Bronson Arroyo Rumors

Quick Hits: Heyward, Red Sox, Utley, Reds

Jason Heyward‘s well-rounded game might best be appreciated by the “data-driven organization” that has watched him all season, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.  This might be why the Cardinals could go into team-record contract territory to re-sign Heyward this winter, and the club is indeed interested in bringing him back “though they recognize it might take another team (or more) to help frame negotiations.”  Goold writes that the Cards are open to the idea of including an opt-out clause in Heyward’s deal, which would allow the 26-year-old to potentially return to the open market in four or five seasons and score another big contract.

Here’s the latest from around baseball as we head into the last week of the regular season…

  • Heyward, for his part, tells Goold that how the Cardinals view players “is ideal for a player like myself….I’€™m trying to do anything to win and people see that. That’€™s what they care about. They’re not looking at overall statistics. There are a few (teams) that would fit me, and here is one of them. That stands out. For me, it stands out especially.”
  • Dave Dombrowski has retained many members of the Red Sox front office staff, which Peter Gammons of writes was contrary to the public perception that Dombrowski was going to “blow up the organization” and restaff it with past colleagues.  Instead, Dombrowski has made a few changes (perhaps most notably the hiring of Frank Wren as a senior VP of baseball ops) but has mostly kept the well-regarded Sox personnel in place.  Promoting Mike Hazen from assistant GM to general manager underscores this continuity.
  • Chase Utley has been getting some time at third base for the Dodgers, which JP Hoornstra of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin notes both helps the Dodgers depth-wise and could help the veteran continue his career as a utility infielder in future seasons.
  • A reader asked John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) if the Reds might pursue Alfredo Simon as a free agent innings eater.  Fay doesn’t see the team going down that path, but he thinks that they could consider Bronson Arroyo, another former Red, in a similar role.  After missing all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Arroyo will likely have his 2016 option bought out by the Dodgers and he’ll be available on the open market.

MLBTR Mailbag: Heyward, Murphy, Red Sox

Thanks for all of your questions this week. Remember that you can ask about whatever is on your mind in our Tuesday afternoon chats (~2pm central) or through the Mailbag email address (  On to this week’s questions…

Will the Cardinals extend Jason Heyward or not, because they did give up Shelby Miller to acquire him, and it doesn’t make much sense to let him walk after one year. — Michael P

The two sides haven’t had any serious talks about an extension yet, though there’s also some mutual interest in Heyward staying beyond 2015.  MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranked the outfielder as having the second-most earning potential of any 2015-16 free agent, so it would take easily the largest contract in Cardinals franchise history to bring Heyward back into the fold.  If Heyward did leave, the 2016 St. Louis starting outfield projects as Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty, with Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos as backups, which could leave room for another veteran outfielder to be brought in at a lower price than Heyward will command.  Does a year of excellent play from Heyward, a month of Jordan Walden and a compensatory first-round draft pick (due to the qualifying offer) equal four years of control over Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins?  That’s a question that might take a few more years to answer, though the Cards would instantly chalk it up as a win if Heyward helps them win a championship.  I’d guess that St. Louis will make a strong play to re-sign Heyward this offseason, though if the bidding gets really high (into the $180MM-$200MM range), that might be too expensive for the Cards’ liking.

Care to handicap the odds that Sandy Alderson extends a QO to Daniel Murphy?  If offered is there any chance that Murph becomes the first player to ever accept?  I’d imagine his agent will make lots of noise that he would “love to stay in NY on a 1 year deal to finish the job” in an attempt to bluff the Mets out of hurting his market value. — Cliff P

The upcoming class of free agent second and third basemen isn’t very deep, so I’d expect Murphy would indeed reject a qualifying offer in search of a healthy multi-year deal elsewhere.  He should be able to find such a deal despite the draft pick compensation attached to his services, though Cliff is probably right in thinking that Murphy’s market will take a hit from the QO.  If Murphy did break precedent and accept, it wouldn’t be the worst outcome for the Mets; a one-year/$16MM deal for an everyday second baseman who can also be something of a poor man’s Ben Zobrist in his ability to fill in at multiple other positions.

Yes or No. The Red Sox will sign one of the following this offseason: David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann? — Kyle R

I’m leaning towards no.  Anibal Sanchez is the only notable starting pitcher Dave Dombrowski has ever acquired in free agency, and even then Sanchez was re-signed after originally coming to the Tigers in a midseason deal.  Dombrowski’s past history with starting pitcher contracts (hat tip to the MLBTR Transaction Tracker) indicates that he is more likely to obtain an ace via trade.  Dombrowski could change tactics given his new surroundings and input from whomever is hired as the new Red Sox GM, though my guess is that if the Sox do land a top-tier arm this winter, it will be by dealing from their deep farm system.

What is Bronson Arroyo‘s current standing with the Dodgers?  Will he ever be able to pitch in the majors again, this year or next? — Jack S

Arroyo underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2014.  He said in June that he was hoping to return to action by mid-August, there has been no recent word on his status now that August has come and gone.  As such, he’s almost certainly not going to pitch this season.  The Dodgers have a $13MM club option on Arroyo for 2016 that is sure to be bought out for $4.5MM (paid by the Braves, as per a condition of the elaborate trade that brought Arroyo to Los Angeles).  If Arroyo is healthy, I’d expect he will find a a minor league deal from some team this winter. Arroyo hasn’t hinted at retirement in the wake of his injury, though since he’ll turn 39 in February, you have to wonder if he’ll consider hanging up his spikes if his recovery process is taking longer than expected.

Dodgers, Braves, Marlins Complete 13-Player Trade

AUGUST 1: The Dodgers are paying just $500K of the remainder of Arroyo’s deal, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles tweets. Arroyo is owed about $8MM, including his 2016 buyout, and it appears the Braves are paying almost all of that amount.

JULY 30: The Dodgers, Marlins and Braves have swung one of the most complex three-team trades in recent history. The “basic” structure of the deal (though there’s nothing basic about this move) is as follows: the Dodgers will receive right-hander Mat Latos and first baseman Michael Morse from the Marlins. They’ll also add top prospect Jose Peraza and pitchers Alex Wood, Bronson ArroyoJim Johnson and Luis Avilan from the Braves. Atlanta, in turn, will receive infielder Hector Olivera, lefty Paco Rodriguez and minor leaguer Zachary Bird from the Dodgers. The Braves are also picking up Miami’s Competitive Balance Round A pick in next year’s draft (No. 35 overall). The Marlins will come out of this deal with three minor league pitchers — Kevin Guzman, Jeff Brigham and Victor Araujo — plus the financial relief of shedding the remaining $14.3MM that is owed to Latos and Morse. Each team has announced the trade’s completion.


Mat Latos is headed to the Dodgers.

In making this trade, the Dodgers bolster their rotation not only for the remainder of the 2015 season but also potentially through the 2019 campaign. Latos, who is earning $9.4MM in 2015 and has $3.6MM of that sum remaining on his contract, is a free agent at season’s end, but Wood can be controlled for four years beyond the current campaign.

While he’s battled injuries and struggled early in the season, Latos has increased his velocity and upped his results since returning from a DL stint (as noted by MLBTR’s Steve Adams when examining his trade candidacy). All told, the 27-year-old Latos owns a 4.48 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 88 1/3 innings on the year. But ERA estimators view him more as a mid-3.00 ERA contributor, and that has shown up in his last seven starts, over which he’s allowed 15 earned runs in 45 2/3 frames with a 43:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Wood is perhaps the more intriguing name here for the Dodgers, though. The 2012 second-round pick was never vaunted as a Top 100 prospect, but he’s emerged as a reliable cog in the Braves’ rotation over the past few seasons. Though many have expressed long-term health concerns with Wood and his numbers are down in 2015, his overall body of work is nonetheless impressive. Wood has a lifetime 3.10 ERA in 368 2/3 big league innings with very strong averages of 8.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 to go along with a 46.5 percent ground-ball rate. Both Latos and Wood will join co-aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the Dodgers’ rotation, solidifying the starting five down the stretch. Those additions, however, demonstrate a different approach than many pundits expected, as L.A. was heavily rumored to be involved with the top names on the trade market.


Alex Wood could be a long-term rotation piece for L.A.

In landing Johnson, the Dodgers are picking up a reliever that was serving as Atlanta’s closer and doing so quite well. Johnson led the AL in saves from 2012-13 before a down season in 2014. Atlanta snatched him up on a one-year, $1.6MM contract with enough incentives to carry the deal to $2.5MM if he maxes it out. He’s been an outstanding buy-low piece for the Braves and will carry a 2.25 ERA, 6.2 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and 60.8 percent ground-ball rate into the Dodger bullpen, where he’ll help set up for Kenley Jansen.

The 26-year-old Avilan gives the Dodgers another left-handed relief option to pair with J.P. Howell and Ian Thomas, though it’s debatable whether he’s a long-term improvement over Rodriguez, who heads to Atlanta in the deal. Avilan has a 3.58 ERA on the season with a 31-to-10 K/BB ratio (though two of the walks were intentional) in 37 2/3 innings. He’s upped his velocity this season and his strikeout rate as well, but Avilan’s previous good fortune in terms of homer-to-flyball ratio has dried up this season, and he’s near the league average (above it, in fact) in that regard for the first time in his career. Avilan hasn’t missed a ton of bats throughout his career but does have strong overall totals against left-handed hitters.

Morse doesn’t really fit on the Dodgers’ roster and was likely included as a means of offsetting some salary, so it’s possible his stay with the Dodgers will be brief, at best. Los Angeles designated Eric Stults for assignment immediately upon acquiring him from the Braves earlier this year and did so with Ryan Webb as well, so there’s certainly precedent for them to flex their financial muscle as a procedural necessity and simply cut ties with the unwanted or superfluous players in a deal.

Arroyo serves as a second example of the Dodgers flexing their financial muscle. The veteran right-hander signed a two-year deal with the D-Backs prior to the 2014 season but underwent Tommy John surgery last summer and hasn’t pitched this season. Arizona unloaded his contract in a prior trade with the Braves, and that money will now go to the Dodgers, bringing the total amount of cash they’re eating in this deal to roughly $43.5MM. It’s possible, at least, that Arroyo could pitch at the back of the L.A. rotation down the stretch.

Dealing Peraza away was probably a tough pill to swallow for the Braves, who have long lauded him as one of their top prospects. The 21-year-old entered the season as a consensus Top 50 prospect in the game, and though his offensive numbers are down somewhat, that’s not necessarily a red flag for someone playing at the minors’ top level at the age of 21. That’s not to say, of course, that Peraza’s numbers are poor; he’s hitting .295/.319/.380 this season. Peraza ranks as the game’s No. 26 prospect on the midseason Top 50 from Baseball America and No. 30 on’s midseason update to their own Top 100 prospect list. Peraza began his career as a shortstop and eventually moved to second base, but it’s not certain where the Dodgers project him in the future. He has little power but draws rave reviews for his speed and glove, and he’s swiped 149 bases over his past 310 minor league contests. I feel it should be noted that Peraza, too, could be a piece that the Dodgers will consider dealing, as they’re reportedly reluctant to part with their own top prospects: Corey Seager and Julio Urias.

As for the Braves, they’ll finally land a player they pursued extensively this offseason in the form of Olivera. Atlanta simply couldn’t match the Dodgers’ enormous $62.5MM offer to the 30-year-old infielder, but $28MM of that came in the form of a signing bonus that is to be paid in three installments. The Dodgers will pay the final two installments of Olivera’s signing bonus, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That means the Braves are essentially taking on Olivera on a six-year, $32.5MM contract that began this season. He’s earning $2MM in 2015, of which about $754K remains, so their total financial commitment to him will be about $31.25MM over the course of five and a half years. That’s a much more palatable obligation for the Braves (who have notably shed significant payroll from their books by moving Melvin Upton Jr. and Craig Kimbrel since Olivera signed.)

Olivera, a right-handed hitting third baseman/second baseman, was said at the time he signed to be a safe bet to post strong average and OBP marks due to his pure hitting abilities and a keen eye at the plate. The question was how much power he’d show in the Majors, but some felt that he could be a 20-homer bat on a yearly basis. He’s looked sharp to this point in the minors, hitting .348/.392/.493 across three levels and reaching Triple-A. The Braves undoubtedly consider him to be a major component of their long-term future in the infield, though the specific position he’ll play is yet an unknown.

In Rodriguez, they’ll pick up a left-handed reliever who could be out for the season but has pitched well when healthy. Rodriguez had surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow in late June — a procedure that will sideline him for eight to 10 weeks. However, the former second-round pick has been excellent while on the mound. He was the first player from the 2012 draft to reach the Majors, debuting the same year he was drafted, and he sports a lifetime 2.53 ERA with 9.6 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9.

The 21-year-old Bird has largely unimpressive numbers in the minors — a 4.74 ERA in 351 minor league innings — but rated him 15th among L.A. farmhands. Per their scouting report, he made big strides with his velocity late in 2014 and has gone from a low-90s heater to a mid-90s offering that “threatens triple digits” at times. He still needs to get a better feel for his offspeed pitches and has a long ways to go as a slider, they add.

With all that said, we’re at last to the Marlins’ portion of the trade, which looks meager. Of the three names in question, only Brigham ranks among L.A.’s top 30 prospects, per, who rank him 28th. Brigham had Tommy John surgery in college in 2012 and missed all of 2013 before pitching himself into the fourth round, their scouting report notes. He’s 90-94 mph with his fastball and has shown shaky control, though some of that can be attributed to the surgery. He’s punched out 75 hitters in 75 innings this year but has also walked 38 and has a 5.52 ERA.

Guzman is a 20-year-old starter pitching at the Class A level who has notched a 3.90 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 in 83 innings this year. The 22-year-old Araujo is in his second stint with Class-A Advanced and hasn’t found very favorable results. He’s missed plenty of bats (55 strikeouts in 50 innings) with solid control (14 walks) but has been hittable and ultimately surrendered a 5.40 ERA this season.

The Marlins had a number of ways they could go in terms of dealing Latos, but it seems they either prioritized shedding the Morse contract or simply didn’t find that teams were willing to offer much in return given his rental status, health concerns and early struggles. In the end, while this trade started off being termed the “Mat Latos trade,” it will be more remembered as a deal that netted the Braves their second baseman or third baseman of the future in exchange for a promising young arm and one of their top prospects.

Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported (on Twitter) that Latos and Morse were headed to the Dodgers. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter link) and’s Joe Frisaro (Twitter link) reported the financial components for Miami/L.A. and the inclusion of the Marlins’ draft pick. Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM tweeted that a third team was potentially being brought in. Frisaro reported the prospects going to Miami. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the Braves’ inclusion (via Twitter). Joel Sherman of the New York Post said the Braves would get a young starter (Twitter links), and Rosenthal tweeted that Wood was the pitcher in question. Bowden tweeted Johnson’s inclusion.’s Mark Bowman first suggested Peraza’s name (on Twitter) and Sherman confirmed his inclusion (via Twitter). Bowman also tweeted that Olivera was in the deal, and Bowden tweeted that Avilan was as well. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweeted that Bird was headed to Atlanta. Bowman added that Rodriguez was going to the Braves. Passan added the final wrinkle: Arroyo’s inclusion (Twitter links).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions To Braves’ Acquisition Of Touki Toussaint

The acquisition of Touki Toussaint was a coup for the Braves, Jim Callis of writes.  Braves president of baseball operations John Hart managed to add last year’s No. 16 overall pick by giving up Phil Gosselin and assuming the balance of Bronson Arroyo‘s $9.5MM salary (plus buyout).  The move sacrificed a bit of the present for Atlanta, but it significantly brightened its future, Callis writes.  Here’s a look at some more reactions to yesterday’s surprising trade..

  • The Braves have discussed Toussaint with the D’Backs for more than a month, but he wasn’t trade eligible until recently (June 12th), Mark Bowman of tweets.
  • The move will cost the Braves some cash, but it was a deal they felt they had to make.  “We felt the payoff down the line would be too good to just let it go,” Braves assistant GM John Coppolella said (via Bowman on Twitter).
  • The D’Backs sold Toussaint for $10MM, five months after paying $16MM (with tax) for Yoan Lopez, who is not as good, Ben Badler of Baseball America tweets.  On top of that, signing Lopez prevents them from any signings above $300K for the next two years (link).  Meanwhile, the Braves paid $10MM to add a Top 100 prospect and might blitz the international market in 2016 (link).
  • With spending restricted everywhere but free agency, eating cash for a great talent like Atlanta did for Toussaint is a no-brainer, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • The Diamondbacks are getting criticized quite a bit for the deal, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports isn’t ready to condemn them just yet.  Toussaint could have a bright future ahead of him, but he is still in his first full season of professional baseball and is likely years away from the majors.  Even then, he’s hardly a sure thing.
  • Steve Adams of MLBTR (on Twitter) can’t recall a deal being this universally panned for one side.
  • Arroyo said that he is disappointed that he didn’t deliver on the contract he was given by Arizona, as Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic tweets.  “The most difficult part, really, honestly, is the fact that I pitched for 10, 12 years for other ball clubs and gave them their money’s worth,” Arroyo said. “And nobody could ever say that Bronson Arroyo kind of shorted the team. But coming here, I gave these guys, I don’t know, 14 starts and seven wins. For a two-year deal, that was pretty expensive. That was definitely disappointing on my part. But that’s just the way it is.”
  • Arroyo says he’s hoping he’s to return in mid-August, but he also acknowledged there’s a chance he won’t be able to pitch at all this season, Piecoro tweets.
  • When you total up the D’Backs’ dealings with the Braves this year, they have traded Trevor Cahill, Arroyo, Toussaint, and this year’s No. 75 overall pick to save about $15MM, Piecoro tweets.
  • Toussaint took to Twitter to thank his former club.  “Thank you @Dbacks everything you guys have done for my family and I. The memories made this past year are unforgettable. I appreciate it!

Braves Acquire Bronson Arroyo, Touki Toussaint

The Braves have acquired right-handed pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks in exchange for infielder Philip Gosselin, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Both teams have confirmed the move via press release.

The move appears to be monetarily motivated for the Diamondbacks. Arroyo is owed the balance of $9.5MM this season plus a $4.5MM buyout (or $13MM option), tweets Rosenthal. The total guarantee is about $10.1MM. He could return from Tommy John surgery as soon as August. Prior to landing on the disabled list last season, Arroyo was the perfect workhorse. He made at least 32 starts in nine straight seasons. He owns a 4.19 ERA in 2,364 innings.

The inclusion of Toussaint in the deal comes as a surprise. FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel rated him the 114th best prospect prior to the season. Toussaint, 19 today, was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League. He had a 3.69 ERA with 6.69 K/9 and 3.46 BB/9 in 39 innings. He was the club’s 16th overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft.  Prior to the draft, he was rated No. 8 in his class by’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis and No. 13 by both Baseball America and’s Keith Law.

Gosselin was a useful utility infielder for the Braves, but the presence of Jace Peterson and prospect Jose Peraza likely made him expendable. He hit .325/.357/.525 in 42 plate appearances this season. Atlanta will have to swallow the cost of Arroyo and the roughly $10.1MM guaranteed to him. However, in Toussaint, they acquire yet another young, high ceiling arm for their farm system. From the Diamondbacks perspective, the club will save money now at the cost of their fifth best prospect.

Bronson Arroyo Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

JULY 16: The Diamondbacks announced that Arroyo underwent successful Tommy John surgery yesterday (Twitter link).

JULY 7: Diamondbacks right-hander Bronson Arroyo told reporters today, including’s Steve Gilbert (Twitter links), that he will have to undergo Tommy John surgery. Arroyo adds that he actually made six starts this season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament.

It’s tough to call this news anything other than poor luck for the Diamondbacks, as Arroyo has been among the game’s most durable pitchers throughout his entire career. The 37-year-old posted nine consecutive seasons of 199 innings or more from 2005-13 and was tied with Dan Haren for most games started in that same stretch (297). He has been on the disabled list since mid-June due to a UCL injury.

Arroyo signed a two-year, $23.5MM deal with Snakes this offseason due largely to that durability. The D’Backs won’t receive a great return on that investment, as Arroyo has posted a 4.08 ERA in 86 innings and likely won’t pitch again until next summer, even in a best case scenario.

Arizona has been hit hard by injuries this season, with top starter Patrick Corbin and setup man David Hernandez each going down with Tommy John surgery prior to the season. Mark Trumbo has also missed significant time on the disabled list due to a stress fracture in his foot.

NL Notes: Samardzija, Arroyo, Phillies, Marlins

The latest trade deadline news and rumors out of the National League …

  • Even as the team explores the possibility of an extension, the Cubs are still indicating to other clubs that top starter Jeff Samardzija is available, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. As Wittenmyer notes, Chicago engaged in “lukewarm final talks” with Matt Garza last year prior to dealing him away.
  • We heard last night that the Blue Jays were keeping a close eye on Samardzija. Further reports indicate that, unsurprisingly, they were not alone in watching his start last night. The Giants took a look, according to a tweet from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, as did the Royals, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Also present, albeit with unknown targets in their sights, were scouts for the AngelsIndians, and Reds, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
  • Diamondbacks starter Bronson Arroyo has a sprained UCL and is now on the DL for the first time in his career, reports Steve Gilbert of (Twitter links). Though the current plan is for Arroyo to rest for about ten days, the injury certainly throws some uncertainty into his potential status as a trade candidate this summer. Arroyo’s calling cards, of course, are his remarkable durability and consistency. The injury suggests a potentially increased risk for a pitcher who is 37 years old, has 3,469 2/3 professional innings on his right arm, and is owed not only the rest of a $9.5MM salary for this year but also $14MM in future guarantees.
  • Phillies president David Montgomery says that he is confident in GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and his staff, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer“I just believe that group of people gave us the successful period we had,” Montgomery said. “They had different roles in it. I know people focus on Ruben’s role having changed vis-a-vis 2009 vs. 2008. … [Y]ou have to look at the whole body of work. Have we been served well? My answer to that is yes.” Regarding the team’s operating strategy, he said that it will continue to “pay attention to both today and tomorrow, and to do what’s right in both cases.”
  • While it remains unclear whether the Phillies would be willing to deal either or both of their veteran middle infielders (Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins), or if the players would in turn be amenable to waiving their no-trade protection, it is also worth considering what kind of value they might bring back. “I don’t know if some of those guys will get you enough in return to warrant making the trade,” an American League executive told the Inquirer’s Bob Brookover. The unnamed exec did indicate that some teams may be willing to look past the negative clubhouse reputation of closer Jonathan Papelbon, whose strong performance to date could make it possible for the Phils to offload him and save some future cash.
  • The Marlins are open to dealing for rotation help, but will first explore internal solutions, reports Joe Frisaro of Miami just promoted youngsters Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani. If the club does ultimately consider dealing away close-to-the-bigs talent in exchange for an established starter, Frisaro says that it would likely aim for a player that it can control beyond the season. He floats the possibility that the Fish could dangle infield prospect Derek Dietrich, who offers intriguing left-handed power.

Cafardo On Samardzija, Arroyo, Mayberry Jr.

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ran down the 20 best stories in baseball, starting with the worst-to-first (so far) Blue Jays.  Toronto has gotten great hitting out of Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, and Adam Lind and great pitching from Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, and Drew Hutchison.  Now, it remains to be seen whether the Blue Jays will be willing to part with Hutchison in a deal for Cubs‘ ace Jeff Samardzija.  More from today’s column..

  • The Red Sox and Rangers have the most to offer the Cubs for Samardzija, followed by the Giants.  Of course, Cubs president Theo Epstein is quite familiar with the Red Sox’s farm system. The Cubs need pitching, but Boston will definitely not part with lefthander Henry Owens. If that’s not a deal breaker, the Sox have other pitchers like Brandon WorkmanMatt BarnesAnthony RanaudoAllen Webster, and Rubby De La Rosa that they can offer.  Cafardo guesses that it would take two of them, plus perhaps a catcher, to pry Samardzija loose.
  • With the Diamondbacks likely out of the race by the deadline, Cafardo says that we should look for veteran Bronson Arroyo to change uniforms again. Arroyo isn’t a shutdown guy, but he’s an experienced starter who could solidify the back of a rotation, particularly for an NL team.
  • The Phillies have made John Mayberry Jr. available and Cafardo writes that the Red Sox could be interested.  The Phillies have been scouting the Sox for a third straight series and are looking at Boston as a possible trade partner.

AL East Notes: Orioles, Cruz, Arroyo, Jays, Sox

The Orioles introduced new outfielder Nelson Cruz today, and's Britt Ghiroli has a transcript of the press conference. Cruz, of course, settled for a one-year, $8MM deal with Baltimore after previously declining a $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Rangers. "It was a frustrating process," said Cruz, "but I'm happy for the decisions that I made. I'm really excited for the opportunity." Here are more notes from the O's and the rest of the AL East:

  • We learned previously that the Orioles had made a competitive offer for free agent starter Bronson Arroyo before he signed with the Diamondbacks, and now Jerry Crasnick of has the details. Baltimore ultimately offered Arroyo a $21.5MM guarantee over two years, including a third-year option that could have brought the total value to $33MM. The pitcher instead signed with Arizona for a $23.5MM guarantee, but his deal can only max out at $30MM if his option is exercised.
  • Though agent Scott Boras softened his strong words towards the Blue Jays in comments today, he continued to implore the team to open its pocketbooks by saying that Toronto has a "rare opportunity" to add impact free agents because of its protected first-round draft picks, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of (interview via Jeff Blair of Sportsnet 590 The FAN). In addition to its advantageous draft situation, Boras argued that the Jays have the "flexibility in the long term" to backload contracts.
  • Boras said that client Stephen Drew could significantly upgrade the team's second base position, and that Drew would be willing to shift to the other side of the bag "if the club came and made the position a long-term one for him." Meanwhile, Boras argued that the switch-hitting Kendrys Morales would offer a better option against lefties than incumbent DH Adam Lind, who Boras said could be dealt for pitching. Toronto could recoup a future draft choice via qualifying offer when those players' deals end, the agent added.
  • In spite of (or, perhaps in part, because of) their success last year, the Red Sox are sticking with their strategy of "caution and strict sensibility," writes's Anthony Castrovince"We recognize that our goal is to be as good as we possibly can be in 2014 but also 2015 and 2016 and beyond," explains GM Ben Cherington. "To do what we want to do, year in and year out, there has to be integration of young players. We're not going to force that unless we're reasonably confident those guys can contribute right away." 

Diamondbacks Notes: Goldschmidt, Payroll, Arroyo

The five-year, $32MM extension that Paul Goldschmidt signed last spring could now be "the most team-friendly [deal] in the game" in the wake of Goldschmidt's monster 2013 season, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes.  As Piecoro notes, the D'Backs saved themselves a lot of money by locking Goldschmidt up early, thus giving the club the financial flexibility to pursue the likes of Masahiro Tanaka and Shin-Soo Choo.  Though Goldschmidt said he's satisfied with his contract, D'Backs CEO Derrick Hall said the team would be open adding more years to the contract beyond 2018, or reworking the deal entirely a few years down the road.

Here's some more from Arizona, all from Piecoro…

  • The 2014 payroll projects to be the highest in Diamondbacks history, and GM Kevin Towers admitted there is little room for error if the team doesn't play up to expectations.  "It's a critical probably two or three years here just because you've got guys that are kind of in their early 30s with long-term contracts, and it's not a lot of flexibility, if it's not the right recipe, to change it up," Towers said.  While a losing season could put Arizona in the red, however, Hall said that the team can stand to lose some money now since their upcoming new TV contract will bring in major new revenues.  "That's going to be a game-changer," Hall said. "We can bite the bullet a little bit the next couple of years to get there."
  • If Bronson Arroyo is traded, Piecoro tweets, the $11MM team option in Arroyo's contract for the 2016 season increases to $13MM.  The option would still cost Arroyo's team $4.5MM to be bought out.
  • Arroyo, Hall, Towers, Kirk Gibson and D'Backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick all took part in a press conference today to officially announce Arroyo's signing.  Towers said the decision to sign Arroyo came together quickly, and Arroyo said he appreciated how direct the D'Backs were with him, as he felt his free agent process was "a joke" and a "cat-and-mouse game."  (Arroyo expressed his displeasure with his free agent experience last month to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.)
  • Arroyo said he had "one or two discussions" with the Reds about a return, though Cincinnati was only willing to offer a one-year deal that included a lot of deferred money.
  • Kendrick discussed several topics, such as the recent extensions given to Towers and Gibson, the payroll increase and Arizona's pursuit of Tanaka.