- Cubs Designate Russell, Soriano; Select Contracts Of Cahill, Berry; Recall Baez
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- Giants Still Discussing De Aza, Looking At Infielders
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- Mets Acquire Addison Reed From Diamondbacks
- Mets Claim Marc Rzepczynski On Revocable Waivers, In Talks With Padres
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Brad Ziegler Rumors
The Diamondbacks are receiving “lots of calls” on right-hander Brad Ziegler, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). However, the D-Backs have told other clubs that they’d need to be overwhelmed to move Ziegler, who has transitioned seamlessly into the team’s closer role following Addison Reed‘s early struggles. As Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets, the Twins are one team with interest in Ziegler.
Ziegler is 35 years old, but the side-armer is enjoying arguably the finest season of his career despite his age. He’s never been a hard-thrower (85.2 mph average fastball in his career) or missed many bats (career 6.0 K/9), but Ziegler is a ground-ball machine that has consistently dominated right-handed hitters and posted strong ERA marks. Righties have hit him at just a .216/.268/.279 clip in his career, and while he at one time struggled versus lefties, he’s held them to a .206/.302/.321 line over the past three seasons.
Thus far in 2015, Ziegler’s posted a pristine 1.08 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate north of 69 percent in 41 2/3 innings. With Reed losing a handle on the ninth inning early in the year, Ziegler has picked up 15 saves in 16 tries as well. Though he’s typically been deployed as a traditional one-inning closer, manager Chip Hale has shown a willingness to use him for multiple innings recently. Ziegler has been asked to get six outs and five outs in his past two outings — his first multi-inning efforts since May 8, when he was still pitching as a setup man.
Ziegler’s strong results aren’t the only reason that teams are showing interest, as he’s also on an affordable contract. He signed a two-year, $10.5MM extension with the D-Backs that covers the 2014-15 seasons and includes a reasonable club option for the 2016 campaign as well. Ziegler is earning $5MM in 2015, of which about $2.05MM remains. He’s also guaranteed a $1MM buyout of a $5.5MM option for the 2016 season, though given his excellent results through the first three-plus months, that option would seem like a lock to be exercised, whether it’s by the D-Backs or another team following a trade.
The defensive shift has drawn plenty of attention around the game, and a study from Steve Moyer of Inside Edge (written up for the Wall Street Journal) shows that it has, in fact, been effective overall. The most impactful efforts, according to the study, have come from the Astros, whose shifts have saved the club an estimated 44 hits on the year.
More from out west:
- That statistic serves as an interesting backdrop for the Astros‘ newly-launched managerial search, given that former skipper Bo Porter played a role in implementing the club’s analytically-driven shifts. GM Jeff Luhnow — who is ultimately responsible both for driving the team’s defensive approach and for hiring and firing Porter — says that the team is inclined to add a skipper with an established track record, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. “We want major league experience as manager or major league experience as the bench coach,” said Luhnow. At present, the team has yet to conduct interviews or even request for permission to do so (for outside candidates). The hiring may extend into the offseason, he said.
- Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler has undergone microfracture surgery on his left knee, which is a more significant procedure than had been expected, as Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Nevertheless, the veteran set-up ace is expected to be ready for the spring. The out-of-contention D’backs drew some criticism for not dealing Ziegler at the trade deadline, as his remaining contract ($5MM in 2015 and a $5.5MM club option with a $1MM buyout) seemed a solid asset.
- As the Diamondbacks begin their GM search in earnest, candidate (and current agent) Dave Stewart has yet to decide whether he’ll take an interview, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports, though it certainly sounds as if he will. But the longtime big league hurler says that he is definitely intrigued by the possibility of taking the helm, especially given the chance to partner with Tony LaRussa. “I’m very, very interested in it,” he said. “I love the idea of having the opportunity to build and build a successful team, and by successful I mean building a team to win a championship.”
- Outgoing Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers seems to be seriously considering staying on in a senior scouting role, though he tells Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com (Twitter link) that he is waiting to see who will take over in his former role. “We have to be simpatico,” said Towers.
Bartolo Colon is reportedly on revocable waivers at the moment (his waiver period expires tomorrow), but he is of course just one of many names to be in that situation. We’ll keep track of the players that are reported to be on revocable waivers today in this post…
- Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons reports that the Astros placed Scott Feldman and Chad Qualls on revocable waivers yesterday, meaning their waiver periods will expire tomorrow (Twitter link). The Angels and Tigers will both monitor the situation, he notes, referring to Anaheim’s need for rotation help and Detroit’s bullpen needs. Feldman is owed roughly $22.4MM through 2016 as part of a front-loaded three-year, $30MM pact. He’s posted a 4.37 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 44.9 percent ground-ball rate this season. His salary commitment, like Cahill, gives him a realistic chance of falling to the Angels, in my view.
- Qualls has been excellent out of the Houston bullpen, notching a 3.07 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 1.0 BB/9 and a 56.7 percent ground-ball rate in 44 innings this year. He’s owed about $3.78MM through 2015 on his current contract. That sum includes the remainder of this season’s $2.7MM salary, next year’s $3MM guarantee and the $250K buyout on a $3.5MM option for the 2016 season.
- The Diamondbacks appear to be putting a large chunk of their roster through waivers this weekend, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Trevor Cahill, Oliver Perez, Cliff Pennington, Addison Reed and Brad Ziegler are all on revocable waivers. At first glance, Cahill would appear to be a sure thing to clear, given his $12MM salary in 2015 and the fact that he already cleared outright waivers earlier this year after struggling. However, Cahill has a 3.43 ERA in 42 innings since returning from Triple-A, and it’s fair to speculate about an injury-ravaged team like the Angels placing a claim with the hopes that he can sustain the turnaround. Cahill is guaranteed about $13.7MM through the end of the 2015 season, but his contract also contains a pair of reasonable club options (reasonable, of course, assuming he is effective). His team can exercise a $13MM option ($300K buyout) for 2016 and a $13.5MM option ($500K buyout) for 2017.
- As Rosenthal notes, virtually every reliever being placed on waivers is being claimed. Even non-contending clubs could look to claim any of Arizona’s three relief arms known to be on waivers, as each is controlled beyond 2014. Perez will probably generate the most interest given his strong results and the modest $2.8MM remaining on his deal. Reed’s save totals will inflate his price tag in arbitration, while the D’Backs have reportedly shown no interest in parting with Ziegler all summer.
- Teams may be wary of claiming Pennington, who is owed $639K through season’s end, due to his injury troubles in 2014 and his history of modest offensive contributions. He’s arb-eligible following the season, but he’s a non-tender candidate after earning $3.25MM this season.
For a more complete explanation of how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR’s August Trades primer. You can also check out MLBTR’s list of players that have cleared revocable waivers to see who is eligible to be traded to any team.
Here’s what’s happening around the NL Central…
- John Lackey told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch) that he will honor his contract and pitch in 2015 despite the fact that he’ll only earn a minimum salary. The fact that Lackey was traded to the contending Cardinals played a factor in his decision: “Obviously, it was case by case. It would have been a harder decision other places, for sure, but this is definitely somewhere I wanted to be, and I’m excited about it.”
- The Brewers checked in on such names as the Padres‘ Joaquin Benoit, the Rockies‘ LaTroy Hawkins and the Diamondbacks‘ Addison Reed and Brad Ziegler yet came up short in their hunt for a right-handed reliever, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter link). Earlier today, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Crew were one of the finalists to obtain a notable lefty reliever in Andrew Miller.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington discussed his team’s lack of trade activity, telling reporters (including MLB.com’s Tom Singer) that “we identified potential fits, wanted to add and worked hard to. At the end of the day, we weren’t able to push anything across the line….It was interesting, in that the majority of impact players went for Major League talent instead of teams trying to grab the best prospects they can, as has been the case in recent years.” Since Pittsburgh was connected to Jon Lester and David Price, Singer speculates that Huntington was perhaps willing to move young prospects for these aces but couldn’t outbid the A’s and Tigers’ respective offers, both of which included established players.
With roughly three days until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some highlights from the latest Rumblings & Grumblings column by ESPN’s Jayson Stark…
- The Red Sox have contacted every contending team in each league and told them that Jon Lester is available for a two- to three-prospect package fronted by at least one upper-echelon prospect. One executive, however, tells Stark that the Sox simply can’t get as much as the Rays would get if they moved David Price, which isn’t surprising, given Lester’s impending free agency and the remaining year of control that Price has.
- Lester isn’t the only player being shopped — Boston has firmly planted a “for sale” sign in the ground, and they’re willing to move any impending free agents with the exception of Koji Uehara, whom they hope to re-sign. They’re peddling Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. The price for Miller is also exorbitant at this time, however, as officials from two interested clubs tell Stark that Boston has asked for one of the top prospects plus a lesser prospect.
- The Giants have asked the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but their main priority is second base. The Reds are reassessing their stance after losing eight of nine games, and the Royals have backed off of Byrd. The Mariners appears to be the most logical option, but Byrd still wants his $8MM 2016 vesting option guaranteed to approve a trade there.
- Byrd tells Stark that he’d have to think long and hard if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. came to him and asked him to approve a trade to a team on his no-trade clause. While his hope was to retire a Phillie, he appreciates how aggressive Amaro was in signing him. “[Ruben] made it easy for me this offseason,” he said. Still, given the odds that he’d want some form of perk to approve a trade, it’s no longer certain that he gets dealt.
- While the Red Sox and Mariners have been connected to Matt Kemp, officials from other clubs tell Stark they feel an offseason trade is much more likely than an in-season deal.
- The White Sox have had scouts watching the Yankees‘ surplus of minor league catchers in recent weeks, fueling speculation that the Yanks would like to acquire John Danks.
- Some officials believe the Yankees would like to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner to pair with Ichiro in Suzuki in right field. New York wants an option that doesn’t have commitments beyond 2014, making names like Justin Ruggiano of the Cubs and Chris Denorfia of the Padres as possible targets. Earlier today it was reported that Denorfia could be moved soon.
- The Royals have decided that Alex Rios isn’t a good fit for their right field need. Because the team is unable to take on much additional salary (if any), they could wait until August to add a bat.
- While Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has had a lot of buzz around it, club officials from interested teams tell Stark there’s no indication he is available. Rather, the Rockies are open to moving bullpen arms Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Belisle. However, the team would only move Hawkins if they’re overwhelmed. That seems a bit odd, given his age, but Hawkins does have a cheap club option and has drawn praise in Denver for his mentoring of younger talent.
- The D’Backs are telling clubs that they’d move Addison Reed, but they don’t want to move Brad Ziegler. Arizona is also willing to move Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez. They’ll listen on Martin Prado and Josh Collmenter, although they’re more hesitant to deal them.
- The chances of Cliff Lee being traded before August are almost nonexistent. Scouts who have seen him don’t think he looks close to healthy, and the money he’s owed is of course problematic.
Full Story | 19 Comments | Categories: Aaron Hill | Adam Ottavino | Addison Reed | Alex Rios | Andrew Miller | Arizona Diamondbacks | Boston Red Sox | Brad Ziegler | Burke Badenhop | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Denorfia | Cincinnati Reds | Cliff Lee | Colorado Rockies | Craig Breslow | John Danks | Jon Lester | Jonny Gomes | Josh Collmenter | Justin Ruggiano | Kansas City Royals | Koji Uehara | LaTroy Hawkins | Marlon Byrd | Martin Prado | Matt Belisle | New York Yankees | Newsstand | Oliver Perez | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | Stephen Drew | Texas Rangers | Troy Tulowitzki
Jason Lane‘s improbable comeback story will add another chapter today when the outfielder-turned-pitcher will receive his first Major League start, getting a spot appearance in place of Padres ace Ian Kennedy (who’s battling a sore oblique). Lane began making regular mound appearances in 2012 in the minors in an attempt to revive his career, and the decision paid off earlier this season when he was called up by San Diego and threw 4 1/3 scoreless relief innings. That cup of coffee marked Lane’s first big league action since playing as an outfielder with the Astros and Padres from 2002-07. At age 37, Lane will be the oldest first-time starter since 38-year-old Troy Percival started a game for St. Louis in 2007.
Here’s some hot stove buzz from around the NL West…
- Despite already trading two of their better prospects in the Jake Peavy deal, the Giants have maintained an interest in Ben Zobrist and had two scouts watching the Rays this weekend, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports (Twitter links). San Francisco is one of “multiple teams” who are “ready to act” if Tampa indeed makes Zobrist available, sources tell Morosi and Ken Rosenthal.
- Multiple teams have shown interest in Diamondbacks right-hander Brad Ziegler, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports, though the Snakes aren’t likely to move him. Earlier this month, we heard the Tigers were known to be one of the clubs who asked about Ziegler. Gilbert’s piece also summarizes some of the trade rumors circulating about what Arizona may do at the deadline.
- Troy Tulowitzki would welcome a trade to the Red Sox, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe hears from a source (Twitter link). Given Tulowitzki’s controversial appearance in the stands at Sunday’s Blue Jays/Yankees game, expect more trade buzz than ever about the Rockies‘ star shortstop both over the next several weeks and through the offseason.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said over the weekend that his club “may not do anything” at the trade deadline, and Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles thinks this might not necessarily be a concern given how the current roster performed in sweeping the Giants.
The Rangers believe they can be competitive in 2015 and therefore won’t be trading players like Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre or Elvis Andrus, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Even with a number of talented young infielders in their system, they don’t want to trade Andrus, who is an important figure in their clubhouse. They will, however, consider dealing Joakim Soria and Alex Rios. The Tigers have shown interest in Soria, and the Mariners, Blue Jays, Giants or Royals could all be fits for Rios. Reliever Neal Cotts could also fetch a nice return for Texas. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Cubs, White Sox, Braves and Giants all have interest in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Sanchez notes that Castillo has received comparisons to Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kenny Lofton. All teams throughout MLB are likely to be represented at Castillo’s showcase next week.
- The Tigers have asked about the availability of reliever Brad Ziegler, but the Diamondbacks are likely to keep him, tweets FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi. Ziegler has pitched well this year and is under contract for $5MM in 2015, with a reasonable option on his services the following year.
- Billy Butler believes the Royals should pick up the $12.5MM 2015 option on his contract, but if they don’t want to, he’s willing to renegotiate so he can stay in Kansas City, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. “My numbers throughout my contract suggest they should (pick it up),” says Butler. “Maybe not the way I’ve necessarily played this year, but that’s the reason you play a full 162 games. … That’s the reason why you have a track record.” Butler has struggled this year, with a .272/.324/.354 line in 383 plate appearances that’s well below his career norms.
The Diamondbacks have been receiving interest in left-hander Wade Miley, but are telling interested parties that he is unavailable, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Some had speculated that Miley could fetch a nice return as an under-the-radar trade candidate, but given his long-term control (through 2017), it appears that Arizona will likely resist the temptation.
Other players the D’Backs aren’t willing to move, according to Rosenthal (Twitter links), include Chris Owings, A.J. Pollock, Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin, Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley. Even veteran setup man Brad Ziegler is likely unavailable, per Rosenthal’s sources. Rosenthal offers a somewhat softer take on Mark Trumbo‘s availability, stating that a trade is “unlikely.” Trumbo is controlled through the 2016 season, Rosenthal notes, and Arizona would be hard-pressed to get near the same value they surrendered to acquire the slugger in the offseason.
All said, it is not surprising that Arizona would be unwilling to part with most of the players listed above, especially the younger players who are now (or are expected soon to be) playing at the MLB level. While Trumbo comes with just two years of control remaining, his long injury layoff will at least suppress his salary somewhat. And Arizona will surely be hesitant to move him for a cut rate after parting with both Adam Eaton and Tyler Skaggs for his rights over the offseason.
Ziegler’s inclusion, though, is a bit surprising at first glance. The righty has been consistently excellent, of course — and has even managed to increase his strikeout numbers this year to a far-and-away career best of 8.0 K/9 — but at 34 years of age he is probably not a long-term asset. (He is, however, under contract for next season at $5MM and is under control through a $5.5MM team option, which comes with a $1MM buyout, for 2016.)
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Diamondbacks submariner Brad Ziegler is one of the most fascinating, and most effective, relievers in the game, Rany Jazayerli writes for Grantland. Tracking the notable successes of the small number of soft-throwing, under-handed throwers in baseball history, Jazayerli wonders whether there could be some value in looking for more such pitchers. Of course, as he explains, Ziegler is even more unique than most in that he has figured out how to retire opposite-handed hitters. Here’s more from the National League West:
- For all its talent, the Dodgers‘ roster lacks flexibility, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. That, in turn, complicates any possible maneuvers to upgrade the team, which is off to an uninspiring start. But if upgrades are difficult to identify with regard to the team’s key roles, that could be because they may not really be needed. Los Angeles has an enviable rotation that is not likely to be altered substantially, and actually stands at fifth in the bigs in position player fWAR to date. While it is arguable that the team could stand to enjoy stronger performances out of the bullpen and bench, those are the spots most readily upgraded over the summer. The Dodgers can certainly look to do just that if the struggles continue over the summer, and might also consider displacing or supplementing A.J. Ellis behind the plate. (Of course, the more drastic move of shipping out a high-priced outfielder could also be on the table, even if the return is minimal.)
- The unyielding Tony LaRussa is a poor fit for the Diamondbacks, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. As Passan notes, he will become the game’s oldest head of baseball ops in his first time in the role, and will need to maintain a much broader focus than he did in the dugout. Moreover, while prominent owner Ken Kendrick has cited the need for the organization to better utilize analytics, says Passan, LaRussa is driven first and foremost by his gut and vast experience.
- LaRussa talked about his view of sabermetrics today in an appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (via Vince Marotta of ArizonaSports.com). “My opinion is that it’s a valuable tool, but mostly a tool to help you identify talent and then prepare the talent,” said LaRussa. “I think the biggest problem I see is there are teams that have gone way overboard and they are really interfering with the way the managers and coaches conduct strategy during the game by running the analytics and forcing them into it.”
- If and when LaRussa moves to replace Kevin Towers as the team’s general manager, current Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque could be a prime candidate, reports Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com (Twitter links). LaRocque has an extensive scouting background, and has overseen the fast-tracked development of many of the Cards’ impressive young players.
- Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins says he does not expect his age-41 season to be his last, tweets Morosi. “If I stay healthy, I’ll play [in 2015],” said Hawkins. The veteran righty has worked to a 4.11 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, though he has struck out only 3.5 batters per nine (against 1.8 BB/9). He is earning $2.25MM this season, and Colorado has an equally-priced option ($250K buyout) for next year.
The Diamondbacks have agreed to an extension with right-hander Brad Ziegler, the pitcher himself announced on Twitter. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that it's a two-year, $10.5MM contract with a club option for a third-year. Rosenthal reports that Ziegler's deal will pay him $4.5MM in 2014 and $5MM in 2015, and his $5.5MM option contains a $1MM buyout. He is a client of Icon Sports Management.
Ziegler, 34, is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.22 ERA and filled in as Arizona's closer, saving 13 games and falling one out short of matching his career-high of 73 1/3 innings. He was originally acquired by the Diamondbacks in July 2011 in what looks to be a lopsided deal in hindsight. Arizona sent Brandon Allen and Jordan Norberto to Oakland to land the side-armer. Ziegler has rewarded GM Kevin Towers with 162 1/3 innings of 2.27 ERA ball with 5.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate north of 70 percent.
Dating back to 2002 when batted ball data began being tracked, Ziegler's 66.1 percent ground-ball rate is the highest among all Major League pitchers with at least 300 innings pitched.
MLBTR's Matt Swartz projected Ziegler to earn $5MM in his final year of arbitration eligiblity, so he likely took a slight hit to his 2014 salary in exchange for multiple years in an environment that he enjoys. Towers has shuffled his bullpen this offseason by acquiring Addison Reed from the White Sox in exchange for Matt Davidson and trading Heath Bell to Tampa Bay in a three-team deal. Ziegler, Reed and J.J. Putz should form a solid core to handle the late innings for manager Kirk Gibson.
Initial reports that an extension with Ziegler was a possibility surfaced in September. Later that same month, he told reporters that it didn't matter to him whether he pitched in the eighth or ninth inning. With Reed and Putz both on board, Ziegler seems likely to return to the setup role in which he has thrived for most of his career.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.