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Author Archives: Brad Johnson
Brewers GM Doug Melvin says he’s “been pretty aggressive as far as contacting teams,” but the trade front remains quiet, per Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel. Melvin reportedly checked in on right-handed setup men, but found the market lacking. According to Melvin, two players who surprisingly may not be dealt are LaTroy Hawkins and Chad Qualls.
- The Angels were active early and often in this season’s trade market, and GM Jerry Dipoto thinks the club is ready to stand pat, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Per Dipoto, “We really like our team. The likelihood is that we’ll do nothing, but we will stay in touch.”
- With rumors swirling, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti thinks a trade for an elite pitcher is “unlikely,” writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Colletti is loath to part with any of his top prospects, including Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias. In discussing Pederson, Colletti notes that he isn’t ready to contribute to a pennant race. Hitting southpaws and trimming his strikeout rate top Pederson’s to-do list.
- The Astros have a handful of relievers to market this July, including Qualls, Josh Fields, and Tony Sipp. The Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reports that the trio of relievers continue to draw plenty of offers. It’s interesting to see this juxtaposed with Melvin’s expectations that the Astros intend to keep Qualls.
The Red Sox have enviable pitching depth in the minors, writes Alex Speier of WEEI. In addition to Rubby de la Rosa, who is already with the club, Brandon Workman, Steven Wright, and Anthony Ranaudo could all be viewed as viable candidates to fill Jake Peavy‘s spot in the rotation. But the Sox will turn to yet another option tomorrow against the Rays – Allen Webster.
- GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, that the club “would listen to what teams are looking to do.” Said Cherington, “anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible for April of 2015.”
- Boston should take advantage of a seller’s market and deal Lester, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. If the club is hesitant about extending Lester – and they appear to be – then the Sox will get a lot more back via trade than they would with a qualifying offer. As Rosenthal notes, the club may qualify for a protected pick, and Lester has left the door open for re-signing even if he’s dealt. Cherington did say they want Lester in the 2015 rotation, according to Speier (twitter link).
- The Pirates are among the clubs scouting Red Sox relievers, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. All seven Sox relievers have been mentioned as trade candidates, so it’s difficult to guess which player(s) most interest the Pirates.
The Padres have not yet asked the Diamondbacks if they can speak with GM Kevin Towers, according to two tweets from Scott Miller of Bleacher Report (tweet one, tweet two). The Padres aren’t considering Towers as a GM candidate for their own opening. Rather, they think he can be an asset as a veteran talent evaluator. Towers is on the hot seat in Phoenix, and the Diamondbacks would allow the Padres to speak with him if they asked.
- The Padres acquisition of Jose Rondon and Taylor Lindsey in the Huston Street trade was a critical step to strengthen the club’s middle infield depth, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The pair join Jace Peterson, Cory Spangenberg, and first round pick Trea Turner to address a former weakness of the system.
- Since the Giants are only paying Jake Peavy about $2MM over the remainder of the season, they have the financial flexibility to add another player via trade, tweets Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News. However, GM Brian Sabean says there aren’t enough players on the market right now.
- Updating an earlier post, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports Nick Evans remains with the Diamondbacks. MLBTR reported earlier that Evans had signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Talks have occurred according to Evans, but nothing is official.
- The Dodgers are shopping Matt Kemp, says Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He adds that five teams “have shown interest, or at least talked to the Dodgers.” While Kemp has received frequent playing time, other issues have boiled to the surface between club and player. Included among those is a less than “smooth” relationship with the field staff. Rival executives have heard of the same problem, which could affect his trade value. Kemp’s contract, with $117MM remaining, could also impede a deal.
- In addition to Kemp, the Dodgers are focused on finding relievers to pitch the seventh and eighth innings, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN. The Dodgers have a plethora of former closers setting up Kenley Jansen, but they’ve been less than stellar.
- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (note the “t”) does not currently have a no trade clause, learned Thomas Harding of MLB.com. If he’s traded, he’ll be owed an additional $2MM bonus from his new club and a no trade clause would then go into effect. Tulo is owed another $104MM over the next five season excluding escalators and incentives.
Jayson Stark discussed some of the best run organizations in an audio interview with Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog. Stark makes special note of the A’s, Rays, Tigers, and Cubs as tightly run organizations with a coherent, “nimble” plan. Stark and Cerrone then touched on the Mets plan, noting the excellent pitching depth in the organization. Rival scouts like the Mets future outlook according to Stark, but they may need to trade some of their pitching depth for position players.
- In an interview with Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was circumspect when describing the club’s needs heading into the trade deadline. Based on Rizzo’s comments, the club is happy with its current depth, even with Ryan Zimmerman suffering from a hamstring injury. The bullpen was also discussed, which Rizzo described as “pretty good…solid.”
- In a separate piece, Ladson reveals that the Nationals inquired after Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre but were rebuffed. Combining the two reports, it seems as though the Nationals would like to acquire an elite talent but aren’t overly anxious to add patches.
- There’s definitely a market for Marlon Byrd, but his contract could get in the way, notes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. While the Phillies are obvious sellers, their assets all have some sort of contractual complication. Byrd would like his 2016 option picked up for a trade to the Mariners or Royals – two teams on his no trade list. Heyman also mentions Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, and Jimmy Rollins as other Phillies with contractual barriers, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
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.
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…
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.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com talks about the Phillies trade preferences in his latest video. They would prefer to deal Lee, A.J. Burnett, and Marlon Byrd over Cole Hamels and Chase Utley.
- Also per Morosi, the Mariners are under pressure to answer the trades made by the Athletics and Angels. He mentions pitching prospects like Taijuan Walker and Brandon Maurer as interesting pieces to other clubs. If the Mariners fail to pull of a blockbuster for David Price, they’ll probably focus on right-handed power.
- The Cardinals are moving Shelby Miller to the bullpen for an unspecified amount of time, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Matheny said the move was to rest the right-hander. Based on Goold’s tweet, he may start again as soon as Wednesday. Earlier in the season, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs provided some evidence that Miller looked “broken.” He’s certainly pitched below expectations with a 4.29 ERA, 6.03 K/9, and 4.46 BB/9.
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.
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 Hamels, reports 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.
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.