A.J. Griffin Rumors

Rosenthal’s Latest: Athletics, Indians, Frazier

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:

  • The Athletics aren’t currently considering trading Scott Kazmir and aren’t yet letting go of their hopes of contending, Rosenthal says. The team was dealt another blow yesterday, however, in the form of setbacks to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, at least one of whom the A’s might have counted on later in the season to fill a spot in the rotation and bump Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen.
  • An executive says the Indians could be sellers this summer if their 10-18 season doesn’t dramatically improve. Carlos Santana and Brandon Moss could be on the block if they do. Santana is signed through 2016 with a reasonable option for 2017, while Moss has one more year of arbitration eligibility beyond this one before he can become a free agent.
  • Rosenthal wonders how it will be possible for the Reds to sign Todd Frazier long-term, given their already-heavy load of commitments to veterans. Rosenthal says Frazier is eligible for free agency after next season, although he actually isn’t eligible until after 2017 — his current contract carries through 2016, but the Reds can take him through arbitration once more after that. That one year makes a considerable difference, since it means the Reds already control Frazier through his age-31 season. As terrific a year as Frazier is having, trying to control him beyond 31 might be risky, and representative of the kinds of commitments that have caused the Reds’ current payroll headaches. Still, Rosenthal is probably right that Frazier could become a trade candidate at some point, given the Reds’ need to acquire young talent.

AL Notes: Griffin, Parker, Smyly, Cabrera, Willis, Rodon

We touched on injuries earlier this evening, but two significant situations have popped up since — both regarding rehabbing Athletics pitchers. First, righty A.J. Griffin was forced out early from his simulated game with shoulder soreness, as John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports. Griffin’s injury was to his elbow, of course, and the club is hopeful that the shoulder pain only constitutes a minor setback. More troublingly, fellow Tommy John patient Jarrod Parker left his Triple-A rehab start in a scene that left observers seriously concerned about his arm, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Parker, who is said to have been overcome by pain after throwing a very wild pitch, walked off with assistance while clutching his surgically repaired right elbow — which is now on its third UCL. The Athletics‘ summer trade plans are virtually impossible to gauge anyway, but the inability of either of those pitchers to return to the rotation would certainly have an impact. Lefty Scott Kazmir has been talked about quite a bit as a possible trade candidate, though moving him could prove tough if the team is in contention and does not have replacements lined up.

  • Another new arm issue cropped up for the Rays, too, who have placed lefty Drew Smyly on the 15-day DL with shoulder soreness, per Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter link). Smyly, the key piece in last summer’s David Price trade, had already missed time early this year with a shoulder issue, which enhances the level of concern.
  • Injured Orioles shortstop Everth Cabrera, who has struggled for Baltimore, is no longer capable of being optioned without consent as he has reached five years of service, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun notes (Twitter link). With J.J. Hardy returning to action, Cabrera may not have an active roster spot when he returns, and his new service time status could well complicate the club’s decisionmaking.
  • The Red Sox have hired away Carl Willis from the Indians to become their new pitching coach, Jim Massie of the Columbus Dispatch reports (h/t to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe). Willis had been the Triple-A pitching coach for Cleveland. He’ll be tasked with getting better production out of a starting staff that has struggled in the first five weeks of the season.
  • Prized White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon is expected to receive only a spot start tomorrow, Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com reports. Manager Robin Ventura did leave some room open for Rodon to earn another start, however, saying: “the way it sits right now, he would still be back in the bullpen and getting us some innings there.” Regardless of how things progress in the near term, it seems that Chicago’s plan is to use Rodon in the pen to manage his innings, perhaps with the hope of having him as a starter down the stretch — assuming, at least, that the club can stay in the postseason picture.

A’s Notes: Shields, Doolittle, Olivera, Moncada

The A’s hosted their annual FanFest today with a sellout crowd of over 15,000. Here are the highlights:

  • The A’s experienced plenty of turnover this offseason (nine trades involving 27 players) and the holdovers are starting to see the method in GM Billy Beane’s madness. “Initially when the trades are going on, you’re going, ‘Come on, seriously? Another All-Star caliber player is leaving us?’” said Coco Crisp (as quoted by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). “But as things progressed, I started to see things come together, and I understand it from a business standpoint and for the future. Some of the players we got have the potential to be great players and we have another team out to prove ourselves. I think it’s going to work out good.
  • Also from Slusser, Beane has a plan if his offseason maneuvers don’t work. “If one of these (trades) doesn’t work, we’ll make another one because that’s what we do. We’re not going to wait around.
  • Beane apparently isn’t waiting around for James Shields. Slusser has heard rumblings the A’s might be one of the teams still in play for Shields, but she has been assured they are not.
  • MLB.com’s Jane Lee updated the status of a trio of injured pitchers in a pair of reports. Sean Doolittle received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection to alleviate inflammation and irritation in his left shoulder. “Everything so far has gone really smoothly,” Doolittle said. “We’re optimistic, but we haven’t set a timetable because, based on what the doctors and trainers have said, every issue is kind of different. With PRP, it’s all about how your body reacts to it.” Doolittle has entered the beginning stages of a strengthening program, but manager Bob Melvin admits there is a good chance his closer will miss the early part of the season.
  • A’s Assistant GM David Forst and Melvin both reiterated the probable timetable for starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin to return is June, barring any setbacks from their Tommy John surgeries.
  • Slusser reports the A’s continue to monitor Cuban infielders Yoan Moncada and Hector Olivera, but doubts the team has the payroll for Moncada having never spent more than $66MM on a player and does not see Olivera receiving an offer greater than the four-year, $36MM deal signed by Yoenis Cespedes.


West Notes: Dunn, A’s, D-Backs, Zobrist, Chavez, Alonso

Adam Dunn‘s agent, Brian Peters, tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link) that Dunn is indeed retiring, as was widely expected. Dunn himself said that he would retire following the season back in August, though he created a bit of doubt when he backed off slightly and said, “That’s it, probably,” following the Athletics’ loss to the Royals in the AL Wild Card game. Dunn’s career was unique, to say the least, as he epitomized the “three true outcomes” player, homering 462 times while striking out in 28.6 percent of his plate appearances and walking in  15.8 percent of them. Just under half (49.9 percent) of Dunn’s career plate appearances ended in a long ball, a walk or a whiff, and he will enter the record books with a .237/.364/.490 batting line. Dunn hit 40-plus homers in six separate seasons, including five consecutive years — four of which finished with 40 on the dot (2005-08). The “Big Donkey” will be fondly remembered by many for his light-tower power — a skill that earned him more than $112MM throughout his career, per Baseball-Reference.com. MLBTR wishes Dunn and his family happiness and the best of luck in his post-playing days.

Here are a few notes on some of the game’s Western division clubs, including the final team for which Dunn played…

  • Athletics right-handers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are doubtful for Opening Day, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. That’s not a huge shock, given that both underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, though Parker, whose surgery was on March 25, would have seemed to at least have a chance at being ready. Oakland still has plenty of pitching depth, however, with Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Hahn, Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman all in the fold. Once Griffin and Parker are healthy, Oakland will have a plethora of MLB-ready rotation options, and only Kazmir is set to depart following the 2015 campaign.
  • Morosi also tweets that the Diamondbacks have received calls from the Orioles regarding their outfield depth. Baltimore is known to be looking for a left-handed hitting outfielder, and both David Peralta and Ender Inciarte would fit that description, Morosi notes. Peralta’s name has surfaced in trade talks already this offseason, as the Reds were said to be interested in him prior to acquiring Marlon Byrd. Moving Peralta would allow Arizona to shift Yasmany Tomas to the outfield rather than trying him at third base, as is the current plan, although first-year GM Dave Stewart specifically mentioned Peralta when discussing the club’s strengths shortly after his hiring.
  • Also from Morosi, the D-Backs have called the Blue Jays about Dioner Navarro, but talks haven’t advanced much to this point. Morosi noted last night that Arizona is working hard to acquire a catcher, as Tuffy Gosewich is the lone player on their 40-man roster with big league experience. Navarro is known to be available after the Jays inked Russell Martin to a huge five-year deal earlier this offseason.
  • The Giants tried to work out a deal to acquire Ben Zobrist from the Rays before he was dealt to Oakland, but San Francisco deemed Tampa’s asking price to be too high, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
  • The Mariners are one option for veteran outfielder Endy Chavez, tweets Heyman. Soon to be 37, Chavez remains on the free agent market on the heels of a season in which he batted .276/.317/.371 (99 OPS+, 97 wRC+). While Chavez has never brought much to the table in terms of offense, he’s graded out well from a defensive standpoint throughout his career (though defensive metrics have soured on him over the past two seasons).
  • Yonder Alonso tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he is 100 percent healthy after undergoing surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right wrist. Alonso says that he hasn’t been pain-free in his hands since he broke a metacarpal bone in his right hand when he was hit by a pitch on May 31, 2013. Padres GM A.J. Preller has indicated that first base is likely to be handled by some combination of Alonso, Tommy Medica and Will Middlebrooks, and Lin notes that perhaps a lower-pressure environment with more offensive threats throughout the lineup will help Alonso. Still, he notes, Alonso’s tenure with the Padres has been a disappointment to many. “I really thought he’d unleash some power,” a scout from another club tells Lin. “It’s been disappointing.”

A.J. Griffin Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

WEDNESDAY: Griffin’s surgery took place today, according to the Athletics’ official Twitter feed.

TUESDAY: Griffin will, in fact, have Tommy John surgery, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.

FRIDAY 7:12pm: “No decision on the next course of treatment will be finalized” until Dr. Mehlhoff sees Griffin on Tuesday, A’s assistant GM David Forst tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link).

6:28pm: Athletics righty A.J. Griffin will undergo Tommy John surgery next week, a source tells Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com.  An elbow issue first cropped up for the 26-year-old pitcher in March, and word came from A’s manager Bob Melvin this week that Griffin would visit Houston-area specialist Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff on Tuesday for a second opinion.

Griffin provided 200 innings of 3.83 ball as a member of the A’s rotation last year.  The A’s had already lost Jarrod Parker to Tommy John in March.  The A’s seemed to have a surplus of starting pitching when they reached an agreement with Scott Kazmir in December, but attrition has taken its toll.  Nonetheless, Oakland’s 2.74 rotation ERA ranks first in the American League this year.  The group is comprised of Kazmir, Sonny Gray, Dan Straily, Tommy Milone, and the surprising Jesse Chavez.  The A’s may still be compelled to add to their starting pitching depth as the summer wears on.

In an ESPN article today, Jayson Stark addressed this year’s Tommy John epidemic, of which Griffin appears to be the 17th victim.


AL West Notes: Griffin, Figueroa, Mariners, Doolittle

Athletics right-hander A.J. Griffin‘s elbow hasn’t responded well after being shut down for a month, and the 26-year-old will seek a second opinion from Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff, who performed Tommy John surgery on Oakland’s Fernando Rodriguez, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Griffin has been out with flexor tendinitis, which is often a precursor to Tommy John, Slusser points out. She goes on to write that the loss of both Griffin and Jarrod Parker for the season would likely lead the A’s to actively seeking starting pitching on this summer’s trade market, even if they were merely looking for a back-of-the-rotation innings eater to provide some stability.

More out of the AL West…

  • While Griffin is another potential victim of the Tommy John epidemic, Rangers left-hander Pedro Figueroa can definitively add his name to that list. The team told reporters today, including FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro, that Figueroa has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament and damage to his flexor tendon, and he will likely undergo Tommy John within the next week (Twitter link).
  • Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune conducted a Q&A in which he answered many of his Twitter followers’ questions, and within the article noted that the Mariners are still looking to add a bat to improve their lineup. The team has “never stopped looking” for a bat, he writes, before cautioning that they don’t appear to have much interest in Kendrys Morales. Dutton also touches on the team’s payroll, Hisashi Iwakuma‘s health status and Abraham Almonte‘s role with the club.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea compares Sean Doolittle‘s recent five-year contract extension to previous deals of five-plus years for relievers, noting that Doolittle’s contract has little precedent. Shea concludes that the deal works for both sides and doesn’t carry as much risk as other contracts for a pitcher would, as Doolittle is a converted first baseman that has only been pitching for about three years.

Athletics Notes: Escobar, Inge, Griffin

Here are some of the latest rumors out of Oakland as the A's look to be buyers and not sellers at the trade deadline…

  • Yunel Escobar's reported attitude problems have given the A's pause in pursuing the Blue Jays shortstop, but after talking to Toronto sources, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle "the sense I got was that Escobar has matured from his Atlanta days, when he was at his worst. Two people with the Blue Jays told me they really like Escobar and his reputation is overblown."  In terms of other possible shortstop upgrades, Slusser doesn't think Marco Scutaro "is a top option" for the A's and Stephen Drew might not be available if the Diamondbacks make other moves.
  • The A's are focusing on shortstop more than third base, opines Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News GroupBrandon Inge entered tonight's action with a .211/.269/.395 line since joining the A's, but Stiglich writes that Oakland values his defense and clubhouse leadership.
  • A.J. Griffin's "value is at an all-time high" and the rookie right-hander could be a "viable trade chip" to get the Athletics a shortstop, a rival executive tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  Griffin, 24, has impressed since joining the A's rotation, posting a 2.25 ERA and 3.63 K/BB ratio in six starts.