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Arizona Diamondbacks Rumors
The Diamondbacks are expected to agree to terms with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports on Twitter. Saltalamacchia must first clear release waivers, which will occur today, before he can reach formal agreement.
Saltalamacchia, 30, was released by the Marlins in the early going this year despite still having two years and about $14MM left on his contract. Miami will be left with those obligations since the club was unable to find a taker for some of his salary.
Of course, that means that the veteran backstop offers an essentially free opportunity for other clubs to add a power left-handed bat behind the dish. (The switch-hitter has always fared better against righties.) Though he has had his struggles defensively, Saltalamacchia remains as intriguing a player as can be hoped for in early May.
All said, linking up with Arizona makes eminent sense for both sides. The D’Backs’ catching situation has been even worse than expected, with starter Tuffy Gosewisch scuffling badly offensively. The team has little to lose and plenty to gain by installing Saltalamacchia in some kind of timeshare.
6:11pm: The Orioles are not expected to land the backstop, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter.
6:08pm: A deal could come together by tomorrow, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Mariners, Orioles, and Royals are the teams that have joined the D’Backs in pursuit, per Cafardo.
9:11am: The D’Backs are joined by three other teams in “looking at” the backstop, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. The Red Sox and Rays are not among them, he adds.
8:28am: Arizona has indeed already reached out to Saltalamacchia, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Multiple clubs are involved early in the process, per the report.
8:19am: The Diamondbacks are considering a run at newly-minted free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Arizona was said to be one of the teams discussing the veteran with the Marlins prior to his release.
“He’s a player that we’re going to talk a little bit more in-depth about,” said GM Dave Stewart. “I have to see what our scouts are saying and talk to our internal guys, and if it makes sense then we’ll make the next step.”
Now that Saltalamacchia’s large salary is destined to remain entirely on the Marlins’ tab, clubs can pursue him as a risk-free addition. It remains to be seen what kind of market will develop now that Salty is back on the open market, but competition to acquire his services will presumably focus on non-compensatory matters, such as playing time, fit, and location.
Arizona’s catching situation has been as unproductive as expected, though at least four other teams have compiled more negative fWAR at the position. Starter Tuffy Gosewisch has slashed just .176/.222/.176 through 72 plate appearances. And while the versatile Jordan Pacheco has provided some value offensively, his .280/.379/.400 slash is fueled by a .400 BABIP and seems highly likely to come back to earth.
Stewart acknowledged that situation, saying while he liked the job Gosewisch has done behind the plate, “we still expect a little more offense from him.” While the rookie GM did not give any indication that Gosewisch’s time was short, he did make clear that change was not out of the question: “He may make those adjustments,” said Stewart, “but with that being said, we have to at least go through the process internally and see if Saltalamacchia is an option to bring here.”
All said, the D’Backs look like precisely the kind of club that ought to take a shot on a return to form from Saltalamacchia, who just turned thirty a few days ago. He may never get back to the low-OBP but high-power option he was before going to Miami, but his ceiling is known and is obviously higher than that of most freely available talent. At the very least, the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia has always high right-handed pitching, making him a useful option to pair with a right-handed bat.
The D-Backs announced today that they’ve placed right-hander Archie Bradley on the 15-day DL with a sinus fracture that was sustained in a frightening scene during last night’s game. Bradley was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez, though he was eventually able to leave the field under his own power. The situation could have been much worse, considering the reported 115 mph exit velocity on the Gonzalez line-drive; indeed, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com writes that the D-Backs’ promising young righty should be able to return right after his DL stint. To this point in the season, Bradley had been a bright spot for the Snakes, working to a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings.
A few more injury-related notes worth keeping an eye on…
- Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland underwent surgery today to remove bone chips from his elbow and will be out for at least two to three weeks, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. This is already the second time that the issue has plagued Moreland this season, though the first occurrence was treated with anti-inflammatory medication and rest. However, the problem flared back up after Moreland made a diving play in the field, and he’s undergoing to procedure to prevent the elbow from “locking up” again.
- Rockies closer Adam Ottavino told MLB.com’s Barry Bloom that he’s worried about the arm injury that landed him on the disabled list. Originally placed on the DL with triceps inflammation, further tests have revealed that the source of Ottavino’s discomfort is closer to his elbow. Ottavino will see team doctor Thomas Noonan when the team returns to Denver on Monday.
- Mets right-hander Rafael Montero will have an MRI performed after reporting right shoulder discomfort following his most recent start, writes MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. Montero was optioned to Triple-A following the outing, but as DiComo notes, the option would be rescinded if it’s determined that Montero is injured and would require a DL stint. The Mets have already lost Zack Wheeler for the season, and though Montero isn’t currently being counted on to contribute to the Major League rotation, an injury would thin their pitching depth and perhaps reduce the chances of a potential Dillon Gee trade down the line.
10:50pm: Heyman adds, via Twitter, that the Orioles are not in the mix for Saltalamacchia.
10:05pm: The Diamondbacks, Rays and Royals are all discussing Saltalamacchia, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s unclear if Kansas City’s interest has picked up at all between McCullough’s report and this latest update, though the Rays and certainly the D-Backs would seem to have a bigger need behind the dish. Like MacPherson yesterday, Heyman hears that the Red Sox aren’t in the mix.
4:14pm: The Royals have some interest in Saltalamacchia, but their interest is said to be very preliminary, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). As McCullough notes, GM Dayton Moore was the Braves’ director of player development when Atlanta drafted Saltalamacchia.
APRIL 27: The Marlins have already had contact with five teams regarding Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter. GM Dan Jennings says that he expects to find a deal for the just-designated backstop.
Among the potential landing spots are the Red Sox, Indians, Mariners, and Diamondbacks, one source tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). According to other reports, however, Boston is “unlikely” to be interested in adding the 29-year-old, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets, even if it were able to add him for just the league minimum.
Saltalamacchia thrived in Boston, slashing a combined .243/.307/.455 during his four seasons there. Since earning a large free agent payday to join the Marlins last year, Saltalamacchia owns a fairly disapointing .209/.310/.351 line at the plate. That output, while still not bad for a catcher, was not enough to outweigh his lightly-regarded defensive work.
Nevertheless, Salty remains an interesting option for teams looking for a backup or injury replacement (as the above list would indicate). The switch hitter has been much more productive historically against right-handed pitching (.775 career OPS) and makes for a natural platoon mate for any right-handed swinging backstop.
The Mets are one of several teams helping Major League Baseball understand more about pitchers’ epidemic of elbow injuries, Mike Vorkunov of NJ.com writes. The Mets, along with four other teams, are having the pitchers in their 2014 draft class participate in a study by agreement with MLB and the MLBPA, along with the American Sports Medicine Institute. Vorkunov reports that the study will examine pitchers’ biomechanics, anatomy and flexibility to try to identify players who might be at risk. All 30 teams will have access to the results. “We as an industry probably should have taken the initiative long ago before this became such an epidemic,” says Mets GM Sandy Alderson. “But I’m happy we’re pursuing it now. That, I think, will help us with the next generation of baseball pitchers.” The problem is surely one that all clubs are curious about, although the Mets, who have lost Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to Tommy John surgery in recent years, likely are especially interested. Here’s more from around the Majors.
- Carlos Beltran is becoming disliked by fans of both the Mets and the Yankees, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. It’s questionable whether Mets fans have reasonable grounds to dislike Beltran — as Sherman notes, Beltran played well with the Mets and landed them Wheeler. But many do. And the first year-plus of Beltran’s three-year, $45MM contract with the Yankees has been awful so far, particularly given his defensive limitations. Beltran, who turned 38 yesterday, is hitting .173/.241/.288 so far this season.
- 30-year-old 1B/OF Danny Dorn finally made it to the big leagues after 939 minor-league games after the Diamondbacks promoted him Tuesday, and he’s thrilled to be there, writes MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom. “I can call myself a Major Leaguer,” says Dorn. “It’s been great. I just feel blessed and thankful for the opportunity.” Dorn has been climbing uphill his entire career — he was a 32nd-round draft pick all the way back in 2006, and although he hit well throughout the minors, he spent parts of seven seasons at Triple-A.
Prior to being hired as the Diamondbacks‘ general manager, Dave Stewart reached out to Dusty Baker to let him know that he may have interest in Baker as a manager if he were to get the GM role, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, Baker never heard back from Stewart before the D-Backs hired Chip Hale. Baker said he has no hard feelings about not getting an interview. Stewart told Heyman that he does indeed have a good deal of respect for both Baker and former Rangers manager Ron Washington, both of whom he initially considered for the managerial vacancy. Baker tells Heyman that he hopes to manage again, and Heyman notes that he has applied to three positions, including the Mariners, Tigers and Nationals since being let go from the Reds. “I didn’t fire myself,” said Baker. “I didn’t retire.”
Here’s more from out west …
- The Dodgers have now acquired and designated no fewer than four relievers, and have made a host of other minor roster moves in the season’s early going. That has all taken place as part of the club’s plan entering the season, manager Don Mattingly explains (video via the Tout feed of J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Media Group).
- Padres righty Josh Johnson tossed a 40-pitch pen session today and is nearing a rehab stint, manager Bud Black tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock (Twitter link). The 31-year-old has not made a major league appearance since 2013, but represents some nice low-risk upside for an a San Diego club that is off to a nice start.
- The Mariners have struggled somewhat with keeping runs off the board, a subject that I discussed with Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune on today’s podcast. In addition to starting poorly, veteran Hisashi Iwakuma has hit the DL with shoulder fatigue (officially called a strained lat), as Dutton reports. He will undergo an MRI tonight, though the hope is that some rest will do the trick. Of course, Iwakuma is also a free agent after the season, and he’ll have some catching up to do to re-establish his value at age 34.
The Diamondbacks have signed infielder Kevin Frandsen to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Triple-A Reno, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter). Frandsen is a client of All Bases Covered Sports Management.
Frandsen, 32, spent the 2014 season serving as a utility infield option for the Nationals. In 236 plate appearances with Washington, he batted .259/.299/.309 and appeared at second base, third base, first base and in left field. The Nats tendered a contract to Frandsen this offseason and agreed to a $1MM salary, but the team released him late in Spring Training.
Frandsen can serve as a depth option for the D-Backs, as he has experience at all four infield positions as well as both corner outfield spots. With Jake Lamb set to miss a few weeks due to a stress reaction in his foot, it’s possible that Frandsen could find his way onto the big league roster in the near future.
Here are the latest minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Braves signed southpaw Greg Smith to a minor league deal, as announced by the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett. Smith posted a 4.51 ERA over 40 starts (229 1/3 innings) with the A’s and Rockies from 2008-10, and he has spent the last four seasons with the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Phillies farm systems, plus a short stint with an independent team.
- The Mets announced that righty Zack Wheeler has been moved from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. The move creates a 40-man roster spot for catching prospect Kevin Plawecki, whose contract was officially purchased by the club today. Wheeler underwent Tommy John surgery in late March and will miss the entire 2015 season.
- The Diamondbacks have signed outfielder Trayvon Robinson to a minor league contract, as announced by the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. Robinson signed a minor league deal with the Padres in December but was released on April 2, and he signed his deal with the Ducks just over a week ago. Robinson posted a .602 OPS over 319 plate appearances with the Mariners in 2011-12 and hasn’t been back to the majors since, spending the last two seasons in the Orioles and Dodgers farm systems.
Howie Kendrick has been so impressive with the Dodgers in the early stages of the 2015 season that the team is very likely interested in discussing a long-term deal with Kendrick’s agents at Reynolds Sports Management, writes ESPN’s Buster Olney in his daily blog (ESPN Insider subscription required). As Olney explains, the team likely envisions Corey Seager manning shortstop in the long-term, and Hector Olivera could hold down the fort at third base, with Kendrick returning to the keystone on a multi-year pact. I’d note, however, that there are many who believe that Seager will eventually need to play third base, and in that scenario, Olivera would slide over to second base, so the fit isn’t exactly perfect.
Here’s more from the NL West…
- The D-Backs‘ handling of Yasmany Tomas has many pundits scratching their heads, but manager Chip Hale tells MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert that he thinks being eased into the lineup will be beneficial to Tomas in the long run. “People are having a hard time believing it because he’s not getting at-bats every day, which is hard,” said Hale. “But he’s doing [work] offensively with our hitting coaches and then the strength coach; they’re really working hard to get him to where we think he needs to be to be an everyday player.” Tomas has the same translator, Ariel Preto, that worked with Yoenis Cespedes in 2012, when Hale was the Athletics’ bench coach, giving the two experience in helping a Cuban player acclimate to the Majors. Hale explained how difficult the transition became for Cespedes that year when he was thrown directly into the starting lineup, adding that he hopes the handling of Tomas will avoid that.
- Interestingly, Hale’s comments don’t line up very well with those made by Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart on a recent MLB Network Radio appearance (Twitter link). Stewart said that the most important thing for Tomas is to get at-bats and play regularly at third base, adding that his contract will not determine whether or not he’s in the Majors.
- Rockies players spoke favorably to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post about the tougher attitude and culture around the team as well as the front office’s emphasis on making tough decisions to improve the immediate on-field product. The Rox cut Jhoulys Chacin in Spring Training, for example, despite his long tenure with the team and status as a clubhouse favorite. Left-hander Rex Brothers was sent to Triple-A despite his big league experience, Adam Ottavino seized the closer’s role almost immediately, and manager Walt Weiss has requested and been provided with significant input from the analytics department to drastically increase the amount of infield shifting in Colorado. The change starts with new GM Jeff Bridich, according to Corey Dickerson, who spoke highly of Bridich’s knowledge of players. “There is no messing around, not with this group,” Carlos Gonzalez told Saunders. “We are here to win now. We are not here to be patient.”
Here’s the latest on the 2015 draft, via a massive post from FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel.
- McDaniel notes that there isn’t much top-level talent in this draft (an opinion shared by many analysts), and says that the industry is unclear what the Diamondbacks will do with, or even how they’re thinking about, the first pick in the draft.
- The Astros, who have the second overall pick, appear to be focused on high school shortstop Brendan Rodgers, UC-Santa Barbara pitcher Dillon Tate, and Vanderbilt infielder Dansby Swanson, who McDaniel ranks the top three prospects in the draft.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was seen on ESPNU last night watching Swanson and Vanderbilt pitcher Carson Fulmer. The Red Sox pick seventh. They’ve also been connected to LSU shortstop Alex Bregman. McDaniel ranks Bregman the fourth-best prospect in the draft, Fulmer the seventh.
- Since the draft lacks much top talent, one possibility is that many teams will draft second-round-type players in the first round and save money against their bonus pools for later picks in the draft.
- McDaniel ranks Astros unsigned 2014 No. 1 pick Brady Aiken the No. 24 prospect in the draft, noting that many in the industry feel that Aiken’s arm issues go beyond Tommy John surgery and that he could have further injury problems later in his career.