Author Archives: Brad Johnson

Quick Hits: Hamilton, Howard, Otani

The Rangers will activate outfielder Josh Hamilton on Monday, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. GM Jon Daniels has announced that Hamilton is “physically and game ready” per Wilson (via Twitter). The Angels are on the hook for most of the remaining salary on his contract. Hamilton is hoping to rebound from a couple sub-par seasons by his standards. Statistically, 2013 was his worst season on a rate basis, and he was still five percent better than the average hitter. His rehab work produced mixed results. He battered Double-A pitching (9-for-17), but scuffled in Triple-A action (7-for-29).

  • Ryan Howard has recovered some trade value after a hot month of hitting, writes Corey Seidman of CSN Philly. The Phillies‘ first baseman has hit 10 home runs with 21 RBI and a .303 average over his last 30 games. Seidman identifies three clubs as potential fits for Howard – the Angels, Rays, and Twins. The Angels have struggled mightily against right-handed pitching. They could easily insert Howard into the designated hitter slot to help solve that issue. The Rays and Twins have performed better overall, but both clubs have received poor production from their designated hitters. I happen to agree with Seidman’s analysis and even tabbed Minnesota as a potential fit for Howard earlier this evening.
  • Shohei Otani could be the next Japanese star to transition to the majors, writes Jim Caple of ESPN. The 20-year-old is still three to four seasons from being posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters. He owns a 2.71 ERA with 274 strikeouts in 259 innings. The righty can reach back for 100 mph heat, but he also displays solid ability at the plate. In between starts, he plays about three to four games a week in the field. In 485 plate appearances, he’s hit .253/.303/.445 with 15 home runs. Major league teams will be more interested in his triple-digit heater, but pitchers like Madison Bumgarner can tell you about the value of an offensive presence in the nine-hole.

Quick Hits: Harang, Mesoraco, Grandal, Jenkins

Veteran right-hander Aaron Harang may soon join his ninth major league franchise, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Harang’s career trajectory includes a dominant, stable peak with the Reds followed by a multi-season reinvention with a handful of clubs. With the Phillies in rebuild mode, Harang is a prime trade candidate. His 1.82 ERA, 6.67 K/9, and 1.97 BB/9 would represent an upgrade for any club. However, it’s worth noting his 4.12 xFIP. Harang has allowed just two home runs despite a high fly ball rate. Kepner offers more detail about Harang’s transformation from power pitcher to crafty veteran.

  • Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco has experienced a setback with his left hip impingement, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Mesoraco indicated that this week would be “pivotal” in deciding if the condition required surgery. He hasn’t been in the lineup the last two days, but he might be available to pinch hit tomorrow. To this point, club and player have attempted to avoid the surgical option.
  • Dodgers catcher Yasmany Grandal has a “mild concussion,” writes Anthony Witrado of MLB.com. Last night, Grandal was hit in the jaw by a Yangervis Solarte backswing, and he took a Matt Kemp foul ball off the mask. The club expects him to be ready to resume baseball activities in a few days. He may only require the minimum seven day stay on the disabled list.
  • Shelby Miller has done well to make the Braves look good for trading Jason Heyward. However, Tyrell Jenkins is doing his best to improve the return for the Braves. The 22-year-old righty has performed strongly in Double-A. Scouts and players credit him with excellent makeup. He tore his lat in 2012 and 2013 which has delayed his development as a prospect. He’s now fully healthy for the first time in years and reaching 96 mph on the gun. Although he has a shiny 2.94 ERA, his 5.71 K/9 and 3.81 BB/9 could stand to improve.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Papelbon, Marlins, Padres, Angels, Twins

The Marlins showed interest in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon right around when they fired Mike Redmond, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. However, it’s unclear if the club will buy after a slow start to the season. Prior to the season they promised Giancarlo Stanton that they will aim to compete, but there may come a point where it makes more sense to trade some of the higher priced mercenaries. Players like Mike Morse, Dan Haren, and Mike Dunn could find themselves on the trade block. Here’s more from Rosenthal.

  • The Padres are scouting the Brewers for a shortstop. They may lack the prospects to acquire Jean Segura, but San Diego GM A.J. Preller is familiar with Luis Sardinas from his days in the Rangers system. The Brewers are also taking calls on right-hander Mike Fiers, but they’re not interested in trading him.
  • The Angels have plenty of starting pitching depth to acquire offensive firepower. They could call upon Andrew Heaney if they trade a major leaguer pitcher. Alternatively, Heaney or Nick Tropeano could be offered in a swap. The Halos also have Tyler Skaggs and Sean Newcomb as long term options. Skaggs is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Newcomb is working his way through the system (currently in High-A) after being selected 15th overall last June.
  • The Twins aren’t yet buyers, but they’ll receive reinforcements when Ervin Santana and Casey Fien return to action. Santana is eligible to return from his PED suspension on July 4. Fien is currently on the disabled list. The club has received poor production from center field and designated hitter. They could stick with Aaron Hicks in center with Kennys Vargas as the primary designated hitter, but the addition of a “big bopper” would improve the overall outlook. My own speculation: I wonder if a combination of Ben Revere and Ryan Howard would make sense – assuming the Phillies ate enough cash.


New York Notes: Wright, Lindgren, Drew, Murphy

Mets third baseman David Wright has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports. In a second tweet, Rosenthal notes that the condition can be treated via epidural or a “minimally invasive surgery.” Yesterday, he began his latest rehab attempt from hamstring and back issues, but he has already been shut down with the new diagnosis. Needless to say, the timetable for Wright’s return is now completely uncertain while he decides on treatment options. The franchise third baseman is owed $20MM in 2015 and $87MM through 2020.

  • The Yankees will promote left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He’ll take the place of Branden Pinder who threw three innings in today’s blow out loss. Lindgren was selected in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft. He’s spent the 2015 campaign at Triple-A. In 22 innings, he has allowed a 1.23 ERA, 11.86 K/9, and 4.09 BB/9 in 22 innings. Lindgren is the third high profile pitcher from the most recent draft class to reach the majors. Brandon Finnegan and Carlos Rodon have also received their first taste of the big leagues, although Finnegan is currently in Triple-A.
  • Stephen Drew and Daniel Murphy are among twelve players who have hurt their free agent stock, writes Sherman for the New York Post. Drew has shown little evidence of rebounding from a horrific 2014 season. His batting average remains below the Mendoza line, and he’s in danger of losing his job to Robert Refsnyder. Meanwhile, Murphy is off to a slow start at the plate. Per Sherman, his hitting has always allowed the Mets to look past his mediocre defense. In the case of Murphy, a little patience may be in order. His contact rates and power remain within career norms. In fact, his current strikeout rate is a career best. An unusually low .252 BABIP is the obvious culprit for the poor production. Sherman also discusses 10 other non-New Yorkers who may be losing money.
  • The Mets will utilize a six-man rotation for at least one week, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Dillon Gee is set to return to action tomorrow afternoon. The rotation will remain in the normal order. Matt Harvey, who was spanked by the Pirates this afternoon, will appear next Saturday with two extra days of rest. While trade speculation will continue to surround Gee, he still has value to the Mets as a means to limit the workloads of Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom.

Quick Hits: Brown, Martinez, Hamilton

Ollie Brown, known to the San Diego faithful as the “Original Padre” has died of complications from mesothelioma, reports Corey Brock of MLB.com. The outfielder was the first player selected by the Padres in the 1968 Expansion Draft. Brown hit 52 home runs in parts of four seasons with the Padres including 23 blasts in 1970. Brown was 71 and is survived by two brothers, a wife, a daughter, and five grandchildren. We at MLBTR wish to extend our condolences to Brown’s family and friends.

  • Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez could sign for $10MM, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The 20-year-old is subject to the international spending pool which could affect the bidding. Among the interested teams include the Braves, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. New York and Arizona may have an advantage since they’ve already exceeded their bonus pool. Chicago won’t be able to jump into the bidding until July 2nd. It was reported two days ago that Martinez could sign as early as next week.
  • While still with the Angels, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton repeatedly tried to reach out to owner Arte Moreno, writes Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Instead, Hamilton says his efforts were blocked by GM Jerry Dipoto and team President John Carpino. Hamilton attempted to contact Moreno regarding his poor performance last season and again after his offseason relapse. The embattled slugger is currently rehabbing in Double-A and could return to major league action soon. Los Angeles is responsible for most of the remaining $80MM on his contract.

Injury Notes: Fister, Marshall, Greene

Doug Fister received good news regarding his forearm flexor strain, tweets Dan Kolko of MASN Sports. An MRI revealed no issues with Fister’s elbow, according to Nationals manager Matt Williams. The right-hander may resume throwing in a few days. Fister is a free agent after the season so the MRI results are especially welcome. He’s off to a slow start with a 4.31 ERA, 4.08 K/9, and 2.27 BB/9.

Here’s more injury news from around the league:

  • Rehabbing Reds reliever Sean Marshall will need a second shoulder surgery, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Marshall is suffering from a torn anterior capsule and will be out for the remainder of the season. His previous shoulder surgery was to repair his rotator cuff. Marshall is in the final season of a three-year, $16.5MM contract. He’ll earn $6.5MM in 2015. His last full season was in 2012 when he picked up nine saves to go with a 2.51 ERA, 10.92 K/9, and 2.36 BB/9.
  • Tigers righty Shane Greene also received good news via MRI, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com. The preliminary results of the MRI revealed that the tingling Greene felt in his throwing hand on Friday night was the result of ulnar neuritis. There was some concern that the discomfort could signal a problem with his elbow. Greene underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008. He has a 4.21 ERA, 5.36 K/9, and 2.49 BB/9 in 47 innings.

Marlins Designate Nick Masset For Assignment

The Marlins have designated reliever Nick Masset for assignment, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The move was made to clear room for starter Henderson Alvarez on the 25-man roster.

Masset pitched 8.2 innings for Miami with a 2.08 ERA, 5.19 K/9, and 1.04 BB/9. The right-hander’s best seasons were with the Reds from 2009 through 2011. At his best, he featured a 95 mph fastball. These days, the 33-year-old works around 91 mph. He spent 2014 with the Rockies where he posted a 5.80 ERA in 45 innings.

Masset is joined in DFA Limbo by Kevin Gregg, Stolmy Pimentel, and Bruce Chen.


Latest On Troy Tulowitzki

Rockies GM Jeff Bridich is in a tight spot regarding Troy Tulowitzki, opines Bill Shaikin of the LA Times. While Tulowitzki did not specifically ask to be traded, he did not categorically state that he wants to remain in Colorado. For his part, Bridich did not deny the possibility of a trade.

There is no doubt that Tulowitzki is highly coveted around the league despite a minimum of six years and $113MM remaining on his contract. The star shortstop is off to a strange start to the season for Colorado. One has to wonder if the rumors are getting to him. He’s hitting .284/.292/.448 through 120 plate appearances. His plate discipline has disappeared. He’s swinging at more pitches outside of the strike zone, whiffing more frequently, and he’s drawn just two walks against 29 strikeouts. His power output is also well below his career norms.

Last week, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs identified nine possible destinations for Tulowitzki. He referred to the Mets, Red Sox, and Yankees as the most likely bidders. The long standing connection with the Mets is challenged by their complex financial situation. Cameron suggests the Red Sox could include Xander Bogaerts as part of a trade. If that was the case, I suspect they might be in the best position to secure a deal. The Yankees certainly have the necessary money, but they’ve worked hard to reduce the amount of payroll committed to aging players.

Shaikin adds that the Dodgers would love to slot Tulo at shortstop with top prospect Corey Seager sliding over to third base. While they have the financial wherewithal and enough talented prospects to participate in a trade, it’s unlikely the Rockies would deal directly with their rich rivals. Instead, Los Angeles could attempt to play financial facilitator as part of a three-team trade. The Dodgers attempted to mediate the Josh Hamilton trade by including money for a prospect.

Cameron also explored a hypothetical trade package for the nine teams he identified. Tulowitzki’s contract probably has $50MM to $60MM of surplus value per Cameron, so he should elicit a sizable return. However, the $63MM signing of Yoan Moncada – not a top 10 prospect per all major outlets – indicates that the upper crust of prospects are probably off the table. In other words, no Mookie Betts, no Carlos Correa, and no Seager (among others).

Tulowitzki could return multiple second tier prospects. Cameron names Luis Severino and Aaron Judge as a possible package from the Yankees. The Mets could bundle Noah Syndergaard, Amed Rosario, and Steven Matz. Of course, these are just some hypothetical ideas. The Rockies could try to eat some money in exchange for a true elite prospect, or they might prefer a deep five or six player package.

 


Rosenthal’s Latest: Mets, Baez, Orioles, Trumbo

Despite shaky defense, Wilmer Flores will remain the Mets starting shortstop, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. However, one alternative is to trade Daniel Murphy, shift Flores to second base, and promote shortstop prospect Matt Reynolds. The move would instantly upgrade the Mets’ infield defense. Per Rosenthal, the club may prefer to promote Reynolds once David Wright returns to action.

As for trading Murphy, the club may look to acquire a prospect or reliever. Aside from Jeurys Familia and a couple role players, the Mets bullpen has been a little shaky. However, strong starting pitching has allowed the club to hide that shortcoming. New York relievers have thrown the fewest innings of any team. Conversely, their starters lead the league in innings pitched. Here’s more from Rosenthal:

  • Cubs second base prospect Javier Baez is on an 11-for-22 streak, leading to speculation that he could be promoted. The easiest way to insert him into the lineup would be to move Kris Bryant to the outfield and Baez to third. Since the club is juggling several important future pieces, they’ll want to be careful about how they handle the logjam.
  • The Orioles are built to sell with eight players on the 25 man roster set to reach free agency after the season. Don’t expect a fire sale anytime soon. Baltimore is just four games back in a shaky AL East. Owner Peter Angelos is loathe to throw in the towel. He famously nixed a couple trades involving Bobby Bonilla and David Wells during the 1996 season. The club later clawed its way into the postseason. It would seem the Orioles’ woes would have to get a lot worse before Chris Davis and others were shopped.
  • Many speculate that Mark Trumbo will be available this summer, however the Diamondbacks have publicly resisted the idea. Per Rosenthal, the club believes they will contend next season once Patrick Corbin and other youngsters solidify the rotation. Trumbo is signed to a $6.9MM contract and has one year of arbitration remaining. Arizona could replace Trumbo with a platoon of David Peralta and Yasmany Tomas.

Hamilton Trade Expected To Be Finalized Soon

SUNDAY 10:24pm: The deal is likely to be completed Monday, Gonzalez tweets.

7:19pm: The Angels indicate that they do not expect to have any announcements today, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. That suggests that the trade won’t become official until Monday or later.

1:25pm: The trade is expected to be finalized today, tweets Sullivan. Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan adds (via Twitter) the trade is now in the “I-dotting, T-crossing stage.”

SATURDAY: The Rangers are still awaiting approval on the rumored Josh Hamilton deal, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Sullivan’s source with the Rangers see no impediment to finalizing the agreement. As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets, the swap is slow moving because it involves five parties – the Angels, Rangers, Hamilton, the commissioner’s office, and the players’ union.

The Rangers are expected to cover about $7MM of the roughly $82MM remaining on his contract. Since Texas has no income tax, Hamilton is reportedly willing to renegotiate the size of his contract. Per Sullivan, the club is eager to complete the trade. Hamilton is in the midst of rehab for a shoulder injury. The Rangers would like to get him out to their Arizona facility at the earliest opportunity.

Some might recall that Hamilton was “booed out of Texas,” writes Yahoo’s Tim Brown. However, he’ll be quickly forgiven if he helps the anemic Rangers offense produce some runs. Per Brown, his former teammates are looking forward to reuniting with Hamilton. Many hope that he can fall back into his old support system. That could help him focus on health and production.

The Rangers are the beneficiaries of the “arrogance” of Angels owner Arte Moreno, opines Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register. Moreno was the one who wanted to acquire Hamilton in the first place. GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia would have happily added Hamilton’s bat to the lineup, so the decision to discard him must have come from Moreno. It’s fair to wonder if Moreno should take a lighter hand in the Angels’ baseball operations.

Surprisingly, the move makes sense for all five parties involved, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The Rangers take a minimal risk on a guy who was a core component of several successful seasons. The $6MM Hamilton will forgo doesn’t devalue his deal due to the different income tax laws. The MLBPA is looking out for Hamilton’s welfare even though they’re usually against restructuring contracts. Meanwhile, the Angels and the commissioner’s office avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.