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Bud Norris Rumors
The Twins look like sellers again this year, as they're on pace for their third straight 90-loss campaign. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports looked at the team's trade chips last week, noting that a market for first baseman Justin Morneau hasn't really materialized as of yet. Here's more on the Twins from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twins news comes about halfway into the article)…
- Even though they're sellers, vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff tells Wolfson that the Twins could still add a player that is controlled beyond 2013. Radcliff wouldn't comment on specific names, but a league source informed Wolfson that the Twins are interested in Bud Norris. The Twins would have plenty of competition were they to make a play for Norris, as he's been connected to the Rangers, Pirates, Dodgers, Giants, Blue Jays and Red Sox in the past week alone.
- The Red Sox, Braves, and Phillies all had scouts at Target Field over the weekend. All three teams have been connected to bullpen help of late, and the Twins have trade candidates such as Jared Burton and Brian Duensing in their 'pen. Glen Perkins, of course, has drawn quite a bit of interest, but the Twins have turned interested parties away thus far. Casey Fien also drew some interest from the Giants earlier this summer.
- No international signings are imminent, but Radcliff described the process as "fluid," noting that the Twins still have money to spend. However, the team has no plans to trade any of its remaining bonus slots.
- The Twins are still interested in 18-year-old Taiwanese righty Jen-Ho Tseng, who is reportedly close to a deal with the Cubs. The team will remain in contact with his camp until they receive official word.
- Radcliff said Byron Buxton, who was recently named the No. 1 prospect in baseball by ESPN's Keith Law (ESPN Insider required), could ascend to Double-A New Britain before the season is over. That would be a quick rise for the 19-year-old, who began the season with Class A Cedar Rapids and has moved up to High-A Fort Myers recently.
- The Twins were interested in Jake Arrieta before he was acquired by the Cubs in the Scott Feldman deal earlier this month.
Earlier this afternoon, the Rangers acquired Matt Garza from the Cubs in exchange for Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and at least one player to be named later (the Cubs could also receive two PTBNLs, depending on who they select as the first from a list of pitchers). Here are some quotes from both general managers, reactions from scouts and media members, as well as some more details surrounding the initial trade that fell apart last Friday…
- The Athletics made a late push for Garza, which is what caused the Rangers to up their offer at the last minute, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).
- For Cubs fans who would like more info on what they received for Garza, Baseball America's Matt Eddy provides scouting info on Olt, Edwards and Grimm.
- The Cubs had to accept Grimm instead of second baseman Rougned Odor when the Rangers raised questions about Garza's elbow, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- The Cubs tried to acquire Olt at the deadline last year, GM Jed Hoyer told reporters (including the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles).
- The Rangers felt that Garza was the best pitcher available on the market, GM Jon Daniels told reporters, including Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Miller's piece is loaded with quotes from Daniels, who feels that the addition of Garza may give the Rangers as strong of a pitching staff they've ever had.
- The Rangers overpaid to get Garza, but all teams do so in order to acquire the top rental on the market, writes Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. Durrett adds that the Rangers needed to make this move and it's a worthwhile gamble given their minor league depth.
- In an Insider-only piece, ESPN's Keith Law writes that both sides did well in the trade, as Garza could represent a two WAR upgrade over Grimm through the end of the season, and the Cubs received a nice package of players in return. Olt and Edwards alone would've been a good return, in Law's opinion, making the addition of Grimm and at least one PTBNL even better.
- Garza never should have been a Cub, opines Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com. He writes that the acquisition of Garza was a poorly timed win-now move by former GM Jim Hendry that was made when the team wasn't in a position to win. Dealing Garza for a strong package from Texas was the right move, adds Greenberg, who notes that better days are ahead for Cubs fans.
- With Garza off the market, trade talks for Bud Norris will likely now heat up, writes MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told McTaggart that the Garza trade may "start a series of different types of talks."
Angels star outfielder Mike Trout has the most trade value of any player in Major League Baseball, according to Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. That opinion is certainly hard to dispute given Trout's incredible performance level and team control, even though we are unlikely to see Trout's trade value tested on the market any time soon. The more interesting question with respect to Trout is what it might cost the Angels should they approach his agent, LSW Baseball, in a bid to lock up the 21-year-old to a long-term deal. Certainly, you should read the entirety of Cameron's trade value series if you have not already. (Links to to the full series are found at the above link.) Trout may be an easy call at the pole position, but the list is (as it should be) ripe for debate. I'd venture that Yadier Molina (#11) and Yasiel Puig (#24) are among the two biggest surprises on the high side, though Cameron certainly has insightful and interesting reasons for their placement.
In honor of the young Mr. Trout, let's take a look around the AL West:
- In case you were wondering, there were no substantial developments overnight on the prospective deal that would have delivered Matt Garza to the Rangers. Click here to get up to speed on where things ended last night. As we wait to see what direction that situation is headed, it is worth your time to take a look at this piece from Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs discussing why, exactly, the Rangers are pursuing Garza in the first place.
- The Mariners continue to be a fascinating team to watch as the trade deadline approaches. While Seattle has no realistic postseason prospects at this point, the club has performed well of late and appears to be loath to part with its more obvious trade assets. The team has several attractive veterans on short-term contracts that could be exchanged for minor league depth. On the other hand, a push for a .500 record could energize the fan base and help spur the development of its young core players, making the second half more important than one might expect for a club in this position. This piece from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times breaks down the decisions facing the club.
- For instance, GM Jack Zduriencik might prefer to make Kendrys Morales a qualifying offer next year rather than trade him now. Likewise, the M's could hang onto Raul Ibanez given his high standing in Seattle. Indeed, that would be Ibanez's apparent preference. He told reporters, including Stone, that while he does want to play for a contender, he doesn't see why that can't happen in Seattle. In fact, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Mariners have shown "zero indication" that key veterans like Morales and Ibanez will be made available.
- Trade talks on Astros starter Bud Norris — the consensus choice for top controllable starter available — are heating up, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Though he does not offer details on actual trade talks, Crasnick says (on Twitter) that several teams could make sense as destinations for Norris, including the Giants, Indians, Nationals, Dodgers, Red Sox, Pirates, and Rangers.
The Red Sox were never a big factor in trade talks for Matt Garza because the team viewed him strictly as a rental and wasn't interested in offering him a long-term extension, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Because they only saw him as a two-and-a-half-month acquisition (plus the playoffs, ideally), they were unwilling to deal top-tier prospects. The Rangers are said to be on the verge of acquiring Garza as of this morning.
Bradford's colleague Alex Speier reports that the Red Sox are interested in Bud Norris more than rentals like Garza and Ervin Santana (though Santana is reportedly unavailable anyway). Boston has inquired on Norris, according to Speier, but finds the asking price to be too high at this time. GM Ben Cherington and his staff feel that he's being priced more like a front-of-the-rotation arm than a mid-rotation or back-end starter. That gels with previous reports that the Astros want a pair of top prospects for Norris, who has also drawn interest from the Rangers, Pirates, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Giants recently.
Speier adds that the Sox are pleased with their core of upper-level pitching prospects such as Allen Webster, Brandon Workman, Drake Britton and Rubby de la Rosa. However, because none of them have proven anything at the big league level, the team may become more aggressive on Norris (and similarly controllable pitchers) if Houston's asking price drops. Norris is being paid just $3MM in 2013 and is controlled via arbitration through the 2015 campaign. Bradford notes that interest in adding an arm will increase if Clay Buchholz's health setbacks continue.
The Rangers are in on the Astros' Bud Norris as a back-up plan if they fail to acquire Matt Garza from the Cubs, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports via Twitter. Passan adds that the Pirates, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Giants are all interested in Norris.
Norris has been one of the most talked-about trade chips in July, with an executive telling Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com last week that he could be the next starter to be moved. Norris may not provide as immediate of an impact as Garza, but with a paltry $3MM salary this season and two years of team control remaining after this year, he offers significant long-term value. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Astros' have set the high price of two top prospects in exchange for the hurler.
Norris, 28, has a 3.63 ERA in 114 innings this year, a mark that would be the best of his career. Though his strikeout rate has fallen significantly this season, he's cut his walk and home run rates. The right hander told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart in June that he hasn't discussed a long-term deal with the Astros and understands that a deal may be on the horizon.
Here's a look at the latest out of the AL West..
- Peter Gammons of MLB.com tweets that every General Manager he has spoken with says the Mariners are asking for "premier prospects" in exchange for lefty relievers Oliver Perez, Charlie Furbush and Brian Moran. We learned recently that Perez has drawn interest from the Orioles, Braves, and others.
- In his latest Scouts Corner column, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler cites an executive who suggests that the Astros' Bud Norris could be the next starting pitcher to be traded. "He's got good stuff. It's about the consistency of command. I think most contending teams will see him as a fourth starter. The problem is they're going to ask a lot for him," a scout tells Knobler. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com wrote earlier tonight that the asking price is high for Norris as Houston is seeking two highly-rated prospects in return.
- An executive on the hunt for pitching tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that the Astros' Norris is basically one of three decent available starters right now. The others are the Cubs' Matt Garza and Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers. The asking price for all three is really high, according to the exec, which is consistent with what we've been hearing.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
The Astros know that there's not a whole lot of quality starting pitching available on the trade market this year and they have an asking price to reflect it for their top hurler. To part with righty Bud Norris, rival GMs tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the Astros are asking for two top prospects in return.
Heyman sees Norris as fitting somewhere in "the upper echelon" of starting pitchers in this year's market, which he says also includes Matt Garza and Yovani Gallardo. "Garza is the biggest immediate impact guy and Norris is the best long value guy,'' a GM tells Heyman. With a reasonable salary – just $3MM this season – and an additional two years of team control, Norris could be an attractive option to contenders, particularly if top targets such as Cliff Lee remain unavailable.
In an recent column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted that the Padres would prefer a pitcher whom they can control beyond 2013 if they make a trade, and Norris certainly fits that bill. Norris, 28, has pitched to a 3.63 ERA in 114 innings this year, striking out 6.4 K/9 and walking 2.8 BB/9.
As Astros people note, that low salary and the team's sub-$30MM payroll mean there's no need for them to trade the righty, potentially giving them extra leverage in negotiations. However, some believe that Norris will be the next starter to be traded. There's plenty of trade talk around Norris and Houston may not be ready to contend for the next several years.
Peter Gammons reported earlier today that there was buzz amongst the league's general managers that Ricky Nolasco would end up with the Giants before the trade deadline. This sentiment is shared even by another general manager who is himself interested in Nolasco; this mystery GM tells USA Today's Bob Nightengale that he expects Brian Sabean to outbid the field in the race for the Marlins righty.
Here are some more items from around the majors…
- The Angels might make pending free agents Jason Vargas or Scott Downs available at the trade deadline if they decide to sell, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez opines, though there won't be any major moves. "I'm told nothing will cause them to blow up the roster and start all over again," Gonzalez writes, since the front office still believes the club can be contenders in 2014 and beyond and the Josh Hamilton/Albert Pujols contracts make it difficult to truly rebuild.
- The Angels have nothing to show for their efforts in acquiring big-name pitchers (Scott Kazmir, Dan Haren and Zack Greinke) at the trade deadline in three of the last four seasons, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer writes. Making matters worse for the Halos is that they dealt several top prospects in those trades, giving away such notable talents as Jean Segura, Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and Alex Torres.
- The Twins have exceeded expectations this year but "it's hard to see a scenario in which they'll be buyers" at the trade deadline, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger writes as part of a reader mailbag. A hot streak over the next month could change plans, though with the Tigers unlikely to be caught atop the AL Central, Bollinger suspects the Twins will stick with their rebuilding plan.
- Bud Norris noted that he hasn't discussed a long-term deal with the Astros and he wouldn't be surprised if he is traded, the right-hander tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. "If the trade deadline is here and I'm still in an Astros uniform, I'll be happy with that," Norris said. "I understand something could happen, but at the end of the day, my focus right now is still in Houston, and that's where it's going to stay." The Pirates, Orioles and Giants have all reportedly considered acquiring Norris and more suitors are likely to follow.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro was non-committal about whether or not the Phils would call up Carlos Zambrano before his July 1 opt-out date. Amaro told reporters (including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer) that Zambrano has "been inconsistent" in the minors and that he doesn't see the righty as a relief pitcher.
Ken Rosenthal shares a few hot stove-related items in his latest column for FOX Sports…
- The Padres are known to be looking for starting pitching, and Rosenthal notes that San Diego would prefer to pick up a younger starter who is signed beyond this season. An exception could be Ricky Nolasco, as Rosenthal repeated his suggestion from yesterday that Nolasco could be open to re-signing with the Padres given that the pending free agent hails from southern California.
- Astros right-hander Bud Norris is cited as one of the controllable younger arms that fits the mold of what the Padres are looking for, though one rival executive thinks Norris "isn’t the best bet to make a team leap forward. Will he help a team improve? Yes. Would I stamp him as a difference-maker? Not a definite.” Norris has been connected to the Pirates, Giants and Orioles in trade speculation and I profiled him as a trade candidate last month.
- While the Rangers could use some outfield help, the decision to use Jurickson Profar as an outfielder is somewhat risky, Rosenthal opines. Profar is learning a new position on the fly and has yet to deliver much at the plate in his brief Major League career. If he struggles, he'll lose some trade value if the Rangers decide to move him, and the team may also have more trouble convincing Ian Kinsler to eventually move to the outfield to make room for Profar at second base.
- The Astros had an arrangement in place to draft Shelby Miller with the 21st overall pick of the 2009 draft, Miller tells Rosenthal, except the Cardinals took Miller with the 19th pick. Miller, a Texas native, was also managed by a Rangers scout during a high school showcase event but the Rangers passed on Miller with their 14th overall pick in the draft and instead took righty Matt Purke, who never signed with the club.
- The Jordan Walden-for-Tommy Hanson trade is looking like "a steal" for the Braves, in the words of one rival executive. Walden has been a force (2.70 ERA, 10 K/9, 6.50 K/BB rate in 23 1/3 IP) out of the Atlanta bullpen while Hanson has battled injuries and posted a 5.10 ERA over nine starts with the Angels.
At 42-31, the Orioles have the second-best record in the American League. That impressive win total comes despite the fact that their starting pitchers, as a whole, have the fourth-worst ERA in the Majors at 4.76. Given that number, it's no surprise to see MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli write that the Orioles will be in the market for starting pitching help in her latest Orioles Inbox. According to Ghiroli, names like Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, Jason Vargas and Joe Saunders are on the team's radar. She adds that Mike Pelfrey's name has also surfaced.
No one from that group stands out as an ace-caliber pitcher, which meshes with Ghiroli's statement that the Orioles "would like to add at least one more pitcher to help eat innings and keep the bullpen fresh." That trade could come prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, or, if asking prices are high, executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette could make a waiver trade in August as he did in 2012 when he acquired Saunders from the Diamondbacks for Matt Lindstrom.
Asked about the Orioles seeking a potential upgrade at second base via the trade market, Ghiroli said that the team isn't looking for second base upgrades. Baltimore is satisfied with the defense of Ryan Flaherty, and Brian Roberts is nearing a rehab assignment. According to Ghiroli, the Orioles would prefer to "[funnel] any and all resources and trade chips into helping out the rotation."
Not surprisingly, the Orioles aren't willing to discuss Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy in trades, which is likely the reason for focusing on second- and third-tier trade targets. Of the five names mentioned, Norris figures to have the highest asking price. Only he is controlled beyond 2013; each of the other four can be free agents at season's end.
Earlier this season the O's were said to be looking for a top-of-the-rotation starter, but they seem to have shifted that focus. Given their unwillingness to part with Gausman or Bundy, it stands to reason that acquiring an ace-caliber arm would've been an unrealistic goal.