Brandon Belt Rumors
Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com participated in a live chat with fans today and shared a number of Giants-related hot stove items...
- The Giants "went hard after" Jose Dariel Abreu and offered the Cuban slugger a contract that paid him roughly the same average annual value of his six-year, $68MM deal with the White Sox. The catch was that the Giants' offer wasn't six years long as they didn't want to make that long a commitment to a player that is projected by many scouts to be a future designated hitter.
- Ryan Vogelsong's $6.5MM option won't be picked up by the Giants but Baggarly thinks the veteran righty will re-sign on a cheaper one-year deal with incentives.
- There is mutual interest between the Giants and Javier Lopez, and the money saved by declining Vogelsong's option could help the club afford the veteran southpaw.
- The Giants are "probably not" realistic players for Masahiro Tanaka, as Baggarly figures that his posting price will exceed what the Giants are willing to offer, plus big spenders like the Dodgers and Yankees are in the mix. Baggarly reported in August that San Francisco had an interest in the Japanese righty.
- Brandon Belt could be approached about a contract extension in Spring Training but the Giants will just work out a one-year deal in the meantime to cover Belt's first year of arbitration eligibility. MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects Belt to earn $2.4MM in 2014 and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes suggests that Allen Craig's extension could be a model for a Belt extension, though with some adjustments since Belt is a Super Two player.
- The Giants are looking only for "reliable innings guys" in their rotation so the likes of Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson and Josh Johnson will only draw the club's interest if they're healthy.
- Though the Giants are looking for a right-handed power bat and might trade prospects to get one, the club is unlikely to move the likes of Kyle Crick, Edwin Escobar or Adalberto Mejia.
- When it comes to left field, the Giants may prioritize defense. Baggarly expects San Francisco to look for a left fielder in a trade rather than free agency.
- Baggarly hasn't heard Scott Kazmir's name mentioned as a possibility in San Francisco.
- Mark Trumbo "has his admirers in the [Giants] front office." While the Angels are known to be willing to move Trumbo for young pitching talent, I'm not sure the Giants are a good trade partner given that they're looking for arms themselves.
- Given Marco Scutaro's age, Brandon Phillips "makes a lot of sense" for the Giants. Baggarly makes it clear that he's only speculating, however. Phillips is rumored to be on the shopping block but Reds GM Walt Jocketty recently denied that he's talked about Phillips with other teams.
- The Giants are very unlikely to surrender their first round (14th overall) draft pick to sign a free agent who has rejected a qualifying offer. This could have a major impact on the chances of the team pursuing Bronson Arroyo, who could be extended a qualifying offer by the Reds. Baggarly feels that Arroyo and Dan Haren are the free agent pitchers who are most likely to be San Francisco targets.
- Recent Pablo Sandoval trade rumors are "total scuttlebutt," in Baggarly's opinion.
Ryan Dempster began serving his five-game suspension for throwing at Alex Rodriguez yesterday, and as MLB.com's Ian Browne writes, off-days on Thursday and Monday will allow the Red Sox to juggle their other four starters without forcing them to find a replacement starter. Of the suspension, Dempster said: "It [stinks], any time you get suspended. I've never been suspended in my career so it's not a fun feeling to have, but [I'll] start serving, be done with it on Sunday and get back to trying to help my team." Here's more on the Red Sox...
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes that the Red Sox selected Brandon Belt out of high school as a pitcher back in the 11th round of the 2006 draft, but the team didn't see enough in his mound potential to buy him out of his commitment to the University of Texas.
- MassLive.com's Evan Drellich spoke with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, assistant GM Mike Hazen, manager John Farrell and Dodgers president Stan Kasten about last August's blockbuster that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to Los Angeles. It's a lengthy piece that does a terrific job of illustrating the number of people involved in making the trade a reality and also explaining how technology has impacted trade negotiations over the years. Cherington said that he wasn't nervous to take the plunge and make a trade of historic proportions.
- Within the same piece, Farrell notes the differences between the Blue Jays, whom he calls a scouting-based organization, and the Red Sox, whom he calls a player-development-based organization.
- Xander Bogaerts' debut as a 20-year-old shortstop puts him in elite company, writes Marc Hulet of Fangraphs. Red Sox director of player development told Hulet that he's not worried about Bogaerts spending time at third base despite his lack of professional experience at the position: “Xander shows enough athleticism to play third base despite his limited reps, but will continue to get better the more he plays.”
The latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com..
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman doesn't expect Hiroki Kuroda or Nick Swisher to accept their qualifying offers, Heyman tweets. We learned last night that Rafael Soriano will reject his as well, but the sides are still talking (Twitter link).
- Even though the Giants have been getting calls on Brandon Belt, they won't be trading him, according to Heyman (via Twitter). The club's current goals are to goals are to re-sign Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro while fortifying their bullpen. That includes retaining Jeremy Affeldt, if they can.
- The Red Sox don't see Zack Greinke as a fit for Boston but they are still thinking a bit about Josh Hamilton, Heyman tweets. It remains unlikely that the Red Sox will go for the free agent slugger, however. Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote that the Phillies could be one surprise suitor for Hamilton.
- The Mariners have reached out to catchers Russell Martin and Mike Napoli, tweets Heyman. Heyman adds that General Manager Jack Zduriencik is also looking at corner outfield bats. Nick Swisher is one corner bat that the Mariners are considering, Heyman tweets.
- The Giants have been getting lots of calls on Brandon Belt, according to Heyman (via Twitter). Belt comes with solid upside and quality defense and is not yet arbitration-eligible.
1:32pm: Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik is looking to acquire hitters who could contribute for the next two or three seasons, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports. The Mariners aim to improve an offense that currently ranks last in the American League with just 3.9 runs per game.
The Mariners are more focused on players such as Josh Willingham and Allen Craig than players like Shin-Soo Choo and Hunter Pence. Choo and Pence are eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, while Willingham is under contract through 2014 and Craig won't even be arbitration eligible before the 2013-14 offseason.
At times it's not clear where Brandon Belt fits on the Giants' roster. The 24-year-old gets regular plate appearances, but he shares the first base job with Brett Pill, Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey. However, GM Brian Sabean says Belt’s not trade bait.
"He's going nowhere," Sabean told Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle. "The kid's earned his way onto the team ... and we all want him to take over as the first baseman, and help this lineup, and I think it'll turn out that way.”
Sabean cautioned that Belt will have to earn his playing time and noted that some of his at bats have been disappointing. Belt, a top prospect entering the 2011 season, has a .234/.317/.407 line in 259 plate appearances as a Major Leaguer. He appeared in left and right field last year, but has played exclusively at first so far in 2012.
The Carlos Beltran rumors kept streaming in yesterday. Here's a quick recap: the Giants are having some trouble matching up with the Mets; the Indians' interest is cooling; the Mets aren't worried about obtaining Beltran's permission for a deal; The Tigers are focused on pitching; the Rangers have some interest in Beltran; the Brewers would like to scrape together a package and it's too early to rule out the Phillies, Red Sox, Braves or Yankees. Here are today's rumors with the most recent updates up top:
- Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal (via Twitter) notes that if the Mets deal Beltran, he cannot officially approve the trade until 24 hours later. This means that the deadline to trade him is effectively 3:59pm EST Saturday.
- It is highly doubtful that the Giants would part with Zack Wheeler or that the Phillies would move Domonic Brown in a deal for Beltran, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
- The Mets contacted Scott Boras, Beltran's agent, if his client would be open to the idea of returning to the Mets in the offseason if traded, two sources tell David Waldstein of the New York Times. They were informed that Beltran would consider the idea of re-signing with the Mets.
- Jon Heyman of SI (via Twitter) thinks its highly doubtful that the Braves would part with Mike Minor in a deal for Beltran.
- The Mets are interested in Zack Wheeler, Brandon Belt, and Gary Brown of the Giants and Domonic Brown of the Phillies, tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. The Braves, he adds, also have prospects of interest.
- The Reds have discussed Beltran, according to John Fay on the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- Some baseball people expect Beltran to use his no-trade clause to ensure that he remains in the National League, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Beltran's full no-trade clause will likely force the Mets to have a few deals lined up days prior to July 31 so that they can move on from one proposal to another should Beltran veto one, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
- The trade talks are down to five serious teams, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Twitter links). The Red Sox, Giants, Phillies, Braves and Rangers are involved. The Pirates and Indians are basically out of the conversation, according to Olney. The Mets thought the Giants were the frontrunner two days ago, but other teams have since caught up.
- The Giants, Phillies and Braves appear to be the leaders in the Beltran sweepstakes, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. The Brewers are also a possibility.
- Beltran told Newsday's David Lennon that he would prefer to stay in the National League. The outfielder prefers not to DH more than once per week and will consider a team's pitching staff before accepting a deal.
- A Mets official told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that there are six or seven active suitors for Beltran. The Mets were watching Braves Triple-A lefty Mike Minor closely yesterday, according to Sherman.
Six years ago today, Robinson Cano made his MLB debut. Since then, all he's done is hit .309/.346/.493, make two All-Star teams, club 124 home runs and help the Yankees win another World Series. Here are today's links, as Cano and the Yankees take on the Tigers...
- As Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News explains, the Phillies' roster now has far more Latin American players than it did two-plus decades ago, when current third base coach Juan Samuel was still playing.
- Mariners president Chuck Armstrong told Peter Gammons of MLB.com that the M's have no intention of trading the defending Cy Young winner. "It's ridiculous when people talk about our trading Felix," Armstrong said. "We have Felix [Hernandez] and [Michael] Pineda for five years. Why would we move either one?"
- As Yahoo's Jeff Passan explains, the 9-18 Twins could use former teammate Mike Redmond and his... unconventional way of busting out of slumps.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged that he and GM Brian Sabean have discussed promoting Brandon Belt back to the Major Leagues, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.
The latest from the NL West, where the Rockies have built a 4.5 game lead over the Dodgers, the defending World Champions, the D'Backs and the last-place Padres...
- Steve Foster of Inside the Rockies wonders which position player the Rockies will call on when they decide 13 pitchers are no longer a necessity. Ian Stewart, Chris Nelson, Eric Young Jr. and a number of other former big leaguers are among the candidates to join the Rockies.
- Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is essentially facing "the prospect of his second divorce in 18 months," Yahoo's Tim Brown says of MLB's takeover of the club's financial operations. "And the guy who fought his way in will fight more ferociously on his way out, you can be sure of that." Brown hears from a friend of McCourt's that he is a "street fighter" at heart.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that his team isn't left-handed enough. Brandon Belt, who swings from the left side, is playing left and right field in the minors and he'll almost certainly stay in the outfield when he returns to the majors, according to Schulman.
The demotion is justified based on Belt's performance; he hit .192/.300/.269 in 60 plate appearances and the Giants can't afford to give him on-the-job training. He's still considered one of the best 20 or so prospects in the game.
There is another benefit to optioning Belt, as MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith explained yesterday. If he stays in the minors for 20 days or more, which seems likely barring an injury at the big league level, Belt's free agency will be delayed until after the 2017 season at the earliest. Had he remained in the Majors all year, Belt would have been eligible for free agency after '16.
Teams like saving money and extending their control over top young players. Why wouldn't they? Having impact players on affordable contracts simplifies a GM's job. As a result, teams call top young players up strategically every season to control their service time and, in doing so, delay their free agency and/or limit their earnings.
Though service time is a consideration all season long, it's most evident at two times: in April and again midseason, around early June. If teams wait until a few weeks after the season has begun to call a prospect up for his MLB debut, the player doesn't collect a full year of service time, which delays his free agency by a year.
The precise date until which teams must wait before calling prospects up varies each year and according to whether players are on the 40-man roster. Now that we're nearly three weeks into the season, even prospects on the 40-man roster can be called up, since they have spent the requisite 20-day period in the minor leagues.
None of the following prospects have big league service time, which means that their teams can call them up at any point and keep them through the 2017 season, if not longer: Dustin Ackley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas, Jesus Montero, Eric Hosmer, Julio Teheran, Manny Banuelos, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles.
On the other hand, Michael Pineda, Zach Britton and Brandon Belt are now in the majors, picking up service time. Because those players are now on MLB rosters, they're currently on track to hit free agency after the 2016 season. However, if their respective teams option them to the minors for 20 days or more, their path to free agency could be slowed as well (that's an immediate possibility for Belt and a long-term one for the pair of impressive rookie hurlers).
That may sounds complicated, but it's the easy part. Later this spring, in late May and early June, the guessing game begins. Teams do not (and can not) know exactly when future cutoffs for super two status will be, so if they want to play it safe and ensure that prospects like Montero and Ackley only go to arbitration three times, they'll want to wait until at least the middle of June before calling them up.