rather than later to maximize its return, opining that the team is unlikely to sign him to a long-term deal.
  • The Dodgers have continued to look for additional set-up arms for the bullpen, tweets Bowden, but finding a match is complicated by the fact that three of the most obvious sellers also reside in the NL West. Meanwhile, the club has long been said to be interested in adding a starter. Given the recent struggles of Dan Haren, his spot in the rotation (rather than that of Josh Beckett) could be the one that is turned over, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports.

Stark’s Latest: Price, Phillies, O’s, Royals, Pirates

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has a new Rumblings & Grumblings column posted in which he runs down a plethora of trade-related topics. You’ll need to read the full post to get all the information and analysis, but here are some of the highlights …

  • The Rays are waiting until next week to make any decisions on whether or not to trade ace David Price. However, as Stark points out, it could still be a difficult judgment call as to whether or not the Rays are close enough to go for it or far enough back to sell. Tampa is currently seven games back of the division lead and four and a half games back from a Wild Card berth.
  • One executive tells Stark that he’s convinced the team will move Price if they get a big enough offer. Said the exec, “They’ve really built their team by making these kinds of deals. But if the return they can get now is something they think they can get this winter, they’ll hold him.” Another exec tells Stark that waiting until the winter could reduce the return in a trade by 30 to 40 percent.
  • Stark runs down the possible landing spots for Price, calling the Dodgers the favorite, but noting that L.A. has said it will not part with both Joc Pederson and Corey Seager, even in a Price trade. The Mariners are the second choice, he notes, with the Cardinals listed third followed by the Giants and Blue Jays (both of whom are painted as long shots by Stark).
  • If the Rays do sell Price, they’ll be open for business and listen on a number of other players, including Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce and Yunel Escobar. Their preference is to deal Price and Zobrist in separate trades, if that comes to pass.
  • The Phillies are the next team that everyone is watching, with nine players that could be moved but contractual problems surrounding many of them. Most execs feel the Phillies will eat money to facilitate deals and aren’t looking to just dump players on other clubs. Specifically, the team is in need of position-player prospects, one exec who has spoken with Philadelphia tells Stark.
  • Marlon Byrd is the most likely to be dealt, with the Mariners, Royals and Reds scouting him. The Reds, however, may not be able to take on Byrd’s remaining $3MM in 2014, and the Mariners and Royals are on his no-trade list.
  • Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee aren’t likely to be dealt, executives tell Stark. In Lee’s case, they feel he’s a lock to clear waivers. One exec tells Stark that he’d be more inclined to take a chance on Lee were he a free agent, but his contract is too risky at this point.
  • Cole Hamels isn’t likely to be dealt either. It’s not that the Phillies aren’t willing to move him, it’s just that the prices they’ve specified consist of packages “that no one would possibly give up.”
  • A.J. Burnett‘s preference is indeed to return to the Pirates, but Pittsburgh would need assurances that he’s not going to exercise his player option for 2015. The Orioles‘ interest is said to be lukewarm, while the Phillies asked the Yankees and were told, “No thanks.”
  • At least half a dozen teams are in on Antonio Bastardo, whom Stark concretely says will be traded in the next week.
  • The Orioles aren’t looking for a closer upgrade over Zach Britton, but they’re looking for a rotation upgrade and a lefty reliever that’s more than just a left-on-left specialist. They’ve shown no interest in dealing Hunter Harvey or Dylan Bundy.
  • The Royals have called on virtually every right-handed hitter on the market, but they’re look specifically at right fielders, including Byrd, Alex Rios, Chris Denorfia and Dayan Viciedo. The first two of those options still look most likely.
  • Stark would be surprised if the Pirates didn’t add at least one pitcher, if not two in the next week, but it’d have to be at least a No. 3 option in terms of starters. On the relief front, they’re looking at seventh-inning arms, as they’re content with Tony Watson in the eighth and Mark Melancon in the ninth.


NL Central Links: Pirates, Burnett, Cardinals, Peavy

The Pirates are not on A.J. Burnett‘s 20-team no-trade clause (as outlined by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick earlier today), and they are his preferred destination if the Phillies choose to move him, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As I speculated in this morning’s post on his no-trade clause, however, Rosenthal notes that Burnett’s complex mutual/player option may be a deterrent for the Bucs, as Burnett could potentially be a spendy acquisition if he makes a full season’s worth of starts. Nonetheless, Pirates players are lobbying with the front office in an attempt to persuade GM Neal Huntington and his staff to reacquire their former teammate, according to Rosenthal.

Here’s more out of the NL Central…

  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly says that the team has financial flexibility to add payroll, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Whether or not that would extend to taking on Burnett’s future commitments, of course, remains to be seen.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said last night that he expects Michael Wacha to pitch in September, but Rosenthal tweets that St. Louis is still looking for rotation upgrades. The Cardinals are exploring everything from front-line starters to back-of-the-rotation types, he says.
  • Peter Gammons reports that the Red Sox have been scouting Cardinals short-season Class-A outfielder Rowan Wick in case the Redbirds decide to make a run at Jake Peavy (Twitter link).
  • The reason that a deal sending Peavy to the Cardinals has not yet taken place, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com, is that Boston wants a prospect of some kind in return. St. Louis, meanwhile, was more interested in doing the deal primarily in exchange for taking on Peavy’s salary. Peavy is earning $14.5MM this year. (A $15MM player option would vest for 2015 if he is able to log at least 137 2/3 more innings this year, though that would appear to be quite a tall order.)

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


The Details Of A.J. Burnett’s No-Trade Clause

Earlier today, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported the teams to which Cliff Lee can be traded without his consent, and he now reports the trades to which Lee’s teammate, A.J. Burnett, can be dealt without consent (Twitter link).

Burnett has the same 20-team no-trade clause that Lee has, according to Crasnick, and the nine teams to which he can be dealt without prior approval are the Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Pirates, Reds, Royals, Nationals and Cardinals. Unlike Lee, Burnett appears to have factored personal preference into his no-trade clause more than leverage. While Lee blocked potential deals to contending clubs outside of his division, Burnett blocked deals to markets that are further away from his Maryland home. All nine teams to which Burnett can be traded are in the midwest or on the east coast, which isn’t necessarily surprising, given the strong role that geography played in his free agency decision this offseason.

Of note is a second tweet from Crasnick, in which he says the perception that Burnett and the Pirates parted on bad terms is vastly overblown. It appears that Burnett would be open to a reunion with the Bucs, for whom he excelled in 2012-13. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Pirates are equipped to take on his remaining salary.

Per Cot’s Contracts, Burnett is owed $7.5MM in 2014 salary, with a $2.75MM deferred signing bonus payment due next January and a $3.75MM deferred signing bonus payment due next June. Additionally, Burnett will earn an extra $500K upon reaching 24 and 27 games started, and he will receive an additional $750K if he reaches 30 starts.

His complex contract also contains a $15MM mutual option ($1MM buyout) that becomes a $7.5MM player option if the team declines its half. That player option increases to $8.5MM with 24 starts, $10MM with 27 starts, $11.75MM with 30 starts and $12.75MM with 32 starts. Burnett is tied for the league lead with 21 starts, making him very likely to hit the salary and option escalators in his contract.


Phillies Notes: Burnett, Hamels, Lee

Here’s the latest on the Phillies and the numerous trade candidates on their roster…

  • The Pirates had a scout watching A.J. Burnett‘s start on Friday, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.  The Bucs are known to be looking for starting pitching and Burnett is certainly a familiar quantity for them.  The veteran righty has a partial no-trade clause, though it isn’t known if he can block a deal to Pittsburgh or if Burnett would welcome a deal to a contender that is still close to his Maryland home.
  • Cole Hamels has received some trade interest from the Red Sox, though CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman wonders if this could be a tactic to restart extension talks with Jon Lester.  Otherwise, Boston’s pursuit of Hamels doesn’t make a lot of sense to Heyman — the Sox could just re-sign Lester, rather than pay a similar price to Hamels through 2018 and have to give up prospects to the Phillies to get him.
  • The Blue Jays and Yankees both scouted Cliff Lee‘s final rehab start, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes.  Lee returns from the DL to start against the Giants tonight, and scouts from several teams are expected in attendance for Lee’s two scheduled starts prior to the July 31st deadline.

NL Notes: Hamels, Lee, Burnett, Colon, Padres

The Rockies, who have lost four in a row and 11 of their last 15, own the National League’s worst record and the third-worst mark in all of baseball. The franchise faces six key questions, according to the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders, including whether to trade Troy Tulowitzki and to overhaul the front office to appease the disgruntled fan base. Saunders doesn’t see either happening because owner Dick Monfort is an extremely loyal and stubborn man. Saunders writes Tulowitzki could force a trade if he is willing to be portrayed as the disloyal, bad guy. Elsewhere in the NL:

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Phillies, Orioles Have Discussed A.J. Burnett Trade

The Phillies and Orioles have had “very preliminary” talks about a trade involving starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. Morosi further emphasizes that there has not yet been much progress toward a deal.

Burnett, who is making $7.5MM this year with a $7.5MM signing bonus, has a complex player/mutual option that guarantees him at least $7.5MM in 2015 if he wants to pitch (a guarantee that will increase as Burnett makes starts down the stretch). Burnett also has limited no-trade protection. Although Burnett has said he wants to remain with the Phillies, his no-trade clause likely does not include Baltimore, since Burnett’s family resides in Maryland. The Orioles were rumored to be interested in Burnett last offseason.

Burnett, 37, has posted a 4.08 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 this season for the Phillies. Both his ERA and his peripheral numbers have taken a step backward after a strong 2013 season in Pittsburgh.


Quick Hits: Urias, Braves, Burnett, McCutchen

17-year-old Dodgers lefty Julio Urias wowed observers at the Futures Game, leading to chatter about the possibility that he could make his big-league debut as soon as next year, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes. “This guy’s got the ability to pitch in the big leagues at 18,” says Dodgers scouting director Logan White. That doesn’t mean the Dodgers will promote Urias that soon — he’s currently at Class A+ Rancho Cucamonga, and he’s only pitched 52 1/3 innings because the Dodgers are concerned about overworking him. But his stuff (he can touch 97 MPH) and composure are impressive beyond his years. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Braves badly need lefty bullpen help and particularly like the Red SoxAndrew Miller, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Luis Avilan‘s struggles on Sunday are an example of the problems the Braves have had, O’Brien writes — Avilan entered in a 10-4 game in the eighth and faced three batters, giving up a single and two walks. By the time the inning was over, it was 10-7, and a blowout had suddenly become a save situation. Miller, who has struck out 14.4 batters per nine innings for Boston this season, would be a big upgrade. The Braves also like James Russell and Wesley Wright of the Cubs, O’Brien writes.
  • The Braves should release second baseman Dan Uggla, writes Mark Bradley of the Journal-Constitution. The $19MM the Braves owe Uggla through 2015 is a “sunken cost,” and the Braves won’t be able to find a team willing to trade for him. Uggla is hitting an execrable .162/.241/.231 in 145 plate appearances this season. Uggla received only 15 plate appearances in June and only has three so far in July. The Braves also suspended him for a game on Sunday for being late arriving at Wrigley Field Saturday.
  • A.J. Burnett wants to stay with the Phillies, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “I’m not a guy who looks for an out or wants to get out because things aren’t going the right way,” says Burnett. “If that happens, then it happens, but I’m not looking to move on. This is my team.” Burnett has a limited no-trade clause, and says he isn’t sure how he would respond if the Phillies asked him to waive it.
  • The rash of pitcher injuries this season might affect the salaries of free-agents-to-be like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Recent injuries to Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia and the questionable or disappointing contracts of pitchers like Justin Verlander and Johan Santana show how risky long-term deals for star pitchers can be. Scherzer and Lester have performed well this season, but other pitchers’ recent histories might affect the market this winter.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington wants Andrew McCutchen to be a Pirate for life, although he’s realistic about how difficult McCutchen will be to keep, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “We truly hope Andrew McCutchen retires as a Pirate. That is going to be incredibly challenging to do, but that is our long-term goal,” says Huntington. The Bucs already control McCutchen through 2018 at bargain rates — his yearly salary through his age-31 season never exceeds $14.5MM.

AL East Notes: Price, Burnett, McCarthy, Breslow

With 10 wins in their last 12 games, the Rays have escaped the AL East basement and added another wrinkle to the David Price trade rumors.  As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times outlines, it still makes a lot of sense for the Rays to deal Price, given that the club needs to replenish its minor league stock and the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade only increases Price’s value as the best starter available.  On the other hand, the Rays have already invested a record payroll into this year’s team and they could still make a comeback in a weak AL East, then wait until the offseason to explore trading Price.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • “The Yankees don’t have a strong interest in” reacquiring A.J. Burnett, George A. King III of the New York Post reports.  Burnett is a logical trade candidate if the Phillies decide to sell, though the veteran has a partial no-trade clause in his contract.
  • Brandon McCarthy‘s tendency to allow home runs and grounders might be a problem given Yankee Stadium’s small dimensions and the Yankees‘ poor infield defense, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News still feels the Bombers made a good move in acquiring the righty from the Diamondbacks.  McCarthy’s peripherals indicate that he’s due to pitch better in the second half, and even if he’s only average, Martino still considers that an upgrade over the struggling Vidal Nuno.
  • Before dealing for Rich Hill, the Angels showed some interest in acquiring Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow but felt that Breslow’s stuff had declined since last year, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reports.  Breslow posted a 1.81 ERA (though a 4.37 xFIP) over 59 2/3 relief innings for the Sox in 2013 but has struggled this season, managing only a 5.04 ERA and almost as many walks (20) as strikeouts (21) over 30 1/3 innings.  The southpaw is also averaging just 87.8 mph on his fastball, down significantly from his 89.9 mph average last year.
  • Also from Edes’ piece, he lists several Red Sox veterans who could be traded this summer now that Boston is on the brink of falling out of contention.
  • While it may not seem likely Jon Lester and the Red Sox will work out a new contract before Lester hits free agency, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reminds us that Cole Hamels and the Phillies were in a similar situation two years ago and agreed on a midseason extension.  Lester has been unwilling to negotiate during the year for fear of distractions, though it was recently reported that he would be open to hearing an offer if it led to a quick signing process.  (One would think he’d be very quick to agree if the Sox presented Lester with the six-year/$144MM deal the Phillies gave Hamels, though I strongly doubt Boston would offer that much.)
  • The Blue Jays have done a poor job of drafting and developing position players over the last decade-plus, Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun writes, a problem that has been underscored by the lack of depth available to fill in for several injured Jays regulars.