Brett Wallace Rumors
Much has been written over the last few years about Vernon Wells' immovable contract, but besides that significant commitment to their center fielder, the Blue Jays have a very manageable payroll situation. The only other player on their roster who will earn more than $4.75MM this season is Lyle Overbay ($7MM).
Unlike Wells, who has rediscovered the power stroke that earned him that monster contract in the first place, Overbay is struggling. Hitless in his last 14 at-bats, the 33-year-old has seen his 2010 slash line slip to .200/.281/.337 and has been the target of Rogers Centre boo-birds for most of the season. Manager Cito Gaston finally dropped Overbay in the batting order tonight, slotting him seventh rather than his usual fifth.
Although it's still unclear whether Toronto will be a buyer or a seller this summer, parting ways with Overbay could benefit both the present and future of the club. Top prospect Brett Wallace is hitting .289/.346/.537 with 11 homers in Triple A Las Vegas and not only represents a significant piece of the team's rebuilding plan, but could provide an instant offensive upgrade over Overbay. The Jays are likely postponing a roster decision at least until they can be sure Wallace will avoid becoming a super two player, but that time is fast approaching.
The last time we looked at Overbay's future, we still thought he may have some trade value. Now it seems unlikely that the first baseman, who has approximately $4.9MM remaining on his contract, would attract any interest. Is it best for Toronto to emulate what the Rays did with Pat Burrell and just cut their losses, or can Overbay turn things around? Is the 23-year-old Wallace ready to be an everyday player for a team technically still in contention? How should the Jays handle this situation?
Links for Friday...
- Ben Zobrist said signing his extension was a "no-brainer," according to Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com tweets that he doesn't see A.J. Pierzynski as a good fit for the Red Sox because he's not a good thrower. Pierzynski has thrown out just 24% of base stealers in his career. Earlier today we learned that the White Sox were gauging their catcher's value.
- Joel Sherman of The New York Post mentions that while the Oliver Perez signing hasn't worked out for the Mets, their second choice was Derek Lowe, who isn't looking all that hot either.
- The Padres have improved their team by building a speedy club better suited for their ballpark, says Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.
- Mike Rutsey of The Toronto Sun says the Blue Jays should replace the struggling Lyle Overbay with Brett Wallace.
- SI.com's Tom Verducci notes the increased diversity that has developed within the game in recent years. In the same piece, he notes that several clubs have increased their scouting of Yu Darvish in case his team decides to post him after the season.
Links for Thursday, as the Pirates try to recover from their worst loss in franchise history...
- Highly regarded Rangers first base prospect Justin Smoak has gotten the call to replace Chris Davis at first base, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The timing of his promotion ensures the Rangers will control Smoak through 2016. Super two status is likely if Smoak is up for good, meaning he'll go to arbitration four times beginning after the 2012 season. As for Davis, you have to wonder if a trade is in his future.
- In a mailbag, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian speculates on when Blue Jays fans can expect to see Adeiny Hechavarria and Brett Wallace arrive in Toronto.
- In an excellent piece for Yahoo! Sports, Jeff Passan looks at the state of baseball in the Dominican Republic, a topic MLBTR's Nick Collias addressed earlier in the week.
- Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that Royals minor-league lefty Adam Bostick has been suspended 50 games for a second positive drug test.
- ESPN's draft coverage team tweets that the Royals are looking at University of Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal for the fourth overall pick in June. Five days ago ESPN's Keith Law had this to say about Grandal: "He's the top college catcher in the country, can absolutely stay behind the plate, and hits well enough to be an above-average player in the majors." Click here for a reminder of the full 2010 draft order.
- Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein looks at four question marks about potential #1 pick Bryce Harper. Harper is not getting good reviews for his makeup.
- Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune points out that Carlos Zambrano and Lou Piniella don't seem in complete agreement on whether the righty's bullpen move is temporary.
A few notes as we head into the final day of 2009....
- ESPN.com's Insider news page passes on some Orlando Hudson-related speculation from Buster Olney on the Mike And Mike In The Morning radio show. Olney "wouldn't be surprised" if the Mariners got into the bidding for the veteran second baseman, adding that Hudson would "be a perfect fit in what they're doing" in Seattle.
- Andrew Stoeten of the Drunk Jays Fans blog runs down some of the highlights of Keith Law's appearance on Toronto's FAN 590 station this afternoon. Law opined on the type of free agents the Blue Jays should sign, said the Jays should focus on scouting and noted that if Brett Wallace wasn't going to be used at third base, "you can probably play him opening day."
- Chad Jennings of the LoHud.com Yankees blog says Aroldis Chapman "might be this winter’s most intriguing available player, period." He brought up Chapman with Yankees senior vice-president of baseball operations Mark Newman, who said the Cuban left-hander would start the year in Single-A or Double-A if he signed with New York. Newman was impressed by Chapman's workout session two weeks ago, but noted that Chapman is "not where (Stephen) Strasburg was."
- Mike Lowell underwent surgery today to repair the injured right thumb that prevented him from being dealt to Texas. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that Lowell had a 95-percent tear in his thumb's radial collateral ligament but is expected to be ready for spring training. This latest surgery will almost surely, as Newsday's Ken Davidoff surmised last week, put an end to the Lowell trade rumors unless Lowell proves himself to be healthy in Grapefruit League action.
The Blue Jays acquired pitcher Brandon Morrow from the Mariners for reliever Brandon League and minor league outfielder Johermyn Chavez today. The agreement was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports on Monday, while MLB.com's Jordan Bastian added the Chavez detail yesterday.
Morrow, 25, has a 3.96 ERA, 9.3 K/9, and 5.7 BB/9 in his 197.6-inning big league career. The hard-throwing righty was drafted fifth overall by the Mariners in '06. He made the team's Opening Day roster in '07 as a reliever, and stayed in that role to open the '08 season due to the Erik Bedard acquisition. He dealt with a shoulder injury that year. In August of '08 he transitioned to starting. Elbow issues surfaced in the spring of '09, but once healthy Morrow was back in the 'pen. He was sidelined by biceps tendinitis shortly thereafter, and it was back to starting in June. Morrow has a pretty serious injury history in his big league career; it's difficult to determine if the frequent role-switching was the cause or the effect. He is not yet arbitration-eligible and is under team control through 2013. Chavez, who turns 21 next month, hit .283/.346/.474 last year in A ball.
League, 27 in March, has a 4.09 ERA, 6.9 K/9, and 3.2 BB/9 in 202.3 career relief innings. League also throws in the mid-90s, and has a strong career groundball rate of 62%. He's had an up-and-down career, oddly posting his best peripherals in '09 (3.6 K/BB) alongside a 4.58 ERA. League had a shoulder injury that cost him most of '07. He's under team control through 2012.
The Blue Jays come out ahead on this one. Morrow is an obvious health risk, but he still has frontline starter potential. It's a gamble worth taking at the cost of a reliever and a prospect. Perhaps the Mariners believe it's all downhill from here for Morrow.
3:27pm: Over at BlueJays.com, Blue Jays Alex Anthopoulos talked about the players the Jays received in the Halladay deal, as well as recent signing John Buck. A few notes: Anthopoulos sees Wallace as a first baseman, and he has still has ongoing trade talks about other players.
1:48pm: The Mariners announced the trade in a press release, with GM Jack Zdruriencik congratulating the Phillies and Blue Jays on the way the deal was handled. ESPN's Jayson Stark notes that the deal will be complete all-around once Bud Selig signs off on the $6MM going to the Phillies. Elliott says an MRI on Wallace's shoulder cleared the Taylor part of the swap.
1:31pm: Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail heard that the report of a failed physical is a "totally false rumour." ESPN's Shannon Drayer tweets that the deal is official and Lee is a Mariner. MLB.com's Todd Zolecki agrees, saying a Halladay press conference is set for 4pm CST.
12:38pm: Davidi passes along an AP report that has Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. saying he's hopeful the trade can be completed today but talks may go into Thursday. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times doesn't expect the deal to unravel, and is hearing it's not a Mariners prospect who failed a physical.
11:47am: The three/four-way trade involving Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee is not yet official; here's our post yesterday for a refresher. The latest bit of news kicking off today's post: Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun tweets that he heard someone involved in the trade flunked their physical (one of the minor leaguers). Shi Davidi of The Canadian Press says Phillippe Aumont passed. There appears to be six other prospects involved in the deal, if you include the Michael Taylor-Brett Wallace component. Drabek had Tommy John surgery in July of '07, while Aumont had elbow issues toward the end of the '08 season.
A recap of the expected deal:
- The Phillies get Roy Halladay, Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, Juan Ramirez, and $6MM. The Phillies will give Halladay a three-year extension plus vesting options.
- The Mariners get Cliff Lee.
- The Blue Jays get Kyle Drabek, Brett Wallace, and Travis d'Arnaud.
- The A's get Michael Taylor.
The Blue Jays will trade outfielder Michael Taylor to the A's for third base prospect Brett Wallace, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
The A's acquired Wallace from the Cardinals when they sent Matt Holliday to St. Louis in July. The Jays drafted Wallace in 2005 and were rumored to have interest in him last summer when Roy Halladay first hit the trade market.
Wallace went to college and signed with the Cards as a first rounder in 2008. The 23-year-old hit .281/.403/.438 in the upper minors for the A's and Cards last year. Ben Badler of Baseball America isn't crazy about the deal for the Jays, but Keith Law of ESPN.com says Wallace can be a better hitter than Taylor.
Taylor, who's eight months older than Wallace, hit .320/.395/.549 in the upper minors for the Phillies and fits into Oakland's system better, in Law's opinion.
Cardinals' chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. was a guest on Bernie Miklasz's 101 ESPN radio show today, and spoke about free agent Matt Holliday (among other topics). Let's round the discussion up...
- The team still plans to make a serious push to retain Holliday, but DeWitt admitted that if a big-market club decides to go all out to sign him, they probably "don't have a chance."
- The Cardinals haven't made an offer during the 15-day exclusive-right window simply because Scott Boras has made it clear he's taking Holliday on the open market.
- DeWitt doesn't regret trading three prospects for Holliday, including 2008 first round pick Brett Wallace, because the goal was winning in 2009.
- He also acknowledges that trading for Holliday and Mark DeRosa thinned out the team's farm system, but he believes the club still has prospects that will draw interest from other clubs.
- If the Cardinals fail to re-sign Holliday, DeWitt said they would use the money set aside for him to improve other areas of the roster, depending on the player(s) and if it makes sense.
Sunday evening linkage...
- As noted by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, new Angels hurler Scott Kazmir is already falling in love out West. "It kind of feels like a playoff atmosphere every time you're here," Kazmir said Sunday. "You have the Rally Monkey, the whole thing going on." He's under team control until 2012 and will make his Angels debut Wednesday.
- Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com spoke Sunday with A's manager Bob Geren, who revealed his plan for September's roster expansion. It has already been confirmed that Brett Wallace will not see major league action this year.
- Paul Byrd told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford that he wasn't guaranteed a call-up by the Red Sox when they signed him to a minor league deal in early August. The 38-year-old made his 2009 debut Sunday afternoon, tossing six shutout innings against the Blue Jays.
- John Lackey earned his 100th career win Sunday with eight innings of five-hit ball against the Athletics. He heads an intriguing 2010 free agent class.
More links for the afternoon...
- MLB president Bob DuPuy confirmed to MLB.com's Barry Bloom that the Cubs should soon be sold to Tom Ricketts for about $900MM.
- Royals third-rounder Wil Myers told Matt Forman of Baseball America that it felt a little weird to face live pitching after a few months off. He still managed to hit a homer in his ffith pro at bat.
- You don't hear many Cardinals fans complaining about Matt Holliday, but how about Brett Wallace, the centerpiece of the trade that sent Holliday to St. Louis? As Baseball America shows with its latest Prospect Hot Sheet, Wallace homered five times this week.
- Chico Harlan of the Washington Post compares Nyjer Morgan to a number of leadoff hitters throughout history and shows that Morgan looks like a nice acquisition.
- The Nats introduced Stephen Strasburg to the fans at Nationals Park this afternoon, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.