Alex Anthopoulos Rumors
Phillies co-ace Cliff Lee finally found himself in the win column on Wednesday after starting the season with 13 consecutive starts without a victory. Lee's drought was the longest by a former Cy Young winner since future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux went 14 starts without a win in 2008 with the Padres. Let's catch up on the latest news and headlines from around the league...
- Trade candidate Ryan Dempster doesn't want to wait until after the All-Star break to return to the mound and may be ready in time to make a start against the Mets on Sunday, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. "I think they trust me to make the right decisions," Dempster said. "I also don't want to go out there and have a 50-pitch limit, and that doesn't do us any good." The right-hander has been on the disabled list since June 16 with a sore right lat.
- The Rangers may find themselves without any new prospects from Latin America as the team awaits a resolution from Major League Baseball regarding Dominican outfielder Jairo Beras' contract status, says Evan Grant from The Dallas Morning News. Beras' age at the time he signed with the Rangers has been called into question as Beras claims he was 17 but may have actually been 16. "We put our full budget towards Beras," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "In anticipation of getting the contract approved we’ve had to effectively sit out the signing period."
- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos spoke on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio about his team's performance during the first half of the season and how he plans to be a buyer given Toronto's chances of securing a wild card berth (audio link). Anthopoulos expects to pursue pitching depth outside of the organization to help take pressure off an offense that has carried the team of late, thanks to Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
- MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith joined the Getting Blanked show on The Score to discuss the Cardinals' plans for the rest of the season given Chris Carpenter's unavailability until 2013 (video link).
The Blue Jays made an interesting move this morning, announcing that they've signed shortstop Yunel Escobar to an extension that could keep him in Toronto through 2015. Here's a note on that and more, courtesy of Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.
- Escobar's extension won't have an impact on shortstop prospect Adeiny Hechavarria, according to GM Alex Anthopoulos. "There's no effect, because Hechavarria is a highly-touted prospect and we believe in him. But there's no downside to having too many good players. I always say things will find a way to work themselves out, and especially when you have a middle of the diamond player." Toronto signed Hechavarria, a 22-year-old Cuban, to a four-year, $10MM deal in April 2010. He was rated as baseball's No. 96 prospect by Keith Law of ESPN.com in January and is regarded as a glove-first shortstop.
- Anthopoulos regrets his response to reports that the Jays had a pre-Draft agreement in place to sign first-round pick Tyler Beede for $3MM, but insists that the charge is one that shouldn't be thrown out there lightly. Such agreements are not allowed, though most Draft experts say they are commonplace. The reported $3MM would be about $1.7MM over the slot recommendation for the No. 21 overall selection.
Ten years ago today, the Angels signed Alberto Callaspo as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela. He spent four years in their farm system before being traded to the Diamondbacks for Jason Bulger. After a stint with the Royals, Callaspo ended up back with the Halos following a mid-summer trade last year.
Here are today's batch of links...
- MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith appeared on this week's edition of the Beyond The Box Score Podcast, so head on over and give it a listen.
- C.J. Wilson told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that he's not thinking about his upcoming free agency, mentioning that the Rangers has never offered him a long-term deal.
- The Russell Branyan signing seems to indicate that the Diamondbacks don't see Brandon Allen as a fit anymore, says Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (Twitter links). He adds that Arizona gauged Allen's trade value at the winter meetings, and he's heard that the Rays were high on him in the past.
- Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said he and former agent Joe Bick "just grew apart," which is why he signed on with Dan Lozano recently, reports Ken Davidoff of Newsday.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm that he's not a fan of performance-based incentives because of the uncertainty they create.
- Paul Maholm told Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he's willing to discuss an extension with the Pirates, which pleasantly surprised GM Neal Huntington. "Paul's done some good things for this organization," said the GM. "We'll give it due consideration." The team holds a $9.75MM club option for Maholm's services in 2012 after he earns $5.75MM in 2011.
- John Lowe of The Detroit Free Press points out that there is no dead weight on the Tigers' $105MM payroll. Detroit paid close to $24MM for Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis last season, who gave them 43 1/3 IP with a 4.98 ERA (all by Willis).
- Larry Stone of The Seattle Times spoke to Yankees GM Brian Cashman about last summer's near trade for Cliff Lee. Cashman said he's glad he didn't agree to Seattle's revised offer after seeing Lee sign with Philadelphia. "Now I'm like, I've got one of the premier hitting talents here, and I didn't have a two-month rental," said the GM, referring to top prospect Jesus Montero.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos met with reporters for an extended media session today, speaking about a wide range of topics. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian brings us the highlights...
- Anthopoulos acknowledged Lyle Overbay's strong finish to the season, but the team's approach for first base is unchanged. They will explore trades and the free agent market with no guarantee that Overbay will return.
- Aaron Hill offered to change positions (third base) if it will help the team. The Jays have until Opening Day of next season to make a decision on the 2012 ($8MM), 2013 ($8MM), and 2014 ($10MM) options in Hill's contract. If they wait until after next season, the 2014 option is voided.
- There is a chance that Edwin Encarnacion will be non-tendered given the raise he's likely to receive through arbitration. Encarnacion earned $4.75MM in 2010 and will be arb eligible for the final time before free agency.
- The Jays are prepared to go to arbitration with 54 HR man Jose Bautista. He earned $2.4MM this year and his salary is likely to jump into the $7-9MM range after his monster season. Bastian doesn't think the two sides will work out a long-term deal this winter.
- Fred Lewis was unhappy when his playing time diminished late in the season. If he's not in the team's plans as a bench player next year, a non-tender could be in order.
- Even with Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, and Jason Frasor all eligible to become free agents in a few weeks, Anthopoulos doesn't consider having veterans in the bullpen a top priority.
- He'd like to add more balance to a lineup that relied primarily on the long ball this season. The Jays led MLB by a large margin with 257 homers, but they finished just ninth with 755 runs scored because of a pedestrian .312 OBP.
- The possibility of keeping catcher John Buck will be explored, but Anthopoulos said he's earned a long-term deal and a starting job, something that might not work with top prospect J.P. Arencibia having nothing left to prove in the minors.
- The Blue Jays are not operating with a specific payroll; the GM has the ability to adjust the finances as he sees fit. That gives them more flexibility when looking at free agent and trade scenarios.
- There are no more front office hirings in the immediate future, but one thing they're considering is someone with more of a computer and statistical analysis background.
- Shi Davidi of The Canadian Press adds that Anthopoulos acknowledged the inherent riskiness of trades, but he still considers it the best way to improve the team and is willing to deal prospects for established big leaguers (Twitter links).
Alex Anthopoulos took over as general manager of the Blue Jays on October 3rd, 2009. Though he might make a few moves in August, most of his first year is in the books. Let's review his major moves.
- Signed John McDonald to a two-year, $3MM deal - 11-25-09. Fair price for the defensive whiz.
- Signed Alex Gonzalez to a one-year, $2.75MM deal with a club option - 11-26-09. Anthopoulos parlayed Gonzalez's strong start into a trade with the Braves for Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes (the Jays also gave up Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky).
- Signed John Buck to a one-year, $2MM deal - 12-16-09. Buck was well worth the price, as he is having a solid year and made the All-Star team. He's currently on the DL with a thumb injury. Anthopoulos chose not to trade Buck in July, so he has to hope the catcher's Type B status holds up.
- Acquired Kyle Drabek, Travis d'Arnaud, and Michael Taylor from Phillies for Roy Halladay and $6MM - 12-16-09. Flipped Taylor to the Athletics for Brett Wallace. Drabek tossed a no-hitter in Double A this year and has done a solid job overall. D'Arnaud has been generating impressive scouting reports, wrote Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein in June. Wallace we'll get to later.
- Acquired Brandon Morrow from the Mariners for Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez - 12-23-09. Morrow had an incredible 17-strikeout one-hitter on Sunday; he's got the best strikeout rate of any starter this year. The move was difficult to understand from the Mariners' point of view at the time it was made.
- Signed Kevin Gregg to a one-year, $2.75MM deal with two club options - 2-5-10. Credit Anthopoulos for realizing Gregg would have a decent year if his fluky home run rate returned to normal. As with Buck, the jury is still out on whether Gregg can be converted to cheap, young players.
- Signed Jose Molina to a one-year, $1MM deal with a club option - 2-19-10. Another solid free agent signing.
- Signed Adeiny Hechavarria to a four-year, $10MM deal - 4-13-10. Signed as a free agent out of Cuba, Hechavarria has a big league-ready glove and is hitting a little bit at Double A.
- Acquired Fred Lewis from Giants for cash - 4-15-10. Hard to complain about Lewis' .272/.335/.444 line so far, especially given the price.
- Signed Adonis Cardona to a $2.8MM deal - 7-13-10. Anthopoulos remained aggressive on the international free agent front, setting a record for a Venezuelan amateur with the righty's deal.
- Acquired Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes from Braves for Alex Gonzalez, Tim Collins, and Tyler Pastornicky - 7-14-10. Anthopoulos bought low on Escobar at a time most clubs might not have even realized the shortstop was available.
- Acquired Anthony Gose from Astros for Brett Wallace - 7-29-10. If you're going to nitpick one Anthopoulos move, it's probably this one.
- As for the draft, the Jays have signed three of their top four picks, with negotiations for first-rounder Deck McGuire expected to go down to the wire. Yesterday ESPN's Keith Law wrote that the Blue Jays had a "strong haul" in the draft.
- Blue Jays fans couldn't ask for more from Anthopoulos' first year. He's been aggressive on international free agents and in the draft, savvy in regular free agency, and shrewd on the trade front. It was surprising to see the Jays retain Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Gregg, and Buck at the trade deadline, but those players may bring draft pick compensation after the season.
Links for Easter Sunday...
- Baseball America's John Manuel provides updates on five Rule 5 picks: Carlos Monasterios with the Dodgers, John Raynor with the Pirates, Zachary Kroenke, who was optioned to the minors by the D'Backs, Kanekoa Texeira with the Mariners, and David Herndon with the Phillies.
- Peter Gammons previews storylines for the 2010 season, such as emerging stars, prospects of the future, a slew of contenders, and the ever-present unpredictability of baseball.
- Dave Campbell of the AP looks at Jacque Jones and how Minnesota's late-season surge in 2009 inspired a comeback attempt for 2010 when he was on the verge of retirement. Jones is reporting to Triple-A Rochester after hitting .366/.409/.585 with the Twins this spring.
- In an interview with Mike Wilner of the FAN 590 in Toronto, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said while the team hasn't officially said anything about Adeiny Hechevarria, international cases like his are often slowed by visa issues and other approval processes.
- Tom Haudricourt tweets that there will be no last-minute changes to the Brewers 25-man roster.
- The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser spoke with recently-DFA'ed Jack Cust, who is shocked and offended by the move. Cust says he will accept a minor league assignment if he clears waivers, but won't let Oakland "walk all over" him. The 31-year-old slugger has led the A's in home runs the past three seasons. Slusser takes a deeper look at the Cust move in a separate piece.
- Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times looks at what the Cubs' performance in 2010 means to Jim Hendry's job, and talks to several players about their positive relationships with the Chicago GM.
- Elliot Johnson cleared waivers and will report to Triple-A Durham, according to Marc Topkin. He adds that the Rays have set their roster and are waiting to hear from Hank Blalock on whether or not he'll accept a minor league assignment.
On this date in 2002, the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network launched. Although the regional network barely broke even that year, YES has gone on to generate millions in revenue, much of which goes right into the Yankees' pockets. As recently as 2008, there was talk that the network was worth more than the team itself.
After you wrap your head around that, here are some links to check out from around the baseball blogosphere...
- The Baseball Opinion says that the Adeiny Hechevarria signing caps off an impressive offseason for new GM Alex Anthopoulos.
- The Friarhood examines the trade market for Padres' closer Heath Bell.
- Phillies Nation has some fun with internal discussions after the Albert Pujols-Ryan Howard rumors.
- DRays Bay wonders if Andy Sonnanstine will start the season in Tampa's rotation so they can send Wade Davis to the minors and push his service time clock back.
- Around The Majors wonders if the Nationals should really be trying to sign Adam Dunn to a contract extension.
- The Dodgerhater says that Sergio Romo and Dan Runzler are the key to San Francisco's bullpen this year.
- Bronx Bombers Beat wonders if Robinson Cano can take that next step towards being a middle of the order hitter for a team with some aging core hitters.
- SPANdemonium looks at some players drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft who have already had an impact in the big leagues.
If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.
Get out the Spanish-English dictionary and put on Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
- Morgan Campbell at the Toronto Star posits that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos' recent scouting trip to the Dominican Republic could mean the team is "closing in" on Jose Julio Ruiz. Yesterday, Ruiz's trainer told the Nuevo Herald that the first baseman's most recent tryout, his "last before signing," was against Blue Jays players. The blog cubanballplayers.com also reported on Tuesday that Ruiz had a private tryout with the Jays. Both the team and Prestige Sports Agency, which represents Ruiz, remain mum on any communication.
- Cuban first baseman/outfielder Leslie Anderson tells Angel Mazariego of the Mexican newspaper Sipse that he is willing to play in Mexico this season if nothing materializes for him in the majors. Anderson lists the Red Sox, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, Giants and Brewers as the teams he knows to have scouted him recently. Mazariego adds the Dodgers and Tigers to the list.
- Amaury Perez Torres at the Cuban baseball blog Las Avispas cites a "source close to" pitching prospect Juan Yasser Serrano saying that the right-hander has worked out for 10 major league teams this winter. Most recently, the source says, Serrano struck out four in a two-inning simulation for the Cubs on February 19, with a fastball that touched 93.
- If it seems like there is more chatter about Cuban defectors than ever before, that's no coincidence, writes Campbell in the Toronto Star. In a lengthy article, he outlines how more Cuban players are now aiming at the major leagues thanks to the success of Kendry Morales and Yunel Escobar, neither of whom was a starter in Cuba. Equally significant was the contract that third base prospect Dayan Viciedo signed with the White Sox in 2008. A Cuban baseball expert in Canada tells Campbell that Viciedo made players on the island think, "If he can get $10 million, then what am I worth?"
- Speaking of Morales, Jorge Arangure Jr. adds a new dimension to the first baseman's recent switch from Hendricks Sports Management to Scott Boras in an article in ESPN the Magazine. Rodney Fernandez, who recruited both Morales and Aroldis Chapman for Kendricks, is being investigated by the MLBPA and Florida police in regard to $300K that disappeared from Morales' bank account.
Links for Wednesday...
- Check out Huston Street's contract extension details, courtesy of Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.
- Free agent reliever Joe Nelson has expressed an interest in pitching for the Cubs, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Nelson seemed like a bargain signing by the Rays at $1.3MM, but his control and flyball rates took a turn for the worse and he was designated for assignment in September.
- ESPN's Keith Law ranks the farm systems, from the Rangers at #1 to the White Sox at #30. Law's Top 100 Prospects list comes out tomorrow.
- Baseball America is also kicking into gear, with their Prospect Handbook coming out soon. They're holding an all-day chat Friday, with BA editors as well as prospects Tim Alderson, Ryan Westmoreland, Logan Morrison, and Casey Crosby available for your questions.
- ESPN's Tim Kurkjian has a must-read article on Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and his plan to bring the team back to prominence.
- Scott Lauber of The News Journal tweets that while the Phillies like Chien-Ming Wang, but he might not be a fit because he won't be ready for the start of the season.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Mets are on a "Pollyanna streak," currently regarding their rotation. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports seems to believe the Mets are a total mess, and suggests they start over.
- Red Sox GM Theo Epstein told Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News that he wouldn't have made the Billy Wagner deal last August without the shot at two draft picks.
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle says that the A's agreed not to offer arbitration to Ben Sheets if he's a Type A free agent after the season. Achieving that status seems impossible anyway after he missed all of '09 and did not receive DL days. Slusser also notes that Coco Crisp received a $250K signing bonus, bringing his deal to $5.5MM guaranteed.
Brendan Bianowicz has more updates to the GM Trade History series. Today he covers the AL East. Check out the Excel spreadsheets below to see trades, free agent signings, and notable draft picks for each GM.
- Baltimore Orioles - Andy MacPhail
- Boston Red Sox - Theo Epstein
- New York Yankees - Brian Cashman
- Tampa Bay Rays - Andrew Friedman
- Toronto Blue Jays - J.P. Ricciardi and Alex Anthopoulos