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- Jayson Werth Out At Least Two Months Due To Wrist Fractures
- Nick Kingham Undergoes Tommy John Surgery
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- Braves, Dodgers Swap Callaspo, Uribe In Six-Player Deal; Dodgers Designate Stults
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Giants right-hander Juan Gutierrez has a June 1 opt-out clause approaching in his contract that will allow him to request his release if he is not added to the 25-man roster, as MLBTR reported back at the end of Spring Training. The 31-year-old has struggled in some regards at Triple-A this season, as he’s posted a 4.94 ERA thus far. However, he’s posted a nice 21-to-8 K/BB ratio in that time and is sporting a 3.42 FIP, suggesting that he may have better results were it not for a .400 BABIP. Gutierrez worked to a 3.96 ERA with 6.2 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings for the Giants’ big league club in 2014.
A few more NL West items as the day’s games come to a close…
- Though Juan Uribe was choked up about leaving the Dodgers when interviewed by reporters following last night’s contest, president of baseball operations told reporters today that Uribe’s agents at Praver/Shapiro had made it known earlier in the week that their client would welcome a trade (Twitter link via the Orange County Register’s Pedro Moura). Uribe, Friedman continued, had hoped for a situation that would allow him to play every day. He may very well have that opportunity with the Braves, though Atlanta does have Chris Johnson as an option at the hot corner as well.
- Also via Moura, Friedman told reporters that he’s tried on multiple occasions to acquire left-hander Ian Thomas from the Braves before landing him in this six-player trade. Friedman feels that Thomas’ floor is that of a quality Major League reliever. However, multiple reporters (including the L.A. News Group’s J.P. Hoornstra) have noted that the Dodgers will stretch Thomas out as a starter for now at the Triple-A level.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at a number of different reasons that the Dodgers made the trade. While some have already questioned the move, Rosenthal hears that the Dodgers preferred Callaspo’s switch-hitting bat and ability to cover first base. Rosenthal, too, notes that the team is high on Thomas, and he adds that they weren’t sure if they’d be able to keep Chris Withrow on the 40-man roster this winter, as his 2016 production figures to be somewhat of a question mark. Shedding Uribe’s contract also saves the team not only $1MM in salary, but a greater amount in luxury taxes, as Uribe’s $7.5MM average annual value creates a bigger luxury tax hit than Callaspo’s mere $3MM AAV.
- Tony La Russa’s one-year anniversary as the Diamondbacks‘ chief baseball officer was May 17, and Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes that La Russa is pleased with the organization’s progress. “I think we feel good about the front-office team and we feel good about our scouts and scouting directors and our player development and our coordinator,” La Russa said. Of course, that front office looks markedly different, as Dave Stewart has replaced Kevin Towers at GM and been joined atop the baseball operations pyramid by senior VP De Jon Watson. Also new to the organization is scouting director Deric Ladnier, who formerly held that position with the Royals and replaced the well-respected Ray Montgomery in Arizona. With the new front office in place, the team aggressively pursued international free agents and trade veteran players, and the fruits of those efforts are already surfacing with the big league team. Rubby De La Rosa, Buchanan notes, is outperforming Wade Miley, for whom he was traded. (Arizona also got Allen Webster in that deal.) Yasmany Tomas is contributing at the plate, and the decision to trade Trevor Cahill to free up a rotation slot for Archie Bradley has injected some youth and upside into the starting mix (though Bradley has struggled since returning from a line-drive to the face).
The lack of clear front-line talent at the top of this year’s draft means there’s plenty of uncertainty, as John Manuel’s latest mock draft for Baseball America demonstrates. Manuel has the Diamondbacks choosing a new name with the top overall pick: that of Illinois lefty Tyler Jay. That would be a surprising selection, given that Jay is relatively small and a reliever, but many scouts believe he’s capable of starting, and one scouting director tells Manuel that Jay has terrific stuff and an easier delivery than Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer, another potential No. 1 overall pick. Here are more quick notes on the draft.
- Cubs president Theo Epstein watched UCLA righty James Kaprielian in Oregon last night, FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel tweets. The Cubs have the No. 9 overall pick. McDaniel notes that Kaprielian is attracting interest from other top-ten teams as well. MLB.com notes that Kaprielian throws a good changeup and likely projects as a mid-rotation type of pitcher.
- This year’s potential draftees includes Mariano Rivera, Jr., son of the great Yankees closer, Paul Casella of MLB.com writes. The Yankees took the younger Rivera in the 29th round last season, but he headed back to Iona for another season and became the MAAC Pitcher of the Year. He should be drafted significantly earlier in 2015. Several other draft prospects also have pro baseball bloodlines, including outfielder Kyle Tucker (the brother of Preston Tucker of the Astros), outfielder Daz Cameron (Mike Cameron‘s son) and infielder Ke’Bryan Hayes (the son of Charlie Hayes).
Here are today’s minor moves of note:
- The Diamondbacks have released outfielder Josh Elander, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports on Twitter. Elander, 24, was the player that went to Arizona in the deal that shipped Trevor Cahill to the Braves, meaning that the club really only ended up achieving some salary relief in that swap. Elander had reached the High-A level last year for the Braves, but started out in A ball for the Arizona organization and posted an interesting .244/.382/.289 line over 55 plate appearances.
- Brock Peterson has been given his release from the Twins, as the organization’s Triple-A affiliate announced. The 31-year-old first baseman and outfielder made a brief big league appearance with the Cardinals back in 2013, but has mostly worked in the upper minors in recent campaigns. Peterson put up a .186/.289/.351 slash with five home runs in his 114 plate appearances at Rochester, well off the .827 OPS he carries over seven years at the highest level of the minors.
The game of baseball is struggling to maintain youth participation, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, who says that the trend poses real concerns for an otherwise thriving sport. Newly-minted commissioner Rob Manfred has honed in on the issue since taking office, saying that “the biggest predictor of fan avidity as an adult is whether you played the game.” It’s a fascinating read that’s well worth your time.
Let’s check in on some amateur notes from around the game:
- ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link) posts his first mock draft as June 8th draws near. While acknowledging that it is still early, Law predicts that the Diamondbacks will take Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick while the Astros will add LSU shortstop Alex Bregman and high school outfielder Kyle Tucker with the second and fifth picks. Law adds that he does not expect Vandy righty Carson Fulmer to make it past the White Sox with the eighth pick.
- Speaking of Fulmer, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs suggests that he represents a relatively rare “Black Swan” option in this year’s draft. You’ll need to read the piece to understand the concept, but McDaniel uses that classification for a subset of players that have been somewhat underappreciated by traditional player assessment tools: “small, right-handed, major-college starting pitchers with little to no injury history and a good performance record.”
- The antithesis of the Black Swan pitcher, perhaps, is the high school power arm, and the Marlins took an enticing one last year in Tyler Kolek. Josh Norris of Baseball America checks in on the 2014 second overall selection, who the club chose over Carlos Rodon. Now featuring an increasingly promising curve, the 19-year-old is said to be showing signs of developing into the top-of-the-rotation starter that Miami dreamed of when it chose him. Of course, his stat line has yet to reflect that promise, and he has a long way to go.
- The White Sox join a growing list of clubs with “serious interest” in Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets. The 20-year-old is free to sign at any time, though it’s possible he could wait until the next July 2 period kicks off this summer.
- Agent Joshua Kusnick discussed the draft from an advisor’s perspective in a podcast with Ryan Sullivan (draft talk begins around the 24:00 mark), sharing his thoughts on the slotting system and the possibility of a worldwide draft, among other issues.
Ollie Brown, known to the San Diego faithful as the “Original Padre” has died of complications from mesothelioma, reports Corey Brock of MLB.com. The outfielder was the first player selected by the Padres in the 1968 Expansion Draft. Brown hit 52 home runs in parts of four seasons with the Padres including 23 blasts in 1970. Brown was 71 and is survived by two brothers, a wife, a daughter, and five grandchildren. We at MLBTR wish to extend our condolences to Brown’s family and friends.
- Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez could sign for $10MM, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The 20-year-old is subject to the international spending pool which could affect the bidding. Among the interested teams include the Braves, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. New York and Arizona may have an advantage since they’ve already exceeded their bonus pool. Chicago won’t be able to jump into the bidding until July 2nd. It was reported two days ago that Martinez could sign as early as next week.
- While still with the Angels, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton repeatedly tried to reach out to owner Arte Moreno, writes Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Instead, Hamilton says his efforts were blocked by GM Jerry Dipoto and team President John Carpino. Hamilton attempted to contact Moreno regarding his poor performance last season and again after his offseason relapse. The embattled slugger is currently rehabbing in Double-A and could return to major league action soon. Los Angeles is responsible for most of the remaining $80MM on his contract.
Despite shaky defense, Wilmer Flores will remain the Mets starting shortstop, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. However, one alternative is to trade Daniel Murphy, shift Flores to second base, and promote shortstop prospect Matt Reynolds. The move would instantly upgrade the Mets’ infield defense. Per Rosenthal, the club may prefer to promote Reynolds once David Wright returns to action.
As for trading Murphy, the club may look to acquire a prospect or reliever. Aside from Jeurys Familia and a couple role players, the Mets bullpen has been a little shaky. However, strong starting pitching has allowed the club to hide that shortcoming. New York relievers have thrown the fewest innings of any team. Conversely, their starters lead the league in innings pitched. Here’s more from Rosenthal:
- Cubs second base prospect Javier Baez is on an 11-for-22 streak, leading to speculation that he could be promoted. The easiest way to insert him into the lineup would be to move Kris Bryant to the outfield and Baez to third. Since the club is juggling several important future pieces, they’ll want to be careful about how they handle the logjam.
- The Orioles are built to sell with eight players on the 25 man roster set to reach free agency after the season. Don’t expect a fire sale anytime soon. Baltimore is just four games back in a shaky AL East. Owner Peter Angelos is loathe to throw in the towel. He famously nixed a couple trades involving Bobby Bonilla and David Wells during the 1996 season. The club later clawed its way into the postseason. It would seem the Orioles’ woes would have to get a lot worse before Chris Davis and others were shopped.
- Many speculate that Mark Trumbo will be available this summer, however the Diamondbacks have publicly resisted the idea. Per Rosenthal, the club believes they will contend next season once Patrick Corbin and other youngsters solidify the rotation. Trumbo is signed to a $6.9MM contract and has one year of arbitration remaining. Arizona could replace Trumbo with a platoon of David Peralta and Yasmany Tomas.
A look at recent draft history suggests the Diamondbacks should take shortstop Brendan Rodgers with the No. 1 pick, MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes. Rodgers headed into the season as the consensus top talent in the draft, and teams who have picked No. 1 overall in recent years have avoided consensus top talents at their peril — No. 1 picks like the Rays’ selection of Tim Beckham and the Royals’ selection of Luke Hochevar haven’t worked out as well as they would have if the Rays and Royals had simply picked more straightforwardly. Here’s more on the draft.
- The Diamondbacks currently appear more likely to take Vanderbilt pitcher Carson Fulmer first overall, according to John Manuel of Baseball America’s latest mock draft. The Diamondbacks seem to want a college pitcher, and Fulmer seems to be gaining a slight edge over UC-Santa Barbara’s Dillon Tate. The Astros then take another Commodore, infielder Dansby Swanson, in Manuel’s mock before the Rockies take Rodgers at No. 3. Manuel suggests the collection of injured top pitchers (Brady Aiken, Michael Matuella and Kolby Allard) will fall to the end of the first round.
- Cuban right-hander Yoandy Fernandez has been declared eligible for the draft, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports. Fernandez has far more seasoning than your average draft candidate; he’s 27 and has six years of experience in Cuba’s Serie Nacional league, where he posted a 4.22 ERA, 72 strikeouts and 62 walks over 157 2/3 innings. Almost all of Fernandez’s work came as a reliever, and Sanchez notes that teams are still figuring out if he projects as a starter or a reliever in MLB. Perhaps more information will be determined later this month, as Fernandez has several tryouts scheduled for various teams.
None of the top candidates for the first overall pick in the upcoming amateur draft seem likely to command the $8.6MM+ bonus slotted for the #1 pick, MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes as part of a draft mailbag. Callis notes that the Diamondbacks would likely save a couple of million on whomever they pick first overall, making the team’s explorations of taking a lesser-ranked prospect first to save even more bonus pool money seem rather needless. “There’s no need to do a discount of $4 million or more, and it’s unlikely there will be enough quality players to spend that much extra money on in later rounds,” Callis writes.
Here’s more from the National League:
- The Marlins‘ decision not to pursue Rafael Soriano does not indicate that the team is not going to look to spur change in its pen, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Nevertheless, the focus is now internal. A.J. Ramos is just beginning his audition in the closer’s role, and should get a fairly long look. Otherwise, righties David Phelps and Tom Koehler could be shifted to full-time bullpen roles. It makes sense for Miami to see how things look with in-house changes now, of course, to gather information before the summer trade market heats up.
- Mets second baseman Dilson Herrera is headed to the DL with a broken middle finger on this throwing hand, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports (Twitter links). Third baseman and utilityman Eric Campbell will slide into the mix for the time being. It remains to be seen how long Herrera will be out, but his absence could impact the club in a multitude of ways. For one thing, it reduces (or even eliminates) the possibility that Herrera will seize the everyday job and render Daniel Murphy a trade piece — an admittedly somewhat unlikely scenario to begin with, especially given David Wright‘s prolonged absence. Also of note: the decision to tab Campbell means that the team is not yet ready to bump Wilmer Flores off of shortstop, which was at least a theoretical alternative if Matt Reynolds had received the call. Unless and until Flores can curb his difficulties in the field, the position will remain an area of focus. As Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes, the overall disposition in New York (particularly given the context of a five-game losing streak) is not terribly sunny at present.
- The Rockies‘ shortstop situation is also going to continue to get press, albeit for somewhat different reasons. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs takes a shot at valuing Troy Tulowitzki, opining that the excellent but oft-injured star would probably command something north of the Jacoby Ellsbury contract. That implies something like $50MM to $60MM in excess value in his contract, says Cameron, indicating that Tulo might bring back a package of very good prospects rather than one headlined by a super-premium young player. (Though, as Cameron notes, we should expect some mark-up for an in-season deal. Last year’s Jeff Samardzija–Addison Russell trade certainly illustrates that point.) The article suggests some possible groups of players that could theoretically be offered to Colorado.
Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles was forced to exit Wednesday evening’s start against the Angels after taking an Albert Pujols line drive off his pitching hand. Twitter reactions indicated that Lyles’ hand became visibly swollen in nearly instantaneous fashion (image via Vic Lombardi of CBS Denver on Twitter). Clearly, the struggling Rockies can ill afford to lose a reliable rotation arm such as Lyles for a significant amount of time. To date, the 24-year-old Lyles has a 4.30 ERA with a somewhat troublesome 21-to-17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings with the Rockies. He’s notched a characteristically strong 49.6 percent ground-ball rate as well. A serious injury would mark the second consecutive season in which a freak injury shelved Lyles, as last year he suffered a fracture in his non-throwing hand while covering home plate.
Here’s more on the Rockies and the rest of the division in what is an injury-tinted look at the NL West…
- Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post joined Sandy Clough and Scott Hastings of 104.3 The Fan in Denver (audio link) to discuss recent news in which Troy Tulowitzki‘s agent publicly mentioned that he and his client would consider requesting a trade. Saunders touches on the previous unwillingness of Rockies owner Dick Monfort to part with veteran players. Saunders offers a very candid take on his view of the state of the Rockies and how the team has handled Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez in the past, specifically wondering if the latter of the two has much of any trade value left. (At present, it would seem to me that he has very little, due to the remaining three years on his contract, his injury history and lack of productivity to begin the season.)
- Josh Johnson‘s return from Tommy John surgery had recently been slowed by some soreness, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the oft-injured righty has resumed throwing. The Padres are optimistic that Johnson can soon begin a rehab assignment, Morosi adds. Johnson returned to the Padres on a one-year, $1MM contract this winter after missing the entire 2014 season due to a torn UCL.
- Via FOX Sports Arizona’s Jack Magruder (Twitter link), Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said in a recent TV interview that the club is targeting a June 4 return for fallen ace Patrick Corbin, who, like Johnson, underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2014 season.
- Yasiel Puig has experienced a setback in his recovery from a strained hamstring and isn’t expected to join the Dodgers anytime soon, manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. An MRI taken Monday revealed that Puig’s hamstring strain has not yet healed, and Mattingly said that it would be “at least a couple weeks” that Puig will remain on the shelf. It seems fair to believe that Puig may be sidelined into June.
- In other Dodgers injury news, righty reliever Pedro Baez was forced to leave tonight’s game after he felt something in his right pectoral muscle, tweets the L.A. News Group’s J.P. Hoornstra. Baez is slated to undergo an MRI tomorrow. He’s been a highly useful member of the Dodgers’ bullpen, entering play Wednesday with a 1.88 ERA and a 19-to-3 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 innings.
- Giants right-hander Matt Cain threw his first bullpen session since his elbow surgery yesterday, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. He’ll have another session on Friday and will need three to four in total before moving onto facing liver hitters, Shea adds.
There are varying reports about the visa status of Dodgers signees Hector Olivera and Pablo Fernandez. Several reporters say the pair have received their work visas and are en route to the United States to begin their careers. (Baseball Essential’s Robert Murray reports that Olivera had his visa, and Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweets that Fernandez had secured his.) However, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweets that it still remains unclear when the visas will be obtained. The Dodgers spent a combined $70.5MM on the pair, with $62.5MM of that coming in the form of a six-year, Major League contract for Olivera. It’s not clear which to which minor league affiliate either would report. As Murray notes, Olivera still needs to take his physical, which could potentially reveal significant damage in his right elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament. If that is indeed the case, and extra year will be added to Olivera’s contract at the price of just $1MM.
Elsewhere in the Senior Circuit’s Western division…
- The Diamondbacks have reached out to prep catcher Taylor Stephenson, prep outfielders Daz Cameron and Garrett Whitley and other high school prospects about potential under-slot deals with the first overall pick in the draft, reports Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel (All links to McDaniel’s Twitter). The industry belief, however, is that the D-Backs are still leaning toward a college player at 1-1 and are using this method to determine potential over-slot targets with the Nos. 43 and 76 picks in the draft. The Diamondbacks are in line to save between $2.5MM and $5MM on the first pick, which comes with an $8.6169MM slot value, per McDaniel, which would allow them to call players that are on the board in the mid-first round and inform them they’re able to offer significantly above slot later in the draft. This type of incident happened multiple times in the 2014 draft, McDaniel adds.
- If the Rockies do ultimately decide to trade Troy Tulowitzki this summer or in the offseason, the resurgence of former prospect Trevor Story has given them a viable internal replacement, Chris Mitchell of Fangraphs argues. Mitchell notes that Story’s prospect status took a nosedive when his strikeouts became unmanageable and his overall offensive results suffered as a result. However, he’s striking out at his lowest rate since 2012 thus far, and he’s also showing considerably better power than he did during his swift decline. Mitchell uses his own projection system and likens Story’s production to seasons of previous minor league shortstops and finds a number of potentially favorable comparables, including Eugenio Suarez and Trevor Plouffe. He notes that Story isn’t likely to develop into an above-average Major League hitter in spite of the turnaround, but shortstops needn’t be plus hitters as long as they can handle their own from a defensive standpoint, which Story seems capable of doing. A league-average bat at shortstop is indeed a valuable commodity, and of course, Story’s extra time at Coors Field would surely bolster his numbers, even if park-adjusted metrics like wRC+ and OPS+ painted him in a less favorable light.