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Alex Jackson Rumors
5:23pm: Jackson and the Mariners have agreed to a bonus of $4.2MM, reports MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo (on Twitter).
That bonus is $624,100 over slot and should put the Mariners $317,100 over their allotted bonus pool. Seattle will have to pay a 75 percent luxury tax that comes out to $237,825, but the team will not have to forfeit any future draft picks because of the bonus.
4:08pm: The Mariners and first-round selection Alex Jackson have agreed to terms, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (on Twitter). Callis isn’t sure of the exact bonus terms at this time, but he notes that the bonus will pay the high school catcher/outfielder north of $4MM. That’s well north of the $3,575,900 pick value with the No. 6 overall selection, but as Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune recently explained, the Mariners can spend $4,221,295 without losing a pick in next year’s draft. A bonus north of $4MM will subject them to a 75 percent overage tax on their bonus pool, however, as the max they could have spent without incurring overage penalties was $3,882,900 (also per Dutton).
Jackson’s power potential and advanced hit tool have led most to consider him the best bat in the 2014 draft class. Both Baseball America and MLB.com ranked Jackson as the No. 4 prospect in this year’s draft class, while ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him fifth. Jackson had been committed to Oregon and is advised by Scott Boras.
All three scouting reports on Jackson rave about his hitting prowess, with MLB.com noting that he could hit north of .280 in the Majors and BA adding that he has the potential for plus-plus power. Jackson’s arm is also regarded as a plus tool, and it plays well behind the plate, where Law notes he has pop times in the 1.8-1.9 second range. However, all three note that Jackson’s receiving and blocking skills need work. The consensus is that he’s athletic enough to be a solid defender in right field, and he could be fast-tracked to the Majors by being shifted to the outfield, but he could become a serviceable defender behind the dish with more work and more development time. Obviously, he’d have more value to the Mariners if he could reach the Majors as a catcher, though the team does have a promising young backstop in the form of 2012 No. 3 overall selection Mike Zunino.
The Mariners have already signed the remainder of their picks within the top 10 rounds, so they needn’t worry that going well over-slot on Jackson could have ramifications further down their draft board.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
ESPN Dallas writer and reporter Richard Durrett, whose work was often referenced in MLBTR’s pages, passed away suddenly today. In one of his final pieces, Durrett wrote an excellent assessment of Alex Rios and his value to the Rangers as a trade candidate or member of next year’s club. As we commend his work one last time, MLBTR offers its deepest condolences to Durrett’s young family, friends, and colleagues in the press box.
Here is the latest news out of the American League:
- Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland is “leaning toward” season-ending ankle surgery, GM Jon Daniels tells Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. Moreland had struggled thus far in 2014, but his absence will still tell for a Texas club that has had more than its fair share of injuries. As Fraley notes, the 28-year-old could be a non-tender candidate.
- The Mariners are in position to begin full-on negotiations with first-round (sixth overall) selection Alex Jackson, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. As Dutton explains, both sides have strong incentives to get a deal done. Jackson’s spot in the draft comes with a $3,575,900 slot allocation, but at present Seattle can dedicate as much as $3,882,900 to the high schooler before incurring penalties, Dutton notes.
- Despite their obvious need for outfield help, the Red Sox appear to have little interest in the recently-released Jason Kubel, reports Sean McAdam of Comcast SportsNet New England (via Twitter). Kubel, 32, scuffled to a .224/.313/.295 line in 176 plate appearances in his return to the Twins.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos took on a range of topics in a press appearance today, and MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm has a transcript. Addressing the team’s still-unsigned first-round choices (injured righty Jeff Hoffman and catcher Max Pentecost), Anthopoulos said that he “feel[s] very confident that [deals] will get done.”
- Turning to the upcoming trade deadline, Anthopoulos said that talks are still in a preliminary stage, with teams “calling to see what everyone’s needs are.” Strongly implying that Toronto expects to be a buyer, as one would expect, Anthopoulos continued: “I think the stage that everyone is at is, where do we have fits, what teams do we line up with and then the next step is, teams are out seeing our affiliates, or are going to see our affiliates.”
- Toronto is not necessarily just focused on adding a starter, Anthopoulos said. “[W]e’ve talked about every spot,” he said. “I was just on the phone with someone that, if they have a player available [and] we have a good player at that spot but that player’s an upgrade, we’d look to do it.” At this point, said the GM, “we’re just basically canvassing the clubs to see who’s available. In some of the conversations, players we didn’t think were available are, and we’ll see where the dialogue goes.”
- All that being said, the Blue Jays still seem likely to pursue rotation help. Indeed, the club sent a scout to watch Cubs‘ righties Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija in their most recent starts, reports Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network. On the other side of the coin, scouts from the Cubs and Rays were present to watch last Thursday’s outing for Jays’ minor league lefty Daniel Norris, along with the rest of the Class-A Dunedin squad.
The Giants didn’t have a particularly flashy offseason, but GM Brian Sabean’s moves have helped the team post the best record in baseball so far, writes ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Hunter Pence, signed to a five-year deal near the end of last season, has hit .296/.368/.464 so far, and Michael Morse, who Sabean signed to a one-year deal, has also been a key part of the Giants’ offense. Tim Hudson, signed to a two-year deal, has posted a 1.81 ERA. Here are more notes from the National League.
- Two and a half years later, the Diamondbacks‘ trade for Trevor Cahill looks like a poor one, and AZCentral.com’s Nick Piecoro investigates what went wrong. One problem, Piecoro says, is that Cahill’s mechanics are inconsistent, which means he sometimes has trouble throwing strikes. The Diamondbacks demoted Cahill to Class A+ Visalia this week after he posted a 5.66 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 in 41 1/3 innings this season. Jarrod Parker, the key piece the Diamondbacks traded to the Athletics for Cahill, recently had Tommy John surgery, but Piecoro points out that at least Parker isn’t signed to a long-term contract. Cahill is guaranteed $12MM next season.
- The parameters of Alex Jackson‘s upcoming negotiations with the Mariners are now relatively clear, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. Jackson, the sixth overall pick, has a bonus pool allotment of around $3.58MM. The Mariners, meanwhile, have about $3.89MM remaining in their bonus pool. They can spend up to around $4.22MM before they’re penalized with the loss of future draft picks. Jackson is advised by Scott Boras.
We’re under two weeks away from the first round of the 2014 amateur draft, which kicks off on June 5. Here’s a collection of draft-related info…
- “No one knows what the Astros are going to do with the first pick,” an executive from a team with a top-six draft pick tells Peter Gammons. Another rival executive feels Houston may not take Carlos Rodon first since “many of the Astros people believe that picking a pitcher at the top is a gamble because of the historical predictability of pitchers.” (Though of course, the ‘Stros took Mark Appel last year). The exec feels the Astros are “looking…closely” at high school outfielder Alex Jackson, and if Houston passes on Jackson, the Marlins also like him a lot as the potential second overall pick. Miami is favored to draft a hitter due to the number of pitching prospects in their system but “they love [Tyler] Kolek and it would be hard to pass on Rodon,” Gammons writes.
- Also from Gammons’ wide-ranging column, he polls executives about which teams had the best drafts of the last decade, and also muses about there would be much more casual fan interest in the draft if picks could be traded.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington feels that a deep selection of talent is available, write Charlie Wilmoth and David Manel of Bucs Dugout. Huntington also addresses the pressure to select local players and how the Bucs are adjusting to picking near the end of the first round rather than with an early selection.
- If Rodon does go first overall, it doesn’t seem like the Astros would give him a record bonus simply because of how the draft’s rules have changed, Baseball America’s John Manuel writes. Scott Boras (Rodon’s adviser) argues that MLB should alter the draft format since the current rules hurt teams at the Major League level; the agent suggests such changes as not subjecting first-round contracts to the salary allotment cap or not taking away a team’s first round pick for signing free agents.
Pitching injuries are the big topic around the league, so let’s catch up on some of the latest commentary. Writing for GammonsDaily.com, Neil Weinberg offers a hypothesis (which, as he notes, may not really be testable) on the seeming Tommy John epidemic: what if the reason that more high-end professional pitchers are experiencing UCL tears is simply because better management at younger ages has actually prevented them from blowing their arms out at an earlier age? Meanwhile, pointing to the contractual effects of the injury bug, a GM tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link) that, “with all these injuries, I think pitchers will be reluctant to turn down extensions.” At Fangraphs, Wendy Thurm explores the costs to pitchers who lose time to TJ recovery, providing a bevy of salary information on past and current pitchers who have experienced the career-saving procedure.
Here are more notes from around the game:
- One player coming off of surger (on his shoulder) is righty Cristhian Martinez, who Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com says (Twitter link) is expected to throw for teams by the end of May. The 31-year-old, who was non-tendered by the Braves, was good for a 3.63 ERA in 151 1/3 innings over 2011-12.
- The Dodgers need to make some moves if they want to get back on trajectory, opines Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. While the team is among the most well-rounded in baseball, that does not mean it is without its faults; one scout tells Castrovince that “the bench is awful, the bullpen is fringy at best, maybe below average, and there’s no situational hitting.” Though Castrovince says that the stats don’t really bear out the latter concern, he says the team should take the much-discussed step of shipping out one of its highly-paid outfielders.
- Trading away players is an expectation for the Cubs, of course, and Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com discusses the team’s most likely pieces (after ace Jeff Samardzija). Though Jason Hammel just suffered his worst start of the year, Rogers says he still looks to be on track to bring back a strong prospect return. Nate Schierholtz and Jose Veras still look like trade chips to Rogers, though both will need to improve rather substantially to maximize their trade value to their current club.
- The latest amateur draft mocks are out, with MLB.com offering a first-round projection and Baseball America putting out its second version. The BA staff now sees a shake-up in the early portion: their board has the Marlins going with catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson at second overall, the Cubs choosing lefty collegiate Kyle Freeland in the fourth slot, and big-armed high schooler Tyler Kolek falling to the Phillies at number seven. Both MLB.com and BA like the Jays to take N.C. State shortstop Trea Turner and prep righty Touki Toussaint. Meanwhile, the Twins have interest in Jackson with their fifth-overall pick — if he lasts that long — tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, though he notes that there is still no consensus as to whether he can stick behind the dish.
- Turning to the international market, there has of course been much discussion over whether — and, if so, how — a draft might be implemented. Writing for the Hardball Times, Alex Remington argues against a draft. Among his reasons are the concern that less young international players would have a chance to play professionally; various deleterious consequences that could occur in Latin America (without solving the issues that currently persist); and that implementation could pose a “logistical nightmare.”