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Brandon Moss Rumors
Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija both helped their former Athletics teammate Jon Lester in his decision to sign with the Cubs, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat writes. Of course, Lester was already familiar with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein from their time in Boston. “I think the Theo-Jon bromance was going to happen anyways,” says Hammel. “But [Lester] was definitely interested, and he was picking our brains all the time.” Here are more quick notes from the Central divisions.
- The Reds didn’t attract much attention this week, but they quietly traded two starters (Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos) who didn’t project as well as one might think in 2015 for talent that could help them immediately, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs writes in a piece for FOX Sports. Shortstop Eugenio Suarez (acquired in the Simon deal) projects to be as good an offensive player as Didi Gregorius next year, and pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (acquired in the Latos deal) might turn out to be almost as good next year as Latos anyway.
- Simon could move to the Tigers‘ bullpen if they re-sign Max Scherzer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press suggests. Publicly, the Tigers won’t say that, Fenech writes, because they would look like they lost if Scherzer signed elsewhere. But it seems possible that the Tigers could be thinking of Simon primarily as a backup plan for their rotation.
- The Indians‘ trade for Brandon Moss was a deal worth making, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Moss is expected to fully recover from offseason surgery, and the cost to get him (minor league second baseman Joey Wendle) wasn’t steep. With Moss in the fold, Pluto writes, the Indians will likely work to trade fellow lefty outfielder David Murphy, who has one year remaining before free agency.
- Pluto also writes that the Indians dodged a bullet when Justin Masterson didn’t accept their three-year, $45MM extension offer last offseason. Masterson, of course, suffered through a year of injury and poor mechanics, and with him under contract, the Indians would have had about half their payroll committed to three players: Masterson, Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. Masterson agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Sox this week.
Moss, 31, is projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to earn $7.1MM this year, his second-to-last of arbitration eligibility. He is an accomplished power bat, with a 135 OPS+ and 76 home runs over the last three years.
But those figures have trended downward in each successive campaign. Then there is the fact that Moss’s value is limited by his poor defense in the outfield. Most worryingly of all, he has dealt with a significant hip issue that required offseason surgery.
The Indians will gladly roll the dice on a recovery, especially since the club will have a chance to decide whether to tender Moss after the season. Moss’s manageable salary offered the chance for Cleveland to add the big bat that many felt they needed, while his health questions lowered the ask. As Jordan Bastian of MLB.com rightly notes on Twitter, Cleveland may well need to do something to clear its logjam of first base/corner outfield type players.
For the A’s, this deal represents the latest sign that GM Billy Beane is firmly committed to cashing in assets that no longer have much potential to accumulate value and/or improve production. Moss joins Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes as former core players who have been moved by Oakland in recent months.
Wendle, a 24-year-old prospect, did not rate among the Indians’ top ten prospects in the recent estimation of Baseball America but did land at ninth on MLB.com‘s most recent list. Wendle’s calling card is his hit tool, with which he combines decent power and solid defense. A broken hamate bone cut the 24-year-old’s season short, but he had put up a .253/.311/.414 line over 370 Double-A plate appearances and owned even an even more robust slash the prior year at High-A.
ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported on Twitter that the teams’ prior talks were nearing completion. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported (Twitter links) that the deal was done, with Wendle making up the return. John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group first reported the connection between the clubs on Twitter, while Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle first reported that Oakland was interested in Wendle.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here’s a morning links roundup from the American League:
- The Athletics are still “inching” toward a deal with the Indians on Brandon Moss, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. A swap is likely to go down over the next few days, Sherman adds.
- Clubs that have spoken with the Athletics about Jeff Samardzija have been left with the impression that Oakland would not be willing to grant an extension negotiation window as part of the deal, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. That is perhaps not terribly surprising, as Samardzija does not appear particularly likely to forego a chance at testing the open market.
- For the Yankees, one side benefit of adding Martin Prado (last summer) and Andrew Miller (just a few days ago) is that it conveys leverage in talks with now-free agent third baseman Chase Headley and closer David Robertson, Sherman writes. While New York is now willing to put a fourth year on the table for both players, says Sherman, it will not match the reported four-year, $65MM offer out to Headley or the $50MM+ asking price of Robertson.
- While there are several intriguing possibilities for the Tigers at the Winter Meetings, the odds are that the team will make only smaller moves, if any, per Chris Iott of MLive.com. Iott takes a look at Detroit’s various options for improvement, concluding that most are rather unlikely to take place.
10:00pm: If the trade gets done, it will likely be a one-for-one swap sending a player that is not on Cleveland’s 40-man roster to the A’s, reports Hoynes. That would rule out Ramirez and Gonzalez and indicate that Wendle could be the return for Oakland.
DEC. 5, 2:05pm: The two sides have yet to reach a deal but have discussed shortstops Jose Ramirez and Erik Gonzalez in addition to Wendle, reports Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area. Presumably, only one of that grouping would head to Oakland in a potential trade.
10:25pm: The A’s are interested in Indians second base prospect Joe Wendle, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Wendle hit .265/.326/.425 in 396 plate appearances while battling injury. He spent most of the season at Double-A. Meanwhile, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets that negotiations should reach a conclusion on Friday, one way or another.
DEC. 4, 5:13pm: The Indians “are guardedly optimistic” that they can complete a deal for Moss, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
DEC. 3, 9:01pm: The Indians are not the only club looking into adding Moss, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. A move does not appear to be imminent, she adds.
3:48pm: The Athletics are “listening” to the Indians on left-handed slugger Brandon Moss, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports on Twitter. Moss, 31, is capable of playing first base or the corner outfield, and is an obvious DH candidate as well.
For the Indians, a run at Moss makes sense, particularly if the team views him as a plausible candidate to spend regular time in the outfield. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained in his offseason outlook for Cleveland, the team could add a new outfield piece while utilizing Nick Swisher in a pure DH role. Alternatively, if Swisher himself were to be moved, then Moss might make sense as a hitting-only player.
Moss appeals due both to his recent success and his controlled salary (a projected $7.1MM in his second-to-last year of arbitration eligibility). He took a step back at the plate last year, due in part to hip issues that were addressed by offseason surgery, but he was still well above-average. His three-year slash line stands at .254/.340/.504, good for a 135 OPS+, with Moss contributing 76 home runs over 1,381 plate appearances.
Athletics GM Billy Beane firmly rejected the recently-suggested idea that some kind of tension between he and Josh Donaldson played any role in the latter’s recent trade, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. “It is so absurd to respond further is to give it credibility,” said Beane. We’ll take a closer look at Oakland on today’s podcast, which features beat reporter Jane Lee of MLB.com.
Here’s more from the American League:
- The Athletics are “going to trade Brandon Moss,” an executive told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark last night (Twitter link). We heard yesterday that the Indians were making a run at the slugger, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the pursuit continues today. Of course, as Lee reported last night (via Twitter), there are other teams looking into Moss.
- Lingering concerns over neck issues may have played a role in the Orioles‘ decision not to top the Braves’ offer to Nick Markakis, Rosenthal reports. Markakis has been quite durable over the last two seasons since being diagnosed with a “small disc herniation,” but of course he has also failed to deliver much pop in that time.
- Nevertheless, the Orioles did have the second-highest offer on the table to Markakis, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (Twitter link). He hears that Baltimore offered four years and $40MM.
- The Tigers are receiving strong interest in David Price and Rick Porcello, Rosenthal reports (links to Twitter). What Detroit would ask for in return for these starters remains a mystery, Rosenthal adds. Of course, there are several other big-name, 5+ service time pitchers who could potentially be had, and Rosenthal notes that all are still “in play.” He adds that the primary appeal of such arms is their generally below-market salary and the achievement of a year of exclusive negotiating rights. Implicit, of course, is that teams are interested not only in a reasonable hope of achieving excess value on the contract, but also in doing so without exposure to the massive downside risk of a longer-term deal.
- The Twins will turn their attention to the pitching staff during the Winter Meetings, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. When asked what the team’s priority is, GM Terry Ryan left little doubt how he feels: “Pitching is, and I don’t think there’s any question. We’ve had our struggles on the mound, so we’ll continue to look at pitching first.”
- Justin Smoak left money on the table to join the Blue Jays, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. Agent Dustin Bledsoe told Nicholson-Smith that his client wanted the chance at everyday playing time at first more than the possibility of increasing his guarantee next year.
The Giants‘ pre-season efforts to extend Pablo Sandoval were more aggressive than had previously been known, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Before the season, San Francisco offered Sandoval a deal that would have added four years and a vesting option on top of his 2014 arbitration salary, potentially reaching $91.5MM over that six-year span. (That figure includes the option; the report does not indicate the precise guaranteed figure.) While that falls shy of what Sandoval ultimately achieved, of course, it certainly sounds like a competitive offer for the context in which it was made.
More from the National League;
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says he was “not disappointed” to see Yasmany Tomas land with another club, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. Amaro did say that the Phils had “dialogue” yesterday with Tomas’s representatives, which would seem to indicate that the team had at least some involvement right down to the wire.
- Amaro went on to reject the concept that the team was focused on bolstering its lineup. “Who said we were looking for a power bat?” Amaro queried. “We have a long-term plan and the moves we make are based on that. We’re looking for pitching right now.”
- We’ve heard various reports of late suggesting that the Marlins are interested in adding a left-handed bat. One name to keep an eye on, per a report from Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, is Brandon Moss of the Athletics.
Brandon Moss could not help but become aware that the Athletics have made some notable additions that have a bearing on his status with the club, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Moss, who avoided the need for micro-fracture surgery on his hip and expects to be ready to go on something close to a normal schedule this spring, says he realizes that the additions of Billy Butler and Ike Davis could set up some other changes. “You never know; the front office likes to mix up,” said Moss. “I’m trying not to let anything surprise me, because I don’t want to be blindsided. Obviously, I love playing in Oakland, but when this happened, I knew it could mean someone else gets moved.”
Here’s more from the American League:
- In addition to the four players noted yesterday, the Mariners are interested in Evan Gattis of the Braves, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Seattle is determined to come away with one of Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Nelson Cruz, Yoenis Cespedes, and Gattis, per the report. The M’s made a competitive offer for Victor Martinez before he re-signed with the Tigers, Heyman adds.
- Talks between the Red Sox and Jon Lester are not on any kind of timetable, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter links). Lester is still making the rounds and considering his alternatives, per Bradford.
- The Yankees are willing to go to three years in a deal for third baseman Chase Headley, Heyman reports. But Headley, unsurprisingly, is out looking for longer, better offers. New York is unlikely to go further than three, Joel Sherman reported yesterday, and it seems that Headley is drawing sufficient interest to get a fourth year guaranteed.
- The Rays have announced that bench coach Dave Martinez will pursue other opportunities with another organization. Martinez was not listed as a finalist to replace Joe Maddon in the big league dugout, making a separation seem all but inevitable.
- After a wide search, the Twins have agreed bring on Neil Allen as the team’s pitching coach, along with Eddie Guardado as bullpen coach and Joe Vavra as the bench coach to new skipper Paul Molitor. Allen had been the Rays’ pitching coach at Triple-A Durham.
After acquiring lefty first baseman Ike Davis from the Pirates, the Athletics are fielding calls on lefties Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and John Jaso, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Blue Jays have reportedly asked the A’s about the now-healthy Jaso, with the Athletics showing interest in lefty starter Sean Nolin. (The Jays already have Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole to back up Russell Martin at catcher, although Navarro hopes to be traded.) The Athletics also have keen interest in finding a shortstop, given the likely departure of Jed Lowrie to free agency.
Seen in this context, the Athletics’ acquisition of Davis, who cost them only the rights to $270K in international spending, might mostly be an insurance policy in case they trade someone else. If the Athletics don’t deal another player, Slusser writes, they could non-tender Davis. Reddick (who boasts an above-average bat and a good corner outfield glove) and Moss (who’s a liability defensively but who has had three straight seasons of over 20 home runs) would appear to have significant trade value.
Athletics slugger Brandon Moss has been playing through a hip injury that will require surgery (possibly a microfracture procedure) in the offseason, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. An MRI revealed so much torn cartilage in Moss’ right hip that he’s struggling with bone-on-bone issues in the joint. Moss tells Slusser that he received a cortisone shot which should help him for the rest of the season and through the playoffs, but surgery is the only way to truly fix the issue. Though the injury has plagued him for much of the season, Moss said he didn’t blame his struggles on his hip.
More on those struggles and more from the AL West below…
- Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris had an excellent conversation with Moss about that slump in the A’s clubhouse recently (note that the conversation does feature some expletives). Moss says he places virtually no stock in batting average, as it is luck-driven and doesn’t adjust for defensive shifts. He spoke candidly about holes in his swing — pitches he knows he cannot reach and has to fight to lay off — as well as his batted ball profile, the reasoning behind his stance and the importance of prepping for his at-bats with video work. “…as a power hitter that doesn’t have a high average, I know I have to make my swings count,” said Moss, who also discussed how playing first base, the outfield and DH each affect his approach differently. Moss also touched on his time in previous organizations, noting that the Phillies didn’t feel he could consistently hit a Major League fastball — a notion at which he now laughs, as fastballs are far and away his best pitch.
- Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is hopeful that he will receive an interview for the team’s managerial vacancy, and GM Jon Daniels expects to sit down with him at season’s end, writes MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Even if Maddux isn’t hired (or even interviewed), he’s expected to return to the club as a pitching cocah in 2015, a club official tells Sullivan, and he’s “certain” to return if interim manager Tim Bogar gets the job. Maddux’s contract is up after the current season.
- Kendrys Morales has interest in bypassing free agency to sign a new deal with the Mariners, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. However, the caveat is that he’d like a multi-year deal, which would obviously give the team pause. Morales, who sat out through the June draft this season to avoid being stuck with another qualifying offer, has batted just .217/.266/.330 between Seattle and Minnesota. Some of those struggles, of course, are likely due to the long layoff between Major League appearances. Morales did enter 2014 as a lifetime .280/.333/.480 hitter, making the extreme drop-off in his production rather surprising. One rival exec whose team is in need of a run-producing bat expressed concern over a multi-year deal for Morales when asked by Dutton, though he did concede that there’s upside to the idea: “He’s a big risk. I doubt he gets more than two (years) after the year he’s had. But if he bounces back, a year from now we could all be talking about what a steal he was.”
It almost doesn’t seem fathomable, but the Rangers received even more bad news on the injury front today, as MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan writes that Alexi Ogando will be shut down for three weeks and could miss up to two months with inflammation and some minor ligament damage in his right elbow. An MRI showed “wear and tear” on the ligament, but not enough to require surgery, he adds. Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets that the Rangers are officially terming the injury “acute inflammation.”
Here’s more from the American League West…
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports takes an excellent in-depth look at Athletics slugger Brandon Moss, who admits that he almost quit the game on multiple occasions before latching on with the A’s. Moss tells Rosenthal that he initially chose to sign with Oakland because he knew he’d be hitting in the Pacific Coast League at Triple-A after his minor league deal, and he thought that league’s notoriously hitter-friendly environments would boost his power numbers and draw some interest from Japanese teams. Moss adds that he was preparing to become a firefighter in his native Georgia, should his last attempt with the A’s not pan out.
- The Mariners could be a potential landing spot for Billy Butler if the Royals end up moving him, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The team has long coveted Butler but would need to be convinced that his season-long slump is just that — a slump — rather than the beginning of a decline. Some scouts have told Dutton they don’t see diminished bat speed for Butler, which is a good sign. He adds that Kansas City has shown interest in Nick Franklin, though clearly a Butler-for-Franklin 1-for-1 swap isn’t realistic.
- Dutton adds that Mariners officials dismissed previous reports that have connected the team to Cuban outfielder Daniel Carbonell. It’s been reported previously that Seattle is one of two finalists for Carbonell’s services. Dutton does note that the Seattle front office’s denial could merely be gamesmanship.