Brandon Barnes Rumors

AL East Notes: Robertson, Lester, Barnes, Pompey, Byrd

The Yankees and standout closer David Robertson haven’t had any discussions about a contract extension, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his daily blog (Insider subscription required/recommended). The free-agent-to-be could end up being hit with a qualifying offer this winter, Olney writes, and given the declining willingness teams have shown to pay big money for relievers, he could be inclined to take the deal. Doing so would give the Yankees an elite arm at a decent price without assuming any long-term risk.

More from Olney’s blog and the rest of the AL East…

  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington hasn’t made a formal offer to Jon Lester since the four-year, $70MM pact the team offered in Spring Training.Ā Cherington wouldn’t be doing his due diligence if he didn’t at least listen to offers for his ace, in order to gauge whether or not a club like the Dodgers would offer up a top prospect like Joc Pederson or Corey Seager, Olney continues.
  • Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal takes things a step further, writing that it is time for the Red Sox to trade Lester. MacPherson notes that the lack of a competitive offer shows a clear unwillingness to take that type of risk on the organization’s part. If the team wasn’t willing to go to $100MM or so in Spring Training, MacPherson asks, why then, would it vault into Zack Greinke territory by offering a market value extension or free agent contract? Collecting a draft pick and letting Lester walk is a “timid half-measure,” MacPherson concludes.
  • The Blue Jays have shown interest in Rockies outfielder Brandon Barnes, reports Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. However, while the Jays have scouted Barnes extensively, they’ve yet to put together an offer.
  • Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports (via Twitter) that Blue Jays top prospect Dalton Pompey has changed representation and is now a client of CAA Sports. The toolsy center fielder hit his way onto Baseball America’s midseason Top 50 prospect list, rankingĀ 47th overall.
  • While the Yankees are focused on adding pitcher, John Harper of the New York Daily News opines that the team should turn its focus to Marlon Byrd. Injuries to Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira have left Brett Gardner looking like the most dangerous hitter in the lineup, Harper writes, and Byrd has more homers than the entire outfield of Ichiro Suzuki, Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury combined. While there’s been no indication that the Yanks are interested, one executive tells Harper that GM Brian Cashman has gotten very good at keeping acquisitions under wraps.

Rosenthal On Red Sox, Butler, Rangers, Angels

Some say that the big-money closer is becoming extinct, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues that reports of the species' demise might be premature since the supply is overwhelming demand this offseason, depressing some free agent prices.  While Grant Balfour's two-year, $15MM was surprisingly low to some, Joe Nathan netted a two-year, $20MM deal at age 39.  Here's more from Rosenthal's latest column..

  • A trade remains possible for the Red Sox, who are checking in with teams that need starters, sources say.  Jake Peavy and Ryan Dempster appear the most expendable, but the Sox could get a bigger return if they moved John Lackey or Felix Doubront.
  • The Royals seem unlikely to trade designated hitter Billy Butler or any of their relievers after signing free-agent second baseman Omar Infante.  Royals GM Dayton Moore wants to pounce after adding Infante, left-hander Jason Vargas and outfielder Norichika Aoki and would love a shot at re-signing free agent Ervin Santana if his market somehow collapses.
  • The Rangers do not appear seriously involved in trade discussions for Rays ace David Price at the moment.  If they strike out on Shin-Soo Choo, Masahiro Tanaka, and Price, they simply would preserve their prospects and financial resources for later moves.
  • The Angels seem to be holding off on a DH like as Raul Ibanez until they know how much they will spend on a pitcher. That pitcher could be right-hander Matt Garza as they have heavy interest in him, sources say.  That pitcher could also be Tanaka.
  • The Rockies got more trade inquiries on Jordan Lyles than any player at the winter meetings and Brandon Barnes was a popular target, too, according to a source.

Astros Acquire Dexter Fowler

The Rockies announced that they have traded outfielder Dexter Fowler and a player to be named later to the Astros in exchange for right-hander Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes.

Fowler-Dexter

Fowler, 28 in March, wasn't able to replicate his brilliant offensive performance in 2012, but he still enjoyed a strong season. The switch-hitter batted .263/.369/.407 with 12 homers and 19 stolen bases as Colorado's primary center fielder. A sore right wrist and a left knee sprain limited Fowler to just 119 games, but he's only one year removed from a .300/.389/.474 batting line.

Fowler has a strong walk rate and rarely strikes out, but he's not without his warts. Fowler isn't regarded as a strong defensive center fielder, owning negative career marks in Ultimate Zone Rating and Derfensive Runs Saved. He's also done most of his damage at Coors Field, posting an .880 OPS at home in his career compared to a .694 mark on the road. He's owed $7.35MM in 2014 and will be arbitration eligible for the final time before free agency the following offseason.

Lyles, who recently turned 23, has a career 5.35 ERA with 6.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 48.6 percent ground-ball rate. Those numbers certainly aren't impressive, but Lyles has consistently been one of the youngest pitchers in the Majors after debuting as a 20-year-old in 2011. The Astros selected him 38th overall in the 2008 draft, and he twice ranked on Baseball America's list of Top 100 prospects. Lyles appeared to be on the road to a solid breakout season, having posted a 4.02 ERA through July 10, but he faded down the stretch, posting a 7.67 ERA over his final 13 appearances. Lyles won't be eligible for arbitration until next offseason and is under team control through the 2017 season.

Barnes, 27, batted .240/.289/.346 with eight homers and 11 stolen bases. Though he offered little at the plate, Barnes played outstanding defense in the outfield. He was solid against left-handed pitching as well, batting .296/.354/.437. He's under control through the 2018 season and is not yet arbitration eligible.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.