Author Archives: Jeff Todd

Latest On Diamondbacks’ Managerial Search

Here’s the latest on the Diamondbacks’ managerial situation:

OCTOBER 1:

  • The D’Backs now announce that they’ve received permission to interview Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu for the position as well. Wakamatsu formerly managed the Mariners and recently interviewed for the Astros’ managerial opening before Houston hired A.J. Hinch.

Earlier Updates

  • McEwing has also been officially cleared to interview, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted and the club confirmed on Twitter.
  • The club has announced (Twitter links) an initial candidate list that includes Sandy Alomar Jr. and Jim Tracy in addition to Bell, Green, Nevin, and Ward. That list will be added to once interview consents are received for personnel under contract with other clubs.

SEPTEMBER 27:

Unless otherwise, noted, information is via MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert (all Twitter links).

  • Internal candidates for the Diamondbacks’ managerial job include Triple-A Reno manager Phil Nevin, Double-A Mobile manager Andy Green and big-league hitting coach Turner Ward, new GM Dave Stewart says. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that Nevin is a particularly strong candidate, given his work at Reno.
  • Other candidates could include Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo and bench coach Mike Aldrete, White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing, and Twins bench coach Terry Steinbach. All four have ties to Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa.
  • Reds bench coach Jay Bell will be another candidate, John Gambadoro of KTAR.com tweets. Bell, of course, played for the Diamondbacks and later served as their bench coach.

AL East Notes: Sox Payroll, Drew, Yanks, Alford, O’s

After crunching a variety of payroll numbers, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier concludes that the Red Sox should have at least $50MM to $55MM in 2015 payroll still available. You’ll want to read the typically excellent piece to understand exactly how Speier reaches his conclusions, but the bottom line is that the team’s financial situation dovetails with an impressive stock of prospects to convey unmatched flexibility to GM Ben Cherington entering the offseason. Of course, as Cherington notes, that doesn’t mean that Boston can snap its fingers and return to contention. “I think we have a challenging offseason ahead of us that’s sort of, in a way, simple to see but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to execute,” he explained.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • Free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, recently of the Yankees, says he would welcome a chance to continue in pinstripes as he looks to rebound from a rough 2014. As George A. King III of the New York Post reports, Drew’s agent — Scott Boras — still believes his client has productive baseball ahead of him. “I would say clubs would spend a good deal of time focusing on his career offensive statistics as opposed to a couple hundred at-bats,” said Boras. “Defensively, he is still elite and a lot of teams will have interest in him as a shortstop.” Boras did seem to acknowledge that Drew needs to rebuild his stock one year after declining a qualifying offer and waiting to sign until after the draft. “If it’s a multi-year [deal], I don’t think it would be a long one,” said Boras. “I trust this player.”
  • Meanwhile, Joel Sherman of the New York Post analyzes the possible Derek Jeter replacements for the Yankees. He ultimately rejects many names that have commonly been linked to New York, noting that many of the free agent shortstops come with questions about how long they can continue to play the position. Sherman lists Drew, Didi Gregorius, Jose Iglesias, Jimmy Rollins, and Alexei Ramirez as five possible candidates. (All but Drew, of course, would have to be acquired via trade.)
  • 2012 Blue Jays third-round draftee Anthony Alford has agreed to a full-time baseball commitment. The Clarion-Ledger reported yesterday that Alford had decided to end his football career at Ole Miss to join the Jays. As John Lott of the National Post explains, Alford’s deal with Toronto — which came with a $750K bonus — allowed him to focus primarily on football. That risk was the only way to acquire Alford’s rights, said GM Alex Anthopoulos, who explained that the organization believes Alford to be an “outstanding prospect” who could move quickly in full-season baseball.
  • Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette says his ballclub is better now than in 2012 due to its starting pitching, and credits pitching coach Dave Wallace for the improvement, as MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli reports. Meanwhile, Duquette talked over some of the organization’s notable mid-season moves to fill gaps that had opened, acknowledging the hard work and remarkable performances of players like Steve Pearce and Caleb Joseph. Of course, as Ghiroli suggests, some portion of the credit for those fill-ins must go to Duquette and his front office.

Rule 5 Draft Roundup

With the regular season in the books, it’s worth assessing how things ultimately shook out from last winter’s Rule 5 draft. Only nine players were taken in this year’s draft. Here’s where things stand:

Remember, players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren’t on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed. If a team makes a selection, it pays the former team $50K and must keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25K. (Note that Rule 5 selections can change hands like any other player, with an acquiring team stepping into the shoes of the original selecting club. Click here for more details.)

  • Patrick Schuster, LHP (taken first overall by the Astros from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. But not before a somewhat eventful tour. He was first dealt to the Padres, then placed on waivers and claimed by the Royals before finally being sent back. He never ended up throwing a big league inning, and ultimately struggled to 4.50 ERA in 18 frames at Triple-A once back with the D’backs.
  • Adrian Nieto, C (taken third overall by the White Sox from the Nationals): Retained by Chicago. The switch-hitting, 24-year-old backstop hung on all year, posting a .236/.296/.340 line in his first 118 MLB plate appearances. He is now White Sox property.
  • Kevin Munson, RHP (taken fourth overall by the Phillies from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. Munson never made it onto the active roster, and was sent back in mid-March. Though he never saw MLB action this year, he did post a rather dominant campaign at Triple-A: 2.60 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9.
  • Tommy Kahnle, RHP (taken eighth overall by the Rockies from the Yankees): Retained by Colorado. The 25-year-old was an oft-used bullpen piece for the Rockies, posting a 4.19 ERA in 68 2/3 frames with 8.3 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9. Colorado owns his rights moving forward.
  • Brian Moran, LHP (taken ninth overall by the Blue Jays from the Mariners): Still in limbo after season-ending surgery. Moran was dealt by Toronto to the Angels on the day of the draft, and opened the season DL’ed on the active roster. But his left elbow ultimately required Tommy John surgery, meaning that he ended up on the 60-day DL. The Halos do not yet own Moran’s rights permanently: to keep him, the club will need to carry him on the active roster without a DL stay for at least 90 days.
  • Seth Rosin, RHP (taken tenth overall by the Mets from the Phillies): Returned to Philadelphia. Dealt immediately after the draft to the Dodgers, Rosin was claimed by the Rangers late in the spring and made three appearances before his roster spot was needed and he was returned. Back at Triple-A with the Phillies, he worked to a 3.86 ERA over 58 1/3 rames.
  • Wei-Chung Wang, LHP (taken eleventh overall by the Brewers from the Pirates): Retained by Milwaukee. It took some doing, but a contending Brewers club was able to hold onto Wang for the entirety of the season. Though he did miss 45 games with a DL stint, Wang ultimately made only 14 appearances for the club. The 22-year-old will presumably be stretched out as a starter again as he returns to his development track in the lower minors.
  • Marcos Mateo, RHP (taken fifteenth overall by the Diamondbacks from the Cubs): Returned to Chicago. Mateo was the first player to be returned, heading back in mid-March. The 30-year-old threw to a 3.86 ERA in 37 1/3 innings upon his return to Triple-A with his original team.
  • Michael Almanzar, 3B (taken sixteenth overall by the Orioles from the Red Sox): Returned to Boston … but ultimately traded back to Baltimore. Shelved with injury for much of the year, Almanzar was returned to the Red Sox in the middle of the summer after a rehab stint. But the O’s obviously wanted him back, and added him as part of the Kelly Johnson deal. Over 233 minor league plate appearances on the year, Almanzar posted a .245/.322/.389 slash.


West Notes: Mariners, D’backs, Rangers

Here’s the latest from out west:

  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says that he expects to be aggressive in adding offense to the ballclub while also adding some rotation depth, as Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN reports“Offense is something we think we need,” said GM Jack Zduriencik. “We will explore every opportunity out there. I think we will be reasonably aggressive to try to add an offensive piece or two and you never have enough pitching.”
  • Zduriencik added that he believes he’ll have additional cash to work with. “I think the payroll is going to rise,” he said. “What the exact number is I don’t know yet because we haven’t had that meeting, but I am encouraged that number will increase.” Seattle entered the year with about $90MM on its books. Looking forward, the club has nearly $62MM committed next year before accounting for several costly arbitration bumps (especially for Austin Jackson and Kyle Seager).
  • The Diamondbacks have started interviewing managerial candidates with in-house options, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Double-A skipper Andy Green had the first chance to make his pitch. Other D’backs staffers who will interiew are hitting coach Turner Ward and Triple-A manager Phil Nevin.
  • Meanwhile, the Rangers have announced that they sat down with Mike Maddux and Steve Buechele today as part of their own managerial search, as expected. As with Arizona’s initial batch of candidates, Maddux and Buechele come from within the Texas ranks.

AL Central Notes: Moore, Twins, White Sox

With the Royals playing in the postseason for the first time in nearly three decades, general manager Dayton Moore has been validated, at least in part, writes ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. The small-market club has stayed with the principles he carried into the job. As Moore explains it: “We’ve got to play defense. Power is expensive and power comes later, and our ballpark just isn’t conducive to home runs, anyway. So we asked ourselves, ‘What can we control?’ We said, ‘Let’s get pitchers who can command the fastball, try to have power in the bullpen and play great defense.’ Of course, we’re trying to develop good hitters, but hitting is tough.” Needless to say, that quote is an apt description of the Royals roster that is on the field tonight.

Here’s more from the AL Central:

  • The Twins have yet to finalize a payroll but expect it to remain steady with this year’s books, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports on Twitter. According to club president Dave St. Peter, he does not “see [payroll] going down significantly” and expects it will be “comparable to 2014.” The club opened this year with about $85MM in guarantees, and already owes nearly $60MM for 2015 before accounting for arb raises to several players, including Trevor Plouffe.
  • As the Twins fire up their effort to find a new manager, one possible name to watch is John Russell, tweets Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. Russell managed the Pirates at an inopportune time (2008-10) and has coached with the Orioles since that time.
  • Meanwhile, GM Rick Hahn of the White Sox faces an offseason of many possibilities, but has yet to learn exactly how much cash he’ll have to work with, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports. Saying he intends to move toward contention as quickly as possible, Hahn emphasized that it is his “goal to address ideally all of what we feel are our needs, before they shift, as quickly as possible.” Though last winter was quite productive for Chicago, Hahn says he is excited to act aggressively again this year. As Merkin notes, Hahn should have some room to maneuver, as Chicago has only about $46MM in 2015 obligations on the books at present.

Epstein Says Cubs Intend To Compete In 2015

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said today that he believes the club is prepared to compete in the NL Central next year, as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports“I think we’ve proved we can be very competitive in this division,” said Epstein, and when you have a chance to compete, you should set your sights high and that means our goal is the Central title next year.”

While those words would appear to indicate that Chicago will increasingly be willing to dedicate resources to improve the production of its current roster, Epstein cautioned that the team would not “sell out just for 2015.” It will, however, look to add talent — in particular, some starting pitching, a pen lefty, and new outfield options — through all available mechanisms, including free agency.

Epstein says, unsurprisingly, that the team remains committed to relying on its young talent to drive a resurgence. In spite of his struggles, Javier Baez is expected to open the season as the starter at second. Other less experienced players will presumably keep or expand their roles as well. Epstein specifically addressed relievers Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm, who he said would stay in the pen rather than being stretched out as starters.

Certainly, the Cubs are a fascinating team to watch as free agency approaches. Many of the club’s best prospects have already reached or are nearing the major league level. Future salary obligations are minimal. And long-anticipated Wrigley Field renovations — which have often been connected to payroll capacity by ownership and the front office – are now underway.


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Emilio Bonifacio Changes Agents

Super-utility player Emilio Bonifacio has decided to change agents in advance of his coming free agency, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports on Twitter. Bonifacio has moved from Paul Kinzer to Gene Mato, according to Dierkes.

The 29-year-old switch-hitter delivers much of his value through baserunning and defensive versatility. A consistent threat to swipe thirty bags, Bonifacio ranks 12th in all of baseball since 2011 in the baserunning component of Fangraphs’ WAR calculation. In his eight seasons of MLB action, Bonifacio has seen extensive time at both middle infield spots, center field, and third base.

Bonifacio is somewhat less accomplished with the bat, of course. His 2014 production — .259/.305/.345 over 426 plate appearances — is not far off from his career line of .262/.319/.341, which is approximately 20% below the league average rate. Bonifacio put up a .753 OPS in his best season as a hitter, his 2011 campaign with the Marlins, though that was fueled by a .372 BABIP. (His career mark is .331.)

Mato will face an interesting challenge in finding Bonifacio a new home. In the aggregate, he seems likely to draw wide interest given his age and broad skillset. It is easy to see any number of expected contenders seeking to add Bonifacio as a bench piece, while other clubs may want to move him around as they introduce young players — with the added bonus that he could once more be a summer trade chip.

As always, be sure to reference MLBTR’s Agency Database for the most up-to-date information on current player representatives. If you see any errors or omissions, please let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.


AL East Notes: Ross, Sox, Yanks, McCarthy, ARod, Rays

If he hangs up his spikes, as he is said to be weighingRed Sox catcher David Ross should have plenty of avenues for non-playing jobs in the game, tweets Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. A former GM tells Mastrodonato that he considers Ross a close friend and would be more than happy to find a position for him.

Here’s more from Boston and the rest of the AL East:

  • As the offseason begins for the Red Sox, GM Ben Cherington reiterated that the team needs to add depth in the rotation and in the lineup, as MLB.com’s Ian Browne reports. In particular, the club will emphasize left-handed-hitting options around the diamond.
  • Apart from Brett Gardner, the Yankees generally lack attractive veteran contracts that could be dealt in a rebuilding scenario, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But while that makes little sense, neither would it be beneficial to spend top dollar on the high-end free agent market, argues Sherman. Instead, New York should continue to wield its financial muscle to make more incremental gains that maintain financial and roster flexibility — much as the team did on the trade deadline this year.
  • One player who could meet that description is starter Brandon McCarthy. As Roger Rubin of the New York Daily news reports, the big righty is very open to a return to New York but is not exactly waiting with bated breath. “When the phone rings we’ll find out for sure,” said McCarthy, who added that he is willing to be aggressive in selling his services. “You don’t have to be the biggest name to be the first domino to fall,” he said. “You could be at the beginning or the end and at some slot in the middle. I’ve been focused on what I am doing, but soon it could be time to weigh what’s going on. I feel if I got the right offer, I’d be willing to sign early in the process.”
  • Yankees manager Joe Girardi says that he needs to see how Alex Rodriguez looks on the field before determining his role next year, as George A. King III of the New York Post reports. But Girardi says that his expectation is that Rodriguez will take a regular role at third: “Do we expect him to be a player on our team? Absolutely. Do we expect him to play third base? Yes. In fairness you have to see where he is at. I can’t tell you what will happen, but we expect him to be our third baseman.”
  • For the Rays, manager Joe Maddon hopes to stay on past 2015 but is in no rush to add onto his contract, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain reports. Meanwhile, both utilityman Ben Zobrist and reliever Joel Peralta hope the team will exercise its options over them for the coming year, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. That is a foregone conclusion for Zobrist, of course, but Peralta ($2.5MM option with no buyout) is a more difficult call as he enters his age-39 season. His 4.41 ERA over 63 1/3 frames does not look very appealing, but Peralta did post a 3.40 FIP, 3.11 xFIP, and 2.54 SIERA on the back of 10.5 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9.

NL Notes: Burnett, Hamels, Niese, Mets, Padres, Johnson

Here’s the latest from the National League:

  • Phillies starter A.J. Burnett seems more likely to retire (and forgo his $12.75MM player option) than many people believe, observes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com in an offseason preview piece. Meanwhile, the club will listen on Cole Hamels but continue to demand a ransom in return, while Philadelphia could be more open to dealing not only veteran Marlon Byrd but also arb-eligible outfielders Domonic Brown and Ben Revere. As Salisbury notes, the rotation has plenty of question marks and openings.
  • While Salisbury says he believes the Phillies will ultimately hang onto the 30-year-old Hamels, for better or worse, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki argues that the organization must view Hamels (and his fellow core veterans) from a pure baseball perspective. Attendance is plummeting in spite of the continued presence of numerous pieces of the team’s run of success, he notes, and the only way to rebuild the fan base is through winning.
  • Neutral talent evaluators believe that lefty Jon Niese is the Mets‘ best trade chip among the club’s veteran starters, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday. Niese, 27, threw to a 3.40 ERA over 187 2/3 frames in 2014. He is owed $16MM over the next two seasons and has a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, with respective $500K buyouts) thereafter.
  • The Mets are expected to replace hitting coach Lamar Johnson, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. That move is still not official, however, and New York is in the early stages of assessing who they might bring in.
  • Padres GM A.J. Preller is about to get his first taste of open market action from the seat of power, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Preller said that he anticipates a lot of trade attention on the team’s slate of arms, and indicated that he would be open to discussing any players if there’s a way to improve the club.
  • One interesting player who remains under the Padres‘ control is starter Josh Johnson, whose injury-shortened year left the club with a $4MM team option. Preller said that he hopes to have Johnson in the fold next year, though left unclear whether the team is interested in a straight exercise of the option. “With Josh, he’s a guy that everyone has a positive feel for,” said Preller. “We’ll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him.”

Multiple Teams Change Minor League Affiliations

As Baseball America’s Josh Leventhal writes, yesterday marked a two-week period where Major League clubs are free to negotiate with available minor league organizations. Major League clubs sign player development contracts with minor league organizations much like players will sign contracts with teams. As such, Leventhal notes that the “affiliation shuffle” is akin to free agency for minor league teams. Leventhal’s article provides more insight behind many of the moves and offers quite a bit of detail for those who are curious to read more about this process.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll see multiple teams sign deals with new affiliates, and MLBTR will keep track of them here for those that are interested …

Class-A Advanced

  • The Braves announced that they have moved their Class-A Advanced affiliate from Lynchburg, Va. to Zebulon, N.C. (formerly an Indians affiliate) after agreeing to a two-year PDC. They will inherit the Carolina Mudcats moniker.

Earlier Updates

  • Daytona (formerly the Cubs’ affiliate) has announced that it has reached a PDC with the Reds.
  • GM Jon Daniels says the Rangers will move their High-A affiliate from Myrtle Beach to High Desert, FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro tweets.
  • The Cubs announced that they will be moving their High-A affiliate from Daytona to Myrtle Beach (previously occupied by the Rangers).
  • The Indians announced that they will be moving their High-A affiliate from Carolina to Lynchburg (previously occupied by the Braves).

Double-A

  • The Twins announced that they will be moving their Double-A affiliate from New Britain to Chattanooga (previously occupied by the Dodgers) after agreeing to a four-year term.
  • The Dodgers announced that they will be moving their Double-A affiliate from Chattanooga to Tulsa (previously occupied by the Rockies).
  • New Britain (formerly the Twins’ affiliate) has announced that that it has reached a PDC with the Rockies.

Triple-A

  • The Giants announced that they have reached a two-year PDC with Triple-A Sacramento (formerly occupied by the Athletics).
  • The Brewers announced that they have reached a two-year PDC with Triple-A Colorado Spring (formerly occupied by the Rockies)
  • Fresno (formerly the Giants’ affiliate) has announced that it has reached a PDC with the Astros.
  • The Athletics have announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Sacramento to Nashville (previously occupied by the Brewers).
  • The Dodgers have announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City (previously occupied by the Astros).
  • The Rockies announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Colorado Springs to Albuquerque (previously occupied by the Dodgers).
  • The Brewers have announced that their Triple-A affiliation with Nashville has been terminated by the Sounds.