- Rangers Release Ryan Ludwick
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Angel Pagan Rumors
Reds GM Walt Jocketty said today that the club has “had some discussions” on an extension with representatives of ace Johnny Cueto in an interview on MLB Network Radio (audio link). Noting that pitching salaries continue to rise, Jocketty said that he could not give “any odds” on how likely a new deal was, though he noted that the team is “still trying” and indicated that both sides hope to continue their relationship. Cueto, of course, is set to hit the free agent market after the season.
Here’s more from the National League:
- Giants skipper Bruce Bochy says he is “a little concerned” about the injury status of center fielder Angel Pagan, Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com tweets. “I think we need to be [concerned],” said Bochy. “I think we need to be. he had back surgery, now he’s hit a bump in the road.” With Hunter Pence already set to miss a good bit of time to start the year, any time missed from Pagan would stretch the club’s outfield depth. That could increase the urgency to make an addition, though a recent report suggests that the team has not been actively searching for another outfielder.
- Mets manager Terry Collins had some less-than-promising things to say about the state of the club’s bullpen, as Marc Carig of Newsday reports (links to Twitter). The most prominent issue, of course, is the question of matching up against opposing lefties now that Josh Edgin is out for the year. Collins also mentioned concern with Vic Black‘s ability to return from shoulder issues in time for Opening Day, though Black himself evidently does not see it as quite so large an issue. “We’ve been … telling everybody that we didn’t have to rebuild our bullpen,” said Collins. “Right now, we’re in the process of rebuilding it.” In spite of those comments, it would be surprising to see the club do anything to add a new arm other than searching for additional left-handed help.
- Top Cubs prospect Kris Bryant has handled the simmering controversy over his promotion timeline quite professionally, by all appearances. While praising the organization, and his agent, Bryant does say that he feels he’s received “mixed messages,” as Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “I’m hearing from my teammates that they want me up and I’m doing well and everybody’s telling me I’m progressing well,” said Bryant. He continued to note that he “took … to heart” the team’s message to players that roster spots could be earned in the spring.
- Of course, the underlying service time rules at play are the larger issue in the Bryant matter, and it is rather difficult to dream up alternative systems that would really change the analysis for teams in a mutually agreeable way. ESPN.com’s Keith Law weighs in (subscription required) to offer a unique solution: when a team puts a true rookie on the active roster to start the year, and the player then reaches exactly six years of service, that player gets a special one-year form of free agency in which any team may make a single-season offer but his current team gets the choice to match the high bid. Law posits that this approach would encourage teams to go ahead and add their best prospects to the roster, comforted by the knowledge that they can still maximize team control — even if it ultimately comes at a (potentially much) higher cost in the final season. That proposal would obviously create quite an interesting new wrinkle in the market.
Gregor Blanco won’t have to worry about arbitration again in his career, as the outfielder has signed a two-year contract that buys out his final two seasons of arbitration eligibility, the team officially announced on Thursday.
Blanco, a client of Octagon’s Jose Mijares, will reportedly earn $7.5MM over the life of the deal: $3.6MM in 2015 and $3.9MM in 2016. The 31-year-old had filed for a $4MM salary next year, with the team countering at $3.3MM, as documented in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker. The deal keeps him on track to reach free agency before the 2017 campaign.
Blanco seems likely to function as a fourth outfielder next year, now that San Francisco has signed Nori Aoki. But he obviously represents a key part of the club’s plans, especially given the injury history of center fielder Angel Pagan.
Blanco, who swings from the left side, has enjoyed a productive three-year run thus far with the Giants. Over that stretch, he has averaged 469 plate appearances annually while producing a league-average .257/.336/.355 slash. Though his defensive ratings took a step back last year, he has generally been valued as an above-average glove and two-to-three win player in a slightly less-than full-time role.
Manuel Lira of Venezuelan outlet Lider en Deportes was the first to report the deal. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle first tweeted the year-to-year breakdown.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
We recently covered the many changes in minor league affiliates. One of those — the Brewers parting ways with former Triple-A affiliate Nashville — appeared to feature considerable consternation on the MLB team’s part. As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, Nashville’s owner has now acknowledged that he wanted a new parent club because the Brewers had not done enough to put a winning ballclub on the field at the Triple-A level. Nashville’s new MLB club, the Athletics, has enjoyed a strong recent run of success at the top minor league level.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has logged significant air miles in recent days, as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. In addition to taking a personal look at Yasmany Tomas, Amaro flew to Japan to put eyes on starter Kenta Maeda, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports on Twitter. Both international targets offer relative youth, a rare commodity on the free agent market, though that obviously increases their appeal to other clubs as well.
- Dodgers reliever Chris Perez has already earned $1.5MM in incentives this year on top of his $2.3MM base salary, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. He picked up $500K each for his 35th, 40th, and 45th appearances, and will trigger another half-million payday with his next call from the pen. The 29-year-old has struggled to a 4.27 ERA over 46 1/3 frames, and his peripherals (7.6 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, 37.7% groundball rate, 5.07 FIP) do not paint a more favorable picture.
- Giants center fielder Angel Pagan will undergo season-ending back surgery, Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News tweets. The 33-year-old has performed well when healthy, but has made just 718 plate appearances since signing a four-year, $40MM contract before the 2013 season.
The Giants are interested in Indians infielders Asdrubal Cabrera and Mike Aviles, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com (via Twitter). Of course, the Indians have to decide they are sellers, which might come down to the trade deadline. Cleveland’s record is currently 49-47 and they’re 5.5 games behind the Tigers in the division. They’re one of three teams sitting just two games back of the Mariners for the second wild card spot.
Cabrera, 28, will be a free agent following the 2014 season. The shortstop is owed roughly $4MM. His defense draws critical remarks. Over the years, many insiders have speculated Cabrera is better suited to play second base, which fits the Giants‘ needs. Aviles, a 33-year-old utility infielder, has a $3.5MM club option for 2015 ($250,000 buyout).
- According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, GM Brian Sabean is unsure where to focus his attention in the trade market. The Giants can stand to improve in multiple areas, including second base, outfield, and the bullpen. Unsurprisingly, Sabean identifies price and availability as the likely determining factors in any trade.
- Marco Scutaro recently returned from the disabled list, but he’s only played one out of four games since re-joining the club. His ability to stay on the field and perform will probably affect the club’s interest in players like Cabrera and Aviles.
- Also per Schulman, outfielder Angel Pagan is expected to remain out beyond the trade deadline. He has yet to resume swinging the bat.
As always, the rehabilitation status of injured players can have a major impact on teams' plans as the trade deadline nears. Here are a few updates on some players whose recovery could play a role in the trade market's development:
- Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter threw over 100 pitches in a bullpen session Friday and could face live hitters shortly, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. Though Cards' GM John Mozeliak said recently that Carpenter's status is unlikely to factor into the team's plans, a continued positive trajectory could potentially change that stance.
- The Athletics received good news on starter Brett Anderson today, with MLB.com's Jane Lee reporting (via Twitter) that he will be shedding his walking boot and beginning to work back from an ankle fracture. She also tweets that manager Bob Melvin is bullish on Anderson returning strong, with Lee suggesting that we could see a repeat of Anderson's mid-August return from last season. While the A's rotation has not exactly been a problem area, some have suggested that Oakland could shop for another arm.
- It appears that the Giants are prepared to go the rest of the way without center fielder Angel Pagan, with the club putting him on the 60-day DL. The San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea also relayed comments (on Twitter) by GM Brian Sabean indicating that the club does not expect him back in 2013. As previously noted, this could make the Giants potential buyers for a Pagan replacement.
- On the other hand, in spite of that need (and this evening's earlier report that the club is actively pursuing Ricky Nolasco), San Francisco could instead stand pat. Shea tweets that, according to Sabean, the Giants will not make any acquisitions unless the team turns around its play before the deadline.
- Though the Orioles recently added a starter in the first significant trade of the pre-deadline market, they could still be considering the addition of more starting pitching. One major factor in Baltimore's internal analysis will surely be the return of Wei-Yin Chen, who has missed much of the year with a strained oblique. Chen looked strong in his rehab outing last night and, according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun, could take a spot in the rotation as soon as Tuesday. If Chen can pick up where he left off — his ERA stands at 3.04 through his first 47 1/3 innings of the year — it may obviate the need for the O's to revisit the market.
- Another day, another bit of bad injury news for the Yankees. As Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports, the catching-strapped club learned yesterday that its primary backstop to start the year, Francisco Cervelli, will have his rehab halted and be shut down for two weeks. With an early August return now the best case scenario for Cervelli and rookie Austin Romine struggling, the Yankees could find it necessary to look for another capable backstop before the trade deadline.
Let's have a look at a few notes on National League players who seem likely to figure in how the trade deadline market plays out:
- With his return to big league action, Phillies' second baseman Chase Utley quickly drew a flock of top scouts, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Salisbury noted the attendance at last night's game of scouts from the Yankees and Giants.
- Giants center fielder Angel Pagan could be headed for surgery on his injured left hamstring, report MLB.com's Chris Haft and Andrew Owens. According to manager Bruce Bochy, there is "no question [surgery] is an option." Today, we learned that an operation to repair the tear in his hammy would likely keep Pagan out for six weeks or so. (Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman, on Twitter.) As ESPN.com's Jim Bowden explained recently (on Insider), Pagan's injury could force San Francisco onto the market for an outfielder.
- The Cubs' Matt Garza continues to build his value on the trade and free agent markets after going eight strong innings last night against the Astros. As ESPNChicago.com's Doug Padilla noted last night, the length and quality of Garza's recent outings promise to enhance his candidacy as one of the best available arms.
- Meanwhile, with reports that the Cubs are prepared to sell players, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron took a look at the value of Chicago outfielder Nate Schierholtz. Noting that Schierholtz comes with an additional year of control and has undervalued but nevertheless highly useful skills, Cameron says that he could appeal to a wide variety of teams.
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.
On this day in baseball history in 1987, Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly won his arbitration hearing against the team to secure a contract of $1.975MM. The figure represents the highest in Major League history, eclipsing the previous record set by Jack Morris merely four days prior. Let's catch up on the latest news and happenings around the league on the Sunday without a baseball game until November.
- Jason Kubel dealt with trade rumors all offseason that had the slugger being dealt to another squad thanks to a crowded Diamondbacks outfield, writes Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Luckily for Kubel, Justin Upton was traded to the Braves and the veteran no longer needed to worry about where he would be playing in 2013.
- Angel Pagan's new found fame as a World Series champion led to young men in his home country of Puerto Rico wanting to work out with him, and so he did, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. "They ask me, my personal trainer. I tell them to come over, do the same thing I do. (The trainer) doesn’t charge them. I want them to understand what it takes to get ready, to be a champion. It’s about your work ethic, how you prepare to be successful."
- The Indians can point to a series of key moves this offseason as the reason for optimism heading into 2013, says Tracy Ringolsby of MLB.com. "We realized at the end of last year we needed to make adjustments," said general manager Chris Antonetti. "We were not good enough. We needed to improve."
They say timing is everything, and surely Angel Pagan would agree after signing a four-year, $40MM contract to remain with the Giants. Acquired by San Francisco a year ago in a change of scenery trade, the Legacy Sports Group client parlayed a .288/.338/.440 performance and World Series buzz into the second-largest contract of the offseason so far. The new contract has a $5MM signing bonus and salaries of $7MM in 2013, $9MM in '14, $9MM in '15, and $10MM in '16, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com.
San Francisco had been one of Pagan's strongest suitors for most of the offseason, with the Phillies also in pursuit. Former Phils outfielder Michael Bourn is the top center fielder still available with Pagan, Shane Victorino, B.J. Upton, and Denard Span off the board.
Pagan bounced back from a down 2011 season and was valued at nearly five wins above replacement in 2012, providing all-around production. The center fielder ranked 11th on MLBTR's list of this winter's top 50 free agents, with four of MLBTR's writers accurately predicting that he'd return to the Giants.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the two sides were nearing a deal, with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Yahoo's Tim Brown adding details. Photo courtesy of U.S. Presswire.
- Several teams asked the Rockies about Carlos Gonzalez during the Winter Meetings, reports ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (Twitter link). The Rockies told clubs that both Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki weren't available, having not changed their stance from last month about trading their top two stars.
- The Dodgers' negotiations with Ryu Hyun-Jin will go right down to Sunday's deadline, a team source tells ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Twitter link). Los Angeles will lose negotiating rights with the Korean left-hander if a deal can't be worked out by Sunday. The two sides were thought to be far apart on Tuesday, though the Dodgers and agent Scott Boras had exchanged offers and were continuing talks.
- The Padres are using their bullpen depth, infield depth and Jesus Guzman as trade bait, says Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune as part of his most recent chat with readers.
- Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan told reporters (including Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News) that they looking for, respectively, a fourth guaranteed year and the most expensive possible contract, and were both happy that the Giants met their desires. “I know my age,” Scutaro said. “I was looking for the best contract. This might be my last one. When (the Giants) made the best offer, it was very exciting.”