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Asdrubal Cabrera Rumors
Cabrera makes for an interesting target, because unlike Masterson, he’s enjoying a relatively productive season. Cabrera is hitting .249/.309/.392 as of this writing, and while that’s hardly elite, park- and league-adjusted metrics like OPS+ (99) and wRC+ (98) peg him as just slightly below league average. That, of course, is relative to all hitters around the league, but middle infielders come with a lower offensive standard, making the switch-hitting Cabrera’s production more valuable.
Defensively speaking, Cabrera doesn’t offer much; he’s never posted a positive UZR in a sample of 100+ innings, and Defensive Runs Saved feels that he’s cost Cleveland 28 runs over the past three seasons at short. However, he’s graded out better in his career at second base, albeit in a much smaller sample size (1341 innings compared to 6282 innings at short). Cabrera has about $3.44MM of this season’s $10MM salary remaining, and he is a free agent at season’s end.
MONDAY: Though he won’t be activated from the disabled list until this Friday, the Indians are “very willing” to trade Justin Masterson, sources tell Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Cleveland’s preference would be to obtain controllable starting pitching in return for their embattled right-hander.
Masterson has struggled for much of the 2014 season, posting a 5.51 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 and a 58.5 percent ground-ball rate. More concerning, perhaps, is the stark decline in his fastball velocity; after averaging 91.6 mph on his heater in 2013 (and 91.9 mph in 2012), Masterson averaged just 89.1 mph before being placed on the disabled list with a knee injury. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway said before the All-Star break that he felt Masterson’s knee injury forced him to alter the way he landed coming off his delivery, which got his mechanics out of sync and could have been partially to blame for the velocity issues.
The 29-year-old is set to become a free agent at season’s end, and it seems unlikely that a team would surrender top talent to acquire a two-month rental that has struggled so greatly in 2014. As such (and this is my own speculation), Masterson might be more of an August trade candidate. If he can come back healthy and effective, scouts might be willing to overlook some of his early-season struggles (to an extent).
Masterson is earning $9.7625MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the final time this offseason. Cleveland had interest in extending its now-former ace (Corey Kluber likely holds that distinction now), but even when Masterson himself suggested seemingly below-market two- and three-year deals at $17-18MM annually, the Indians didn’t bite. Of course, at this point, that looks like it could have been a shrewd move on Cleveland’s behalf.
The Royals are interested in Andrew Miller but aren’t currently pursuing Jonny Gomes, Major League sources tell Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Multiple reports have previously connected the Royals to Gomes, but it appears their interest has waned for the time being. Miller, of course, is being pursued by many teams due to his dominant numbers and relatively inexpensive salary. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end but could alter the composition of a bullpen and be a vital postseason piece. Miller tells Bradford that if he’s traded, he’ll harbor no hard feelings toward an organization with which he has “loved” his time. “I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to an end in the next couple of days, but if it does it won’t spoil it for me,” said Miller. “If it does I’m certainly not going to burn a bridge on the way out of town.” Earlier this morning, K.C. was also linked to John Lackey.
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- Despite reported interest from the Yankees, the White Sox might have a difficult time moving John Danks, a source tells Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Anybody who throws 200 innings in the big leagues is worth his weight in gold,” the source said. “But I don’t think his weight is worth $30 million worth of gold.” Van Schouwen’s source feels that the Sox would let Danks go if he were to be claimed on waivers next month in order to free themselves of his remaining salary obligations.
- As for Chicago’s other tradeable pieces, Van Schouwen notes that Adam Dunn, Gordon Beckham, Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo have limited markets due to contractual obligations (Dunn) or poor performance (the others). Alexei Ramirez would fetch a nice return, but the ChiSox don’t have an in-house replacement for the 32-year-old.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at the Indians‘ current situation and feels that the team could sell some veterans without hurting their chances in the Wild Card hunt. Justin Masterson has underperformed, and Asdrubal Cabrera has been decent at best, but both have drawn trade interest, Hoynes reports. He suggests calling Oakland and San Francisco about Cabrera to peddle him as a second base option. Ultimately, the Indians could benefit from relying more on names like Jose Ramirez, Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister than their declining stars, Hoynes writes.
- Glen Perkins made no effort to hide his feelings on whether or not the Twins should extend Kurt Suzuki when asked by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press over the weekend: “That would be the ideal. I think everyone else would agree. Not even just pitchers. He’s fit in this clubhouse great, too, with everybody.” GM Terry Ryan told Berardino that he’s been happy with Suzuki’s contributions, though he acknowledged that Suzuki rates poorly in terms of pitch-framing. Berardino noted that the Orioles, Blue Jays and Giants had scouts in attendance at Twins games over the weekend.
- In more Twins news, Ryan is sending assistant GM Rob Antony on the team’s current road trip to Kansas City and Chicago while he settles in with VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff and special adviser Wayne Krivsky to work out deadline deals, writes La Valle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Ryan acknowledged the team’s position as sellers, telling Neal: “As long as it stops in the near future, then it is worthwhile. … This isn’t what anyone signed up to do. Nobody wants to watch a club get into late July and be in a position where you don’t have a chance.” Neal lists several Twins trade candidates, including Suzuki, Josh Willingham, Brian Duensing and Casey Fien.
After going into the All-Star break on a 2-8 slide, the Blue Jays have righted the ship by winning seven of 10 games since the Midsummer Classic. This hot streak has gotten the Jays back into the postseason picture, as they currently hold a one-game lead over the Yankees for the second AL wild card slot. Here’s the latest hot stove buzz out of Toronto…
- The Phillies specifically scouted a recent rehab start by Jays southpaw prospect Sean Nolin, Rogers Sportnet’s Shi Davidi reports. Nolin was rated as the 97th-best prospect in the sport by Baseball America prior to the 2013 season, and he owns a 3.12 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 1.62 K/BB rate over 13 Triple-A starts.
- Also from Davidi’s piece, the Rangers are one of a few clubs who have been sending more scouts to watch the Jays’ short-season Class A team in Vancouver. Righty Miguel Castro, left-hander Jairo Labourt and shortstop Franklin Barreto appear to be drawing the bulk of the scouts’ interest.
- Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is “an option” for the Jays, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). Cabrera would presumably be a candidate at second base for Toronto since Jose Reyes is locked into the shortstop job; Cabrera saw lots of action at the keystone over the first three years of his career but hasn’t seen any action at 2B since 2009. He is a free agent this winter and is thought to be an expendable piece for the Tribe since top prospect Francisco Lindor is on the way.
- The Padres were willing to pay all of the $4MM that was owed to Chase Headley for the rest of the 2014 season as part of a proposed deal that would’ve sent the third baseman to Toronto, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. An executive familiar with the negotiations between the Padres and Jays tells Elliott that San Diego was asking for Juan Francisco and two “not big-time prospects” in return. Francisco (.242/.313/.529 with 16 homers in 249 PA) is having a much better season than Headley (.238/.300/.371 with eight homers in 330 PA) and comes with three years of control while Headley is a free agent after this season, though Headley has obviously been the more high-profile player in recent years. San Diego ended up dealing Headley to the Yankees for Yangervis Solarte, Rafael De Paula and all but $1MM of Headley’s remaining salary.
- The Blue Jays were one of 28 teams at the Rusney Castillo showcase on Saturday, Shi Davidi tweets, with the Jays sending “multiple people” to check out the Cuban outfielder.
Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video for FOX Sports:
- The Red Sox and Mariners have inquired about Matt Kemp, but the Dodgers are unlikely to trade him, and trade talks did not go far. Kemp has hit well in the past week, with a .320/.414/.440 line in 29 plate appearances since the All-Star break.
- In fact, as Rosenthal notes (via Twitter), the Dodgers are not close to a deal of any kind.
- Asdrubal Cabrera has value on the trade market because of the lack of middle infield talent available, and it’s possible the Indians could deal him for starting pitching — either veterans or young players. The impending arrival of Francisco Lindor (who was recently promoted to Triple-A Columbus) could make dealing Cabrera a bit easier for Cleveland.
The Giants are interested in Indians infielders Asdrubal Cabrera and Mike Aviles, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com (via Twitter). Of course, the Indians have to decide they are sellers, which might come down to the trade deadline. Cleveland’s record is currently 49-47 and they’re 5.5 games behind the Tigers in the division. They’re one of three teams sitting just two games back of the Mariners for the second wild card spot.
Cabrera, 28, will be a free agent following the 2014 season. The shortstop is owed roughly $4MM. His defense draws critical remarks. Over the years, many insiders have speculated Cabrera is better suited to play second base, which fits the Giants‘ needs. Aviles, a 33-year-old utility infielder, has a $3.5MM club option for 2015 ($250,000 buyout).
- According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, GM Brian Sabean is unsure where to focus his attention in the trade market. The Giants can stand to improve in multiple areas, including second base, outfield, and the bullpen. Unsurprisingly, Sabean identifies price and availability as the likely determining factors in any trade.
- Marco Scutaro recently returned from the disabled list, but he’s only played one out of four games since re-joining the club. His ability to stay on the field and perform will probably affect the club’s interest in players like Cabrera and Aviles.
- Also per Schulman, outfielder Angel Pagan is expected to remain out beyond the trade deadline. He has yet to resume swinging the bat.
The White Sox are off to a solid start to the season with a 7-6 record, and they've already won more games against the division-rival Indians than they did in 2013, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Hayes spoke with Indians GM Chris Antonetti about his division rivals, and Antonetti said he's not surprised to see the Sox looking like an improved club. "Unfortunately for us, I thought [White Sox GM Rick Hahn] and his staff had an exceptional offseason," Antonetti told Hayes. "They’ve positioned themselves not only better for the short term but also for the long term as well and that’s a challenging thing to do. … I thought they made a number of tremendous moves that will not only help them this year but for years to come, unfortunately to our detriment."
Here's more about the White Sox and the rest of the AL Central…
- The White Sox' largest move of the offseason, financially speaking, was the signing of Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68MM contract. CSN Chicago's David Kaplan spoke to former Sox GM and current executive vice president Kenny Williams about the Abreu signing. Williams said he initially told Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf that he thought Abreu was worth a four-year, $40MM investment, to which Reinsdorf replied, "Why not $50MM?" Williams said he's 100 percent confident in Abreu as well as Reinsdorf and Hahn, who closed the $68MM deal (Twitter link).
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press looks at yesterday's $35MM extension for Jedd Gyorko and examines what that means for the Twins' chances of locking up Brian Dozier. The Twins and Dozier's agent, Damon Lapa, had extension talks this spring that didn't progress beyond the exploratory phase, Berardino writes. He notes that while Gyorko's bat has been superior to Dozier's thus far, Dozier trumps Gyorko in defense, baserunning and overall wins above replacement.
- In the latest edition of his "Hey Hoynsie!" mailbag, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer points out that the Indians are in a familiar situation with Asdrubal Cabrera. Though the club had an affordable option on Omar Vizquel back in 2004, they made no indication of wanting to pick it up and instead let Vizquel walk to make room for Jhonny Peralta. In 2010, the team traded Peralta to the Tigers without showing much interest in retaining him, due to Cabrera's presence in the minors. Now, with Cabrera five-and-a-half months from free agency and Francisco Lindor looming, there's been little to no talk of Cabrera's Cleveland tenure lasting beyond 2014. The bigger question, says Hoynes, is whether or not Cabrera will play well enough to merit a qualifying offer. Given his struggles at the plate over the past year, that seems unlikely at this time.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranks the top managers in MLB. Red Sox skipper John Farrell comes in at No. 1 thanks to his communication skills, ability to delegate responsibilities well, and, of course, his 2013 World Series ring. Bob Melvin, Terry Francona, Bruce Bochy, and Joe Maddon round out the top five. More from today's column..
- There have been no talks concerning a contract extension between the Indians and Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera can become a free agent at the end of the season, but it appears the Indians want to see how he rebounds from a down season. Cafardo sees the shortstop as a potential target for the Yankees next offseason.
- The Dodgers outfield surplus should work in their favor to start the year with Matt Kemp on the mend, but that doesn't mean GM Ned Colletti won't consider a move later in the season. One National League special assistant believes that Andre Ethier would work out very well with the Red Sox. “He needs someone to kick him in the butt, that’s why he would be perfect in Boston with [Dustin] Pedroia. That’s his buddy, and Pedroia would get the most out of him. He doesn’t have anyone like that in L.A.,” said the exec.
- Don't be surprised if the Yankees' efforts to land Ervin Santana intensify in the coming weeks. Even after landing Masahiro Tanaka, the Bombers could use one more solid starter to round out their starting five.
- J.J. Hardy is in the final year of his contract with the Orioles and they would like nothing more than to keep him. Baltimore will have to pony up some serious cash, however, as he could demand a deal of at least five years, possibly in the $15-17MM range.
Former White Sox first-rounder and top prospect Brian Anderson is making one last comeback attempt, he tells MLB.com's Scott Merkin. After trying his luck as a pitcher, the soon-to-be 32-year-old Anderson is looking to catch on as an outfielder once again and believes he's made adjustments that will allow him to succeed. Making those adjustments didn't always come easily, he tells Merkin: "…I was too stubborn to fully commit to making adjustments. That led to my demise and my inconsistency at the plate. I wanted everything that came with the big leagues without having to prove myself." Anderson is hoping for a Spring Training invite with a chance to win a fourth outfielder gig before hitting his way into more playing time. Here's more out of baseball's Central divisions…
- Steph Rogers of Getting Blanked interviewed Twins top pitching prospect Alex Meyer and covered a number of topics ranging from the best advice he's received to the transition to pro ball to the most beneficial aspects of winter ball. Meyer tells Rogers that he treasures the time he's been able to spend with former Reds left-hander Tom Browning in winter ball. Says Meyer of Browning, who pitched a perfect game in 1988: "If I can continue to pick his brain for the limited time I have left, it would be so beneficial."
- New Cardinals center fielder Peter Bourjos told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he wasn't surprised to be traded by the Angels this offseason. Bourjos told Hummel that one of his goals with the Cards is to steal 40 bases, adding that it will depend on how he swings the bat because he knows drawing walks is not one of his strengths.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tackles a number of trade Indians scenarios in his latest Inbox piece but ultimately concludes that Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson and Lonnie Chisenhall will all be in the organization come Opening Day (though he doesn't believe Chisenhall will start at third base).
- Earlier today, I ran down several NL Central notes, including pieces on Kolten Wong, Mark Reynolds and several Cubs topics.
Of all the baseball news that broke in 2013, the story of how David Murphy's contract with the Indians became public has to be the most unique. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer relates how Murphy and the Tribe had agreed to terms but were keeping the deal under wraps until it was finalized…only to have Murphy's five-year-old daughter spill the beans to her kindergarten class during a lesson about Thanksgiving. “She was in preschool and they were learning about Pilgrims and Indians,” Murphy told reporters last month. “She spoke up that her dad was going to the Indians. Obviously, the word spreads quickly because of social media. It’s not the best situation, but it’s a good story to tell her when she gets older.”
Here's some more Tribe-related notes from Hoynes, as part of a reader mailbag…
- The Indians don't have any current interest in Jake Westbrook, who pitched in Cleveland from 2001-10. Westbrook hit free agency after the Cardinals bought out his 2014 option but it's been a pretty quiet winter of rumors about the veteran right-hander. Hoynes reported in October that the Tribe would "keep an eye" on Westbrook but nothing seems to have come of that interest. Westbrook, 36, posted a 4.63 ERA in 116 2/3 IP with the Cardinals last season and had trouble missing bats, as he recorded only 44 strikeouts (against 50 walks).
- A right-handed power bat isn't high on the club's priority list as the Indians are focused on adding pitching.
- Hoynes figures the Indians will post a $20MM bid for Masahiro Tanaka since they "have nothing to lose" in doing so, given that only the team that signs Tanaka has to pay the $20MM posting fee. While the Indians may check on the Japanese righty, however, Hoynes thinks larger-market teams will offer Tanaka a much bigger contract offer.
- Hoynes thinks Ubaldo Jimenez will end up signing with the Blue Jays, Diamondbacks or Yankees. The Tanaka signing could affect this prediction as the latter two teams are known to be heavily interested in Tanaka and Toronto will likely be interested as well.
- Francisco Lindor is only likely to see time as a September callup, and that's only if the Indians' star prospect rebounds from a 2013 back injury and impresses in his first taste of Double-A and Triple-A baseball. Lindor's progress will also naturally impact the Tribe's future decision on Asdrubal Cabrera, who will be a free agent next winter. Cleveland is known to be listening to trade offers for Cabrera, who is coming off a down year in 2013.
10:41am: Despite their need for a shortstop, the Mets aren't in on Cabrera, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter).
TUESDAY, 10:32am: The Indians are also willing to listen on Asdrubal Cabrera, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As Morosi notes, Cleveland has a potential franchise shortstop on the horizon in Francisco Lindor. Their willingness to shop Cabrera isn't surprising given Lindor's presence, Cabrera's $10MM salary in 2014 and the fact that Cabrera slumped to a .242/.299/.402 batting line in 2013.
MONDAY: The Indians are open to fielding Justin Masterson trade pitches, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Rosenthal reports that Cleveland will listen on Masterson, with the idea of targeting players that would remain under team control for more years.
Masterson, 28, enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2013, posting a 3.45 ERA and 9.1 K/9 in 32 outings (29 starts) for the Indians. However, he's entering his final arbitration-eligible season, meaning he'll likely earn between $9-10MM in 2014, based on Matt Swartz's projections. Masterson will also be eligible for free agency a year from now, so the Indians will have to decide soon whether or not he'll be part of the club's long-term plan.