Brandon McCarthy Rumors

West Notes: Walker, McCarthy, Chavez, Rockies

Top Mariners prospect Taijuan Walker will make his 2014 big-league debut on Monday, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. (The Mariners optioned outfielder Stefen Romero to Triple-A Tacoma after today’s game, so it appears they’ll have space for Walker on their active roster.) Walker figured to be a key part of Seattle’s rotation this season, but he had shoulder troubles in spring training. Walker has made eight starts this season across three minor league levels, posting a 3.38 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Elsewhere in MLB’s West divisions:

  • Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy will receive a $1MM assignment bonus if he is traded, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. The Diamondbacks will likely have to eat that sum in any deal, Olney adds.
  • Eric Chavez says retirement is a “possibility” after being transferred to the 60-day disabled list by the Diamondbacks, writes MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. “I’m just so close to the end, you know, where I’ve got to worry about feeling good for the rest of my life,” said Chavez, who is dealing with an injured left knee. “So surgery would be the worst-case scenario for me to kind of be going down that line.” 
  • The slumping Rockies have been hit hard by injuries with nine players currently on the disabled list, but are not yet ready to become sellers at the Trade Deadline, according to Nick Groke of the Denver Post. “We’ll get to see our club whole, or closer to the point we know it should be,” Assistant GM Bill Geivett said. “At that point we’ll sit down and discuss where we’re at.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


Trade Deadline Notes: Colon, McCarthy, Phils, Angels, Mariners, White Sox

In an Insider piece yesterday, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden listed 21 hitters who could change hands over the trade deadline and handicapped their odds of doing so. Bowden says it is 50/50 whether the following players are dealt: Daniel Murphy, Michael Cuddyer, Josh Willingham, Seth Smith, and Gerardo Parra. He puts better than even money on Chris Carter of the Astros (60%), Alex Rios of the Rangers (65%), and Ben Zobrist of the Rays (70%) landing in new uniforms.

Here’s the latest trade deadline chatter …

  • Though he has increased his value with a recent string of outstanding starts, Mets hurler Bartolo Colon is not likely to be dealt, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. The club is disinclined to sell, says Martino, and expects to have plenty of need for the veteran next year — even with the expected return of Matt Harvey and rise of younger arms.
  • Brandon McCarthy of the Diamondbacks could be the ideal buy-low starting pitching  target, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. While McCarthy’s results have not been encouraging (5.38 ERA), the opposite holds true of his peripherals (80:18 K:BB ratio, 56% groundball rate). In large part, McCarthy has been hurt by a bloated home run rate and batting average on balls in play. The righty could prove a bargain, says Nicholson-Smith, because he won’t require a major prospect return and Arizona may even need to pay part of his $9MM salary.
  • The Phillies may ultimately decide to part with some veterans, but David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News questions whether they will get much in return. Marlon Byrd has a lower OPS and less home runs — and is owed a lot more money — than was the case last year when he was dealt for a less-than-overwhelming return. John Mayberry Jr. has been on the block for some time, and his hot start does not mean he’ll suddenly bring back a haul. And even Cliff Lee is not nearly as valuable as one might think, says Murphy, owing to his significant remaining guarantee and current arm issues.
  • We heard recently that the Angels were looking to add a lefty and perhaps a closer to their bullpen. According to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez and Matthew DeFranks, the club has or will look into Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit of the Padres, Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies, and Jim Johnson of the Athletics“There are pieces here that are very functional in getting to a good bullpen, and I believe that we’ll get there,” said GM Jerry Dipoto. “But we are going to have to address some of that in July and help this group out.”
  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said yesterday that he would be surprised if the club did not swing at least one deal in advance of the trade deadline, in an appearance on 1090 The Fan’s Steve Sandmeyer Show (Twitter links via co-host Jason Churchill). The club’s head baseball decisionmaker also left the impression that the club will be able to achieve some payroll flexibility in weighing acquisitions.
  • One club with whom the Mariners are “expected to talk” is the White Sox, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Some or all of Adam Dunn, Alexei Ramirez, and Dayan Viciedo could hold appeal to Seattle, Morosi suggests. Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets that the M’s, who have scouted the South Siders recently, are intrigued by Ramirez and have had targeted Viciedo in the past.

D’Backs Preparing To Sell; McCarthy Drawing Interest

Though his ERA and win-loss record aren’t much to look at (5.38 and 1-10), Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy is drawing trade interest, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). A free agent at season’s end, McCarthy has about $4.72MM remaining on this year’s $9MM salary — the second year of a two-year, $15.5MM pact he inked in the 2012-13 offseason. Rosenthal notes that Arizona is likely to make multiple trades before this year’s deadline.

While McCarthy’s season looks rough on the surface, there are a lot of factors suggesting that he could quickly turn things around. McCarthy’s .339 batting average on balls in play is 44 points higher than the league average, and he’s sporting the best ground-ball and K/9 rates of his career (55.9 percent and 7.4, respectively). His fastball velocity has soared from an average of 90.8 mph over the past two seasons to 93 mph, and he’s sporting his best swinging-strike rate since 2006 as a result. McCarthy has mostly been plagued by home runs this season, but his fluky 21.7 percent homer-to-flyball ratio figures to come down.

There’s not much question that McCarthy will be available in trades. As Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports, the Snakes are said to be preparing to put a “for sale” sign on their roster and are weighing trades of multiple veteran players. GM Kevin Towers — who, despite the hiring of Tony La Russa, calls this July business as usual — told Piecoro: “[W]e have to look at being more open-minded of moving some contracts and some veteran players for younger players.”

A fire sale may not be as easy for the D’Backs as it would for most teams, however, Piecoro cautions. McCarthy and fellow veterans Cody Ross and Aaron Hill are underperforming this season, which will hurt Arizona’s potential return in trades. Other movable veterans such as Eric Chavez, Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo are all currently on the disabled list.

One scout told Piecoro that the left-handers in Arizona’s bullpen — Joe Thatcher and Oliver Perez — figure to be of interest to other clubs. Both have enjoyed strong seasons to this point. Thatcher is a free agent at season’s end, while Perez, who signed a two-year deal this winter, is controlled through 2015. That same scout said he is intrigued by Gerardo Parra, but noted that the outfielder’s declining speed is a concern.

Towers noted to Piecoro that he would be reluctant to move young, controllable players such as Didi Gregorius and Triple-A shortstop Nick Ahmed (presumably, Chris Owings falls into that category as well).



Diamondbacks To Sign Brandon McCarthy

TUESDAY, 6:06pm: The Diamondbacks confirmed the agreement via press release.

FRIDAY, 4:25pm: The Diamondbacks have agreed to sign right-hander Brandon McCarthy, John Gambadoro of 620 KTAR in Phoenix reports (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com confirmed that the LSW Baseball client has agreed to terms on a two-year deal pending a physical (all Twitter links). The deal is worth $15.5MM, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports (on Twitter), and ESPN's Jerry Crasnick adds that the contract breaks down as a $2.5MM signing bonus, $4MM in 2013 and $9MM in 2014.

Brandon McCarthy - Athletics (PW)McCarthy missed time with a shoulder injury this past season, but the scariest moment of his season occured when he was hit in the head with a line drive in a game against the Angels on September 5th. The 29-year-old didn't pitch again and had to undergo surgery to treat a skull fracture. 

When healthy, McCarthy pitched well, posting a 3.24 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 111 innings. He ranked 32nd on MLBTR's list of top 50 free agents.

Arizona now has enviable pitching depth. McCarthy joins a rotation that includes Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and Wade Miley. Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin represent high-upside options for the number five spot in manager Kirk Gibson’s starting rotation. The Diamondbacks are said to be considering trades involving their young arms as their search for a shortstop continues.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.


Afternoon Rumors: Hairston, Royals, Yanks, M’s

Jeff Keppinger, Eric Chavez, Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, and Wil Nieves have all reached contract agreements this afternon in Nashville. Which moves might be coming next? Let's round up a few of the latest rumors from the Winter Meetings….

  • The Mets are reluctant to commit to a two-year deal for Scott Hairston, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal adds that the Mets could net a catcher in a trade involving R.A. Dickey or other players. Given the context, I assume he means an outfielder, though the Mets are seeking a backstop as well.
  • Like the Brewers, the Royals may not be able to afford an arm like Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse unless the team clears some salary, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Kansas City has remained in touch with both pitchers though.
  • The Yankees have been exchanging trade proposals with other teams for a variety of players, including Curtis Granderson, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney, who cautions that that's "standard procedure."
  • Seattle's payroll is expected to rise above $90MM, so the Mariners could afford to add one big-money player, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Josh Hamilton would be a tight fit though, Heyman adds.
  • Although the Angels are interested in Brandon McCarthy, they've yet to speak to his people in Nashville, says ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter).

Free Agent Rumors: Rolen, Bourn, McCarthy, Drew

A number of free agents have found deals in Nashville this week, but there are still a ton available, including 29 of our top 50. Here's the latest on a few of the remaining options:

  • Scott Rolen remains undecided on whether he'll retire or continue his playing career, his agent tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. If Rolen decides he wants to play, Fay believes the Reds could be interested in bringing him back in some role.
  • Former Rockie Ryan Spilborghs is drawing serious interest in Japan, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link).

Earlier updates:

  • The Mariners like Michael Bourn "very much," though the Phillies and Rangers remain in on the speedy outfielder, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
  • A couple reasons the Angels' interest in Brandon McCarthy has picked up in Nashville are his age (29) and the fact that he likely won't command more than a two-year deal, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Stephen Drew figures to land at least a two-year deal, which would probably take the Tigers out of the running, says MLB.com's Jason Beck. The Red Sox continue to be in on Drew, however, according to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
  • In their hunt for left-handed relief help, the Cardinals have inquired on Manny Parra and explored what it would take to sign Sean Burnett, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cards are expected to find their man fairly soon, says Goold.
  • Dan Johnson, who was non-tendered by the White Sox last week, is interested in returning to the Rays, but may end up in Japan, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Twins Made Offers To Saunders, Liriano

10:42am: In addition to the pitchers listed below, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) identifies Edwin Jackson, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, Jair Jurrjens, and Carl Pavano as potential targets for the Twins. Pavano is said to be drawing interest from five teams, including the Red Sox, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

9:52am: As they look to shore up their starting rotation, the Twins have offers out to Joe Saunders and Francisco Liriano, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The Twins are waiting to hear back from the two left-handers and may have offers out to other pitchers, says Neal.

Joe Blanton, Kevin Correia, Brett Myers, Vicente Padilla, Mike Pelfrey, and John Lannan were said to be among the Twins' pitching targets earlier this week.

According to Neal, there are seven other teams that also have interest in Liriano.


Angels Rumors: Haren, Greinke, Pitching

4:45pm: The Angels' once-tepid interest in Brandon McCarthy has picked up in Nashville, tweets DiGiovanna.    

1:52pm: Dan Haren's agreement with the Nationals takes another starting pitching option off the board for the Angels, who made an effort to bring back the right-hander after not tendering him a qualifying offer. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter), the Angels made a one-year offer to Haren with a very achievable option year.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that there was at least one other team in on Haren at around $13MM, suggesting that the price tag for free agent starters will be high this offseason. That isn't great news for the Angels, since the team appears to have a finite amount of money to spend on pitching, according to DiGiovanna (Twitter link). If the Angels go big on a starter, they'll have to scrimp on relievers, and vice versa, says DiGiovanna.

Although the Angels have checked in on virtually every free agent starting pitcher, including Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Dempster, and Joe Saunders, Zack Greinke remains their first choice, tweets DiGiovanna.


A’s Discussing Escobar With Marlins

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A's are indeed engaged in ongoing discussions with the Marlins regarding Yunel Escobar, as was previously speculated. Slusser's piece contains plenty of A's material, so here's the latest on the reigning AL West Champs…

  • Not surprisingly the Escobar discusssions aren't believed to be centered around anyone on the Athletics' Major League roster.
  • Slusser reports that the A's have heavy competition for Brandon McCarthy, as the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Royals, Red SoxWhite Sox and Twins have already met with the right-hander, and the Angels and Rangers are expected to join the fray.
  • McCarthy would consider a one-year deal to prove that he has successfully recovered from his frightening head injury and brain surgery late in the 2012 season.
  • Hiroyuki Nakajima is more concerned with playing time than salary, according to Slusser, which could increase Oakland's appeal to the Japanese shortstop.

D’Backs Notes: Starting Pitching, Backup Catcher

Whatever is going on with Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton today at the Winter Meetings, it's being kept fairly under-wraps.  You can check out our Upton post here, but let's get to other D'Backs chatter from the day.

  • The Diamondbacks remain interested in free agent starter Brandon McCarthy, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.  GM Kevin Towers said the team seeks "at least a solid number two" starter.  He elaborated, "To me, it seems like some of the second-tier guys are kind of starting to be viewed as first-tier-type guys and being paid like first-tier guys, and I don't think we're willing to go there.  That's why we're not talking to a lot of free agents in the way of pitching." (MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reporting).
  • Towers seeks a right-handed-hitting backup catcher known more for defense, though the line of communication is open with Henry Blanco, writes Piecoro.
  • Upton wasn't the player most inquired about during Towers' eight or nine meetings with other teams today, writes Gilbert.