Carlos Rodon Rumors
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow was in attendance for North Carolina State pitcher Carlos Rodon's start Friday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. The left-hander is widely considered the top talent in this summer's draft. In his outing, Rodon allowed two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings, walking four but striking out 12. While Luhnow wouldn't discuss Rodon specifically, he commented that the trip "made me miss my scouting days." Here are two more AL West notes:
- A source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo that the Mariners feel "no urgency" to trade infielder Nick Franklin, who appears to be without a position following the Robinson Cano signing. There's healthy interest in Franklin after the 23-year-old flashed promise in his 2013 Major League debut, but a trade "doesn't seem like a given at this point," Cotillo writes.
- Joe Blanton could change minds in the Angels organization with another strong start, Bill Shaikin writes for the Los Angeles Times. The team previously "did not even pretend" that Blanton was in competition for a rotation job, and he struggled in his early spring outings. The Angels' limited pitching depth will likely be a factor in their ultimate decision on Blanton.
- Alternately, If the right-hander continues to show improvement and the Angels begin receiving calls on him, they would probably eat most of his salary in a trade, Shaikin says.
Byron Buxton holds the top position in Baseball America's 2014 ranking of the top 100 prospects in the sport. It's no surprise that Buxton was ranked #1 given that the Twins outfielder was similarly ranked in BA's midseason top 100 last summer. Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (who qualifies for the list despite his long career in Japan) and Cubs shortstop Javier Baez round out the top five.
Here's some more from around baseball....
- Baseball America's John Manuel picks out some of the best and worst rankings from the past 24 years of BA's Top 100 Prospects lists.
- The Braves signed long-term extensions with several core players but only extended Jason Heyward through his two remaining arbitration years. While some believe that this means Heyward's time in Atlanta is limited, MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby writes that "the expectation is that after next season, the Heyward deal can be expanded so that he, too, will be locked up at least through the first year in the new ballpark." Such a deal would require extending Heyward through at least his first two free agent years, which could get very expensive for the Braves if Heyward finally breaks out into stardom, as many have predicted for the young outfielder.
- Padres chairman Ron Fowler told reporters (including Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune) that the club is prepared to raise payroll even further beyond the current $87MM+ projection for 2014.
- In regards to negotiations with Chase Headley on a multiyear deal, Fowler said, “There has been dialogue and we will continue to have dialogue at the appropriate time through the appropriate sources.” Headley recently hinted that not much progress was being made and that talks could be tabled until after the season.
- According to a talent evaluator who has seen Joe Saunders throw, the veteran southpaw could be the "steal of February," the evaluator tells FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). Saunders posted a rough 5.26 ERA over 183 innings for the Mariners last season. "No one saying he’s a star, but he’s a major-league pitcher," Rosenthal writes.
- The Nationals' acquisition of Doug Fister from the Tigers is the best transaction of the 2014 offseason, as judged by Fangraphs' Dave Cameron. The Fister trade headlines Cameron's list of the winter's top 10 moves.
- Though Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts denied that his club's profits were going anywhere but back into the team, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders why the Cubs' revenues haven't been reflected in the Major League payroll.
- NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon stands alone in his own tier atop ESPN's Keith Law's four-tier breakdown of the 2014 draft's top prospects (Insider subscription required).
As the World Series shifts to St. Louis this weekend, here's the latest from around baseball...
- The Indians "would love" having Ubaldo Jimenez back on a one-year, $14.1MM qualifying offer contract (with an option for 2015) but not on an expensive long-term deal, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says on a podcast with Chris Fedor. Tim Lincecum's two-year, $35MM contract from the Giants has put the cost of pitching out of Cleveland's range for Jimenez, who the Tribe feel has been too inconsistent to merit a multiyear commitment.
- "There is so much money in the game, free agency is crazy," an anonymous GM tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link). The GM also believes Lincecum's deal will end any chance of Jimenez returning to Cleveland and that Jacoby Ellsbury will earn a contract worth more than $100MM in free agency this winter.
- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes, meanwhile, thinks Ellsbury's eventual contract could approach the $150MM threshold (Twitter link).
- There is at least one mystery candidate on the Cubs' short list of potential managers, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Rick Renteria, Torey Lovullo, A.J. Hinch, Manny Acta and Dave Martinez have already been connected to the job and Eric Wedge is the latest candidate to be scheduled for an interview. As to the identity of the unknown candidate, Wittenmyer says it isn't Sandy Alomar, Mike Maddux, Jose Oquendo, Don Mattingly, Jim Leyland or any of the Cubs' current coaching staff.
- NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon headlines the list of the top 30 prospects of the 2014 amateur draft, according to ESPN's Keith Law and Christopher Crawford (Insider subscription required). Rodon is considered the favorite to be the first overall selection in June and the Astros are already looking at him.
It's time for a managerial change in Arlington, opines ESPN's David Schoenfield, who breaks down Rangers manager Ron Washington's questionable bullpen management over the past week. Schoenfield concedes that the Rangers have had poor luck this season, including injuries to Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis' failure to return. However, he ultimately concludes: "...a team with flaws can't win if its manager is making decisions that hurt its chances of winning. The Rangers have seven games remaining. I suspect they'll be the final seven games Washington manages for the Rangers."
Here's more out of baseball's Western divisions...
- Lance Berkman hasn't decided if he will retire after the season or try to play again in 2014, he told Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. Whatever Puma decides, no announcement will come until after the season.
- The Astros have secured the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft, and unsurprisingly they're already looking at NC State lefty Carlos Rodon, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. Rodon has long been assumed to be the No. 1 pick in next year's draft. Houston has selected Stanford right-hander Mark Appel and Puerto Rican prep shortstop Carlos Correa with the previous two No. 1 selections. McTaggart spoke with scouting director Mike Elias about the team's approach to the draft.
- The emergence of Chris Owings leaves the Diamondbacks with uncertainty at shortstop, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. GM Kevin Towers would like to get playing time for both Owings and Didi Gregorius but knows that a time-share will hinder both players' development. As Piecoro points out, Arizona also has Cliff Pennington under contract for next season. Willie Bloomquist, a free agent, isn't likely to return to the Snakes, he adds.