Brandon Belt Rumors
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.
The defending World Champions are off to a slow 1-3 start and will face the Padres tomorrow after a day off. Here's the latest on the Giants...
- Chris Haft of MLB.com outlines some ways the Giants could create roster space for Cody Ross and Brian Wilson when they return to action. It appears that the Giants will option Dan Runzler to create space for Wilson, but creating space for Ross won't be as simple. Rookie Brandon Belt may have to return to the minor leagues.
- Haft adds that there's little to any trade rumors involving Aaron Rowand.
- Manager Bruce Bochy has earned the Giants' respect because they aren't concerned that his motives go beyond winning, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney. That means Belt's transition from prospect to big leaguer has been relatively smooth.
- John Klima of the LA Times explains how Belt, a fifth rounder, beat many highly-touted prospects to the majors and has earned a roster spot on the defending World Champions.
The Giants' offseason moves may not have generated much hype, but the defending champs are sure getting their share of attention now that the season's about to begin. Here's the latest...
- Buster Posey tops Jon Paul Morosi's list of candidates to become baseball's next superstar at FOX Sports.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy did not make an announcement on whether top prospect Brandon Belt will make the team, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).
- Jon Heyman of SI.com offers some predictions for the coming season and two young Giants, Posey (NL MVP) and Belt (NL Rookie of the Year) figure prominently into Heyman's prognostications. Heyman also says the Giants "will prove that they are no fluke, winning the NL West."
- Tim Lincecum is one of the few true aces in baseball, according to baseball people who spoke to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. What differentiates aces from other good pitchers? Giants GM Brian Sabean says the best pitchers inspire confidence when they pitch. “There’s a difference in your clubhouse,” Sabean said. “People are thinking, ‘This is win day.’ ”
- The Rangers aren't looking for a centerfielder as they believe that Julio Borbon will be okay after suffering an elbow injury, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It's not realistic to expect the club to land a starting pitcher either as there isn't much out there.
- Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. denied a report saying that he's close to selling the team, writes Stephen Goff of Examiner.com.
- Left-hander Dennys Reyes told Alex Speier of WEEI.com that he is healthy after dealing with a forearm strain at the end of last year. Earlier today the Red Sox purchased the veteran's big league contract.
- More teams are structuring deals to guard against major injuries to their star players, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- As Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reminds us, chances are that back-of-the-rotation won't be the one the Yankees finish the season with.
- Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that the team's bullpen isn't finalized (Twitter links). "We've still got a few things in the works," said Dubee, which Zolecki says could mean a trade, waiver claim, or an internal option.
- Henry Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Bruce Bochy confirmed that Pat Burrell will be the Giants' Opening Day left fielder, meaning Brandon Belt is likely headed back to the minors. Check out Tim Dierkes' recent look at Belt's service time situation.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reminds us that 40-man roster space (or the lack thereof) can often serve as the tie-breaker when teams make roster decisions with non-roster invitees near the end of Spring Training (Twitter link).
A week ago I wrote that a player's free agency could be delayed a year by calling him up on April 11th or later, making it impossible for him to accrue more than 171 days of service time. It turns out that I was only partially correct.
The April 11th date only applies if the player is not on the 40-man roster right now. For example, Brandon Belt could be promoted by the Giants on April 11th or later and his free agency would be delayed until after the 2017 season, because he is not currently on the 40-man. One related note - if he was called up exactly on that date, and thus fell one day short of the 172 needed for a year of service, his agent would probably file a grievance. There's also the possibility of a one-game playoff allowing him to pick up that extra day of service time anyway. So it makes sense to leave a little space.
What about a player who is on the 40-man roster, such as the Orioles' Zach Britton? In that case, the player needs to be optioned to start the season and spend at least 20 days on optional assignment in order to not get the service time back. So a 40-man roster player can earn either 162 or fewer days of service, or a full year. The Orioles will have to wait until April 21st or later with Britton, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun indicated today.