Alexander Guerrero Rumors

Quick Hits: Rays, Nationals, Guerrero

The Rays have struggled lately, but they’ve done surprisingly well overall this season despite numerous pitching injuries. One key reason is that they’ve pulled starting pitchers early in games, as Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan explains. The Rays have frequently removed starters after just five or six innings, even when they’ve been very effective, because batters tend to do much better against a pitcher the third time through the order. Rays pitcher Nate Karns says the team explained the strategy to its pitchers before the season. “They didn’t hand us a big spreadsheet or anything,” he says. “But they gave us what we needed to know. That’s something they’ve run a lot of numbers on, crunched a lot of data, and for me to have no numbers myself to refute it, I just trust them and believe what they’re doing is right. And it’s working.” The Rays’ rotation ERA of 3.29 ranks second in the American League despite injuries to a number of key pitchers. Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • Injuries to regulars like Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman and Denard Span raise questions about whether the Nationals should acquire another hitter at the trade deadline, Nats Insider’s Mark Zuckerman writes. As Zuckerman notes, the Nationals are currently three games up in the NL East, and they’ve been one of the NL’s better offensive teams overall. (A season like the one Bryce Harper is having makes a big difference in that regard.) The Nationals have also gotten nice contributions from players who didn’t project to be starters, including Danny Espinosa, Michael Taylor and Clint Robinson. But the Nationals simply have too many injured players for whom to cover. Zuckerman argues that a versatile regular like Ben Zobrist would be tremendously helpful in patching the Nats’ lineup.
  • Alex Guerrero‘s contract with the Dodgers contains a clause that allows him to opt out after 2015 if he’s traded, but Guerrero might consider waiving that clause if he were paid extra, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes. Guerrero (who can’t be optioned to the minors without his permission, either) has played sparingly lately, with Justin Turner handling third most of the time. Guerrero is currently owed about $12MM through 2017. He’s just 28 and has hit 10 homers in 159 plate appearances this year (albeit with a .277 OBP), so he could be a more appealing addition to the trade market if he’s willing to dispense with his opt-out clause.

NL Notes: Nationals, Padres, Guerrero

Unexpectedly, the Nationals are off to a poor start the season, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman notes. After adding Max Scherzer to an already potent roster this offseason, the Nats looked like World Series favorites. But they’re 7-12 so far, struggling both with their hitting and their fielding, and their clubhouse seems “close to dead,” as Heyman puts it. Here’s more from the National League.

  • Former Padres assistant GM and current Astros manager A.J. Hinch is impressed with his former team’s moves, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. “Oh, I watched,” Hinch says of a Padres offseason in which they added James Shields, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel and others. “I was reminded often about what was going on, you know. And I was a fan of what they were doing. It was a little bit of a different philosophy, little bit of a different payroll and that added some big names to the roster.” Hinch essentially served as the Padres’ GM after they fired Josh Byrnes and before they hired A.J. Preller, and during that time, the Padres went in a direction quite different from where they’re heading now, trading veterans like Chase Headley, Huston Street and Chris Denorfia.
  • Alex Guerrero has been brilliant for the Dodgers so far this season, hitting five home runs in just 11 games while looking better than expected on defense. But the Dodgers are still working on finding him playing time, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes. The team indicates that, in addition to third base, they could also give Guerrero some time in left field, where Carl Crawford has struggled. Guerrero isn’t the most obvious fit for the Dodgers’ roster, but they had no choice but to have him break camp with the team, due to a clause in his contract that would have allowed him to become a free agent if they hadn’t. So far, though, he’s played so well that the reasons he’s on the roster don’t matter.

NL Notes: Dodgers’ TV Deal, Guerrero, Brewers

With the would-be merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable seemingly on the ropes, the Dodgers‘ TV blackout troubles may be prolonged, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times explains. Analysts see plenty of uncertainty in the situation at present, meaning that many of the club’s fans remain unable to watch games in their homes. It remains unclear precisely when and how the problem will impact the Dodgers, but it obviously does not help to have the club’s cable provider piling up losses while fans are left unable to consume the organization’s product in one of its key forms.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Dodgers utilityman Alex Guerrero has been on quite the streak at the plate, complicating the team’s playing time situation in a good way. As Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports, skipper Don Mattingly says that the club is taking the long view in constructing its roster and distributing plate appearances. “We’re just a better club the way we are,” Mattingly said. “And we’ll see. We’re not going to be hard-headed to the point where we’re going to say, ‘This is what we said we’re going to do and we’re going to stay with it.’ You make decisions based on where you’re at, where you’re going.” Noting that Justin Turner also warrants more action based on his outstanding 2014, Mattingly explained: “J.T. hits .340 last year, leads the league in hitting, basically. Now, because he’s not the flavor of the day, we start talking about somebody else. That’s where we can’t get involved with what happened over a 10-day period. We have to make decisions based on long term and what we see and project, but also with the fact that things change. Not discounting Alex, but you still have a full roster we know we’ll use over the course of the season.” Of course, it bears noting that the team is still overflowing with quality infield options — even before Hector Olivera comes stateside — and Guerrero is an increasingly interesting trade target.
  • The Brewers have put a quality product on the field fairly consistently for some time now, even if the post-season appearances have been less frequent than might be hoped for. But the club’s brutal start to 2015 could be cause to pursue more dramatic roster turnover, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. GM Doug Melvin seemingly acknowledged that possibility: “It’s good we have 140 some games left. But we’ve got to see change here. We’ve got to see the arrow pointing in the other direction pretty soon,” he said. “Maybe there’s a point you have to say, you have to reset, retool.”


NL West Notes: Bumgarner, Dodgers, Navarro

The Dodgers weren’t the only NL West team looking at Cuban right-hander Pablo Millan Fernandez, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that the Giants and Padres also had interest.  The Rangers and Red Sox, two of the more aggressive teams on the international signing front in recent years, were also interested in Fernandez, who agreed to an $8MM bonus with Los Angeles yesterday.  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • Madison Bumgarner has no plans to approach the Giants about re-negotiating his contract and said he has no regrets over signing his five-year extension, the World Series MVP tells Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.  In April 2012, Bumgarner signed a deal that, at the time, paid him the highest average annual value of any contract given to a player between 1-2 years of service time.  The five-year, $35MM deal includes a $12MM vesting option for 2018 and a $12MM team option for 2019.  While those options could increase to $16MM based on Cy Young finishes, Bumgarner’s contract has obviously been a major bargain for the Giants.
  • The Brewers were one of a few teams interested in trading for Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero, though nobody was interested in paying Guerrero the $14MM he’s owed through 2017, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports.  Some teams were staying away from a trade and instead hoping L.A. would just release the Cuban prospect in the wake of his tough 2014 campaign.  A good Spring Training, however, has earned Guerrero a spot on the Opening Day roster and kept him in the Dodgers’ future plans.
  • The Dodgers won’t be considering extensions for Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick or Juan Uribe until at least partway through the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes.  All three veteran infielders are entering their walk years, but L.A. can afford to wait given the presence of Guerrero and Corey Seager, not to mention the possible signing of Hector Olivera.  For his part, Uribe says he wants to stay with the Dodgers beyond 2015.
  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart told reporters (including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert) and The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro) that Dioner Navarro‘s $5MM salary is too much to fit into his team’s payroll.  The Snakes have been linked to the Blue Jays catcher for much of the offseason and they’re reportedly still scouting him, though Stewart said there isn’t any substance to those rumors.

NL Notes: Shields, Guerrero, Marlins

James Shields is already providing value to the Padres, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. “Having him in here is going to be super valuable for this pitching staff,” says Tyson Ross. Shields has impressed the Padres with his attitude and his preparation — he’s already showed many of his teammates his personal book of scouting charts on opposing players. Ross and Robbie Erlin add that they’re looking forward to watching Shields work to see how he stays so durable — Shields has pitched over 200 innings in eight straight seasons, and as Lin notes, Ian Kennedy is the only other Padres starter who’s reached the 200-inning threshold. Here’s more from the National League.

  • Infielder Alex Guerrero is facing a crucial year in Dodgers camp, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Guerrero, who’s now in the second year of a four-year deal, cannot be optioned to the minors this season without his permission, so if the Dodgers don’t find space for him on their active roster, they’ll have to to trade or release him. “I don’t want to go down. I’m not going down,” Guerrero says. “I feel like I can get better here at this level and play every day. I think that’s what every player wants.” Guerrero, 28, hit well at Triple-A last season even given the offense-heavy environment at Albuquerque, batting .329/.364/.613 in 258 plate appearances. The Dodgers have a crowded middle infield, however, with Justin Turner and Darwin Barney also available to back up Howie Kendrick at second base, and there are questions about Guerrero’s defense.
  • The Marlins still have plenty of prospect depth despite their offseason trades, president of baseball operations Michael Hill tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Marlins dealt Andrew Heaney, Austin Barnes, Anthony DeSclafani and others this offseason, but they still have top 2014 pick Tyler Kolek, along with Justin Nicolino, Trevor Williams, Avery Romero and other solid prospects. Catcher J.T. Realmuto and pitcher Jose Urena top their list of prospects further up the chain. “We have a lot of upper level prospect depth,” says Hill.

NL West Notes: Padres, GM Search, Hammel, Guerrero

Congratulations are in order for Giants righty Tim Lincecum, who earlier today completed his second no-hitter of the division-rival Padres in the past calendar year. “Big Time Timmy Jim” was masterful, yielding just one walk and fanning six Friars on a mere 113 pitches in his historic gem.

Here are some notes from around the National League West:

  • Jonah Keri, writing for Grantland, details some of the missteps made by former Padres GM Josh Byrnes but also notes that he was able to buy low on significant pieces such as Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Seth Smith. Byrnes’ bigger failures were in evaluating Major League talent, he writes, but even that isn’t San Diego’s biggest problem. Rather, Keri opines, their problems are rooted in poor ownership decisions that have forced the hands of GMs Byrnes, Jed Hoyer and Kevin Towers in the draft, resulting in an abysmal track record in the first round. He adds that current leaders Ron Fowler and Mike Dee have been involved with ownership dating back into the 90s (Dee did leave for a decade but returned last summer) and wonders if relying on some of the same names they have been for decades could “turn out to be a bug, not a feature.”
  • We took a look last night at the latest on the Padres‘ search for a new GM. It appears that the first interview will go to former Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, per a tweet from MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Elsewhere, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides a full piece expanding upon his report last night regarding possible candidates for the gig. Finally, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the Yankees plan on granting the Padres permission to interview assistant GM Billy Eppler, who is on San Diego’s list.
  • The Giants had some interest in adding Jason Hammel when he was available as a free agent, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi suggests that the club’s previous interest could make San Francisco a possible suitor for the Cubs starter at the trade deadline.
  • Dodgers middle infielder Alex Guerrero has made significant progress in his recovery from a strange ear-biting incident earlier in the year, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He is expected to begin baseball activities again soon. The Cuban signee, who was off to an impressive start at the plate in Triple-A, could presumably still figure in the club’s plans this year.
  • Earlier today it was reported that Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street of the Padres were garnering serious trade interest, and reports also indicated that the D’Backs are preparing to sell, with Brandon McCarthy in particular drawing interest.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


West Links: Guerrero, Dodgers, A’s, Arencibia

Dodgers infield prospect Alex Guerrero could miss up to five weeks after having part of his ear bitten off in an altercation with Triple-A teammate Miguel Olivo, reports Danny Knobler of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Agent Scott Boras told Knobler that Guerrero was taken to a hospital and had plastic surgery on the ear. GM Ned Colletti wouldn’t comment on potentially disciplining either player, though he expressed disappointment in the situation. Colletti said Guerrero is close to Major League ready, though the team wants him to continue to improve defensively. Obviously, that development will be on hold for awhile. As we process one of the most bizarre storylines in recent memory, here’s more from the game’s Western divisions…

  • The timing of the Guerrero/Olivo scuffle couldn’t be much worse for Guerrero or the Dodgers, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick writes that Juan Uribe could be headed to the DL. Gurnick looks at alternatives on the 40-man roster but also notes that with the Dodgers needing a roster spot for Hyun-jin Ryu, the team may not call up an infielder right away.
  • MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince points out that the Athletics‘ only two homegrown (i.e. drafted and developed) players on the current active roster are Sonny Gray and Sean Doolittle. The team signed Yoenis Cespedes after he defected from Cuba, every other player was acquired via trade or signed as a free agent from another club. Castrovince looks at the team’s offense and their usage of platoons, which led rival skipper Terry Francona to sing the praises of manager Bob Melvin.
  • Rangers catcher J.P. Arencibia has been optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, and the team has purchased the contract of veteran Chris Gimenez, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweeted last night. Arencibia signed a one-year deal with Texas after being non-tendered by Toronto last winter, but he batted just .133/.182/.233 in 66 PA. No team has gotten less offense from the catcher position than Texas this season, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them pursue upgrades on the trade market.

Dodgers Notes: Wilson, Outfield, Guerrero, Greinke

Dodgers’ reliever Brian Wilson, who is playing on a one-year, $10MM deal that includes a $9MM player option for next season, showed a dramatic velocity drop in his outing last night. The usually hard-throwing Wilson only topped 90 mph on one fastball, though he was throwing in a blowout. As Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports (via Sulia), both Wilson and trainer Stan Conte have informed manager Don Mattingly that Wilson has no physical issues. Mattingly did say he was concerned with Wilson’s inconsistent production and velocity numbers, though he chalked it up to the fact that Wilson thrives in high-leverage situations. Wilson sports an unsightly 10.22 ERA through 12 1/3 innings, with 10.9 K/9 against 8.8 BB/9.

  • The long-discussed “problem” of having four viable outfielders has finally manifested itself in Los Angeles, with Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Yasiel Puig all at full strength. (Indeed, the situation is only complicated further by fifth option Scott Van Slyke, who has outplayed all but Puig, and top prospect Joc Pederson, who has a 1.125 OPS at Triple-A.) Nevertheless, reports Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times, GM Ned Colletti still does not appear inclined to make a move. “It’s a situation we’re going to have to deal with,” he said. “But we’re always going to be one injury away from not having to deal with it. It gives everybody a chance to take a breath, get a day.”
  • In another area that could probably be classified as a rich man’s problem, Dilbeck asks whether Dee Gordon‘s improbably outstanding start to the year makes for difficulties with top free agent signee Alex Guerrero. While Guerrero is swinging the bat well at Triple-A (.326/.386/.554 slash in 101 plate appearances), Colletti says his “defense is still something that needs to get better.” A position switch could be considered in the future, though nothing is impending. “We’ll decide at some point in time if we need to add more versatility to his defense to give him a better chance of getting here,” Colletti explained. Dilbeck notes that Guerrero, 27, will need to see MLB time in the near future if he is to return value on his $28MM deal, and wonders whether that contract would be attractive on the trade market.
  • Starter Zack Greinke is well aware of the dangers of too much stress on his elbow, and has changed his entire approach in an effort to maintain his ability to throw into the future, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. In particular, Greinke has pulled back the use of his slider, saving it for more important situations. “In what I would deem a very important at-bat or a very important pitch, yes, I would throw the slider,” said Greinke. “But with the pitcher up and no one on, you might be able to strike him out with three pitches. DO you really want to throw three sliders to a pitcher? Is it really smart of me to expend full energy on a slider in that situation?” Interestingly, while Brown cites several pitchers who say they work at max effort all of the time (including Nathan Eovaldi and Clayton Kershaw), Greinke said he did not. “I don’t do that,” he said. “I don’t think I physically could. I pick my times.”

NL Notes: Corbin, Guerrero, Young, Francisco, Matsuzaka, Fowler

MLBTR's own Charlie Wilmoth has just released a new book. Titled "Dry Land," the volume traces the Pirates and their fans through the club's historic losing streak and recent renaissance. Be sure to check out this post for more details and how you can order a copy. On to the links:

  • In two expected moves out of the NL West, Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks underwent Tommy John surgery today, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert tweets, while the Dodgers optioned Alex Guerrero to Triple-A, as MLB.com's Ken Gurnick tweets.
  • The Nationals have received trade interest from three or four clubs in starter Chris Young, who has an opt-out in his contract this coming Thursday, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The 33-year-old has had an impressive spring, but seems unlikely to crack the Nats' rotation. 
  • The Pirates have no interest in signing Juan Francisco if he clears waivers, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. We learned earlier today that the team had chosen to go with Travis Ishikawa over Andrew Lambo as its left-handed bat at first.
  • For the Mets, giving Daisuke Matsuzaka a $100K bonus is in large part a strategic effort to protect the club in the event that Jon Niese is unable to make his first start, explains ESPN.com's Adam Rubin. This way, the team can rely on both Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia if the need arises, or can simply pick between them for the fifth starter slot.
  • The Rockies are better off without center fielder Dexter Fowler because he "isn't tough enough," opines Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. (Fowler, of course was dealt to the Astros. As presented in my offseason review for the club, I have a different take on the subject of Fowler's departure from Colorado.) Though Kiszla initially credited Fowler with having "the determination to grind through pain" in mid-August of last year, he apparently adjusted his analysis after the 28-year-old missed twenty games late in the season with ongoing hand and wrist injuries. Manager Walt Weiss effectively pushed Fowler out of town, says Kiszla, because the latter "was not the kind of player Weiss needs on a team that must grind out victories in the National League West." Apparently referring obliquely to Fowler, Weiss emphasized the need for players "to compete and grind and play with grit," while assistant GM Bill Geivett explained that the manager "has got to feel comfortable in the weapons he has to attack the other team." 

Second Base Rumors: Guerrero, Espinosa, Royals

A number of notable clubs entered Spring Training looking for clear answers at second base, and other teams could face looming questions at the position.  Here's a roundup of items about the keystone…

  • Multiple talent evaluators tell ESPN's Jim Bowden that Alexander Guerrero needs a lot of time at Triple-A in order to both learn second base and simply to regain his form after not playing last season.  In the Insider-only piece, Bowden looks at internal and external second base answers the Dodgers could explore to solidify themselves at the position.
  • Early word on Guerrero hasn't been too positive, as one evaluator tells ESPN's Buster Olney (another Insider-only piece) that the Dodgers "could get him through outright waivers right now if they need a roster spot."  Olney speculates that the Nationals could generate some interest in Danny Espinosa given the number of teams (including the Dodgers and Yankees) looking for second base help, though Washington wouldn't want to accept a sell-low offer for Espinosa given his poor 2013 season.
  • The Royals are lacking in middle infield depth behind Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar, as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star notes may not have the 25-man roster space for a backup infielder.  Since Ned Yost plans to carry 12 pitchers, that leaves only four bench spots for Justin Maxwell, Jarrod Dyson, Danny Valencia and the backup catcher.  Christian Colon, Pedro Ciriaco and Johnny Giavotella are currently fighting for a roster spot in camp and the team will have Valencia and Mike Moustakas work out at second in case they need to be emergency options.  “It’s not ideal not to have a backup middle infielder on the team,” GM Dayton Moore said. “However, I do anticipate Infante and Escobar in the lineup most days.”
  • Marco Scutaro is only beginning to take grounders and has yet to swing a bat, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports.  The veteran infielder is purposely taking a slow start to Spring Training in order to keep himself healthy and free of hip problems, and Giants GM Brian Sabean admits that the team probably should've shut Scutaro down last year when he was battling multiple nagging injuries.  Despite Scutaro's issues, Sabean is confident he'll be ready for Opening Day though he only said "we'll see" when asked if he was comfortable with the team's second base depth.