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It was not easy for Braves president John Schuerholz to dismiss GM Frank Wren, writes MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby. Due to a combination of loyalty and good initial hiring decisions, Schuerholz has rarely decided to part ways with top members of his front office. But in this case, the longtime Atlanta executive said that change was necessary, albeit difficult. “It took time for me to get to the point of doing what I did,” said Schuerholz, who also indicated that failures in free agency may not have been the primary source of Wren’s undoing. “It’s not just about success of the club at the Major League level,” he explained, referring to the “life blood” of the club’s scouting and player development. “You have to be cognizant that the strengths of your organization are as strong as they need to be. it is why I used the words ‘cumulative effect’ [during the announcement Monday].”
- Meanwhile, newly-extended Mets GM Sandy Alderson had a variety of interesting comments today, and Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com provides a transcript. Emphasizing that he does not believe the club needs “a giant leap” to contend, Alderson said he expects the team to be active in free agency while remaining cognizant that the open market is, as he described it, a “crapshoot.” After COO Jeff Wilpon indicated that his GM will have payroll flexibility (as Rubin reports on Twitter), Alderson said that he does not know whether the team will see a spike in payroll. He did note that he does not “feel that we will necessarily be constrained by the payroll next year.” With the team needing to improve by approximately ten to twelve wins, according to Alderson, it is looking to add production in any way possible rather than “get[ting] too bogged down in too much specificity now.” That opportunistic approach may take some time to play out, he suggested: “We’re going to explore all of the options and see where it takes us. It may take us a while during the course of the offseason to fully explore what those options are.”
- The Blue Jays will retain manager John Gibbons for next year barring some unforeseen change in circumstances, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Though recent comments from GM Alex Anthopoulos led some to believe that Gibbons could be in some trouble heading into the offseason, Heyman says that the team is planning for 2015 without any intention of finding a new skipper.
- While the Yankees have not played up to expectations after a winter of big spending, the club’s mid-season acquisitions could not have gone much better, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. With the exception of Stephen Drew, all of the veterans added with the hope of a turnaround did just that. contributing far more value in their short stints in New York than they had with their former clubs.
- As the Red Sox continue to tinker with one of the game’s most fascinating talent mixes, those calling for a trade of cornerstone second baseman Dustin Pedroia may need something of a reality check, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. For starters, Pedroia’s deal contains a full no-trade clause, Bradford notes. And when Pedroia’s glove and veteran role are weighed in the balance, says Bradford, the idea of trading him makes little practical sense.
The Red Sox‘ trades of Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront this summer created opportunities for younger Red Sox starters, but those young pitchers haven’t taken advantage, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo have all been underwhelming this season. “What that group is learning is that it’s a sizable jump from Triple-A to here,” says manager John Farrell. “It’s a matter of learning challenges at the major-league level.” The Red Sox aren’t necessarily planning for all those pitchers to be successful, and they figure to pursue starters this offseason, but getting one or more solid starters out of the group of De La Rosa, Workman, Webster and Ranaudo would provide a big boost next season. Here’s more from throughout the big leagues.
- The Pirates‘ organizational philosophy of finding buy-low players is likely to keep them from re-signing impending free agent Russell Martin, David Manel of Bucs Dugout writes. The Pirates appear to be bracing for fan backlash if they don’t re-sign Martin, and GM Neal Huntington points out that his organization might be about to become a “victim of its own success,” as Manel puts it. “Russ is one of those unique circumstances where we got beat up and highly criticized for signing him when we did,” says Huntington. “And if he does walk out the door, we’ll get highly criticized when he does walk out the door.”
- The results of the Cardinals‘ in-season trades have been mixed, but their outfield has improved thanks to the team’s flexible approach, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com writes. Justin Masterson hasn’t pitched well and Lackey hasn’t made a huge impact, and Oscar Taveras hasn’t hit well filling in for the departed Allen Craig. The Cardinals have, however, done well in the second half throughout their outfield in general, with Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk putting up solid numbers in center and right field, respectively.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Yankees were somewhat handcuffed this year by their obligation to the legendary Derek Jeter and with that in mind he looks at ten other similar issues that could be brewing elsewhere. The list includes a look across town at the Mets where David Wright isn’t performing the way they had hoped when he inked his eight-year, $138MM extension. Here’s today’s look at the AL East..
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times looked at the major decisions the Rays will have to make this winter. Tampa Bay has a decision to make on Ben Zobrist but Topkin sees his $7.5MM option as a slam dunk and says it’s unlikely that they would trade him.
- If Masahiro Tanaka resembles his pre-injury self today against the Blue Jays, it might influence the Yankees spend this offseason, opines John Harper of the New York Daily News.
- One major league evaluator suggested to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that there are questions about whether Red Sox target Yasmany Tomas will make enough consistent contact to be successful against the higher-quality pitching he will face in the big leagues. Tomas hit 15 homers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional in 2012-13 but went deep only six times this season, possibly because of a shoulder injury. Boston was in attendance for Tomas’ weekend showcase in the Dominican Republic.
- The Red Sox are likely to have one spot in their 2015 rotation reserved for a young starter and while there are several candidates, it’s not clear who will fit in that role, writes Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Rubby De La Rosa, who looked like a keeper a few weeks ago, struggled again on Saturday night in a 7-2 loss against the Orioles. Fellow prospects Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, and Brandon Workman haven’t set the world on fire lately either.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes looks at six teams that badly need some fixing this offseason. The list starts with the Braves, who have been held back in part by B.J. Upton‘s five-year, $75MM deal. The Rangers also need some serious help in the form of two starting pitchers, a right-handed power bat, and possibly a catcher. The Phillies are in the toughest spot of all, Cafardo writes, as they are overloaded with older players on bad contracts. Here are some of the highlights from today’s column..
- As teams start putting together lists of pitchers who could be had in trade this offseason, Jeremy Hellickson’s name has been surfacing. One AL team believes that the Rays could make another Wil Myers-Jake Odorizzi for James Shields-Wade Davis type of deal centering around Hellickson, who is still just 27 and inexpensive.
- It looks more and more like Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will return next season. A Twins executive said he would be “surprised” if Gardenhire didn’t come back based on his young team playing hard and having fun playing the spoiler role down the stretch.
- Even with Alex Rodriguez coming back, Cafardo sees the Yankees as a possibility for Hanley Ramirez if the Dodgers don’t retain him.
- The Red Sox haven’t committed to bringing David Ross back next season but it doesn’t appear he’ll have to worry about finding a job. A few teams have privately discussed Ross as a backup/mentor. If Boston moves on from Ross, there aren’t many clear-cut alternatives on the open market.
- Red Sox vice president of player personnel Allard Baird had a very good interview for the Diamondbacks‘ vacant GM job, but Tony La Russa is still leaning towards Dave Stewart or Gary LaRocque, according to a source. Baird, of course, was the GM of the Royals from 2000-06.
- Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield is beginning to receive more interest as a managerial candidate. Don’t be surprised to see his name mentioned more often for openings, Cafardo writes.
The Red Sox are scouting Royals ace James Shields today, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets, noting that in September, teams typically keep eyes on impending free agents in whom they have interest. The Red Sox have spent much of the season pursuing hitting, signing Rusney Castillo and acquiring Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, and they’re expected to address their rotation this offseason. Shields is one possible top-tier option, with a return of Jon Lester being another. Previous rumors have connected the Red Sox to Shields. Here are more notes on the Red Sox.
- Prospect Eduardo Rodriguez has been so dominant since being acquired for Andrew Miller in July that there might be a chance he could be the Red Sox’ next ace, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier writes. “He has stuff that can possibly dominate a lineup a few times through,” says Triple-A Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles. “Plus arm speed, feel for three pitches. His velocity and the life out of his hand with his fastball, it’s explosive. He’s got swing-and-miss capability. … He looks like he’s one of our best guys.” Speier notes that getting a prospect of Rodriguez’s quality for a rental of a reliever is very rare. After arriving from the Orioles, Rodriguez was terrific in six starts for Double-A Portland before moving up to pitch for Pawtucket in the playoffs.
- One problem with projecting the Red Sox’ future is figuring out how long David Ortiz will continue to hit, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. At age 38, Ortiz has hit .264/.357/.517, with a number of high-impact home runs. As a big slugger in his late 30s who’s still relatively healthy and consistently productive, Ortiz is already a somewhat unusual player, and it’s unclear how long the Red Sox will be able to count on him.
Despite their outfield logjam, the Red Sox will be in attendance for Yasmani Tomas‘ showcase in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Bradford spoke with Boston’s newest outfielder, Rusney Castillo, about his countryman and received strong reviews. “He’s a really high quality baseball player, and a really good person,” said Castillo through an interpreter. “He’s got a ton of power. For his physique, he actually moves pretty well. He’s pretty quick for a big guy.” Castillo agrees with scouting reports that say Tomas isn’t the same athlete that Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes is, but likened his power to that of Jose Abreu.
More from Bradford and some additional pieces on the Red Sox…
- Red Sox owner John Henry told Bradford, via email, that the team’s near-miss on Abreu fueled the club’s aggressiveness on Castillo. Boston bid just $5MM less than the White Sox did to secure Abreu, prompting Henry to admit: “Yes, the financial aspects were impacted by coming close on Abreu. The White Sox did their homework.”
- GM Ben Cherington appeared on the Dennis & Callahan radio show to discuss a number of Red Sox topics, and WEEI’s Jerry Spar has some highlights. Cherington said that while the team doesn’t consider Castillo to be have one elite tool, they feel he’s very good in a lot of categories and should be a quality Major League outfielder. Cherington stopped short, however, of proclaiming Castillo the team’s center fielder in 2015. (The Arizona Fall League announced today that Castillo will play there this offseason, which should give Boston more time to make that evaluation.) He also addressed the Mookie Betts situation, noting that the team most likely projects Betts as an outfielder moving forward and has not discussed playing him at third base.
- “I think it’s safe to say we would still have interest in keeping him here,” Cherington said in that same appearance when asked about Koji Uehara. Cherington praised Uehara’s accountability during his recent rough patch, and that accountability is an appealing factor when pursuing a new contract. Boston has yet to make an offer or discuss a new contract with Uehara at this time, per Cherington.
- As John Tomase of the Boston Herald points out, the Red Sox, by some metrics, have had the worst production in the league at third base. As such, they’ll be on the hunt for third basemen with power this offseason, preferably ones that hit left-handed or are switch-hitters in order to balance out a right-leaning lineup. Tomase expects Pedro Alvarez to be on the team’s list, as the club tried desperately to sign him as a 14th-round pick out of high school back in 2005. Boston was willing to offer Alvarez $850K and showed a late willingness to push the number closer to Alvarez’s $1MM asking price, but he instead attended Vanderbilt. The decision paid off, as Alvarez was drafted No. 2 overall and received a $6MM signing bonus from the Pirates three years later. Tomase speculates that a swap of underachieving third basemen — Alvarez and Will Middlebrooks — might make sense for both clubs (presumably, other pieces would be required in such a deal).
- The right-leaning nature of Boston’s lineup is the focus of the latest from Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe, who notes that the Sox currently project to have just one regular lefty bat in the lineup next season — David Ortiz. While others such as Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley and the switch-hitting Daniel Nava could be worked into the mix, the team cannot afford to have such a glaring deficiency, as other clubs will exploit it, writes Massarotti.
The Orioles announced today that they have selected the contract of first base prospect Christian Walker for the final few games of the season. Walker, 23, was Baltimore’s fourth-round pick in 2013 and batted a combined .288/.357/.489 between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk this season. As Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com explains, Baltimore will take a look at Walker while resting Steve Pearce over the remainder of the regular season. The team was hesitant to add Walker to the 40-man roster, as he did not need to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft this winter, but they decided to give him a mini-audition of sorts (Twitter links). No moves were needed to clear a spot in light of the suspension of Chris Davis, tweets Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
Here’s more from the American League East…
- The Red Sox have interest in Japanese hurler Kenta Maeda, tweets Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, but that interest is similar to their interest in many free agent starters, including Francisco Liriano. That is to say, according to Bradford, that Boston considers him a middle-of-the-rotation arm rather than an ace to slot atop the team’s starting five.
- The struggles of Koji Uehara have not changed the interest of the Red Sox in bringing him back, GM Ben Cherington tells Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). After showing excellent form for much of the season, Uehara’s age-39 campaign took a quick downturn from mid-August onward. He remains a tantalizing free agent, however, given his recent track record of dominance.
- For the time being, of course, all eyes will be on Rusney Castillo tonight as he makes his debut for the Red Sox. But with so little time left in the season, his real work will come over the winter, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. Castillo is expected to play in both the Arizona Fall League and the Puerto Rican Winter League as he looks to dial in his play in anticipation of competing for a starting job next spring.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos expects Melky Cabrera to test the free agent market rather than sign an extension, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. While reports have indicated that Cabrera will receive a qualifying offer and Toronto hopes to retain him on a new multi-year deal, Anthopoulos said that it just makes sense for most players who get to this point to see what’s out there. Anthopoulos added that he’s open to bringing back any of the team’s pending free agents if it makes financial sense.
- The Rays‘ immediate future is not promising, in the opinion of Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times. With the team expected to oversee a drop in payroll, it will take bounce-backs from several key players (such as Wil Myers and Evan Longoria) to improve the team moving forward. For his part, skipper Joe Maddon says that he foresees a return to form for Tampa, especially given the team’s talented pitching staff. “I just want to believe it’ll be more offensive,” Maddon said of next year’s club. “Whether it’s with the guys who are here or potential acquisitions.”
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 | Yasmany 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
Rusney Castillo will make his highly anticipated debut with the Red Sox tonight, and WEEI.com’s Alex Speier breaks down which Red Sox players will be impacted by his arrival. As Speier points out, Castillo batted .293/.370/.463 in his 11 minor league games prior to his summoning to the Majors. He will split time with Jackie Bradley in center field, but if Brock Holt returns from a concussion, Will Middlebrooks could lose some playing time as well.
Here’s more on the Red Sox…
- The one-year, $16MM extension (which comes with a pair of club options) that the Red Sox issued to David Ortiz has proven to be a good move, writes WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Big Papi himself said as much to Bradford, noting that critics and doubters have gone eerily silent following a strong season: “It’s all about having the chance by this time [of the season] to say, ‘See, I told you it was wrong to sign him.’ That’s what it’s all about, so that’s why I don’t pay any attention to that,” said Ortiz. Papi would’ve joined a thin list of free agent hitters, and multiple execs tell Bradford that at least two years and $40MM wouldn’t have been an outlandish ask on the free agent market. Ortiz doesn’t seem to have any regret that he signed the deal, though he did note that “it would have cost [the Red Sox] more” to sign him had they waited until free agency. Ortiz has batted .263/.357/.508 with 32 homers this season.
- David Ross would like to return to Boston, he tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, but he knows that might not be in the cards. “I feel like if they really want me, they might’ve already come to me,” says Ross. The Red Sox are impressed with Christian Vasquez‘s glove behind the plate but may well feel the need to get more offense from their backstops, Lauber writes. Ross is hitting just .185/.264/.356 in 165 plate appearances this season. Lauber adds that Ross would like to play at least one more season for a contending team.