Alejandro De Aza Rumors

Non-Tender Candidate: Alejandro De Aza

Halfway through the 2014 season, longtime White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza looked like a probable non-tender after hitting .243/.309/.354 and getting eaten alive by left-handed pitching in a lackluster age-30 season in Chicago. De Aza made $4.25MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility, and there was little indication he would be worth a raise on that heading into 2015 and his likely decline phase.

USATSI_8067168_154513410_lowresA late-August trade to Baltimore and a well timed hot streak might have earned De Aza another season in the arbitration system, however. He hit .293/.341/.537 in 89 plate appearances with the Orioles, bringing hit 2014 total to a more respectable .252/.314/.386, then kept hitting in the postseason. De Aza is also a slightly above average defender in an outfield corner and can play center field, so he has defensive value to fall back on. MLBTR projects he’ll make $5.9MM through the arbitration process this offseason, and for the right team, he’s probably worth it.

The only question is whether the Orioles are the right team. The O’s are trying to re-sign a fellow left-handed outfielder in Nick Markakis, as well as DH/OF Nelson Cruz. They’ve also reportedly discussed Matt Kemp with the Dodgers, and they’re in on Torii Hunter and Melky Cabrera. How much worse De Aza is than someone like Markakis or Hunter could actually be debated, but any combination of Markakis, Cruz, Kemp, Hunter and Cabrera would make De Aza less useful to the Orioles.

On top of that, Baltimore faces a crunch of arbitration-eligible players, many of whom either are coming off very good seasons or have high salaries already. The Orioles’ 11 arbitration-eligibles (De Aza, Matt Wieters, Steve Pearce, Bud Norris, Tommy Hunter, Chris Davis, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Ryan Flaherty and Zach Britton) are projected to make a combined $56.9MM, and the Orioles could decide De Aza is a luxury they can do without, particularly if they splurge on, say, Markakis and Cruz, or at least feel it’s likely they’ll re-sign. They already have a lefty backup outfielder in David Lough who had a similar season to De Aza with the bat and will make near the league minimum in 2015, so heading into the season with De Aza on their roster only makes sense for the Orioles if they have a starting spot available for him.

The good news for De Aza (assuming he wants to be tendered — he might actually get slightly more than one year and $5.9MM on the open market) is that there’s little time before Tuesday night’s tender deadline for the Orioles to settle their outfield picture. If the O’s do strike out on Markakis, Cruz, Kemp or anyone else they might pursue, De Aza should have significant value for them. If they do tender him and then acquire more players who might make him superfluous, they would probably still be able to trade him, even though they wouldn’t be likely to get much back. The best guess here, then, is that the Orioles tender De Aza, and that’s reportedly the direction they’re leaning anyway. The Praver/Shapiro client probably ought to plan on heading into the season with Baltimore.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Kubatko On Orioles: Delmon, Ubaldo, De Aza

Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com provides an interesting round-up on the latest out of Baltimore. Among the highlights:

  • Baltimore remains interested in bringing back Delmon Young, but are not willing to meet his demand for two years at present. Given his strong work last year in a bench role, it is not surprising that he would test the interest in a multi-year guarantee. Though Young has never quite lived up to expectations, of course, he is just 29 and put up a .779 OPS last year and actually posted reverse platoon splits in so doing.
  • The O’s have been approached by multiple clubs regarding struggling righty Ubaldo Jimenez. The Braves asked about the possibility of a swap involving B.J. Upton, but Kubatko says that is “not happening.”
  • While there has been some indication that the Orioles would consider non-tendering outfielder Alejandro De Aza, Kubatko says that the team has “every intention” of keeping him in the fold. He could serve as a platoon option in left, notes Kubatko, though of course his projected $5.9MM arbitration earnings will make that a fairly expensive choice.
  • After announcing a host of minor league signings yesterday, Baltimore has interest in adding infielders Paul Janish and Rey Navarro as well. Kubatko writes that the 24-year-old Navarro, a switch-hitting shortstop, is expected to draw significant interest around the game.

East Notes: Lester, De Aza, Glanville, Montgomery

Red Sox ownership will meet Jon Lester and his agents this week, a likely signal that the Sox are set to make a significant offer, Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston writes. An offer in the $130MM neighborhood ought to be enough to persuade Lester to strongly consider continuing his career in Boston, Edes writes. Six teams reportedly have strong interest in Lester. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • The Orioles will have to take a large number of players through the arbitration process this offseason, but one they do have a tough decision on is outfielder Alejandro De Aza, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. Kubatko suggests the O’s should keep De Aza, who batted .293/.341/.537 in 89 plate appearances and also hit well in the postseason after arriving in a trade with the White Sox.
  • ESPN analyst Doug Glanville, who hasn’t coached, managed or worked in a front office since he retired as a player, isn’t a standard managerial candidate for the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The Rays recently interviewed Glanville and today interviewed Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, who join a crowded field of candidates that also includes Manny Acta, Kevin Cash, Craig Counsell, Raul Ibanez, Dave Martinez, Charlie Montoyo, Don Wakamatsu and Ron Wotus. “Maybe I am a dark horse (candidate), I don’t know,” says Glanville. “I approach it like, ‘Why not?’
  • Phillies president David Montgomery expects to return eventually from a medical leave of absence after having jaw bone cancer surgery last spring, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “The good news is my prognosis is excellent,” says Montgomery. “The chemo and radiation I did was preventative. I’ve basically kind of been dismissed by doctors. I have periodic PET scans … Hopefully I’ll have that 45th season.” Montgomery has been in the organization for 44 seasons. Pat Gillick is serving as the Phillies’ interim president.


Orioles Acquire Alejandro De Aza

The Orioles have announced that they’ve acquired left-handed outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the White Sox for minor league pitchers Miguel Chalas and Mark Blackmar. Orioles executive Dan Duquette says (via MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko on Twitter) that De Aza had been available for a few weeks, which suggests he cleared waivers.

USATSI_7890034_154513410_lowresDe Aza, 30, has hit .246/.312/.358 this season, with his power, in particular, taking a step backward — he hit a career-high 17 homers last year, but only has five this season, and his slugging percentage is off by about 50 points as compared to the last two years. He remains, however, a solid defender who can play all three outfield spots. He’s making $4.25MM this season in his second year of arbitration, and he can become eligible for free agency after 2015, although at least one executive has opined that De Aza could be a non-tender candidate after the season.

The Orioles already have a strong starting outfield of Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, but they can surely use De Aza as a backup. With Manny Machado‘s recent injury, sometime-outfielder Steve Pearce is needed more frequently in the infield, meaning the Orioles have playing time available for a fourth outfielder type. De Aza’s addition will probably also mean even less playing time for fellow lefty outfielder David Lough, who has struggled at the plate this season.

Even with the Orioles’ need to play Pearce more in the infield, they were fairly well stocked with outfielders, so De Aza represents more of a luxury than a need. It’s no surprise, then, that they do not appear to have paid a high price to get him. Chalas, 22, has pitched most of the season with Class A+ Frederick, where he posted a 4.80 ERA, 6.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 69 1/3 innings of relief. He has also appeared in two games for Triple-A Norfolk. Blackmar, also 22, has pitched 130 1/3 innings for Frederick, with a 3.18 ERA, 5.7 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9, pitching mostly has a starter. MLB.com does not rank either of them in its list of the top 20 Orioles prospects.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Milone, Phillies, White Sox

The Cubs have the prospect depth necessary to acquire David Price from the Rays, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes, and acquiring Price (and then extending him past 2015) is just the kind of big move Rosenthal feels the Cubs need to get them into contention sooner rather than later.  Price is intrigued by the idea of playing in Chicago, friends of the southpaw say, and Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson was Price’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt.

Here’s some hot stove buzz from Rosenthal’s latest piece…

  • The Athletics are getting calls about left-hander Tommy Milone, who lost his rotation job when Oakland acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs.  The 27-year-old Milone is controlled through 2017 and has a 3.84 ERA, 3.23 K/BB rate and 6.5 K/9 over 468 2/3 career innings, though his significant home/road splits could make some teams wary about his effectiveness outside of Oakland.  The A’s aren’t too keen to move Milone since they value having rotation depth.
  • The Phillies are willing to eat some money on their major veteran contracts in order “to effectively buy prospects” in trades, though with teams so hesitant to move their young talent, Philadelphia might be better served by just pursuing salary relief.
  • Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon “is generating little interest,” sources tell Rosenthal.
  • Many of the would-be best trade chips on the White Sox aren’t producing, which could make it tough for the Pale Hose to make deadline deals.  Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza, for instance, look more like non-tender candidates than valuable acquisitions in the view of one rival executive.  John Danks might be the most attractive trade candidate on the Chicago roster, while the Sox might wait until the winter to explore dealing Alexei Ramirez when the trade market is more open.
  • The Blue Jays‘ search for offense could be mitigated by the impending returns of Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie from the DL within the next week or two.  Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said yesterday that he was still looking to add a bat before the trade deadline.
  • Eugenio Suarez has played well enough at shortstop that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski doesn’t think his team will look for an upgrade at the position before the deadline.  Rosenthal notes that Suarez’s presence could create a bit of a logjam next season when Jose Iglesias returns from injury.
  • The Tigers do have a need for more lineup balance, as the team is short on left-handed hitters.
  • With so little prospect depth, Rosenthal thinks the Yankees‘ best trade strategy would be to offer salary relief for large contracts.  In hindsight, Rosenthal writes, the Yankees might’ve been better off trading Robinson Cano for prospects last summer, even though being a deadline seller is unheard of for the always-contending Yankees.

Cafardo On Stanton, De Aza, Porcello, Drew, Britton

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton could wind up with the Red Sox.  Marlins GM Dan Jennings swears up and down that Stanton isn't going anywhere and even if he was for sale, Boston would be one of many clubs in pursuit.  If things suddenly changed and the Fish made Stanton available, Cafardo wonders if a package of Will Middlebrooks or Garin Cecchini plus Matt Barnes, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts could get a deal done.  More from today's column:

  • The Twins have some interest in White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who is getting interest even though he's not everything a club would want in a center fielder, leadoff type.  Last season, De Aza slashed .264/.323/.405 with 17 homers in 675 plate appearances.
  • Major league sources say the Tigers are still willing to listen to offers on Rick Porcello. While he has shown promise, Detroit would like a hurler with more consistency.
  • The bidding for Ervin Santana has reportedly come down to the Orioles and Blue Jays.  Cafardo hears the Rockies were also in it for some of the day while the Phillies did their due diligence but did not appear to be in the hunt.
  • Bud Norris could be an alternative if Tommy Hunter can’t do the job as Orioles closer, but he also has trade interest and could have some appeal in the NL.  For budgetary reasons, the O's probably wouldn't go for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, but it's possible if the Angelos family believes that they have a chance to win it all.
  • One Red Sox player says that he's not crying for free agent Stephen Drew.  “Why not accept a $14.1 million qualifying offer for one year?” the player said. “Is that a bad deal? That’s a lot of money. Stephen would be here playing with us by now if he’d done that.
  • Scouts are watching Orioles pitcher Zach Britton closely as he is out of options. Still only 26, Britton is still a pitcher scouts think they can salvage.  The O's are aware of his value and the interest other clubs have, but could stash him in the bullpen if they can’t get good value for him.

AL Central Notes: Masterson, De Aza, Santana, Tigers

Many have been quick to call Justin Masterson's reported three-year extension proposal to the Indians a bargain, but Dave Cameron of Fangraphs takes a step back and wonders how benevolent Masterson is really being. Cameron admits that he, too, initially considered a three-year, $45MM or four-year, $60MM deal to be a huge value, but he looks at the cognitive bias of "anchoring," in which we subconsciously turn an initial price for one item into an anchor price for others. Cameron argues that rather than comparing Masterson to the statistically similar Homer Bailey, who signed away five free agent years for $95MM, we should look at Masterson's expected value over the next three to four years. Doing so presents the case that Masterson's offer is fair, but hardly a tremendous discount for Cleveland. He adds that the Indians aren't a club that can afford to pay market value for too many wins, so it may not be as much of a no-brainer as many initially believed.

More from the AL Central…

  • While he's yet to determine if the Twins have placed a call, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN knows that White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza has quite a few fans in Minnesota's front office (Twitter link). De Aza would seem a peculiar fit for the Twins in my opinion, given the fact that he has just two years of team control and Minnesota has a number of young outfielders and outfield prospects.
  • Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that while he didn't look like a catcher trying to play third base in practice, that's exactly how Carlos Santana has looked thus far in Cactus League games. Hoynes describes his play as "stiff and uncomfortable," though he notes that Santana has had few chances to this point and could improve by playing consecutive games at the position. For the time being, it appears to be good news for Lonnie Chisenhall, as if Santana doesn't man third, he would DH and serve as a backup at first, catcher and occasionally third.
  • Left-hander Blaine Hardy has gone from being released by the Royals last year to a minor league flier for the Tigers to a leading candidate to join Detroit's bullpen this season, writes James Schmel of MLive.com. Hardy posted a 1.67 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 between Double-A and Triple-A last season, serving as both a starter and reliever. He's allowed one hit in five innings this spring, catching the eye of manager Brad Ausmus and establishing himself as one of the top candidates to fill a long reliever role at the big league level.

White Sox Getting Calls On De Aza, Viciedo

It's still relatively early on in Spring Training, but the White Sox have already begun getting calls on outfielders Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The two are battling for the everyday job in left field, as it 2013 trade acquisitions Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia are likely to man center field and right field, respectively.

De Aza is the more established player of the two but also comes with less team control. Set to turn 30 in early April, De Aza has batted .279/.343/.420 in 357 games with the White Sox since being claimed off waivers from the Marlins in 2009. The lefty swinger belted a career-high 17 homers last season and has stolen 46 bases over the past two seasons. Ultimate Zone Rating pegs him as an average defender in the outfield, though Defensive Runs Saved feels he's somewhat below average. He has extensive experience in center field and also played 426 innings in left field for the Sox last season. De Aza is under team control for two more seasons and will earn $4.25MM in 2014.

Viciedo is the younger and more powerful of the two, but comes with question marks about his defense and on-base skills. Viciedo, who turns 25 on Monday, mashed 25 homers in his first full season with the Sox in 2012, posting a .255/.300/.444 triple-slash line. However, he wasn't able to match that power level in 2013, as he hit just 14 homers with a .265/.304/.426 slash line. UZR/150 pegs him at -5.5 over his career in left field, while DRS has him at -3. Both metrics agree that his glove worsened in 2013. As a Super Two player, he'll earn $2.8MM in 2014 and is controllable through the 2017 season.

De Aza would seem to be a natural fit with the Tigers, who recently learned that they'll be without Andy Dirks for roughly three months due to back surgery. His left-handed bat would pair well with Rajai Davis to form a left field platoon, which was supposed to be the role filled by Dirks. With an extra year of team control, he could potentially fill Torii Hunter's spot in 2015 if Hunter signs elsewhere and the Tigers don't find a suitable replacement on the free agent or trade market. Of course, this is all purely speculation on my part, and the White Sox and Tigers may prefer not to swing a trade within their own division. Other teams that could use an upgrade in the outfield include the Orioles, Mariners and Pirates, to name a few.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.

Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…

  • After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
  • The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter). 
  • Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
  • Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
  • Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
  • The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
  • The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
  • Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
  • The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter).  He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).

(more…)


Central Notes: Twins, Indians, White Sox, Pirates

Let's run through some late-night Central links …