Byron Buxton Rumors

Twins Notes: Starters, McGowan, Santana

Here’s the latest from the Twins as they head towards their Monday opener in Detroit…

  • The Twins aren’t looking for starting pitching help right now as they feel they already have enough internal candidates to replace Ervin Santana, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (Twitter link).  Mike Pelfrey will step into the rotation while Santana serves his 80-game suspension, with Trevor May and Alex Meyer on hand as depth options.
  • Though the Twins were recently “kicking the tires” on righty Dustin McGowan, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports that the former Blue Jay isn’t going to end up in Minnesota (Twitter link).  The Twins are known to be seeking bullpen help, so they may yet strike a deal with a different player or pick someone up on waivers before Opening Day.
  • Santana’s suspension is the latest blow to Minnesota’s recent history of free agent pitching signings, CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa writes.  While the Phil Hughes signing was a big success, Pelfrey and Ricky Nolasco underachieved last season after signing multi-year deals and now Santana will miss the first half-season of his four-year, $54MM contract.  While there’s still lots of time for Santana, Nolasco and Pelfrey to make good on their deals, Axisa notes that the mid-market Twins can’t afford to make expensive mistakes in free agency.
  • Unsurprisingly, Twins GM Terry Ryan tells Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the club bases its decision to call up prospects not on service time, but on the player’s readiness for the majors.  The service time debate could soon arise in Minnesota when star prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are close to the bigs.  The Twins didn’t delay Joe Mauer‘s service clock in 2004, yet Miller observes that doing so would’ve gained the team an extra year of control over Mauer and possibly saved them some money off the $184MM extension he eventually signed.

Prospect Notes: Nix, Montero, Barnes, Buxton, Meyer

Toronto will host the Pan American Games this summer from July 11 to July 19, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Team USA could field a potent roster headlined by Byron Buxton, Addison Russell, Corey Seager, and others. To be eligible, players cannot be on a 40-man roster. They also need permission from their parent club to participate. Each team is different, but some will probably allow their top prospects to attend. Rangers prospect Joey Gallo could be among the players asked to participate, and GM Jon Daniels likes the idea of his players competing internationally. One wrinkle to watch: the Futures Game takes place on July 12.

Here are more prospect notes from around the league:

  • Pitcher Jacob Nix could be a late first round pick in the upcoming Rule 4 draft, reports Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider required). You may recall Nix’s part in Houston’s Brady Aiken fiasco – he was the player who lost a $1.5MM bonus when Aiken failed to sign. Without Aiken’s expected under slot signing bonus, the club didn’t have the funds to honor Nix’s deal without losing 2015 draft picks and money. Nix is now pitching with IMG Academy, a post-graduate team in Bradenton, Florida.
  • Of the prospects in Mets camp, Rafael Montero is the most likely to make the major league roster, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. The club has plenty of starting pitchers, but they could use Montero out of the bullpen. Others like Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz will look to make a strong impression while at the big league camp. Remember, an opening day assignment to the majors can affect when a player reaches arbitration or free agency.
  • Due to depth at the major league level, the Red Sox aren’t expected to add a prospect to their opening day roster. However, hard throwing righty Matt Barnes could be among the first called up, writes Ian Browne of MLB.com. Barnes pitched a few innings out of the bullpen last season, so he’s already on the 40-man roster. Another prospect with brief major league experience, Garin Cecchini, will work on improving his defensive versatility.
  • The Twins will welcome number one prospect Buxton to their major league camp for the second time, writes Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. However, it’s 29th ranked prospect Alex Meyer who has the best chance to break camp with the club. The giant righty will compete for a spot in the rotation, although he’ll face competition from Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey, Tim Stauffer, and Trevor May.

Quick Hits: Betemit, Prospects, Cuba, Indians

Free agent infielder Wilson Betemit has received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for amphetamine usage, the league announced. Betemit, who turned 33 in November, is currently a minor league free agent. He struggled through 453 plate appearances with the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate last year but is a lifetime .267/.332/.442 hitter in the Majors.

Here are some more notes around the game:

  • The latest top-100 prospect list is out, with MLB.com’s team providing its view of the game’s best young talent in both a list and articles from prospect gurus Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis. MLB.com still sees Byron Buxton of the Twins as the game’s best prospect, placing him above Kris Bryant of the Cubs by a narrow margin.
  • That sort of prospect ranking could increasingly become populated by Cuban ballplayers if changes in diplomatic relations go as far as might be imagined. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez provides an interesting take on that possibility, providing some quotes from notable Cuban ballplayers who are in Puerto Rico for the Caribbean Series.
  • Of course, some of the very best players never receive the recognition of a top prospect. According to Sahadev Sharma, in a piece for FOX Sports, the Indians have been notably excellent at trading for (and developing) high-level big league talent that came unadorned with significant prospect pedigree. Among the team’s recent finds are Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, and Yan Gomes. That handful of players led the way for Cleveland last year, accounting for a remarkable 24.8 fWAR.


Quick Hits: Workman, Ogando, Rockies, Loria

Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is the top prospect in baseball, per MLB.com’s top 100 prospects. The Cubs have two prospects in the top five – Kris Bryant (second) and Addison Russell (fifth). The Dodgers have three in the top 13 – Corey Seager (seventh), Julio Urias (eighth), and Joc Pederson (13th). The Cubs and Twins are the two teams with five prospects in the top 50. Here’s more news from around the league.


Quick Hits: Shields, Porcello, Buxton

It’s still unclear where James Shields will wind up, and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tracks Shields’ hard-to-read market, guessing at nine potential destinations for the free agent righty. Topping the list is the Cardinals, who showed some interest in Jon Lester and Max Scherzer and likely have room for Shields in their budget. Still, much about the Shields market remains uncertain, without much reported action from traditionally heavy-spending teams, leaving teams like the Marlins, Astros and Padres near the top of Heyman’s list of possible destinations. Here’s more from around baseball.

  • New Red Sox staring pitcher Rick Porcello is not yet ready to discuss an extension, Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com writes. “I just got here and met the guys last night so I think it’s premature for that,” says Porcello. “I’m just trying to settle in and fit in with everybody, get to know the staff and the guys.” Mastrodonato notes that the Red Sox would also probably like to get to know Porcello a bit better before signing him long-term. With a year remaining before free agency and youth on his side, the 26-year-old Porcello stands to cash in if he has a 2015 season similar to his 2014, when he had a 3.43 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and a stingy 1.8 BB/9 in 204 2/3 innings.
  • GM Terry Ryan says that although the Twins aren’t planning to have top prospect Byron Buxton break camp with the team, Buxton could make his big-league debut at some point during the season, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. Buxton only recently turned 21, has only a few plate appearances in the high minors, and missed most of the 2014 season with a wrist injury, so such an aggressive promotion schedule would be unusual for most players, particularly given the Twins’ typically cautious approach. Buxton has exceptional tools, however, and MLB.com currently rates him the top overall prospect in the game, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the Majors at some point this season.

AL Notes: Twins, K-Rod, Aoki, Scherzer

Twins youngsters Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are still among the top prospects in the game, despite losing most of 2014 to injuries, writes Jim Callis of MLB.com. Buxton suffered a concussion and injuries to both wrists last season, while Sano missed the season after requiring Tommy John surgery. Callis doesn’t see a promotion for either prospect until next August or September since the pair have to make up for lost development time. Of course, considerations such as Super Two eligibility also come into play.

  • The Blue Jays have Francisco Rodriguez on their radar but still prefer to fill their ninth-inning void via trade rather than free agency, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Last week, Heyman reported that the Jays were prioritizing the closer position and looking at the trade market to fill the need. A few days later, MLBTR readers voted in favor of K-Rod when he was pitted against Rafael Soriano and Casey Janssen in a Free Agent Faceoff of the market’s top remaining closers. Of nearly 15,000 respondents, more than 39 percent preferred Rodriguez.
  • Earlier this morning, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Orioles are maintaining some level of interest in both Colby Rasmus and Ichiro Suzuki, and he now adds Nori Aoki‘s name to that list as well (Twitter link). Baltimore’s interest in Aoki has been previously reported to be limited, though that was earlier this month when the market had more options available. Scarcity in the outfield may have increased Aoki’s appeal.
  • While there’s been some speculation connecting the Red Sox and Max Scherzer, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford doesn’t believe that Boston will sign the ace right-hander. Bradford writes that the Sox have preferred Jon Lester to Scherzer from the start, and they clearly drew a firm line in the sand in regards to their negotiations with Lester. One source tells Bradford that he thinks connection to the Red Sox is simply a ploy by Scherzer and agent Scott Boras to pressure the Yankees into becoming aggressive with Scherzer.

Twins Notes: Buxton, Milone, Suzuki, Willingham

Twins GM Terry Ryan was on-hand in New Britain tonight to see top prospect Byron Buxton‘s Double-A debut, but the evening took a scary turn for the five-tool center fielder. Buxton collided with right fielder Mike Kvasnicka and was unconscious on the field for roughly 10 minutes before being driven away in an ambulance and has been diagnosed with a concussion, Ryan said on the MiLBtv broadcast (Twitter links via MiLB.com’s Ash Marshall). It’s been a lost season for the consensus top prospect in baseball, who had already missed much of the season with wrist injuries. Ryan notes that the injury could have been much worse, and reports indicate that Kvasnicka, a Minnesota native whom the Twins acquired from the Astros in minor trade last season, was able to walk off the field (though he, too, was taken to the hospital as a precaution).

More links on what has been a scary night for the Twins organization…

  • Recently acquired left-hander Tommy Milone tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he isn’t worried about the fact that the Twins may have stashed him in the minor leagues for a week in order to delay his free agency by a season. Milone will finish the year just shy of three full years of service time but said, “…as long as I’m here, I’m happy. You never know what’s going to happen four years from now.” As Berardino points out, Milone will still qualify for arbitration this offseason as a Super Two player, which lessens the sting a bit. Berardino notes that both Travis Wood and Ivan Nova had comparable ERAs and innings totals to Milone heading into arbitration, and the duo received first-time salaries of $3.9MM and $3.3MM, respectively.
  • Berardino also summarizes the Twins’ trades to this point, noting that the club saved approximately $7.93MM by trading Kendrys Morales, Kevin Correia and Josh Willingham. He also has a third piece noting that Kurt Suzuki is on pace to earn all $500K of his playing time bonuses after already receiving a $25K bonus for making the All-Star team. That would boost his salary from $2.75MM to $3.275MM.
  • Speaking of Willingham, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer runs down some reasons that the Indians neglected to claim the former Twin on waivers — a decision that resulted in the division-rival Royals landing him. The Indians, who had interest in Willingham as a free agent back in 2011-12 and recently lost David Murphy and Nick Swisher to the DL, didn’t want to pay the remaining $2MM on Willingham’s contract. They also were hesitant about his injury history and didn’t want to block playing time from younger players.

Quick Hits: Prospects, Hoyer, Sabathia

Though Byron Buxton has only played in six games this season due to a wrist injury, the Twins outfielder still sits atop Baseball America’s midseason ranking of the top 50 prospects in the sport.  Twenty-two of the 30 Major League teams have at least one player on the list, and the Cubs stand out with three players in the top seven — Kris Bryant at #2, the newly-acquired Addison Russell at #5 and Javier Baez at #7.

Here’s some news as we kick off the final week before the All-Star break…

  • Jed Hoyer discussed several Cubs topics with David Kaplan and David Haugh on their podcast this morning, including how the general manager believes the offseason will be a busy one for his team.  “I expect us to be far more active this winter than last winter,” Hoyer said.  “We have money to spend and I expect teams looking for offense to call us.”  (Hat tip to Kaplan’s Twitter page.)
  • C.C. Sabathia‘s career is at a crossroads with the news that the veteran lefty might require microfracture surgery on his right knee.  Given Sabathia’s declining numbers and 2017 vesting option, ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription needed) wonders if the Yankees would be better off if Sabathia retired.
  • The week’s minor league transactions are recapped by Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
  • While the A’s are seemingly going all-in with the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade, Giants GM Brian Sabean could see upgrades as a lost cause given how his team has struggled recently, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.  Shea opines that Sabean isn’t keen on trading prospects for 2014 given that he’ll have a number of roster holes to fill next season thanks to possibly departing free agents.

Injury Notes: Fernandez, Cisnero, Garcia, Belt, Buxton, Beltran

Injuries continue to dominate the headlines around the league, led of course by the most impactful UCL tear in a year already full of them. The news that star Marlins hurler Jose Fernandez is likely to undergo Tommy John surgery has capped off a difficult stretch of pitching injuries, leading to reactions from around the game. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports says that understanding and addressing the rash of elbow injuries is in its infancy, and could be decades away from any kind of satisfying resolution. Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider link) writes that the club did not mishandle Fernandez, and that the lesson teams have drawn from the rash of TJ procedures is to maximize the innings of young arms before they hit the open market. And Tom Verducci of SI.com argues that the issue is not use at the major league level so much as years of added stress before players become professionals, and explores various possible solutions.

Let’s run through the latest injury news that carries potential hot stove implications:

  • A beleaguered Astros bullpen (collective 5.91 ERA) will be without young righty Jose Cisnero for the rest of the year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, tweets MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. The 25-year-old threw just 4 2/3 ineffective innings in 2014, but tossed 43 2/3 frames of 4.12 ERA ball in his debut season last year. Entering 2013, Cisnero was rated Houston’s 15th-best prospect by Baseball America, which noted that he could become an innings-eating starter.
  • Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia has seemingly defied the odds and worked himself back to the point that he is now a candidate to receive a big league start this weekend, tweets Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Garcia’s most recent problems have been in the shoulder, though he has previously undergone TJ surgery. Garcia, still just 27, has logged just 177 innings under his four-year, $27MM contract, which runs through 2015 and includes club options for the two following seasons ($11.5MM and $12MM, respectively, each with a $500K buyout).
  • The Giants will be without first baseman Brandon Belt for at least six weeks after successful thumb surgery, reports Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (on Twitter). It appears that the team will utilize a mix of Michael Morse and Hector Sanchez at first while Belt recovers.
  • Twins minor leaguer Byron Buxton — the game’s consensus top overall prospect — learned today that he has re-aggravated the wrist injury that cost him most of the early portion of the season, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter links). Though the team does not believe the wrist is any worse than when it was first injured, but another extended absence would obviously further delay the 20-year-old’s final development push.
  • Outfielder Carlos Beltran, one of the major offseason signings by the Yankees, has been diagnosed with a bone spur in his right elbow. As MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports, the club will see if a cortisone show can allow Beltran to avoid surgery. “They believe it’s an old bone spur,” said manager Joe Girardi. “It’s aggravating his elbow now. If in a couple of days he doesn’t feel better, then my level of concern would be pretty high.”

Prospect Notes: Buxton, Astros, Rodon, Polanco

Byron Buxton, the Twins‘ top prospect and perhaps the top prospect in all of baseball, re-injured his wrist today while sliding into third, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets. The extent of the injury isn’t yet known, and Buxton will soon have an MRI. 2014 has likely been a frustrating season for Buxton — he injured his wrist in spring training and sat out the entire season until last week. He has played just five games so far this season, all at Class A+ Fort Myers. Here are more notes on prospects.

  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow was in Raleigh yesterday to watch NC State pitcher Carlos Rodon, a candidate to be taken first overall in next month’s draft, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart writes. Rodon struck out nine batters and walked one in seven innings. “We’re still gathering information,” says Luhnow. “I know where I personally stand, but I haven’t seen these guys near as much and seen nearly as many guys as everybody else.”
  • Calling up Gregory Polanco this weekend would have been a great move for the Pirates, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Polanco continues his hot hitting for Indianapolis (he’s currently at .374/.434/.580), and the Pirates are short on outfielders, with Travis Snider serving a suspension (and with Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen both currently out of Saturday’s game with injuries). The Pirates will also be on “Sunday Night Baseball” this weekend. Of course, Polanco’s arbitration status will likely be a factor in the Pirates delaying his promotion until mid-June, by which point he will be past the Super Two threshold.