Author Archives: Mark Polishuk

Dodgers Acquire Jimmy Rollins

12:52pm: The Phillies are sending $1MM to the Dodgers as a part of the deal, an industry source tells Todd Zolecki of MLB.com (on Twitter).

10:27am: After more than a week of anticipation, the Phillies announced that they have traded shortstop Jimmy Rollins and cash considerations to the Dodgers in exchange for right-hander Zach Eflin and left-hander Tom Windle.

Jimmy Rollins

There was a significant hold-up in the trade, as the Phillies had to wait for the Dodgers to finalize their Matt Kemp trade with San Diego due to the fact that Eflin was part of the Dodgers’ return in that deal. Kemp’s physical dragged out the process for both trades, but each has now been announced.

After losing Hanley Ramirez to the Red Sox in free agency, Los Angeles filled its vacancy at shortstop with another high-profile veteran.  Rollins actually generated more fWAR (3.6 to 3.4) than Ramirez in 2014, as while Ramirez delivered more at the plate, Rollins far outpaced Ramirez defensively.  Rollins is no longer the offensive force that he was in his prime, but he still posted an above-average 102 wRC+ in 2014, hitting .243/.323/.394 with 17 homers and 28 steals over 609 plate appearances.

Rollins reached a vesting option in his previous contract that earned him an extra year and an $11MM salary for the 2015 season.  Since the Dodgers’ commitments to both Rollins and third baseman Juan Uribe will be up after 2015, that allows the club some flexibility in deciding the future of Corey Seager.  The top prospect is a shortstop now but many project him to eventually require a move to third base.

Rollins, 36, spent his entire 15-year career in Philadelphia, with the highlights including the NL MVP Award in 2007 and a World Series title in 2008.  Rollins is the Phillies’ all-time franchise leader in hits and doubles, and only Mike Schmidt played more games in a Phillie uniform.

Though parting with Rollins is bittersweet for Philadelphia, they’ll receive a pair of solid pitching prospects in return. Eflin, 20, was selected 33rd overall in the 2012 draft, and the 22-year-old Windle went 56th overall just a year later. At the time of the Kemp deal, ESPN’s Keith Law wrote (subscription required) that he felt Eflin was “at worst” a fourth starter in the Majors with the potential to become more. Baseball America ranked him 14th among Padres prospects last offseason, and MLB.com already ranks him fifth among Phillies prospects, calling him a potential mid-rotation workhorse with the build of a prototypical right-hander. BA noted in their scouting report that he sits comfortably at 90 to 92 mph with a sinking fastball but as touched the mid-90s in the past when needed. Eflin pitched to a 3.80 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 128 innings at Class-A Advanced last season.

Windle, drafted out of the University of Minnesota, also spent last season in High-A, compiling a 4.26 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 139 1/3 innings. BA ranked him 12th among Dodgers prospects a season ago, and MLB.com has him sixth among current Phillies farmhands. His changeup made serious progress in 2014, per MLB.com, giving him a chance at a solid third pitch to pair with a low-90s fastball and a “nasty” slider. BA feels that his slider a plus pitch that can befuddle both right- and left-handed batters, noting that even if he doesn’t pan out as a starter, Windle’s fastball/slider combo could play well in a high-leverage relief role. At the time the trade was reported, Law noted that Windle pitched in a brutal environment for pitchers last season, adding that he liked Windle’s chances to break out as a prospect in the Double-A Eastern League in 2015.

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury first reported the Rollins to the Dodgers was a done deal. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports indicated, on Twitter, that Eflin would head to the Dodgers, and Salisbury reported (also on Twitter) that Windle was the other player in the deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Quick Hits: Johnson, Twins, Rasmus, Correia

The Braves have reportedly been trying to package Chris Johnson or B.J. Upton along with one of their more desirable trade targets, and the Royals at least had some interest in Johnson, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports.  Kansas City’s greater interest was in Justin Upton, though the Royals were considering using Johnson as a platoon partner with Mike Moustakas at third base.  Now that K.C. has signed Alex Rios, however, they can probably be counted out of the running for the younger Upton brother.

Here’s some more from around the baseball world…

  • The Twins aren’t seriously interested in either Asdrubal Cabrera or Jung-ho Kang, ESPN 1500’s Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter links), though Minnesota might “place [a] small bid” on Kang’s services.  Teams have until Friday at 4pm CT to post their bids for Kang.
  • Also from Wolfson, the Twins aren’t interested in signing outfielder Colby Rasmus.
  • Three or four teams are getting “more engaged” with Kevin Correia, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets.  The clubs in question are looking at Correia as a low-cost add as a fourth or fifth starter.
  • The Cardinals could still add another starting pitcher as a depth option, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes as part of a reader mailbag.  This would be a low-cost signing, Langosch notes, speculating that the Cards would look for a pitcher trying to recover from either an injury or just a poor 2014 season.
  • The Giants could also be looking to make a similar buy-low signing, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) hears that the club could fill its left field hole with a player coming off a rough season.
  • It’s been a surprisingly busy offseason for scouting director moves, as MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo notes that eight different teams have installed new scouting directors since the start of October.
  • Padres director of baseball options Nick Ennis discusses analytics, the evaluation of new ideas and much more in an interview with Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris.

AL West Notes: Beachy, Asdrubal, A’s, Mather

Here’s the latest from around the AL West…

  • Brandon Beachy‘s agent, Robert Martin, tells Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News that the Rangers are one of multiple clubs who have shown interest in his client.  After missing all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery, Beachy was non-tendered by Atlanta and is now an intriguing buy-low option that would fit the Rangers’ offseason plan to upgrade their rotation at a relatively low cost.  “Several teams are still reviewing his medicals.  I do not think a decision is imminent, but he does have multiple offers,” Martin said.
  • The Athletics have never previously shown any interest in Asdrubal Cabrera, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links), and thus she would be “pretty surprised” to see the A’s pursue the veteran infielder this offseason.
  • The reviews of the Derek Norris trade are starting to file in, and ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider link) calls it a win for both the Athletics and Padres, though “the A’s probably get more value in the end.”  Fangraphs’ Paul Swydan also likes the trade for Oakland, saying that the A’s added to their pitching depth without necessarily losing anything at catcher.
  • In a radio interview with Dave Mahler of Sportsradio KJR (hat tip to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times for the partial transcript), Mariners president Kevin Mather discussed his club’s payroll increase for 2015, hinted that contract length may have been a reason why the M’s didn’t sign Melky Cabrera and said the team didn’t make an official offer to Nelson Cruz in the 2013-14 offseason.


Padres Acquire Derek Norris

The Padres and Athletics have continued their busy offseasons by announcing a multiplayer deal.  Catcher Derek Norris, right-hander Seth Streich and an international signing slot are on the way to San Diego. with right-handers Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez going to Oakland.  The #117 international signing slot carries a value of $144.1K (hat tip to Baseball America).

Norris, 25, hit .270/.361/.403 with 10 homers in 442 plate appearances with the A’s last season, earning his first All-Star appearance in the process.  The right-handed hitting Norris did much of his damage against lefty pitching (.863 OPS vs. LHP, .699 OPS vs. RHP) and in the first half of the season, as he hit only .240/.324/.335 after the All-Star break.  Norris is still a year away from arbitration eligibility and he’s under team control through the 2018 season.

The trade finishes off San Diego’s complete overhaul of their catching situation over the last week.  Once the Matt Kemp and Wil Myers trades are official, the Padres will have moved out Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera while adding Norris, Ryan Hanigan and Tim Federowicz.  With top prospect Austin Hedges also waiting in the wings behind the plate, Norris and the two veterans could essentially serve as a bridge for a season or two until Hedges (who has yet to hit Triple-A) is ready.

In that case Norris could be moved to first base in 2016 or sooner, given that he has graded out as a below-average defensive catcher in his brief Major League career, including an infamously tough game against the Royals in last year’s AL Wild Card game.  The Padres were known to be looking for corner infield help, so Norris could see some part-time action at first this year in a platoon with left-handed hitting Yonder Alonso.

Hahn, 25, was rumored as a possible trade chip as the Padres looked for hitters.  The righty posted a 3.07 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 2.19 K/BB and a 50.3% ground ball rate over 73 1/3 innings in 2014, his first taste of Major League action.  He came to San Diego last January from Tampa Bay as part of the Logan Forsythe trade.

Alvarez also made his MLB debut last season, allowing one earned run over eight relief innings out of the Padres’ bullpen.  The 25-year-old has a fastball that has touched the high-90’s and boasts some impressive minor league numbers, including a 2.41 ERA, 13.4 K/9 and 3.49 K/BB rate over 119 1/3 IP (mostly out of the bullpen).  This is Alvarez’s second trade in less than six months, as he was part of the prospect package that San Diego received from the Angels for Huston Street in July.

Hahn and Alvarez are each controllable through the 2020 season, giving the A’s two more quality young arms to go along with other offseason pitching acquisitions like Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman.  With the A’s so deep in starters, MLB.com’s Jane Lee opines (Twitter link) that the club is preparing to unload some of this pitching depth as part of a larger trade for a hitter.  Behind the plate, meanwhile, Stephen Vogt and the newly-acquired Josh Phegley look to be Oakland’s new catching platoon with Norris gone.

Streich, a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft, has a 3.37 ERA, 3.04 K/BB rate and 8.5 K/9 over 262 minor league innings, none above the high-A level.  He entered the year ranked by Baseball America as the 25th-best player in Oakland’s farm system.

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter links) was the first to report that Norris was going to the Padres.  FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi had Streich’s involvement while Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan was the first to report (via Twitter) the full trade.


AL East Notes: Lester, Holt, Grilli, Levine

After covering some Orioles Notes and Rays Notes earlier tonight, let’s look elsewhere around the American League East…

  • Cubs southpaw Jon Lester discussed a number of topics during a radio interview on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show, including the extension negotiations that took place between he and the Red Sox last spring.  When asked if he would’ve accepted an extension in the range of five years and $120MM, Lester said, “That is one of those deals where hindsight is 20/20. You go back in time and you look at it and you go probably yes.  I mean you don’t know. I mean it is one of those deals where when it is sitting in front of you that is a lot of money to turn down. That would have made it very difficult to turn it down.”  Boston instead opened talks with a below-market four-year/$70MM offer that seemed to be the first step towards Lester eventually leaving the club.  (Hat tip to WEEI.com’s Ryan Hannable for the partial transcript of Lester’s comments.)
  • The Red Sox highly value Brock Holt and have little interest in trading him, two sources tell MassLive.com’s Jason Mastrodonato.  Holt’s versatility makes him a very important bench piece for Boston, and the team isn’t likely to deal the utilityman unless they receive an offer too good to refuse.
  • The Yankees may not be done adding bullpen pieces, but they’re apparently not interested in righty Jason Grilli, George A. King III of the New York Post reports.  Gary Sheffield, Grilli’s agent, tells King that “We talked to Cash [Brian Cashman], and he said ‘not at the moment.’ We will sit back with the offers we have and wait.”
  • In another piece from George A. King III, Yankees president Randy Levine seemed to rule out the possibility that his team will sign Max Scherzer, without mentioning the free agent righty by name.  “We are out there looking [for pitching], but it has to be tempered by the reality of the organization. Looking at our pitching staff, for example, we have two guys with a lot of money and we have to build around that,” Levine said.  “The chances of us bringing in a guy for six [years] and $25 million [per year] or over in my opinion is virtually none. At the end of the day, you have to be realistic in any organization.”  While James Shields, another top-tier free agent ace, isn’t expected to receive a deal in the six-year/$25MM average annual value range, King thinks Shields could also be out of the Yankees’ price range.

Rockies Notes: Harang, Johnson, Gee, Rosario

MLB.com’s Thomas Harding rounds up some of the names connected to Rockies’ offseason pitching search, including the new information that Colorado is interested in Josh Johnson and Aaron Harang.  Johnson may soon be off the board as he’s close to re-signing with San Diego, though Harang’s market has been pretty quiet this winter.  As Harding notes, the Rockies are looking for ground ball pitchers (such as Kevin Correia or Kyle Kendrick) who could handle the thin air of Coors Field, but Harang doesn’t fit that bill; the veteran righty only has a 38.2% grounder rate over his career.  The Rockies are still exploring trade possibilities and aren’t believed to have begun serious negotiations with any pitcher, Harding reports.

Here’s some more from the Mile High city…

  • One of those possible trades could involve the Mets’ Dillon Gee, though Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (Twitter link) said talks are “on hold.”  Saunders thinks the two sides “were close” to a deal at one point.
  • Besides looking for pitching, the Wilin Rosario trade market has been the Rockies’ biggest offseason focus, ESPN’s Jerry Crsnick tweets.  American League teams are the “prime targets” for Rosario, as his long-term future may be at DH rather than catcher.
  • The Rockies want pitching back in any trade for Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez or Justin Morneau, though no deal involving any of the three stars is imminent, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports (via Twitter).  Colorado has discussed all three players in trade talks this offseason.

Rays Notes: Stadium, Longoria, Myers

The St. Petersburg City Council rejected an agreement that would’ve allowed the Rays to explore sites for a new stadium within the greater St. Petersburg area, Stephen Nohlgren, Charlie Frago and Kameel Stanley of the Tampa Bay Times write.  In a media release, Rays president Brian Auld said, “We are obviously disappointed.  Our goal was to begin a collaborative, exploratory process in our region to determine the best location for a next generation ballpark. The council has instead decided that the status quo is what is in the best interest of the citizens of St. Petersburg.”  Needless to say, this development will lead to renewed speculation about the Rays’ long-term future in the Tampa area, as owner Stuart Sternberg has threatened to sell the team rather than continue at Tropicana Field.

Here’s some more from the Rays…

  • There’s no evidence the Rays are considering trading Evan Longoria, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  If Tampa was looking into a rebuild, it stands to reason that Longoria (by far the team’s highest-paid player) would be a trade chip.
  • From that same tweet, Heyman also notes that Wil Myers “rebuffed [an] overture” from the Rays about a long-term deal.  There were some whispers last spring that Tampa would look to extend Myers as the team has done with so many of its young stars.  Of course, Myers’ time as a Ray is almost up as the young outfielder is on the verge of being dealt to San Diego.
  • Even as far back as Myers’ Rookie of the Year season in 2013, the Rays had some doubts about whether the outfielder would become a consistent player, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes as part of his latest Insider-only column.  Given these doubts, the Myers trade makes a lot of sense for the Rays as a sell-high move, Olney notes.

Minor Moves: Carter, Lowe, Rivero

Here are today’s minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Cubs have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Anthony Carter, MLBTR’s Steve Adams reports (Twitter link).  The deal contains an invitation to the team’s Spring Training camp.  Carter, 28, has a 4.59 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.61 K/BB rate over 680 1/3 career IP in the Padres, Red Sox and White Sox farm systems.  He spent most of the 2014 season in Japan, posting a 3.97 ERA over 45 1/3 relief innings for the Nippon Ham Fighters.
  • The Mariners announced the signings of right-hander Mark Lowe and infielder Carlos Rivero to minor league contracts.  Lowe originally pitched for Seattle from 2006-10 and the veteran spent 2014 in the Indians’ organization, a season that included an outright assignment to Triple-A and a 3.86 ERA over seven Major League innings.  Rivero was originally claimed by Seattle off waivers from the Red Sox in November, and he’s rejoining the M’s after being non-tendered by the club earlier this month.  Rivero made his Major League debut last season, appearing in eight games with Boston.

Orioles Notes: Young, Morse, Matusz, Suzuki

The Orioles are still hunting for outfield help, and Delmon Young is “absolutely” still in play, agent Joel Wolfe tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Wolfe says that all discussions with the O’s have been “very positive,” though Kubatko writes that Young’s preference is a multiyear deal, whereas the Orioles are more comfortable signing Young to a one-year deal, perhaps with an option.

Here’s some more from Baltimore…

  • The Orioles were also wary about committing multiple years to Michael Morse, Kubatko notes.  The O’s had “strong interest” in Morse earlier in the offseason but the veteran found a multiyear deal elsewhere, signing a two-year/$16MM contract with the Marlins.
  • In another Kubatko piece, he writes that the acquisition of left-hander Wesley Wright doesn’t necessarily mean the O’s will look to move Brian Matusz since Matusz is more of a lefty specialist.  This said, Baltimore does seemingly have a surplus of bullpen arms that could be used as trade bait, and Kubatko speculates that the Padres (with their surplus of outfielders) could be a fit as a trade partner.
  • The Orioles have given some consideration to signing Ichiro Suzuki, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes.
  • Chris Davis has received permission from Major League Baseball to take Adderall next season, Buck Showalter told reporters (including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun).  Davis was issued a 25-game suspension last year for his unauthorized use of Adderall, and he still has one game remaining on his punishment.
  • The Orioles will interview Scott Coolbaugh about their vacant hitting coach position, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.  Coolbaugh was the Rangers’ hitting coach from 2011-12 and is currently their minor league hitting coordinator.

Dodgers Sign Brandon McCarthy

The Dodgers have officially signed a four-year contract with Brandon McCarthy, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal first reported (Twitter link). The four-year deal will pay McCarthy $48MM, Rosenthal tweets. McCarthy receives a $6MM signing bonus, $11MM per year in 2015-16, and $10MM annually in the final two years of the deal, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

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The contract also gives the Dodgers a conditional club option for 2019, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. If he has spent more than 179 days on the DL due to a specific injury, McCarthy would be subject to a $5MM club option. If he has missed between 119-179 days, it would be a $8MM club option.

A four-year guarantee would’ve seemed like a fantasy for McCarthy as recently as last summer when he had a 5.01 ERA through 18 starts with Arizona.  Advanced metrics revealed that McCarthy pitched much better than his ERA indicated, however, and he ended the year on a dominant run after being traded to the Yankees.  In 90 1/3 IP in New York, McCarthy posted a 2.89 ERA, 6.31 K/BB rate and 8.2 K/9.

MLBTR’s Steve Adams projected McCarthy would receive a three-year deal this winter, though a four-year deal wasn’t out of the question given the amount of interest the veteran righty was likely to generate.  The wait for Jon Lester to sign likely held up McCarthy’s market, as only the Royals and Yankees had been linked to him, and New York was hesitant to give McCarthy even a three-year contract given his injury history.  Needless to say, the fourth year was a nice get for McCarthy and agent Ryan Ware.

If the deal is finalized, McCarthy joins Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu in what should be a very strong top four in the Dodgers rotation, with lefty Brett Anderson now reportedly also on board to fill the fifth slot.  Los Angeles had been linked to high-profile aces like Cole Hamels or James Shields, and though you can never say never with the Dodgers, McCarthy’s signing could mean the team is done with its rotation shopping this winter.

There is no denying the risk that the Dodgers are taking on with this deal. While any long-term pitching contract comes with it, McCarthy has a particularly spotty injury history. And while the conditional club option included in the deal offers some measure of protection, it is not as clear cut a benefit as was the John Lackey option. Then, of course, there is the fact that McCarthy greatly improved his stock with a strong second half and will need to maintain it for a full season. All of that is not to say, of course, that McCarthy is not capable of meeting and exceeding the value of the deal; the price tag obviously reflects his ceiling.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reported on Twitter that the deal was completed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.