Austin Kearns Rumors
In today's blog post at ESPN (Insider req'd), Buster Olney writes about how Diamondbacks' manager A.J. Hinch went against the grain by leaving Edwin Jackson in to throw 149 pitches as he no-hit the Rays last night. One unnamed manager blamed the media for the pitch count craze, but I want to add that much of it has to do with teams protecting investments. With the rise of salaries throughout the game even from just ten years ago, teams don't want to unnecessarily put a pitcher in the line of danger, so to speak.
Here are the rest of Olney's rumors...
- The Cubs may wish they could get rid of Carlos Zambrano following his latest tirade, but Olney points out that there's still $45MM left on his contract. Chicago would have to eat a huge chunk of that money to unload him.
- The trade market doesn't figure to be very robust this summer because there just isn't a lot of money available around the league. The starting pitching market probably won't budge until Cliff Lee is dealt, at which point second tier fodder like Ben Sheets and Kevin Millwood would draw more attention.
- The Indians' two most marketable players are Austin Kearns and Russell Branyan because neither is making big money. Kearns is owed approximately $417K the rest of the season, Branyan $1.11MM, and both will become free agents as season's end.
- Heath Bell told Ephraim Fischbein of New York Baseball Digest that he's happy in San Diego, but would like to return to the Mets if the Padres decide to go in a different direction.
- Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News (via Twitter) applauds the Giants' signings of Juan Uribe and Aubrey Huff, who cost the club roughly $3MM each.
- Mark Tracy is excited to be a part of the Rockies along with his father, manager Jim Tracy, writes MLB.com's Thomas Harding. Colorado selected the skipper's son in the 22nd round of the 2010 Draft.
- Contrary to a report late last night, the Angels and Red Sox did not agree to a swap of Gary Matthews Jr. and Mike Lowell over the winter, a major league source told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- David Lennon of Newsday (via Twitter) writes that it's an 80% possibility that the Mets non-tender John Maine after this season.
- ESPN's Buster Olney says that the Indians are likely to move some veterans in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, but they could be a dangerous team to face until then because of Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, and Jake Westbrook (Insider req'd).
- MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch says to expect negotiations between the Pirates and their top draft picks Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie to go right down to the August 16th signing deadline.
- The Pirates had a long debate about who to take with the second overall pick in last week's draft according to Chuck Finder of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and it wasn't until last weekend that they decided on Jameson over Manny Machado.
- Meanwhile Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says the Pirates won't rush their top prospects. Once those prospects are promoted to the big league team, their minor league roster spots will be filled by players currently on ML roster (after they're optioned down) or by "signing low-cost, minor league free agents."
- Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer doesn't see the Indians offering anyone but Shin-Soo Choo a multi-year deal, including the resurgent Austin Kearns.
- Newsday's David Lennon thinks it might make sense for the Mets to "consider opening extension talks" with catcher Rod Barajas before the season ends and he hits the free agent market.
Despite owning the second worst record (19-31) and run differential (-64) in the American League, Indians' GM Mark Shapiro is under no orders from CEO Paul Dolan to make trades and cut payroll like he has during the last two seasons, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes.
"We are not actively engaged in talks about anyone right now," said Shapiro. "The season's natural cycle will dictate when we consider some alternatives. We're not mandated to make any trades for monetary reasons.
"We'll look at each trade (possibility) as an opportunity to acquire talent and it's budgetary impact. But the acquisition of talent will be the primary driver."
Shapiro indicated that he could explore trades involving "anyone in the last year of their contracts," so that includes Russell Branyan, Austin Kearns, Mark Grudzielanek, Jhonny Peralta, Mike Redmond, Jake Westbrook, and Jamey Wright. Even if they move Westbrook, the Indians feel they may have a chance to re-sign him after the season as a free agent.
Top prospect Carlos Santana is expected to be up at some point this season, but Shapiro did make sure to mention that his defense needs to improve, particularly his throwing. They plan on taking advantage of every day possible in the minors to help him develop, which shows that the team is looking for production on both sides of the ball, not just at the plate.
The Indians figure to be a prominent player at the trade deadline this year given their inventory, with Westbrook representing to be their most desirable chip. Even though he's still owed about $7.6MM this season, his 4.36 ERA in 11 starts might be a big enough upgrade to justify the cost for some teams.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports leads his latest column with an imagined conversation between Astros owner Drayton McLane and GM Ed Wade, in which Wade attempts to educate McLane on the realities of Roy Oswalt's trade value. Rosenthal's hot stove notes...
- Like most people, Rosenthal can't see the Reds splurging on Oswalt. He finds the Mets "an even less serious contender" due to limited finances.
- Rosenthal points out that Carlos Zambrano hasn't shown himself to be worthy of replacing anyone in the current Cubs' rotation. At the moment, the Cubs appear to have a surplus.
- Rosenthal notes that the Majors' current home run kings - Jose Bautista, Paul Konerko, and Ty Wigginton - could be available at the trade deadline. Who would've predicted these three would top the leaderboard on May 24th? With Kelly Johnson tied for fourth? The Jays acquired Bautista in August of '08 without much fanfare, sending catcher Robinzon Diaz to Pittsburgh. The Pirates designated Diaz for assignment last November.
- Austin Kearns would be a nice match for the Giants, suggests Rosenthal. The 30-year-old outfielder is hitting .304/.377/.487 in 130 plate appearances for the Indians this year. Nate Schierholtz hasn't been much worse, though he's dealing with a bruised shoulder at the moment.
- Rosenthal feels that the Nationals will strike a deal to keep Adam Dunn in Washington before he reaches free agency.
Austin Kearns turns 30 today, and his value has never been harder to peg. Kearns' Indians will host the Royals in a few hours, but let's kick the celebrations off a little early by taking stock of the birthday boy's value.
Kearns is off to a torrid .302/.380/.491 start. That's an impressive line for any player, and especially impressive for somene who didn't get on base or hit for power or average in 2008-09. Even when Kearns wasn't hitting, his outfield defense was above-average, according to UZR, and it still looks strong (though he's played just 244.2 innings there this year).
Kearns appears to be well on his way to re-establishing some value, but his .420 batting average on balls in play suggests his stats are inflated. Kearns may not be able to keep hitting like this, but he has been hitting more line drives than ever. If that continues, he may be able to cash in on 2010 and earn more than the $750K he'll make on his current minor league deal.
Kearns' 2008-09 seasons linger in the memories of potential suitors, and that extended slump will likely limit his value. But he could be in position for a major league deal this winter, especially if his bat stays hot. Even if Kearns doesn't hit like this all year, his defense could help land hm a deal in the $1MM range. It worked for Randy Winn and Ryan Church, last winter, why not Austin Kearns?
- R.J. Anderson of FanGraphs examines Austin Kearns' resurgent season and says it's possible that the outfielder appears in trade rumors this summer. It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see the Indians shop Kearns.
- FOX Sports Arizona profiled agent Jonathan Maurer, who represents Brandon Webb, among others.
- Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post has a profile of top amateur Bryce Harper that's well worth reading. Baseball America's Nathan Rode chatted with Harper and found that the prospect loves to catch and play the outfield.
- Mike Lowell doesn't see a role for himself on the Red Sox and wonders if the team would be better off without him, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (via Twitter). Lowell explained his frustration to Rob Bradford of WEEI earlier today.
- I joined Jeff & Jeff on KFNS St. Louis earlier today; click here to listen.
- Jeff Fletcher of AOL FanHouse (Twitter link) talked to Eric Chavez, who said Jermaine Dye is "at peace being at home" and is not working out. This counters a quote from Dye's agent Bob Bry from May 11th, when Bry said Dye "continues to work out every morning and hits most days and is still waiting for an opportunity with a team that has a chance to advance to the playoffs."
- Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider wonders if Stephen Strasburg will make his big league debut June 4th against the Reds at Nationals Park. SI's Tom Verducci contrasts the Nats' careful handling of Strasburg to the Reds' approach with Mike Leake.
- Jim Margalus of Sox Machine presents his guide to a White Sox fire sale.
- AOL FanHouse's Steve Phillips explains the many responsibilities of a general manager.
- David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News notes that "the possibility of Cliff Lee falling into the hands of a rival faction [of the Phillies] is something that, at the very least, is worth pondering."
- Free agent lefty Brian Shouse hopes to continue his Major League career, writes Stan Morris of The Journal Star.
As the Mariners' offense continues to struggle, they're likely looking to make deals with teams that have rapidly fallen out of contention, writes Larry Stone of The Seattle Times. Stone writes that the teams falling into that category are the Royals, Indians, Astros, and Orioles.
Kansas City's Jose Guillen has been mentioned as a possibility for the M's, though as of yesterday they have reportedly yet to make a formal inquiry. Lance Berkman of the Astros has been mentioned as a fit for Seattle, though Stone points to his health, salary, and poor performance this season as reasons why Jack Zduriencik would want to steer clear of him.
Stone suggests that Baltimore could offer up Luke Scott or Garrett Atkins, though they have been struggling mightily. On the flipside, Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada are in the final years of their respective deals and could be available at some point, though they have been hitting well for an O's team that desperately needs offense.
Austin Kearns and ex-Mariner Russell Branyan could be pried away from the Indians (especially Branyan), but Stone says to "forget about" Cleveland dealing Grady Sizemore. Moving the reasonably-priced star outfielder would be a PR nightmare for a club that has made of a habit of losing their marquee players in recent years.
Stone also says to keep an eye on Hank Blalock, who is hitting quite well in the International League and has an out-clause in his deal with the Rays. However, the M's passed on the two-time All-Star this winter.
Also hampering Seattle is that GMs from around baseball seem unwilling to make trades at this point in the season.
What other sluggers could you see the Mariners inquiring on? Will they be able to talk a GM into making a significant trade with them at this juncture?
Links for Monday...
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post has the details of Todd Helton's new contract extension. He can void the deal if two of three general partners sell their controlling interest in the team, and it contains $13.1MM in deferred money at three percent interest.
- The Yankees could look to move Chad Gaudin soon, according to Rosenthal (via Twitter). In another tweet, he mentions that Clay Hensley can opt out of his contract with the Marlins if he's not on the roster by April 1st.
- Jim Bowden shows off his post-trade fist pump in his latest GM's Corner video for FOX Sports. Bowden asked a slew of GMs about their processes for making deals; Frank Wren estimated that less than ten percent of discussions lead to trades.
- In considering Jonathan Papelbon's future, WEEI's Alex Speier demonstrates just how risky large multiyear deals for relievers have been.
- FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal says the Blue Jays "will not settle for fringe prospects in return" for relievers Scott Downs and Jason Frasor, and they could use them to continue the rebuilding effort.
- Rosenthal adds that Gary Sheffield is talking to a NL club, though it's not clear which one.
- Meanwhile, Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com notes that both Jamey Wright and Austin Kearns have out clauses in their contracts, but a club official said the provisions will not impact the makeup of the team. A source added that there are "no trades on the horizon" for Cleveland.
Let's round up some assorted Sunday links....
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney tweets that the A's finished second to the Reds in the chase for Aroldis Chapman.
- A major league source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com that the Red Sox tried hard to sign Chapman earlier in the offseason. They pulled their initial offer after Chapman switched agents and never offered another formal deal.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic finds it hard to imagine Brandon Webb returning to the D'Backs after 2010.
- Jamey Newberg wonders if Vladimir Guerrero will "revive his pinball numbers by playing half his games in his favorite arcade." Vlad has a career 1.175 OPS in Texas, but Jack Moore of FanGraphs suggests this stat is overblown.
- Within his Sunday blog entry, ESPN.com's Buster Olney addresses the persistent rumors about a potential reunion for Johnny Damon and the Yankees. Olney says that a few executives around the league "are absolutely convinced" that Damon will end up in the Bronx, but that it would require Damon significantly lowering his asking price and initiating contact with the Yanks.
- FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Dodgers avoided arbitration with Jason Repko, signing him to a one-year deal worth $500K. Repko should compete for the team's fourth outfield spot.
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes that injuries have slowed the development of Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland, whose name frequently pops up in trade rumors.
- Pittsburgh's 2004 first-round pick, Neil Walker, could be without a position at Triple-A this year, and is a candidate to be traded, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the Indians hope that at least one of Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan makes the 25-man roster, to add a right-handed bat to their lefty-heavy outfield.
The Indians signed outfielder Austin Kearns to a minor league deal, according to a team press release.
Kearns, 30 in May, hit .195/.336/.305 in 211 plate appearances for the Nationals this year, logging 363 innings in right field. He had thumb surgery in August, ending his season. The Nats predictably declined Kearns' $10MM club option after the season, finishing a three-year, $17.5MM extension given by Jim Bowden in January of '07. Bowden's July '06 acquisition of Kearns, Felipe Lopez, and Ryan Wagner from the Reds for Bill Bray, Royce Clayton, Brendan Harris, Gary Majewski, and Daryl Thompson was seen as a masterstroke at the time.
Kearns has been lousy offensively the last two years, though his right field defense remains a plus. It's a decent no-risk pickup for the Tribe, who also added Shelley Duncan yesterday.