Andre Ethier Rumors

Quick Hits: Molina, Rangers, Hoyer, Yankees, Dotel

Earl Webb's Major League record of 67 doubles in a season has stood since 1931 but Orioles phenom Manny Machado could be putting that mark in jeopardy.  Machado now has 30 doubles through 68 Baltimore games after collecting a pair of two-baggers in Friday's 2-0 win over the Red Sox.  Only five 21st century players have come within even 11 doubles of Webb's record, one of whom was Machado's teammate Brian Roberts, who hit 56 doubles in 2009.

Here's the latest from around the baseball world…

  • Yadier Molina's value to the Cardinals is immeasurable, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler writes, and for a team that has been comfortable letting many key figures go in recent years, the Cards made a point to lock their catcher up to a five-year, $75MM extension in March 2012.  "[Owner Bill DeWitt and I] talked about players who were coming up on free agency, and we'd ask how do you replace them. He and I always felt that [Molina] was the one where we had no answer," Cards GM John Mozeliak said.  "It was imperative that we kept him."
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels is waiting to see how his team performs over the next few weeks before determining what possible upgrades are needed at the trade deadline, Daniels said during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Fitzsimmons and Durrett Show (passed on by ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett).  Daniels also noted that the club may keep Jurickson Profar on the Major League roster even after Ian Kinsler is back from the DL, and that Profar could get some outfield time if he is in fact sent back to Triple-A.
  • ESPN Insider's Jim Bowden lists 20 pitchers he feels could be traded this summer.
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer felt Kris Bryant was "the best player on the board" when Chicago had the second overall pick in the draft, though Hoyer tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that pitching "is an organizational weakness….I don’t think it affects our timing, but it does mean that pitching will be an emphasis in future drafts and any kind of trades we might make, and in free agency.”
  • The Yankees' makeshift lineup has remained in contention but ratings on the YES Network are down 38% from last season, leading Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal to speculate if the Bombers may feel obligated to acquire star players in order to maximize fan and business interest.
  • Tigers reliever Octavio Dotel's elbow injury could endanger his season, and since Dotel is 39, MLB.com's Jason Beck wonders if the veteran's career could also be threatened.
  • Andre Ethier isn't letting trade speculation bother him since "it's nothing you can have a say about except to go out there and play hard," he tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.  Ethier could be expendable in the Dodgers outfield once Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp return from injury, given Yasiel Puig's emergence.
  • Baseball America's staff checks in on the progress of the 2012 first round draft picks.

Cafardo On Lowe, Blue Jays, Ross, Pirates, Norris

A few notes from Nick Cafardo's latest column in the Boston Globe:

  • Free agent Derek Lowe seems to have retired, telling Cafardo that he asked agent Scott Boras not to look for opportunties for him. Lowe pitched in nine games for the Rangers this year before being released in late May.
  • The Blue Jays' situation is "a nightmare," Cafardo says, noting that some in the organization don't know whether GM Alex Anthopoulos will stick with the team he has. Toronto is 27-35 after bringing in R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and others last offseason.
  • Catcher David Ross says the Rays, Yankees and Rangers pursued him, and the Pirates would have been interested in him if they hadn't signed Russell Martin instead. Ross signed a two-year, $6.2MM contract with the Red Sox in the offseason.
  • The Pirates, whose rotation depth has been damaged by injuries to Wandy Rodriguez, Jeanmar Gomez, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, Kyle McPherson and Phil Irwin, "would now have to be interested in" Astros pitcher Bud Norris, Cafardo says. Cafardo also notes that talent evaluators wonder how Norris, a competitive player currently pitching for a last-place team, will do if placed on a competitive team.
  • It's unclear what the Tigers would do if they lost Jhonny Peralta to a suspension. Peralta has been connected to the Biogenesis scandal, and his production at shortstop would be tough to replace internally or in the trade market, Cafardo notes.
  • The Dodgers have already received calls about Andre Ethier's trade availability, Cafardo says.

Rosenthal On Roenicke, Freese, Ethier, Mets

Here are some notes from a new video by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal

  • Despite the Brewers' 23-37 record, manager Ron Roenicke does not appear to be in immediate danger, Rosenthal says. The Brewers have struggled with injuries, and Rosenthal suggests that Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin don't like firing managers during the season.
  • Second baseman Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals is emerging as a top hitter for the Cardinals, who have another second baseman, Kolten Wong, waiting in the wings. That leads Rosenthal to wonder about the possiblity that the Cardinals could deal David Freese in the offseason and move Carpenter to third. Freese will make $3.15MM this season, and will almost certainly receive a raise in arbitration in the offseason.
  • The Mets would make sense as a destination for Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, Rosenthal says. With Johan Santana, Jason Bay and Frank Francisco coming off the books, the Mets could have the financial flexibility to deal for Ethier and a chunk of the four years and $71.5MM that will be left on his contract by the time this offseason rolls around.


Mets Notes: Ethier, Davis, Murphy, Feliciano

Acquiring Andre Ethier "would be a solid gamble" for the Mets, Metsblog.com's Matthew Cerrone opines.  Ethier could be forced out of the Dodgers outfield by Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke, making him expendable at a discount price since it is believed the Dodgers would have to absorb at least half of the roughly $80MM remaining on Ethier's contract.  The Mets would be paying around $10MM per season to a player Cerrone sees as "a nice compliment to Lucas Duda in left field," but it would be the first step in the Mets upgrading their outfield now and this winter in the free agent market.

Here's some more on the Amazins from ESPN New York's Adam Rubin, who covered a number of topics during a live chat with readers today…

  • Ike Davis could be a trade candidate if the Mets thought he wouldn't be worth his growing salary over his arbitration years.  A Rubin source on another team projects Davis to earn $6.1MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility this winter, "assuming his production normalizes somewhat the rest of the way."  This could be a big if, as Davis has managed only a .509 OPS through 201 PA this season.  Davis signed a one-year, $3.125MM deal last winter in his first taste of arb-eligibility.
  • Rubin isn't sure if the Mets see Daniel Murphy as an extension candidate since "a New York team doesn't normally have to be consumed with locking up a player's arbitration years."  Murphy signed a one-year, $2.925MM deal last winter and is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter.  The second baseman has been a bright spot for the Mets this season, hitting .290/.323/.439 and tying for the NL lead with 19 doubles. 
  • Pedro Feliciano has been on the minor league disabled list since May 9 with a "very serious" type of food poisoning that "can affect the person off and on for years."  The southpaw hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2010 after suffering a variety of arm injuries as a member of the Yankees in 2011-12.  Feliciano signed a minor league deal with the Mets in January.

Dodgers Notes: Ethier, Puig, Beckett

It was on this day in 1964 that Sandy Koufax threw the third no-hitter of his legendary career, blanking the Phillies in a 3-0 result.  A fourth-inning walk to Dick Allen was the only blemish on Koufax's record in the game, though that was quickly remedied when Allen was caught stealing.  Koufax finished his career with four no-hit games, second only to Nolan Ryan's seven no-nos in baseball history.

Here's the latest on the modern-day Dodgers… 

  • Three rival general managers tell CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that the Dodgers would have to eat at least half of Andre Ethier's contract in order to trade the outfielder, or take on a bad contract in return.  Ethier is a little over two months into a five-year, $85MM contract extension with the team but he has struggled this season and fallen out of favor with manager Don Mattingly.
  • As reported in January, the Mariners contacted the Dodgers about Ethier though "that never got past a couple-minutes chat," according to Heyman.
  • Yasiel Puig made an impressive Major League debut on Monday but he could've debuted on Opening Day had the Dodgers' outfield not already been full, GM Ned Colletti tells Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times.  Colletti didn't mind sending Puig to the minors since he felt the 22-year-old still needed seasoning after receiving just 95 minor league PAs in 2012 and spending more than a year away from organized ball.  “It really came down to him having to play the game,” Colletti said. “He needed repetition, game repetition, situational repetition.”
  • Josh Beckett is battling "some kind of nerve thing" but won't require surgery, Mattingly tells reporters.  Beckett's possible return didn't "feel like it's around the corner," according to the Dodgers manager (links are to Dylan Hernandez's Twitter account).  Beckett has battled numbness in his pitching hand and was considering retirement due to the problem.

NL Notes: Ethier, Mattingly, Wacha, Pagan

Memorial Day weekend is the time when fans begin to zero in on what's happening in baseball, so Joel Sherman of the New York Post provides his analysis of the 2013 season. Sherman sees Cliff Lee, Matt Garza, Jose Bautista, Alex Rios, and Justin Morneau as the top five trade possibilities. Shin-Soo Choo was Sherman's choice as the best acquisition of 2013 with the combination of Justin Upton and Chris Johnson, Vernon Wells, Nick Swisher, and Mark Melancon rounding out the top five. Sherman also identifies the season's top storylines, prospects, and injuries to date. Let's focus on the news and notes coming from the National League:

  • ESPN.com's Buster Olney writes the Mets make the most sense of the possible trade suitors for Andre Ethier (subscription required). According to Olney, the Dodgers will only deal Ethier if they decide he can no longer be an effective player for them and are willing to absorb a large portion of the approximately $80MM due the outfielder over the next five years. 
  • Don Mattingly has all the hallmarks of a manager in quicksand and is conjuring up images of Clint Hurdle during his final days as manager of the Rockies, opines Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. Hurdle vowed to exercise more authority by creating new rules and benched Troy Tulowitzki for violating one of those rules. Hurdle was fired one week later. Mattingly benched Matt Kemp for today's game calling it a "baseball decision" and not a disciplinary reaction to Kemp expressing his displeasure at being removed in a double-switch the night before, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.  
  • The Cardinals are looking to replace yet another starter and top pitching prospect Michael Wacha could get the call, according to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. Wacha is scheduled to start for Triple-A Memphis tomorrow afternoon, the same day GM John Mozeliak will meet with manager Mike Matheny and the coaching staff to determine who will fill the vacancy in the rotation. Nearly 40% of MLBTR's readers, when asked by Steve Adams this past Wednesday, predicted Wacha will be the next 2012 first-rounder to reach the Majors.
  • Angel Pagan gave the Giants a dramatic victory last night with a walk-off inside-the-park home run. Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets the Mets made two mistakes in their December 2011 trade of Pagan to the Giants for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez: an inclination to non-tender a valuable player and, rather than non-tender, using that money on Torres and Ramirez.

Quick Hits: Yankees, Dodgers

The Yankees and Dodgers have far and away the game's highest Opening Day payrolls, but have had polar opposite results thus far. While the Yanks were supposed to be the team that failed to deliver performance commensurate with its big spending, they sit atop the AL East with a robust 29-18 record. The Dodgers, meanwhile, are buried seven games back in the basement of the NL West, sporting a 19-27 mark after a listless showing against the Cardinals last night at Dodger Stadium. Let's take a look at the latest on these clubs:

  • It has been a comedy of injuries this year for the Yankees, with a steady flow of DL stints nevertheless failing to slow the team's winning ways. Last night brought more of the same, as two key players — outfielder Curtis Granderson and starter David Phelps — left the team's 9-4 drubbing of the Rays. MLB.com's Bryan Hoch had the story. Phelps, who was hit on the arm by a come-backer, appears to have escaped significant injury and is expected to make his next scheduled start. Granderson was not so lucky. After suffering a broken forearm on a hit-by-pitch during Spring Training, causing him to miss the first month and a half of the year, Granderson only logged 31 big league plate appearances before being struck by another inside pitch. This time, the ball broke a knuckle on his left hand. The preliminary word is that he will miss a minimum of four weeks. The path to a substantial free agent pay day is now murkier for the big left-handed bat, who is set to hit the market after the season. It seems unlikely, at this point, that Granderson will have more than half of a season of performance in his walk year. While he has been a consistent home run and stolen base threat for much of his career, teams will certainly watch closely to see whether his arm and hand injuries sap his power as he finishes off his age-32 season.
  • For the Yankees, the loss of Granderson appears unlikely to warrant an immediate look outside the organization. As Hoch tweeted yesterday evening, and confirmed today, the club will call up outfielder Brennan Boesch. The Yanks nabbed Boesch late in the spring due in part to the fact that he still had an option year. He saw 45 unremarkable plate appearances early in the season, slashing .209/.244/.419, but was optioned in mid-May and has struggled to a .179/.343/.214 slash in limited action at Triple-A.
  • A swirl of news around a manager is generally not a good thing, and that is certainly the case with the Dodgers' Don Mattingly. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times explains that, with Mattingly taking on an increasingly combative persona, the skipper may be going down with a fight, but seems to be going down nonetheless. Team president Stan Kasten, along with GM Ned Colletti, expressed agreement with Mattingly's attempts to light a fire under the team. And Kasten did say that Mattingly's job was not at risk. But he also made clear that it would be if the team can't reverse its fortunes: "I do expect us to turn it around, and because of that, I expect Donnie to be here for a long time. There's another side of that, if things don't go well."
  • Meanwhile, internal discord seemingly failed to die down after Mattingly recently called out highly-paid outfielder Andre Ethier. While Ethier expressed surprise and hurt at the public questioning of his effort and toughness, and said he had not even discussed the issue with Mattingly, the manager continued to see things differently. "Guys who play the game right, they don't have any problem with anything I'm saying," said Mattingly. "So I can't even come close to backing off things I said the other day. I feel exactly that way." But was Ethier right that the manager had not even talked about his comments with the player? "I'm getting old and my memory is going, but we definitely talked." Needless to say, this public feud only further reduces L.A.'s leverage should it look to move Ethier's big contract and so-far sluggish bat.

Dodgers Notes: Ethier, Mattingly, Puig, Pederson

Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier isn't going to ask for a trade in the wake of his recent benchings.  "I don't think there's ever a question," Ethier told reporters, including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. "I made a commitment to what we're doing. We all have tough times. We just have got to figure out what's going on and battle through it. Quitting is not an option."

  • Unsurprisingly, Ethier was upset at seemingly being singled out as not being a tough player given manager Don Mattingly's recent criticism of his team's competitiveness.  "Yeah, I take offense to that, without approaching me first," Ethier said.  "Other than that, I show up every day and find ways to compete, to work hard whether I'm going good or bad. Just like everyone here, I have to get a grip and a handle on what's gone on."  Ethier also said he thinks Mattingly will keep his job as the Dodgers are just a hot streak away from getting back into the pennant race.
  • Mattingly told the media (including Ken Gurnick) that the Dodgers had talked internally about calling up Double-A outfielders Yasiel Puig or Joc Pederson.  Both players are among MLB.com's list of baseball's top 100 prospects (Puig at #76, Pederson at #85) while Puig was also ranked as the 47th-best prospect in the game by Baseball America.  Puig would probably be the first of the two prospects to be called up, given Puig's huge spring numbers and the fact that he's already signed to a $42MM contract.
  • The Dodgers aren't in a good position to trade Ethier given that they have little leverage to demand a fair return for him, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon argues.  The Dodgers will likely have to eat a large piece of Ethier's contract in a deal anyway, so they could get more back if they wait until closer to the trade deadline.

West Links: Dodgers, Ethier, Norberto, Mariners

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly offered up some brutally honest and scathing remarks for his players and the team's upper management prior to Wednesday's game, and Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times has a recap. Mattingly benched $85MM right fielder Andre Ethier in favor of rookie Scott Van Slyke, commenting that to use his “most competitive lineup” and one that would “fight the hardest.” Mattingly wouldn't confirm whether or not he still viewed Ethier as an everyday player. He also noted that the front office tried to buy an All-Star team, stating: “All grit and no talent isn’t going to make you successful. But all talent and no grit is not going to get you there, either.” Here's more out of baseball's Western divisions…

  • One rival general manager told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that it seems like Mattingly is trying to get himself fired.
  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes that Ethier is now "eminently available" and suggests some speculative trades. Cameron proposes a swap of Ethier and Jeff Francoeur, with the Dodgers picking up the tab (Twitter link) on Ethier's final two seasons. Doing so would save the Dodgers up to $40MM, allow them to call up Yasiel Puig and give Kansas City an upgrade over Francoeur. He also suggests a swap with Franklin Gutierrez of the Mariners or dumping Ethier on the Rangers.
  • Jordan Norberto's preference is still to re-sign with the Athletics after being released earlier in the month, according to John Shea and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Norberto was cut loose due to an elbow strain, and he's throwing again as he rehabs from the injury. The Cubs, Royals and Rays are all interested in Norberto, but he told Shea and Slusser: "I've never felt anything for a team before like I do about the A's – the teammates, the pitching coach, the manager, the fans."
  • The Mariners need better than what Aaron Harang is giving them every five days, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, who suggests that it's time to designate Harang for assignment and give Jeremy Bonderman a try. Bonderman has a 3.79 ERA in nine Triple-A starts.
  • The Mariners are better than their record indicates, writes Rosenthal, but a number of their key offensive pieces are free agents. Rosenthal feels that the Mariners and GM Jack Zduriencik are at a crossroads, but an improved record could make Seattle a desirable destination for Northwest natives Jacoby Ellsbury and Tim Lincecum.

Mets Monitoring Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gonzalez

The Mets "retain an unfilled craving for a marquee outfielder," writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, and are monitoring superstars such as Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins and Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies.  One Mets person told Martino "there is heat there," in regard to the team having a preliminary discussion with the Marlins about Stanton.  Still, Martino is unsure whether GMs Sandy Alderson and Larry Beinfest have discussed the powerful right fielder.

To acquire four years of Stanton, the Mets would likely have to part with their two best prospects, pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis D'Arnaud.  An associate of Alderson's told Martino the GM "did not have any extra attachment to those players, simply because he traded for them."

According to Martino, the Mets debated using Wheeler to get Justin Upton or Wil Myers, during the Winter Meetings.  They also considered asking for the Dodgers' Andre Ethier in an R.A. Dickey deal, and this spring checked in on the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano.  So, it appears the Mets' long-term interest in improving the outfield runs the gamut, from the game's best young stars to overpaid veterans.  The Mets were willing to increase payroll to the $125MM range last winter for the right players, writes Martino.

Keep in mind that no deals are close, and the idea that Stanton or CarGo could become available this year is speculation.