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Carlos Martinez Rumors
If the Cubs keep Kris Bryant at Triple-A to begin the season, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal believes the MLBPA should file a grievance as a matter of principle. It would be a mostly symbolic gesture (“The case law overwhelmingly favors the clubs,” according to one of Rosenthal’s sources) yet it would indicate that the players’ union is serious about addressing this service-time loophole when the new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated next year. It would also be a big-picture show of strength by the union, as some player agents feel that the MLBPA has a bit too lenient on some recent issues.
Here’s more from around the NL Central…
- The Braves initially asked for Carlos Martinez when they began discussing the Jason Heyward trade with the Cardinals, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The Cards refused, just as they’ve steadfastly turned down other trade offers for Martinez in recent years, yet Miklasz wonders why the club is so committed to keeping Martinez but is hesitant to give him a regular rotation job. Miklasz argues that if the Cardinals have any doubts about Martinez, they might be better served by dealing him now while his stock is still high.
- Arquimedes Caminero has been impressed scouts this spring, and the Pirates may be forced to put the out-of-options righty on the roster in order to keep him, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Keeping Caminero in the bullpen could force John Holdzkom to start the year at Triple-A, as while Holdzkom has pitched well himself in camp, he still has minor league options.
- Speaking of the Pirates‘ roster crunch, GM Neal Huntington told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that a move could possibly be made to address the Bucs’ several out-of-options players. “We have some guys who are out of options who may be of interest to other clubs,” Huntington said. “We may make a small trade … or claim somebody on waivers or lose somebody on waivers. We still have some (roster) decisions to make and are always open to improving our talent level.”
- The Reds have told veteran southpaw Paul Maholm that he won’t be earning a rotation job, though Maholm isn’t yet considering opting out of his minor league deal with the club, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. “We still have some time left in camp,” Maholm said. “I’m trying to pitch and get ready for the season. Those are decisions we have to make at the date that’s set up. Until then, I’m just going to pitch.” The Reds would have to pay Maholm $100K to retain his services if he’s not going to make their Major League roster, as per his status as an Article XX(B) player.
Phillies lefty Cole Hamels would prefer to be dealt to a contender, he tells Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “I want to go to a place where I can win again,” said Hamels. Though he made clear he was not demanding a trade, Hamels did indicate that he wants to play for a winning ballclub, saying “I know it’s not going to happen here.”
Hamels, 31, has represented perhaps the biggest unconsummated trade story of the offseason. With all major arms now signed off of the free agent market, and most teams presumably set to enter camp with their rotations intact, he may well be the only achievable prize left for clubs looking to add an impact starter.
According to Nightengale, the Phillies have continued to work hard to find an acceptable deal. The Padres have dangled a package of Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges, but that was not deemed sufficient by the Philadelphia front office. And the Phils have been unsuccessful in prying their key targets from teams like the Red Sox (who won’t include Blake Swihart), Dodgers (who haven’t offered any of the team’s top four prospects), and Cardinals (who have not agreed to move Carlos Martinez).
Hamels says that he will do his best to prepare for the season in the normal course, and gave no indication that he will do anything other than honor his contract, particularly with camp set to open. “Now that I’m here, I plan on being here for the next six weeks,” said Hamels, explaining that he had kept an eye on rumors over the winter. “I think it would be pretty chaotic if that’s not the case. But it’s out of my control.”
The veteran southpaw says that he crafted his no-trade list by identifying the nine teams he would most want to play for and leaving himself unprotected from those clubs. Only the Yankees and Rangers can deal for him without approval among American League teams, though Hamels notes that he would be “all ears” to the possibility of waiving his no-trade protection were the Red Sox to work out an agreement to acquire him. (He did not address the idea, advanced in some earlier reports, that he might seek inducements, such as a guarantee of his fifth-year option, from a team over which he possesses veto power.)
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny conducted their end-of-season meeting with the media today, and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has several highlights from the talk. Here are some of the main items that are relevant to MLBTR readers, but interested parties should check out the full transcript for additional insight into the team…
- The Cardinals view Jon Jay as their starting center fielder heading into the 2015 season after the 29-year-old hit .302/.372/.378 in 140 games. Mozeliak revealed that Jay will have his wrist scoped this week to clear out some damage that has been lingering since July.
- Mozeliak expects Oscar Taveras and Randal Grichuk to compete for the starting right field job next season and echoed recent comments that he expects Taveras to be with the club in 2015. Taveras has received specific instructions to work on his conditioning and speed this winter.
- The entire coaching staff has been asked to return for the 2015 season. Bench coach Mike Aldrete is expected to be pursued by at least one other team, Goold reports, but Mozeliak said to this point no team has gone through the protocol of asking to interview Aldrete.
- The Cards will be on the hunt for power to add to their lineup and possibly a right-handed power bat to add to the bench or pair with Matt Adams at first base. Still, Mozeliak said that he and Matheny see Adams as a potential 600-plate-appearance player.
- St. Louis will shop Randy Choate this offseason, Goold writes, following comments from Mozeliak on the “specialized” nature of Choate’s current role. Said the GM: “I think we both feel that if we can upgrade there or have an additional arm to choose from, that makes sense. We’re certainly not ruling out [Kevin] Siegrist. I think in Choate’s case, for us, he’s fairly one-dimensional. That makes it difficult for us to use him, particularly during a long season.” Choate is owed $3MM next season and held southpaw hitters to a .093/.205/.147 batting line.
- Mozeliak expects to offer contracts to all of the team’s arbitration eligible players, including Peter Bourjos and Daniel Descalso. However, Goold writes that the team could gauge interest in both on the trade market. Bourjos strikes me as a particularly appealing candidate, given his elite glove in center field. I speculated that he’d be a good fit for the Twins as a starer in my recent Offseason Outlook, and he could make sense for a number of teams, in my mind. Goold’s colleague, Joe Strauss, tweets that he got a “strong sense” that at least one outfielder would be moved.
- Both Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales will come to Spring Training as starters, Mozeliak said, but the clearer openings for each are in the bullpen at this time. Elsewhere in the bullpen, Mozeliak noted that the team won’t rule out re-signing Pat Neshek or Jason Motte.
The World Series continues tonight in St. Louis with the Cardinals holding a 2-1 lead over the Red Sox after Game 3's controversial ending. Even though their season is still in progress, many are already anticipating the Cardinals' offseason needs and shortstop sits atop that list. Earlier today, Troy Tulowitzki's name was mentioned as a possible target. Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post writes Tulo would fit perfectly in St. Louis with the Rockies' haul starting with first baseman Matt Adams and some mix of outfielder Stephen Piscotty, second baseman Kolten Wong and reliever Carlos Martinez. Renck, however, doesn't expect such a mega-deal because Rockies owner Dick Monfort has stated Tulowitzki will not be traded. Elsewhere from MLB's Central Divisions:
- The Cubs will interview Torey Lovullo shortly after the conclusion of the World Series, reports the Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer. The Cubs have yet to request permission to speak with the Red Sox's bench coach, sources from both organizations tell Wittenmyer.
- Within the same article, multiple industry sources say Padres bench coach Rick Renteria appears to be the favorite to land the Cubs' job.
- The Tigers face the same challenge the Cardinals did two years ago when Tony LaRussa retired, opines John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press. If Dave Dombrowski follows the blueprint of John Mozeliak, Lowe reasons Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon will likely replace Jim Leyland as manager.
- Earlier today, I posted some Indians notes on Chris Perez, Jake Westbrook, and Corey Hart.
Jake Peavy has cleared his belongings from the White Sox's clubhouse and is prepared to be traded soon, reports ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine. "It is sad to think that this is probably my last day in here," Peavy said this morning. "We all realize the reality of the situation and I am prepared with that to happen soon. If I am not traded I would be happy to know the message here is we think we can win it all next year with you a part of it. I am reflecting on my four years here as we speak and getting a little caught up in the emotion. It is a sad day when you think it could be your last. This is a business and this is what we do. I will always cherish the people here and my time in Chicago." Here are the other rumors involving Peavy today:
- The White Sox have shown no interest in absorbing any of the approximately $24MM owed Peavy and that, along with health concerns, are big issues for the Braves, Orioles, Cardinals, and even the Dodgers, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark.
- Baseball executives still feel it is likely the White Sox will trade Peavy before the deadline, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Insider-only). The Cardinals have more than enough young pitching to get Peavy, but they don't seem inclined to move it, Olney writes. He guesses that Peavy will ultimately wind up with the Athletics.
- The Sox are having difficulty trading Peavy, however, tweets Peter Gammons, whose reporting echoes Stark's. The Sox asked the Athletics for top young players Sonny Gray and Addison Russell, while also asking the A's to pay almost $20MM in salary, Gammons writes. That's surely far more than the A's would be willing to pay.
- The Braves are no longer in the mix for Peavy, tweets FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. In a separate tweet, Rosenthal notes Orioles owner Peter Angelos has historically been a stickler on medical issues and Peavy's long injury history may affect their pursuit.
- The sense is the A's are working the hardest to acquire Peavy while the Braves like him but not enough to offer a significant package, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The current front-runners for Peavy are (in order): A's, Cardinals, Red Sox, and Orioles, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link).
- The White Sox are targeting top prospects, but interested teams figure the price will come down and see the Sox accepting multiple prospects instead, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. Passan, in a separate tweet, reports the asking price for Peavy is higher than for Matt Garza.
- Levine notes, in the aforementioned article, talks with the Braves have heated up since Tim Hudson's season-ending ankle injury, but MLB.com's Mark Bowman writes, while there might be some lingering interest in Peavy, GM Frank Wren appears focused on upgrading the bullpen.
- The Cardinals are continuing their pursuit of Peavy and Alexei Ramirez, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio. Bowden lists Carlos Martinez, Joe Kelly and Kolten Wong as names being mentioned on the Cardinals' end.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
8:04am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the White Sox did not turn down Martinez for Ramirez, though he wouldn't be surprised if the Cardinals are indeed interested in Chicago's shortstop.
12:29am: The White Sox have as many trade chips as any deadline seller in the majors and they're putting a high price tag on their key players. According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, the Sox recently turned down a trade offer from the Cardinals that would have sent shortstop Alexei Ramirez to St. Louis in exchange for right-hander Carlos Martinez, one of the many elite prospects in the Cards' minor league system. Gonzales said the deal was "involving" those two players, so it was likely not a one-for-one swap.
The Cardinals had been relying on Pete Kozma at short ever since Rafael Furcal underwent Tommy John surgery in March, and while Ramirez's production has dropped, he still would've presented a big upgrade. Ramirez entered Tuesday's play hitting .284/.310/.357 in 408 PA but only one homer and 23 RBI. Ramirez averaged 17 homers per year from 2008-11 but has just 10 homers total over 1029 PA in 2012-13. While his power isn't what it used to be, Ramirez has 20 steals (in 26 chances) this year and is one of the game's better defensive shortstops, with an 8.5 UZR/150 this season and a 7.7 UZR/150 for his career.
Ramirez still has value, but he turns 32 in September and is owed roughly $22MM through the end of the 2015 season, plus a $10MM club option for 2016 that can be bought out for $1MM. By that token it's surprising that the White Sox weren't willing to move the veteran for Martinez, a consensus top-40 prospect controlled through the 2019 season, though as noted, there may have been more to this trade than simply Ramirez for Martinez straight-up.
The 21-year-old Martinez was ranked as the third-best prospect in the St. Louis farm system by Baseball America, and he possesses "a biting curveball" and a changeup and could both become plus pitches. His fastball has touched 100 mph but usually clocks in the 94-98 mph range. Martinez made his Major League debut this season and has 11 strikeouts in 10 1/3 relief innings. His 6.10 ERA is largely due to a tough outing last Friday when he allowed three runs in a third of an inning against San Diego.
Also from Gonzales, Jake Peavy and Jesse Crain are drawing a lot of interest and scouts from the Diamondbacks, Reds, Braves, Red Sox and Dodgers are expected to be in Chicago through the end of the week to watch one or both men pitch. Peavy just recently returned from a DL stint while Crain is currently on the DL with a sprained right shoulder but could be activated by Sunday.
Cardinals closer Jason Motte will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on Monday, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louid Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Edward Mujica has filled in admirably as the team's closer in his absence, but the Cardinals will likely be the subject of many relief rumors as the trade deadline draws near. Here's more out of baseball's Central divisions…
- Earlier today, Goold tweeted a link to a story that he wrote nearly two years ago, chronicling the long, difficult process of signing top prospect Carlos Martinez. Martinez, who was promoted to the Majors this morning, had originally been signed by the Red Sox, but that deal fell through due to questions surrounding his documentation. Martinez, whose mother died before his first birthday, was going by the name given to him by his uncle who raised him — Carlos Matias. The Cardinals tirelessly searched for school records and his mother's death certificate to prove his identity, at which point he adopted her last name once again.
- Cubs prospect Juan Carlos Paniagua is in a similar predicament to the one Martinez initially faced, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler. The U.S. Consulate is currently requesting school records and identification documents of Paniagua's siblings before issuing him a work visa.
- The Twins still have two weeks to make a decision on right-hander Tim Wood, tweets Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. Wood is on a rehab assignment but appears healthy at this point. However, he only looks "so-so" according to Miller, and Minnesota's bullpen has been a strength early in the season. Because Wood is on the 40-man roster and out of options, he'd have to be exposed to waivers to be sent to Triple-A at the end of his rehab stint.
- We also learned earlier today that the minor trade which would have sent Mark Teahen from the D-backs to the Reds fell through due to an issue with Teahen's phsyical.
Martinez, 21, was a consensus Top 40 prospect among Baseball America (No. 38), MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo (No. 33) and ESPN's Keith Law (No. 39). The Dominican native has totaled just 83 innings at Double-A and has a 2.82 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 17 starts. In total, he has 277 strikeouts in 259 2/3 minor league innings.
Baseball America, Law and Mayo all praise Martinez's fastball, which sits at 94-98 mph and can be dialed up to 100 when he needs it. Martinez's curveball draws more praise than his changeup, though BA notes that the changeup could develop into a third plus pitch for him. Mayo adds that it's a circle change with nice fade, and he doesn't feel it's that far behind Martinez's sharp 12-to-6 curveball.
Martinez is listed at 6'0" and 185 pounds. In addition to eliciting comparisons to Pedro Martinez (no pressure, Carlos), his size has led many to question whether or not he will be durable enough to handle a starter's workload. Martinez already missed a month with shoulder tendinitis last season but was able to bounce back. In his write-up, Law noted: "If the shoulder issue recurs, he may end up a shutdown reliever with two pitches near the top of the 20-80 scale." Upon learning of Martinez's promotion, Baseball America's J.J. Cooper wondered whether or not Martinez would ever start again, given the Cardinals' bounty of talented starters (Twitter link).
The Cardinals have kept Martinez in the minor leagues long enough to delay his free agency by a season, but his call-up falls well short of the June barrier that would prevent him from becoming a Super Two player. If he sticks on the roster from this point forward, Martinez will pick up 150 days of Major League service time and be under team control through the 2019 season.
The Cubs have signed Cuban prospects Yasiel Balaguert and Carlos Martinez, reports Baseball America's Ben Badler. Both players are represented by Jaime Torres.
Balaguert, 19 in January, is said to have "modest tools" and a "long, uppercut swing from the right side and an aggressive, pull-oriented approach that leaves him susceptible to secondary stuff." Although he's played center, it's likely that he'll be relegated to left field down the line. The Marlins had interest in signing him earlier this offseason.
Martinez, 20, is a right-handed pitcher who has worked mostly out of the bullpen according to Badler. He has a "fastball that parks in the low 90s" and an "average curveball but it often gets slurvy, while his changeup is also a work in progress with occasional fade."
After suffering a three-game sweep in Milwaukee, the Cardinals sit a half-game behind both the Brew Crew in the NL Central and the Braves in the NL wild card race. Some notes from the Gateway City…
- St. Louis has enough payroll space to make a move before the trade deadline, but maybe just enough for one move, writes MLB.com's Matthew Leach as part of a reader mailbag. He doesn't think the Cards would be able to acquire the likes of Jose Reyes, since "they have some prospects to trade, but not a truckload….My read is that they would upgrade another position with that 'one bullet,' such as the bullpen, rather than acquiring a shortstop," Leach says.
- Star prospects Zack Cox, Carlos Martinez (former known as Carlos Matias) and Shelby Miller are "considered untouchable" by the Cards in any trade talks this summer, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss says he's heard a few names within the organization who are somewhat unexpectedly available in the right deal.
- The Cardinals have announced the signings of 27 picks from the 2011 amateur draft (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Twitter). Kansas State outfielder Nick Martini, a seventh-round selection, was the highest-drafted of the signed picks. Colby Rasmus' younger brother Casey, a 36th-round pick, also signed.