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Arizona Diamondbacks Rumors
It’s been a highly disappointing debut season for Mark Trumbo in Arizona, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, who examines whether or not the D’Backs should explore the concept of trading Trumbo this season. Trumbo hasn’t hit much when healthy, and while he hasn’t been charged with any errors in left field, he also displayed poor range when playing there (prior to Paul Goldschmidt‘s injury). However, as Piecoro notes, much of that could be due to a stress fracture in Trumbo’s left foot — an injury that has limited him to just 79 games this year. Trumbo’s price tag could top $6MM in arbitration this season, and he may well be best-suited for an AL team or a team with an opening at first base. However, despite those factors, Piecoro concludes that the Snakes have traded too many players with their value at a low point in recent seasons, and moving Trumbo now would be an instance of history repeating itself. Instead, he feels that even if Arizona decides trading Trumbo is best, it should be done after he has a chance to rebuild some value in 2015.
Here’s more on the D’Backs and the NL West…
- Cliff Pennington views himself as an everyday player and would like more at-bats, he tells Piecoro, but that doesn’t mean he’s unhappy with the Diamondbacks. Rather, he very much likes his teammates and the atmosphere in Phoenix. Still, given Arizona’s bulk of shortstop candidates — the team has Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed as potential Major League options — Pennington’s future with the team is uncertain. As Piecoro notes, he’ll be due a raise on his $2.75MM salary in his final trip through arbitration. The Diamondbacks are looking to trim payroll, and Pennington could be considered expendable due to his loftier price tag. He’d have little trouble finding work in the event of a non-tender, Piecoro implies, and I’d imagine that there could be clubs in need of infield help that are intrigued by Pennington’s solid defense and his .253/.346/.358 batting line this season.
- Cameron Maybin feels he can be more productive with everyday at-bats, he tells Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune, and he’ll play in the Dominican Winter League this offseason to get some reps after an injury- and suspension-shortened season. Maybin says his goal is to help the Padres in an everyday role, though his comments could imply that he feels he might be traded: “For me, I feel like if I’m healthy, I can be somebody’s really good everyday center fielder. …a big part of going to the Dominican Republic is making sure I’m ready for spring training so I can help whoever – mainly the Padres.” The 27-year-old is owed $16MM over the next two seasons, which makes him a difficult trade candidate given his lack of recent production. However, he’s a former No. 10 overall pick and top prospect, so teams may be willing to gamble on a rebound, particularly in a more hitter-friendly environment. Should he bounce back, his contract would actually turn into quite the asset, as he’s owed $7MM in 2015, $8MM in 2016 and has a $9MM option (1MM buyout) for 2017.
Three clubs in the league’s western division may have the greatest trade deadline regrets, in the opinion of MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince (writing for Sports On Earth). The Athletics have seen their fortunes fade since dealing away Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester, though of course Lester has been outstanding. The Mariners‘ three key additions — Austin Jackson, Kendrys Morales, and Chris Denorfia — have generally failed to hit. And the Dodgers passed on a chance to add an impact starter.
- Of course, it is eminently arguable that the Athletics‘ underperformance since the deadline is really not a reflection on Cespedes-Lester swap at all, as Tony Blengino of Fangraphs explains. The team has failed to score runs, to be sure, but that is due in large part to the production fall-offs from key first-half contributors like Brandon Moss, Derek Norris, and John Jaso (the latter, in large part, due to injury).
- The one-year extensions signed before the season by Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and then-GM Kevin Towers contain rollover clauses that provide for automatic re-extensions if they are not dismissed by a certain date, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. (Such an anti-lame duck provision is also a feature of the Blue Jays’ contract with manager John Gibbons.) Player support for Gibson is “all but gone,” sources tell Rosenthal, but he could still be retained by chief baseball officer Tony La Russa.
- Meanwhile, Rosenthal joins others in reporting that Dave Stewart is the leading candidate to take over as GM. Stewart says he is “very interested” in the position, and his hiring would make it likely that Towers stays on in a senior scouting role, according to Rosenthal.
- Of course, the status of Stewart’s agency business (Sports Management Partners) would be up in the air if he takes the job. Rosenthal reports that some key clients such as Matt Kemp of the Dodgers have said they would stay on with SMP if the agency continues without Stewart.
- The Angels‘ run to the AL West crown represents a remarkable turnaround for GM Jerry Dipoto, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. One year after most of his moves backfired, Dipoto has pulled off a series of largely successful trades and signings that helped fuel the team’s success. Most remarkably, perhaps, the team has received solid production from a variety of arms that have generally outperformed expectations.
- Another remarkable turnaround in Halos land is the working relationship between Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia, as Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register writes. Last August, it was even reported that things had deteriorated to the point that one or the other would have to go, though Scioscia shot down the suggestion at the time. Now, Dipoto credits Scioscia with doing an “unbelievable job” at making adjustments and acting on new information — as reflected in the team’s lineup construction and use of defensive shifts.
Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine has withdrawn himself from consideration for the Diamondbacks’ GM vacancy, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter). Levine tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he had a good talk over the phone with Arizona chief baseball officer Tony La Russa prior to his decision (Twitter link). As of this weekend, it was reported that Dave Stewart, former pitcher and current agent to Matt Kemp (among others), is considered the favorite for the job.
Here’s more on the D’Backs…
- Cody Ross understood the reason that the Diamondbacks sat him in favor of impressive rookie David Peralta upon his activation from the disabled list, writes Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. However, now, with Peralta out due to a back injury, Ross is trying to prove himself once again and prove that he belongs on the team in 2015. Ross tells Buchanan that he hopes to remain in Arizona. Given his $8.5MM salary next season and lack of production over the past two seasons, it’d be tough for a new GM to move him anyhow, Buchanan notes.
- “It took a full-scale collapse to force the necessary organizational reboot, but change is definitely coming in Arizona,” writes Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron in an intro to a colleague Kiley McDaniel’s excellent rundown of the Snakes’ farm system. Cameron feels that there’s far more than one offseason’s worth of work to fix the D’Backs, while McDaniel runs down a list of prospects topped by Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, Aaron Blair, Brandon Drury and Touki Toussaint.
- In a second piece, Buchanan writes that last offseason’s hiring of first base coach Dave McKay away from the Cubs has paid significant dividends for the D’Backs. McKay has placed a strong emphasis on improving the club’s baserunning, and the results show in baserunning metrics on both Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus, Buchanan notes. The D’Backs jumped from respective marks of -10.5 runs and -9.7 runs in 2013 to +0.4 runs and -0.5 runs in 2014.
MLBTR has been keeping track of all the rumors and candidates tied to the Diamondbacks‘ GM search, and it appears as if Dave Stewart is now “the favorite” to be the team’s next general manager, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. Stewart will formally interview for the job this week. Here’s some more news from around baseball…
- Aaron Hill tells FOX Sports’ Jack Magruder that he wants to remain with the Diamondbacks next season. Hill has lost September playing time to some of the D’Backs’ young infielders and was shopped before the July trade deadline. It’s no surprise that Arizona might be looking to the future given that Hill has struggled this season, he’ll be 33 next Opening Day and the second baseman is still owed $24MM through the 2016 season.
- While the Braves are still on the fringes of the NL wild card race, it looks like this could be a lost season for Atlanta. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman looks at how the team was hurt by some front office and player (namely, Tim Hudson) losses and Bowman wonders if the Braves could shake up the coaching staff or even consider replacing GM Frank Wren.
- The Rangers have used 27 different position players this season, and MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan looks at how each of them could fit into the 2015 team as Texas looks to rebound from this injury-riddled campaign. Sullivan’s comments include his opinion that the Rangers will pick up Alex Rios‘ contract option for 2015 and that the catching situation “may be the most intriguing decision” of the offseason as the team will have to decide if Robinson Chirinos will be the regular catcher.
Here are today’s minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Diamondbacks selected the contract of catcher Bobby Wilson, according to a team press release. The veteran backstop signed a minor league deal with Arizona last November and he will look to appear in his first Major League game since 2012. Wilson hit .208/.272/.321 in 447 career PA, all with the Angels from 2008-12, and he spent 2013 playing for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. In a corresponding move to open a 40-man roster spot for Wilson, the D’Backs transferred Bronson Arroyo on the 60-day DL.
Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:
- Some within baseball believe Dave Stewart might be a top candidate for the Diamondbacks‘ open GM position, but that he can’t confirm that he’s overly interested in the job until he knows it can be his. Otherwise, he risks losing clients as a player agent.
- The Orioles are lucky to have avoided signing Manny Machado, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, Rosenthal suggests. Machado and Wieters are dealing with injuries, while Davis has struggled through a disappointing season and is now serving a 25-game suspension for amphetamine use. The Orioles, meanwhile, have Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy and potentially Nick Markakis due for free agency this winter, and they’ll need to have money available if they want to keep them.
- Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine could be a candidate for a top position with the Rockies if Colorado decides to make changes in its front office. Levine is also a potential candidate for the open GM job in Arizona. The Rockies could choose an internal candidate if they do replace or reassign Dan O’Dowd and/or Bill Geivett, however.
Kirk Gibson’s good relationship with chief baseball officer Tony La Russa might help him keep his job with Diamondbacks, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. The Diamondbacks are struggling and are in the process of replacing Kevin Towers as their general manager, but Gibson has proactively sought the advice of La Russa, a Hall of Fame manager. “They communicate a lot, and (La Russa) probably feels Gibby can improve,” notes a source of Heyman’s close to the Diamondbacks. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, however, tweets that there is little support for Gibson within the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse. Here are more notes on managers.
- La Russa says he, and not the Diamondbacks’ next GM, will make the decision on Gibson, Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes. A previous report indicated that the next GM would decide whether Gibson would stay.
- Terry Collins is “all but certain” to return to the Mets, Heyman writes. The Mets have won eight of their last ten games, and the team’s ownership appears to back Collins. Also, a number of the team’s younger players, including Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia, have had good or fairly good seasons.
- It wouldn’t be a shock if Ron Gardenhire stepped down as manager of the Twins, Anthony Castrovince of Sports On Earth writes. The Twins will likely give Gardenhire the opportunity to manage in 2015 if he wants, but Gardenhire has been on the job since 2002 and is likely on his way to a fourth straight 90-loss season. If he were to retire, it would be hard to blame him, Castrovince writes.
Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall and chief baseball officer Tony La Russa both spoke with Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic, providing an interesting look ahead at the club’s important upcoming decisions.
The Diamondbacks’ payroll will likely be scaling back from $112MM to about $100MM in 2015, Hall says. He did hedge his comment a bit by saying, “If we think we can spend more, we’re going to.” The reduction in payroll isn’t surprising given that Arizona is looking at its worst single-season attendance total in franchise history. As Hall noted, as with any team or business, anticipated revenues constitute a constraint on spending plans. “The formula that really works for major league teams is to try and keep your payroll at about half of your revenues,” he said. “For us, that’s what we’re looking at.”
With just over $67MM already committed to the 2015 roster and arbitration raises coming for Cliff Pennington, David Hernandez, Wade Miley, Addison Reed and Mark Trumbo, it’s possible that some players will be non-tendered to help meet the organization’s spending targets. Pennington and Hernandez are the most obvious candidates of that group, though Buchanan mentions that some salary could be moved via trade as well.
In part, shedding some dollars may be necessary to accomplish the team’s offseason priorities. Said Hall:
“Obviously we know there are some holes we have to fill. We’ve talked about wanting to go out and get a bat and we’ve talked about wanting to get starting pitching, and in order to do that you’re either going to have to go through trade or free agency and either way you’re going to probably spend dollars on it. To spend more dollars, we’re probably going to have to find areas to save more dollars.”
Hall did note that, so far as starting pitching is concerned, the team sees greater depth in next year’s free agent market than this one. “We’re going to be active,” said Hall, “but just how competitive it gets with fewer arms where the next year the free-agent market is much bigger and brighter … we’re going to be active, but there’s no crystal ball that’ll tell me if we’re going to outbid other teams in larger markets.”
Of course, the first order of business is for the club to install a new general manager. Preliminary interviews have already been conducted with four of the team’s ten initial candidates, says Buchanan, with the team expected to both finish those talks and conduct second-round interviews within the next ten days or so.
Team managing partner Ken Kendrick is not expected to become involved in the process until it comes time to make a final decision on whomever Hall and La Russa want to hire. “As I told him, ‘I don’t think you need to or I need to interview everybody now that we have Tony. Let’s let him do that and Tony and I can decide on the finalists,’” Hall said. “When we think we’ve picked the candidate, we’d like him (Kendrick) to sit down with him to make sure he’s comfortable with he or she as well.”
Beyond a new GM, the team is said to be considering other changes in its baseball decisionmaking. But widespread turnover seems not to be expected, with La Russa suggesting that the addition of statistical-oriented staff could come through the GM hire or a lower-level addition. “Baseball ops, I think we have a pretty healthy situation there as far as numbers, and everyone will be reviewed and analyzed,” said La Russa.
La Russa also emphasized that there is real interest in a continued relationship with former GM Kevin Towers, who will wait to see who replaces him before deciding whether to continue on with the organization. “I’ve said very clearly I’m distressed that the report was leaked early so that the initial headline said ‘dismissed, fired,’” said La Russa. “That’s 180 degrees from the arrangement we have potentially. Kevin has got a lot he can offer.”
The Padres announced that they have hired former Astros national crosschecker David Post as a special assistant to GM A.J. Preller and the scouting department. Post will assist Preller in all aspects of amateur, professional and international scouting.
In addition to his experience with the Astros, Post has served as a regional scout for the Marlins as well. The 41-year-old also had a 12-year playing career as a minor leaguer with the Dodgers, Expos, Indians, Pirates, Yankees and Rockies, tallying a combined .272/.367/.383 batting line.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets that the hiring seems to cast doubt over previous speculation that Kevin Towers would join the Padres’ front office in an advisory capacity were he dismissed as GM of the division-rival D’Backs, which he ultimately was. Towers has been offered a scouting role within the Diamondbacks organization.
With Tony La Russa in place and looking for a new GM for the Diamondbacks, the organization still faces fundamental questions about how it will incorporate statistical analysis into its decisionmaking, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. La Russa’s recent comments indicate that he is more interested in adding lower-level front office pieces with analytical backgrounds, notes Piecoro, which is a strategy that runs the risk of being ineffectual.
A bit more from the NL West…
- Grant Brisbee of SB Nation’s McCovey Chronicles opines that at this point, former ace Tim Lincecum couldn’t even be trusted with a postseason roster spot for the Giants. He certainly won’t get a rotation spot, notes Brisbee, and the spot starter/long relief role will likely go to Yusmeiro Petit, with Ryan Vogelsong rounding out the rotation. Even in a middle relief role, Hunter Strickland‘s overpowering fastball (which has averaged 98 mph this month) could be more valuable than what Lincecum could bring.
- Hanley Ramirez does not seem to be handling the final stretch leading up to his free agency very smoothly, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Ramirez refused to talk to reporters following a two-error game Tuesday, and even on Monday, he turned away reporters from the Dodgers‘ own regional sports network. Manager Don Mattingly implied that he thinks Ramirez might be burned out from answering the types of questions associated with his current situation, as he’s never been this close to free agency before and hasn’t dealt with the situation in the past.