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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new notes column posted looking at a number of situations around the league. Here are some quick highlights…
- The Mariners are on the hunt for a right-handed bat, but they prefer Nelson Cruz to signing Hanley Ramirez or trading for Matt Kemp. Justin Upton is also somewhere on their wish list and is potentially available. Rosenthal writes that the Mariners “are going to do something” of significance to address that search.
- The Phillies are doing background work on the makeup of Red Sox prospects Christian Vazquez, Mookie Betts and Matt Barnes, Rosenthal hears, fueling some speculation about a Cole Hamels trade. Rosenthal says the Sox are disinclined to move Vazquez or Blake Swihart, however, and previous reports have indicated that the team is loath to consider parting with Betts. As others have noted, Rosenthal feels that Hamels would likely require the Red Sox to exercise his 2019 option ($20MM) in advance, bringing the total he is owed to $110MM over the next five years.
- The Padres are continuing to listen to offers for Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy, with Kennedy being the most likely of the three to go. Kennedy is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $10.3MM in 2015, and the Royals are interested in the right-hander. Rosenthal also speculatively lists the Rangers as a club to watch in the Kennedy market.
- A reunion between Nick Markakis and the Orioles seemed like a foregone conclusion at one point, but the two sides still aren’t close to a deal and talks are said to be merely “inching along.” Rosenthal wonders what’s taking so long but does note that the O’s are considering Yasmany Tomas and still working with Cruz as well, so it seems fair to speculate that having three options in the corner outfield is slowing the Markakis progress. As Rosenthal notes, the longer the wait, the more likely it is that Markakis explores other options more seriously.
- Since the publication of that column, Rosenthal has tweeted that the Orioles might be willing to move Bud Norris, who is projected by Swartz to earn $8.7MM in 2015. Norris is a free agent next season but pitched well in 2014, posting a 3.65 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 42.2 percent ground-ball rate in 165 1/3 innings. Rosenthal also hears that the O’s have gotten “moderate” interest in Ubaldo Jimenez, although with $38.75MM remaining on his contract, I’d imagine he could only be swapped for another bad contract.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Andrew Cashner | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Bud Norris | Christian Vazquez | Cole Hamels | Hanley Ramirez | Ian Kennedy | Justin Upton | Kansas City Royals | Matt Barnes | Matt Kemp | Mookie Betts | Nelson Cruz | Newsstand | Nick Markakis | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Seattle Mariners | Tyson Ross | Ubaldo Jimenez | Yasmany Tomas
The latest out of the game’s western divisions:
- The Mariners have had conversations with Nelson Cruz and his agent since the start of the offseason, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports. According to Morosi, Seattle does not have a club policy against signing players with past PED suspensions. A recent report stated that the team backed off of Cruz last year because of his recent Biogenesis situation, but it appears that will not be a roadblock this time around.
- The Padres will listen to trade offers for their top three pitchers (Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross) as well as catchers, Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported yesterday. Presumably it would take quite an offer to part with Cashner or Ross, and Kennedy could be held and reassessed at the trade deadline. Behind the plate, the 26-year-old, former top prospect Grandal has yet to establish himself fully. Though he posted a solid 112 wRC+ last year, he also rated as one of the league’s worst defensive catchers. Rivera, meanwhile, came out of nowhere to post by far his most extensive and productive MLB season in 2014, slashing .252/.319/.432 over 329 plate appearances while grading out as one of the game’s best-fielding backstops.
- Righty Dan Haren of the Dodgers has come up in trade chatter, but could retire if he is dealt away from Los Angeles, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Haren exercised a $10MM player option to stay on the west coast, and Heyman indicates that he might prefer to hang up his spikes than pitch for any other club but the cross-town Angels.
Here’s the latest from San Diego…
- The Padres are listening to trade offers for Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The team would look for hitting in return, though you’d suspect the asking prices would vary given the levels of team control — Kennedy is a free agent after the 2015 season, Cashner after 2016 and Ross after 2017. Rosenthal speculates that the Braves, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Indians, Rangers and Royals could fit as possible trade partners for San Diego.
- If the Padres are dealing some of their starters, then the addition of Kwang-Hyun Kim is a way to add depth, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. The Padres posted the high bid for Kim’s services and have just under a month to negotiate a contract with the Korean left-hander.
- Carlos Quentin is open to waiving his no-trade clause to be dealt to an AL team, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). Quentin has a long history of knee injuries and playing in the American League would allow him to get some rest in a DH role.
The Dodgers‘ new front office led by Andrew Friedman is perceived as likely to be statistically driven, but new GM Farhan Zaidi says the Dodgers need to excel at all methods of evaluation, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports. “We need to be the best at everything,” says Zaidi. “I don’t think we’re in a position to make trade-offs of saying we’re a stat organization or a scouting organization.” Zaidi adds that he expects decision-making in Los Angeles to be collaborative. He, Friedman and senior vice president Josh Byrnes will all engage in talks with agents and with other teams. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- On Thursday, Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall chatted with fans on Twitter, and the results are available in a single document at MLB.com. Hall says starting pitching will be the team’s top priority this winter, and he adds that the Diamondbacks hope to retain infielder Jordan Pacheco despite outrighting him this week. Arizona claimed Pacheco from the Rockies in June, and he hit .272/.298/.321 in 85 plate appearances down the stretch.
- Ian Kennedy had a bounce-back season in 2014 with the Padres and now is a top trade asset, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. A move out of Arizona and into a friendlier ballpark was one factor (particularly given Kennedy’s fly ball tendencies), but Sanders feels pitching coach Darren Balsley’s work with Kennedy might have been just as crucial. Balsey’s mechanical changes helped Kennedy boost his velocity — Kennedy’s average fastball increased from 90.3MPH to 91.8MPH last season. Sanders suggests that one alternative to a trade might be for the Padres to extend the reliable Kennedy rather than Andrew Cashner, who had neck, shoulder and elbow issues in 2014.
The Mets have not yet tried sending Bartolo Colon through revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. One reason this is significant is because Colon would represent one possible upgrade for an Angels team that just lost Garrett Richards to what appears to be a significant knee injury. It’s unclear whether Colon would be claimed by another team before getting to the Angels. He’s pitched fairly well this year, despite his age, and he’s set to make a reasonable salary of $11MM in 2015. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- At least so far, the David Freese / Peter Bourjos trade has worked out fairly well for the Angels, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. Freese got off to a slow start but has hit well since June, while Fernando Salas has been steady out of the Angels’ bullpen. Meanwhile, Bourjos hasn’t hit well in a part-time role with the Cardinals (although he continues to provide defensive value), and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk has spent most of the season at Triple-A.
- Calls for the Marlins to trade Giancarlo Stanton may have been premature, writes Rosenthal. Next season, Stanton will still only be 25 and under control through 2016, and the Marlins will have a healthy Jose Fernandez. They might also get more help from young hitters Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, so they could contend in 2015. While they likely won’t be able to sign Stanton long term before he becomes eligible for free agency following the 2016 season, they might be able to simply wait to trade him, perhaps for established players rather than prospects.
- Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner will make his first start since June 18 on Saturday in Arizona, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. On his way back from a shoulder injury, Cashner pitched five innings in a rehab start for Triple-A El Paso Monday. Cashner has emerged as one of the top starters in the National League in the past two seasons, and he had a 2.76 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 76 1/3 innings this year before he got hurt.
- The Padres’ trade of Street shows about what they’ll expect in return for Joaquin Benoit, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes (Twitter links). Since most teams would not want Benoit to be their closer, though, the price would have to be somewhat lower than it was for Street.
- The Pirates and Royals both scouted starting pitcher Ian Kennedy last night, Rosenthal tweets. The Pirates are looking for starters and relievers, Rosenthal notes.
- The Blue Jays are part of an “ongoing dialogue” regarding Chase Headley, Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Morosi tweets. The Jays have shown interest in Headley in the past.
- The Padres are likely to trade outfielder Chris Denorfia, Morosi tweets. Denorfia, like Headley, is a free agent this coming offseason, so it makes sense that the Padres could have interest in trading them both.
- In case you missed it from the Yankees notes post, Andy Martino of New York Daily News reports that the Padres are not likely to trade Andrew Cashner, who was terrific this season before going on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Cashner is not eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.
Reports have noted that the Blue Jays are looking for upgrades at second base or third base for the past few days, and Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that multiple baseball sources have confirmed that Chase Headley is among Toronto’s targets. San Diego appears willing to move the struggling third baseman, as one source tells Sanders that the Friars are “open for business” on talks involving anyone except ace Andrew Cashner.
Headley’s trade value is a bit tough to determine for a number of reasons. He’s earning $10.25MM this season in his final year before free agency, but he hasn’t played up to his standards, having produced just a .199/.286/.328 line with six homers and a pair of steals. Beyond his somewhat high salary is the fact that he underwent an epidural injection in an attempt to alleviate pain in his back caused by a herniated disc. He missed four games following the epidural and is back on the field, but as Sanders notes, interested parties seem likely to wait a bit to see how Headley responds to the treatment.
Lastly, the Padres may simply not wish to sell low on Headley, who in 2012 was a legitimate MVP candidate but has been bothered by injuries since. Headley rode a monstrous second-half surge that season to a fifth-place finish in the MVP voting, batting .308/.386/.592 after the All-Star break. Knowing that his diminished performance will lead to a lesser return in terms of prospects, San Diego may prefer to hope that Headley finishes with a strong performance. That could lead the Padres to make a qualifying offer and receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere, though that scenario is my own speculation and not something included in Sanders’ report.
The Blue Jays have relied heavily on Brett Lawrie and Juan Francisco at the hot corner this season. Francisco has seen a good deal of playing time against right-handed pitching, with Lawrie shifting to second base on those days. When the Jays face a lefty starter, Lawrie has shifted back to third with one of Steven Tolleson or Munenori Kawasaki handling second base. However, Lawrie is currently on the DL and Francisco’s bat has cooled, even against right-handed pitching. Francisco is hitting just .164/.215/.377 in the month of June, and that slide, coupled with his poor defense at third, have likely played into Toronto’s motivation to search for upgrades.
GM Josh Byrnes’ relationship with the Padres’ ownership has “deteriorated,” FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes, and one scenario is that the team could fire Byrnes and replace him with fellow Padres exec A.J. Hinch on an interim basis. Tony Gwynn’s recent passing could prevent the Padres from making such a move immediately, but Rosenthal suggests that they’ll need to make a decision soon, with the trade deadline on the horizon. Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin (who could waive his no-trade clause), Ian Kennedy and Huston Street could all wind up on the trade market, and the team could also get plenty of talent if it traded Andrew Cashner.
Reports last week indicated that there could soon be a shakeup within the Padres organization, with hitting coach Phil Plantier and manager Bud Black possibly among the most vulnerable, though Rosenthal reports that it’s Byrnes whose situation is most uncertain. At 32-42, the Padres are in the midst of what could be their fourth straight losing season, despite a payroll increase last winter.
Rangers left-hander Martin Perez underwent his Tommy John surgery earlier today, and everything “went as expected,” writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The surgery was performed by Dr. Keith Meister, who performs most of the club’s surgeries. As the Rangers look to deal with that blow to their rotation, here’s more from baseball’s Western divisions…
- For the time being, Padres ace Andrew Cashner has avoided joining Perez on the list of series elbow injuries. Cashner underwent an MRI today, and while that test has conditioned the public to fear the worst, GM Josh Byrnes issued the following statement via press release: “After performing an MRI today on Andrew’s right elbow, our doctors have indicated to me that he has elbow soreness and irritation. Based on our doctors’ recommendation we will be proceeding with rest and rehabilitation for his recovery.”
- Though the Angels will soon need to make roster moves to get Kole Calhoun, David Freese and Dane De La Rosa back on the active roster, releasing struggling DH Raul Ibanez isn’t likely, reports MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. General manager Jerry Dipoto wouldn’t say Ibanez will not be released, Gonzalez writes, but he expressed that the team will remain patient and voiced confidence in the aging slugger: “Raul has a track record. He has done this before. He has gone through cold spells, and he has gotten hot. There’s nobody here who believes Raul has had his last good days in the big leagues.”
- Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall “can hardly stop pinching [himself]” after the team’s hiring of Tony La Russa as its new chief baseball officer, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. La Russa drew interest from multiple clubs for an executive role and turned down at least one offer, feeling that he wasn’t needed with that team, Heyman adds. He also writes that manager Kirk Gibson has close to a clean slate following the La Russa hire, and that La Russa will give Gibson and GM Kevin Towers until at least season’s end to help get the Snakes back on track.
The news of the day was out of Arizona, where the Diamondbacks made a bold move to add Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa atop the club’s baseball operations department. Many observers hailed the move, with Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writing that the experienced and respected LaRussa could effect a “cultural overhaul” akin to that delivered to the Orioles by Buck Showalter. Of course, LaRussa’s role will be much broader than that of Showalter, and he’ll face quite a different challenge from the one that brought him to Cooperstown.
Here’s more from the D’Backs and the rest of the National League:
- The immediate reaction to LaRussa’s hiring was that embattled Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers and/or manager Kirk Gibson could be on their way out. After reporting that a further shake-up would likely not occur in the immediate future, Bob Nightengale of USA Today provided some details on the previously unknown terms of the extensions given to both of those team leaders before the start of what has turned into a trying season (via Twitter). Towers’s deal takes him through 2016, while Gibson’s contract is believed to run through 2015, says Nightengale. Of course, that does not mean that the pair is ensured to last until those pacts expire.
- If the Rockies decide to shop for pitching, the club will have plenty of teams banging on the door for a chance to add one of their top two prospect arms (Jon Gray and Eddie Butler), reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). But Rosenthal says that the team is more likely to bring one or both of those power righties up, noting that the team seems to have solid rotation depth.
- Padres staff ace Andrew Cashner was placed on the 15-day DL today after experiencing discomfort and inflammation in his right elbow. As Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, the 27-year-old says he is “not worried about my ligament at all.” Nevertheless, he will undergo a precautionary MRI on Monday. After a solid 175-inning, 3.09 ERA campaign last year, Cashner has elevated his game this year with a 2.35 ERA through 57 1/3 frames (7.4 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9). He is earning a $2.4MM salary for 2014, his first arb-eligible campaign, and should be in line for a big raise if he can stay on the mound and keep producing at those levels.
- Meanwhile, Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez suffered through a second-straight rough outing today, and manager Matt Williams said after the game that the club has been monitoring complaints of shoulder stiffness. As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, Gonzalez will undergo precautionary testing tomorrow, including an MRI. When asked if he was experiencing any health issues, Gonzalez gave a response that seems open to interpretation. “Realistically, arm was dropping a lot,” he said. “I guess we’ll see.”
- First baseman Ike Davis has regained his form at the plate since being traded to the Pirates, Jorge Arangure writes for the New York Times. Davis has compiled a .286/.383/.414 line through his first 81 plate appearances in Pittsburgh. In part, it bears noting, Davis has benefited from platoon usage: on the year, he has yet to record a hit in 15 plate appearances against same-handed pitchers, while sporting a nifty .902 OPS against righties. After several up-and-down years with the Mets, Davis said he is keeping his focus on the present and does not bear any ill-will to his former club.