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Alberto Callaspo Rumors
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto has been on the job for approximately two weeks and he's starting to get an intimate sense of his organization's strengths and weaknesses. He likes what he sees so far, but there's still a gap between the Angels' roster and where Dipoto wants it to be.
"Right now, we're a highly competitive Major League Baseball team," he told MLBTR in Milwaukee. "Where we want to be is we want to win the World Series and that’ll be the goal every year."
The Angels will look to improve their offense — particularly their ability to get on base — this winter. Jeff Mathis, a non-tender candidate with a projected salary of $1.8MM and a career OBP of .257 faces an uncertain future in Anaheim. But Dipoto, a former big league pitcher, knows the value of an above-average receiver.
"I do think there’s a lot to be said for what a catcher does behind the plate, how he calls the game," Dipoto said, speaking in general terms. "I'd be hypocritical if I told you otherwise. I always liked the guys who could catch. But there’s the balance that you have to bring to the game and that’s a fact."
Dipoto doesn't expect a major reversal in offensive production behind the plate to occur instantaneously. It's possible Mathis will return as an arbitration eligible player in 2012. However, I've heard the Angels are asking around about catchers.
Dipoto likes Alberto Callaspo’s ability to get on base, make contact and control the strike zone. At this point, it's not clear whether the versatile 28-year-old will return to third in 2012 or play another position. The Angels intend for Mike Trout to play every day whether or not he's in the Major Leagues and questions about service time will be secondary to the young outfielder's ability to excel in the Majors.
"You need to put players in a position where they can be effective, where they can change your future," Dipoto said.
Eight years ago, Brandon Wood was a first-round pick (23rd overall) by the Angels. Five years ago, Baseball America dubbed him the third-best prospect in the game. He ranked 8th and 16th on that same list the following two seasons. Now, the 26-year-old Wood may be an organizational afterthought. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Wood's chances of making the Angels' roster are dim, barring a trade or release of fellow infielder Alberto Callaspo.
Wood hit just .146/.174/.208 last season through 243 plate appearances. He managed just six walks while striking out 71 times — more than 29% of his plate appearances.
Wood is now out of options, meaning he'd have to pass through waivers unclaimed for the Angels to re-assign him to the minor leagues. Despite his struggles, it's unlikely this would happen, as a rebuilding team (DiGiovanna speculates on Toronto, specifically) would give him a chance based on his track record as an elite prospect.
Despite a strong push over the past week in Spring Training (7-19 with 2 HR, a double, and a triple), Wood remains buried on the team's depth chart. Maicer Izturis and Callaspo are ahead of him at third base, Erick Aybar and Izturis are ahead at short, while the combination Kendrys Morales (who will open the year on the DL), Mark Trumbo, and Howie Kendrick are in front of him on the first base depth chart.
DiGiovanna speculates that a trade of Callaspo to a team in need of infield help, such as the Phillies, would create room for Wood to make the club. We heard last week though that the Phillies payroll is tapped out, and Callaspo is set to earn $2MM this season. A release of Callaspo's non-guaranteed contract would also create room. The Angels, however, would still be responsible for part of his salary and would be risking a somewhat known commodity for Wood's upside, which may never surface.
It seems likely that Wood's time as an Angel may be coming to a close, with either a trade or DFA coming in the near future, giving him a chance at a fresh start in a new organization.
The Angels agreed to a one-year contract with Alberto Callaspo, avoiding arbitration, according to the team. The sides agreed to a $2MM deal, according to the AP (via the Miami Herald). The 27-year-old was arbitration eligible for the first time.
In 601 total plate appearances last year, Callaspo hit .265/.302/.374. He walks nearly as often as he strikes out (31BB, 42K) and can play second, third and, on occasion, the outfield.
As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, the Angels still have a full slate of arbitration eligible players: Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Jeff Mathis, Kendry Morales, Mike Napoli, Jered Weaver and Reggie Willits.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star is reporting (via Twitter) that infielder Alberto Callaspo has been dealt from the Royals to the Angels in exchange for right-hander Sean O'Sullivan and minor league left-hander Will Smith.
Callaspo has a modest .275/.308/.410 line in 373 plate appearances this season, though that still represents a big upgrade over the .411 OPS of Brandon Wood, who has seen most of the action for the Halos at third base. Callaspo was originally signed by the Angels as a free agent in 2001, and spent four years in the club's system before being dealt to Arizona for Jason Bulger in 2006. With Callaspo now in L.A., it potentially opens up a spot at third base for Mike Moustakas should the Royals want to give their top prospect a look over the last two months of the season. Moustakas has an OPS of 1.067 in 326 plate appearances at Double-A and Triple-A this season.
O'Sullivan, 22, has spent most of his year at Triple-A Salt Lake City, where he has posted a 4.76 ERA in 15 starts. A third-round pick in the 2005 amateur draft, O'Sullivan was the Angels' organizational pitcher of the year in 2007 and has a 5.15 ERA in 17 career major league games (11 of them starts).
The Royals rejected a previous offer for Callaspo two days ago that consisted of O'Sullivan and "a fringe prospect," so presumably K.C. was more attracted to Smith, a seventh-round pick in the 2008 amateur draft. Smith has a 4.24 ERA and a 3.47 K/BB ratio in 55 games (52 of them starts) in the Los Angeles minor league system, though his numbers have worsened this season as he's been elevated from high-A ball to Triple-A.
The Angels don’t have the resources to trade for a big-name slugger, so they have turned their attention to Alberto Callaspo. GM Tony Reagins is targeting the former Angels minor leaguer, according to Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Saxon reports that the Angels “are believed to have offered” Sean O'Sullivan and a fringe prospect for Callaspo, only to have Royals GM Dayton Moore turn the offer down. Callaspo, 27, has a .276/.310/.413 line this season and could play second or (more likely) third for the Angels.
Reagins considered pursuing Adam Dunn, but backed off when he realized that other teams only have “marginal interest” in the pitchers the Angels have in the upper minors. Top prospect Mike Trout is not going anywhere, though teams do have interest in him.
Royals GM Dayton Moore told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that the club has some "nice pieces" to market this summer. The 27-37 Royals have a number of players who might appeal to contenders and Moore is ready to listen, even though the Royals aren't actively looking to move players at this point.
"We'll evaluate what comes our way if anything does come our way," he said.
It wouldn't be surprising to see an offer or two for David DeJesus come the Royals' way. Dutton reports that clubs are already scouting the outfielder, who is hitting .314/.392/.479. DeJesus makes an affordable $4.7MM salary this year and there's a club option for $6MM in 2011 ($500K buyout).
If the Royals hold onto DeJesus, they could decline his option and offer him arbitration. If he turns down their offer to sign elsewhere, they would obtain at least one draft pick, possibly two. The promise of draft picks makes the Royals hesitant to deal him for a pedestrian return, but there are advantages to dealing now. DeJesus must climb into Type A territory under the Elias rankings system and decline arbitration for them to get two picks. Even if they get the picks, they would have to wait a year and pay each draftee about $1MM.
Let's face it: if the Royals aren't going to give Alex Gordon a chance to play regularly when they are 11-21, 10 games out of first, and weeks shy of Memorial Day, he has fallen out of favor with the club. After just 38 plate appearances, the Royals sent Gordon - the player they once selected him second overall - to Triple-A to make way for… Alberto Callaspo.
But Gordon, still just 26, is a career .320/.433/.577 hitter in the minor leagues. Clearly, some team should take a flier on Gordon as a possible long-term answer at third base. Which teams are best suited to do so, and how much is it likely to cost?
- The Phillies seem like an interesting landing spot for Gordon, though not at first blush. Placido Polanco, after all, is signed through 2012. But Gordon could be an upgrade from Greg Dobbs at the very least. If Gordon fulfills his promise, the Phils could attempt to deal Polanco. More to the point, Gordon seems to fit the Phillies' template- his acquisition would be akin to the buy-low on Jayson Werth– and Philadelphia has depth in the farm system. A couple of their secondary pitching prospects could get it done.
- The Orioles have a combined zero homers from Rhyne Hughes and Garrett Atkins, so Gordon could appeal to them as an option at first. Corner infield prospects Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell lurk in the minors, but with Miguel Tejada locked up for just one year, Gordon would provide the O's with depth and upside.
- The Athletics don't have a ton in the way of a present or future player blocking Gordon. Kevin Kouzmanoff is a decent option, but he hardly has Gordon's upside at this point. With a number of nearly-ready pitching prospects to integrate into a young staff, the Athletics could well deal from pitching depth for Gordon, too.
- The Padres are another possible landing spot, with Chase Headley unlikely to keep up his batting average-fueled start. San Diego has several third base prospects, including James Darnell, who Baseball America ranked as the organization's third-best prospect heading into the season. Still, none of the Padres prospects have even proven themselves at Double-A, so acquiring Gordon and giving him the chance to win the third base job wouldn't impact any of them in the short-term. It would also echo the acquisition of another buy-low, former top draft pick: Adrian Gonzalez. A package of one of the Padres' third base prospects and a pitcher should be enough to pry Gordon loose.
Following a promising 2008 campaign in which he hit .325/.354/.480 and finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting, Mike Aviles underwent Tommy John surgery last year. Now that he's playing again and working his way toward full health, a note in ESPN.com's Rumor Central (Insider only) speculates that he could become trade bait for Kansas City.
The Royals' incumbent starter at shortstop, a position where Aviles posted a +31.6 UZR/150 in 2008, is Yuniesky Betancourt. Aviles offers more upside than Betancourt, who displayed little value with the bat (.245/.274/.351) or the glove (-23.9 UZR/150) last season. However, Aviles' recovery from arm surgery has necessitated at least a temporary move to second base, where he'll compete for playing time with Alberto Callaspo and Chris Getz.
Presumably, the Royals are hoping Aviles builds up the arm strength needed for throwing across the diamond, taking away some of Betancourt's playing time at shortstop. Even so, the Royals may end up having more middle infield depth than they need, and GM Dayton Moore could consider moving Aviles or perhaps Callaspo, who was the subject of trade rumors earlier in the winter.
Are there any teams you see as a possible match for Kansas City? If you're a Royals fan, how would you like to see the club handle their potential middle infield surplus?
On Christmas Day way back in 2001, Hideki Matsui became the highest paid player in Japanese baseball history, agreeing to a one-year contract worth $4.7MM with the Yomiuri Giants. In his seven-year (and counting) Major League Baseball career, Matsui has never earned less than $6MM annually.
Let's see what's being written around the blogosphere…
- River Ave. Blues takes a look at the economic impact of Matsui leaving the World Champs for the Angels.
- U.S.S. Mariner runs down some potential first base options for the Mariners, covering players available through trades, free agency, and those already in-house.
- It's About The Money, Stupid! compares Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson to the two guys they're replacing, Johnny Damon and Matsui.
- South Side Sox provides some thoughts on Kenny Williams' busy offseason.
- Royals Authority says Kansas City needs an outfielder, and proposes a few deals centered around Alberto Callaspo.
- Viva El Birdos has some concerns about signing Matt Holliday to a long-term contract.
If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.
THURSDAY, 3:17pm: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says the Royals are making progress on a two-year deal with Kendall, perhaps worth more than $4MM.
WEDNESDAY, 4:20pm: Another catcher gets a two-year offer – Kendall – courtesy of the Royals (Dutton reporting).
TUESDAY, 7:31pm: The Royals don't appear likely to spend more than about $2MM on a catcher, according to Dutton. GM Dayton Moore says the Royals would consider a multi-year deal under the right circumstances.
10:39am: Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Royals will "look at" Jose Molina as a possible starting option.
8:09am: Kendall is said to be "focusing on a possible contract with Kansas City," writes Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports. Kendall likes the opportunity but they have to find a middle ground on the money.
3:41am: The Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton reports that the Royals are shifting their focus to veterans Jason Kendall and Rod Barajas to fill their catching needs. The Royals, previously reported to have interest in Ivan Rodriguez, stood by and watched as Pudge inked a two-year deal with Washington.
Having found few appealing scenarios through the trade market, the Royals will now look to Kendall and Barajas. Kendall, 35, posted a line of .241/.331/.305 while earning $5MM. Barajas, 34, hit .226/.258/.403 while earning $2.5MM.
The Royals don't have the dollars to match Kendall's 2009 salary, but it's hard to imagine anyone giving him $5MM anyway. The Royals could offer Barajas a similar salary, and as Dutton points out, both players could be attracted to Kansas City because of an increased opportunity for playing time.
Which option would you prefer for your club?
Other quick hits from the article:
- Clubs are asking about Gil Meche, but Dayton Moore isn't inclined to move him unless he receives a strong offer.
- Chris Getz is the favorite over Alberto Callaspo as the starting second baseman due to defensive reasons. Callaspo is still being dangled as a trade chip.
- Just 17 days after removing him from their 40-man roster, the Royals grabbed Julio Pimentel on a minor-league deal.