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Arizona Diamondbacks Rumors
The Diamondbacks are “in [the] mix” for free agent righty James Shields, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports report (Twitter links). Shields has received a $110MM offer, but was not interested in playing for that unnamed team, per the report.
Arizona is not interested in guaranteeing Shields nine figures, says FOX Sports, which indicates that present bidding is shy of $100MM. Notably, a report from one week back stated that the D’Backs (and Marlins) felt that they could not reach the necessary price range for Shields.
With the market for Shields still murky, it remains impossible to predict where he will end up. Per the above-linked article, interest in Shields seems to come with significant qualifications beyond that of the since-rejected high-bidding club. Neither is it entirely clear what standards the 32-year-old veteran will use to decide. A native of the West Coast, Shields has a wife and children to consider as well.
As for the D’Backs, the team has made several moves to re-shape its roster since overhauling its front office in advance of the offseason. Coming into the winter, new GM Dave Stewart said that a front-line pitcher was on the wish list, though it was never clear just how likely it was that the team would seriously pursue a higher-level talent like Shields.
As things stand, the team will roll out a rotation that could include some or all of recent additions Jeremy Hellickson, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Vidal Nuno, and even Robbie Ray. Pre-existing options such as Josh Collmenter and Trevor Cahill, along with Tommy John rehabbers Bronson Arroyo and Patrick Corbin, remain available as well, among others.
Landing Shields would obviously put a different spin on the team’s moves to date. Presumably, such a win-now act would add particular impetus to the team’s efforts to upgrade behind the plate, potentially by dealing away from the starting depth.
Adam Dunn‘s agent, Brian Peters, tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link) that Dunn is indeed retiring, as was widely expected. Dunn himself said that he would retire following the season back in August, though he created a bit of doubt when he backed off slightly and said, “That’s it, probably,” following the Athletics’ loss to the Royals in the AL Wild Card game. Dunn’s career was unique, to say the least, as he epitomized the “three true outcomes” player, homering 462 times while striking out in 28.6 percent of his plate appearances and walking in 15.8 percent of them. Just under half (49.9 percent) of Dunn’s career plate appearances ended in a long ball, a walk or a whiff, and he will enter the record books with a .237/.364/.490 batting line. Dunn hit 40-plus homers in six separate seasons, including five consecutive years — four of which finished with 40 on the dot (2005-08). The “Big Donkey” will be fondly remembered by many for his light-tower power — a skill that earned him more than $112MM throughout his career, per Baseball-Reference.com. MLBTR wishes Dunn and his family happiness and the best of luck in his post-playing days.
Here are a few notes on some of the game’s Western division clubs, including the final team for which Dunn played…
- Athletics right-handers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are doubtful for Opening Day, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. That’s not a huge shock, given that both underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, though Parker, whose surgery was on March 25, would have seemed to at least have a chance at being ready. Oakland still has plenty of pitching depth, however, with Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Hahn, Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman all in the fold. Once Griffin and Parker are healthy, Oakland will have a plethora of MLB-ready rotation options, and only Kazmir is set to depart following the 2015 campaign.
- Morosi also tweets that the Diamondbacks have received calls from the Orioles regarding their outfield depth. Baltimore is known to be looking for a left-handed hitting outfielder, and both David Peralta and Ender Inciarte would fit that description, Morosi notes. Peralta’s name has surfaced in trade talks already this offseason, as the Reds were said to be interested in him prior to acquiring Marlon Byrd. Moving Peralta would allow Arizona to shift Yasmany Tomas to the outfield rather than trying him at third base, as is the current plan, although first-year GM Dave Stewart specifically mentioned Peralta when discussing the club’s strengths shortly after his hiring.
- Also from Morosi, the D-Backs have called the Blue Jays about Dioner Navarro, but talks haven’t advanced much to this point. Morosi noted last night that Arizona is working hard to acquire a catcher, as Tuffy Gosewich is the lone player on their 40-man roster with big league experience. Navarro is known to be available after the Jays inked Russell Martin to a huge five-year deal earlier this offseason.
- The Giants tried to work out a deal to acquire Ben Zobrist from the Rays before he was dealt to Oakland, but San Francisco deemed Tampa’s asking price to be too high, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- The Mariners are one option for veteran outfielder Endy Chavez, tweets Heyman. Soon to be 37, Chavez remains on the free agent market on the heels of a season in which he batted .276/.317/.371 (99 OPS+, 97 wRC+). While Chavez has never brought much to the table in terms of offense, he’s graded out well from a defensive standpoint throughout his career (though defensive metrics have soured on him over the past two seasons).
- Yonder Alonso tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he is 100 percent healthy after undergoing surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right wrist. Alonso says that he hasn’t been pain-free in his hands since he broke a metacarpal bone in his right hand when he was hit by a pitch on May 31, 2013. Padres GM A.J. Preller has indicated that first base is likely to be handled by some combination of Alonso, Tommy Medica and Will Middlebrooks, and Lin notes that perhaps a lower-pressure environment with more offensive threats throughout the lineup will help Alonso. Still, he notes, Alonso’s tenure with the Padres has been a disappointment to many. “I really thought he’d unleash some power,” a scout from another club tells Lin. “It’s been disappointing.”
JAN. 12: Lopez is already weighing multiple offers and could receive the largest bonus ever for an international amateur prospect, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Currently, Roberto Baldoquin‘s $8MM signing bonus stands as the largest ever signed by an international amateur. (Players such as Jose Abreu, Rusney Castillo, Yasiel Puig, etc. were considered professionals when they signed.)
If a record-setting bonus is to be expected, then it stands to reason that the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Rays all have a leg up when it comes to signing Lopez, as each team has already incurred the maximum penalties for exceeding their bonus pool this signing period. None of those four will be able to sign a player for more than $300K next two signing periods, so they may be more willing to take on the added cost right now while they’re still able to add talent. The Cubs and Rangers, on the other hand, can’t sign a player for more than $250K after exceeding their pools last signing period, and therefore can’t bid aggressively on Lopez.
JAN. 9: The United States Office of Foreign Assets Control has cleared Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez to sign with Major League teams, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The 21-year-old Lopez was already cleared by Major League Baseball back in November, meaning that he can now officially sign with a big league club at any time. Sanchez writes that Lopez is expected to sign with a club prior to Spring Training.
Because Lopez is just 21 years of age and has only three seasons of professional experience in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, he will still be subject to international spending limitations. To this point, the Yankees, Dodgers, Padres and D-Backs have shown the most serious interest in Lopez, according to Sanchez.
Of that group, the Yankees have already gone well over their 2014-15 spending pool. As such, it stands to reason that they could be willing to outspend other interested teams, as they’re already set to incur the maximum penalties during the next international signing period. Additionally, the Rays, Red Sox and Angels have gone over their pools, though Sanchez doesn’t specifically link any of those three clubs to Lopez.
Lopez has held multiple showcases for Major League clubs since defecting from Cuba and establishing residence in Haiti, and he’s also held private workouts for multiple yet-unreported clubs. Sanchez writes that Lopez’s fastball sits 93 to 95 mph, but he’s touched 100 mph on occasion. He also throws a cutter, curve, changeup and slider, per Sanchez, who adds that Lopez worked to a 3.12 ERA with a 28-to-11 K/BB ratio in 49 innings in his final season in Cuba.
There doesn’t seem to be much of a market yet for Ryan Howard, but perhaps there should be, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. True, the Phillies would have to pay a large chunk of the $60MM on Howard’s contract, but Howard still has home run power and is healthy this offseason. Howard also revised his limited no-trade clause last fall to accommodate possible trades, and would likely approve deals even to teams on his no-trade list, Rosenthal reports. “If you’re looking for a DH and want some left-handed power – which doesn’t exist out there – and a good quality person who knows how to win and wants to play, this guy is the guy to go get,” says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “The fact that we’ve been so public makes people think we’ll release him. That won’t happen.” Contract aside, Rosenthal thinks Howard’s market value ought be be something like $7MM to $10MM per season. Even that seems ambitious for a 35-year-old who has been below replacement level in two of the last three seasons, however. Here are more notes from throughout baseball.
- This weekend’s trade of Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar could make the Rays a potential bidder for Howard, since the Rays gained payroll flexibility in the deal and have pursued stopgap designated hitters and first basemen in the past, Ryan Lawrence of Philly.com writes. It seems unlikely that the Rays would trade for Howard, however. They acquired John Jaso in the Zobrist deal with the idea that he wouldn’t primarily be a catcher, but rather a left-handed bat who might DH or play first base or outfield. (In fact, Jaso has said the Rays plan for him to play mostly DH.) Jaso’s role would seem to overlap with Howard’s potential spot in Tampa, so if Howard’s performance didn’t rule him out as an option for the Rays, Jaso’s presence probably would.
- The Rockies have had discussions with free agent starter Ryan Vogelsong, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. The Rockies have been connected to low-cost starting pitchers like Josh Johnson, Aaron Harang, Kevin Correia and Kyle Kendrick, and Vogelsong would seem somewhat similar. Pitchers like Kendrick have shown some ability to get ground balls, however, while Vogelsong is more of a fly ball pitcher, potentially making him an awkward fit for Coors Field. The 37-year-old posted a 4.00 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 184 2/3 innings with the Giants in 2014.
- The Diamondbacks are trying to acquire a catcher, Morosi tweets. After trading Miguel Montero to the Cubs, the Snakes have Tuffy Gosewisch penciled in as their starter. The only other catcher on their 40-man is Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez, who played in Class A last year. They did sign Matt Pagnozzi and re-sign Blake Lalli to minor league deals, but they still appear short on experienced catching.
- The Mets are in active trade discussions involving starting pitcher Dillon Gee, Andy Martino of New York Daily News tweets. Gee’s name came up in the three-team Ian Desmond / Ben Zobrist deal the Mets discussed with the Rays and Nationals, Martino adds. Rumors about Gee have simmered all offseason, with the Rockies, Giants and Twins among the teams connected to the righty. The Mets have reportedly been trying to trade a veteran starter, with Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon as other potential candidates, although Gee appears to be the most likely to be traded.
- The Orioles will get a close look at Rule 5 picks Jason Garcia and Logan Verrett at minicamp this week, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. Garcia (who was originally selected by the Astros before being traded to Baltimore) just turned 22 and has not yet pitched above Class A, but Encina says the righty impressed the Orioles with his performance against their farmhands in instructional league play last fall. Verrett is more experienced, having held his own as a starter for the Mets’ Triple-A team last year as a 24-year-old. He’s more likely to relieve for the Orioles. It seems unlikely that a contending team would keep two Rule 5 picks on its roster for too long, so the amount of time Garcia and Verrett have to prove themselves might be somewhat limited.
MLBTR offers its best wishes to the family and friends of former Negro League player Herb Simpson, who passed away Wednesday at age 94. As MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes, Simpson was the last known surviving member of the Seattle Steelheads and also saw action with the Birmingham Black Barons and Chicago American Giants.
As we honor an early pioneer of African-American baseball in the Pacific Northwest, here are some notes from the league’s western divisions:
- Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that asking prices in trade talks for another backstop are simply too high at present. “We’ve not made a whole lot of headway in that area yet,” said Stewart. “Without really giving up something that’s going to cost us a player that we don’t want to give away, we don’t have a whole lot of motion yet.” Arizona has had talks with the Blue Jays regarding Dioner Navarro and with the Cubs regarding Welington Castillo, says Piecoro.
- The Rockies have “mild” interest in trading for Dan Haren, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. However, as he notes, the thin air and homer-friendly nature of Coors Field make Colorado a fairly poor fit for Haren. Morosi also tweets that while the Giants did have interest earlier in the offseason (prior to re-signing Jake Peavy), there’s no active dialogue between Miami and San Francisco.
- Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar, who missed the entire 2014 season after tearing the same muscle in his right shoulder twice, has been cleared to begin a throwing program on Jan. 19, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Still just 21 years old, it was only two years ago that Profar was the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in baseball (per Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com). A healthy Profar would give the Rangers somewhat of a surplus of middle infielders, as Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor are both in the fold as well.
Randy Johnson, who was elected to the Hall of Fame with more than 97 percent of the vote, will join the Diamondbacks‘ front office as a special assistant to GM Dave Stewart, the team announced yesterday. As MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert writes, Johnson will participate in community initiatives, weigh in on baseball operations decisions and, most excitingly to Johnson himself, work with minor league pitchers. “I don’t see myself being a coach,” Johnson said, “but I do see myself going around to the Minor Leagues and I think that’s where I can best help.” Johnson won’t specialize in discussing pitching mechanics with the D-Backs’ prospects, but rather on the mental side of the game, such as the mindset and work ethic needed to be successful. Meanwhile, D-Backs CEO Derrick Hall indicated that Johnson’s No. 51 will be retired this season or next — an honor which Johnson wanted to delay until he received the call to Cooperstown.
Elsewhere in the NL West…
- Dan Haren‘s preference to end up back on the West Coast is common knowledge at this point, and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Giants checked in with the Marlins on Haren earlier this offseason (Twitter links). However, Morosi adds that those talks came before the Giants re-signed Jake Peavy. It doesn’t seem that the Giants are pursuing rotation help any longer based on comments made by assistant GM Bobby Evans on Tuesday in the wake of Tim Hudson‘s ankle surgery, though Morosi notes that Haren would likely welcome the opportunity to pitch in San Francisco — a West Coast club with a pitcher-friendly park.
- It’s looking more and more like the Padres will hang onto Will Venable rather than trade him, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. As Lin notes, Venable is a left-handed bat on a right-leaning roster and can back up all three outfield spots. He’s also earning a relatively modest $4.25MM next season, so the price isn’t prohibitive. I’ve previously speculated that the Marlins could have interest, as they’re looking for left-handed-hitting backup outfielders, but Lin’s report suggests there’s not much of a match there.
- Lin also spoke with manager Bud Black today regarding Carlos Quentin, who appears to be the odd man out in the outfield mix (Twitter link). Black simply told Lin that the Padres were going to have to see how Quentin’s knees are in Spring Training before proceeding, indicating that even if he is ultimately moved, it may not happen until March.
- In addition to Black, Lin spoke to GM A.J. Preller today, who cautioned that Padres fans shouldn’t necessarily expect any more large splashes. Any remaining moves from San Diego would be “more likely something around the edges, to continue to add to the depth of what we’re building,” according to Preller.
- MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets that we shouldn’t be surprised if the Padres add a veteran catcher who can back up Derek Norris between now and Spring Training. The Friars do have Tim Federowicz on their roster after acquiring him in the Matt Kemp trade, but they may prefer a backup with more big league experience.
12:10pm: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that it’s a minor league contract with an invite to big league camp (Twitter link).
Punto, who turned 37 in November, hit just .207/.296/.293 in 224 plate appearances for the Athletics last season after signing a one-year, $2.75MM contract. Nonetheless, Punto received enough playing time in Oakland and stayed healthy enough that he had a $2.75MM option vest for the 2015 season. However, Oakland ultimately elected to release Punto in December when they needed to clear a 40-man roster spot. He’ll still be paid the $2.75MM from the A’s, but it’s unclear at this time if his contract is a Major League or minor legaue deal.
Though Punto has never hit much outside of a solid 2006 season with Minnesota and a small sample of 166 plate appearances with the 2011 Cardinals, he’s historically been a very capable defender at second base, third base and shortstop. His defense has slipped a bit as he’s aged, but the switch-hitter is likely still capable of backing up the D-Backs at three infield spots. Of course, the same could be said about the much younger Cliff Pennington. It’s possible that the D-Backs will look to flip Pennington and his $3.275MM salary to a team with an infield need, but Punto could also merely be a depth piece that will come to camp and compete for a job.
James Shields is expected to get at least five years and $100MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Two executives tell Rosenthal that Shields already has a $110MM offer in hand. As Rosenthal notes, however, rumors of an $110MM offer don’t mean that Shields will ultimately sign for that much or more. For example, there were rumors of a $65MM offer for Chase Headley, who ultimately settled for less from the Yankees.
It’s still not clear who will sign Shields. The Marlins and Diamondbacks feel Shields is out of their price range, Rosenthal writes, and the Giants, Padres and Red Sox don’t currently seem highly motivated, either. And the Royals, who have spent on several players already this offseason, don’t appear likely to re-sign Shields. It’s possible that one or more of those teams has more interest than it’s letting on, however. Rosenthal also suggests the Tigers, Yankees and Angels as possibilities, although Shields hasn’t been closely connected to any of those teams.
Mark Polishuk recently polled MLBTR readers about Shields’ likely destination, and the results reflect the uncertainty that seems to exist throughout the industry. Less than 20% of you feel the Giants will sign Shields, followed by the Red Sox, Yankees, and “Other,” which got over 10% of the vote, even with 13 teams in the poll.
Grant Brisbee of SB Nation lists 13 of the biggest holes facing MLB clubs. Since the article was published, the Reds added a left fielder and the Phillies became even weaker. My favorite is Diamondbacks catcher. Currently, that’s Tuffy Gosewisch with Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez serving as the backup. Despite learning earlier tonight that the Orioles are seeking to add more catching depth, they do have five on the active roster. I’d be willing to bet somebody like Steve Clevenger, Ryan Lavarnway, or a cast-off from another organization will filter into Phoenix before the end of spring training.
- Personal connections between players and evaluators can affect transactions, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Knowing an individual can create a comfort level because so much of baseball is based on character and competitive drive. One NL scout said: “If you just look around, there’s normally a connection there with somebody who is acquiring, they know the guy and sometimes it helps the trade develop.” The article is chock full of good quotes and observations on the topic. The opening is especially pertinent to fans of the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Padres.
- The Seth Smith trade worked out nicely for San Diego, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. They get out from under $12MM owed to Smith while acquisition Brandon Maurer remains club controlled for five seasons. The Friars may give Maurer a chance to start, but he could also be groomed for late inning relief.
- The Padres have overhauled their roster, but there’s still no clear leadoff hitter, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com. It’s possible that could be the next target for GM A.J. Preller. Internal candidates like Will Venable and Yangervis Solarte were discussed for the role prior to the flurry of trades. Both appear to be backups now. Catcher Derek Norris has the on base percentage for the job, if not the classic speed associated with batting first.
- As the Rockies enter the new year, the attention is on newly signed catcher Nick Hundley, writes Thomas Harding of MLB.com. It’s presumed that the move will make it easier to send bat-first catcher Wilin Rosario to the American League. While the Rockies claim they need to be blown away for Rosario, this type of move often presages a transaction.
The Diamondbacks have avoided arbitration with infielder Cliff Pennington by signing him to a one-year deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Pennington will receive $3.275MM in his last year before free agency eligibility, almost identical to MLBTR’s projection of $3.3MM. Pennington is a client of Sosnick Cobbe.
Pennington, 30, just completed a two-year, $5MM deal that bought out his first two years of arbitration eligibility. He hit .254/.340/.350 in 201 plate appearances in 2014 and played good defense at second base, third base and shortstop, moving around the diamond while Aaron Hill, Martin Prado, Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings did most of the starting. Pennington missed most of June and all of July with a thumb injury.
You can keep track of all arbitration eligible players in MLBTR’s tracker.