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Author Archives: Steve Adams
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.
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.
12:09pm: A source familiar with the negotiations tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (on Twitter) that Ross has not yet agreed to a deal with the Padres.
The addition of Ross is just the latest in a whirlwind of transactions for the Padres under new hyper-aggressive GM A.J. Preller. Last night, the Padres made their acquisition of Matt Kemp official, and they’re slated to do the same with a three-team trade that will net them Wil Myers and Ryan Hanigan from the Rays today. The Padres have also struck deals to acquire Derek Norris from the A’s and Justin Upton from the Braves, and they won’t be hanging onto Hanigan; he’s reportedly headed to the Red Sox in a swap that will bring Will Middlebrooks to San Diego.
The veteran Ross hit .184/.260/.368 for the Red Sox last season but is well-regarded for his veteran presence, his 37 percent career caught-stealing rate, his pitch-framing skills and his work with pitchers. The addition of Ross likely squeezes Tim Federowicz out of some playing time and could lead to him being packaged in a trade as well, with Norris and Ross making up manager Bud Black’s primary backstop tandem.
The 26-year-old Jensen was acquired in a minor swap with the Marlins following the 2014 season. He’s yet to appear at the Major League level but does come with a respectable track record of minor league production; the former 12th-round pick has a .252/.320/.482 batting line in 193 games at Triple-A.
The 30-year-old Gomes posted a 3.71 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 34 innings last season, though a 4.60 FIP indicates that he was a bit fortuitous to keep his ERA that low. Gomes has a lifetime 4.17 ERA in parts of four seasons with Tampa. He was originally acquired in the trade that sent Jason Bartlett to San Diego.
9:56am: The Padres and Red Sox are nearing a trade that would send catcher Ryan Hanigan from San Diego to Boston in exchange for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, reports Yahoo’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link).
The Padres have yet to so much as make their acquisition of Hanigan official, as the three-team deal that will net him and outfielder Wil Myers hasn’t been announced by the clubs. However, that hasn’t stopped them from shopping around one of their newest acquisitions and figuring out the framework for a deal that seemingly helps both parties involved.
Hanigan, 34, is an excellent defensive catcher coming off a season in which he batted just .218/.318/.324 in his first season with the Rays. He’s owed a total of $8MM over the next two seasons (including the $800K buyout on a $3.75MM club option for 2017) and could pair well behind the plate with Christian Vazquez in Boston.
The 26-year-old Middlebrooks was once one of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization, but he’s yet to replicate the .288/.325/.509 batting line he put together in his rookie season of 2012. Since that time, Middlebrooks has dealt with injuries and a rapidly rising strikeout rate, both of which have contributed to a paltry .213/.265/.364 batting line from 2013-14.
Despite those struggles, Middlebrooks still has upside, and he fills a need at third base for the Padres, who can now turn to Derek Norris and Tim Federowicz behind the plate in 2015. The Red Sox were unlikely to find significant playing time for Middlebrooks anyhow after signing both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez this offseason. While the return of a defensive-minded catcher is certainly less than Sox fans may have hoped for given past hype surrounding Middlebrooks, the swap does improve and deepen Boston’s roster for 2015.
San Diego can control Middlebrooks through the 2018 season, and he won’t be eligible for arbitration until next offseason.
The Padres’ roster overhaul is not yet finished, as the team has now reportedly struck an agreement to acquire Justin Upton from the Braves. San Diego will send a sizable haul of left-hander Max Fried, second baseman/shortstop Jace Peterson, third baseman Dustin Peterson and outfielder Mallex Smith to the Braves in exchange for Upton and a low-level minor leaguer.
Upton will be the third right-handed corner outfield bat acquired by the Padres in the past couple of days when the trade is finalized, as the team has announced the Matt Kemp deal and is on the verge of announcing the three-team Wil Myers trade as well. Obviously, the Padres have more corner outfielders than spots available, so the defensive alignment they’ll deploy is up for debate. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted earlier that the Padres had decided weeks ago they were OK with playing Kemp in center field, if need be. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears (Twitter links) that Myers will likely be the one to handle center at Petco Park in 2015.
New Padres GM A.J. Preller has completely reshaped his club’s offense in about one week’s time with the agreements to acquire Kemp, Myers, Derek Norris and now Upton. The group will give the Friars a rare wealth of right-handed power — a much-needed change after the team finished last season with a collective .226/.292/.342 batting line and scored a Major League worst 535 runs.
Upton has just one year of team control remaining and is owed $14.5MM before hitting the open market next winter. He’s coming off a season in which he batted .270/.342/.491 with 29 homers — his highest total since an MVP-caliber season back in 2011. Upton hasn’t been able to consistently turn in the superstar-level results he showed in that 2011 season, but he’s at least a well above-average player and still carries that elite upside as he heads into his age-27 campaign.
While the Padres will now have a year to potentially explore a long-term deal with Upton, MLB.com’s Corey Brock gets the sense that the Padres are content with knowing that he could simply be a one-year rental (Twitter link). Even if Upton departs after just one year with the Friars, San Diego will undoubtedly make a qualifying offer (barring a catastrophic injury or collapse) and net a compensatory draft pick that will recover some of the lost value in this deal.
While the Padres may now have their starting outfield in place, they’re far from done with outfield-related trades. The Friars still possess a deep pool of outfielders that could be potentially moved. Carlos Quentin, owed $8MM, was previously said to be willing to waive his no-trade clause and may be even more keen on doing so now that it’s clear at-bats for him in 2015 would be few and far between in San Diego.
The Padres also have Will Venable under contract through 2015 and Cameron Maybin and Seth Smith controlled through 2016. Venable is owed $4.25MM, while Maybin will earn $16MM over the next two seasons and Smith will take home $13MM.
Smith has significant trade value after hitting .266/.367/.440 last season. While he was assured that he wouldn’t be traded when he signed the extension, that sentiment came from previous Padres management and clearly may not hold weight under the Preller regime. Venable is coming off a down season but has a history of productivity, particularly away from Petco Park, and his price tag would likely be appealing to rival clubs. Maybin’s deal comes with negative trade value, though he could serve as an expensive fourth outfielder in San Diego, as he’s still capable of playing a solid center field.
The 20-year-old Fried, selected seventh overall in the 2012 draft, ranked as a consensus Top 100 prospect heading into the season, but he required Tommy John surgery early in the year that limited him to just 10 2/3 frames. He will be sidelined for most of the 2015 campaign as he recovers. Prior to the season, however, Baseball America ranked Fried 53rd (full scouting report requires subscription) among all prospects and noted that he had the ceiling of a No. 2 starter with potential for three plus pitches and an extremely projectable 6’4″, 185-pound frame that added to his ceiling. MLB.com’s most recent rankings had him third among San Diego farmhands and 68th in all of baseball.
Jace Peterson, 24, made his Major League debut this season, though he collected just 58 plate appearances and struggled to a .113/.161/.113 batting line. BA ranked him seventh among Padres prospects last offseason, noting that while he lacks a single plus tool, he has average tools across the board with great athleticism and instincts. BA praised his line-drive stroke and ability to handle left-on-left matchups, noting that he could be a table-setting shortstop if his ceiling is reached. Obviously, with Atlanta having Andrelton Simmons locked up for the foreseeable future, Peterson is more of a second-base candidate with the Braves, however.
The other Peterson in the deal, Dustin, could eventually see time as a third base option for Atlanta. The 2013 second-rounder is now 20 years old and struggled a bit as a 19-year-old against older competition in the Class-A Midwest League in 2014, hitting .233/.274/.361 with 10 homers. BA ranked him 22nd among Padres prospects last winter. The younger brother of Mariners top prospect D.J. Peterson, Dustin is regarded as a bat-first prospect who may have to shift from third to the right side of the infield or left field, per BA. His excellent bat speed and ability to use the whole field are among the traits that BA and MLB.com praise in their scouting reports. MLB.com ranked him 10th among Padres prospects recently.
Smith, 21, dropped off BA’s Top 30 list last offseason but ranked 20th on MLB.com’s current list of Padres prospects primarily due to his blazing speed. The outfielder possesses little power and has work to do on his routes, per their scouting report. He’s a career .290/.383/.388 hitter in the minors and has stolen 169 bases in 265 career games — including 88 steals this past season.
For those that are particularly interested in the Braves’ end of the return, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel wrote up scouting reports and posted video of each of the players acquired by Atlanta in this deal.
Yahoo’s Jeff Passan first reported (via Twitter) that the Braves were wrapping up an Upton deal. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman first listed the Padres as a possibility and then as a likely candidate (Twitter links). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that Upton was going to the Padres. Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio reported that Fried and Jace Peterson were in the deal (Twitter links). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that Smith and Dustin Peterson were in the trade with a low-level prospect going to San Diego.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
8:39am: Rosenthal definitively tweets that the Mariners are out of the mix on Upton at this juncture, further fueling the Padres scenario.
8:35am: Olney tweets that the Cubs aren’t in on Upton at this time. He adds that the Padres decided weeks ago that it Kemp had to play center field, they were OK with the idea. He also points out that the Braves have been trying to unload Chris Johnson in potential Upton deals, and San Diego does have an opening at third base.
8:31am: The Padres seem like the most likely club to acquire Upton, tweets Bowman. In addition to Renfroe, Bowman lists Matt Wisler, Max Fried and Austin Hedges as Padres prospects that intrigue the Braves.
8:23am: Buster Olney of ESPN tweets that the Astros aren’t the mystery club. He also tweets that the Braves asked San Diego for top outfield prospect Hunter Renfroe (their 2013 first-round pick) in Upton negotiations earlier this offseason.
8:13am: Bowman tweets that the early indication is that Upton isn’t heading to the A’s, Mariners or Rangers. Somewhat remarkably, Bowman notes that the Padres are a possibility to add Upton. San Diego has been hyper-aggressive of late, but they’ve also already added corner outfielders Matt Kemp and Wil Myers via trade.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the trade partner is not the Athletics. He, too, mentions the Padres as a possibility.
8:09am: Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets that the Rangers aren’t in the mix for Upton.
8:02am: MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets that the Braves have had recent talks with the A’s, Rangers and Mariners regarding Upton.
7:45am: The Braves are finalizing a trade of Justin Upton, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Late last night, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel reported that Atlanta appeared to be “down the road” on a deal sending Upton to an AL West team for young pitching (Twitter link).
Among AL West clubs, the Mariners have been prominently linked to Upton in trade rumors for much of the offseason, but the Rangers also have a need in the corner outfield, and the extremely active Athletics have been stocking up on young pitching in trades recently.
Just as a reminder, the Blue Jays, Cubs, Blue Jays and Brewers are the four clubs on Upton’s limited no-trade clause.
Pitcher Jake Peavy has agreed to a deal to return to the Giants, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It’s a two-year, $24MM deal with a full no-trade clause, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Peavy, a CAA client, will be paid a $4MM signing bonus and salaries of $7MM in 2015 and $13MM in 2016, writes Crasnick.
Peavy, 34 in May, posted a 3.73 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.02 HR/9, and 38.5% groundball rate in 202 2/3 innings for the Red Sox and Giants this year. The Red Sox traded him to the Giants on July 26th with cash for Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree. Peavy posted a 2.17 ERA in 78 2/3 innings for the Giants after the trade. While his control improved with the Giants, his sharp drop in homer-to-flyball rate (3.2 percent) isn’t sustainable, even in the pitcher friendly AT&T Park.
While the level of production he showed in the season’s second half is very likely to come back down to Earth, there’s no doubt that a full-time move to AT&T Park and the NL West will be of benefit to Peavy’s numbers. He’ll provide the Giants with some much-needed stability in the rotation, as the team currently has a great deal of uncertainty behind ace Madison Bumgarner and veteran workhorse Tim Hudson. Matt Cain is coming off elbow surgery, Ryan Vogelsong is also a free agent, Tim Lincecum hasn’t been reliable for the past three seasons and Yusmeiro Petit, while excellent in 2014, has never held down a rotation spot for a whole season.
Peavy’s contract closely mirrors that two-year, $25MM contract extension that fellow 34-year-old NL West hurler Jorge De La Rosa signed in August, and it’s also in line with what both Hudson and Bronson Arroyo signed for last winter. While each of the latter two pitchers is considerably older than Peavy, they signed in a free agent market with less quality pitching available. In a free agent profile back in late October, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd correctly predicted that Peavy would top Hudson and Arroyo, though Peavy’s final deal fell a bit shy of his $28MM prediction.
This marks only the second significant move for Giants GM Brian Sabean this offseason — he agreed to terms on a two-year, $15MM deal with Sergio Romo earlier in the week — though not for lack of trying. The Giants made a legitimate run at re-signing Pablo Sandoval and have also been connected to Jon Lester, Yasmany Tomas and Chase Headley, among others, but each has signed elsewhere, leaving the Giants to seek upgrades elsewhere.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
10:11pm: Johnson’s deal is “closer to $1MM” in base salary, a source tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link). The incentives could make the contract worth somewhere in the $7MM-$8MM range.
5:44pm: The base value of Johnson’s deal is worth slightly under $2MM, but with incentives that could raise the total value to $8MM, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.
5:00pm: The Padres and Josh Johnson are on the verge of completing a one-year deal, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The contract contains significant incentives for games started, but details are still being worked out, Passan adds.
Johnson signed a one-year, $8MM contract with the Padres last offseason that contained a conditional $4MM club option which would trigger if he failed to make seven starts for the Friars. While that did happen, the nature of his injury — Tommy John surgery — caused San Diego to decline the option anyway. Nonetheless, the Sosnick/Cobbe client has been widely expected to return to the Padres.
Johnson would mark the second high-risk, high-upside arm that GM A.J. Preller has landed this offseason, as the team recently agreed to terms with Brandon Morrow on an incentive-laden one-year deal with a $2.5MM guarantee. Johnson likely wouldn’t be ready until midseason anyhow, but he and Morrow could pair with some combination of Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, Jesse Hahn Robbie Erlin and Odrisamer Despaigne, among others, in a deep rotation mix for the Padres.
- 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.