Arizona Diamondbacks Rumors

Arizona Diamondbacks trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

NL Notes: Nats, D’Backs, Rockies

Former Nationals minor leaguer Justin Bloxom transitioned quickly from a stalled playing career to re-joining the organization as a scout, Chelsea James of the Washington Post writes. The eleventh-rounder was part of a productive 2009 draft for the team, which will now hope to extract value from him in a somewhat different manner.

  • The Diamondbacks are comfortable with their budget sitting in the low-$90MM range, GM Dave Stewart tells MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. Arizona is open to moving more salary but will not sacrifice on-field performance to do so, per Stewart. The most likely avenue to savings, says Gilbert, would be shedding some portion of the large tabs owed righty Trevor Cahill and outfielder Cody Ross.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says that it is “highly, highly unlikely” that the team will make a deal involving either of the club’s two biggest stars (Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez), Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. That is no surprise, of course: there have always been multiple, significant barriers to a deal this offseason, and any earlier momentum seems to have died in recent weeks.

Stewart: D-Backs No Longer Pursuing Shields

The Diamondbacks are no longer pursuing right-hander James Shields, general manager Dave Stewart told reporters today, including Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds that Stewart said the market for Shields changed following Max Scherzer‘s seven-year deal with the Nationals (Twitter link).

Stewart has publicly expressed his club’s interest in Shields in the past, opining that Shields was a “throwback” type of pitcher that would appreciate the D-Backs’ old school approach. Somewhat controversially, Stewart speculated that Shields might view the D-Backs as a “true” baseball team as opposed to others that are more driven by numbers and analytics.

Arizona could undoubtedly benefit from Shields’ presence in an otherwise thin rotation, but Stewart said at the time he acknowledged his interest in Shields that he was also aiming to get the team’s payroll under $100MM. Since then, reports have indicated that Arizona is actively trying to shed payroll, making Shields seem a tough fit. The D-Backs have Jeremy Hellickson and Josh Collmenter locked into their rotation, but beyond that, there’s little certainty. Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Trevor Cahill, Vidal Nuno and Chase Anderson are among the rotation candidates on the 40-man roster, and they’ve also added former Mariners starter Blake Beavan on a minor league deal this offseason.


Latest On The Market For James Shields

With Max Scherzer off the market following a historic seven-year agreement with the Nationals, all eyes will be on top remaining free agent James Shields and agent Page Odle leading up to Spring Training. ESPN’s Jayson Stark has spoken to a number of industry sources for his most recent look at Shields’ market, and he lists various reasons that the industry doesn’t expect Shields to end up with the Marlins, D-Backs, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Royals, Tigers, Rangers, Astros, Cardinals and Brewers (the Padres, at least, are listed as “possible, but not likely”).

Of particular note from Stark is that the D-Backs are actively trying to trim their payroll, rather than add salary; the Cubs are likely to look for another big-name starter, but not until next offseason; and the chances of the Marlins signing Shields are precisely “zero,” the latter of which meshes with a recent report from Grantland’s Jonah Keri.

Nonetheless, one executive to whom Stark spoke said he sees jumping back into the mix for Shields. However, one of the reasons, per that exec, is that teams believe Shields will have to settle for less than the $110MM that he reportedly was offered earlier this month and are revisiting the situation with the assumption that the price has dropped. Said Stark’s source, “But the problem is, now everyone is bottom-feeding. And when you’re someone like him, that’s the last thing you want, is a lot of teams bottom-feeding on you in late January.”

Regardless of the imperfect fits that litter the market for Shields, most executives tell Stark they can’t see Shields signing for anything less than $80MM over a four-year term, and nearly everyone to whom he spoke thinks that Shields could sign at virtually any time.

One club that won’t be signing Shields is the Giants, it seems, based on comments made by GM Brian Sabean earlier today on KNBR radio. As KNBR scribe Dieter Kurtenbach writes, Sabean plainly stated that while his club has wiggle room to add another piece, “it’s not going to be a high ticket item.” Sabean explained that while the team made a run at a pair of “high ticket” items in the form of Pablo Sandoval and Jon Lester, the team made the decision to spread the money throughout the roster. As such, the club acquired Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki to fill respective holes at third base and in left field, and Jake Peavy was re-signed to add some stability to the rotation. (Of interest to Astros fans may be Sabean’s statement of the fact that he believes Ryan Vogelsong is “going elsewhere as we speak,” as Vogelsong is said to be nearing a deal with Houston.)



Diamondbacks Sign Yoan Lopez

The Diamondbacks have announced the signing of Cuban righty Yoan Lopez. He will receive a $8.27MM bonus, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). The deal, as the rules require, is of the minor league variety, meaning that Lopez will come with the full six years of service-time control. (Ben Badler of Baseball America originally reported that the two sides had agreed to terms, and Sanchez was the first to report that the deal was official.)

That contract edges out recent signee Roberto Baldoquin for the highest-ever bonus for an international amateur. Lopez, 21, may have set a new record for international players not classed as professionals, but he actually left money on the table when he signed with the D’Backs, with Sanchez adding that Lopez had a $9MM bonus offer (links to Twitter). Arizona beat out the division-rival Padres and Dodgers, Sanchez adds, with top D’Backs brass convincing Lopez that their organization offered the best and quickest path to the big leagues.

While adding a sought-after international arm without putting the biggest money on the table would seem to count as a win for the Diamondbacks, the signing is not without its drawbacks. Lopez was subject to international spending limits, meaning that his new organization will pay a 100% overage on the amount it goes over its pool allocation and will not be allowed to hand out a $300K+ bonus to any international amateur over the next two July 2 signing periods.

The Diamondbacks join the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, and Rays as teams that will begin serving a two-year signing closure starting this summer. That will hurt even more for Arizona, however, as the team will not be able to tap into the largest international allocation for the 2015-16 signing period (as Badler notes on Twitter).

Lopez is likely to open at one of the Class A levels, in Badler’s estimation, where he will begin learning to maximize his raw talents. Badler writes that Lopez has a good frame that he has begun filling out, delivering a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s.


Arbitration Filing Numbers

Many players will avoid arbitration today, and dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won’t go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox (per the most recent updates) are known for their “file and trial” policies. For players on those teams this marks the last chance at negotiations before a hearing.

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $5MM or more. Projections can be found here. Now for the details …

  • The Reds countered the $5.7MM filing of Todd Frazier with a $3.9MM figure, according to Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (via Twitter).
  • Third baseman David Freese filed at $7.6MM and the Angels countered at $5.25MM, WAPT’s Mike Perchick tweets. Halos outfielder Matt Joyce has filed for $5.2MM against a $4.2MM counter, according to Perchick (on Twitter).
  • Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler filed for $10.8MM while the club countered at $8.5MM, Perchick tweeets.
  • Pirates second baseman Neil Walker filed at $9MM while the club landed at $8MM, Perchick tweets.
  • Just-acquired reliever Tyler Clippard has filed for $8.85MM against the Athletics, who countered at $7.775MM, Perchick tweets.
  • Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay filed at $5MM while the team countered at $4.1MM, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets.
  • Pedro Alvarez has requested a $5.75MM salary for the coming season while the Pirates are at $5.25MM, per a tweet from Perchick.
  • Righty Mat Latos filed at $10.4MM and the Marlins countered with a $9.4MM figure, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
  • Third baseman Casey McGehee filed at $5.4MM, with the Giants countering at $4MM, Heyman tweets.
  • The Braves countered Mike Minor‘s $5.6MM filing number with a $5.1MM team figure, Heyman reports on Twitter.
  • Mark Trumbo has filed for $6.9MM against a $5.3MM counter from the Diamondbacks, Heyman tweets. Closer Addison Reed, meanwhile, filed at $5.6MM with the team countering at $4.7MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
  • The Orioles went with a $7.5MM price point for righty Bud Norris, who filed at $10.25MM, per Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). In both relative and absolute terms, there is an even bigger gap between the O’s ($2MM) and breakout slugger Steve Pearce ($5.4MM), who is looking to cash in on a big season in his final year of eligibility. That news also comes via Connolly, on Twitter.
  • Entering his final year of arbitration, infielder Daniel Murphy has filed for $8.6MM while the Mets have submitted a $7.4MM figure, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets.
  • Reds 9th inning man Aroldis Chapman filed for $8.7MM while the team countered at $6.65MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
  • The Orioles and outfielder Alejandro De Aza will negotiate between filing figures of $5MM and $5.65MM, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets.
  • Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer filed at $6.7MM and the team countered at $4.6MM, Heyman tweets. The club will also have some ground to make up with closer Greg Holland, who filed at $9MM versus a team filing of $6.65MM, per another Heyman tweet.
  • Newly-acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson has filed at $5.75MM, while the Blue Jays countered at $4.3MM, Heyman tweets.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
  • The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
  • Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
  • Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
  • The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
  • ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
  • Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
  • Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
  • Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
  • Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
  • Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
  • Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.

(more…)


D-Backs GM Stewart Talks Payroll, Shields, Catchers

4:02pm: In addition to discussing catchers, as noted below, Stewart also discussed the club’s payroll and his interest in James Shields with Piecoro. Stewart notes that the addition of Cuban righty Yoan Lopez could push the club to make cost-cutting moves. Lopez received an $8.25MM signing bonus that, after accounting for the penalties incurred due to exceeding their bonus pool, will cost the D-Backs about $16.3MM, Piecoro writes.

Stewart says he isn’t sure how the D-Backs will trim payroll, but they’re currently looking at about $106MM, and he’d like to be under $100MM. “I would like to be (under $100 million),” he tells Piecoro. “I’ve not been told to be, but I would like to be.” One player the club isn’t interested in dealing, according to Piecoro, is Mark Trumbo.

Despite the plainly stated desire to shed payroll, the D-Backs remain interested in Shields, Stewart says. The D-Backs have spoken with agent Page Odle to “work on groundwork,” according to Stewart, who thinks that the team’s old-school mentality will appeal to Shields. “I think James is a throwback guy by the way he goes about his business and the innings he pitches,” says Stewart. “I think the fact that Tony (La Russa) is here and that we have more baseball people — he probably sees us as a true baseball team vs. some of the other teams out here that are geared more toward analytics and those type of things.”

Stewart’s comments are interesting, particularly due to the fact that La Russa said after the departure of former GM Kevin Towers in September that he hoped to “beef up” the club’s usage of advanced metrics (via MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert on Twitter). Additionally, the club hired a new director of analytics just this past November, though they’ve done little else from a baseball operations standpoint to alter their image as a member of baseball’s old guard.

1:59m: GM Dave Stewart says that he has decided not to pursue an upgrade behind the plate, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Instead, the club will rely on the continued development of recent trade acquisition Peter O’Brien while also utilizing some combination of Tuffy Gosewisch and Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez.

Piecoro quotes Stewart:

“I’ve decided that I’m not going to pursue another catcher. I talked with my people and my coaching staff. They believe that O’Brien is going to be around sooner than later. If that does happen, there’s no need to go out and get another guy. We would have had to trade somebody we didn’t want to trade to make it happen. We’re going to be patient and allow the progression of O’Brien to take place and stand pat on that.”

O’Brien, 24, came to Arizona in the Martin Prado deal and only had time for four games in his new organization. A bat-first catcher, the question remains whether O’Brien’s glove will be good enough to keep him behind the dish. Piecoro reports that Arizona was impressed with his work in the AFL, and notes that the team has had a chance to watch him over the last few days as well. Of course, it is far from clear that O’Brien will be ready to contribute at the big league level this season, leaving the team with quite a thin group at the position.


Cuba Notes: Lopez, Moncada, Ibanez, Heredia

The Diamondbacks made a risky gambit this morning by agreeing to sign righty Yoan Lopez to a record-setting $8.25MM bonus. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs breaks down the spread of opinions on Lopez (Twitter links), with some comparing  him to mid-first-round arms from last year’s draft and others believing he’s destined to be a reliever. Of course, the risk with Lopez is not just in the player. As Ben Badler noted, and Dave Cameron explores in detail, the organization will not be able to deploy its league-leading international bonus allocation next year (or its to-be-decided pool for the following year). Though the club can still trade the rights to portions of its pool, it may have not be able to achieve full value.

Here’s more from the international market:

  • Of course, there is another player by the same first name who comes with even greater hype. Yet Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada remains blocked from putting pen to paper, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets. While he waits, Moncada will put on workouts with several teams in the coming month.
  • Fellow second base prospect Andy Ibanez, 21, is set to headline a showcase this coming Friday and Saturday, Sanchez reports. Ibanez is not said to possess the same level of tools or physical ability as Moncada, but does look to be a solid across-the-board talent with a “gamer” reputation, per Sanchez.
  • Meanwhile, back in Cuba, another significant player — center fielder Guillermo Heredia, most recently Baseball America’s 11th-rated prospect from the island — has been suspended from play in Serie Nacional. As Ben Badler of Baseball America explains, that typically means a player has been charged with a defection attempt, though in Heredia’s case there have been conflicting reports from the island about the cause for the ban. The nation’s baseball commissioner, Heriberto Suarez, reportedly confirmed a four-year suspension for the 23-year-old.
  • Be sure to check Badler’s column for some updates on several other, more minor Cuban players.

Pitching Notes: Shields, Cards, Ogando, Albers, Baker, Coke, Comebacks

As things stand, the Nationals have the game’s best rotation while the Royals have the top pen, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney opines (Insider links). Of course, the offseason is not yet over. Here are the latest notes on the pitching market:

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart confirmed that the team has active interest in starter James Shields, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Stewart adds that he likes the idea of  Shields serving as a mentor while fronting the team’s rotation. Fellow free agent Max Scherzer, however, is too spendy for Arizona.
  • When the Cardinals pursued lefty Jon Lester, the team indicated it was willing to spend only to the $120MM range, Olney tweets. That could give an idea of what kind of payroll space the club feels willing to occupy, says Olney. St. Louis was recently linked to a trio of top starting pitchers, each of whom would represent quite a different investment.
  • Alexi Ogando apparently produced solid results in his recent workout, with Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweeting that scouts were impressed. The Red Sox and Dodgers are “aggressive” on Ogando, Gammons adds. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe had tweeted that Boston was in attendance.
  • Righty Matt Albers is throwing in preparation for a showcase early next month, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). The shoulder issues that shut him down last year did not involve any structural damage, says Morosi.
  • Agent Bobby Witt says that client Scott Baker, another free agent righty, prefers to join a team that will allow him to enter camp as a starter, Morosi reports (Twitter links). Baker has five minor league offers in hand but is hoping to receive a major league contract.
  • Interest in lefty Phil Coke is “amping up,” Chris Iott of MLive.com tweets. Nevertheless, a signing does not appear to be imminent, per the report.
  • The Twins are planning to watch lefty Johan Santana throw today after already seeing him on the mound last week, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. Santana is not the only prominent hurler eyeing a comeback, it seems. Former closer Carlos Marmol threw in the Dominican earlier this winter and is now pitching in Venezuela, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. And one-time relief ace Daniel Bard, whose career derailed with a failed conversion back to the rotation, is also seeking a return, Cafardo reports. The 29-year-old says he is finally healthy and expects to sign a deal this week.

NL West Notes: Hamels, D’Backs, Rockies, Gee, Closers

The Padres are still involved in some chatter involving Phillies ace Cole Hamels, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Prior reports had indicated that a hypothetical deal could include recently-acquired, high-upside outfielder Wil Myers, but Heyman says that recently-discussed trade scenarios have been based around San Diego prospects. That being said, the report stresses that nothing is close and that other clubs are still involved. And, of course, GM A.J. Preller said recently that he does not expect any more truly significant deals.

More from the National League West: