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Brandon Morrow Rumors
ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick provides an interesting look at mid-year starting pitcher rental trades, examining the risks and rewards inherent in such a decision. He reaches back into recent history to see how deals for high-end arms worked out for the teams that made them, and includes a variety of interesting quotes from executives involved in this year’s deals. It’s well worth a full read.
Here are some notes from the game’s western divisions:
- The Padres passed on a chance to deal significant pitchers before and after the July 31 deadline, and now seem unlikely to make any further significant deals, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. Many of San Diego’s potential trade chips have been claimed on waivers and subsequently withdrawn when a deal could not be arrived at. While starter James Shields has reportedly cleared, Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit are two notable players who are said to be off limits at this point.
- While his season ended with another surgery, righty Brandon Morrow could still be brought back by the Padres next year, assistant GM Josh Stein tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock. “I think it’s early, but we acquired [Morrow] knowing that there was a risk of an injury and the contract was structured to take that into account,” explained Stein. “I certainly wouldn’t say that there’s not an opportunity to explore something similar going forward.” Morrow said that he “hope[s] to come back, for sure,” though he acknowledged that he is “a ways away from a decision.”
- Meanwhile, just-signed Padres righty Bud Norris says he is enjoying working from the pen but still hopes to return to the rotation, Lin reports. Norris, 30, has had a nice four-inning scoreless streak to start his time with the Friars, and will certainly draw some interest on the free agent market this winter given his relative youth and track record of delivering solid innings.
- With his velocity solid and results excellent, rehabbing Athletics closer Sean Doolittle could make it back to the bigs in the coming days, MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes. Doolittle, 28, has made just one appearance in the majors this year for the disappointing A’s, but it’s certainly a good sign for his long-term prospects that he’s responded so well to ongoing rotator cuff issues.
- Mariners southpaw Charlie Furbush, meanwhile, has a partially torn rotator cuff of his own to deal with, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports (Twitter links). Fortunately, Furbush says the injury appears to be relatively minor and may not require surgery. The 29-year-old has put up a 2.08 ERA with 7.1 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 in 21 2/3 frames on the year. He played the year on a $1.3MM salary and can be controlled for two more seasons via arbitration.
- The Angels can expect a return in relatively short order from third baseman David Freese, MLB.com’s David Adler reports. Freese has been out since July 22, and the Halos have struggled to find a replacement in his absence. The 32-year-old has hit at his usual league-average pace this year (.240/.309/.397) while providing steady defense. He’ll have a chance to bolster his stock before hitting the free agent market after the season.
AUGUST 17: Morrow will indeed undergo surgery that will require a three-to-four month recovery window, Brock tweets.
AUGUST 5: Padres right-hander Brandon Morrow, who left the second start of a rehab assignment early last week, may now require surgery to repair a shoulder impingement, tweets MLB.com’s Corey Brock. The recovery on that operation would be three to four months, meaning Morrow’s season would be over. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets that the operation is “likely.” The diagnosis of the injury came on a second opinion of the shoulder from Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Injuries are nothing new for Morrow, who has now logged six separate stints on the disabled list, dating back to the 2009 season. While the former No. 5 overall draft pick’s talent is alluring, he’s never been able to stay healthy with any form of consistency. Morrow has logged 768 2/3 innings in parts of nine big league seasons but has topped 100 innings just three times and never pitched more than 179 1/3 innings in a season.
The Padres rolled the dice on both Morrow and fellow talented-but-injury-prone righty Josh Johnson this offseason, perhaps hoping that one or the other would be able to deliver semi-regular starts in the fifth spot of the rotation. That hasn’t been the case, as Johnson hasn’t pitched, and Morrow’s been limited to 33 innings.
The work Morrow did turn in was quality, as he pitched to a 2.73 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 47.5 percent ground-ball rate. That production actually isn’t a bad return on the club’s modest $2.5MM investment. Morrow had the opportunity to earn an additional $5.5MM via incentives as a starting pitcher (or $1.5MM as a reliever), but he now seems extremely unlikely to reach the minimum threshold for any of those bonuses. (They’d have kicked in at 12 starts or 40 relief appearances, plus an additional $500K for 168 days on the active roster, per Cot’s.)
Padres outfielder Justin Upton sat out today’s game with left oblique tightness, but remains hopeful that he’ll avoid a DL stint, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Needless to say, it’s not a great time for the injury to crop up: the team is perhaps taking a final shot at re-entering the postseason hunt before the deadline. And if it can’t, the pending free agent may be one of the most important players marketed this summer. Assistant GM Josh Stein said that Upton will likely miss “a couple of days,” but any absence beyond that may be rather concerning.
Here are some more injury notes from around the league:
- The Giants expect to welcome back outfielder Nori Aoki in relatively short order, as Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports. That’s certainly good news for San Francisco, as a successful return of Aoki (joining Hunter Pence in that regard) would reduce or even eliminate the team’s need to add an outfielder at the deadline.
- Meanwhile, Giants starter Tim Lincecum has been out with an arm injury, but manager Bruce Bochy revealed today that he’s also received treatment for “degenerative” hip issues, as Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports. The problem, which is not considered to be a threat to his career, has existed since late last year. Lincecum received cortisone shots and is set to resume throwing in a few days, but as Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News wrote earlier today, it’s far from clear whether he’ll ever again impact the Giants staff.
- Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton is preparing to resume swinging, though his timeframe remains unclear, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. While that’s great news for anyone who enjoys the game of baseball, Stanton obviously will not return in time to impact the team’s deadline plans.
- Spencer provides several other updates on injured Marlins: Righty Jarred Cosart, who was acquired on deadline day last summer has again been diagnosed with vertigo. And fellow starter Henderson Alvarez has struggled quite a bit as he tries to work back from shoulder inflammation on a rehab stint.
- The Dodgers will welcome back outfielder Carl Crawford from the 60-day DL, as Carlos Collazo writes for MLB.com. A right oblique injury has shelved him for quite some time, and it looks like he’ll be headed for a bench role upon his return. Fellow highly-paid corner outfielder Andre Ethier has played well this year, leaving Crawford without an obvious spot in the regular lineup. It remains to be seen whether the always-active Dodgers will look to move either player (or one of the team’s numerous other options) over the coming weeks.
- Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau says that he still hopes to make it back to the team this year, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. The veteran has managed to resume baseball activities as he seeks to work back from a concussion and neck sprain, and says the latter is a larger concern than the former. Certainly, it’s good to hear that Morneau’s long battle with concussion issues is not the primary cause for his long absence, and he adds that he has no plans to retire at this point. Morneau once looked like a possible trade candidate, though that ship has probably sailed. It remains to be seen how things will progress on his contract, which includes a $9MM mutual option ($750K club buyout) for next season.
- The Padres appear set to send righty Brandon Morrow out on a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend, Beth Maiman of MLB.com reports. It will obviously be hard for San Diego to rely on much of a contribution from the 30-year-old in spite of that promising development, as he has dealt with various arm issues for much of his career. Morrow, who was added on a cheap, one-year deal, threw 33 innings of 2.73 ERA ball earlier in the season.
The Cardinals tonight placed left fielder Matt Holliday on the disabled list with a quadriceps injury, the team announced. It’s not known what type of timeframe Holliday will need to recover, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Holliday has a Grade 2 tear of his right quad and will be reevaluated two weeks from now (Twitter links). Losing Holliday would be the second blow to the middle of the Cardinals’ order, as St. Louis has already lost Matt Adams for the remainder of the season to a similar injury, though Adams had a complete tear of his quad that required surgery. Unlike that scenario, however, the Cards do have a plethora of internal replacement candidates for Holliday. Randal Grichuk, Jon Jay, Jason Heyward and Peter Bourjos are all on the big league roster, and well-regarded prospect Stephen Picsotty is waiting in the wings as well.
A couple more injury-related notes…
- Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi landed on the 15-day disabled list tonight as well, thanks to a left oblique injury. Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times writes that Odorizzi feels the injury is less serious than the oblique issue that sidelined teammate Alex Cobb for five-and-a-half weeks last year. However, Odorizzi also isn’t sure how long he’ll be sidelined and doesn’t have a timetable for his return at present. Odorizzi called the strain “mild to moderate” and said he’ll play catch later this week.
- Padres right-hander Brandon Morrow‘s return to the mound has been slowed, as a setback in his recovery means he’ll be shut down from throwing entirely for the next two weeks, via the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link). Odrisamer Despaigne has stepped into the rotation in Morrow’s absence, but he’s been incredibly hit-or-miss in his past six outings. Despaigne yielded eight runs in his return to the rotation in early May, and he’s surrendered seven, two, zero, one and four runs, respectively, in five subsequent start. The outcome for Despaigne has been a 5.82 ERA over six starts. San Diego also has Josh Johnson rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but it seems unlikely that the team would bank on Johnson taking the ball every fifth day through season’s end upon his return; Johnson has long struggled with injuries and has not thrown a pitch in the Majors since Aug. 6, 2013.
Here’s the latest out of the NL West, with a focus on several injury situations and how they impact two expected division contenders:
- It’s no surprise to hear that the Dodgers rotation is thin at the back end, but as MLB.com’s Steve Bourbon writes, the recent bombing of Carlos Frias brings the matter into focus. (Of course, Mike Bolsinger remains a surprising success story thus far.) While bigger moves are probably still months away, the immediate need for depth is evident. Joe Wieland is one internal option, says Bourbon, while the club will also hope for continued progress from the rehabbing Erik Bedard and Brandon Beachy.
- While he has been more a swingman than a regular starter over most of his career, righty Chad Gaudin could also be a possibility for the Dodgers as a spot starter or pen piece. As MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports, Gaudin is about a month away from beginning to throw after undergoing carpal tunnel release surgery on his pitching wrist.
- Another rehabbing starter, Josh Johnson of the Padres, is experiencing nerve issues in his neck and will put his throwing program on hold, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. The issue “doesn’t sound serious,” per Brock. Johnson has gone nearly two years since his last MLB appearance, and a scuffling San Diego outfit would surely welcome a chance to put a vintage JJ on the rubber.
- The Padres are also hoping for a return from Brandon Morrow, who was pitching well before shoulder issues put him down. Brock says that Morrow is set to throw a sim game later this week. It seems that Morrow is on track with his recovery, though he surely still has a number of boxes to check before returning to action.
- Of even greater concern for the Padres, in the long run at least, is the status of Wil Myers and his injured left wrist. As Brock reports, Myers has yet to be cleared to take swings and will obviously not be ready to come off the DL when first eligible tomorrow. Instead, he is headed back for another look at the wrist to see how it is healing.
Spring Training will always involve unfortunate news of injuries, but it also represents an opportunity for players making a comeback — whether from injury or otherwise — to reestablish themselves. In addition to restoring their own career trajectories (Scott Kazmir, anyone?), such players can deliver immense value to the teams that give them another chance.
Let’s take a look at a few situations from around the league, focusing on pitchers:
- When lefty Clayton Richard signed a minor league deal with the Pirates, everyone’s first thoughts went to the hurlers whose careers have recently been revived in Pittsburgh. (A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and Edinson Volquez being the prime examples.) As Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, that is essentially what Richard was thinking about, too. “I was able to talk to [Volquez] a little bit and see what he thought of the organization,” said Richard. “It was positive. Just in talking with [GM] Neal [Huntington], [manager] Clint [Hurdle], and [pitching coach] Ray [Searage], I got a good feel of what they are all about. it made sense for me that this was the place.” The non-roster invitee is said to be hitting the gun in the low-nineties, where he previously has worked, and says he is “loosening up my entire body through my delivery” after having seen his motion limited in the past by shoulder troubles.
- After good vibes at the opening of Red Sox camp, Justin Masterson had a less-than-promising outing yesterday, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. A scout called Masterson’s work “awful,” while manager John Farrell said the righty “started to flash some better stuff into the fourth inning” but lacked “late action” on his pitches from “inconsistencies and when the velocity drops.” That group of issues — i.e., mechanical struggles and waning fastball velocity — were perhaps the two most-cited underlying difficulties that led Masterson to fall from his early perch near the top of this year’s free agent class to a one-year, $9.5MM deal with Boston. Of course, there is still plenty of time for Masterson to rebound this season.
- Brandon Morrow of the Padres also signed a make-good, one-year deal but was guaranteed much less than Masterson. But he is off to a strong opening to his year, having posted nine innings with one earned run and seven strikeouts against two free passes thus far. In post-game comments today to his counterpart, Cubs skipper Joe Maddon said that Morrow showed “real stuff” in his four scoreless frames, as MLB.com’s Alyson Footer tweets. It seems at this point that the fifth starter’s role is Morrow’s to lose.
- Royals reliever Luke Hochevar made his way back to competitive action today, throwing a clean inning, as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports (Twitter links). Working his way back from Tommy John surgery, Hochevar nevertheless landed a $10MM guarantee (over two years) to return to Kansas City. He was throwing in the 92 to 93 mph range in his work today, but despite that successful first appearance still seems likely to start the regular season on the DL.
Current Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart is a good friend of Kevin Towers, the man he replaced in that role. As Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes, Stewart really did want Towers to stay on as a special assistant, and Towers truly felt he owed it to his replacement to go against his wishes so as to avoid any difficulties down the line. It’s a fascinating story, all the more so since Stewart is currently rooming with Towers at the latter’s Arizona home during Spring Training.
- The Padres, like the Braves, are not expected to spend up to the $70MM level that Hector Olivera is said to be seeking, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. San Diego is a great fit, as Rosenthal notes, but that is quite a price tag to tack on after an offseason of additions.
- Brandon Morrow is hoping to break the Padres rotation and reestablish his career trajectory, as ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick writes. Morrow, who has battled numerous and varied injuries in his career, is battling with Odrisamer Despaigne for the fifth starter’s spot.
- Padres backstop Tim Federowicz has suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his knee, MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets. Surgery appears to be all but a foregone conclusion, which could sideline Federowicz for some time. Veteran Wil Nieves probably has the inside track to step into the backup role behind Derek Norris, though one wonders whether top prospect Austin Hedges could eventually get a look.
- Newly-minted Dodgers righty Brandon McCarthy says that he believes in his ability to provide value over the life of his four-year, $48MM deal, as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. “I would kind of hope my 30s are where my career really begins,” says McCarthy. “As dumb as that sounds. I’ve spent a long time figuring [things] out — health being the biggest thing — and transforming as a pitcher.” President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman cited McCarthy’s inning load last year and “changes in his workout regiment” — along with his quality offerings from the mound — as reasons for optimism. A training program in his Dallas neighborhood improved McCarthy’s overall strength, aiding his return to form.
- Pablo Sandoval says that he “knew early in Spring Training last year I was going to leave” the Giants, as Scott Miller of Bleacher Report writes. The one-time San Francisco favorite did not mince words, accusing GM Brian Sabean of not respecting his representatives in discussions at that time. “The Giants made a good offer [in free agency],” said Sandoval, “but I didn’t want to take it. I got five years from Boston. I left money on the table in San Francisco. It’s not about money. It’s about how you treat the player.”
9:23am: Morrow gets a $2.5MM guarantee, Brock tweets. He can earn up to $5MM in incentives if he starts, and up to $1MM extra working from the pen.
8:29am: The Padres have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent righty Brandon Morrow, Corey Brock of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported recently that the Friars had an offer on the table for Morrow, and he now tweets that it was included about $2.5MM in guaranteed money, while cautioning that he is not sure if the offer was upped.
The 30-year-old Morrow has had a roller coaster of a career. He first saw big league action with the Mariners, working mostly in relief. The Blue Jays acquired him in a trade for Brandon League and moved him to the rotation, where he showed immense promise. Even before Morrow’s earned run numbers finally caught up to his peripherals, the Blue Jays signed him to a three-year, $21MM extension that included a $10MM option for 2015.
That contract seemed destined to be a bargain when Morrow began the 2012 season with 124 2/3 innings of 2.96 ERA pitching. But he was derailed by an oblique injury, and has not been the same since. Morrow struggled with finger and forearm issues in each of the last two years, ultimately throwing only 87 2/3 innings and compiling a 5.65 ERA in the process.
Toronto shifted Morrow back to the pen last year, and ultimately made him a free agent by declining the club option that once seemed nearly certain to be exercised. The Padres will take a chance on his injury and performance struggles and hope that he can regain his prior form. As Rosenthal noted in his report, some clubs have pursued Morrow as a reliever, while his preference is to work from the rotation.
It remains to be seen precisely what GM A.J. Preller has in mind. But Brock notes on Twitter that the signing could well be a precursor to a Padres trade of an in-house starter for a bat. To an extent, of course, pitcher-friendly Petco Park offers some of the same challenges and benefits, in the inverse, that Coors Field offers the Rockies. Having already dealt for Matt Kemp, Preller may be looking to take advantage of his stock of attractive arms to deal for offense while using the ballpark as a lure to Morrow (and, perhaps, Josh Johnson).
Other teams, too, have offers on the table for Morrow to weigh. Several teams are pursuing him as a reliever, while others would sign him as a starter, as is his preference.
Morrow, 30, became a free agent when the Blue Jays declined a $10MM option. Once one of the more promising young rotation pieces in the game, Morrow struggled badly with injury and performance over the last two seasons. In total, he managed only 87 2/3 frames of 5.65 ERA ball, with 7.4 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9. But he remains an intriguing talent, and there is apparently a good deal of interest in seeing if he can work past his various arm issues.
The front office shuffling of the NL West continued today with another pair of moves. The Dodgers will hire Scott Bream away from the Tigers to be their new pro scouting director, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Padres announced that they’ve promoted regional supervisor Mark Conner to director of scouting. The 38-year-old Conner joined the Friars in 2010 as an amateur scout and was the scout responsible for signing the highly touted Matt Wisler.
Here’s more from the NL West…
- New Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi declined to give a firm answer when asked by Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times whether or not the team will tender a contract to A.J. Ellis. However, Zaidi offered strong praise for Ellis’ leadership and relationships with the pitching staff. “…it’s clear he’s a big part of this team and a big part of the preparation and comfort level for the pitchers,” Zaidi told Hernandez.
- In a second tweet, Saxon notes that Brandon Morrow is a name to keep an eye on for Dodgers fans. As Saxon points out, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has had success turning starters with dynamic arms and transitioning them to the bullpen. Of course, it’s not clear if he is open to ‘pen work. Morrow indicated late in the season that his preference was to be a starter.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that the team “absolutely, 100 percent” needs to upgrade its rotation. Bridich said the club is keeping all avenues open to acquire pitching talent. One possibility that may intrigue Rockies fans is Jeremy Hellickson, whom the Rays are said to be discussing with an NL club. However, Saunders hears from a Major League source that the Rockies aren’t targeting Hellickson at this time, although they have shown past interest.