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Arizona Diamondbacks Rumors
The Diamondbacks mismanaged their draft pool, tweets Jim Callis of MLB.com. The club took Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick and inked him at the last possible moment. In doing so, they spent $1.7MM less than their pool allowed. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweeted, the club could have spent up to $2.328MM more without losing a future draft pick. While a franchise shouldn’t spend that money just to spend it, they should have a few over-slot picks in the early rounds in order to make the most of limited resources.
- The Rockies originally planned to promote top prospect Jon Gray for Sunday’s start, but they’ve backed off that decision, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post. His last outing at Triple-A was a three-inning stinker in which he allowed four runs and six hits. The club will wait for a future opportunity to call upon their top pitching prospect. Eddie Butler will take tomorrow’s start.
- Former Padres GM Josh Byrnes steadily built the farm system during his tenure with the club, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Now current GM A.J. Preller is being second guessed for his bold decision to dismantle the farm for win-now talent. The club could be one year closer to a more organic revitalization, but now the farm system is shallow. Massive offseason overhauls have a bad track record – ask the Marlins and Blue Jays (and the White Sox). It’s also worth noting that Preller may have wanted to reshape the farm system to his preferences.
- The Giants have built one of the best infields in the sport, notes Jonah Keri of Grantland. The home grown crew includes several surprising contributors. Brandon Belt was a well-regarded prospect – especially among sabermetric circles. However, Brandon Crawford‘s offensive emergence was unexpected. Joe Panik is deceptively well-rounded. Matt Duffy was supposed to back up Casey McGehee. Instead, he’s arguably the best rookie in the National League, a class that includes Kris Bryant and Maikel Franco among others.
6:02pm: Eddy now tweets that he’s been informed by the D-Backs’ baseball operations department that they are not in agreement with League on a contract (Twitter link). League, then, remains a free agent.
5:36pm: The Diamondbacks have agreed to a minor league pact with right-hander Brandon League, reports Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (Twitter link). League was designated for assignment by the Dodgers about two weeks ago and released by the team last week. He’s represented by ACES.
Now 32 years old, League’s three-year, $22.5MM contract with the Dodgers (signed under the previous front office’s watch) was widely panned from day one. That’s not to say League had necessarily been a poor pitcher, but perhaps not one deserving of such a hefty commitment. The Dodgers picked up League in a trade with the Mariners midway through the 2012 season, and he rode a stretch of 27 1/3 solid innings (2.30 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 4.2 BB/9) to that contract.
League’s first full year with the Dodgers was a notable disappointment, as he worked to a 5.30 ERA and saw his strikeout rate plummet to 4.6 K/9. League did log 54 1/3 innings that season, but he quickly lost the closer’s role to Kenley Jansen and spent much of his time late in the year working in mop-up duty. League does deserve credit for the second year of that contract, however, as he quietly enjoyed an excellent rebound campaign. Last year, League tossed 63 innings of 2.57 ERA ball, averaging 5.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 with an outstanding 67.3 percent ground-ball rate.
A shoulder impingement prevented League from logging a single Major League inning this season, but he had very good results in a minor league rehab stint, yielding just one earned run on 10 hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. League will give the D-Backs an experienced depth piece that could factor into their bullpen in the second half. His addition could become more significant if Arizona parts with some pieces from its current bullpen in trade over the next two weeks; fill-in closer Brad Ziegler has been speculatively mentioned as a trade candidate, and Addison Reed is said to be available as well.
The Diamondbacks and No. 1 overall draft pick Dansby Swanson have agreed to terms on a contract with about two minutes to go until the signing deadline, reports MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert (via Twitter). Swanson, who was advised by and is now a client of Excel Sports Management, was said by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports to have an offer of $6.5MM+ on the table, and Baseball America’s John Manuel now reports (via Twitter) that Swanson signed for $6.5MM on the dot. The Diamondbacks have now officially announced the signing (Twitter link).
Swanson, a shortstop out of Vanderbilt, ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the draft in the eyes of Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, while both Baseball America and MLB.com ranked him second, and ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him third. The right-handed hitter batted .335/.423/.623 with 15 home runs, 24 doubles, six triples and 16 steals (in 18 tries) during his junior season with the Commodores.
McDaniel feels that Swanson has plus speed and a plus arm to go along with what will eventually be an above-average glove, an above-average hit tool and average power. BA notes that he smoothly transitioned from playing second base as a sophomore to shortstop as a junior. Their report also praises his all-fields approach at the plate as well as his patience, two-strike approach, work ethic and makeup. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com feel that he can stick at shortstop and use his strong on-base skills and plus speed to profile as a leadoff hitter with some home run pop and plenty of gap power. Law projects him as an above-average regular at shortstop who can hit for some power while posting above-average marks in terms of both batting average and on-base percentage.
The expectation had been that Swanson would sign, although negotiations between the D-Backs and Swanson’s now-agents at Excel Sports Management appear to have gone down to the wire. Despite the fact that Swanson hadn’t signed at the time Law published his midseason Top 50 prospects list, Law was confident enough in a deal getting done that he ranked Swanson as the No. 22 prospect in all of Major League Baseball.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The deadline for 2015 draft picks to sign is today at 5pm ET, and entering Friday, there were seven players from the top two rounds that remained unsigned: No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson; Dodgers top picks Walker Buehler (No. 24) and Kyle Funkhouser (No. 35); Brewers Competitive Balance (A) pick Nathan Kirby (No. 40); Blue Jays second-rounder Brady Singer (No. 56); Orioles second-rounder Jonathan Hughes (No. 68); and Twins Competitive Balance (B) pick Kyle Cody (No. 73).
- Baseball America’s John Manuel reports (on Twitter) that Cody will not sign with the Twins and will instead return to Kentucky for his senior season. Minnesota will receive the No. 74 pick in this year’s draft.
- Singer will indeed attend college rather than sign with the Blue Jays, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. As Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper tweets, this marks the third time in five seasons that the Blue Jays have failed to sign a first- or second-round pick. Toronto will receive the No. 57 pick in next year’s draft.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the D-Backs have offered Swanson a bonus of $6.5MM or more, but he’s yet to decide on whether or not to accept. That’s about $2.116MM below the slot value at No. 1 overall. Swanson is reportedly being advised by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management.
- It “looks like” Singer will attend Florida rather than sign with the Blue Jays, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter links). That’s not the same definitive type of report listed below, however, so there would at least appear to be room for the two sides to strike a last-minute deal in the final hour. The Blue Jays would receive the 57th pick in next year’s draft if the high-school righty elects college over pro ball.
- Funkhouser tweeted today that he will not sign with the Dodgers and will instead return to Louisville for his senior season. The college right-hander was at one point thought to be a potential Top 10 pick, but as Baseball America’s Teddy Cahill wrote last night, attrition of Funkhouser’s stuff as the draft approached caused his stock to slip. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the Dodgers offered Funkhouser roughly $2MM, which was above his $1.756MM slot, though also considerably lower than the amount he’d have gotten without the late dip in his draft stock. The Dodgers will receive the No. 36 pick in the 2016 draft as compensation, and they’ll now turn their focus to signing Buehler, a right-hander out of Vanderbilt. Because Funkhouser did not sign, however, his $1.756MM slot value will be subtracted from the Dodgers’ allotted draft pool.
- MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports that Hughes will not sign with the Orioles and will instead Georgia Tech. A high school righty out of Georgia, Hughes’ No. 68 overall slot came with a value of $907K, though it’s not clear what sort of offer the Orioles made. Baltimore will be awarded the 69th pick in next year’s draft as compensation for failure to sign Hughes. Still, the loss of a top pick just one year after not picking until the third round (the Orioles forfeited draft picks to sign both Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez) and just months after trading a Competitive Balance pick to the Dodgers to relieve themselves of Ryan Webb‘s salary is a tough blow for the Baltimore farm system. They did, however, net an extra pick when Cruz, who had received a qualifying offer, signed in Seattle.
The Pirates would like to add a player or two prior the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. First base and right field are the two most obvious areas of need, where the Bucs could at the very least use platoon partners for Pedro Alvarez and Gregory Polanco. Biertempfel again mentions both Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur as potential fits, though Revere would seem more likely to supplant Polanco than platoon with him (both are left-handed, although Revere does actually hit lefties better than righties). In addition to those two offensive positions, the Pirates have been scouting big league starters and bullpen depth. Pittsburgh has “checked out” the Diamondbacks, writes Biertempfel, noting that both Addison Reed and Jeremy Hellickson are known to be available. (He does not, seemingly, indicate that there have been any actual discussions regarding those players, however.) Biertempfel also notes that the Pirates have previously had interest in Adam Lind, Scott Kazmir and Dan Haren, each of whom could be on the block.
Here’s more on the Pirates and their division…
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington feels that his team is in a good position because it doesn’t have one glaring hole and a subsequent need to overpay in order to fill that hole, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. However, upgrading the back end of the rotation may come with the risk, if not the likelihood of losing Vance Worley or Jeff Locke. Brink feels that the team is unlikely to move either starter to the bullpen if an upgrade is acquired — he points out that the Bucs elected to trade Clayton Richard rather than place him in the ‘pen — and since both Worley and Locke are out of options, they’d have to be exposed to waivers.
- The Cubs have promoted right-hander Rafael Soriano to Triple-A as he continues to ramp up and prepare to join the team in the second half, writes MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. Soriano debuted with Triple-A Iowa last night, allowing one hit but striking out the side. The strong performance continued a nice run through the team’s minor league system; Soriano has fired six scoreless innings with a 7-to-3 K/BB ratio between Double-A and Triple-A. Signed to a minor league deal with a $4MM base salary (he’ll receive the pro-rated version of that for time spent on the MLB roster) plus incentives, Soriano could be a factor in the Cubs’ bullpen in the near future.
- Today is the deadline to sign picks from the 2015 draft, and while there’s been no reported agreement between the Brewers and No. 40 overall selection Nathan Kirby, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel hears (Twitter link) that the team still expects to sign the Virgina left-hander. Kirby was at one time a consideration to go in the top five to 10 picks, but a severe lat strain submarined his stock.
- Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently penned an overview of the NL Central as we prepare to enter peak trade season. Miklasz runs down each club’s needs, as well as their most desirable trade chips (looking at prospects, among the buying clubs and Major Leaguers among the sellers).
The Angels are actively attempting to acquire another bat to bolster their offense, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times, but the feeling among the front office team is that the asking prices of selling teams is currently too high. The Halos’ present plan is to wait until the market comes back down to Earth a bit, as the belief at this time is that there’s quite a bit of posturing among selling teams. The first-place Angels have received poor production at a number of spots in the lineup, most notably in left field, at DH and at catcher. Chris Iannetta, at least, is showing signs of life in July. After a dreadful April, he slashed .264/.328/.491 in May, but his production again tanked in June, when he hit .190 without an extra-base hit. He’s on the upswing in July, batting .250/.419/.542 through a tiny sample of 31 plate appearances. Matt Joyce, on the other hand, has struggled nearly all season long — a strange turn of events for a usually very strong platoon option in the outfield. It should be noted, of course, that following GM Jerry Dipoto’s abrupt resignation, interim GM Bill Stoneman (a former Angels GM himself) will be overseeing the team’s baseball operations this summer.
The trade market will heat up substantially in the coming two weeks, and here are a few more trade rumors from around the league…
- Though a report from Wednesday cast some doubt on the possibility, Marc Carig of Newsday hears from a source that the Mets haven’t ruled out adding an outfielder via trade (Twitter link). Michael Cuddyer‘s knee isn’t healthy, notes Carig, nor is the throwing arm of Juan Lagares. Both have struggled this season at the plate and in the field, and a versatile outfielder would give the club some insurance should either player miss time.
- The Orioles, too, could end up trading for an outfielder, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. GM Dan Duquette admitted to Connolly that acquiring an outfielder is a consideration, though Connolly notes that there’s a very limited number of pieces the O’s would consider dealing. The lack of production from the team’s corner outfield, particularly left field (.223/.286/.352, collectively) underscores the fact that the contingency plans for the departure of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis haven’t worked, Connolly writes. When both players signed elsewhere, Duquette and skipper Buck Showalter noted that the Orioles had a good deal of outfield depth, including Alejandro De Aza, Delmon Young, Travis Snider, David Lough, Steve Pearce, Nolan Reimold and Dariel Alvarez. De Aza and Young have departed by way of DFA, while others have struggled. Alvarez, Duquette said, is a consideration for the second half. He’s leading the Triple-A International League in total bases at the age of 26 and has a strong arm, but as Connolly notes, he’s also walked just seven times this year.
- Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa spoke with the Arizona Republic’s Zach Buchanan about the upcoming trade deadline, and while many of his comments were vague (deliberately so, one would think, so as not to tip his hand), La Russa made it clear that his club had no interest in acquiring any type of pure rental player despite being just five games back in the Wild Card race. “It’s got to be somebody that fits in and is going to be a part of what we do going forward,” said La Russa of any possible trade addition. “The rent-a-player doesn’t work for us.” La Russa went on to say that adding a player with a significant financial commitment attached to his name probably isn’t a realistic option for the team either.
Last year, the signing saga of first overall draft pick Brady Aiken seemed straightforward until a controversial physical intervened. This year’s top choice, Dansby Swanson, has yet to put pen to paper, but MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes that the Diamondbacks are still expected to reach agreement without much drama. As Callis explains, Arizona should save a big chunk of money against its overall pool space with a deal, though the team may not have worthwhile targets from later draft rounds on which to re-allocate those funds. The piece goes on to address the signing status of several other players from the first and second rounds who have yet to agree with their teams. Callis suggests that the early selection who is most likely to forego a deal could be Dodgers draftee Kyle Funkhouser.
- There are “widespread rumblings” that the Reds organization could undergo change shortly after the conclusion of the All-Star Game, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. It’s unclear from the report what that might consist of, but it’s certainly conceivable that the on-field struggles could precipitate a shakeup at any level of the organization.
- As the Reds prepare to market staff ace Johnny Cueto, the three teams with the most earnest interest are the Astros, Blue Jays, and Royals, Nightengale adds on Twitter. Cueto’s cheap contract looks to be a significant factor in that interest, given that all three of those clubs currently operate at a lower payroll capacity (Houston, Kansas City) or reportedly lack financial flexibility at the deadline (Toronto).
- Mets righty Rafael Montero has long looked like an important part of the equation for New York, either on the big league roster or as a trade piece. But he’s been out of action for a lengthy stretch with shoulder troubles, and there had been little sign of progress. Montero took the bump today in the Gulf Coast League, however, marking his first competitive appearance since late April, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets.
- The first half returns show that Pirates GM Neal Huntington had a hugely successful offseason, writes Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. But the top Pittsburgh baseball decisionmaker also acknowledges that some of the output from recent acquisitions such as A.J. Burnett and Francisco Cervelli has surprised even the front office.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league, each courtesy of Baseball America’s Matt Eddy unless otherwise stated (it should be noted that Eddy’s weekly piece contains far too many moves to cover individually and is always worth an extended look beyond the highlights we mention here)…
- The Diamondbacks have released right-hander Blake Beavan from Triple-A Reno. The 26-year-old was one of four players who went from Texas to Seattle in the 2010 Cliff Lee trade, but he’s struggled for much of his time in the Majors. Formerly the 17th overall pick in the draft, Beavan struggled to a 6.32 ERA in 15 2/3 innings with the Aces this year. Beavan has a career 4.81 ERA in Triple-A and a 4.61 ERA in 293 big league innings. He’s averaged just 4.2 K/9 in the Majors, though his 1.4 BB/9 mark is impressive.
- The Marlins have released third baseman Scott Sizemore. The former Tigers/A’s third baseman has spent the past couple of seasons attempting to work his way back from a pair of major knee surgeries but struggled with Triple-A New Orleans, slashing just .223/.343/.301 in 235 plate appearances. Now 30 years old, Sizemore once ranked as the game’s No. 57 prospect (per Baseball Prospectus) and was a candidate to be a long-term fixture in the Detroit infield.
- The Red Sox released 27-year-old lefty Daniel Rosenbaum. Boston acquired Rosenbaum from the Nationals this winter in exchange for minor league catcher Dan Butler, but Rosenbaum tallied a 7.00 ERA in 18 innings between Class-A and Double-A prior to his release from the organization. Rosenbaum walked more hitters (12) than he struck out (11).
Here are the highlights from Jon Heyman’s massive new Inside Baseball article for CBS Sports. Be sure to check out Heyman on the latest edition of the MLBTR Podcast.
- The Braves have had “serious talks” about dealing closer Jason Grilli to a contender, Heyman writes, with the Blue Jays and Dodgers among the teams that make the most sense.
- The Diamondbacks have made infielder Aaron Hill and pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Addison Reed available in trades, and all three players have attracted at least some interest.
- The Marlins could trade starter Dan Haren for the right return. On paper, the Dodgers would seem to make sense, but that seems unlikely, since the Dodgers treated Haren basically as a throw-in in the Dee Gordon trade in the offseason. The Dodgers would also prefer to find a starter they could use in the playoffs, and Haren likely doesn’t qualify.
- Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins could become available in a trade as top prospect Corey Seager continues to demonstrate he’s ready for the big leagues.
- The Dodgers, Blue Jays, Nationals and perhaps other teams had scouts on hand as Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma returned from a lat injury this week. Iwakuma could be a trade candidate, but Heyman notes that giving up four homers to the Tigers probably didn’t exactly increase his value.
- Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez still seems set on retiring after the season, despite agent Paul Kinzer’s efforts to get him to continue.
- The Padres have been scouting the Mets lately, leading to speculation that the Mets could be trying to trade for Justin Upton.
- The Phillies are “not bending” in their demands for Cole Hamels, and his limited no-trade clause remains an obstacle.
- The Giants have had talks with free agent infielder Everth Cabrera. The Orioles released Cabrera last month. He would provide depth for San Francisco.
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The Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with second-round pick Alex Young, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (via Twitter). Young, a left-handed pitcher out of TCU, will receive the full slot value of $1,431,400 that comes with his No. 43 overall selection, according to Callis.
Entering the draft, Baseball America ranked Young as the No. 32 prospect in the draft, while Callis and colleague Jonathan Mayo ranked him 37th over at MLB.com. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel rated Young as the draft’s No. 38 prospect.
As BA notes in their scouting report, Young jumped from the bullpen to the rotation in his junior year at TCU — a move that paid huge dividends for both team and player. He added an above-average changeup to an 89-92 mph fastball and knuckle curve, giving him a chance at three above-average pitches. Callis and Mayo note that while Young’s former teammate, Brandon Finnegan, has better pure stuff, Young has a better feel for pitching than Finnegan did at the same stage of his career. McDaniel feels that Young has the potential to move quickly through the minors and emerge as a fourth starter in the Majors.
The Diamondbacks have now agreed to terms with all of the players they selected in the top 10 rounds of the draft with the exception of No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson. Arizona has until July 17 to work out a deal with the Vanderbilt shortstop.