A.J. Burnett Rumors

Phillies Notes: Burnett, Tomas, Offseason Needs

On the day that the Phillies were officially eliminated from the postseason race, let’s check in on things in Philadelphia:

  • 37-year-old starter A.J. Burnett indicated that he is pitching through several physical maladies as he nears a tough decision on his future, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In addition to the need for offseason hernia surgery, Burnett said that his right arm was fatigued. “If I can lift my arm up at the end of the season then I might pitch,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.” Burnett faces a decision whether to exercise his $12.75MM player option just one week after the World Series wraps up, but indicated to Gelb that he may have some reservations about his time in Philadelphia — while declining to get into specifics. “I expected a lot of things to be different,” he said. “A lot.”
  • The Phillies have “legitimate interest” in Cuban free agent Yasmani Tomas, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. The 23-year-old power hitter appeals more to Philadelphia than did countrymate Rusney Castillo, says Salisbury. His youth and profile would appear to be a nice fit for a Philly club that is in need of an infusion of MLB-ready talent.
  • Indeed, manager Ryne Sandberg said today that improved production from the middle of the order is high on his wish list for next year, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Of course, as Sandberg acknowledged, “everybody needs the same thing.” That also holds true of the other area that he stressed: “solidify[ing] the starting rotation.” With around $140MM already on the books for next year (assuming Burnett returns), and arbitration raises coming for Antonio Bastardo, Ben Revere, and Domonic Brown (if they are not traded), Philly will have some room to add salary before bumping up to the $189MM luxury tax. Of course, the team must decide whether it is wise to add substantial future obligations to veterans through free agency.

NL Notes: Giants, Mets, Burnett

Here’s the latest out of the National League:

  • A repeat of last year’s late-season extensions seems unlikely for the Giants, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The club is not talking about new deals with any of its pending free agents, says Schulman. That would include, of course, third baseman Pablo Sandoval. In a recent poll, MLBTR readers indicated a collective expectation that Sandoval will find a new home next year.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson explained that his recent comments on the club’s younger players have been somewhat misinterpreted as forecasts of the team’s spending plans, as Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. Saying that his statements were intended to focus on the team’s younger players, particularly given his audience (related to one of the team’s affiliates), Alderson emphasized that it would be unfair to “assume that we’ve made decisions about what we’re going to or not going to do at those positions.” Though Martino notes that the organization still needs to prove it actually has the ability and willingness to bump up its spending, Alderson maintains that he has no complaints and believes in the club’s process. “It’s important to keep in mind a couple things,” he said. “One is, I actually believe we will have some payroll flexibility that goes beyond what some people are thinking. But at the same time, I don’t think we expect to go out and spend money just to get to a threshold. We have to see what’s there, both in terms of the free agent market and over time the trade market. We have to evaluate what we have.”
  • Veteran Phillies righty A.J. Burnett has bumped the value of his 2015 player option to $12.75MM with tonight’s start, his 32nd, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki notes on Twitter. While it remains to be seen whether he decides to return, Burnett’s injury-free but less productive 2014 campaign makes it unlikely that he would deliver much in return via trade. (Of course, his 20-team no-trade clause also presents a significant barrier.)

Quick Hits: Duffy, Burnett, Rasmus, Red Sox

Royals pitcher Danny Duffy left his outing after just one pitch this afternoon against the Yankees, with catcher Salvador Perez signaling to the dugout and pointing at his shoulder (as YES Network’s Jack Curry tweets). Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that Duffy was officially removed due to shoulder soreness. An injury to Duffy would be tough news for the Royals, who lead the AL Central heading down the stretch. The lefty has been a key to a tough Royals rotation, posting a 2.42 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 141 1/3 innings so far this season. Here are more notes from around the game.

  • Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett is making his 30th start of the season this afternoon, and it’ll be an expensive one, as CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury tweets. Burnett’s 30th start increases the value of his 2015 player option from $10MM to $11.75MM. In addition, he gets a $750K bonus this season for making his 30th start. The Phillies’ obligation to Burnett thus continues to accumulate even though he isn’t having the best season, posting a 4.40 ERA so far with 8.1 K/9 and a league-leading 78 walks in 184 innings.
  • Colby Rasmus is one of the best available free-agent position players this winter, and he’s currently on the Blue Jays‘ bench, which tells you much of what you need to know about this offseason’s crop of free agent hitters, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. That juxtaposition explains why the Red Sox spent the summer acquiring hitting talent, signing Rusney Castillo and getting Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig in trades.


West Notes: Angels, Burnett, Tulowitzki, Astros

The Angels had interest in A.J. Burnett of the Phillies, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes, confirming a report by Peter Gammons (all Twitter links). The Angels, though, wanted Burnett to waive his player option for next season, perhaps to get them under the luxury tax threshold. It wouldn’t be surprising if Burnett hadn’t wanted to do that, given that he prefers playing near the East Coast, and that his option guarantees him $10MM or more in 2015. The Angels, then, will continue to hunt for a starting pitcher to replace the injured Garrett Richards. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki would rather retire than change positions, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. No. It’s just who I am, it’s what I do, it’s what I have dreamed of as a kid,” Tulowitzki says. “So I guess when you have a dream and you accomplish it and someone tries to take it away from you … it wouldn’t be worth it for me to try and move somewhere else.” Tulowitzki is just 29 and is still a plus defensive shortstop when healthy, but he continues to have issues with injuries, and it’s not difficult to see how he might need to change positions before the end of his contract, which runs through 2020. Saunders notes that Tulowitzki is currently on crutches after surgery to fix a torn labrum in his hip.
  • The Astros‘ “extreme Moneyball” approach is still controversial throughout the game, Joshua Green of Bloomberg BusinessWeek writes in a profile of the Astros since Jeff Luhnow’s hiring in 2011. The Astros’ poor results the past few years, and their relentless questioning of conventional wisdom (leading to, for example, their aggressive approach to shifting and to their tandem minor league rotations), have predictably been divisive. Luhnow gives Green a look at the Astros’ “Ground Control” database (notes from which were leaked in June), which uses an algorithm to tell the team’s management when players ought to be promoted.

Phillies Notes: Burnett, Adams, Castillo, Papelbon

Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett dominated the Nationals last night, and on the heels of his 12-strikeout gem, he softened his stance on retirement, writes CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury“My decision will come down to how I feel and what my family and I decide,” said Burnett. “It’s just one start, but to be able to go out and do that tonight makes you wonder.” Burnett spent the majority of the previous offseason debating retirement before ultimately deciding that he would pitch again. However, he kept his choices limited, preferring only to pitch near his Maryland home, and eventually agreed to a one-year deal with the Phillies. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that starting pitching will be a priority for him this offseason — a statement that presumably will hold true regardless of the decision Burnett reaches on his player option.

Here are some more Phillies links…

  • Right-hander Mike Adams told reporters Monday (including Salisbury) that he feels as though he has stolen money from the Phillies after spending the majority of his two-year, $12MM contract on the disabled list. “There probably isn’t anyone by the situation than myself,” Adams said. Adams’ injury troubles have become severe enough that he’s not sure whether or not he will try to pitch somewhere next season.
  • The Phillies did indeed place a bid on Rusney Castillo, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but it was not close to Boston’s winning offer of seven years and $72.5MM. Amaro would not characterize whether or not he considered the Phillies to be a finalist — Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that they had been, after Castillo signed — but the GM did say that the Phillies are aggressively scouting international free agents.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wouldn’t be surprised if the Phils are getting some calls on Burnett following last night’s performance, and he also spoke with an AL scout regarding Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon (Twitter links). “He gets people out and does the job, but not much life in that arm like there used to be,” said the scout.

Phillies Notes: Burnett, Amaro, Tomas, Kendrick

Following a tough start on Tuesday night, A.J. Burnett sounded as if retirement was on his mind when asked by reporters if he planned to pitch in 2015.   “I have no idea.  Probably not, but we’ll see,” Burnett told the media, including Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  As Narducci notes, Burnett’s comments could be stemming from frustration given how both he and the Phillies have struggled this season, so it’s too early to assume Burnett is hanging up his glove.  Narducci also cites Burnett’s competitive nature and his increasingly pricey player option for 2015 as reasons why the veteran righty won’t want to end his career quite yet.

Here’s some more from the City of Brotherly Love…

  • In a radio interview with Mike Missanelli of 97.5FM radio yesterday, ESPN’s Jayson Stark said he wasn’t surprised that team president David Montgomery recently gave GM Ruben Amaro a vote of confidence but Stark feels no decision has been made about Amaro’s future yet.  The Phillies’ other owners could get involved, and the anti-Amaro sentiment amongst the team’s fans could also play a role.  “They are certainly going to make changes in the organization.  There’s a lot of rumors swirling about all sorts of stuff below Ruben,” Stark said.  With just one left year on Amaro’s contract, if the Phillies decide to keep him, Stark wonders if the GM could actually receive an extension in order to avoid lame-duck status.  (Hat tip to Peter Mucha of Philly.com for the partial transcript of Stark’s interview.)
  • “There are indications” the Phillies will make a strong play for Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports.  Tomas is expected to become eligible to sign this offseason, and the recently-defected outfielder is considered to be an intriguing power prospect.
  • Burnett retiring would only make the Phillies’ offseason need for starting pitching all the more dire, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  The Phillies could have as many as three rotation spots to fill given Cliff Lee‘s injury issues, Burnett’s uncertain status and pending free agency for Kyle Kendrick and Jerome Williams.  Lawrence predicts the Phils will target mid-tier starters this winter given how much payroll space is already tied up by Lee and Cole Hamels.
  • Speaking of Kendrick, the right-hander recently discussed his free agency in general terms with reporters, including MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.  Kendrick isn’t sure if he’ll remain in Philadelphia, saying “I want to go where whoever wants me. That’s where I want to go. If it’s here, great. If they want me. You want to go somewhere where you’re wanted. We’ll see. I don’t know.”
  • Ken Giles looks like a closer of the future for the Phillies, and ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) suggests that that the team could take the bold step of installing Giles as the closer right now.  The switch could also prevent Jonathan Papelbon from reaching his $13MM vesting option for 2016, which would help increase Papelbon’s trade value.  Olney notes that Papelbon could easily file a grievance over the situation, though I’d argue that given Papelbon’s past comments about wanting to play for a contender, he might begrudgingly go along with the move if it helps get him out of Philadelphia.

Quick Hits: Atchison, Rapada, D’Backs, McLouth

Indians pitcher Scott Atchison, 38, has himself a new deal which gave manager Terry Francona a meatball of a joke setup.   “What’d they give him?” Francona asked reporters, including Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. “A year, an option, and an AARP card?”  More from around baseball..

  • MLBTR (Twitter link) has learned that Clay Rapada will take 2-3 weeks to let his injured ankle heal before pursuing his next contract.  The left-hander struggled with the Orioles‘ Triple-A affiliate in large part due to that bad ankle.  Rapada had a 5.63 ERA in 38 1/3 Triple-A innings this season, a far cry from the 2.82 ERA he posted in 2012 for the Yankees.
  • The Diamondbacks‘ record $115MM payroll isn’t a one-time thing, but rather a sign of what’s to come, president/CEO Derrick Hall tells Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona. “It is safe to say it will be $100MM-plus,” Hall said of the payroll for next year. “We definitely want to be close to where we were. Will we get to $115MM? I don’t know. But I don’t know if that is necessary.”
  • The Nationals announced that outfielder Nate McLouth will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair the labrum in his right shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season.  McLouth, 33 in October, signed a two-year, $10.75MM deal with the Nats in December that contains a club option for a third season valued at $6.5MM.
  • A.J. Burnett was on the hill tonight for the Phillies and even though he lost, he’s got a reason to smile.  As Todd Zolecki of MLB.com (on Twitter) notes, tonight was his 27th start of the season, which bumped his player option from $8.5MM to $10MM.  With 30 total starts, he can bump that number to $11.75MM.  If he reaches 32 starts, that number goes to $12.75MM.

East Notes: McCann, Burnett, Cabrera

Yankees catcher Brian McCann will visit a neurologist today after suffering a concussion during yesterday’s game, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. If McCann heads to the 7-day DL, Austin Romine, who’s hitting .252/.313/.374 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, would likely take his place for the time being. A DL stint would be another disappointment in what’s been a rough season for McCann, who’s hitting just .238/.294/.384 in the first season of a five-year deal. Here’s more from around the East divisions.

  • A.J. Burnett, who has struggled since the All-Star break, no longer looks like a trade asset for the Phillies, Ryan Lawrence of the Daily News writes. Burnett has allowed five runs or more in four of his last five starts. There’s also the problem of his contract, which contains a complex player/mutual option for 2015 and increases in size for starts he makes down the stretch this season. He also has a $7.5MM signing bonus that the Phillies don’t begin paying until December.
  • Melky Cabrera‘s rebound season in 2014 will likely earn him a significant contract, and the Blue Jays need him back next season, Brendan Kennedy of The Star writes. Figuring out how much Cabrera will get is tricky, due to his health history and PED connections, Kennedy points out. But Kennedy polled several agents, who figured Cabrera’s .314/.365/.477 season so far might get him about three years and $36MM-$45MM this winter, which would be a nice upgrade on the two-year, $16MM deal he’s on now. One suggested Shane Victorino‘s three-year, $39MM deal with the Red Sox might be a precedent for a deal with Cabrera.

Placed On Revocable Waivers: Monday

Now that we’re beyond the July 31st trade deadline, players must pass through revocable trade waivers in order to be dealt to another team.  MLBTR’s Jeff Todd broke down the August trade rules and what it means when you see several major names placed on waivers over the next few weeks.

Here are today’s notable players who have reportedly been placed on revocable waivers…

  • Also going on revocable waivers today were Jason Hammel of the Athletics and Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks, Rosenthal tweets. As Rosenthal notes, it seems likely that clubs will claim Miley, but that he will be pulled back by Arizona. As for Hammel, a deal still seems rather unlikely since Oakland dealt away some important rotation depth in Tommy Milone.
  • Hitting the wire today from the Phillies were Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Carlos Ruiz, Rosenthal tweets. They will be on waivers until Wednesday.
  • The Phillies placed Antonio Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Howard and Kyle Kendrick on revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  The moves all took place on Saturday, so since the waiver period lasts 47 hours, we could know by today if any of the players were claimed.  I’d expect Bastardo and Burnett to be claimed given that both drew significant interest before the July 31st deadline, and there is virtually no chance any team would claim Howard and risk being stuck with the roughly $68MM remaining on his contract.

Latest On Royals’ Pitching Search

We took a look yesterday at the Royals’ search for an outfielder. Kansas City has also been mentioned alongside several starting pitchers in recent days, including A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, and John Lackey. (MLBTR links.) Here’s the latest:

  • The Royals have asked the Rockies about Jorge De La Rosa, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.  De La Rosa spent a few years with Kansas City before they dealt him to Colorado to complete the Ramon Ramirez deal in 2008.  Earlier this month, Rockies owner Dick Monfort told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post the team aimed to do everything they can to keep De La Rosa, who is eligible for free agency after the season.
  • The Royals are talking with the Phillies about A.J. Burnett, but nothing is close, tweets Rosenthal. With bats in scarce supply, Kansas City is still exploring the pitching market, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star adds on Twitter.

Yesterday’s Updates

  • The Royals are in on Ian Kennedy of the Padres, along with the Pirates and Marlins (and still others), tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Of course, as Rosenthal notes, it is not clear that San Diego will deal away Kennedy.
  • Boston is looking for power pitching in return for Lackey, but K.C. places a high value on its young arms, tweets McCullough.
  • The Royals have indeed inquired on Colon, but got the sense that New York did not intend to move him, tweets McCullough.
  • The Phillies have had recent discussions with the Royals about Burnett as well as Antonio Bastardo, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. As for Colon, his market is not developing with any clubs, let alone the Royals, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
  • As of earlier this morning, the Royals were unwilling to meet the Red Sox‘ asking price on Lackey, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Kansas City remains interested if the price comes down, adds Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
  • While the team is looking into adding a starter (and/or an outfielder or reliever), McCullough tweets, GM Dayton Moore says he is still counting on internal production to drive results.