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Arizona Diamondbacks Rumors
Catcher David Ross is drawing interest from the Cubs, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Padres and Braves and could soon sign, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter links). Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said earlier today that his team was keeping tabs on Ross, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).
With Jon Lester in Chicago, there will likely be plenty of speculation about Ross signing with the Cubs. Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan noted earlier tonight (again on Twitter) that Lester’s decision to sign with the Cubs greatly increased the chances that Lester’s former Red Sox teammates Ross and Jonny Gomes would wind up in Chicago as well. The Cubs recently traded for Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero, but they non-tendered backup catcher John Baker are expected to consider trading Welington Castillo.
Ross, 37, hit .184/.260/.368 in 171 plate appearances in Boston last season. The 13-year veteran has also played for the Dodgers, Pirates, Padres, Reds and Braves.
The Red Sox and Marlins have interest in Diamondbacks lefty Wade Miley, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweet. (Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald noted in November that the Marlins had interest in Miley.) Rosenthal and Morosi add that the offers the Diamondbacks have received for Miley are significant, increasing the likelihood of a deal. The Blue Jays and Rangers also could have interest in Miley.
Miley, 28, posted a 4.34 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 last season, which was the third straight year in which he threw at least 194 innings. Miley also keeps the ball on the ground, with a GB% of 51.1 last season. He’s projected to make $4.3MM this offseason in his first year of arbitration eligibility. The news that the Red Sox are interested in Miley broke before news of Jon Lester‘s decision to sign with the Cubs rather than returning to Boston. It’s hard to imagine Lester’s decision hurting the Red Sox’ chances of dealing for Miley, but they’ll probably seek to replace Lester by also acquiring an obvious ace.
Here’s the latest from Toronto…
- The Blue Jays asked the Diamondbacks about both left-hander Wade Miley and outfielder Mark Trumbo earlier this winter, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. Arizona, in turn, asked for some of the Jays’ young pitching in return. Interestingly, the Jays didn’t plan on keeping Trumbo, but rather flipping him to the Mariners for Michael Saunders, a player Toronto landed anyway by dealing J.A. Happ to Seattle.
- Also from Elliott, the Jays have looked into signing free agent relievers Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson. Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi also notes that the Astros and Yankees are among the other clubs interested in Gregerson’s services.
- The Blue Jays are one of three teams who have spoken to veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth, Davidi reports.
- Munenori Kawasaki has looked into options in Japan and may now be considering returning in North America on a minor league deal, according to Davidi. The Blue Jays would seem to be natural candidates to bring Kawasaki back, though manager John Gibbons wasn’t sure what was going on between the team and the infielder.
While final details remain unknown, reports have consistently indicated that Chicago will take on most or all of the remaining financial commitments to Montero. The sides were said to be in talks yesterday.
Montero, a left-handed hitter, has three years and $40MM left on his deal. The 31-year-old has had two down years after establishing himself as one of the best-hitting backstops in the game. Last year, he slashed .243/.329/.370 with 13 home runs in 560 plate appearances.
But Montero still hits righties quite well and could make up half of a high-quality platoon in Chicago with incumbent Welington Castillo. (Unless, that is, Castillo is dealt elsewhere, in which case Montero will presumably be paired with a different right-handed bat.) Montero rated as an excellent pitch framer (per StatCorner) and strong overall defender (via Baseball Prospectus) last year.
Godley is a 24-year-old righty who has yet to move past the High-A level in Chicago’s system. Working at Daytona last year, he put up a 3.57 ERA in 40 1/3 frames with 11.6 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9.
Mejia, 20, reached Rookie ball last year after being inked by the Cubs on July 2 of 2013. As Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote at the time, the 6’7 prospect had been adding weight and fastball velocity at the time of his signing. He ultimately went for a $850K bonus. Mejia features a low-90s heater with a good change and decent curve. That fastball velo may still be trending up, per MLB.com, which ranked him 17th among Cubs prospects. Working mostly as a reliever, he threw to a 2.48 ERA with 10.1 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 in 40 innings last year.
As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes notes on Twitter, Arizona would leave itself without much behind the dish were it to deal away Montero. The free agent market for backstops is rather thin, of course, with Geovany Soto among the most appealing options. Players such as Dioner Navarro may be had via trade, though prying loose a more permanent solution may be difficult.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Twitter that the deal was in its final stages of completion. Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com (via Twitter) reported that the deal was done. And Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter) and Levine (Twitter link) reported the other pieces in the deal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
2:14pm: Texas has also engaged the Diamondbacks in talks on starting pitching, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Wade Miley and, perhaps, Trevor Cahill are the likeliest targets, per Grant.
1:45pm: Multiple reports suggest that the Rangers and Nationals have engaged in discussions involving the Nats’ starting pitching. It appears that the sides have mutual interest, but may not see eye-to-eye on the pieces they would like to move.
Texas has inquired about righty Jordan Zimmermann, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports on Twitter. But the club has received indications that the Nationals are uninterested in moving Zimmermann, though they will listen on Doug Fister.
Meanwhile, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post hears (Twitter link) that the Rangers have expressed strong interest in the D.C. arms. The Nationals, in turn, have asked about 20-year-old second baseman Rougned Odor, with Texas indicating it is not interested in dealing him.
These clubs make plenty of sense on paper as possible trade partners, but it is not difficult to see why negotiations have landed at the apparent standoff described above. The Nationals have little reason to deal away high-end starters unless they can bring back a near-term and long-term solution at second base. And the Rangers will be loath to sell off an up-the-middle player who just hit at a roughly league average clip at age 20.
DECEMBER 9TH, 12:50am: Tomas will receive a $14MM signing bonus, salaries of $2MM, $4MM, $6MM and $10MM, and a one-time player option for $15.5MM for 2019 and $17MM in 2020, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel reports (all Twitter links). Tomas can also receive up to $2MM in bonuses.
DECEMBER 8TH, 5:32pm: If Tomas opts out after the fourth year, Arizona will be able to make him a qualifying offer, a source tells Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (via Twitter).
4:05pm: The D’Backs announced the signing via Twitter.
NOVEMBER 26TH: The Diamondbacks have reached agreement on a six-year, $68.5MM deal with Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The deal includes an opt-out that can be triggered after four seasons and is pending only a physical, per Sanchez.
The overall guarantee lands just a hair over the $68MM that the White Sox promised Jose Abreu last year. Given changes in the market in the interim — largely driven, perhaps, by Abreu’s own incredible success — that price tag may feel low at first glance. Indeed, much attention has been given to the idea that Tomas, with his prodigious power and youth, could not only beat the Rusney Castillo contract (seven years, $72.5MM) but also reach nine figures.
Of course, the opt-out will play an important role in assessing this deal’s true value, especially once it is learned how much of the guarantee falls under the contract’s last two years. The 4+2 opt-out structure means that Tomas could reach free agency before his age-28 season. If his bat lives up to the hype, he’ll have another shot at a massive payday at that point. But the client of Jay Alou Jr. will have to prove it on the field first.
As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes wrote in his profile of Tomas, the 70-grade raw power is the right-handed hitter’s calling card. His other tools appear largely to be average or slightly below, and it remains unclear precisely what position Tomas will play and how his defensive ability will shake out. Though considered mobile in relation to his hulking frame, Tomas has drawn some concerns about his body and overall conditioning.
For Arizona, joining Tomas with Mark Trumbo potentially sets up a roster with unmatched right-handed power at the outfield corners. Of course, he may well need to spend some time in the upper minors before ascending to the big league roster, though that is an assessment that can wait for the spring. Arizona can also field David Peralta in a corner spot, and his left-handed bat would provide a nice complement when Tomas does make it to the show.
This move, like the Jeremy Hellickson trade, does not necessarily tell us precisely what else the Diamondbacks might look to accomplish for 2015. While the team’s new leadership structure — chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, GM Dave Stewart, and senior VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson — has indicated that it intends to field a competitive team next year, that does not mean that every move will be of the win-now variety. Entering his second-to-last year of club control, Trumbo could still be a trade chip, as could catcher Miguel Montero or other veterans such as Cliff Pennington and Cody Ross.
The likeliest course, perhaps, is a continuation of what the team has done thus far. Adding pitching will undoubtedly remain a focus, with Arizona possibly looking to deal from its outfield and middle infield surplus as a means of doing so. Before accounting for Tomas and Hellickson, the team’s 2015 payroll was over $20MM shy of last year’s team-record (assuming that all arb-eligible players are tendered). But now there may not be a ton of room to add current-year spending, given reports that the team is expected to spend somewhat less than last year. Of course, Arizona does have some possible means of moving salary through trade and is carrying fairly minimal future obligations.
Photo courtesy of Alyson Boyer Rode.
11:31pm: A source tells Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter) that a deal isn’t close to fruition.
10:30pm: If the deal happens, Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (on Twitter) hears it’ll “likely” be for two Single-A pitchers.
8:46pm: The return for Montero wouldn’t be big, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (two tweets). The DBacks would receive low level prospects with the Cubs assuming most or all of Montero’s $40MM contract. Rosenthal hears Arizona would receive pitching prospects (via Twitter).
8:28pm: The Cubs and Diamondbacks are discussing a trade that would send Miguel Montero to Chicago, sources tell Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The two teams are expected to talk again tonight, Rosenthal tweets. The Cubs and Diamondbacks have been engaged for weeks and a deal appears to be getting closer. There is no word yet as to what the Cubs have on offer.
Montero, 31, has three years and $40MM remaining on his current contract. The left-handed backstop struggles against same-handed pitching, including a .198/.252/.311 line in 115 plate appearances last season. He was considerably better against right-handers, with a .256/.348/.386 slash.
He started strong last season. His performance dwindled as the season wore on, leading some (including me) to speculate that he tired. In Chicago, Montero could form a potent platoon with Cubs incumbent Welington Castillo, who hits very well against southpaws – .301/.350/.505 last year. The presence of Castillo could also help to keep Montero fresh.
As a catcher, Montero draws strong grades on his pitch framing. Per StatCorner, he accrued the most framing value of any catcher last season. He caught 29% of base runners in 2014 which is solid but slightly below his career average.
Interestingly, the Cubs recently hired former Diamondbacks coach Henry Blanco. He mentored Montero last season and could be a factor in the Cubs interest. Buster Olney of ESPN was the first to deduce the connection (via Twitter).
The Giants have fallen short on a few free agent targets this offseason, but they’re not worried, reports Henry Schulman in a series of tweets. Per Schulman, the Giants don’t feel a need to “win” bidding wars. They’ll stick to their dollar figure, which could affect their pursuit of Jon Lester. The club clearly wasn’t comfortable topping the $68MM offer to Yasmany Tomas or $44MM offer to Nick Markakis. In the case of another free agent they missed out on – Pablo Sandoval – the Giants reportedly made a comparable offer to the Red Sox.
- Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that the D’Backs would need to be “overwhelmed” to move Mark Trumbo. Still, the Mariners are among the teams that are monitoring the situation.
- Earlier today, Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa said that contrary to reports, there was no agreed upon deal with the Dodgers that would have sent Miguel Montero to L.A. When asked if a Montero-to-the-Dodgers deal could still happen, La Russa said, “The conversations are not what they were before. I think it’s less likely,” according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (via Twitter). However, La Russa added that ownership has not deemed Montero untouchable (link).
- Dodgers president Andrew Friedman says that he’ll let the year play out before addressing Zack Greinke‘s opt out clause, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter). From the sound of it, the Dodgers don’t have extension talks with the pitcher on their agenda for this winter.
- Friedman said he would have zero hesitation in trading players within the division, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
- Friedman went on to say (link) that he has not visited any free agents this winter.
- Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter) doesn’t think that there’s much to the speculation that the Rangers will make a run at Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner. Texas reportedly has more interest in Tyson Ross.
Even though Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said last week that he will not trade Mark Trumbo, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter) hears that he is still in play for Arizona. There was once talk of a three-way deal involving Trumbo that fell through but he remains available. A look at the AL and NL West..
- Tony La Russa said the the Diamondbacks had talks with the Dodgers about Miguel Montero but they never had a deal in place, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (via Twitter).
- The Mariners are pondering a wide range of possibilities for an outfield bat, including trades, and they’re not locked in on Melky Cabrera at this point, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today that the M’s are the favorites for the outfielder.
- Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson has switched agents and joined Excel Sports Management, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
- Despite being connected to him, the Astros did not seriously pursue Jason Hammel, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). They did make an inquiry, however. Hammel ultimately returned to the Cubs on a two-year pact.
Spruill, 25, has made three starts and nine relief appearances for Arizona across the last two seasons. However, the former second round pick of the Braves (2008) spent the bulk of 2013 and 2014 in Triple-A.