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Author Archives: Brad Johnson
SUNDAY, 11:40am: The Mets have confirmed the trade via press release.
SATURDAY, 8:57pm: The Diamondbacks will receive 24-year-old pitcher Matt Koch and 23-year-old pitcher Miller Diaz, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Koch has a 3.46 ERA with 5.60 K/9 and 1.53 BB/9 at Double-A. He’s split his time between starting and relief. His fastball plays up to the mid-90’s out of the bullpen.
In High-A, Diaz has pitched to a 4.71 ERA with 7.09 K/9 and 4.34 BB/9 in 124 and 1/3 innings. He posted loftier strikeout rates in the previous two seasons. Both Koch and Diaz strikes me as the type of pitchers who could eventually reach the majors as a reliever.
6:18pm: The Mets have acquired reliever Addison Reed from the Diamondbacks pending a physical, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Arizona will acquire two prospects in the swap. We learned earlier this afternoon that the Mets were in the hunt for relievers including Marc Rzepczynski of the Padres. Reed is arbitration eligible for two more seasons. However, with a $4.875MM contract in 2015, he’s a possible non-tender candidate.
Reed, 26, entered the 2015 season as the Diamondbacks closer. He lost the job early in the year. His peripherals have taken a step backwards with just 7.52 K/9 and 3.10 BB/9. He’s averaged over a strikeout per inning over his five season career and has never walked more than 3.00 BB/9.
The right-handed reliever has spent a large chunk of the season in the minors. Since he was recalled on July 29, he has a 1.65 ERA with 7.71 K/9 and 1.65 BB/9. After home runs punished him in 2014, he’s held opponents to a tiny 3.8 percent HR/FB rate all while increasing his ground ball rate. This year, the damage has come via an elevated .344 BABIP.
There is still a chance the deal is detailed by the medical review. Reed rushed back this spring from shoulder soreness. It’s possible his peripheral decline is related to lingering shouldering issues (that’s just my speculation).
The Mets will hope his recent performance is more indicative of what’s to come. New York has Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia for the eighth and ninth inning roles. Reed may fit in as a seventh inning reliever.
Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully has announced his intention to return for the 2016 season. He expects it to be his final season as a broadcaster, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. It will be his 67th season in the booth. As Sportsnet Stats tweeted earlier today, Scully has announced games involving A’s manager Connie Mack (born 1862) and Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (born 1994). He’s likely to see a couple even younger players including Julio Urias (born 1996).
Here’s more from around the league:
- Phillies starter Aaron Harang was not claimed on waivers, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. As Heyman notes, Harang has a 7.09 ERA since the All-Star break. He has about $1MM remaining on his $5MM contract and is a free agent following the season. The Cubs and Pirates are among the contenders in need of rotation depth, but it’s unclear if either team would view him as an upgrade over internal options. It doesn’t seem as though the Phillies could acquire much more than some financial relief or a non-prospect in a deal. As such, a trade may be unlikely.
- Former number one prospect Jurickson Profar could work his way back onto the Rangers roster, writes Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The 22-year-old is rehabbing from multiple shoulder injuries. He won’t play the field this fall. However, he could help the club after rosters expand as a pinch-hitter or runner while working directly with the major league training staff.
- Brewers prospect Nathan Kirby is likely to undergo Tommy John surgery, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The 40th overal pick of the 2015 draft led the University of Virginia Cavaliers to the 2015 World Series. An undisclosed medical issue -presumably the elbow issue – led the club to reduce the lefty’s signing bonus from $1.545MM to $1.25MM. Kirby will miss the entire 2016 season.
The Orioles are still looking to add talent to the current roster, GM Dan Duquette tells reporters including Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The club is currently 9.5 games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East and 3.5 games back from the Rangers in the Wild Card race. Clearly, they have their eyes on a Wild Card bid. The team is going in the wrong direction, having lost eight of their last nine games.
Per Duquette, “if we make any deals, it would be because we are focused on helping improve the team.” He also confirmed that the club is focused on the 2015 season. Earlier in the week, we learned that the Orioles have been active on the waiver wire with one unnamed GM saying, “the Orioles seemingly claim everyone.”
Baltimore could deal an impending free agent like Darren O’Day, Wei-Yin Chen, or Chris Davis, but Duquette insisted the idea behind any trade is to improve the current product. In my opinion, the club is weakest in the outfield, rotation, and bullpen. If they were to execute a swap, it would probably be for a fourth outfielder, rotation depth, or middle inning reliever.
- Red Sox manager John Farrell, who is battling lymphoma, has completed the first of three rounds of chemotherapy. He’s visiting the Sox each day they’re at Fenway and holding video chats with interim manager Torey Lovullo and his coaching staff when the team is away. New Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has not said whether Farrell will return next season, however, regardless of his health.
- Following what’s been a tumultuous month in many team front offices, the Phillies and Reds could be among the next teams to make GM changes, Rosenthal says. There could be up to ten manager changes as well.
- Rosenthal also interviews Mets third baseman David Wright, who recently returned to the lineup after missing almost four months due to a hamstring injury and an ongoing back issue. Wright discusses what it’s like to deal with a lingering condition. Some days are better than others, he says, and a player needs to be honest, because if he tries to play on a bad day, he’ll be hurting his team.
- The Dodgers‘ massive $300MM payroll may be a one shot deal. They’re paying a large chunk of change for players who aren’t even on the roster like Matt Kemp, but they were able to acquire additional talent by doing so. This year, they’re paying a 40 percent tax on overages beyond the roughly $189MM soft cap. Next season, the penalty will increase to 50 percent. However, prospects like Corey Seager and Julio Urias are expected to be on hand to reduce the luxury burden.
- Marlins manager Dan Jennings is a potential candidate for the Mariners open GM job. He has past experience working for Seattle as a scout and crosschecker. Most teams allow their employees to interview for promotions with other clubs, but the situation is tricky with Jennings. He’s the Miami manager, but he’s also currently under contract as a GM. As such, it’s not clear if Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria would allow Jennings to interview.
- Sources have told Rosenthal that Padres ownership is “frustrated” with GM A.J. Preller. However, chairman Ron Fowler insists the only frustration is related to the club’s 2015 performance. He believes Preller will be the GM for a long time to come. Preller was originally hired to improve the farm system via the draft and international scouting. Obviously, the club used most of their minor league ammunition in a bold bid for contention this year, but the original plan remains intact.
- Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Paul Morosi hears that the Reds may wish to replace GM Walt Jocketty. His contract expires after the 2016 season. It’s Rosenthal’s opinion that owner Bob Castellini is unlikely to fire Jocketty outright. Instead, they may move him into a consultative role like the Brewers did with Doug Melvin. That would allow the club to then hire a new GM in time for 2016.
Even though they’re likely to make the postseason, the Dodgers are one of the 10 most disappointing teams in baseball, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. From the mouth of one NL executive, “they have done the near impossible – they have a $300 million payroll and yet they haven’t gone all in for 2015.” Of course, they still have time to find a patch or two for their beleaguered bullpen. While they aren’t my vote for most disappointing, it’s fair to wonder why they’re only 1.5 games up on the Giants.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Of Sherman’s 10 disappointing teams, the Nationals, Tigers, and Red Sox are likely to receive the most attention. Boston struggled from day one. In retrospect, nobody was surprised by the shoddy pitching staff. However, the vaunted offense never arrived after March. The Nationals and Tigers are surprising candidates. Detroit is only four games out of the second Wild Card, but they packed up shop at the trade deadline by cashing in on Yoenis Cespedes, David Price, and Joakim Soria. The Nationals are viewed as the more likely of the two to reach the postseason, but they’re 4.5 games behind the Mets and 9.5 back from the Cubs. However, they do have better roster cohesion and only one team to leapfrog in the standings.
- The Marlins also appeared on Sherman’s list, and slugger Giancarlo Stanton expects to see “big changes” over the offseason, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Meanwhile, club president David Sampson mentioned a non-personnel change that could be coming for 2016. The fences may be lowered and moved in prior to next season. Miami is a tough park for home runs, but run scoring is roughly neutral. Closer walls could help Stanton and others bash even more home runs.
- The Astros and Dodgers are among the most forward thinking teams in the game, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The Dodgers obviously have a much larger war chest, but money doesn’t solve every problem. Per Los Angeles president Andrew Friedman, “more resources help you, at least in theory, more in the free-agent market. You look back over time, and it’s very hard to invest wisely. So coming from the Rays, you were almost insulated from making those mistakes in the free-agent market.” Both clubs are emphasizing the value of young, cost controlled stars. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow also commented on the process of discovering marginal advantages over other teams and hoping to hide them for as long as possible. The article itself is well worth your time with excellent quotes from several executives.
Astros July trade acquisition Mike Fiers tossed a no hitter against the Dodgers last night. The 134 pitch performance was a microcosm of the Astros season, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Fiers, 30, was the second piece in the Carlos Gomez trade. He was supposed to provide a little depth in the rotation – not outmatch a potent Dodgers lineup. The Astros are also doing more than they ever were supposed to – they currently have a 3.5 game lead in the AL West with a 67-56 record. Of course, Fiers’ no hitter isn’t completely shocking. He’s posted a solid 3.63 ERA with 9.13 K/9 and 3.25 BB/9. The same can be said of the Astros success. The club obviously entered the season with a few good starting pitchers, a powerful offense, and a revamped bullpen.
Here are a few more notes out of Cleveland:
- The Indians may want to consider trading first baseman Carlos Santana this offseason, opines Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.Santana, 29, used to offer more utility by playing catcher, third, and first. Now he’s locked into the cold corner due to concussion issues and shoddy defense. More importantly, his offensive performance is at a career worst. He’s been particularly bad from the right side which is peculiar given his strong career splits. Pluto lists several internal replacements. None are likely to approach Santana’s production.
- Also per Pluto, rumors that Mark Shapiro is under consideration to become the next Blue Jays CEO won’t affect the roles of GM Mark Antonetti or manager Terry Francona. While Shapiro advises on baseball decisions, Antonetti has full authority in that sphere. Francona originally joined the Indians in part due to Shapiro, but he also has a strong relationship with Antonetti. He can opt out of his contract if either executive is fired, but it’s not clear if that extends to one of them leaving by choice. Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group echoes Pluto’s sentiments. He names a few internal candidates who could be promoted to club president, but also mentions CEO and owner Paul Dolan as a likely candidate.
Even with salaries for top executives continuing to rise, Theo Epstein is still a long-term fit for the Cubs, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago writes. “I am committed to the Cubs and could not be happier,” says Epstein, who is signed through 2016. “As for an extension, there are a lot more important things going on right now in the organization. We just haven’t gotten around to it. I am sure we will at an appropriate time.” Epstein’s Cubs are in good position to win a Wild Card spot, and he’s in the penultimate year of a five-year, $18.5MM contract. That’s a lot for an executive, but perhaps not for one with Epstein’s track record. Andrew Friedman’s contract with the Dodgers, for example, is almost twice as large, at $35MM.
Here’s more from the NL Central:
- Michael Morse headed from the Marlins to the Dodgers and then on to Pittsburgh in an unusual series of transactions last month, but he’s happy to be with the Pirates, Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com writes. “The Dodgers did me a great favor. They told me they had to designate me, but they said they would find a good place for me,” says Morse. “I’m happy to get an opportunity with a team headed in the right direction.” The Dodgers designated Morse for assignment after taking on his contract in the Mat Latos – Alex Wood – Hector Olivera trade, then shipped him to Pittsburgh in exchange for Jose Tabata. Morse is off to a good start with the Bucs, reaching base in 11 of his first 24 plate appearances.
- The Brewers view the trade of Neal Cotts to the Twins as an indirect swap for Cesar Jimenez, tweets Tom Haudricourt of MLB.com. Milwaukee claimed Jimenez from the Phillies about half a day before dealing Cotts to Minnesota. GM Doug Melvin pointed to pointed out that Jimenez, 30, has two additional years of club control. The Brewers will at least receive cash from the Twins if not a player (tweet). The two players are actually reasonably comparable in all ways except major league experience. In 429 and 2/3 innings, Cotts has a 3.96 ERA, 8.63 K/9, and 3.96 BB/9. Jimenez isn’t too far off those rates with a 4.15 ERA, 6.27 K/9, and 3.93 BB/9 in 84 and 2/3 innings.
- Melvin also discussed the possibility of additional waiver trades, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. “My gut feeling is it’s probably tough,” says Melvin of further trading. Milwaukee has put about 20 players through waivers. In most cases, the claiming team doesn’t even engage in a trade discussion – they’re just blocking a deal to another club.
If Padres GM A.J. Preller is the “rock star GM,” then Phillies GM Ruben Amaro may be the “pincushion GM,” writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Amaro has received plenty of criticism and scorn for signing veterans to prohibitive contracts that exacerbated the club’s current woes. It’s now widely believed that the Phillies will not renew his contract at the end of the season. However, Amaro does deserve some credit for leveraging his few assets as fully as possible. In addition to the return for Hamels, players acquired by trading Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, Ben Revere, Marlon Byrd, and Jimmy Rollins are now among the club’s top 20 prospects. The Phillies are also “battling” for the first overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft.
- For over a year, Cole Hamels has been a popular subject of our posts. Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff was the first of the five prospects to make his debut with the Phillies, writes Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. As you’re aware, the Phillies finally traded Hamels along with Jake Diekman at the July deadline for five Rangers prospects and injured veteran Matt Harrison. Among prospect afficionados, the names of Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, and Jake Thompson were recognizable. Eickhoff may have flown under the radar, but his debut was encouraging. Over six innings, he shut out the Marlins with five hits, five strikeouts, and one walk. Eickhoff’s command and stuff suggest he may successfully support the rotation for years to come. Now Phillies fans will hope the name brand prospects also live up to the hype.
- The Marlins are open to bringing Ichiro Suzuki back next season as he chases the 3,000 hit milestone, reports Craig Davis of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscription required). Ichiro, 41, was originally signed as a backup outfielder. With 111 games played, he’s appeared more often than any of the incumbent starters. He’s now 77 hits from the milestone. He won’t get there this season, but it could be within reach early next year. Given the publicity that comes with the achievement, other clubs may have interest in him.
We’ve seen several recent cellar dwellers climb to contention this season, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The Cubs, Mets, and Astros are playing meaningful August baseball for the first time in years. Davidoff looks ahead at five more struggling franchises that could surprise us all in 2016. Purely for enjoyment, my favorite picks are the Twins and Phillies. Minnesota hopes to surge on the young bats of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and recent breakout Aaron Hicks. They also have sneaky upside in their rotation although the bullpen could use work. Philadelphia is the obvious long shot. Their rebuilding phase is incomplete, but they’ve identified a few key building blocks. A couple surprise breakout performances and a handful of lucky wins could at least allow the club to perform similarly to the Braves.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Drew Smyly will start for the Rays on Sunday, tweets Bill Chastain of MLB.com. The 26-year-old southpaw has spent most of the 2015 season on the disabled list with a torn labrum. Since joining the Rays in the David Price trade last season, Smyly has a 1.96 ERA, 9.1 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 64 and 1/3 innings. Although the Rays remain in the thick of the playoff race, expect them to proceed carefully with Smyly.
- We learned earlier tonight that the Angels still hope to acquire Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. The Giants remain involved with the bidding, tweets Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. Giants GM Bobby Evans cleverly commented that “the Chase for Utley continues.” As Baggarly notes, every day is one closer to the return of Joe Panik. At that point, Utley may be redundant for San Francisco. It’s already been announced that Utley will rest tomorrow, so trade speculation should remain rampant.
- Padres starter Tyson Ross is happy to have remained with the club through the trade deadline, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Ross, 28, was a heavily rumored trade candidate. He’s in the midst of a solid season including a 3.40 ERA, 9.58 K/9, and 4.14 BB/9. Ross is glad the club made no moves at the deadline. He believes the current roster is “a good group” with “a lot of promise.” He’s controlled through the 2017 season.
The Phillies actually preferred the Astros offer for starter Cole Hamels, but the lefty ultimately used his no-trade protection to block the trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest video. Included in the rejected deal were outfield prospect Brett Phillips and pitcher Josh Hader, both of whom went to the Brewers in the Carlos Gomez trade. The Astros may have been willing to guarantee Hamels’ fourth year, but he ultimately decided against the option.
- The Royals will have a tough time re-signing several key players. Lorenzo Cain might be the easiest, but he’ll first want to see how Jason Heyward performs on the free agent market. While Heyward is four years younger than Cain, the average annual value “could be instructive” per Rosenthal. Cain is under control for two more seasons. Meanwhile, Alex Gordon can opt out after this season, and he looks like a lock to do so. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, both clients of Scott Boras, are also under club control for two seasons.
- Cardinals assistant GM Mike Girsch was a candidate for the Padres GM job opening last year. That posting was eventually filled by A.J. Preller. Girsch may be considered for other top jobs, but the Cardinals hacking scandal may put a damper on his market.
- Chase Utley will use his no-trade rights to pick his next team. Per Rosenthal, Utley may not make an obvious decision. For example, he may or may not be interested in playing for his home town Giants. As was reported repeatedly over the past few days, Utley will seek to find a home where he’ll continue to play regularly both this season and next.