Andy Oliver Rumors

East Notes: Mets, Phillies, Papelbon, Blue Jays

The Mets weren’t a particularly strong team even before losing Zack Wheeler to a torn UCL, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. Losing Wheeler hurt, but the Mets do at least have plenty of rotation depth with which to replace him. Their bullpen is a weakness, and only Juan Lagares stands out for them defensively. “I don’t subscribe to the notion that we’re going to have a lousy defense. I don’t believe that’s the case,” says GM Sandy Alderson. “But at the same time, I don’t assume, nor do I think, all of our success is predicated on being outstanding defensively.” Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • The Blue Jays need a closer, but they aren’t a great match for Jonathan Papelbon and the Phillies, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Insider-only). Papelbon’s contract (including his 2016 option, which will vest at 48 games finished) is too expensive and complex for such a deal to make sense. Also, Papelbon has hidden value to the Phillies, in that using him at closer rather than Ken Giles will limit the amount of money Giles will make in arbitration once he becomes eligible.
  • Phillies reliever Mario Hollands has elbow discomfort and will have an MRI today, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Hollands says the pain feels about how it felt when he had a flexor strain late last season. When healthy, the lefty posted a 4.40 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in his rookie year in 2014. He might have joined fellow lefty Jake Diekman in the Phillies’ bullpen. An injury to Hollands might further encourage the Phillies to keep Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver, a lefty who has performed well in Spring Training.

Rule 5 Draft Spring Update

It may seem early, but there is less than a month before teams will need to set their final rosters for the start of the season. We often hear about players with opportunities to win jobs, and that is never more true than in the cases of Rule 5 picks, whose new teams have a unique incentive to keep them to start the year. Last year, for instance, three teams kept players on the roster all year and earned their rights going forward: the White Sox (Adrian Nieto), Rockies (Tommy Kahnle), and Brewers (Wei-Chung Wang). Click here for complete 2014 results.

With that in mind, let’s see how things are shaping up for some of this year’s selections:

  • First overall choice Oscar Hernandez still appears to be on track to get a chance as the Diamondbacks‘ backup, as MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports“There are some things to work out,” said manager Chip Hale. “We’re up for the challenge and I think he is, too.”
  • Slugger Mark Canha started out ahead of Nate Freiman in the competition for a roster spot given his Rule 5 status, manager Bob Melvin told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle recently (Twitter link). An unfortunate back injury to Freiman only increases Canha’s edge, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports. (It probably does not hurt, either, that Canha is off to a four-for-six start at the plate.)
  • Righty Jason Garcia has impressed the Orioles thus far with a smooth delivery and easy velocity, as MLB.com’s Adam Berry recently reported. Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons tweets that the preliminary word is that the O’s are looking for ways to fit him on the roster.
  • Right-hander J.R. Graham is making an impression with the Twins, as Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports. Graham worked consistently up to 96 mph in two scoreless innings in his first outing, though he did struggle with command in his first frame. “I’m sure he was a little amped up being a Rule 5 guy,” said skipper Paul Molitor. “But he’s got some velocity. It was good to see him get through two clean innings.”
  • An early look at right-hander Jandel Gustave and his high-octane stuff had the Royals contemplating an eight-man pen to fit him on the roster, as MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reported a few weeks back. Gustave has a history of command issues, however, and was roughed up pretty badly in his first outing — though he allowed only one baserunner in his most recent chance.
  • The Phillies have two Rule 5 picks in converted outfielder Odubel Herrera and lefty Andy Oliver, and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com recently looked at both players. Herrera is already showing off his tools and would create some valuable flexibility for the team now and in the future, Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley explains.
  • Marlins manager Mike Redmond was among those impressed with the first live action from lefty Andrew McKirahan, as Juan Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel writes. McKirahan’s odds increased when the Fish failed to land Phil Coke, though it still seems he’ll have to overcome out-of-options lefty Brad Hand to join Mike Dunn in the bullpen.
  • Mets skipper Terry Collins has indicated that prospect Rafael Montero is a long-shot to be added to the pen if fellow starter Dillon Gee ends up there, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets. DiComo noted then that, should Gee in fact work in relief — which seems rather likely — Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin would appear to have an inside track to a pen slot.
  • This is not an update, but more a reminder. Braves‘ selection Daniel Winkler is coming off of Tommy John surgery and therefore has quite a unique situation, as J.J. Cooper of Baseball America explains.

Phillies Notes: Rollins, Herrera, Oliver, Aumont

Former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins viewed the Dodgers as his number one choice for a new club, writes Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. But if a deal hadn’t been reached, Rollins would have considered a trade to the division rival Mets. Rollins said, “I considered the Mets to be No. 2. They have some arms over there.” Rollins clarified that he’s unsure if he would have ultimately accepted a trade to New York. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweets that the Mets inquired about Rollins in November but were told he would not accept a trade.

  • The Phillies are working quickly to evaluate Rule 5 picks Odubel Herrera and Andy Oliver, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. Herrera will start in the outfield and Oliver will pitch an inning of relief as the Phillies take on the University of Tampa in an exhibition Sunday. Neither Herrera, who posted good on-base percentages in the Rangers system, nor Oliver, a hard-throwing but wild lefty from the Pirates organization, expected to wind up with the Phillies. “This is a good opportunity for me,” says Oliver. “I feel like I’m in a better place than where I came from.”
  • In addition to Oliver, Phillippe Aumont and non-roster invitee Jeanmar Gomez could make the opening day bullpen due to transactional reasons, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. The Phillies acquired Aumont in 2009 as part of the haul from the Mariners for Cliff Lee. He’s the lone remaining asset from that trade and is out of options. If he does not make the club, he’ll be subject to waivers. Gomez, 27, would have to earn a spot on the 40-man roster, but the club isn’t in a position to pass on viable major league pitchers. He has a 3.28 ERA in 78 appearances over the last two seasons, although his peripherals suggest we should expect something closer to a 4.00 ERA.


East Notes: Gibbons, Turner, Oliver

With the arrival of a new year comes a new season in Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ contract, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes. The new year guarantees Gibbons’ deal through 2016 and also adds a new option for 2017. Every new year adds a new season in Gibbons’ contract, and GM Alex Anthopoulos created the deal so that Gibbons would never have a lame-duck season on the horizon. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported in September that the Jays would retain Gibbons, who is 157-167 in two seasons on the job. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • Nationals acquisition Trea Turner (who will be the PTBNL in the Wil Myers trade) was the best prospect dealt between the Winter Meetings and Christmas, writes John Manuel of Baseball America. Manuel mentions that Padres vice president of scouting operations Don Welke, a close associate of new GM A.J. Preller, came from the Blue Jays organization, which preached that shortstops must have excellent arms. Turner doesn’t, so the Padres probably didn’t view him as a shortstop in the long term (although Manuel does).
  • The Phillies hope to help Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver with his control, Jim Salisbury writes for Baseball America. Oliver posted a very high 6.6 BB/9 in 64 innings of relief for the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis last year, but with 12.0 K/9 and excellent velocity. “There aren’t many lefthanders sitting between 94 and 97 (mph) with a good slider,” says pro scouting director Mike Ondo. “Obviously strike one is going to be important, but he’s got two big weapons. If some things come together, we hope we have something.” Ondo adds that the Phillies will use their other Rule 5 pick, Odubel Herrera, primarily as an outfielder.

Pirates Outright Andy Oliver

The Pirates have outrighted Andy Oliver off of the club's 40-man roster, the team announced via press release. Oliver is a 26-year-old southpaw.

Oliver has not seen MLB action with the Pirates, and only made brief appearances with the Tigers in 2010-11. In 124 1/3 Triple-A innings last year, Oliver posted a 4.05 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 8.1 BB/9. Obviously, he'll need to solve those control issues before having a chance at making an impact at the MLB level.


Pirates Acquire Andy Oliver

The Pirates acquired lefty Andrew Oliver from the Tigers for catcher Ramon Cabrera, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Oliver, 25, was drafted by the Tigers in the second round in 2009.  He was once pretty highly-regarded and had a taste of the Majors, but in 2012 his Triple-A walk rate soared to 6.7 per nine innings.  Baseball America has described him as "a power lefty who needs to throw more strikes."  Oliver had a dust-up with the NCAA in '08, winning a lawsuit against them after he was suspended for having an adviser in talks with the Twins.

Cabrera, 23, spent most of 2012 in Double-A, hitting .276/.342/.367 in 428 plate appearances.  He's a high-contact switch-hitter with a questionable arm, wrote BA.


AL Central Notes: Boesch, Oliver, Asdrubal Cabrera

Here are a few quick notes out of Nashville relating to AL Central clubs:

  • According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (Twitter link), the Tigers are telling teams that Brennan Boesch and Andy Oliver could be had in a trade.
  • While the Red Sox are one of six teams on Asdrubal Cabrera's no-trade list, a source tells WEEI.com's Alex Speier that the Indians shortstop would be open to a deal and Boston's presence on that list wouldn't preclude a trade. The Yankees, Tigers, Nationals, Giants, and Mets are the other clubs on Cabrera's no-trade list.
  • Assuming A.J. Pierzynski doesn't re-sign with the White Sox, the club will be in the market for a left-handed bat, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.

Draft Notes: Diamondbacks, Zimmer, Red Sox, Astros

The latest on the MLB draft, which has reached its conclusion after three busy days… 

  • The Diamondbacks are "close" to agreeing to terms with first-round pick Stryker Trahan, tweets Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic.  The high school catcher was tabbed with the No. 26 pick.
  • The Royals appear to be close to a deal with fifth-overall pick Kyle Zimmer, tweets Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star.  The right-hander will likely start with the club's Arizona League affiliate but may go to Idaho Falls instead.
  • The Red Sox are nearing deals with supplemental first round selection Pat Light and second rounder Jamie Callahan, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter).
  • ESPN.com's Keith Law reviews the draft class of each National League team, noting that he loves what the Astros did. The Padres impressed Law early on, and he liked the Nationals' selection of Lucas Giolito.
  • A legal dispute in Ohio could impact the future use of advisors, as Darren Heitner explains in a piece at Forbes.com. The MLBPA has warned agents that a case involving the former representatives of Andy Oliver “could represent a significant threat” to agents by placing restrictions on who can represent athletes who live or attend school in Ohio.
  • There have been lots of pre-draft agreements between teams and players, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick hears (Twitter link). "It's a bigger joke this year than it's ever been,'' one agent told Crasnick.

Tigers Notes: Oliver, Marquis, Fister

The Tigers are looking for starters and relievers. Here's the latest on their trade talks:

  • Scouts tell Yahoo's Jeff Passan that the Tigers are dangling lefty Andy Oliver on a number of trade fronts including Hiroki Kuroda, Ubaldo Jimenez and Jason Marquis (Twitter link).
  • The Tigers and Mariners are engaged in active trade talks, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Detroit is interested in Doug Fister and a reliever.
  • The Tigers are more interested in right-handed relief than left-handed relief, according to Morosi (on Twitter).

Hiroki Kuroda Rumors: Sunday

Hiroki Kuroda will listen to anything the Dodgers present to him before next Sunday's trade deadline, but as we learned yesterday, the team has yet to approach him about waiving his no-trade clause for any specific destination. With the Tigers, Indians, Yankees, Rangers, and Red Sox potentially in the mix for the right-hander, let's keep tabs on today's rumors here, adding the latest updates to the top of the list:

  • A scout who spoke to Yahoo's Jeff Passan (Twitter link) thinks the Tigers could be the favorites for Kuroda, and that they may not have to give up top prospects Jacob Turner, Andy Oliver or Nick Castellanos to land him.
  • We've already heard that Cleveland is targeting Kuroda, and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer confirms (via Twitter) that the Indians have talked to the Dodgers about a deal.
  • Danny Knobler of CBS Sports (Twitter link) hears the Dodgers think Kuroda might agree to go somewhere for the next two months. The Dodgers believe, however, that if the right-hander is pitching in the Majors in 2012, it will be in Los Angeles.