Arizona Diamondbacks Rumors

Arizona Diamondbacks trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Quick Hits: Guillen, Diamondbacks, Nava

White Sox executive Kenny Williams says baseball needs personalities like that of former manager Ozzie Guillen, Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago writes. “I think it misses personality and characters and a guy who has had as much success as he has and has much baseball knowledge as he has and has a desire to be in uniform and should be in uniform somewhere,” says Williams. “Hopefully he gets another chance to show it.” Williams and Guillen had their differences when Guillen was with the White Sox, of course. The White Sox allowed Guillen to depart for Miami, where his tenure as manager of the Marlins was brief and unfortunate. He hasn’t managed since, although he’s expressed interest in returning. He now is an analyst for ESPN and ESPN Deportes. Here are more quick notes from around the Majors.

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart sees pitching as the key to improving the franchise’s fortune, the New York Times writes. “Everything depends on pitching,” says Stewart. “So as quickly as our young pitchers can mature is going to determine whether we contend or don’t. I know we’re going to hit and catch the ball. Those things are givens.” The Diamondbacks’ emergence will thus depend on young pitchers like Jeremy Hellickson, Rubby De La Rosa, and Archie Bradley, who makes his big-league debut today.
  • The Red Sox received inquiries about outfielder Daniel Nava this spring, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe tweets. The team declined to trade Nava despite a surplus in their outfield, however, feeling that Nava was more valuable in a Red Sox uniform than on the trade market.

Pitcher Notes: Bradley, Carrasco, Garcia

Archie Bradley of the Diamondbacks is set for his big-league debut against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers Saturday, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com writes. “I mean, it’s exciting,” says Bradley. “He’s one of the best, if not the best, in all of baseball. I just take it as a challenge, like why not start my career against someone like him?” Heading into the season, Baseball Prospectus ranked Bradley the No. 11 prospect in baseball, with MLB.com ranking him No. 15 and Baseball America putting him at No. 25. He likely missed out on a chance to make his big-league debut in 2014 after struggling with an elbow injury. The Diamondbacks liked what they saw from Bradley this spring, though, and traded Trevor Cahill to clear space for him. Here are more quick notes on pitchers.

  • The criticism Carlos Carrasco has received for his four-year extension with the Indians is misplaced, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Carrasco has four children, an injury history and an uneven pre-2014 performance record, so it made sense for him to take $22MM guaranteed, even though he gave away his first season of free-agent eligibility and the rights to two more seasons beyond that.
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter is “proud” of Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. Garcia pitched 2 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays Friday, allowing one run and two walks while notching two strikeouts. The 22-year-old pitched in the lower levels of the Red Sox system last season, so he’s making a big leap to the Majors this year. “If he can get going and get strike one, he has a chance to have some success,” says Showalter.

Minor Moves: Almonte, De Leon, McGuire

We’ll keep tabs on the day’s minor moves right here:

  • Zoilo Almonte has elected to become a free agent, as per the MLB.com transactions page.  Almonte was outrighted off the Braves‘ 40-man roster last week and had the option of free agency or accepting an assignment to Triple-A.  Almonte signed a Major League contract with Atlanta this offseason after spending his entire nine-year pro career in the Yankees organization, posting a .523 OPS over 149 plate appearances in 2013-14 at the MLB level.
  • The Dodgers signed righty Jorge De Leon to a minor league deal, as per their official transactions page.  De Leon switches uniforms for the fourth time since October after the A’s claimed him from the Astros, released, and signed by the Cubs during the offseason.  De Leon has a 5.19 ERA, 10 walks and 10 strikeouts over 17 1/3 innings for Houston over the 2013-14 seasons.
  • Earlier this week, the Dodgers signed right-hander Deck McGuire to a minor league deal, as announced by McGuire himself via Twitter.  McGuire was taken by the Blue Jays with the 11th overall pick of the 2010 draft but he hasn’t fared well in 572 2/3 minor league innings, posting a 4.78 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.  The righty was dealt to the A’s for cash considerations in July and then outrighted off Oakland’s 40-man roster in August.
  • The Diamondbacks have loaned infielder Walter Ibarra to Monterrey of the Mexican League, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert tweets. Ibarra, 27, has yet to see big league action. In 489 career plate appearances at the Triple-A level, he has slashed ..265/.301/.346. He has spent some time in past seasons playing in his native Mexico.


NL West Notes: Capellan, D’Backs, Tomas, Dodgers

Former big league reliever Jose Capellan, who last pitched for the Rockies in 2008, died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack earlier this week, ESPNDeportes.com’s Enrique Rojas reports (Spanish language link). Capellan, just 34 years of age, tossed 123 1/3 big league frames over five years, working to a 4.89 ERA. MLBTR extends its condolences to his family and friends around the game.

Here are some notes out of the NL West:

  • The Diamondbacks deserve credit for putting their best team on the field to start the year, regardless of contract status, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic argues. Arizona parted with Trevor Cahill and Cody Ross while moving Aaron Hill to a reserve role (in which it will be harder for him to build trade value). And the team has moved up the timeline of youngsters Jake Lamb and Archie Bradley, while also giving starting roles to Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed, rather than playing the service time game with those players.
  • Yasmany Tomas just wrapped up his first spring with the Diamondbacks, but the club has already planned to institute a “weight goal” for the sizable slugger, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports“I think fitness-wise, he needs to get in better shape,” said manager Chip Hale. “He knows that. He worked really hard all spring. It’s not just working hard, it’s how you eat and learning a new country and all these things. I mean, it hasn’t been easy for him. For me he performed really well for where he was at coming to a new country.”
  • The Dodgers are running a significant risk with their rotation, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. With Hyun-jin Ryu still very much a subject of concern for skipper Don Mattingly, the team is highly reliant on the health of Zack Greinke‘s right elbow.

Offseason In Review: Arizona Diamondbacks

Despite finishing with baseball’s worst record in 2014, the Diamondbacks stopped short of a full-scale rebuild and added a high-priced talent they hope will help them quickly return to contention.

Major League Signings

  • Yasmany Tomas, 3B/LF: Six years, $68.5MM (player opt-out clause after 2018 season)
  • Daniel Hudson, SP/RP: One year, $800K (club option exercised)
  • Matt Reynolds, RP: One year, $600K (club option exercised)
  • Total spend: $69.9MM

Pool-Eligible International Signings

  • Yoan Lopez, SP: $8.27MM signing bonus

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades And Claims

Notable Losses

Needs Addressed

The Diamondbacks’ first order of business was to hire Chip Hale as the club’s new manager, deciding on the former Athletics bench coach after an extensive search.  Hale faces an interesting challenge in his first Major League managing job, as he inherits a last-place club that doesn’t plan on being a bottom-dweller for long.  Around the start of the offseason, both Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa and senior VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson felt that a quick turn-around was possible, with La Russa going so far as to say that he would “be absolutely brokenhearted” if the D’Backs didn’t at least manage a winning record in 2015.

To that end, the Snakes unloaded a couple of notable contracts to shed payroll, yet also just as quickly reinvested that money into new talent, most notably in the international market.  Their biggest move came with the signing of Yasmany Tomas, as the D’Backs outbid several other teams (including their division rivals in San Diego and San Francisco) to ink the Cuban slugger to a six-year, $68.5MM deal.

Several pundits, including MLBTR’s own Tim Dierkes, thought Tomas would land a contract in the $100MM range this winter, so if the 24-year-old lives up to expectations, the D’Backs will have scored a bargain.  Tomas can even opt out of his contract after four seasons, so the deal could turn into a four-year, $36MM commitment for the team.

MLB: Arizona State at Arizona Diamondbacks

GM Dave Stewart made another big international outlay in signing Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez to a contract with an $8.27MM signing bonus.  As with Tomas, the Diamondbacks may have scored a bit of a bargain since Lopez turned down at least one larger offer to join the team.  The 22-year-old righty brings a multi-pitch arsenal and a fastball that has touched 100mph, giving Arizona a building block for the future.

If Lopez represents the future, the present was addressed in the form of a payroll-reducing trade.  The Diamondbacks unloaded their biggest salary pre-existing commitment by dealing Miguel Montero (and the $40MM remaining on his contract) to the Cubs for two low-level pitching prospects.  While still a strong defensive catcher, Montero’s offense had declined over the last two seasons and the D’Backs felt comfortable moving on from the 31-year-old.

Likewise, Trevor Cahill‘s time in Arizona didn’t pan out as expected, and the Snakes dealt the righty to Atlanta along with $6.5MM to help cover Cahill’s $12MM salary for the 2015 season.  The Cahill and Montero trades have further helped to reduce the Diamondbacks’ payroll from a club-record $112.3MM in 2014 to roughly $85MM for the coming season.

While dealing Montero was mostly about clearing salary obligations, the trade that sent Wade Miley to the Red Sox brought back more immediate help (as you’d expect given Miley’s more favorable contract situation).  Miley became arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, and rather than pay his increasing price tag, the D’Backs brought back a total of 10 controllable years of right-handers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.  De La Rosa has earned a spot in Arizona’s rotation while Webster remains an intriguing prospect, though he hasn’t shown much in 89 1/3 Major League innings.

With Miley gone, the D’Backs brought another veteran arm into the mix by acquiring Jeremy Hellickson from the Rays.  Hellickson is looking to rebound after an injury-shortened 2014 and, now that he’s healthy, should be closer to the hurler who averaged 180 innings per year and a 3.72 ERA from 2011-13 (though he did so with less-than-promising peripherals).  Hellickson will join Josh Collmenter, De La Rosa, Chase Anderson and top prospect Archie Bradley in the rotation, as Bradley’s strong Spring Training performance earned him his first crack at the bigs, and provided even more incentive for the D’Backs to move Cahill.

Arizona’s middle infield situation got a bit less crowded after Didi Gregorius was sent to the Yankees as a part of a three-way trade with the Tigers.  The deal allows Nick Ahmed to take over at shortstop and Chris Owings to become the new second baseman.  For Gregorius, the D’Backs obtained another middle infield prospect in Domingo Leyba and a possible future rotation candidate in left-hander Robbie Ray.

Addison Reed pitched better (2.68 SIERA, 3.26 xFIP, 4.03 FIP) than his 4.25 ERA would suggest, though he’ll have to cut down on the fly balls (only a 28.9% grounder rate) to be a long-term answer at closer, especially with a growing salary through his arbitration years.  Still, Oliver Perez, Brad Ziegler, Evan Marshall, Randall Delgado and former starter Daniel Hudson make up a pretty solid bullpen corps for the Snakes.  It wouldn’t be a shock to see veterans Reed, Perez or Ziegler get shopped at the trade deadline, especially since the D’Backs will have a bit of an arms surplus at midseason when Patrick Corbin, Bronson Arroyo and David Hernandez all get back from Tommy John rehab.

Questions Remaining

La Russa’s optimism notwithstanding, the Diamondbacks are going to have a difficult path to 82 or more wins.  Consider that the Snakes entered 2014 on the heels of consecutive 81-81 records, so despite all of the injuries suffered by the club last year, it could be argued that even at full strength the D’Backs still didn’t have a proven winning nucleus.

De La Rosa, Bradley and Anderson were the winners of a widely-contested Spring Training battle for the last three spots in Arizona’s rotation, and while this trio has plenty of promise, it’s a tall order to see all three blossoming at the same time.  Combine that with the fact that Collmenter and Hellickson wouldn’t be top-of-the-rotation choices on most teams, and the Diamondbacks’ rotation looks like a problem area.  (Though, as noted, Corbin and Arroyo could provide some midseason reinforcements.)

The staff also likely won’t be helped by the uncertainty at catcher, which stands out as one of the most glaring roster holes on any team in baseball.  Montero’s departure left Tuffy Gosewisch as the presumptive starter, with Gerald Laird and Jordan Pacheco both making the roster as backups.  While the D’Backs have been linked to Toronto’s Dioner Navarro in trade rumors for almost the entire offseason, no deal appears to be forthcoming, according to Stewart.

If Stewart’s comments aren’t just gamesmanship, then the D’Backs appear to be content with having the inexperienced Gosewisch as the bridge to top prospect Peter O’Brien.  The hitch with that plan, however, is that O’Brien is widely seen by most evaluators as unlikely to stick behind the plate, and he has recently developed an inability to throw the ball back to the mound.  Catcher looms as a big issue for the team both in 2015 and, if O’Brien’s struggles continue, into the future.

Tomas is, at the moment, a man without a position or even a spot on the Snakes’ big league roster.  Tomas will start the season at Triple-A following an unremarkable spring at the plate (.257/.307/.414 with two homers over 73 PA) and a very shaky defensive performance as a third baseman.  While one could just write off Tomas’ time at third as a failed experiment, scouts also have questions if he would be able to handle a corner outfield spot.

Compounding the problem for the D’Backs is that they also don’t have much room at any of Tomas’ positions.  Third baseman Jake Lamb enjoyed a red-hot spring at the plate and was ranked as a top-80 prospect by both MLB.com and Baseball America prior to last season.  If Tomas becomes a left or right fielder, he joins Mark Trumbo as another power-hitting right-handed bat with questionable defensive ability working the corner outfield positions.  (Fortunately for the D’Backs, A.J. Pollock is an excellent defender who covers a lot of ground in center.)  Trumbo drew some trade interest this winter but the D’Backs are intent on keeping him, despite his defensive shortcomings, low OBP and increasing expense after winning an arbitration hearing.

Once Tomas is promoted, Arizona’s probable best plan of attack would be to liberally use David Peralta and Ender Inciarte — both left-handed hitters — to spell Tomas and Trumbo both for defensive purposes and against tougher right-handed pitching.  Until Tomas gets the call, Peralta and Inciarte will split time in left field and as Trumbo’s late-inning defensive replacement.

One name missing from the outfield mix is veteran Cody Ross, who was rather surprisingly released just prior to Opening Day.  The Snakes shopped Ross during the offseason but couldn’t find any takers, and thus were stuck having to eat the $9.5MM ($8.5MM in salary, $1MM buyout of his 2016 option) remaining on Ross’ contract.  All told, Ross’ three-year, $26MM deal from the 2012-13 offseason ended up being a bust for the D’Backs, as he only contributed a .699 OPS line in 570 PA and appeared in only 177 games due to injury.

Aaron Hill is another high-priced veteran the D’Backs would like to deal, though he’s another tough sell given his poor 2014 season and $24MM salary owed through 2016.  Hill has already lost his starting second base job to Owings, so he won’t have much opportunity to rebuild his value in a bench role unless Owings struggles.  Arizona will almost surely have to pay a big chunk of Hill’s salary in any deal, but I would guess they’ll eventually find a trade partner; Hill was putting up strong numbers as recently as 2013 and several teams could use second base help.

Deal Of Note

Lopez’s signing added an obstacle to the Snakes’ rebuilding process.  Since Lopez was subject to international signing pool limits, his bonus put the D’Backs well over their pool limit.  Not only will they be taxed on the overage, but they’ll also be prohibited from spending more than $300K to sign any pool-eligible player over the next two international signing periods (so, until July 2017).  Since Lopez will need at least a year or two of minor league seasoning, Arizona might not see any return on its investment until its penalty period is up, making the signing an even riskier one for the club.

For a team with a renewed emphasis on international scouting, essentially closing the door on one avenue of the international market until 2017 is a curious decision.  The D’Backs also have the largest international spending pool of any team for 2015-16 as per their poor finish last season, yet they’re now unable to spend much of it due to the penalty, though the bonus slots can be traded.  Rival scouts have thus far delivered middling reports on Lopez’s ability (while acknowledging that it’s still very early in his career), so Arizona is making a big bet that he’ll eventually be worth their investment both in terms of money and in other international opportunities lost.

Overview

If Arizona struggles this year, then waiting another season (or at least until this year’s trade deadline) to fully commit to the rebuild could be perceived as wasted time, given how many feel a rebuild is already overdue for the franchise.  That said, since injuries so badly hampered the 2014 squad, Stewart may simply want to see exactly what he has before deciding to either make wholesale changes.

It could that this will be something of a treading-water season for the Diamondbacks as they prepare for a more thorough overhaul next winter.  Only three players (Tomas, Hill and star slugger Paul Goldschmidt) are under contract for 2016, leaving lots of flexibility to build around controllable long-term pieces like Pollock and Bradley.  It’s worth noting that the D’Backs already at least explored some bigger moves for star veterans this past winter, such as a trade for Matt Kemp or signing James Shields.  Between payroll space, one of the game’s better-regarded minor league systems, and a front office that seems willing to be aggressive, Diamondbacks fans can be forgiven for already looking ahead to the 2015-16 offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL West Notes: Cain, Baker, Kimbrel, Ross

The Giants officially placed Matt Cain on the disabled list with a strained flexor tendon, and the righty told reporters, including the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman (Twitter links) that he’s hoping to return in two weeks, though there’s no certainty that such a quick return is possible. “Might as well try for it,” Cain said. “That’s what you’re hoping for. Only time will tell.” Cain said he doesn’t feel any “killing” pain, but rather he feels pain when going through certain movements. There’s currently no timetable for him to throw, and the team has recalled Chris Heston to make a spot start and fill Cain’s roster spot. San Francisco also added Kevin Correia on a Minor League pact earlier tonight to provide some depth.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Scott Baker looks like the likeliest option to step into the Dodgers‘ rotation in place of the injured Hyun-jin Ryu on April 14, writes Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times. Of the team’s projected Triple-A starters, Baker is the only one eligible to be called up on the 14th when the team will need a starter. Carlos Frias, Mike Bolsinger, Zach Lee and Joe Wieland are all on the 40-man roster and therefore need to spend at least 10 days in the Minors (barring an injury on the Major League roster) before they can return to the Majors.
  • Craig Kimbrel tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock that he watched with interest from afar as the Padres drastically revamped their roster, and he’s shocked but excited to be a last-minute addition to the reconstructed team. “You can tell this organization is going after it, it’s not a few-years deal, it’s right now,” said Kimbrel. “As a player, that’s exciting. You don’t know how long you’re going to play this game. [Being here] you could tell everyone is excited … from the front office to the players. That gets me excited. I’m ready to get the ball and get started.” Brock also notes that Kimbrel’s former Braves teammate, Justin Upton, gave GM A.J. Preller a “glowing endorsement” of the closer before the trade was agreed to by both sides.
  • Diamondbacks players were relatively stunned by the team’s sudden release of Cody Ross on Sunday, writes Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. Jordan Pacheco tells Buchanan he’s always looked up to Ross, a fellow New Mexico native. Mark Trumbo spoke highly of Ross as a teammate: “The positive energy he brought each and every day was almost unmatched. He’s a very special guy in his ability to lighten the mood in any situation. When it’s go time, he had that ability as good as anybody in the game.” Ross will sign with the A’s tomorrow upon officially clearing release waivers, FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reported earlier tonight.

Diamondbacks Acquire Victor Reyes From Braves

1:06pm: While separately announced, this trade was part of the deal that sent Trevor Cahill to Atlanta, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets. The Braves would not have pulled the trigger on adding Cahill (and taking on a good portion of his salary) without getting the chance to add the pick in the Reyes swap, according to Piecoro’s sources.

12:34pm: The Diamondbacks have acquired outfielder Victor Reyes from the Braves in exchange for the 75th overall pick in this year’s amateur draft, Arizona announced. As a competitive balance draft choice, the selection was tradeable.

Reyes, 20, played at the low-A level last year in the Atlanta organization, slashing .259/.309/.298 in 361 plate appearances. He swiped 12 bases, but was also caught seven times. It seems fair to say that Reyes lacks power, as he has yet to hit a home run in 776 turns at bat as a professional.

Then again, Reyes has a substantial frame and may still have some pop to grow into, as Baseball America explained in ranking him as Atlanta’s 22nd-best prospect coming into the season. BA calls Reyes “lean and lanky,” crediting him with a solid hit tool and promising defensive profile in the corner outfield.

That draft slot was assigned a bonus allocation of just under $760K last year and will increase somewhat for 2015. Losing that amount will drop the D’Backs to just under $13MM in total draft spending capacity, while boosting Atlanta to a shade over $9MM.


NL Notes: Duda, Cueto, Tomas, Braves, Diamondbacks

The Mets and Lucas Duda have failed to reach an extension prior to the first baseman’s Opening Day deadline and have shelved negotiations, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. “No agreement was reached, so talks have concluded and Lucas will focus on the upcoming season,” agent Dan Horwits told Rubin. Duda will make $4.2MM in 2015 and will be eligible for arbitration two more times before becoming a free agent following the 2017 season.

In other National League news and notes:


NL West Notes: Giants, Maybin, Quentin, Padres, Hill

After winning the World Series in three out of the last five years, the Giants have become a model front office, writes Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. They’ve done a little bit of everything ranging from developing their own home grown pitching staff to acquiring and extending Hunter Pence. GM Brian Sabean has balanced sabermetric ideas with traditional scouts, and brought in one of the top managers in Bruce Bochy.

Here’s more from the NL West:

  • The Padres are willing to eat a “chunk of money” to move Cameron Maybin or Carlos Quentin, a talent evaluator tells Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Per the evaluator, experiments with Quentin at first base did not meet with success. Both players are being shopped aggressively, although rivals may think one or both will be released before long.
  • The Padres don’t consider themselves to be a small market club, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. While it may look like the club “opened the coffers” over the offseason, it was all a part of a steady build up. The franchise now supports a $100MM payroll thanks to a lucrative TV contract, central revenue, local sponsorships, and non-baseball events at Petco Park.
  • The Diamondbacks have made Aaron Hill available, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. However, the club has not talked with the Angels about the second baseman. That Arizona would like to deal Hill is no surprise. He has two-years and $24MM remaining on his contract, but he’s been ousted by a combination of Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings. The club also has utility infielder Cliff Pennington available. The Angels do appear to be an obvious fit after naming Johnny Giavotella as their starting second baseman.
  • Arizona is searching for a new formula to develop ace pitching, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The club has a plethora of high upside pitching, but they still need to find that breakout talent. Piecoro examines a few of 2014’s newest studs. Corey Kluber is said to have an elite work ethic, which is obviously an important but difficult-to-measure skill. Others like Garrett Richards and Jake Arrieta always had excellent stuff but lacked consistency. Some of the pitchers that could take a step forward for the D’Backs include Archie Bradley, Robbie Ray, Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster.

Diamondbacks Release Cody Ross

The Diamondbacks have released outfielder Cody Ross the team announced via Twitter. The club owes him $8.5MM for this season and a $1MM buyout for his 2016 option, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Any team that acquires him will not be responsible for any amount above the major league minimum.

Ross has fallen into a reserve role over the last few years, mostly due to various injuries. Last year was one of his worst with a .252/.306/.322 line in 219 plate appearances. The right-handed hitter has always possessed notable platoon splits. He’s below average at the dish against fellow righties, but he’s hit .294/.360/.557 in 1,109 plate appearances against southpaws. He’s a reasonable target for any team looking for an inexpensive, Jonny Gomes-type talent.