Brett Lawrie Rumors

Blue Jays Notes: Lawrie, Super Two, Escobar

Shaun Marcum has been Milwaukee's best starter this year, but Brett Lawrie is doing his best to make Blue Jays fans forget about the pitcher he was traded for. The 21-year-old infield prospect has a .343/.403/.632 line at Triple-A with 12 home runs. GM Alex Anthopoulos and Jeff Blair of Sportsnet Radio FAN 590 discussed Lawrie's hot start and a number of other issues pertaining to the Blue Jays this morning. Here are the details:

  • Lawrie has improved his strikeout to walk ratio in Triple-A this month, a development that’s encouraging for the Jays’ front office.
  • Super two status is a moving target at the best of times and Anthopoulos points out that over 80% of players who become eligible for arbitration are optioned to the minor leagues at some point. Players like Travis Snider and Brett Cecil don’t have continuous Major League service, which means projecting whether minor leaguers are on track for super two status is mostly futile.
  • The Blue Jays have a record of not manipulating service according to Anthopoulos. He points to J.P. Arencibia and Kyle Drabek, both of whom got the call late last year.
  • Anthopoulos has been on the phone with a few GMs, but he doesn’t expect trades to kick into high gear until after the draft, which starts June 6th.
  • Anthopoulos saw the rumor linking Jose Reyes to the Blue Jays and though the GM declined to comment on another team’s player, he praised the Jays’ current shortstop, Yunel Escobar. “He’s young, he’s everything we want,” Anthopoulos said of Escobar, who is under team control through 2013. “Shortstop is not an area we need to improve. We think it’s a strength.”

Update On The Timing Of Top Prospects’ Debuts

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.


Rosenthal On Tigers, Castillo, Astros

Blue Jays' rookie third baseman Brett Lawrie has been raking this spring but the 21-year-old might not start the year in the majors, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The club might send him to the minors to work on his defense – and to prevent him from becoming eligible for a fourth year of arbitration.  Here's more from Rosenthal..

  • One scout following the Tigers says the team is deep enough in young outfielders to possibly move one for a starting pitcher.  Right now, Brennan Boesch, Clete Thomas, Casper Wells, and Andy Dirks are all vying for reserve spots.  Wells appears to be a lock to make the big league roster as he is the only right-handed hitter of the bunch and plays all three outfield positions.
  • The Marlins are talking about signing second baseman Luis Castillo once he clears waivers, but they also have in-house options.  The club could decide to go with Emilio Bonifacio at second and Omar Infante at third if they choose to demote rookie third baseman Matt Dominguez.
  • If the Astros go with Carlos Lee over Brett Wallace at first base they would like to add a left-handed hitting outfielder to platoon with Jason Michaels.  However, the club is at the payroll limit and the team's greater need is a replacement for catcher Jason Castro.


Quick Hits: Shields, Cardinals, Lawrie, Montero

Links for Friday, as Ichiro donates over $1.2MM to victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan…


Quick Hits: Choice, Royals, Feliz, Posey, Lawrie

If you're a fan of top prospects and rookies, then this Quick Hits post is for you. Here are today's links…

  • Oakland's 2010 first rounder, Michael Choice, is wowing scouts in Arizona, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Peter Gammons of MLB Network hears from a trusted scout that Choice has the bat speed, strength and athleticism to become a "monster" (Twitter link). Baseball America ranked the 21-year-old third among Oakland's prospects heading into the season.
  • One GM says the Royals are so deep in talent that they can still be in it in 2013 if a couple of their top prospects miss, according to Gammons (on Twitter).
  • Neftali Feliz has said he's most comfortable closing games, but Rangers GM Jon Daniels says he'll continue stretching the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year out to see if he can make it as a starter, according to Anthony Andro of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram (on Twitter).
  • The Giants and last year's NL Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey, agreed to a one-year deal, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco ChronicleHe tweets that the deal is worth $575K.  That's about $150K more than the Giants had to give him.
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi that Brett Lawrie has looked “very good.” The Blue Jays, who acquired Lawrie for Shaun Marcum over the winter, like the infielder’s work ethic, tools and drive.

East Notes: Jones, Buchholz, Papelbon, Rizzo, Jays

Some news about the various beasts of the eastern baseball world…


Odds & Ends: Pavano, Red Sox, McCarthy, Lawrie

More links for Monday night, as we wonder when and where Cliff Lee will sign…


Brewers Acquire Shaun Marcum

The Brewers and Blue Jays officially announced a trade that will send two players a little closer to home. The Blue Jays will send Kansas City native Shaun Marcum to Milwaukee in exchange for Canadian prospect Brett Lawrie. It's the second deal the teams have made within the past week, after Toronto acquired Carlos Villanueva for a player to be named later on Friday.

Marcum, who turns 29 next Tuesday, turned in a 3.39 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 across 25 starts in 2008 before undergoing Tommy John surgery. After missing the 2009 major league season, he came back strong in 2010, posting a 3.64 ERA with 7.6 K/0 and 2.0 BB/9. The hurler is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility, so he's under the Brewers' control through 2012. Last year, the hurler avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays when he agreed to a one-year, $850K deal.

Lawrie, 21, turned in a strong 2010 in Double-A Huntsville, hitting .285/.346/.451 with eight homers in 135 games. Baseball America ranked Brett Lawrie as Milwaukee's second-best prospect in their 2010 handbook. The 16th pick in the 2008 draft, Lawrie is said to be an aggressive hitter with good pop.  While he was praised for his strong hands and quick bat, Baseball America writes that he needs to dedicate himself to defense if he wants to become a second baseman in the mold of Jeff Kent. Some scouts believe the soon-to-be 21-year-old is destined for an outfield corner.

The Brewers were long known to be prioritizing starting pitching this winter, after their rotation posted a 4.65 ERA (15th in NL) in 2010. With their acquisition of Marcum, they were able to improve the rotation without moving Prince Fielder, who will likely still be available in the right deal. In a pair of tweets, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains that part of the reason the Brewers were willing to part with a top prospect for Marcum is their belief that a long-term deal with the right-hander is a possibility.

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was the first to report that the two sides had agreed to a deal. The Brewers have announced the trade (on Twitter).


Rosenthal On Brewers, Doubront, Marlins, Barmes

In case there was any doubt, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Brewers aren't going to trade Ryan Braun. However, the Brewers are open to trading any of their other top hitters for rotation help. That means Rickie Weeks, Casey McGehee and, of course, Prince Fielder would be available in the right deal. Here are the details and the rest of Rosenthal's rumors:

  • The Brewers don't want to trade top players for back-of-the-rotation starters, but teams are reluctant to include top young pitchers in potential deals.
  • The Padres have spoken repeatedly to the Brewers about minor league infielder Brett Lawrie, who could be obtained for young pitching.
  • Adrian Gonzalez is still drawing trade interest, even though he won't be ready to swing a bat until the end of Spring Training.
  • Two GMs tell Rosenthal that the Red Sox are open to trading Felix Doubront. One says Boston would part with the left-hander "in a heartbeat" and the other guaranteed the Red Sox will trade him by mid-summer. Red Sox GM Theo Epstein told Rosenthal that the Red Sox "value Felix tremendously" and that the report "couldn't be further from the truth."
  • Every young Orioles pitcher "could be in play for the right bat," Rosenthal reports. 
  • If the Marlins trade Dan Uggla, they would use the savings to sign at least one free agent. John Buck is a target for the Marlins regardless of whether they trade or extend Uggla.
  • The A's don't have interest in Mark Reynolds.
  • The Rockies are drawing lots of interest in Clint Barmes. They could trade or non-tender the infielder if they aren't able to sign him to a multi-year contract.
  • Cody Ross and Javier Lopez are strong candidates to receive extensions from the Giants.

What The Mariners Wanted For Cliff Lee

Annoyed your favorite team didn't strike a deal with the Mariners for Cliff Lee?  At least consider the details of Jack Zduriencik's high asking price, as reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

According to Sherman, the Mariners general manager set out to acquire "an interested organization's best position prospect with less than one year of service."  He was offered none better than the Rangers' Justin Smoak.  The Yankees' Jesus Montero was apparently the next-best position prospect offered.  Zduriencik also targeted players such as Ike Davis of the Mets, Desmond Jennings of the Rays, Domonic Brown of the Phillies, Gordon Beckham of the White Sox, and Brett Lawrie (who would've had to have come from the Brewers in a three-way deal).  Sherman notes that the Mets never offered a player better than Fernando Martinez; Jenrry Mejia and Wilmer Flores "were never part of discussions."

Sherman also gets into the failed Yankees-Lee deal like only he can.  He gathered that the Yankees and Mariners had a deal in principle, at which point teams expect you to stop talking to other clubs.  Sherman expects the bad blood to linger, making the Yanks unwilling to deal with the Mariners in the future.  The Yankees were also apparently "rankled" by Seattle's confusingly high asking price for Jarrod Washburn last summer.  Another thought: an executive recently wondered aloud to me how Kevin Towers was involved in the Lee trade talks.  Towers has a close relationship with both Brian Cashman and Zduriencik.

From the Rangers' point of view, GM Jon Daniels indicated today to The Ticket's Norm Hitzges that he continually had an open dialogue with the Mariners.  Daniels felt that the Rangers were in second place Friday morning, until he adjusted his offer.