Brad Hawpe Rumors

Rangers Notes: Ogando, Profar, International Signings

The Rangers made a minor trade earlier today, sending Kelvin De La Cruz to the Indians in exchange for cash considerations.  De La Cruz was a Ranger for less than a month, as he was originally acquired by Texas in another deal with Cleveland on February 21.

Some more news from the two-time defending AL champions…

  • In an interview Ben & Skin of ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM radio, Jon Daniels said that the Rangers are better served by having Alexi Ogando in the bullpen, though the GM admitted that Ogando probably deserves a starting job after his solid performance in the rotation last year.  No firm decision has yet been made, however, about Ogando's status.  ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett collects some of the notable topics in Daniels' interview.
  • Shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar may see some time playing second base, Rangers director of minor league operations Jake Krug tells Bryan Dolgin of the Rangers Magazine radio show.  The 19-year-old Profar was ranked as the seventh-best prospect in the game by Baseball America's 2012 minor league rankings.  Giving him time at second base would give Texas a possible option if Ian Kinsler can't be signed to an extension, though it seem a waste of Profar's defensive skills to move him away from short.
  • The Rangers spent the most on any team on international bonuses last year, according to a report by Baseball America.  The Rangers spent an estimated $12.83MM (not counting Japanese professionals or Cuban defectors) on international signings, more than $5MM ahead of the second-place team on the list, the Blue Jays. 
  • Texas accounts for the top two spots (Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman) on another Baseball America list, chronicling the top 30 international bonuses from last year.
  • Brad Hawpe and Conor Jackson are both trying to keep their Major League careers going in the Rangers camp, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.  Hawpe and Jackson are both signed to minor league deals and are fighting for jobs on the Rangers' bench.  "It's hard to imagine either player going to Triple-A," Sullivan writes, so Hawpe and/or Jackson could find themselves waived by March 30.

Rangers Sign Brad Hawpe

4:51pm: Hawpe would earn $1MM plus bonuses if he makes the Opening Day roster, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.

3:51pm: The Rangers announced that they signed Brad Hawpe to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training. The Beverly Hills Sports Council represents Hawpe, who spent the 2011 season with the Padres.

Hawpe posted a .231/.301/.344 line in 216 plate appearances with the Padres in 2011, playing first base and right field. The 32-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow last June, but the Rangers expect him to be able to handle first base by Spring Training. He owns a .284/.380/.493 line in 2,678 career plate appearances against right-handed pitching.


Rangers Among Teams Interested In Brad Hawpe

10:10pm: The Rangers are one of the teams interested in Hawpe, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.  Hawpe is seen as insurance should current first baseman Mitch Moreland (also a left-handed batter) suffer a setback in his return from wrist surgery.  A Rangers contract would represent a homecoming for Hawpe, who was born in Fort Worth.

7:35pm: Brad Hawpe could be close to signing a minor league contract with one of three clubs that have shown interest in the 32-year-old, reports MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.  Hawpe underwent Tommy John surgery last summer and says he is healthy and ready to return to the field.

Hawpe signed a one-year, $2MM deal with the Padres just over a year ago but struggled badly in 2011, hitting just .231/.301/.344 in 216 plate appearances for the Friars.  San Diego unsurprisingly declined its $6MM club option on Hawpe for 2012, instead buying out the contract for $1MM.

Hawpe hit .288/.384/.518 with 99 home runs between 2006-2009 as member of the Rockies.  He has rather severe splits (a career .873 OPS against right-handers versus a .752 OPS against southpaws) and will probably be limited to a DH or first base role given both his recent surgery and his lifetime -18.9 UZR/150 as an outfielder.  Still, it wasn't long ago that Hawpe was one of the more underrated sluggers in the game, and he could be a very solid platoon or bench option for teams in need of a left-handed bat.



Padres Decline Options On Harang, Hawpe, Qualls

The Padres announced today they've declined their options on Aaron Harang, Brad Hawpe, and Chad Qualls.

Only Harang was slightly in question; he had a $5MM mutual option with a $500K buyout.  The 33-year-old San Diego native posted a 3.64 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.05 HR/9, and 40.6% groundball rate in 170 2/3 innings.  His SIERA suggests a 4.25 ERA would have been deserved.

Hawpe, 32, had a $6MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout.  His season ended early due to elbow surgery.  Qualls, 33, had a $6MM club option with a $1.05MM buyout.


Padres Declining Qualls, Hawpe Options; Undecided On Harang

The Padres will be declining the $6MM options for Chad Qualls and Brad Hawpe for next season.  GM Jed Hoyer broke the news during a radio appearance on XX1090's The Darren Smith Show (Twitter link from producer Marty Caswell).  Hoyer also said the team was still mulling over whether or not to pick up its side of Aaron Harang's $5MM mutual option for next season.

Qualls will receive a $1.05MM buyout from the Padres but still could be back in San Diego next year, as we've heard the team has an interest in re-signing him at a lower price.  After a disastrous 2010 campaign that saw him lose the closer's job in Arizona and get dealt to Tampa Bay, Qualls rebounded in 2011 to deliver a 3.51 ERA and 2.15 K/BB ratio in 77 games for the Padres.  Qualls had some pretty severe home/away splits (a 2.09 ERA at Petco Park and a 5.05 ERA on the road), so there's a decent chance he'll choose to remain in San Diego.

It was no surprise that the Padres parted ways with Hawpe after the veteran missed most of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June.  Hawpe only hit .231/.301/.344 in 216 plate appearances for San Diego.  Hawpe had a $6MM mutual option for 2012 that the Padres will pay $1MM to buy out.

Harang, like Qualls, underwent a bit of a career revival pitching at Petco Park — a 3.05 ERA in 17 home starts and a 4.70 ERA in 11 road starts for an overall 3.64 ERA for the season.  Harang will turn 34 next year so this could be his last chance at a multiyear deal if another team chooses to ignore his home/away splits.  Harang could decline his half of the mutual option and test the market, though if he doesn't find a multiyear contract, he could lose his chance at coming back to San Diego since the Friars will have their pick of veterans looking for a Petco Park boost.   

Hoyer also addressed recent rumors connecting manager Bud Black to the vacant general manager's job with the Angels, saying that the Halos hadn't asked the Padres for permission to interview Black and that Black is happy in San Diego.  Hoyer also said that the club has made offers to Heath Bell, but didn't confirm Jon Heyman's recent report that the Padres offered their closer a two-year, $14MM contract.  (Both links are to Caswell's Twitter feed.)


NL West Notes: Dodgers, Cook, Hawpe

Let's check out a few items from the National League West..

  • Steve Soboroff, who publicly clashed with the commissioner’s office in his brief tenure as the Dodgers’ vice chairman, has resigned, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune wonders where Brad Hawpe will fit in when he returns from the disabled list.  Even though it'll be hard to find a place for the veteran, it's hard to imagine the Padres cutting him loose and paying him the $2MM that he is still owed.
  • Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook needs to turn things around quickly before the Rockies start exploring other options, tweets Troy Renck of The Denver Post.  Earlier today, Renck reported that the club has started calling other teams to gauge the market for rotation help.

Tomase’s Latest: Felix, Hawpe, Rays

John Tomase from the Boston Herald has some notes about several Major League topics in his latest article:

  • Tomase reminds us that at the 2009 deadline, the Red Sox reportedly offered the Mariners any five of the following prospects in exchange for Felix Hernandez: Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Michael Bowden, Josh Reddick, Yamaico Navarro, Nick Hagadone, Felix Doubront, and Justin Masterson. While a Boston official disputed the specific names, Tomase says the reports were in the ballpark.
  • Regarding a trade though, Tomase quotes King Felix himself as saying that he wants to stay in Seattle: "I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m not trying to think about it. I’d love to stay here (with the Mariners). I’m part of Seattle now and I’d like to be in Seattle."
  • San Diego's Anthony Rizzo, acquired in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, is off to a blazing start at Triple-A. Rizzo has posted a monstrous line of .400/.471/.744 with seven homers, eight doubles, and a triple through 102 PAs, but despite that production the Padres aren't giving up on Brad Hawpe yet. Manager Bud Black cites Hawpe's career success, but it'll be hard to ignore his .149/.194/.194 line much longer.
  • Manny Ramirez's abrupt retirement had many questioning a Rays' lineup that was struggling to score runs, but as Tomase points out, the Rays have gone 14-5 since Manny called it quits. The Rays were 0-6 with Manny on board.

Tomase's article also features several more quotes from Felix on his appreciation for Seattle as well and is a good read all-around.


Hoyer On Bell, Contracts, Pitchers, Hawpe, Hudson

Padres GM Jed Hoyer spoke with Darren Smith of XX1090 Sports Radio about the state of his team yesterday. You can download the mp3 of the 16-minute interview here, and here's a recap of the important hot stove items…

  • Unsurprisingly, Hoyer's primary focus is arbitration figures at the moment. MLBTR's Arb Tracker shows that the team still has five players up for arbitration, including Heath Bell and Ryan Ludwick.
  • Hoyer believes the team will be able to sign Bell before an arbitration hearing. While the two sides are open to and have discussed the possibility of a multiyear deal, right now the focus is on getting a contract for 2011 worked out.
  • Hoyer likes the idea of bringing recently retired players in to just hang around with his young ballclub. Obviously the most notable recently retired player is long-time Padre Trevor Hoffman, who is now working with the club in a front office capacity.
  • "As far as Major League deals, I'd never say never, but I think we're pretty much done," said the GM. The team is closing in on deals with Gregg Zaun and Chad Qualls, and they figure to sign a few more players to minor league contracts before camp opens up.
  • "I think writing guys off after one year is a mistake," Hoyer said, referring to the recently signed Brad Hawpe. He considers age a factor when determining if a player is on the decline for good, and Hawpe is still just 31 and only a year removed from three straight seasons with no worse than a .879 OPS.
  • Free agent pitchers have called Hoyer directly to say they'd love to pitch for the Padres. Hitters aren't as receptive to playing in Petco Park, however.
  • Hoyer doesn't think they overpaid Orlando Hudson when they gave the second baseman a two-year, $11.5MM contract. "I think we got him on a very reasonable two year deal."
  • Gaslamp Ball rounded up the non-hot stove items for those of you interested in learning about how much playing time they plan to give Nick Hundley as well as how much they value defense.

Contract Details: Saito, Beltre, Capuano, Hudson

Here are some recent updates on contracts from around the majors:


Olney On Padres, Young, Manny, Branyan

The Padres like that Brad Hawpe posted a .903 OPS two years ago and is still just 31 years old, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney. The team's front office is confident in Hawpe's ability to play first, but club execs don't know what they'll get from the longtime Rockie at the plate. Here are the rest of Olney's rumors:

  • Olney suggests a player’s inability to play the field seriously compromises his value, since teams would prefer to have roster flexibility. Though Michael Young may become the Rangers’ regular DH, his ability to play all over the infield is a plus that players like Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero cannot offer.
  • Executives wonder “where the heck [Manny] Ramirez is going to land – if anywhere.” As Olney notes, Ramirez has the potential to become a distraction.
  • Russell Branyan can still play first base when healthy, which is why one GM believes he’ll find a job. “He’ll get a shot someplace," the GM said.