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Arizona Diamondbacks Rumors
Could a clause regarding Pablo Sandoval‘s conditioning be written into his next contract? ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick addressed the question, noting that a Sandoval contract could include bonuses rewarding him for staying at or under a certain weight. Similar clauses have existed in other players’ contracts in the past, though the CBA doesn’t allow a team to reduce salary (or halt it altogether) if a player is over a set weight limit.
Here’s some more from around the National League West…
- The Dodgers haven’t been having any internal discussion about bringing back Hanley Ramirez on a new multiyear deal, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team is looking at shortstops in free agency and the trade market, and the Dodgers aren’t necessarily looking at short-term players to fill the position until prospect Corey Seager is ready. “The limited supply at the position makes it hard to put a lot of rules on it,” Friedman said. “We’re going to try to acquire the best player we can and, if we wind up having depth there, that’s a good problem to have.” As Saxon notes, Seager could eventually end up as a third baseman.
- The Diamondbacks probably aren’t the ones “moving closer” to acquiring Jeremy Hellickson if the Rays are indeed approaching a trade with an NL team, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets.
- Both Carlos Quentin and the Padres seem to “recognize what would be in their mutual interest” in regards to a trade, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. A deal to an AL team would allow Quentin to rest his knees in a DH role, while the Padres can get at least a bit of Quentin’s $8MM salary for 2015 off their books. While Quentin is probably open to waiving his no-trade clause, the greater question will be if a trade partner can be found given Quentin’s injury history. Padres GM A.J. Preller recently said that the club wasn’t looking to move offensive players until some new bats were acquired, so releasing Quentin isn’t yet an option.
The Padres decision to designate left-handed pitcher Eric Stults for assignment was based on finances rather than performance, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Per MLBTR’s Matt Swartz, Stults was projected to earn about $4.6MM via arbitration after a season in which he posted a 4.30 ERA and 17 losses. Stults, 35 next season, represents a solid depth piece at the back of a rotation due to durability and decent stuff. However, the Padres are in need of offensive help and have plenty of pitching. The rotation is already filled without Stults, and Sanders names another five pitchers who can serve as additional depth. The cash savings will ostensibly be applied to the offense, and it’s possible Stults will return to San Diego on a lesser contract.
- Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart spoke with MLB Network Radio on a variety of topics. Arizona won’t be in the market for the top three free agent pitchers according to Stewart (tweet), but they may be more involved on Kenta Maeda (also Twitter). As for top prospect Archie Bradley, Stewart would like to see him get more seasoning at the Triple-A level before reaching the majors (via Twitter).
- While Cubs GM Jed Hoyer downplayed the possibility of a “supercharged offseason” yesterday, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times believes they are poised for a spending spree. He figures they have $70MM in available payroll. The Cubs have an “acquisition window…through the 2015-2016 offseason,” so we shouldn’t expect all of that money to be used this winter. Howover, several of the biggest market clubs like the Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, and Phillies are trying to be cost conscious this offseason, which makes now a good time to strike on top players.
- Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano is still considering his qualifying offer and “several options,” tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That could hint to a possible multi-year contract offer from the Pirates or other clubs, although that’s just my speculation. MLBTR’s Steve Adams covered Liriano’s free agent profile earlier this week and ultimately estimated a three-year, $40MM deal.
Pirates star Andrew McCutchen rarely gives long, opinionated interviews, so his lengthy and relatively candid discussion with Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is surprising. McCutchen, who is controlled through 2018, says that he would like to play the rest of his career in Pittsburgh. He also says, however, that the Pirates’ front office needs to do more to provide him with a championship-caliber supporting cast, and he suggests that the Pirates’ platoon arrangement at first base in particular is a problem. “You can have a platoon in the outfield every now and then,” says McCutchen. “Outfield platoons, I understand. But when it comes to the infield, you need that group of guys who are always going to be there.” The Pirates platooned Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez at first in 2014, and Davis, Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez are candidates to play there next season. Here are more notes from the National League.
- The Phillies want “at least three” top prospects, including two who are ready for the big leagues, in return for Cole Hamels, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. It’s not currently known who is on Hamels’ limited no-trade list (which he updated at the beginning of the month), but Salisbury suggests that Hamels would have been smart to add the Cubs, Red Sox and Dodgers so that he can demand that his new team pick up his 2019 option as a condition of a trade.
- GM Dave Stewart says the Diamondbacks won’t be bidders for Max Scherzer, Jon Lester or James Shields this offseason, Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio tweets. Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall has said that the team will look for starting pitching this offseason. There have been few or no indications that the D-backs plan to pursue top-tier pitchers, however.
The Dodgers‘ new front office led by Andrew Friedman is perceived as likely to be statistically driven, but new GM Farhan Zaidi says the Dodgers need to excel at all methods of evaluation, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports. “We need to be the best at everything,” says Zaidi. “I don’t think we’re in a position to make trade-offs of saying we’re a stat organization or a scouting organization.” Zaidi adds that he expects decision-making in Los Angeles to be collaborative. He, Friedman and senior vice president Josh Byrnes will all engage in talks with agents and with other teams. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- On Thursday, Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall chatted with fans on Twitter, and the results are available in a single document at MLB.com. Hall says starting pitching will be the team’s top priority this winter, and he adds that the Diamondbacks hope to retain infielder Jordan Pacheco despite outrighting him this week. Arizona claimed Pacheco from the Rockies in June, and he hit .272/.298/.321 in 85 plate appearances down the stretch.
- Ian Kennedy had a bounce-back season in 2014 with the Padres and now is a top trade asset, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. A move out of Arizona and into a friendlier ballpark was one factor (particularly given Kennedy’s fly ball tendencies), but Sanders feels pitching coach Darren Balsley’s work with Kennedy might have been just as crucial. Balsey’s mechanical changes helped Kennedy boost his velocity — Kennedy’s average fastball increased from 90.3MPH to 91.8MPH last season. Sanders suggests that one alternative to a trade might be for the Padres to extend the reliable Kennedy rather than Andrew Cashner, who had neck, shoulder and elbow issues in 2014.
The Diamondbacks announced that J.J. Putz, who spent the 2011-14 seasons as a member of the team’s bullpen, has been hired as a special assistant to president and CEO Derrick Hall. According to the press release, Putz will assist the team in both a baseball and business capacity. Some of the responsibilities outlined for him include attending community events, meeting with season-ticket holders, working with pitchers in Spring Training and visiting the club’s minor league affiliates throughout the course of the 2015 regular season.
“I am very excited to give back to the game that I love and have been fortunate to be a part of for 14 years,” said Putz in the press release. “To be a part of such a great organization is a blessing. My family and I have been so grateful to be a part of the Arizona community. It is a dream come true to work alongside a great man like Derrick. There are not enough great things to say about this organization. I am forever thankful.”
Hall expressed similar excitement about the opportunity to work alongside Putz: “J.J.’s performance on the field and popularity off the field make him a tremendous addition to the front office. His personality is a perfect fit for our culture and we are looking forward to him helping the D-backs in a number of different ways during this next phase of his career.”
While the press release doesn’t specifically state it, this most certainly appears to be the end of the 37-year-old Putz’s playing career. If that’s the case, Putz will cross the finish line with very strong marks. In 566 2/3 career innings, he posted a 3.08 ERA with 9.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, a 1.15 WHIP, a 37-33 record and 189 saves. Putz’s best season came with the 2007 Mariners, when he posted an exceptional 1.38 ERA, 10.3 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and recorded 40 saves while finishing a league-high 65 games. He earned $38.875MM over his playing career, per Baseball-Reference.com, and his 189 saves rank 51st all-time. If this is indeed the end of the line for his days on a big league mound, we at MLBTR wish Putz the best of luck in his new career path and congratulate him on a very nice playing career.
The Dodgers made more headlines yesterday when it was reported that A’s assistant GM Farhan Zaidi would become their new GM to work under president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman, and that former Padres GM Josh Byrnes would join the front office as well. That may be the biggest front office news that’s come out recently, but it’s not the only news. Here’s are some more notes on front offices and coaching staffs, all of which happen to pertain to baseball’s Western divisions…
- The Rockies announced yesterday their entire 2014 coaching staff as well as some front office promotions (Twitter links). Former Rox reliever Darren Holmes will assume the role of bullpen coach, while Steve Foster was named pitching coach. Foster has worked as a minor league pitching coach and bullpen coach with the Marlins and also worked with the Royals bullpen from 2009-11.
- In the Rockies‘ front office, five executives were promoted. Rolando Fernandez is now the VP of international scouting and development, Zachary Rosenthal and Jonathan Weil were promoted to assistant GM, Zachary Wilson will assume the role of senior director of player development, and Danny Montgomery was named a special assistant to new GM Jeff Bridich.
- The Astros hired Alan Zinter as their new assistant hitting coach, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweeted yesterday. The 46-year-old Zinter had a 19-year minor league career and also saw time in Japan back in ’99. He was twice called up for a taste of big league action, first in 2002 with Houston and again in 2004 with the D’Backs.
- After missing out on the chance to become the Rangers‘ permanent manager, Tim Bogar has taken a role with the division-rival Angels as a special assistant, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Bogar took over as the interim manager in Texas following Ron Washington’s abrupt resignation, but the Rangers ultimately hired former Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister as their new skipper.
- The Rangers today officially announced the hiring of Michael Young as a special assistant to GM Jon Daniels. The move was first reported back in October though not made official until today. Young will assist GM Jon Daniels in player evaluation and development at the Major League and Minor League level in addition to going on scouting trips and special assignments.
- The Brewers officially announced on Monday that they had hired Ray Montgomery away from the D’Backs as their new vice president of amateur scouting and a special assistant to GM Doug Melvin, and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic looks at what the loss means for the Diamondbacks. Montgomery interviewed for the team’s GM job before Dave Stewart was hired, and he was said to be in line for a promotion. Stewart tells Piecoro that the team was working to expand Montgomery’s responsibilities but hadn’t figured out exactly how his role would grow prior to his departure. Stewart and VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson will meet this week to discuss replacement candidates, and Piecoro lists a few internal candidates.
Free agent lefty Franklin Morales, most recently of the Rockies, has moved his representation to the Boras Corporation, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. The 28-year-old had a rough 2014. He put up a 5.37 ERA over 142 1/3 innings, including 22 starts, while striking out a below-average (against his career) 6.3 batters and walking 4.1 per nine.
Here’s more from Colorado and the rest of the National League:
- The Rockies‘ extension of a qualifying offer to free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer was the big surprise on the QO front. Colorado’s rationale for the move, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets, is to remain flexible to trade from its outfield depth. Cuddyer, meanwhile, had hoped to land a three-year deal, per Rosenthal, and the offer makes that a more difficult proposition. In my view, it makes little sense to create outfield depth to trade from by adding a contract with negative trade value; the move seems irrational unless the club has good reason to believe that Cuddyer will turn down the QO.
- While teams can always simply price in the loss of a draft choice in assessing how much to offer a compensation-bound player, the presence of the QO can in some cases be a significant enough deterrent that it keeps a team out of the market altogether. That appears to be the case for the Mets vis-a-vis Cuddyer, as Marc Carig of Newday reports that New York had been quite interested in pursuing the veteran but has little interest in giving up the 15th overall pick in doing so.
- The Mets may, however, be more willing to pursue non-QO-bound Michael Morse, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Morse would represent an option in the outfield and, perhaps, part-time platoon mate at first.
- Giants righty Sergio Romo hopes to re-sign with San Francisco, he told MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (via host Jim Bowden). But the former closer is looking forward to testing the market, and should draw plenty of interest.
- Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas worked out at third base in a tryout yesterday with the Diamondbacks, according to a tweet from his agent Jay Alou Jr. The 24-year-old had been talked about primarily as a corner outfielder. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com first tweeted that Tomas had spent time with the D’backs.
Here are the day’s outrights and minor moves:
- The Diamondbacks have outrighted catcher/corner infielder Jordan Pacheco, per the MLB.com transactions page. Entering his age-29 season next year, Pacheco has not produced at the plate outside of a Coors Field-aided run in 2012, when he managed a 93 OPS+. He is, however, a fairly versatile player, as he is capable of playing at least passable defense behind the dish and in the corner infield. Over 165 plate appearances split between the Rockies and D’backs last year, Pacheco slashed .255/.299/.333.
TUESDAY: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic spoke to GM Dave Stewart, who characterized talks for Montero as due diligence rather than shopping the catcher. However, Piecoro also spoke with a source from a rival club and got the same sense that Rosenthal did: “They’ve definitely put him out there.”
Stewart stressed to Piecoro that the D’Backs aren’t interested in strictly dumping salary and added that any move the team makes “has to better our rotation.”
Piecoro speculates that the Cubs, White Sox and Rangers could be interested in taking on Montero. The Cubs have previously expressed interest in Montero, he writes, also adding that Cubs president Theo Epstein tried to land Montero back when he was still GM of the Red Sox as well.
SUNDAY: The Diamondbacks are considering trades for catcher Miguel Montero, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. A D’Backs official says the team is in “listening mode” for offers while rival teams say Arizona is openly shopping Montero’s services.
Montero has three years and $40MM remaining on the five-year, $60MM extension he signed with the D’Backs in May 2012. After posting a .798 OPS over the first seven years of his career, Montero’s hitting has dropped off, as the catcher has only posted a .237/.324/.358 slash line in 1035 PA since the start of the 2013 season. You’ll note that large number of plate appearances for a catcher; as Rosenthal mentions, Montero has played more games behind the plate than any other catcher over the last four seasons.
This wear-and-tear could have contributed to Montero’s offensive decline and some teams could therefore be wary of acquiring the 31-year-old, or he could be seen as a rebound candidate if he gets more regular rest, Rosenthal observed. While Montero has posted negative Defensive Runs Saved totals in each of the last three seasons, he is still considered one of baseball’s best pitch-framers.
The Diamondbacks would be looking to create some extra payroll space by moving Montero, though Rosenthal speculates that the team may have to cover some of his remaining salary and the D’Backs would need to find a replacement catcher since they don’t have any Major League-ready catching options in reserve. With a very thin free agent catching market outside of Russell Martin, however, you’d expect Montero to attract some interest from teams looking to upgrade behind the plate.
Also from Rosenthal’s piece, the Diamondbacks have received a lot of calls about Wade Miley and A.J. Pollock, though the team isn’t interested in moving either player. Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius, meanwhile, continue to draw attention from clubs looking for middle infield help.
Harris, 30, totaled 29 innings out of the Snakes’ bullpen this season, pitching to a 4.34 ERA with 10.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 34.7 percent ground-ball rate. Though ERA wasn’t particularly kind to Harris in 2014, metrics such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA are all quite fond of his work and reflect that his ERA could’ve been nearly two runs lower this year. Overall, he’s pitched quite well in two seasons with the D’Backs since being claimed off waivers; from 2013-14 Harris registered a 3.42 ERA with an 88-to-24 K/BB ratio in 81 2/3 innings of work.