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- Right-Hander Norge Ruiz Leaves Cuba, Will Seek Deal With MLB Club
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- Red Sox Promote Rusney Castillo
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- Right-Hander Norge Ruiz Leaves Cuba, Will Seek Deal With MLB Club
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Austin Hedges Rumors
On the Cubs‘ young roster, Anthony Rizzo has become a leader at the tender age of 25, Peter Gammons writes. Actually, because he’s close in age to many of the Cubs’ top young players, Rizzo is a more meaningful leader than a 30-something veteran might be. Cubs executives Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod (who praised Rizzo’s makeup after drafting him when Rizzo was just 17) have been by Rizzo’s side throughout much of his baseball life. McLeod drafted Rizzo with the Red Sox, and then Hoyer and McLeod acquired Rizzo in the first Adrian Gonzalez trade when the two executives were in the Padres front office. Then, when Hoyer and McLeod headed to the Cubs before the 2012 season, they traded for Rizzo again, this time in the Andrew Cashner trade. Here’s more from the National League.
- The Reds have announced that reliever Sean Marshall will have surgery Wednesday to fix the torn anterior capsule in his oft-injured left (throwing) shoulder. The surgery will be performed by Mets doctor David Altcheck. It’s been a rough few years for the 32-year-old Marshall, who last pitched a full season in 2012, the same year the Reds signed him to a three-year, $16.5MM extension.
- Top Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges is adjusting to being a bench player after being promoted to the big leagues two weeks ago, Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Hedges, who’s backing up Derek Norris, has collected just 11 plate appearances since his debut on May 4. “When I’m catching every day you don’t do as much because you’ve got to save your body to be able to catch,” Hedges says. “When I’m not playing, I’ve got to be doing things, game-like blocking drills, throwing to bases more, we just did popups today, working on things so that when I’m in there it’s not like I haven’t done anything for four or five days or however many days it is.”
The Padres announced that they have designated veteran catcher Wil Nieves for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for top prospect Austin Hedges, whose previously reported promotion is now official.
Nieves, 37, won the Padres’ backup catching job out of Spring Training but rarely got into games this year, with Derek Norris shouldering an abnormally large workload behind the dish. Nieves appeared in just six games, only four of them starts, and totaled 14 plate appearances with a .077/.143/.308 batting line. His lone hit in his second go-around with the Padres was a big one, however, as it came in the form of an April 12 grand slam that fueled a 6-4 win over the division-rival Giants.
Nieves spent the 2014 season serving as the backup to Carlos Ruiz in Philadelphia, accumulating 128 plate appearances over the course of 36 games. He’s appeared in the Major Leagues in each season dating back to 2005, and the well-seasoned backstop is a career .241/.280/.317 hitter in 427 big league games.
The Padres will promote top catching prospect Austin Hedges, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. It’s uncertain how much he’ll play with the Padres, however, since their current starting backstop, Derek Norris, is in the midst of a strong season, and first baseman Yonder Alonso and the Padres’ outfielders have all played well too, so there’s nowhere else to move Norris (who has little big-league experience at any position besides catcher anyway). The team does have a brief series in Seattle next week that could allow Hedges to catch while Norris plays DH. Wil Nieves is the Padres’ current backup catcher, and Lin suggests Nieves could be designated for assignment, with Hedges taking over in a backup role.
Hedges is ranked as the No. 23 prospect in baseball by Baseball Prospectus, No. 50 by MLB.com, and No. 74 by ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider-only). Hedges’ defensive ability wins widespread acclaim from nearly all prospect analysts. MLB.com praises his receiving, arm, and potential game-calling ability, while Law notes that framing pitches should prove to be a strength as well. Hedges wins less praise for his hitting — he batted a weak .225/.268/.321 at Double-A San Antonio last year. He’s off to a much better start in 2015 for Triple-A El Paso this year, however (.343/.413/.552 in 75 plate appearances), and his strong standing among prospect analysts suggests he might be so valuable defensively that he won’t need to hit much.
If Hedges manages to stick in the big leagues, he’ll likely be in line to become eligible for arbitration as a Super Two player following the 2017 season. He could then become a free agent after 2021.
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.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Austin Hedges | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Cole Hamels | Detroit Tigers | Dioner Navarro | Elvis Andrus | Fredi Gonzalez | Hunter Renfroe | Mark Buehrle | Matt Wisler | Philadelphia Phillies | Ryan Howard | San Diego Padres | Shane Greene | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Yoenis Cespedes
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.
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.)
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.)
- 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.
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).
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.
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.