Anthony Rendon Rumors
We just saw one bit of news from the Nats, as the club released Yunesky Maya. Though the move was hardly surprising and will not have any substantial impact going forward, it is a final conclusion to the saga of a player who President and GM Mike Rizzo had heralded as the Nats' "first major international signing." Fortunately, Rizzo has also acquired and developed other talent that more than makes up for the failed Maya experiment. Some of those players were covered in Rizzo's interesting discussion with MLB.com's Bill Ladson:
- Addressing lefty Ross Detwiler, Rizzo said that he "could bolster our bullpen and give us some depth as a starter." Rizzo proceeded to emphasize again that the club is enthusiastic about young starters Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark, and Nate Karns, each of whom, he said, "should be able to help us next season."
- It is somewhat of a surprise for Rizzo to have referred to Detwiler as rotation depth, as he had generally been expected to slot in the rotation, where he has been effective. There are, however, valid reasons to prefer Detwiler in the pen, including his slight build, injury history, and primarily two-pitch repertoire. Certainly, it is hard to imagine the Nats handing both the fourth and fifth starter roles to unproven arms. If Rizzo does indeed intend to use Detwiler in relief, there are two important takeaways: first, the club would have a much less pressing need for a premium southpaw setup man; and second, it would have a roughly proportional increase in its need for a new starter.
- Rizzo also talked about possible extensions for two of the team's best players: shortstop Ian Desmond and pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, each of whom has long been discussed as an extension candidate. "We certainly have an interest in getting it done," Rizzo said in reference to extensions for both players. "But I don't know if we'll get it done before Spring Training. We've made overtures and we haven't had a deal done yet."
- As I noted in my offseason outlook for the Nats, starting pitching and new deals for Desmond and Zimmermann are probably the best ways for Rizzo to add value to the club over the coming off-season. But those things won't come cheap. Starters are coming off the board with substantial numbers. And MLBTR's TIm Dierkes reasons that Desmond could cost nine figures to extend, with Zimmermann warranting $85MM.
- On the revelation that the club has contract issues to work out with star youngster Bryce Harper, Rizzo told Ladson that the club "ha[s] Bryce under contract for the foreseeable future" and "want him around for a long time." The organization was, of course, aware that Harper's arbitration opt out eligibility could become an issue. Said Rizzo: "It was a contract of a drafted player that we negotiated and agreed upon. That's as far as I can go with it."
- Pressed by Ladson as to whether Anthony Rendon would man second for the Nats in 2014, Rizzo would not commit but did say that "he will be a National." "I don't know where he is going to play or what he is going to do," continued Rizzo, while also praising Rendon's "high ceiling" and noting that he "can play many positions." It is hardly surprising that Rizzo would hesitate to hand the starting gig to Rendon before the spring, and the GM's comments were, as usual, rather oblique. That makes it difficult to ascribe any particular relevance to these statements with respect to the club's free agent shopping plans or Rendon's possible availability in a major trade.
A pair of top prospects made their big league debuts yesterday, as Allen Webster started the second game of a double-header for the Red Sox and Anthony Rendon made his debut at third base for the Nationals with Ryan Zimmerman on the DL. Here's more on each, as well as some other news from baseball's Eastern divisions...
- Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer chronicles Jason Grilli's ascension from the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate to Pirates closer. In 2011, the Phils called up six relievers instead of Grilli, despite his dominant numbers. Grilli had a clause in his contract stating that if another MLB team wanted him on their 25-man roster, the Phillies had to either call him up or release him. Pittsburgh scouts took notice of Grilli, called the Phillies, and Philadelphia elected to release him so he could sign with the Buccos.
- Sonia Cruz, the spokeswoman for Robinson Cano's foundation, appeared in the latest round of Biogenesis documents, according to TJ Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN. Cruz's name was only connected to a pair of $300 payments, which she said were for her own weight loss interests. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that MLB sources told him there was no link between Cano and Biogenesis. When he heard about the latest report, a surprised Cano told reporters, including Feinsand, "It's got nothing to do with me."
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal examines the number of starting pitchers needed by the Red Sox in each season over the past decade and notes that the evidence suggests Webster will be back this season. MacPherson also adds that preliminary research indicates this is the earliest the Red Sox have ever turned to seven different starting pitchers in any season.
- The timing of Rendon's call-up suggests that the Nationals may be more willing to let him remain with the club all season than they've let on, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore points out that Rendon has spent 20 days in the minor leagues, meaning his free agency has been delayed by a full year now.
- Jake Arrieta is at a crossroads with the Orioles, in the mind of the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly. At 27 years of age, Arrieta has passed the "prospect" stage but has yet to find the consistency to convert his above-average repertoire of pitches into consistent success. Connolly notes that it's not wise to trade someone with Arrieta's talent while his value is so low, but moving him to the bullpen hardly maximizes his value.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Jay-Z's cerficiation process won't be complete anytime soon (Twitter link). As expected, CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen will handle Robinson Cano's extension talks.
Here are a few notes from around baseball:
- The Orioles have had ongoing discussions with the Rangers about trading for outfielder Julio Borbon, writes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. Borbon will need to be placed on outright waivers by 2pm ET tomorrow if he is not traded beforehand, but the Rangers appear confident that they will strike a deal. While Texas is interested in a major league capable pitcher with options, the Orioles are reluctant to give up arms and are waiting for the asking price to drop. For the O's, Borbon would bring depth, speed, and another lefty bat in the outfield mix.
- The Mets and Astros have also expressed interest in Borbon, Ghiroli further reports. Both clubs entered the season with among the least-entrenched outfield mixes in baseball.
- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein spoke about what the club's Wrigley Field renovation deal could mean for the quality of the squad that takes the field at the friendly confines, as reported by Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. According to Epstein, the club "need[s] revenues to increase in order for us to execute our baseball plan. We expect them to [increase]." Epstein added: "We are not where we want to be right now from a revenue standpoint and therefore we are not where we want to be from a payroll standpoint." While Epstein said that revenue was not the sole "determining factor in our success," he needs it to allow the front office to supplement homegrown talent with "some aggression in free agency."
- For his part, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts says that, "if [the deal] is approved, we will win the World Series." As Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times explains, however, there is some cause for skepticism. The Cubs' ownership has continued to push out its promised timeline for a championship. And with the Cubs topping Forbes' list of most profitable franchises in 2012, Wittenmyer questions Ricketts' continued unwillingness to be more specific about when and to what extent the budget will expand.
- Most big league second baggers do not start out at the position. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that several teams are considering moving big-name young players to second base, with major potential hot stove implications. ESPN's Keith Law (on ESPN Insider) broke down the possible in-season transition of the Blue Jays' Brett Lawrie, as well as two prospects who are keystone candidates: Anthony Rendon of the Nationals and Jurickson Profar of the Rangers. A Lawrie move would be motivated by gaps elsewhere in the Jays' lineup, with the primary impact being on Toronto's affirmative trade plans. The two highly-rated prospects, on the other hand, find themselves blocked at their natural positions. For Rendon and Profar, then, a move to second could be the only viable alternative to an eventual trade.
- With Rendon presumably blocked by Ryan Zimmerman at his natural third base, and with a Zimmerman move to first blocked for at least two seasons by Adam LaRoche, a switch to second seems attractive at first blush. Rendon is known as a very good fielder, and may soon be knocking on the door after starting the year destroying Double-A pitching. But even putting aside the presence of young incumbent Danny Espinosa, Law says that Rendon's lack of agility and suspect ankles should preclude such a move. Unless some drastic change intervenes -- Zimmerman's throwing woes worsen; the NL adopts the DH; unforeseen injury -- the Nationals could be forced to consider dealing Rendon after this season.
- On the other hand, Law explains that the shortstop Profar, blocked by Elvis Andrus, can certainly handle second. But he would be less valuable there, and the Rangers would need to convince Ian Kinsler to become a first baseman or outfielder. Law goes so far as to suggest that Profar has the capacity to be shifted to centerfield, despite having never seen time in the outfield as a professional. Of course, Profar has already established his value at a premium defensive position. Such a move would not only be risky, but would keep Profar out of the big league lineup for longer while he adapted to a totally new position. Law says that bringing Profar up to man second would add value to the Rangers right now. Certainly, if the club is unwilling to make such a move this season, it is reasonable to wonder (as many have) whether Texas might instead dangle Profar as the centerpiece of a blockbuster deal to acquire a top-flight starter or outfielder.
We heard overnight that the Rays and Nationals were exploring the possibility of a trade that would send Danny Espinosa to Tampa. While multiple reporters have suggested those talks haven't gained much momentum, Espinosa remains a trade candidate. Here are the latest rumblings related to the Nats infielder:
- At least one team besides the Rays called the Nats about Espinosa, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, who adds that any talks are being initiated by other teams.
- The Nationals are more willing to trade Mike Morse than Espinosa, with GM Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson still steadfast supporters of Espinosa, writes Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com.
- Many members of the Nats organization are reluctant to trade Espinosa, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. "He will figure it out," one source told Rosenthal. "[Steve] Lombardozzi is a good player, but he’s not Espinosa."
- The Nationals haven't ruled out the possibility of moving Anthony Rendon to second base if they decide to trade Espinosa, tweets MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
Major League rosters can expand to 40 players beginning September 1st. Not everybody thinks it's such a great idea. Tigers manager Jim Leyland recently vented to reporters, including Jason Beck of MLB.com. "I've been really adamant about that, really a stickler on it," Leyland said. "When I have that meeting with the Commissioner [as part of the special committee for on-field matters], I talk about that all the time. Myself, if everybody went to 28, that wouldn't bother me at all. I think that's fine. That's just my feeling, but any manager who does a pretty good job of managing all year, and then at the biggest month of the year, he loses some of his ability to maneuver." Let's take a look at what the plans are for other clubs looking to maneuver over the season's final month.
- The Pirates are mulling their September call-ups with the post-season in mind, as they entered play today holding the second NL Wild Card spot and with Triple-A Indianapolis likely playoff-bound. General Manager Neal Huntington told reporters, including Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Where we go from there ... it’s a delicate balance. I’ve been with another organization where we raided the Triple-A team as it was headed to the post-season. The guys came up and didn’t play very much, and that didn’t go over very well on many fronts." At least one left-handed reliever and another catcher will be added when rosters expand, writes Biertempfel.
- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle adds another consideration when deciding upon September call-ups: cost. In Biertempfel's piece, Hurdle pointed out, "In my rookie year, if you got a call-up, you made $5,000 or $6,000 (in September). Now you’re talking about making $75,000. So if you call up 10 guys, you’re picking up $750,000 in salary and everything that goes with it.”
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter has acknowledged the team's September call-ups will be affected by the team's playoff chase. Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com lists possible players, both on the disabled list and at Triple-A, who could join the O's when the rosters expand.
- The Padres may not have the roster space to bring Jedd Gyorko up in September, according to John Maffei of the North County Times. The Padres already have 49 players on their 40-man roster (nine are on the 60-day disabled list) and may not want to start Gyorko's service clock just for a September sneak peak, writes Maffei. Since Gyorko has less than three full seasons in pro ball, the Padres don't have to add him to the 40-man roster next season.
- Lucas Duda will probably have to wait until September 1st to rejoin the Mets because the team wants to take a longer look at Mike Baxter, tweets the New York Post's Mike Puma.
- The Nationals have several candidates for September call-ups including pitcher John Lannan and 2011 first-round draft pick Anthony Rendon, writes MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
On this date last year, Adam Wainwright underwent Tommy John surgery, but it didn't stop the Cardinals from winning the 2011 World Series. Earlier today Tyler Kepner of the New York Times looked back at the moment Wainwright struck Carlos Beltran out to end the 2006 NLCS and the present-day relationship between the new teammates. Here are more of today's links...
- Third base prospect Anthony Rendon is impressing Nationals scouts and front office personnel this spring, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Rendon, a first round pick in 2011, doesn't appear to be far removed from the Major Leagues. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman just signed a long-term deal, but Rendon says he is comfortable at second base.
- In a chat with fans at MLB.com, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said the club still needs to "add to [their] depth" and land an impact prospect with the first overall pick in June's draft.
- The Royals' Opening Day payroll figures to be in the $57MM range, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweets. Dutton has the full breakdown here.
It's time for some Nationals notes, courtesy of Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
- "I think I want to play third base until someone is better than me at it," Ryan Zimmerman explained to Kilgore. The topic comes up because last year's first-round draft pick Anthony Rendon is a third baseman by trade, and if Zimmerman were to be extended, someone would have to change positions if Rendon proceeds to the Majors and is not traded. On Rendon specifically, Zimmerman said, "If he comes up and plays third and plays second or whatever, then I’m going to be his best friend there. In the end, he’s going to help us win games. That’s the most important thing."
- Rendon is in big league camp because of his draft contract, but Kilgore thinks he may begin his pro career at Class A Potomac. The Nationals intend to play Rendon at third base, second base, and shortstop, at least during spring training, but manager Davey Johnson downplayed the extra infield positions, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com. Rendon was deferential to Zimmerman in his comments.
- The Nationals intend to use Stephen Strasburg until he hits his innings limit and then shut him down, GM Mike Rizzo told reporters. There's an expectation of a 160-inning cap, and Rizzo doesn't seem to be considering a six-man rotation or skipping Strasburg's starts. I imagine skipping Strasburg starts while he's in good health could upset some fans who buy tickets specifically to watch him pitch.
- Super prospect Bryce Harper says he intends to "keep my mouth shut and play," but certainly aims to make the team out of spring training. Kilgore mentions Super Two considerations for the team, and it's worth noting that the new collective barganing agreement will result in more players getting that designation than in years past.
- A potential Mike Cameron replacement will come internally, said Rizzo. Mark DeRosa could play right field if Jayson Werth is in center, while Jason Michaels and Brett Carroll are in camp in minor league deals. Roger Bernadina may have a leg up as an out of options player, in my opinion. Here's MLBTR's full list of players who are out of minor league options.
The Nationals have signed sixth overall pick Anthony Rendon, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). Rendon obtained a four-year Major League deal that includes a $6MM bonus and a $7.2MM guarantee. Tim Dierkes explained Major League deals for draft picks earlier today. The Boras Corporation represents the third baseman.
Earlier in the year, I spoke to Rendon about his health and the team he rooted for growing up. Here's the transcript.
You can keep track of which top picks have signed with MLBTR's list.
Rival executives have wondered whether the Nationals will eventually shift top pick Anthony Rendon to second base, so ESPN.com’s Buster Olney constructs an impressive-looking 2013 Nationals lineup with Rendon at second and prospective free agent Prince Fielder at first base. Here are the rest of Olney’s rumors:
- The Mariners wondered whether Safeco Field would limit Rendon’s offense, but they’re confident that their second overall selection, left-hander Danny Hultzen, will be a good fit in their home ballpark.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin confirmed to Olney that it’s possible (though not likely) that top pick Taylor Jungmann could help them this year.
- Some executives tell Olney that top Orioles pick Dylan Bundy is the greatest pure talent in the draft. He's certainly looking to get paid like an elite talent.
- Olney wonders if Grant Balfour could be dealt to the Rangers, who could use relief help.
- Teams like the Braves and Phillies are looking for offense, so Josh Willingham could become a target if the 27-34 Athletics do become sellers.
We've already learned that right-hander Gerrit Cole will be the Pirates' choice with the first overall pick in today's amateur draft, and it seems that the next two picks are also starting to crystalize. "Barring huge late surprises," tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the top three look to be Cole, Anthony Rendon (to the Mariners) and Trevor Bauer (to the Diamondbacks). Here's the latest as we're just hours away from the 2011 draft...
- Cole, Rendon and Bauer are the first three picks for Baseball America's Jim Callis in his final mock draft. This represents a reversal for Callis, who said on Friday that "[Danny] Hultzen to Arizona was the biggest lock in the first six picks." Instead, Callis has Hultzen falling to the Nationals at No. 6.
- Francisco Lindor had a great workout with the Mariners and there were rumors Seattle could take the high school shortstop with the No. 2 pick, reports Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. Still, Goldstein predicts Seattle to draft Rendon in his latest mock since Jack Zduriencik didn't see much of Lindor in game action and, if the M's did branch out to take a high school player, they might prefer Bubba Starling.
- Marc Hulet of Fangraphs and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo also have Cole, Rendon and Bauer as the first three picks in their last mock drafts.
- Also from Mayo, he names the ten best draft picks in history according to their placement in the draft order. For instance, Alex Rodriguez is the best first overall pick ever, Reggie Jackson is the best second overall pick ever, etc.
- Now that it appears Cole will be Pittsburgh's pick at No. 1, the second-guessing has already begun. "I think history suggests that the Pirates may be making a mistake here," writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, who cites the surprisingly weak crop of pitchers taken with the first overall pick. (The jury is still out, of course, on David Price and Stephen Strasburg.)
- Meanwhile, Tom Krasovic of West Coast Bias asks five scouts and an executive who they would rather draft between Cole and Bauer. Cole won the informal poll, but only by a 4-2 margin.
- Nationals owner Mark Lerner says his team won't hesitate to spend to get the draft picks they want, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post (via the Post's Adam Kilgore). "Last year we had great luck in going after kids with signability issues like A.J. Cole and Robbie Ray, and hopefully we’ll have the same opportunity again this year if the opportunity presents itself," Lerner said.
- The Rockies are looking at Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong or UNC shortstop Levi Michael with the 20th overall pick in the first round, tweets ESPN's Keith Law. Colorado apparently won't be selecting Utah first baseman C.J. Cron.
- The Tigers have had success finding Major League players in the late rounds of recent drafts, reports MLive.com's Matt Sussman. Detroit won't have a pick until the 76th overall selection after losing its first round pick to Boston as compensation for signing Victor Martinez.
- MLBTR's Dan Mennella already posted a set of draft links earlier today, so click here for even more draft news on this busy day in baseball.