Author Archives: Zach Links

Cafardo On Buchholz, Samardzija, Cueto, Hamels

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts against Tigers shorstop Jose Iglesias.  Of course, Boston once had both, but Iglesias was shipped out in 2013 in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Fenway.  Bogaerts offers more potential as a hitter, but Iglesias clearly has the superior glove.  That difference in the field never made Bogaerts doubt himself, however.

No, that’s just a guy who’s really gifted beyond anyone else,” Bogaerts said. “I just paid attention to trying to get better. I never compared myself to him because you can’t compare anyone to him. He’s a great defensive player and flashy.”

More from today’s column..

  • The same teams that are pursuing Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz are going after White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija.  That list of teams includes the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers, according to Cafardo.  Late last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros are also interested in Samardzija.  Meanwhile, at this time, the Red Sox reportedly are not interested in moving Buchholz.
  • The Astros are a team to watch in July as they could get very aggressive in their pursuit of a starter.  Cafardo hears that the Astros have been evaluating Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake quite a bit.  Cole Hamels obviously stands as one of the biggest prizes out there, but Cafardo feels he likely wouldn’t sign off on a trade to Houston.  Over the weekend, Hamels indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team.
  • Giants GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that his club is out of the starting pitching market for now thanks to the upcoming returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy.
  • The Phillies would like to sell off their pieces little by little rather than make a ton of deals right at the deadline.  However, Cafardo hears that teams aren’t coming to the table with actual offers yet, leaving the Phillies frustrated.
  • Baseball execs who spoke with Cafardo say the Mets are still the best match for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  A package for Tulo could start with left-hander Steven Matz, who makes his big league debut today.
  • Even at his advanced age, one NL evaluator feels that Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz is still “a better option than “more than 50 percent of the catchers in the league.”
  • Some teams are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance in interleague play while others see it just as a fluky thing.  Hamels has a career 4.73 ERA across 31 interleague starts.

Pirates Designate Jose Tabata For Assignment

The Pirates have designated Jose Tabata for assignment, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter).

The outfielder once looked like a future cornerstone player but he has fallen off in recent seasons.  Last year, Tabata’s struggles resulted in him being outrighted off the 40-man roster.  In 41 plate appearances this year, Tabata hit just .289/.341/.289.  He fared much better in Triple-A, however, slashing .352/.422/.396 with eleven walks against just eight strikeouts over 102 turns at the plate.

Tabata’s deal calls for him to earn the prorated portion of $4MM this year and $4.5MM next season under the early-career extension that he signed.  Back in May, GM Neal Huntington indicated that 2015 could have been Tabata’s final year in Pittsburgh.

As the MLBTR DFA Tracker shows, there are now four players in DFA limbo: Tabata, Rafael Lopez, Erik Kratz, and Scott Atchison.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Tillman, Bucs, Gordon

On this date in 2009, Mariano Rivera became the second pitcher to record 500 major league saves, as Leo Panetta of NationalPastime.com writes.  Rivera, who also hit his first career RBI on this date, joined Trevor Hoffman at the 500 save plateau.  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..

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



East Notes: Franco, Buchholz, Collins, Napoli

This one probably sounds worse than it is: the Yankees fell just $5K shy of landing Maikel Franco as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports on Twitter. Franco ultimately received a $100K bonus from the Phillies, and of course ultimately rose to become quite a well-regarded young player. For his part, Yankees GM Brian Cashman indicated that he is not aware that the team fell just shy of picking up a winning lottery ticket, but neither did he deny that an offer may have been made, as Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News reports. Regardless of what really happened, of course, it would be awfully hard to lay much fault on the New York international scouting department for missing out on Franco, who was obviously not a premium prospect at that time (as his bonus indicates) and took some time to blossom as a professional. Philadelphia does certainly deserve some praise, however, for its investment: the now-22-year-old entered play today with a .319/.368/.604 slash and ten long balls over 155 plate appearances on the year.

Here’s a look at the latest from the AL and NL East..

  • The Red Sox have shown no interest in dealing pitcher Clay Buchholz, major league sources tell Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.   That’s no surprise given the way that Buchholz has pitched (3.87 ERA, 8.8 K/9 vs. 2.3 BB/9) and his team friendly deal, which allows for club options in both 2016 ($13MM) and ’17 ($13.5MM).  For his part, Buchholz wants to stay in Boston through the end of his deal.  “Yeah, unless something crazy happens I expect to be here,” he said. “I’ve always called this place home. [Trades] happen, and it’s happened to a lot of guys, where they walk in and they’re told their somewhere. That’s the business part of it and I think everybody understands that. I would love to be here throughout the next couple of years and everything goes well sign another extension. That’s sort of how I look at it.
  • Could the struggling Mets make a managerial change?  As of right now, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.  Talk of the Mets dismissing skipper Terry Collins is “very premature,” a source tells Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter). New York is mired in a six-game slide and has dropped back to .500, but it is certainly tough to blame Collins for the roster’s lack of offensive punch and variety of injuries.
  • If the Red Sox fall out of the race, Boston would almost certainly trade Mike Napoli or let him go, as Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal writes.  The aging slugger is in his walk year and he doesn’t figure to be in the plans for next season and beyond.   Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what kind of market there would be for the 33-year-old in July.  His overall slash hasn’t been pretty, but he’s still doing well against lefties, hitting .226/.351/.516.  Recently, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd checked in on Napoli’s free agent stock.

Yankees Designate Jose De Paula For Assignment

The Yankees announced that they have designated Jose De Paula for assignment.  The move allows the Bombers to reinstate Ivan Nova from the 60-day disabled list following his rehab assignment.

The Yankees signed De Paula to a one-year major league contract back in November. The split contract called for the left-hander to earn $510K for pitching in the majors and $175K in the minors.   De Paula, 27, owns a 3.77 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 over 470 career innings in the minors.  In total, De Paula made just three appearances for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate this season.

As the MLBTR DFA Tracker shows, there are now five players in DFA limbo: Scott Atchison, Phillippe Aumont, Hector Noesi, Jeff Bianchi, and De Paula.


Chase Utley To DL, May Impact Vesting Option

Late Tuesday night, the Phillies announced that they placed second baseman Chase Utley on the disabled list after a season of struggling with a right ankle injury.  The news is frustrating for Utley for the obvious reasons, but the DL trip could also impact his future beyond this season.  As Todd Zolecki of MLB.com notes, Utley has a $15MM option for 2016 that automatically vests if he reaches 500 plate appearances.  It’s quite possible that Utley’s time away from the field could keep him from reaching that plateau.

As of today, the 36-year-old has 249 PAs through the first 73 games of the season.  The 15-day DL stint alone won’t rule out 500 plate appearances, of course, but any missed time beyond that will make it even more challenging.  As it stands, Utley isn’t sure exactly how long he’s going to need in order to heal up.

Talking to the doctor today, the more time I can lay off it the better chance it has to heal properly,” Utley said. “I don’t have an exact time frame. It will be at least 15 days.

On the plus side, Utley says that his knees – which have been an issue in the past – are healthy.  Through roughly three months of the season, Utley hasn’t been looking like the six-time All-Star that he is.  The veteran owns a slash line of .179/.257/.275, which would easily stand as his career worst if the season ended today.  Utley’s name popped up on MLBTR more than once this season as a trade possibility, but he won’t garner much interest this summer with the way he has been hitting and his ankle issue.

In other Phillies news, we learned earlier today that the Yankees are not ruling out a pursuit of ace Cole Hamels.


Dillon Gee Accepts Outright Assignment

3:53pm: Unsurprisingly, Gee has indeed accepted the assignment to Triple-A, tweets MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo.

TUESDAY, 12:43pm: Gee has cleared waivers, the club announced. He remains shy of five years of service time, meaning that he had to accept the assignment or forfeit the remainder of his guaranteed salary.

SUNDAY: The Mets have placed Dillon Gee on outright waivers with the intent of sending him to Triple-A, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.com.  Gee’s name has been in trade rumors for a very long time but the Mets designated him for assignment late last week when they couldn’t find a match.

From 2010-14, Gee notched a 3.91 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 639 2/3 innings, and he’s typically posted a ground-ball rate near or above the league average (career 46 percent).  This season, however, he has struggled to a 5.90 ERA in 39 2/3 innings for the Mets.  Meanwhile, Gee was owed about $3.24MM prorated on his $5.3MM salary at the time of his DFA, so teams were wary of taking him on.  Now, the Mets will be able to stash him in Triple-A Las Vegas, barring a claim between now and noon CT Tuesday.

Gee missed time this year with a groin strain and spent nearly two months on the DL in 2014 with a strained lat muscle. His 2015 struggles, along with the injuries and his salary have presumably diminished his trade value since Opening Day.  However, in his defense, his rough 2015 numbers were hurt badly by his outing against the Braves on Monday when he surrendered eight runs in just 3 and 2/3 innings.

Gee could theoretically refuse an assignment to Las Vegas if he clears waivers and declare free agency, but as Rubin notes, he’s unlikely to do that since it would cost him the $3.1MM he’s owed for the remainder of the season.


Quick Hits: Castellini, Aiken, Rays, Brewers

Unless someone blows the Reds away with an offer, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer could see them rolling the dice, effectively staying pat, and hoping for a second-half turnaround.  There are people in the organization willing to blow it all up, but Fay writes that owner Bob Castellini is an optimist.  Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Aroldis Chapman could yield great returns for the Reds, but their owner might not be ready to call it quits on 2015.  The Reds are 32-36 following today’s 5-2 win over the Marlins.

  • Since signing Brady Aiken, the Indians have kept the size of his bonus “on top-secret lockdown for some reason,” MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes (all Twitter links).  Callis predicts that Aiken will receive the “max of what [the] Indians can pay without crossing 105% pool threshold,” so roughly a bonus of $2.7 to $2.75MM, which would top his slot value as the 17th overall pick by over $300K.  Aiken’s bonus has been the source of speculation given how he was both the first player taken in 2014 and a recent Tommy John patient.  As Jason Lukehart of the Let’s Go Tribe blog recently noted, Cleveland has saved a lot of money in their draft pool to go significantly over slot to sign Aiken and 42nd overall pick Triston McKenzie.
  • The Rays have long been able to deliver winning teams on small payrolls, yet Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times observes that the 2015 season may be the club’s most impressive feat yet.  The Rays are in first place in the AL East despite paying almost $36MM of their $72MM Opening Day payroll to players who are either on the DL, in the minors or no longer with the organization.
  • It will be tough for the Brewers to receive good prospect value back on the trade market since so many of their high-priced veterans are struggling, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.  Dealing controllable pieces like Jonathan Lucroy, Wily Peralta or Jimmy Nelson wouldn’t make sense, so Haudricourt thinks Carlos Gomez or Jean Segura would have to be the ones to go in order for Milwaukee to get some quality minor league talent.
  • Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson have become big parts of the Yankees bullpen, though Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes that the Bombers paid a surprisingly hefty price.  Ex-top prospect Manny Banuelos (dealt for Shreve and the released David Carpenter) is pitching well for the Braves’ Triple-A team while Francisco Cervelli (traded for Wilson) has emerged as a huge help behind the plate for the Pirates.
  • While the chances of the White Sox trading Chris Sale are remote, ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider-only piece) opines that the Sox should at least consider dealing Sale since the return would be so enormous for a 26-year-old ace who is controllable through 2019 on a team-friendly contract.  White Sox sources told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the club isn’t making Sale available, which is understandable, though Olney is right in noting that Sale would instantly become the biggest trade chip on the market.

Draft Signings: Hale, Red Sox, Cleavinger

Here are some of the latest notable signings from the amateur draft.  All slot value information is courtesy of Baseball America…

  • Mariners ninth-rounder Conner Hale has announced he has signed with the club via his Twitter page.  The M’s have their other nine picks from the first 10 rounds of the draft already signed at a total cost of just over $4.113MM according to MLB.com’s draft bonus tracker.  This leaves $73.8K remaining in their draft bonus pool (which was slightly less than $4.187MM) and Hale’s 275th overall draft placement carries a slot value of $158.3K.  Since he’s a senior, it’s perhaps unlikely he signed for full slot, giving Seattle a bit of breathing room should they spend extra on any of their post-10th round draftees.
  • The Red Sox announced the signings of Ben Taylor (7th round), Tucker Tubbs (9th) and Mitchell Gunsolus (10th) last week, and according to the MLB.com bonus tracker, all three college seniors signed for well below their assigned slot values.  Taylor signed for $10K despite a $212.5K slot value for the 201st overall pick, Tubbs for $5K ($163.5K as 261st overall) and Gunsolus for $10K ($152.7K as 291st overall).
  • This combined $503.7K in savings helped the Red Sox ink eighth-rounder Logan Allen, whose signing was officially announced today by the club.  Allen said last week that he had verbally agreed to a bonus worth over four times more than his $175.1K slot value as the 231st overall pick, and MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports that Allen received $725K.
  • The Red Sox also announced the signings of three other draft picks today, including outfielders Tate Matheny (4th round) and Jagger Rusconi (5th).  Callis reports that Rusconi signed for a full-slot value of $384K.  It isn’t yet known what Matheny (son of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny) signed for, though his draft placement carries a $512.7K slot value.
  • The Orioles announced that they have signed third-round pick Garrett Cleavinger.  MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports that Cleavinger will receive a $500K bonus, less than the $559.3K slot value assigned to the 102nd overall pick.  The Oregon left-hander was ranked as the No. 185 prospect in the country by Baseball America prior to the draft.  If Cleavinger continues to strike out batters as he has in college, BA says that he might need much minor league time.
  • The O’s also confirmed the signing of seventh-rounder Gray Fenter, and surely Cleavinger’s below-slot deal helped Baltimore to sign Fenter to an above-slot $1MM deal while remaining within the limits of its bonus pool.

NL East Notes: Gillick, Gee, Hill, Marlins

Cole Hamels gave a thumbs-up following a bullpen session this morning, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports, so the ace southpaw is on pace to pitch on Wednesday afternoon against the Yankees.  Hamels missed his last start due to a tight hamstring, and while the injury wasn’t thought to be serious, any concerns about Hamels’ health would impact his trade value.  Here’s some more from the NL East…

  • Phillies president Pat Gillick told reporters (including Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer) that the team will “probably” hire a new club president “somewhere in the not-too-distant future.”  Gillick wouldn’t immediately step aside for his replacement, as the plan is to let the new president spend the rest of the season evaluating the roster and club personnel before fully taking over in October.  The Phillies face an extensive rebuild, and Gillick admitted that it might take longer than 2017 or 2018 to return to contention, as he estimated when he stepped into the interim role.
  • The future of GM Ruben Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg are two of the top questions facing the new Phillies president, though Gillick reiterated his support for both men, saying they’re going a “good job” despite the difficulties on the field.
  • “Teams weren’t exactly knocking on the door” to acquire Dillon Gee when the Mets designated righty for assignment, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets.  The Mets put Gee on outright waivers today and plan to send him to Triple-A if he goes unclaimed by Tuesday.
  • The Marlins have a logjam brewing in their rotation but president of baseball operations Michael Hill says he won’t be trading from the team’s strength to alleviate it.  “We are fortunate we have some players who are flexible, that we can move to the bullpen,” Hill said, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. “We have some young players who may have to go back (to the minors).”
  • Hill also shrugged off the notion that the Marlins might look to trade veterans such as Martin Prado and Michael Morse before the deadline.  “Any pieces that are under control aren’t even considerations to do anything.  We aren’t building this team for 2015. We’re building this for ’15 and ’16 and ’17. We’re trying to build a perennial contender,” Hill said.
  • In NL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, the Braves signed first-rounder Mike Soroka, and pundits overwhelmingly felt the Braves got the better of their controversial trade with the Diamondbacks that brought Touki Toussaint and Bronson Arroyo to Atlanta.