Austin Hedges Rumors

Heyman’s Latest: Padres, Buehrle, Greene

The Padres declined to part with top outfield prospect Hunter Renfroe in their deal for closer Craig Kimbrel, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  At the same time, the Braves weren’t sold on top catching prospect Austin Hedges and feared that his hitting might not develop enough. Ultimately, that left pitcher Matt Wisler as the key prospect in the deal.  Here’s more from Heyman’s column..

  • Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle is considering retirement following the 2015 season, Heyman reports. While he notes that April retirement ruminations often prove to be inaccurate, there seems to be a strong possibility that the 36-year-old Buehrle will call it quits.
  • Tigers executives were shocked that they were able to pry right-hander Shane Greene away from the Yankees this winter, Heyman writes. The Yankees considered trading Greene “painful,” but the team was desperate for a shortstop, and New York scouting guru Gene Michael was a strong supporter of Gregorius.
  • Trading Ryan Howard seems less and less likely for the Phillies each coming day, Heyman writes, noting that one scout said that Howard simply looks “lost” at the plate. Heyman also notes that the stacked starting pitching class on next year’s free agent market may be hindering the Phillies’ ability to move Cole Hamels, as teams are content to wait to bid on the likes of David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija and others.
  • The Orioles checked in on Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro at some point late in the spring.  Navarro, who has been supplanted as the starting catcher in Toronto by Russell Martin, is hoping to go elsewhere and start.  The diplomatic Navarro spoke with MLBTR’s Zach Links last month about the trade talk surrounding him.
  • One GM who has some interest in Elvis Andrus suggested to Heyman that it’d be hard for the Rangers to trade him now.  While Texas has infield depth, most of it is at the lower rungs of their system.  Meanwhile, they’ll be without Jurickson Profar for a second straight year.
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has one year to go on his contract, but word is that the front office likes him and they mainly want to see progress from their younger players before extending him.  It’s said that Gonzalez won’t be judged on his win-loss record, but so far he’s doing pretty well in that department too.
  • The Red Sox made at least a preliminary offer to Yoenis Cespedes before trading him, which seems to poke a hole in the theory that Boston coaches “hated” the outfielder.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


NL West Notes: Giants, Friedman, Greinke, Padres

Despite coming off their third World Series title in five years, many pundits aren’t expecting much of a title defense for the Giants, which Tim Hudson tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is just fine by the clubhouse.  “I think the guys in here embrace the underdog role. It’s like they say, ‘OK, everybody is picking us to finish mid-pack again. We’re gonna show ‘em.’ I think it’s great,” Hudson said.  “I would rather be the underdog than the favorite. The pressure is on the favorite all the time.”  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters (including Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register) that he likes the team’s internal options as replacements for the injured Kenley Jansen.  This said, the Dodgers are “open-minded” about free agent additions, Friedman said.  L.A. is known to be looking at acquiring bullpen help, and are reportedly interested in Joba Chamberlain.
  • Zack Greinke will, unsurprisingly, wait until the end of the season before deciding whether to exercise the opt-out clause in his Dodgers contract, the righty told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick).  Greinke reiterated that he enjoys pitching for the Dodgers and said he’s open to discussing a new contract with the team.
  • The opt-out clause, Greinke said, is “all to your benefit. If things are going good, you can use it for more power. There’s no negative to it.”  He also made some telling remarks about why he wanted the clause in the first place, seemingly based on regrets over his first multi-year contract when he pitched for the Royals.  “I know you can’t really trust the front office and what they tell you. Guys have signed long deals and get traded the next year. It happens all the time,” Greinke said.  “Teams do what’s best for them and you can’t fault them, but you can’t trust them to do what’s best for you. Their job is to do what’s best for the team.”
  • Signing Rafael Soriano or Francisco Rodriguez to bolster the bullpen will be costly, though Steve Dilbeck of the L.A Times opines that the Dodgers shouldn’t shy away from using their financial resources now when a proven closer could help the team win a championship.
  • According to recent reports, the Padres offered Austin Hedges and Hunter Renfroe to the Phillies in exchange for Cole Hamels.  With the assumption that it was a legit offer that the Phillies rejected, and that no other players or money were involved, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan examines the proposal and feels that the Phils were probably right to turn it down.  While “the offer seems in the vicinity of fair” and wouldn’t have been a bad return for Hamels, there are significant questions about Hedges and Renfroe’s long-term future as major leaguers.  Sullivan thinks Philadelphia could find a better deal elsewhere, even if he doesn’t think they’ll be able to land a true blue-chip prospect for Hamels.
  • In other NL West news from earlier today on MLBTR, Mark Trumbo won his arbitration hearing against the Diamondbacks.

Cole Hamels Hopes To Be Traded To Contender

Phillies lefty Cole Hamels would prefer to be dealt to a contender, he tells Bob Nightengale of USA Today“I want to go to a place where I can win again,” said Hamels. Though he made clear he was not demanding a trade, Hamels did indicate that he wants to play for a winning ballclub, saying “I know it’s not going to happen here.”

Hamels, 31, has represented perhaps the biggest unconsummated trade story of the offseason. With all major arms now signed off of the free agent market, and most teams presumably set to enter camp with their rotations intact, he may well be the only achievable prize left for clubs looking to add an impact starter.

According to Nightengale, the Phillies have continued to work hard to find an acceptable deal. The Padres have dangled a package of Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges, but that was not deemed sufficient by the Philadelphia front office. And the Phils have been unsuccessful in prying their key targets from teams like the Red Sox (who won’t include Blake Swihart), Dodgers (who haven’t offered any of the team’s top four prospects), and Cardinals (who have not agreed to move Carlos Martinez).

Hamels says that he will do his best to prepare for the season in the normal course, and gave no indication that he will do anything other than honor his contract, particularly with camp set to open. “Now that I’m here, I plan on being here for the next six weeks,” said Hamels, explaining that he had kept an eye on rumors over the winter. “I think it would be pretty chaotic if that’s not the case. But it’s out of my control.”

The veteran southpaw says that he crafted his no-trade list by identifying the nine teams he would most want to play for and leaving himself unprotected from those clubs. Only the Yankees and Rangers can deal for him without approval among American League teams, though Hamels notes that he would be “all ears” to the possibility of waiving his no-trade protection were the Red Sox to work out an agreement to acquire him. (He did not address the idea, advanced in some earlier reports, that he might seek inducements, such as a guarantee of his fifth-year option, from a team over which he possesses veto power.)



Padres, Rays, Nationals Nearing Agreement On 3-Team Deal

Reports emerged yesterday that the Padres and Rays were discussing a deal that would send outfielder Wil Myers to San Diego. Subsequent reports greatly expanded the possibilities of that deal, including multi-team concepts, different packages from San Diego, and spin-off deals. If you would like to catch up on the earlier rumors, follow the page break link.

Various reports have indicated that a deal is close but that multiple different permutations are still in play. Here’s the latest, from this morning on:

  • Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter that the deal is done, while Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that it is nearing the finish line. No draft choices will be moved in the deal, says Sherman.
  • The Rays are down to two possible scenarios, and are waiting to hear whether the Nationals are in or out, Topkin tweets. Regardless, Tampa is set to move Myers, Hanigan, and two lower-level minor league players. On its end, San Diego would send Rivera, Smith, and Bauers, as well as Ross and Turner. It appears that Tampa would either keep the latter two players or flip them to D.C. for Souza and an A-ball lefty. (Twitter links.) Turner, of course, was taken 13th overall in last year’s draft and would therefore need to be included as a player to be named later.
  • Lefty Jose Castillo is one of the other players that would move from Tampa, ESPN.com’s Keith Law hears (Twitter link). Since signing to a $1.55MM bonus, the 18-year-old Venezuelan has spent each of the last two years with the Rays’ Rookie league affiliate, mostly as a reliever. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs recently gave an update on Castillo in his Rays prospect breakdown, noting that the projectable hurler has a big fastball and has returned to health after sitting out much of 2014 with a tender arm.
  • Another young lefty, Travis Ott, appears to be the final name in this potential scenario, according to a report from Rosenthal (Twitter links). Rosenthal cautions that this is not a final agreement, but the scenario a source outlined for him, and adds that competitive balance picks could also be a component. (The Padres have the fifth competitive balance Round A choice, which is currently the 41st overall choice.)

Earlier Updates

  • The Rays are interested in San Diego’s first-round pick from last year, shortstop Trea Turner, according to Heyman (Twitter link). It is not clear that the young N.C. State product is in play, however, Heyman adds.
  • Another element of the deal being discussed is a swap of catchers Ryan Hanigan and Rene Rivera, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • The primary deal under contemplation includes 19-year-old first baseman Jake Bauers, right-handed pitching prospect Joe Ross, the fellow young righty Burch Smith, and two other players from San Diego’s side, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets. A draft comp pick may also be involved in the swap, but prospects Matt Wisler and Austin Hedges are not believed to be, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post indicates in a tweet that the Nationals and Rays have an agreement in place involving outfielder Steven Souza in the event that the primary deal is consummated. He says that Tampa “will spin players” to D.C. if the Myers trade goes down. Earlier reports from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter) and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) connected the teams on that player, after Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted that the Nats had become involved.
  • Ben Zobrist is not expected to be part of the potential deal between the Nationals and Rays, Sherman tweets. Indeed, neither Zobrist nor Evan Longoria are involved in any of the scenarios under consideration, Topkin tweets.

(more…)


Dodgers Notes: Outfielders, Ogando, Non-Tenders

The Orioles, Padres and Mariners have shown interest in Matt Kemp, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, one source tells Heyman that Baltimore has gotten “nowhere” in trade talks with Los Angeles. The Padres have spoken to the Dodgers about Kemp, and while the Dodgers may have some interest in top catching prospect Austin Hedges, Heyman feels San Diego is more inclined to move Rene Rivera or Yasmani Grandal. The Mariners may not have the budget after signing Nelson Cruz and extending Kyle Seager. Generally speaking, Heyman hears from rival executives that the Dodgers still seem reluctant to pull the trigger on any Kemp deal.

More Dodgers notes…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at how much money the team would have to eat to move Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford. Rosenthal estimates each player’s market value and notes that teams aren’t going to part with prospects for the right to pay an overpaid player at his true market rate. Rather, the Dodgers will need to pay down additional millions of dollars, meaning that a player like Ethier, in Rosenthal’s estimation, could need to be accompanied by as much as $30-36MM to facilitate the deal.
  • The Dodgers will take a look at recently non-tendered right-hander Alexi Ogando, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles (Twitter link). However, as Saxon notes, Ogando figures to draw interest from many clubs. The righty is rehabbing from an elbow injury but has previously proven himself to be a capable starter or reliever.
  • In a more general sense, Saxon spoke with GM Farhan Zaidi (Twitter link), who noted that there are a lot of pitchers with high ceilings that were non-tendered as they rehab from injuries, and the Dodgers will look into those arms to see if there’s a match. Among the top names from the non-tender class include now-former Braves righties Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy (as well as Ogando).

NL West Notes: Tomas, Padres Backstops, Kemp, Giants

The Giants were the runners up in the pursuit of Yasmany Tomas, who earlier today reportedly agreed to terms with the Diamondbacks, according to a Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). For their $68.5MM, Arizona is getting a player with undeniable upside, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick writes after speaking with three scouting sources.

  • The Padres are receiving a “ton of inquiries” on backstops Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, and Austin Hedges, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Each member of that trio has his own particular appeal, along with factors that hold down their trade value.
  • In other Padres news, Rosenthal notes (Twitter links) that he has received additional confirmation that San Diego had engaged with talks on Matt Kemp with the Dodgers. He hastens to add that these discussions were not “that recent” and that nothing is close to getting done, as the Friars continue to turn over a number of rocks in search of upgrades after missing on Pablo Sandoval and Tomas. Los Angeles would presumably have interested in arms and catching were talks to move forward.
  • The Giants will indeed seek to apply the money they hoped to spend on Sandoval or Tomas toward another top-end free agent, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reported this morning (before the Tomas signing was reported). As reported yesterday, the club is opening a broad search for a way to bolster its roster, aided by a bloated purse from winning the team’s third World Series in five seasons.

West Notes: Ethier, Andrus, Rangers, Padres

The gap between the haves and have-nots in baseball have lessened because of revenue sharing and financial incentives not to overspend in the draft and free agency, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The Dodgers, however, are utilizing a different model to maximize their financial advantage: buying front office talent. Drellich notes the $7MM average annual value Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman earns would make him the Astros’ third-highest paid player. “Big-market, small-market potential difference,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said. “There does seem to be increased competition for talented people that have had success in our industry. That’s not the first time we’ve seen it. It’s not the last time we’re going to see it. As far as front offices with different layers that don’t exist in our organization, it’s a way to get more people in the organization.” Luhnow also pointed out the distinction between a city’s population and its market size and how that affects a franchise’s financial resources. Houston is “the fourth-largest city in the country, but we’re not the fourth-largest market in the country, not even close,” Luhnow remarked. “We’re not ever going to be a small market necessarily, but our revenues are not proportionate with our city size relative to other big metropolitan areas.

In other news involving MLB’s West divisions:

  • Some rival evaluators believe Andre Ethier is by far the most likely Dodgers outfielder to be traded, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, Los Angeles will weigh their options. Carl Crawford and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Matt Kemp, also appear to be trade candidates.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM (on Twitter) he will “listen” on Elvis Andrus because of the club’s infield depth. Texas also has middle infielders like Luis Sardinas, Jurickson Profar, and Rougned Odor in the fold.
  • Daniels went on to say the Rangers‘ needs are at starting pitcher, catcher, left field, or DH and these vacancies are more likely to be solved via trade than free agency (link). Last month, our own Brad Johnson previewed the Rangers’ offseason.
  • The Padres must consider trading one of their catchers (Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, or propsect Austin Hedges) in order to improve their offense, opines Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

NL West Notes: Francoeur, D’Backs, Sandoval, Hedges

Rookies are usually the easiest targets for clubhouse pranks, yet veteran Jeff Francoeur was the victim of a month-long running gag from his teammates on the Padres' Triple-A affiliate.  Padres farmhand Cody Decker created a short YouTube video chronicling the prank, and it's definitely good for a few chuckles.  Here's some news from around the majors…

  • The Diamondbacks' slow start has made them "candidates for early change" in the view of executives from around the league, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets.  Manager Kirk Gibson and GM Kevin Towers both signed extensions in February that kept both men from being lame ducks in 2014, though there was speculation that this was a make-or-break year for the two men following consecutive .500 seasons for the Snakes.
  • Pablo Sandoval is off to a slow start in his contract year, and given how much speculation has already swirled about Sandoval's contract talks with the Giants, manager Bruce Bochy hopes that his third baseman is keeping his focus.  "He's the only one who can answer that I guess, if it's on his mind," Bochy tells MLB.com's Alex Espinoza.  "The one thing you don't want Pablo to do is to get away from playing the game the way he normally plays it — with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. Thinking about the contract, it can be a distraction. He assured me it's not."
  • Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges continued to impress scouts during Spring Training, Tom Krasovic writes for Baseball America.  While the catcher still has a bit of work to do with the bat, a scout tells Krasovic that “Hedges probably could have caught in the big leagues two years ago. He is so advanced from a receiving and throwing standpoint. He was a treat to watch. Barring injury, he is going to be a big leaguer for a long time."  Hedges is one of the game's consensus top prospects (ranked 24th by MLB.com, 27th by Baseball America and 33rd by ESPN's Keith Law in their preseason lists) and he'll start the season at Double-A.

Prospect Rumor Roundup: All-Prospect All-Star Team

Where did the year go?

The 2013 minor league regular season is in the books, and the lucky few are currently competing in the playoffs. We've seen a lot of exciting moments during the year. We've also seen a lot of prospects significantly improve their values. To celebrate the best of the best, MLBTR is celebrating the 2013 All-Prospect All-Star Team, which features the top players in the minors at each position. Given the depth at some positions — as well as the lack there of at others — this was no easy task.

The players were chosen by considering a mixture of future potential and statistical results.

Catcher: Austin Hedges, Padres — Because of his abilities on both defense and offense, San Diego's catcher of the future narrowly edged out the Yankees' Gary Sanchez. His abilities on both sides of the ball also impressed his employers, according to Padres Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel Chad MacDonald. "He has the tools and skill set to impact both sides of the ball… and we are excited about his future with the San Diego Padres," MacDonald said.

Hedges will probably never be the strongest offensive catcher in the league but he won't embarrass himself, either. Behind the plate, he's perhaps the best defensive catcher in the minors if you take everything into consideration: arm, receiving, blocking, game calling and leadership.

First Base: Dan Vogelbach, Cubs — This position was the hardest one to find a deserving candidate. The Astros' Jonathan Singleton missed the beginning of the year due to a suspension and then struggled with his consistency. The Angels' C.J. Cron failed to consistently tap into his raw power. Vogelbach, just 20, performed well at two A-ball levels and showed the ability to hit for average and power while also getting on-base at a solid clip. 

Brandon Hyde, the Cubs' director of player development, said Vogelbach's successes came from hard work. "It was an impressive season with raw power to all fields," he said. "He has an advanced approach for his age, and he controls the strike zone."

Second Base: Rougned Odor, Rangers — Second base was another tough position to settle on the winner. The Angels' Taylor Lindsey, Cardinals' Kolten Wong, and Twins' Eddie Rosario also received serious consideration before the award went to Odor. The Rangers' prospect hit more than .300 between High-A and Double-A with a strong OPS and 32 stolen bases — all at the age of 19. The left-handed hitter also popped 58 extra base hits, including 41 doubles. With all the middle infield depth in Texas, Odor could make things very interesting — and crowded — in short order.

Third Base: Miguel Sano, Twins — Sano was the runaway winner at third base, although the Cubs' Kris Bryant could give him a run for his money in a year's time (assuming both prospects are still in the minors). The Dominican native launched 35 home runs and produced a .610 slugging percentage. However, he didn't hit for a great average after his promotion from High-A to Double-A, and he combined to strike out 142 times in 123 games, so there are some holes in his game that need to be addressed.   

Shortstop: Javier Baez, Cubs — There were five players that were considered in this slot, including Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), Francisco Lindor (Indians), Addison Russell (Athletics) and Carlos Correa (Astros). Baez, though, came out ahead when considering his outstanding statistical results and the fact that he has a chance to be as good as any other player on the list. Just 20, he finished the year in Double-A and hit a combined 37 home runs with 20 stolen bases and a .920 OPS.

Hyde was impressed with Baez's ability to make adjustments after being promoted to Double-A. "He hit in the middle of the order on a prospect-laden team. He made huge strides defensively and with his plate discipline," Hyde said. "He has a unique combination of raw power, speed and off-the-charts instincts, especially for a 20 year old in Double-A."

Outfielder: George Springer, Astros — Springer, 23, had an eye-popping season while playing at both Double-A and Triple-A. He narrowly missed becoming a 40-40 player (HR-SB) with 37 homers and 45 steals while playing at the highest levels of the minors. Springer's approach produces massive strikeout numbers, but he showed improvements in that area as the year progressed.

The prospect impressed the club's front office not only with his play but also his attitude, according to Quinton McCracken, the Astros director of player development. "George is an exceptional five-tool talent, and even better person. He has great makeup, work ethic, off-the-chart intangibles coupled with incredible athleticism… He's a very special player," he said.

Outfielder: Byron Buxton, Twins — Buxton was the biggest no-brainer on this list. Just 19 and in his first full pro season, the five-tool outfielder played at two A-ball levels while hitting more than .330 and producing double digits in doubles, triples and homers. He also got on base at a .424 clip, stole 55 bases in 74 tries and played above-average defense in centerfield. The Twins have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball and could be a massive threat in two to three seasons.

Outfielder: Gregory Polanco, Pirates — Polanco edged out a few other players because, at a very young age, he showed a five-tool approach and had an impact in numerous areas. The 21-year-old outfielder showed that he may one day develop into a 20-20 or perhaps even a 30-30 player. After beginning the year in A-ball, he ended the season in Triple-A. 

Pirates Director of Minor League Operations Larry Broadway said the most impressive thing about Polanco's growth has been his maturity. "He has fit into each clubhouse and added value to the culture of each club that he's been on," Broadway explained. "He continues to approach the game with a learner's mentality and is always looking to find a way to get better. He's not afraid to make a mistake in the process, which has allowed him to progress well in all areas of his game."

Starting Pitcher: Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks — Bradley and Dylan Bundy grew up playing baseball together, but the former passed the latter on top prospect lists after the Orioles' prospect blew out his elbow. Just 20 years old, Bradley spent the majority of the year in Double-A and finished the season with a combined ERA of 1.84 and 162 strikeouts in 152 innings of work. He also allowed just 115 hits. 

Starting Pitcher: Taijuan Walker, Mariners — Utilizing a strong fastball and excellent breaking ball, Walker, who just turned 21 on Aug. 13, made older competition look foolish as he produced outstanding numbers in Double-A and Triple-A before earning his MLB promotion. The right-hander struck out 160 batters in 141 1/3 innings while allowing just 112 hits.

Chris Gwynn, the Mariners director of player development, said Walker is oozing talent but he's also an extremely hard worker. "Going into the offseason last year he realized there were some things he needed to work on to get better," Gwynn said, listing fastball command (down in the zone, to both sides of the plate) and improved secondary pitches as two of those things. "Coming into this season he was a man on a mission… and had a dominant season in Double-A and Triple-A didn't phase him. It shows he wants it really bad."

Starting Pitcher: Noah Syndergaard, MetsJameson Taillon (Pirates), Kevin Gausman (Orioles) and Robert Stephenson (Reds) also received consideration as the one of the top pitchers in the minors but the final spot went to the Mets' prospect. Syndergaard showed a rare combination of power (his fastball can tickle triple digits) and control when he struck out 133 batters in 117 2/3 innings and issued 28 free passes. Just 20, the Texas native finished the year with 11 starts at the Double-A level. 

Reliever: Steve Geltz, Rays — It's hard to find a worthy reliever because many of the best MLB bullpen aces originally come from the starting ranks. Geltz, though, is still only 25 years old and he was the hardest pitcher to hit in Triple-A (minimum 50 innings) by allowing a batting-average-against of just .152. That mark was actually the seventh lowest in the entire minor leagues. His strikeout percentage (31.3 percent) was good for 12th in Triple-A ball. Not bad for a player that went undrafted and signed with the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent in 2008.