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Carlos Beltran Rumors
Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion achieved ten-and-five rights yesterday, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. It once seemed quite unlikely that the now-32-year-old would ever establish himself enough to earn a no-trade clause, as Davidi explains. Toronto can control Encarnacion next season with a $10MM club option, but his future beyond that remains unclear. “I like this city, I’d love to stay here but it’s not my choice,” said Encarnacion. “They have to decide what they’re going to do, if they’re going to sign me or not. I’m open to be here and to stay here in Toronto.”
Here’s more from Toronto and the rest of the east:
- All indications are that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos “has been busy trying to make something happen for a while now,” writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto may be willing to give significant value for a truly high-quality player that makes a perfect fit for the club’s overall situation, says Davidi, much as it did in signing Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson. That being said, it seems unlikely that Anthopoulos and Co. will part with its best young talent for a pure rental, the report suggests.
- Anthopoulos tells reporters that the Blue Jays nearly pulled off two trades in May, but has not come as close since, as Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports (Twitter links). The GM added that he’ll consider moving prospects for rentals if the price is right, noting that he discussed a deal last summer involving young players Kevin Pillar and Sean Nolin.
- he Yankees are in a solid position right now, but need to address three pressing questions, Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues. First, the club need to decide whether and when it will pull the struggling CC Sabathia from the rotation, and whether it will replace him with an outside addition (Sherman suggests Jeff Samardzija as a viable option). Another veteran, outfielder Carlos Beltran, has produced at the plate but not in the field, and Sherman wonders whether he could be a trade option for the Angels to plug in at DH. And New York must also decide how much it is willing to cough up to add the versatile Ben Zobrist, per the piece, if and when he’s made available by the A’s.
- Meanwhile, across town, the Mets are in no rush to deal Jon Niese, writes Newsday’s David Lennon, who explains that the club still needs innings from him given limitations on its younger starters. Of course, Niese (and his salary) could ultimately be part of a deal — whether to add a bat or future assets. But as things stand, it does not appear that there is much momentum towards any kind of trade. Indeed, per Lennon, the Mets have not even had “serious conversations with two teams (Cubs, Dodgers) that reportedly have interest in the lefty.
The Mets are one of several teams helping Major League Baseball understand more about pitchers’ epidemic of elbow injuries, Mike Vorkunov of NJ.com writes. The Mets, along with four other teams, are having the pitchers in their 2014 draft class participate in a study by agreement with MLB and the MLBPA, along with the American Sports Medicine Institute. Vorkunov reports that the study will examine pitchers’ biomechanics, anatomy and flexibility to try to identify players who might be at risk. All 30 teams will have access to the results. “We as an industry probably should have taken the initiative long ago before this became such an epidemic,” says Mets GM Sandy Alderson. “But I’m happy we’re pursuing it now. That, I think, will help us with the next generation of baseball pitchers.” The problem is surely one that all clubs are curious about, although the Mets, who have lost Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to Tommy John surgery in recent years, likely are especially interested. Here’s more from around the Majors.
- Carlos Beltran is becoming disliked by fans of both the Mets and the Yankees, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. It’s questionable whether Mets fans have reasonable grounds to dislike Beltran — as Sherman notes, Beltran played well with the Mets and landed them Wheeler. But many do. And the first year-plus of Beltran’s three-year, $45MM contract with the Yankees has been awful so far, particularly given his defensive limitations. Beltran, who turned 38 yesterday, is hitting .173/.241/.288 so far this season.
- 30-year-old 1B/OF Danny Dorn finally made it to the big leagues after 939 minor-league games after the Diamondbacks promoted him Tuesday, and he’s thrilled to be there, writes MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom. “I can call myself a Major Leaguer,” says Dorn. “It’s been great. I just feel blessed and thankful for the opportunity.” Dorn has been climbing uphill his entire career — he was a 32nd-round draft pick all the way back in 2006, and although he hit well throughout the minors, he spent parts of seven seasons at Triple-A.
Here’s the latest from around the AL East…
- The Diamondbacks still have interest in Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro, as Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair writes that the Snakes “have been trailing…Navarro for the better part of a week.” Navarro himself recently said that he believed Arizona and Detroit were interested in acquiring his services, and both teams have room to upgrade behind the plate.
- Matt Wieters will begin the season on the DL as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko) that the lack of precedent for catchers recovering from the surgery is why the O’s pursued several backups this offseason. “I think there’s a lot of unknown there. We’re hoping for the best,” Showalter said. “They’ll have something to base the future on when the start trying to analyze this, because he’s been a model blueprint for rehab as far as what he’s done. We followed it to the letter of the law. Matt, if anything, has been above and beyond.”
- Orioles southpaw Brian Matusz has been the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, most notably in connection to the Mets. MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports that New York indeed still has interest in Matusz but would need the O’s to cover part of Matusz’s $3.2MM salary. Previous reports have suggested the Orioles would be add some cash to make a deal happen, so there could be a bit if the two sides can make the numbers line up.
- Scouts haven’t been impressed with either Carlos Beltran or Stephen Drew this spring, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. Neither of the two Yankees veterans are hitting well, and there is also question about Beltran’s ability to play right field. This is a particularly important Spring Training for Drew, as his loose hold on the second base job could be broken entirely given the presence of Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela.
After last night’s Game Five loss, the Royals have now faced a 3-2 deficit in all three of the franchise’s World Series appearances. In 1980, K.C. was eliminated by the Phillies in Game Six and in 1985, the Royals (who were actually down 3-1) came back to defeat the Cardinals and win the Series. While we wait for Tuesday night’s game, here are some items from Kansas City…
- Top Royals prospect Kyle Zimmer has left the Arizona Fall League with a shoulder issue and will see Dr. David Altchek, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. MLB.com ranks Zimmer the No. 2 prospect in the Royals organization and the No. 47 prospect in the game. Baseball America, meanwhile, ranked Zimmer No. 26 overall in its midseason list. Zimmer had opened eyes in the AFL, with ESPN’s Keith Law writing (Insider-only) that Zimmer and the Pirates’ Tyler Glasnow were the best pitching prospects he’d seen. Zimmer missed most of the 2014 season with shoulder troubles, so his current issues aren’t new.
- The Royals heavily pursued Carlos Beltran last offseason and offered the veteran slugger a three-year deal with a fourth-year option, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Kansas City’s offer would also have paid Beltran more than the $45MM he received from the Yankees on a straight three-year deal. (Last winter, ESPN’s Buster Olney noted that state tax differences between Missouri and New York would’ve meant Beltran would’ve taken home more money with the Royals’ contract, even if the total dollar value was less than $45MM.) In the end, however, Beltran ended up signing with the Yankees because, in part, he playing for a big-market team would help his chances for the Hall of Fame.
- Royals hitting coach (and former Cubs manager) Dale Sveum is still interested in managing, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “I’m not holding my breath. It’s just the nature of the beast,” he says. “If somebody calls, they call.” Sveum says he doesn’t worry about having lost the Cubs job now that he’s in the World Series with Kansas City. “It definitely doesn’t hurt,” he says. “We all do this for this, no matter what capacity you’re in.”
The Royals are having a better season than the Yankees, but that doesn’t mean the Royals’ situation is better, Andy Martino of New York Daily News reminds fans who would like to see the Yankees take a more player development-heavy approach. The Yankees, who depend heavily on expensive talent from outside their organization, have spent the past 20 years in playoff races, while the Royals have spent years losing while trying to develop a solid core. The Yankees consistently contend, which is why Carlos Beltran picked the Yankees over the Royals last offseason, Martino writes. “I liked (the Royals). I liked the team,” says Beltran. “But at the end of the day, I felt that this (the Yankees) organization — every year, man, they find a way to put things together.” Of course, the Yankees are able to pursue the strategy they do because of their financial advantages, and Beltran’s first year perhaps illustrates certain problems with their strategy. Here are more notes from the American League.
- Melky Cabrera suffered a season-ending injury last night and can become a free agent after the season, but he wants to remain with the Blue Jays next season, the Associated Press reports. “I stay in Toronto,” Cabrera said last night. Cabrera, 30, has had a strong season in the last year of his two-year, $16MM deal, hitting .301/.351/.458.
- 2014 hasn’t been a strong season for the Rays, but Jake Odorizzi‘s development has clearly been a bright spot, as Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida notes. Odorizzi has struck out 9.7 batters per nine innings in a full season in the rotation, and he’s posted strong numbers overall, improving after a bumpy month of April. That’s not bad for a player who wasn’t even the headliner in the trade in which he was acquired. ”I think you’re just seeing a young man understanding what he has and how to utilize it,” says Rays manager Joe Maddon. ”That’s it.”
Andrew Miller‘s transition from the Red Sox to the Orioles has gone smoothly, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports. “There’s a ton of differences. Things in general match up,” says Miller, for whom the Orioles traded at last month’s deadline. “The winning teams I’ve been on have a nice, loose clubhouse that expects to win.” Miller has pitched brilliantly in his first 7 1/3 innings with the Orioles, striking out 11 and walking three while allowing just two hits and one run. Here’s more from around the AL East.
- Carlos Beltran will see a doctor after feeling something wrong with his elbow while swinging last night, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets. The Yankees scratched Beltran from their lineup tonight. It’s been a rough season for Beltran, who’s hit .233/.291/.416 (weak numbers for a DH/OF with little defensive value) while battling injury in the first year of a $45MM deal.
- Jon Lester is not likely to return to the Red Sox this offseason, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Instead, the Yankees and Cubs could emerge as possible suitors. It is, perhaps, no surprise that the Red Sox aren’t considered the favorites to sign him — they just traded him, and reportedly weren’t close in extension negotiations before that. Lester should be able to get a six- or seven-year deal in free agency, Heyman writes, and the Red Sox are likely to consider that to be too risky. Heyman does note, however, that the Red Sox may have been prepared to offer Lester five years and $100MM last month.
- The Blue Jays have promoted top outfield prospect Dalton Pompey to Triple-A Buffalo. Pompey, 21, hit .295/.378/.473 in 127 plate appearances at Double-A New Hampshire. MLB.com ranks Pompey the No. 3 prospect in the Jays’ system (behind Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez), praising his plate discipline and speed.
Rehabbing Mets ace Matt Harvey hopes to return to big league action at the end of this season, the righty tells Tom Verducci of SI.com. While Harvey acknowledged that he would not push to return before being cleared, he said he wants to re-establish himself on the hill before the year is out. “I just want the peace of mind,” said Harvey. “I want to go back out there and know I still have the stuff to strike out major league hitters.” For his part, club GM Sandy Alderson sounded a cautious note, reports ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. “Not being a medical doctor and not really faced with that decision previously, I’ll reserve judgment,” he said. “But the one thing we don’t want to do is be put in a situation where someone — Matt, or anyone else — has a setback because we’ve pushed the natural recovery processes further than we should have.”
Here’s the latest on some injury situations around the game that could potentially have transactional implications:
- Cliff Lee of the Phillies underwent an MRI today on his left elbow, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. The durable and excellent lefty has been throwing through elbow tenderness for the last several weeks, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the discomfort increased in his last start. The 35-year-old has been diagnosed with a flexor pronator strain, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, though a full assessment will await the results of the MRI. Needless to say, a prolonged absence or ongoing injury questions could not only have ramifications for the Phils’ ability to stay in the post-season race, but could heavily impact the summer’s starting pitching trade market. Lee, who has 21-club no-trade rights, is owed $25MM this year and next before a 2016 vesting/club option that comes with a $12.5MM buyout.
- Mariners first baseman/outfielder/DH Corey Hart is expected to miss four to six weeks, reports MLB.com’s Greg Johns (via Twitter). That news — and Stephen Drew‘s signing with the Red Sox today — has fueled calls for Seattle to take another look at re-signing first baseman/DH Kendrys Morales. Should Morales stay a free agent until the upcoming amateur draft, of course, he will be free to sign anywhere without costing his new team a pick, and without returning a compensatory choice to the M’s.
- Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran still hopes to play through the bone spur in his elbow, but if surgery is required he would be out for about two months, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). Beltran saw Dr. James Andrews today, who confirmed the original diagnosis. It appears that the question at this point is whether or not Beltran can deal with the pain while playing at full speed.
The Yankees got 4 2/3 shutout innings in a spot start from rookie right-hander Chase Whitley tonight, and manager Joe Girardi praised his effort as “spectacular,” writes Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. Girardi said he pulled Whitley in the fifth due to the fact that his arm isn’t used to such a large workload — Whitley just converted from reliever to starter in 2014 — but the 24-year-old did more than enough to earn himself a second start while CC Sabathia mends. More on the Yankees…
- Carlos Beltran has been placed on the disabled list, and the injury could be very serious. The 37-year-old received a cortisone shot in attempt to alleviate pain stemming from a bone spur in his elbow, but he told reporters (including ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand) that if the shot doesn’t do the trick, he could require surgery that would sideline him for up to eight weeks.
- Though owner Hal Steinbrenner eventually put a limit on the Yankees’ offseason spending, he’s willing to stretch the payroll this summer in order to make trade acquisitions, he told the Post’s Ken Davidoff. “[We’re] always willing to look at options come July. … [W]e’re not going to ever lay down and die. We’re going to do what we need to do to stay in.” Steinbrenner noted that injuries have raised numerous concerns and specifically called the onslaught of pitching injuries a “big concern.” As Davidoff points out, the amount of money they’re able to take on is a big factor, as the team doesn’t have the prospects to outbid many other clubs but could be better equipped to absorb salary when acquiring a player’s contract.
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.”
The Boras Corporation — the powerful agency led by Scott Boras — has lost a grievance action that it brought against recent Yankees signee Carlos Beltran, report Bob Nightengale and Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today. Boras had sought $1.3MM in damages from Beltran for leaving his agency in October of 2011, prior to inking a two-year, $26MM contract with the Cardinals.
The ruling by arbitrator Shyam Das held that Boras could not enforce the following provision in his contract with Beltran:
"You understand and agree that we invest substantial resources, time and effort in preparation for free-agent contract negotiations and salary arbitration hearings. Therefore, you agree that if you terminate our agency authorization during or after a championship season, and before the following championship season you sign a free-agent or arbitration-eligible contract (whether single- or multi-year), you agree to pay us 5% of the entire contract regardless of who negotiates it on your behalf."
This provision had been part of Boras's contracts for fifteen years, with many other player reps utilizing some form of it as well. The agreement of which this clause was a part must be re-executed annually, leading Boras to argue that Beltran had prematurely terminated the agreement. But Das effectively read it out of the contract, deciding that it was not "permissible under governing MLBPA regulations" and holding that Beltran's termination of the agreement foreclosed any obligations to pay Boras a cut of any future earnings.
Of course, the broader importance of the ruling is what it means for player-agent relationships going forward. Without the implicit threat of the provision's enforcement, there is somewhat less disincentive to look for a new agent in the middle of a representation term. Boras warned of dire consequences:
"It basically makes the agent an at-will employee. Is this what you want? You should be responsible for the work you do. We need accountability on both sides. … The understanding of this rule is that it now promotes the vast majority of agents to take any deal they can get. The agents' conduct will be affected. This rule gives owners a lot more power. This is not in the best interest of major-league baseball players."
Meanwhile, for Beltran, the case was also about principle. He said:
"I felt like I had to win because he was basically suing me because I left him and he was trying to collect money without having done anything for me. It's not the money. It's the intention. Scott Boras had to do something that wasn't right. If I haven't done anything for you, haven't negotiated your contract, how could I sue you and try to collect money because you left me and because you hired another agent? That didn't make any sense to me.''
In addition to the broader impact, the ruling seems to have implications for already-framed disputes. Boras has an action pending against Edwin Jackson, who left Boras Corp. before landing his $52MM deal with the Cubs. And Robinson Cano famously bolted for upstart agency Roc Nation in advance of signing a monster $240MM contract, though no action has been initiated in that situation. "I never worried about it,'' said Jackson. "Come on, you can't have it both ways. You can't take away guys from another agency, but when your guys leave, sue them."