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Hall of Fame journalist and MLB Network contributor Peter Gammons appeared on MLBN’s High Heat yesterday (video link) and published a full notes column today, both of which have plenty of excellent information. Here are some highlights from Gammons’ latest work…
- While Braves GM Frank Wren did well to patch their rotation with Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang this season, the team’s offense has been woeful, and Wren has the Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton contracts weighing on him. Former Indians GM John Hart, who was brought on as a senior advisor last offseason, could be moved into a more significant role, such as a president of baseball operations (like Theo Epstein in Chicago) or a chief baseball officer like Tony La Russa in Arizona. Hart served as an overseer to Jon Daniels in Texas, and the Braves do have a prime young GM candidate in the form of John Coppolella.
- Gammons thinks that Pablo Sandoval‘s days as a member of the Giants are numbered. Sandoval will be one of baseball’s most sought-after free agents this offseason, and the Marlins and Red Sox are both “very interested,” according to Gammons. “The Giants, I don’t think have any chance of re-signing him,” he adds.
- The Rockies had a July deal agreed to that would have sent Jorge De La Rosa to the Orioles in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, but Rockies owner Dick Monfort nixed the trade. De La Rosa was eventually extended on a two-year, $25MM deal, while Rodriguez was traded to the Red Sox in exchange for Andrew Miller. Gammons uses this story as a means of illustrating Monfort’s fierce loyalty — a trait that makes him an enigma even to the Rockies’ own employees. No one in Colorado is quite sure what Monfort will do this offseason, Gammons writes, though trying to pluck former Rockies assistant Thad Levine from the Rangers, where he is currently an assistant GM, is one scenario on which he speculates.
- At least two dozen teams will be on hand to see Yasmani Tomas‘ showcase in the Dominican Republic this weekend, and Gammons hears that the early front-runners to sign him are the Giants, Phillies, Padres, Rangers and Tigers. All of that, of course, could change quickly following his showcase. The Padres might seem a curious fit there, given the team’s typically tight payroll, but I’d imagine that the international focus of new GM A.J. Preller might be a factor.
- While the common belief is that Padres manager Bud Black is safe even with the GM change, one person who interviewed for the position told Gammons that he was asked by CEO Mike Dee how he felt about the possibility of Jason Varitek coming on board as the team’s new skipper. Dee, as Gammons notes, is quite familiar with Varitek and his leadership from their days together in Boston. This isn’t the first time that Varitek’s name was connected to the Padres.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Colorado Rockies | Detroit Tigers | Eduardo Rodriguez | Frank Wren | Jason Varitek | Jorge de la Rosa | Miami Marlins | Pablo Sandoval | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Texas Rangers | Yasmani Tomas
In his latest Insider-only blog, ESPN’s Buster Olney runs down a list of pending free agents that are candidates to receive qualifying offers. Olney spoke with several executives from around the league and is of the mind that James Shields, Max Scherzer, Pablo Sandoval, Melky Cabrera, Russell Martin, Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy, Victor Martinez, Ervin Santana, David Robertson and Hanley Ramirez will receive qualifying offers, which should fall between $15MM and $15.5MM.
Here are a few more notes from Olney’s piece…
- The Giants intend to give Sandoval a QO with the assumption that he will reject the offer and test the open market. San Francisco appears willing to offer him just three years, says Olney, and even going to four years might be too much of a stretch. Such a commitment seems much too light to land Sandoval, who, at 28 years old, will be one of the youngest free agents on the market.
- It looks like the Dodgers and Ramirez could be moving in separate directions, as rival evaluators anticipate the team will extend a qualifying offer with the expectation that Ramirez signs elsewhere.
- The value of Martin on a one-year deal, even north of $15MM, makes a QO for the Pirates “an easy call,” one rival GM said to Olney. Some may wonder whether or not Francisco Liriano is a QO candidate, but executives polled by Olney feel that his injury history and lack of innings present too much risk for the Bucs to extend such an offer. I’m inclined to agree; while Martin is a lock to turn down the QO, Liriano would have more hesitancy, and a $15MM salary would represent nearly 21 percent of the Pirates’ Opening Day payroll from 2014.
- Some evaluators think that Cruz will again find himself with a more limited market than he expects due to his age, 2013 PED suspension and the fact that his OBP and defense are less impressive than his power totals.
- Many rival executives feel there’s simply no way that the Tigers will let Martinez get away. Olney’s right in noting that a QO is “an easy call” for V-Mart, who currently sports a hefty .333/.401/.567 with a career-high 31 homers.
- Olney also feels that a QO for Robertson is an easy call. While he notes that teams don’t pay $15MM for closers anymore, one evaluator said to him: “…with any other team, we wouldn’t be talking about this. But it’s the Yankees, and they can do it.” On a somewhat related note, Olney adds that Koji Uehara‘s late-season swoon may be a blessing of sorts for the Red Sox, who can now approach him with an offer much lower than a QO would have been. I noted in yesterday’s MLBTR chat that I’d be more hesitant to give Robertson a QO, but the Yankees could certainly afford to run the risk.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | David Robertson | Detroit Tigers | Ervin Santana | Francisco Liriano | Hanley Ramirez | J.J. Hardy | James Shields | Kansas City Royals | Koji Uehara | Los Angeles Dodgers | Max Scherzer | Nelson Cruz | New York Yankees | Pablo Sandoval | Pittsburgh Pirates | Russell Martin | San Francisco Giants | Victor Martinez
United States authorities are interviewing Cuban ballplayers as part of an investigation into smuggling rings, reports ESPN The Magazine’s Scott Eden. Driven by dramatic stories as well as high-profile success on the field, attention has increasingly focused on the issue of human trafficking of players hoping to reach Major League Baseball.
Here are some more notes to round out the evening:
- The Orioles‘ run to take the AL East has a lot of plausible explanations, but one of them is as straightforward as it is surprising, writes Mike Petriello of Fangraphs. Steve Pearce has had perhaps the most unexpected four-plus win season in history, largely making up for the downturn of Chris Davis. Even better, he cost the team virtually nothing to acquire. It remains to be seen whether he’ll carry much value into next year, but Baltimore will surely pay him a much-deserved raise through arbitration to find out. Pearce entered the year with over four years of service time, meaning that he has just one year of team control remaining. His 17 home runs and .907 OPS will set him up nicely for an arb payday, though he has logged under 400 plate appearances (still easily a career high) and does not have a large base point to work from.
- Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will undergo surgery on his troublesome left ankle, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on Twitter. It will be up to two months before he can begin to run, but that should still give him plenty of time to prepare for the spring. Of course, Texas will hope that a healthy ankle will go some way to allowing Choo to return to form next year. He is owed $116MM on his contract through 2020.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos declined to tip his hand regarding the status of manager John Gibbons for 2015, but MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm senses a change of tone from the GM. Anthopoulos emphasized that Gibbons is under contract, saying that he would treat the skipper like any other team employee: “you support them until you don’t support them.” Though Anthopoulos said that nothing should be read into his comments, Chisolm notes that the GM’s comments last year at this time revealed less reserved support for Gibbons.
In his latest Insider-only piece for ESPN, Buster Olney expressed doubt that the Orioles would re-sign Nelson Cruz this winter. The O’s are more likely to let Cruz go and pick up an extra draft pick (via the qualifying offer) since Cruz’s big season may have made him too expensive for Baltimore. If the team looks for a right-handed bat to replace Cruz, Olney opines that the Braves’ Evan Gattis, rumored to be a trade candidate, would be a perfect fit as the Orioles’ new designated hitter.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Also from Olney, Yankees GM Brian Cashman originally passed on the idea of signing Chris Young when the team’s statistical analysts recommended that the Yankees pick up the recently-released Met. Cashman’s change of heart paid off, as Young has a whopping 1.266 OPS in his short stint (29 PA) as a Yankee and three homers, including a walkoff to beat the Rays last Thursday.
- Rookie right-hander Shane Greene‘s emergence has been a boon for the Yankees‘ injury-riddled rotation, and Kevin Kernan of the New York Post details the unlikely story of how Greene originally caught the eyes of team scouts. Greene, a 15th-round draft pick in 2009, has a 3.56 ERA, 9.2 K/9 and 2.92 K/BB rate over 68 1/3 IP this season.
- Dustin Pedroia‘s contract extension was considered to be very team-friendly when it was signed last year, but ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes wonders if the Red Sox were too quick to extend Pedroia given how recurring injuries caused his performance to drop off in 2014. The Sox already had Pedroia locked up through 2014 (with a team option for 2015) on a prior contract before tearing that deal up for his new extension that runs through the 2021 season.
- The Rays‘ planned payroll cut might not be all that drastic, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes, as the team still plans to contend next season. Any payroll saved “will be the product of trades and tough choices.” For instance, Topkin thinks Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Joyce could be trade candidates, as both players will get raises in arbitration this winter.
- Earlier today, MLBTR’s Steve Adams compiled more news from around the AL East.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at Jake Peavy‘s effect on the Giants this season. “He brings a lot of intensity, he brings a lot of energy, he brings a lot of veteran leadership, he brings a lot of guts,” Hunter Pence said last week. “He’s been a big charge to this run we’ve made. That energy is exciting to be around. It’s a different dugout when he’s in it.” More from today’s column..
- John Boggs, the agent for Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, told Cafardo he will sit down with his client and put together a new 20-team no-trade list by November 1. Boggs says the Red Sox were on Hamels’s 2014 no-trade list and the Phillies would have to have asked permission to deal him to Boston. “It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have accepted it,” Boggs said. “We are still deliberating on what teams will be on that list for 2015.”
- After a one-year pillow offer, Nelson Cruz appears to have riches awaiting for him this winter. The Orioles will make him the $15MM+ qualifying offer, but he’ll be in demand as one of the few right-handed power hitters out there. The Yankees can be expected to have interest and the Rangers could look to bring him back.
- Manager Buck Showalter has talked with J.J. Hardy about how much the Orioles want him to re-sign, but they may not offer the most money. Showalter said the team would make him a fair offer, but he tried to appeal to how much Hardy has enjoyed playing in Baltimore.
- Showalter is a realist when it comes to the Orioles‘ financial limitations, but he feels he can still come up with good players going the minor league free agent route. The Orioles did it with journeyman first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce, who has had an excellent season. Showalter feels that he can do it again with 28-32 year old hitters that are just starting to figure it out.
- One team’s international scout tells Cafardo that Yasmani Tomas could command as much as $100MM. The scout said Tomas has gotten himself in shape and if he performs well at his showcase later in the month, the money will get “really high.”
- One American League evaluator thinks it’s possible for the Phillies to move Ryan Howard to the American League, where he could be a full-time DH. “He’s not a lost cause,” said the evaluator. “He’s knocked in 92 runs for a bad team, so there’s obviously something still there. He could help an American League team as a DH.” However, that would require the Phillies to eat a good portion of the $60MM left on his contract.
The Red Sox are “expected” to promote Rusney Castillo on Tuesday, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets. This wouldn’t be shocking news, given that Ben Cherington has already said that Castillo is on track to be promoted this month and Triple-A Pawtucket’s season is about to come to an end, with the final game of the International League championship series taking place tonight. Castillo has played three games so far for Pawtucket. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu is set to have his sore shoulder examined today, and Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times wonders what might happen if the results are unfavorable. Ryu missed several weeks with a shoulder inflammation earlier this season. Losing Ryu for the rest of the season would leave a Dodgers rotation (which has already lost Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley and Paul Maholm) thin, and they’re in a tight race with the Giants for the NL West pennant. Of course, the cross-town Angels faced a similarly tough-looking situation when they lost Garrett Richards for the season, and they’ve been fine since then.
- If this is the last year for Athletics slugger Adam Dunn, it will be the end of an extremely unusual career, ESPN’s Jayson Stark writes, noting that more than half of Dunn’s career plate appearances have ended without him putting the ball in play. Players with similarly high strikeout, walk and homer totals usually have shorter careers, but Dunn has managed over 8,000 plate appearances (over 2,300 of which ended in strikeouts).
- Despite Chris Davis‘ suspension, the Orioles aren’t inclined to promote first base prospect Christian Walker, CSNBaltimore.com’s Rich Dubroff writes. Walker has hit .288/.357/.489 in 599 plate appearances split between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk this year, but he isn’t on the Orioles’ 40-man roster. “[S]ome guys don’t have to be protected this off-season, so unless I’m going to play them every day or mostly every day, or if I know they’re going to be on our team next year, then you’re really doing something that’s not very smart,” says Buck Showalter.
Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:
- Some within baseball believe Dave Stewart might be a top candidate for the Diamondbacks‘ open GM position, but that he can’t confirm that he’s overly interested in the job until he knows it can be his. Otherwise, he risks losing clients as a player agent.
- The Orioles are lucky to have avoided signing Manny Machado, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, Rosenthal suggests. Machado and Wieters are dealing with injuries, while Davis has struggled through a disappointing season and is now serving a 25-game suspension for amphetamine use. The Orioles, meanwhile, have Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy and potentially Nick Markakis due for free agency this winter, and they’ll need to have money available if they want to keep them.
- Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine could be a candidate for a top position with the Rockies if Colorado decides to make changes in its front office. Levine is also a potential candidate for the open GM job in Arizona. The Rockies could choose an internal candidate if they do replace or reassign Dan O’Dowd and/or Bill Geivett, however.
Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton is already home from the hospital and is not expected to require major surgery, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Preliminary testing has not shown concussion symptoms, though Stanton will be closely monitored going forward. Needless to say, it is great to hear that things are looking up so soon after his frightening injury.
Here are a few more stray notes from around the game:
- Underlying the suspension of Orioles slugger Chris Davis is the fact that Adderall addiction is a significant problem, especially among athletes, writes ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. Davis has already tested positive for a stimulant and knew that he would receive additional testing, yet still was caught. Of course, as Stark does note, it is not known whether Davis himself has such a problem. It is worth bearing in mind, also, that Davis has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD in the past, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Rosenthal says that it remains unclear why Davis no longer sought to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption as he had at some points in the past.
- If the Yankees decide to make significant free agent additions this year, the player to target is Victor Martinez, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman acknowledges that the DH slot may be an attractive place to stash one of the team’s current veterans, but argues that Martinez is a rare offensive force who has demonstrated his ability to thrive against virtually all types of pitchers and pitches.
- Giants righty Jake Peavy has continued to adapt and modify his repertoire as he has aged, as Eno Sarris of Fangraphs explores. The veteran hurler will hit free agency for the first time in his career at age 33. (He has already signed three separate contract extensions and been traded three times.) It is well worth your time to check out Peavy’s thoughts and grips, as well as relevant statistics on his pitch mix.
12:30pm: Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Davis did not have a TUE for Adderall in 2013 (Twitter links). His previous TUE came earlier in his career than last year’s breakout. As Passan notes, this opens the possibility that Davis’ first positive test (which would only result in a warning) came prior to the 2014 season. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Davis has been diagnosed with ADD in the past but did not apply for a TUE in 2013.
11:32am: Davis did not apply for a therapeutic use exemption from the league this season, tweets Connolly. In a followup tweet, Connolly reminds that a 2012-13 study showed that 122 Major Leaguers had TUEs — 119 of which were for ADD.
“I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Orioles organization and especially the fans. I made a mistake by taking Adderall. I had permission to use it in the past, but do not have a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) this year. I accept my punishment and will begin serving my suspension immediately.”
That Davis has been suspended means that would have had to test positive twice for a banned stimulant such as Adderall.
10:10am: Orioles first baseman Chris Davis‘ season is over as he has been suspended 25 games after testing positive for amphetamines, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. MLB has since confirmed the suspension, which will run through the postseason.
It’s unclear exactly what substance Davis used, but those making the leap to steroids should note that even the usage of fairly common stimulants like Adderall can result in a 25-game suspension (as Troy Patton proved earlier this season). That’s not to excuse Davis, of course, as this is a grave mistake at the worst possible time, and the substances are banned without receiving exemptions from the league.
Baltimore currently leads the AL East by 10 games and will now be without Davis’ game-changing power for the final two-plus weeks and all of the ALDS and the ALCS. The ALCS roster would, of course, have to be set before the series begins, meaning that the Orioles would have to play a man down for the first few games of that series in order for him to be reinstated midway through. It’s highly unlikely that a team would agree to play with 24 men in such an important series, meaning the earliest Davis would likely be eligible to return would be in the World Series, should Baltimore advance to that stage.
Davis is hitting just .196/.300/.404 after his breakout 53-homer campaign last season, thanks in part due to an increased strikeout rate (33 percent) and an abnormally low batting average on balls in play (.242). Baltimore added some depth to its roster late in August by adding Kelly Johnson and Alejandro De Aza via trade, and the emergence of Steve Pearce gives the team another corner bat on which to rely. Nevertheless, the loss of Davis is a big blow to a team that has already lost Manny Machado and Matt Wieters for the season.
From a financial standpoint, Davis’ suspension will cost him about $1.07MM, as he won’t be paid while on the restricted list. He is earning $10.35MM this season as he approaches his final offseason of arbitration eligiblity.
The Blue Jays are set to place corner infielder Matt Hague on waivers, tweets MLBTR’s Zach Links. Hague, who just turned 29, was recently designated as part of Toronto’s roster-clearing for September call-ups.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Blue Jays righty Brandon Morrow has shown recently that his stuff can play up in a bullpen role, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes. While his $10MM club option for next year is still unlikely to be exercised, the 30-year-old could revive his career by returning to the pen, where he spent some time previously. Of course, as Davidi notes, Morrow still may be intriguing enough as a starter that he could look for an opportunity to stay in that role, where he thrived in 2012 (2.96 ERA in 124 2/3 frames). Saying that he still hopes Toronto will exercise the option, Morrow said he will otherwise “see what offers come in” and choose “which option you feel like is your best opportunity.” Morrow emphasized that he still thinks he can bring more value as a starter.
- Recent Red Sox signee Rusney Castillo is now just one step removed from the majors, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. The big dollar Cuban free agent is expected to play in a playoff series for Triple-A Pawtucket and then debut with the big club sometime next week.
- Yesterday, I asked MLBTR’s readers to weigh in on the Orioles‘ slate of possible qualifying offer candidates. With over 12,000 votes recorded, outfielder/DH Nelson Cruz proved the most popular option as a potential recipient, followed by shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielder Nick Markakis. It will be interesting to see how executive VP Dan Duquette handles the trio, especially with rising arbitration salaries for position players like Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Alejandro De Aza, and Steve Pearce. Given Cruz’s big season and Hardy’s consistent production, it would seem quite enticing for both to turn down a QO if it is made. Given their respective ages, however — Cruz recently turned 34, while Hardy just turned 32 — draft compensation could prove a significant hindrance to their markets.