Author Archives: Jeff Todd

NL West Notes: Tomas, Padres Backstops, Kemp, Giants

The Giants were the runners up in the pursuit of Yasmany Tomas, who earlier today reportedly agreed to terms with the Diamondbacks, according to a Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). For their $68.5MM, Arizona is getting a player with undeniable upside, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick writes after speaking with three scouting sources.

  • The Padres are receiving a “ton of inquiries”on backstops Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, and Austin Hedges, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Each member of that trio has his own particular appeal, along with factors that hold down their trade value.
  • In other Padres news, Rosenthal notes (Twitter links) that he has received additional confirmation that San Diego had engaged with talks on Matt Kemp with the Dodgers. He hastens to add that these discussions were not “that recent” and that nothing is close to getting done, as the Friars continue to turn over a number of rocks in search of upgrades after missing on Pablo Sandoval and Tomas. Los Angeles would presumably have interested in arms and catching were talks to move forward.
  • The Giants will indeed seek to apply the money they hoped to spend on Sandoval or Tomas toward another top-end free agent, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reported this morning (before the Tomas signing was reported). As reported yesterday, the club is opening a broad search for a way to bolster its roster, aided by a bloated purse from winning the team’s third World Series in five seasons.

Diamondbacks To Sign Yasmany Tomas

The Diamondbacks have reached agreement on a six-year, $68.5MM deal with Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The deal includes an opt-out that can be triggered after four seasons and is pending only a physical, per Sanchez.

Yasmani Tomas

The overall guarantee lands just a hair over the $68MM that the White Sox promised Jose Abreu last year. Given changes in the market in the interim — largely driven, perhaps, by Abreu’s own incredible success — that price tag may feel low at first glance. Indeed, much attention has been given to the idea that Tomas, with his prodigious power and youth, could not only beat the Rusney Castillo contract (seven years, $72.5MM) but also reach nine figures.

Of course, the opt-out will play an important role in assessing this deal’s true value, especially once it is learned how much of the guarantee falls under the contract’s last two years. The 4+2 opt-out structure means that Tomas could reach free agency before his age-28 season. If his bat lives up to the hype, he’ll have another shot at a massive payday at that point. But the client of Jay Alou Jr. will have to prove it on the field first.

As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes wrote in his profile of Tomas, the 70-grade raw power is the right-handed hitter’s calling card. His other tools appear largely to be average or slightly below, and it remains unclear precisely what position Tomas will play and how his defensive ability will shake out. Though considered mobile in relation to his hulking frame, Tomas has drawn some concerns about his body and overall conditioning.

For Arizona, joining Tomas with Mark Trumbo potentially sets up a roster with unmatched right-handed power at the outfield corners. Of course, he may well need to spend some time in the upper minors before ascending to the big league roster, though that is an assessment that can wait for the spring. Arizona can also field David Peralta in a corner spot, and his left-handed bat would provide a nice complement when Tomas does make it to the show.

This move, like the Jeremy Hellickson trade, does not necessarily tell us precisely what else the Diamondbacks might look to accomplish for 2015. While the team’s new leadership structure — chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, GM Dave Stewart, and senior VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson — has indicated that it intends to field a competitive team next year, that does not mean that every move will be of the win-now variety. Entering his second-to-last year of club control, Trumbo could still be a trade chip, as could catcher Miguel Montero or other veterans such as Cliff Pennington and Cody Ross.

The likeliest course, perhaps, is a continuation of what the team has done thus far. Adding pitching will undoubtedly remain a focus, with Arizona possibly looking to deal from its outfield and middle infield surplus as a means of doing so. Before accounting for Tomas and Hellickson, the team’s 2015 payroll was over $20MM shy of last year’s team-record (assuming that all arb-eligible players are tendered). But now there may not be a ton of room to add current-year spending, given reports that the team is expected to spend somewhat less than last year. Of course, Arizona does have some possible means of moving salary through trade and is carrying fairly minimal future obligations.

Photo courtesy of Alyson Boyer Rode.


Latest On Cole Hamels

In a follow-up to his piece last night analyzing the Phillies’ options with regard to a possible Cole Hamels deal, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark provides a series of interesting notes, all via Twitter. The overall picture that emerges is one in which Philadelphia remains willing and ready to be engaged, and is perhaps more flexible in its thinking than many believe.

  • A team source rejected the prevailing view that Philadelphia is asking potential trade partners for two or three of their best prospects. Instead, the team has been in a stance of asking for offers on their star lefty.
  • At present, however, only one team has actually made an offer. Interestingly, the offeror is a team that has not been mentioned publicly as of yet. Philly felt it was a “good” offer but “not good enough,” per Stark’s source.
  • Ultimately, the Phillies have yet to reach a point in any discussion in which they have made a “formal ask” of a return for Hamels, says Stark. The reason is simply that talks have never progressed far enough to warrant a firm proposal.
  • MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes discussed Hamels’ value on today’s podcast (at about the 27:50 mark), arguing that Hamels would probably take down a bigger contract than Jon Lester were he on the open market. In that view, Dierkes opines, there is plenty of value to be achieved in trading for the Hamels contract, even if it is not a bargain. If Hamels ends up being dealt, it will be fascinating to evaluate how the clubs involved valued his deal.


MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Episode 8

MLB player agent Matt Sosnick of Sosnick Cobbe Sports joins host Jeff Todd for the first of a two-part discussion (1:26). This week’s portion includes the latest on Josh Johnson as well as discussion of other Sosnick Cobbe clients such as Josh Willingham, Jay Bruce, Jon Singleton, and Ricky Nolasco. Then, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes joins the show to go in-depth on the latest moves from the Red Sox (20:18).

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The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons. It is appearing a day early in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.


Marlins Seek First Base Upgrade Via Trade

The Marlins are “determined to upgrade” their first base position and have started looking into the trade market as a means of doing so, according to a report from Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Miami is looking to replace or, presumably, platoon with incumbent Garrett Jones.

Among the players as to whom the Marlins have inquired are Evan Gattis of the Braves and Chris Davis of the Orioles, per the report. The pair of 28-year-olds are in quite different situations, needless to say, but obviously each hold their own appeal. Davis is a left-handed hitter who is coming off a down year and looking to bolster his 50-home run resume in his final season before reaching free agency. Gattis, a catcher who could presumably shift over to first, will not even be eligible for arbitration until next season. He hits from the right side and thus would pair nicely with the left-handed bat of Jones, who remains under contract for one more season.

Miami would be required to part with a valued young arm to land either player, the report suggests. One possibility would be a deal involving well-regarded lefty Andrew Heaney, though of course the Fish are generally well-stocked in rotation prospects.

Miami reportedly made an offer to Adam LaRoche — the market’s best pure first baseman — before he signed with the White Sox. Missing on LaRoche left the market without much in the way of established, recently productive first baseman. Michael Morse remains a candidate to play that position, but the Marlins’ interest is “lukewarm,” per the report.


Jon Lester Rumors: Tuesday

Yesterday, we took a look at some news and rumors on free agent Jon Lester and the connection of his market to the trade market for Cole Hamels. As things continue to develop for Lester, here’s the latest …

  • Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com hears that the Cubs are very much in on Lester still. The Cubs have been on top of the situation from the beginning, Levine writes, and while his source wouldn’t wager a guess as to where Lester will sign, the source did indicate that an annual salary of $25MM or more.

Earlier Updates

  • The Cubs have made Lester an offer of over $135MM and are willing to go to six years on a deal, according to a report from David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com (audio and written version).
  • Kaplan also reports that the Giants‘ interest in Lester is real and significant. The lefty is scheduled for a visit to San Francisco next week, per ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Twitter links).
  • Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters, including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, that he is “confident that we’re making every attempt internally here and the hope would be to get [Lester] back here.” But things could still take some time to shake out, with Farrell adding that he expects to “get a better read on that in the coming weeks.”

Details On Jay Bruce’s No-Trade Clause

We heard recently that the Reds will at least listen to offers on outfielder Jay Bruce. While that still seems to be a long shot, it is worth noting that Bruce has an eight-team no-trade clause that would come into play were he shopped.

According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, Bruce can block deals to the Athletics, Blue Jays, D’backs, Marlins, Rays, Red Sox, Twins, and Yankees. That mix of small and large-market teams presumably shields Bruce from destinations he may prefer not to play in while affording him leverage if a big-spending AL East club were to come calling.

Bruce had an off year in 2014, but has been one of the game’s most consistent power threats and is just entering his age-28 season. He is guaranteed $25.5MM over the next two seasons, which includes a buyout for a $13MM club option in 2017.


Lucas Harrell Signs With Korea’s LG Twins

Former big league starter Lucas Harrell has agreed to a $900K deal with the LG Twins of Korea’s KBO, according to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News. The 29-year-old righty spent last year with the Astros and Diamondbacks organizations.

Harrell emerged in Houston with a big 2012 campaign. He racked up 193 2/3 frames of 3.76 ERA ball that year, striking out 6.5 and walking 3.6 batters per nine while emerging as a popular trade target. But Houston thought it had a durable, solid starter with plenty of control, and did not deal him until it was too late to bring much value.

Harrell took a steep downturn in 2013, throwing to a 5.86 ERA in his 153 2/3 innings while both striking out and walking 5.2 per nine. After a rough start to the year last season, Harrell was shipped to the D’backs for a PTBNL and ultimately ended up with another rather ugly line at Triple-A for Arizona.


Latest On Mariners’ Pursuit Of Righty Outfield Bat

2:57pm: Seattle is interested in Upton but intends to take a look at free agent Nelson Cruz first, according to a tweet from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

11:51am: The Mariners, as expected, are pursuing several trade possibilities in their efforts to find a right-handed-hitting corner outfield bat, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Seattle has long been expected to try to fill its outfield void with a righty power bat, and it appears that is where the team is focused.

Seattle’s front office has had talks on players such as Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, Yoenis Cespedes of the Red Sox, and Justin Upton of the Braves. Obviously, each of those options would represent a major addition of a premier source of pop, though their contractual situations are notably different. The latter two are playing out their final year of control at fairly reasonable prices, while Kemp is owed $21MM next year and another $86MM over the four seasons that follow.

The Mariners remain one of the more intriguing teams to watch on the trade market, both because of their aggressive stance and stockpile of interesting talent. Seattle has Brad Miller and Chris Taylor potentially available up the middle, though the team may be more inclined to hold if it does not have an attractive upgrade in mind. The club also possesses interesting, MLB-ready arms like Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, each of whom would hold broad appeal.


Twins Outright Anthony Swarzak

The Twins have outrighted righty Anthony Swarzak, according to a tweet from Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. With the move, Minnesota has one open 40-man roster spot.

Swarzak, 29, has been a mainstay on the Twins staff for the last four years, primarily working out of the pen and also making spot starts. He threw to a 4.60 ERA last year after posting a strong 2.91 mark the year before, and did so while racking up significant innings totals (96 and 86, respectively). Already not much of a strikeout pitcher, Swarzak saw his K rate drop to 4.9 per nine last year.

Minnesota was set to pay Swarzak somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.4MM through arbitration, as projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz. That led MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes to label Swarzak a non-tender candidate.