Author Archives: Brad Johnson

Rosenthal’s Latest: Price, Mariners, Indians, Pederson, Cishek

The Mariners and Indians have their eye on David Price, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com in his latest video. The Rays see Seattle as a team that lines up well for a potential blockbuster. With the Athletics and Angels already reaching into the trade basket, Seattle is under pressure to make a move.

  • Rosenthal identifies two potential barriers to a deal for the Mariners. With Price set to earn about $20MM in his final year of arbitration, ownership might not be willing to commit both financially and with prospects. Additionally, rival GM’s tell Rosenthal that M’s GM Jack Zduriencik is difficult to push across the finish line in trade talks.
  • The Indians would like to supplement Corey Kluber and possibly Justin Masterson with a pitcher like Price. However, even though the Tribe is keeping tabs on Price, one team employee puts the odds of a trade at less than one percent. Rather than focus on Price, they’ll probably look to acquire an ace from another source.
  • Don Mattingly prefers Joc Pederson in center field, but he’s not yet on the active roster. In Pederson’s favor, there’s little doubt that he’s the best defensive option. Some within the organization worry about his minor league strikeout rate, and believe he’ll benefit from further seasoning. If Mattingly gets his way, the Dodgers outfield will become even more crowded, further increasing the likelihood of a trade.
  • The Marlins are leaning towards selling. Closer Steve Cishek may be the most likely to be dealt. He’s earning $3.8MM this season and will only get more expensive in his next three spins through arbitration. The Marlins may prefer to rely on a less expensive closer and get something back in the process.

Poll: Will The Phillies Make A Deadline Trade?

The Phillies are supposed to be one of the major sellers in this season’s trade market. The club has declined steadily in recent years. They currently sit in the cellar of the NL East with a 42-54 record. The decision makers in Philadelphia have talked about trying to climb back into the race, but it’s probably too late to escape the inevitable – the glory days have passed.

Despite a poor record, the team possesses plenty of veteran talent to sell as mercenaries to the highest bidder. Cliff Lee returns from the disabled list on Monday. A.J. Burnett may be headed to the Orioles. Cole Hamels is perhaps too valuable to trade – just in case a rebuild goes faster than expected. Jonathan Papelbon wants to play for a competitor, but Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins prefer to exercise their 10-and-5 rights to remain in Philadelphia. Carlos Ruiz is recovering from a concussion. Marlon Byrd can block trades to four teams, one of which is the team that wants him. Those are just the most notable names among a plethora on offer.

As outside observers, we’re trained to look at this situation through a very simplistic lens. A bad team is supposed to trade it’s veterans for young players. A good theory, but it’s not always easy to put into practice. As we discussed earlier tonight, a guy like Lee might be hard to trade given his recent injury and contract status. The Phillies have to decide if a prospect package is worth more than Lee in a Philadelphia uniform. Even though the club isn’t competitive in the general sense, they’re still playing for a slice of their fans’ attention. Ratings and attendance will be better with Lee (and Hamels) on the roster.

With the exception of Hamels, none of the Phillies assets appear capable of returning the Grade-A type prospects needed for a quick turnaround. Mostly, they’ll have to acquire upside plays – guys who have potential, but haven’t yet actualized their skills. The front office has an iffy track record with such players; see the returns from Lee and Hunter Pence as examples.

Most of the veterans will still be Philadelphia property in the offseason, so the club isn’t under extreme pressure to make a deal. Their players will only be depreciated another half season. In some cases, a shorter contract could help their trade value. It’s probably a bad idea to play it fast and loose with players over 30, but it might be necessary if the right return isn’t out there.

Ultimately, trade talks are an issue of supply and demand. If those factors align, the Phillies will probably make at least one trade. If not, they may choose to stand pat, if only so some fans will continue to watch their few remaining stars. So…

 


Quick Hits: Lee, Phillies, Mariners, Miller

It’s not often that elite players are traded multiple times during the prime of their career. Phillies ace Cliff Lee is one of those few, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He’s been dealt three times – each trade coming at a time when he was both healthy and extremely effective. The 11 prospects acquired for Lee in various trades have all been a disappointment, with Justin Smoak and Carlos Carrasco the only current major league contributors.

The 35-year-old is expected to return to action on Monday from an elbow strain. Unlike the last time the Phillies traded Lee, he now comes with concerns about age, contract, and health. As such, Philadelphia may struggle to find the kind of prospect package necessary to justify a trade.


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Giants Notes: Cabrera, Aviles, Sabean, Scutaro, Pagan

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.

Quick Hits: Diamond, Beckham, Dodgers, Phillies

The Twins have released pitcher Scott Diamond from Triple-A Rochester, reports Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. The former Rule 5 pick last pitched well in 2012 when he made 27 starts with a 3.54 ERA and 3.94 FIP. Minor leaguers hit well against Diamond this season, which led to a 6.53 ERA through 17 appearances and 15 starts. The command and control specialist is liable to latch onto a new club soon.

  • White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham is used to trade rumors, according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com. “Trade rumors don’t affect how I prepare and how I go about the game,” said Beckham. With a number of middle infield prospects waiting in the wings, the White Sox may be inclined to finally pull the trigger on a trade.
  • The Dodgers are unlikely to acquire David Price or Cole Hamelsreports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. GM Ned Colletti confirmed the team is interested in both starters and relievers, but said “I don’t see us doing anything that’s going to tear apart the farm system.” Both Price and Hamels are expected to cost at least one top prospect along with other useful pieces.
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com discusses the Phillies case as July deadline sellers. The team could shop two of the top starting pitchers in baseball, a closer, an entire outfield, and more in their bid to improve down the line. GM Ruben Amaro is “still assessing” the options, but it looks increasingly likely that some sort of sell off will occur. The club isn’t shying from dealing its big guns, though they will want multiple, controllable pieces in return. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins – both of whom have no-trade rights – are the least likely to be dealt.

Poll: Which All-Stars Will Be Traded?

In what’s becoming a bit of a tradition on these slow Saturday nights, let’s take a break from the inaction to consider which All-Stars might find themselves in a new home between now and the end of August. I see no reason to restrict our attention to only the non-waiver trade deadline. We’ve already seen one All-Star – former Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija – traded.

For this exercise, I’ve included most players from the basement teams. I’ve left out a few like Yu Darvish, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo since they seem to be part of their club’s long term plans. We’re left with a nine player list. Please select all candidates you believe will be dealt or pick the “none” option if you think everyone will stay put.

David Price – TAM: The Rays top starter has been the elephant in the room since the previous trade deadline. Now may be the best time for the Rays to deal Price – his value will diminish as he approaches free agency. The 28-year-old is club controlled through 2015.  Given the price paid by the Athletics for Samardzija, the Rays will want a top prospect like Addison Russell included in any deal.

Tampa Bay is still trying to claw their way back into the AL East (10.5 games out of first) and Wild Card race. They also figure to contend next season, so they could opt to hang onto their star. For his part, Price is trying to firewall his teammates from the rumors.

Kurt Suzuki – MIN: With few catchers on the trade block, Suzuki should receive plenty of attention. The 30-year-old backstop has never drawn rave reviews on his defense. He’s a bit undersized for a catcher, and it’s been hypothesized that his short stature affects his ability to frame pitches. Per StatCorner’s Catcher Report Suzuki has ranked last defensively (many catchers have been worse on a per innings basis).

It’s Suzuki’s bat that has brought him to the Midsummer Classic. Suzuki performed decently at the plate over his first three major league seasons before sliding into obscurity over four seasons. He signed a one-year, $2.75MM deal with the Twins for the 2014. The Cardinals and Orioles are liable to be most interested since both teams have lost their star backstop but don’t need a replacement beyond the 2014 season.

Adrian Beltre – TEX: Rangers manager Ron Washington told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports that Beltre was absolutely not available. Considering the star third baseman is 35 years old, the Rangers may want to rethink that position. It comes down to a basic question, will Texas rebuild or retool for a 2015 run? If competing in 2015 is seen as a long shot, then the club should maximize their return on Beltre. He’s signed through 2015 with a voidable option for 2016 based on plate appearances.

Alexei Ramirez – CWS: Ramirez has provided adequate offense and defense at the hardest position on the diamond since coming over to the White Sox from Cuba. The 32-year-old is signed through 2015 with a $10MM club option ($1MM buyout) for 2016. Several contenders could use middle infield help, including the Yankees, Blue Jays, Tigers, Athletics, Mariners, Reds, and Giants.

Koji Uehara – BOS: The latest rumor has the Red Sox hoping to retain Uehara through 2015. He’s only signed through the end of this season, so that would require a one year extension – potentially via a qualifying offer. If the club instead decides to cash in on the Japanese veteran, they’ll need to wade into a well-supplied reliever market. It could be hard to get enough of a return to make a trade worthwhile. However, Uehara would be the top closer available, which could push a team like the Tigers to focus their attention.

Chase Utley – PHI: The fringe hall of famer has temporarily put concerns about his knee to rest. His power is definitely in decline, but he remains a useful hitter with a 122 wRC+. Ever since 2005, he’s quietly been one of the best defensive second baseman per Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). The 35-year-old  has full no-trade protection, and he’s hinted he would use it to remain with the Phillies. As such, our speculation could be moot.

Troy Tulowitzki – COL: Tulo could find himself a frequent guest of the MLBTR pages over the next couple weeks. The 29-year-old MVP candidate is signed through 2020. He’s guaranteed roughly $124MM including a $4MM buyout on the 2021 season ($15MM club option). According to Jon Heyman, he gave his “subtle blessing” for a trade. In public comments, he’s also played up his desire to play on a winning team without coming right out to say he would welcome a trade. For his part, Rockies owner Dick Monfort would like to keep Tulowitzki.

Miguel Montero – ARI: The Diamondbacks are expected to deal a lot of pieces over the trade season, but Montero probably won’t be one of them. Montero, who turned 31 three days ago, has bounced back from a disappointing 2013 season. He’s signed through 2017 for roughly $44MM.

Montero has turned in a solid offensive season as the club’s regular cleanup hitter, although he remains impotent against left-handed pitching. The same defensive metrics that rank Suzuki worst in baseball consider Montero to be the best, which could make him a potential long term solution for a team like the Blue Jays.

Daniel Murphy – NYM: The Mets have reportedly held no fresh negotiations involving Murphy. The 29-year-old second baseman is club controlled through 2015. While he hits for a high batting average, he doesn’t reach base enough to be an ideal top of the order batter, nor does he feature the power of a prototypical RBI man. His offensive profile, coupled with tepid reviews of his defense could account for the lack of related trade rumors. He’s posted 2.7 fWAR this season, so he’s valuable even if it comes in an atypical package.


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Rosenthal’s Latest: Angels, Orioles, Reds, Indians

In his latest video, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports says it would be “just like” Angels owner Arte Moreno to acquire David Price. Since L.A. lacks a prospect of Addison Russell‘s quality, they will need to trade somebody off their major league roster. Rosenthal mentions C.J. Cron and Tyler Skaggs as likely suspects, but he suggests that price may be too steep for the contending Angels. Here’s more from Rosenthal.

  • If the Angels do fall short on Price, they could turn their attention to acquiring a reliever like Rangers closer Joakim Soria.
  • The Orioles would like to add a left-handed bat. Seth Smith was on the radar before he signed his extension with the Padres. The O’s are scouting pitchers like Jorge De La Rosa and Ian Kennedy. They could also target relievers.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty expects to miss Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips for five to six weeks. Cincinnati would like to add a first baseman and somebody to split time with Ramon Santiago at second base. Unfortunately, the club’s record $112MM payroll will force Jocketty to get creative with any additions.
  • It’s unclear whether the Indians will buy or sell at the trade deadline. Even if they do find themselves as sellers, they aren’t likely to aggressively shop pieces besides shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Rosenthal offers the Mariners as one team who could benefit from the switch-hitting shortstop.

Angels Trade Nick Maronde To Indians

The Angels have traded left-handed reliever Nick Maronde to the Indians for cash considerations, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. He was designated for assignment earlier in the week.

Maronde, 24, has spent parts of three seasons in the big leagues, although he has totaled only 17 and 2/3 innings. He featured solid control during his first two professional seasons (2011 and 2012), but the wheels fell off upon reaching the majors. He’s pitched at four different levels this season and allowed between 9.95 and 18.00 BB/9. Needless to say, the Indians will hope he can recover some semblance of control while maintain his strong strikeout rates.

Jason Giambi has been moved to the 60 day disabled list to clear room on the 40 man roster according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Twitter).


Rosenthal’s Latest: Dodgers, Price, Hammel, Padres, Twins

In his latest video, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has an interesting theory as to why the Dodgers may be keen to acquire Rays starter David Price. Over 70% of the Dodgers market is currently blacked out due to a dispute between Time Warner and Direct TV. Adding another superstar pitcher to a rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke could put even more pressure on the two telecom giants to work out a deal.

  • Speaking of Price, A’s GM Billy Beane confirmed interest in the southpaw, but he preferred to add two pitchers in one fell swoop. He was also concerned about Price’s potential $20MM price tag next season, which would be hard to absorb into the club’s payroll or move via trade.
  • For their part, the Cubs were eager to deal Jason Hammel before the market became saturated with similar pitchers.
  • The Padres have interviewed four candidates for their open GM position and plan to interview another seven to eight prior to the end of the All-Star break. Then they will invite two or three candidates back. A new GM may be named by the end of the month, although they may not start until after the non-waiver trade deadline.
  • The Twins will hang onto their trade chips until after the All-Star game, which will be hosted at Target Field. As we heard earlier tonight, Josh Willingham, Kevin Correia, and Kurt Suzuki are the most likely to find new homes.

Nationals Release Reliever Mike Gonzalez

Left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez asked for his release, which the Nationals reportedly granted. The news comes via Max Wildstein of CalltothePen.com (Twitter link). Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (on Twitter) confirmed the move was an opt out by Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has yet to pitch at the major league level this season, but he did turn in a good 2.78 ERA with 7.15 K/9 and 3.97 BB/9 through 22 and 2/3 Triple-A innings. He made 75 appearances for the Brewers last season, pitching to a 4.68 ERA over 50 innings. He’s been much tougher against lefties throughout his career, which is why the Brewers used him in such a specialized role. Any number of contenders could be interested in the 36-year-old lefty specialist.