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Asdrubal Cabrera Rumors
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.
Baseball America's Matt Eddy provided a breakdown of the minor trade that went down earlier in the week that saw the Twins ship Duke Welker back to the Pirates in exchange for Kris Johnson. Johnson has an above-average two- and four-seam fastball that sits in the low 90s, but his breaking pitches are average at best, says Eddy. One bonus for the Twins is that Johnson has three minor league options remaining, while Welker has just one. Here's more on the Twins and the rest of the AL Central…
- The Twins were interested in free agent/reclamation project Grady Sizemore at one point, but they've moved on from Sizemore, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link).
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Royals have had internal discussions about acquiring Brett Anderson from the Athletics. An Anderson acquisition would be a somewhat similar move to GM Dayton Moore's decision to buy low on Ervin Santana in a trade last October. Unlike Santana, however, the Royals could control Anderson for two years, as his contract contains a $12MM option for 2015.
- White Sox southpaw Hector Santiago told the Chicago Tribune's Colleen Kane that the summer trades of Jake Peavy and Matt Thornton taught him that any player can get traded. Santiago said he tries not to worry about hearing his name in rumors. He added that he hopes Chicago's decision to shut him down after 130 innings is an indication that they're protecting his arm so he can throw 200 innings in 2014.
- The Indians will listen to offers on Asdrubal Cabrera this winter, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in his latest mailbag. Hoynes adds that any trading the team does will likely prioritize getting pitching in return, and the team would like to add a free agent starting pitcher. Hoynes lists Bartolo Colon and Jake Westbrook as speculative possibilities.
A few items from around the AL Central…
- After making a big push to contend in 2013, the Royals need to be willing to raise payroll to put the team over the top next season, Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star opines. "If there was ever a time the Royals had both the resources and motivation to make a push for the short-term, this is it," Mellinger writes.
- The Indians won't move Asdrubal Cabrera this offseason, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer predicts during his podcast with Dan Labbe. Shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor isn't ready and is coming off a significant back injury, and Mike Aviles is a better fit for the Tribe as a bench player. Cabrera hit only .242/.299/.402 in 562 PA in 2013 and will be a free agent following the 2014 season.
- "There is so much focus on the offense, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Tribe approaches upgrading its defense this winter," MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes in an examination of the Indians' fielding numbers. Cleveland had a team UZR/150 of -4.5 in 2013, the fifth-worst UZR/150 of any club in baseball.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune) that he'd like to get his team back on the winning track as quickly as the Red Sox did from 2012 to 2013 but that might not involve mining the free agent market as much as Boston did. "There's not going to be a free agent — premium or otherwise — who we don't view as helping us that we won't check in on at least….We're not ruling anything out. But the options in the free-agent market probably won't be quite as robust as some trade opportunities," Hahn said. The bigger-picture plan for Hahn is to build from within rather than just pursue "short-term fixes."
- In AL Central news from earlier today, White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham is drawing trade interest from the Blue Jays, and the Tigers will not be re-signing free agent catcher Brayan Pena.