Author Archives: Zach Links

Quick Hits: Upton, Montero, Rays, Hunter, Pirates

MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince names the ten players most likely to be traded this offseason and the Braves’ Justin Upton tops the list. Castrovince feels the Braves could obtain a similar, if not better, return than they received for Jason Heyward because Upton’s powerful bat has tremendous value.

Here are the latest notes from around baseball:

  • Miguel Montero placed tenth on Castrovince’s list and Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter) wonders if the hiring of Henry Blanco will create traction for the Cubs‘ interest in the Diamondbacks’ catcher, who was a Blanco pupil in 2014. The D’Backs have reportedly spoken with the Cubs, Dodgers, and White Sox about Montero.
  • With Jose Molina gone, the Rays are working to add a backup to Ryan Hanigan, either via trade or signing. They’d like a catcher with more experience than Curt Casali and, preferably, options, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • More from Topkin who reports, in addition to an expected trade of Matt Joyce and/or David DeJesus, the Rays may be looking to deal from depth in reserve infielders and relievers. He identifies Logan Forsythe and Sean Rodriguez as infield trade possibilities and Brandon Gomes as a bullpen arm who could be moved.
  • It may not be “sexy,” but the Red Sox‘s pursuit of Pablo Sandoval makes perfect sense, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Red Sox appear to be one of the finalists for Sandoval, alongside the Padres and incumbent Giants.
  • Torii Hunter told Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press he favors the Twins among the teams with which he is considering signing. “(Twins General Manager) Terry Ryan and I have talked several times, and there’s definitely a common interest there, for sure,” the veteran said. Ten teams reportedly have interest in Hunter.
  • The Pirates could re-allocate the resources set aside for Russell Martin to pursue rotation and bullpen help, a first baseman, and/or sign some of their young core to extensions, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

West Notes: Robertson, Astros, Sandoval, Kennedy

The Astros are known to be seeking relief help and they might be aiming high.  Houston has reached out to Scott Leventhal, the agent for David Robertson, to express interest in the Yankees closer, an industry source told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.   Still, it’s not known whether the Astros are willing to approach the four-year, ~$52MM deal that Robertson is after.  More from the AL and NL West..

  • Giants vice president Bobby Evans told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that they have not made a “final offer” to Pablo Sandoval.  While Evans would not confirm that their offer on the table is a five-year, $95MM deal as its been reported, he implied that it’s accurate (link).
  • The Padres are still receiving inquiries on pitcher Ian Kennedy, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com.  Kennedy is in his final year of arbitration eligibility and Matt Swartz projects that he’ll earn $10.3MM in 2015.
  • If the Rockies don’t upgrade their rotation, they’re in store for another 90-loss season, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.  The Rockies say they’re focused on developing young talent, but their history of developing pitchers has been awful.  Juan Nicasio, who was designated for assignment last week, is just the latest example of that.
  • While it may seem counter-intuitive, there is some merit to the idea of the Astros paying big money for a top closer, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.

Cafardo On Fowler, Astros, Hammel, Miley

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe asked about a dozen GMs in Phoenix about the Yankees’ situation and not one of them thought the Bombers would stay away from a major signing.  For all the talk about the Cubs being a major player for Jon Lester, the Red Sox are still fearful that it’ll be the Yankees that swoop in and grab him.  More from today’s column..

  • Both center fielder Dexter Fowler and catcher Jason Castro are available in a deal and the Astros wouldn’t mind dealing for bullpen help.   Fowler had a decent year and enjoyed more success as a right-handed hitter.  The 28-year-old (29 by Opening Day) slashed .327/.419/.467 as a right-handed hitter but hit just .260/.361/.376 from the other side of the plate.  Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has heard that the asking price is high on Castro and that there aren’t any contract talks currently taking place between the two sides.
  • Jason Hammel’s agent, Alan Nero, told Cafardo that teams have called on his client but no great advancements have been made on a contract.  Nero figures the secondary pitching market may take a while to develop.
  • Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley has become a popular trade target of a few teams, and while Arizona will listen, it will take a haul to get him.
  • Free agent catcher David Ross wonders whether his status with the Red Sox hinges on whether they sign Jon Lester.  Lester and Ross had a great run together in 2013 and the catcher tells Cafardo that the two will get together after Thanksgiving.  Ross says that he’s begun to field interest from other teams in the interim.
  • The Phillies will shop Carlos Ruiz and while plenty of teams need catchers, his age (35) and his contract will be a problem.  Ruiz has two years left on his deal at $8.5MM per year plus a $4.5MM option for 2017 that can bought out for $500K.


Indians Designate Scott Barnes For Assignment

The Indians have designated left-hander Scott Barnes for assignment, according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer (on Twitter).  The move will help the Tribe create room for right-hander Charles Brewer, who was acquired from Arizona last night.

Barnes, 27, has made 22 big league appearances for the Indians over the last two seasons, though he has spent more time pitching for their Triple-A affiliate.  This past season, Barnes pitched to a 3.69 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 24 relief appearances and one start.

As the MLBTR DFA Tracker shows, there are now 16 players in DFA limbo.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: D’Backs, Upton, Angels

On this date in 1988, Steve Sax signed a three-year deal as a free agent with the Yankees, as Leo Panetta of NationalPastime.com writes. The former NL Rookie of the year replaced Willie Randolph at second base and Randolph went on to sign with the World Champion Dodgers, replacing Sax.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..

Please send submissions to Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.


Royals GM Dayton Moore On Losing Billy Butler

Earlier today, the Royals bid farewell to slugger Billy Butler, who signed a three-year, $30MM deal with the A’s.  It wasn’t surprising to see Butler head elsewhere after KC turned down his one-year, $12.5MM club option (our own Steve Adams actually predicted the exact terms of Butler’s new contract), but the loss still stings for the Royals.  This afternoon, Royals GM Dayton Moore spoke with reporters about how the club will proceed without the the longest-tenured member of Kansas City’s roster.  After watching the former All-Star sign a hefty three-year, $30MM deal, I asked Moore if he considered exercising the club option on Butler and trading him rather than letting him leave via free agency and getting nothing.

That’s something talked about but the timing of it really didn’t allow us to do that,” Moore said.  “There was nobody really willing to do that at the time.  We just finished playing [in the World Series] and three days later we had to make a decision.  If we would have found a viable trade partner it’s something we would have done, or looked at.  I don’t know if we would have done it because I’m not sure what the package would have been, but it’s something we certainly looked at.

Ultimately, Moore admits that he misread the market when it comes to Butler, but over the years he has learned that free agency is always difficult to predict and “hindsight is 20/20.”  Even after declining the option, Moore felt that he had a good chance of retaining Butler, but things just weren’t meant to be.  Now, the Royals will have to fill the void in their lineup and they’ll explore all opportunities.  Moore hopes that he can take care of his right field need and some of the DH at bats with one signing, but he won’t pigeonhole himself.

We like our flexibility, for certain.” Moore said. “It could be one guy or we could guys a day off like [Alex] Gordon or Lorenzo [Cain] or Omar [Infante].

The Royals, Moore says, will search hard for a right-handed bat with some pop, but he also spoke at length about Kansas City’s needs in the starting rotation. That lines up with a report from Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, noting that the club has checked in with the agents for Ervin Santana, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Jason Hammel, and Jon Lester.  Royals fans might be sad to see Butler go, but Moore insists that the club still has “plenty of room to sign a free agent or two.”


West Notes: Ethier, Andrus, Rangers, Padres

The gap between the haves and have-nots in baseball have lessened because of revenue sharing and financial incentives not to overspend in the draft and free agency, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The Dodgers, however, are utilizing a different model to maximize their financial advantage: buying front office talent. Drellich notes the $7MM average annual value Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman earns would make him the Astros’ third-highest paid player. “Big-market, small-market potential difference,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said. “There does seem to be increased competition for talented people that have had success in our industry. That’s not the first time we’ve seen it. It’s not the last time we’re going to see it. As far as front offices with different layers that don’t exist in our organization, it’s a way to get more people in the organization.” Luhnow also pointed out the distinction between a city’s population and its market size and how that affects a franchise’s financial resources. Houston is “the fourth-largest city in the country, but we’re not the fourth-largest market in the country, not even close,” Luhnow remarked. “We’re not ever going to be a small market necessarily, but our revenues are not proportionate with our city size relative to other big metropolitan areas.

In other news involving MLB’s West divisions:

  • Some rival evaluators believe Andre Ethier is by far the most likely Dodgers outfielder to be traded, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, Los Angeles will weigh their options. Carl Crawford and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Matt Kemp, also appear to be trade candidates.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM (on Twitter) he will “listen” on Elvis Andrus because of the club’s infield depth. Texas also has middle infielders like Luis Sardinas, Jurickson Profar, and Rougned Odor in the fold.
  • Daniels went on to say the Rangers‘ needs are at starting pitcher, catcher, left field, or DH and these vacancies are more likely to be solved via trade than free agency (link). Last month, our own Brad Johnson previewed the Rangers’ offseason.
  • The Padres must consider trading one of their catchers (Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, or propsect Austin Hedges) in order to improve their offense, opines Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

AL Central Notes: Masterson, Twins, White Sox

The latest from the AL Central..

  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter) hears that the Twins have inquired about free agent starter Justin Masterson.  Minnesota is also checking in on free agent outfielders, but finding a starter or two is at the top of their wish list.  In my October profile of the 29-year-old (30 by Opening Day), I speculated that the Twins could be a possible match for Masterson.
  • The White Sox are scouring the market for left-handed relief pitching, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  The White Sox currently only have two lefty relievers on their roster in Eric Surkamp and Scott Snodgress.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that while the club has made a lot of progress on the trade front, it’s tough to say if they are close to a deal.

Florida Notes: Marlins, Rays, Rodriguez, Ramos

New Cubs skipper Joe Maddon is excited about the Rays‘ list of candidates to take over in the dugout, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  “They’ve created a wonderful list, they really have,” Maddon said. “They’ve given themselves an opportunity to interview some really qualified people and make a typically very good Rays decision at the end of the day. I really believe that. You know it’s going to be well thought out, and they’re going to select a solid candidate to lead.”  More on the Rays and Marlins..

  • Marlins president Michael Hill explained to David Laurita of Fangraphs that the club considers a player’s locker room personality and character to be a somewhat significant part of player evaluation.  “I wouldn’t say it’s paramount, but it is part of our decision-making process,” Hill said. “We’re definitely mindful of it. It’s part of the checklist as we go through possibly acquiring a player. We want to try to make sure he fits who we are and who we’re trying to be.
  • Topkin also writes that the Rays figure to make several more 40-man moves and/or trades before the Rule 5 draft, even after dealing Jeremy Hellickson and Cesar Ramos.  Sean Rodriguez and Jose Molina appear to be trade candidates though Tampa Bay could instead swallow the $2.75MM to Molina.  Moving reliever Brandon Gomes, who is out-of-options, could also be a consideration along with dropping rostered minor leaguers like Mike Montgomery or infielder Tim Beckham.
  • A third-party scout in Puerto Rico who saw shortstop Andrew Velazquez, who came to the Rays in the Hellickson deal, was impressed by his recent showing. “Best prospect there, by far. … Super impressive … He’ll move to 2B … Top of order … Fearless … Advanced,” the scout told Topkin via text.
  • With the Rays looking to their upgrade offense, Topkin says it’s worth keeping an eye on Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and the Dodgers’ outfielder surplus.  Both clubs appear willing to eat significant salary to move those players.
  • Expecting the Rays to start spending big if they get a new stadium?  Don’t bank on it, writes Joe Henderson of The Tampa Tribune.

Latest On Nick Markakis, Blue Jays

Sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links) that even though the Blue Jays have had contact with the agent for Nick Markakis, they aren’t seriously pursuing him right now.  Currently, Toronto is prioritizing other outfielders ahead of Markakis.

Meanwhile, Morosi says that the Orioles are still trying to re-sign Markakis, but the two sides are not close on a deal.  Last week, it was reported that there was renewed optimism between the O’s and Markakis’ camp about hammering out a new contract.  That might still be the case, but it doesn’t sound like anything is imminent on that front.  The two sides are said to be discussing a deal that would pay between $10-$12MM per year.

The Blue Jays are also in a similar spot with Hanley Ramirez, Morosi tweets.  Toronto has established contact with the free agent shortstop, but they’re not actively pursuing him at this time.  With Jose Reyes at shortstop, Ramirez, presumably, would be slotted in at third base with Brett Lawrie at second.  Then again, it’s unclear how serious GM Alex Anthopoulos & Co. are about pursuing Ramirez, who figures to be among the most highly paid free agents of the offseason.