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Chad Billingsley Rumors
The Diamondbacks will be in the hunt for Kenta Maeda if the Japanese righty is made available this winter, GM Dave Stewart told reporters (including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert). “I love Maeda,” Stewart said. “I love him. We have a lot of video and film and we have people who have seen him. We think that he’s got a chance to be very successful in Major League Baseball. We’re going to try to be in on the market when he does post, if he does post.” Here’s some more notes from Stewart and other Snakes-related items…
- Stewart confirmed the team’s interest in Chad Billingsley, saying the right-hander is “definitely a possibility for us.” Billingsley has been sidelined for almost two full seasons due to Tommy John surgery and a torn flexor tendon. Stewart represented Billingsley back when the GM was a player agent.
- “I don’t know how big we’re going to play” for Yasmany Tomas, Stewart said, given the Cuban outfielder’s escalating price tag. The D’Backs do like Tomas’ potential and they “definitely have to consider being a part of that.”
- The Diamondbacks want to acquire a starting pitcher, though Stewart won’t pay too much of a prospect cost to do so. “I’m not trying to put us in a backward position, especially in our Minor League system,” the GM said.
- Stewart again stressed that he hasn’t “shopped any of our players,” including catcher Miguel Montero, though “all of our players have been asked about. That’s the best way I can put it.” Montero has been rumored to be available as Arizona looks to free up some payroll space. Stewart said he hasn’t spoken to Montero about the trade rumors since “I don’t see any point in raising concerns when there are none.”
- Montero’s market is examined by Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, who feels that while Montero could be draw attention from teams who fail to sign Russell Martin, the Arizona catcher’s recent poor hitting and hefty contract could be deterrents. “If [the D'Backs] won’t chew down any dollars, I’d say the return won’t be as good as most think. It also depends on how motivated the acquiring club is,” a rival executive told Piecoro.
- Stewart is keeping an open mind about whether to use Daniel Hudson as a starter or a reliever as the right-hander continues his recovery from his second Tommy John surgery, Piecoro reports. “We had a discussion about that, and we’re not really sure. We’d like to best utilize him in a way that we can get the most out of him,” Stewart said. “We’re going to have to have more discussions with our training staff, and I’d like to ask some people externally about what they think of his condition and how we can best utilize him without hurting him.”
Not only does new D’Backs GM Dave Stewart have Kevin Towers’ previous job, but the executive tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he’s actually living in Towers’ old house (Twitter link). That anecdote has little to do with the Diamondbacks’ future, however, so here are some more pertinent links…
- The Diamondbacks will definitely tender Cliff Pennington a contract, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (Twitter link). Stewart considers Pennington to be a valuable piece and won’t let him go to save salary. Pennington projects to earn $3.3MM in 2015 and is coming off a .254/.340/.350 batting line with his typically solid defense.
- The Diamondbacks remain interested in Chad Billingsley, Magruder tweets. Billingsley didn’t pitch in 2014 due to a torn flexor tendon that he suffered while rehabbing from 2013 Tommy John surgery. The interest is hardly surprising, as Billingsley is a former client of Stewart’s from his agency days. Billingsley has since signed on with Octagon’s Steve Hilliard, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted last week.
- Stewart went on-record with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News to say that if the D’Backs are to move either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings, it would be to acquire controllable, young pitching (All Twitter links). The Diamondbacks don’t have any interest in names like Jon Niese, Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon, Stewart stated.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts told Mully and Hanley of 670 The Score (via Levine) that he is interested in having extension talks with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. The 40-year-old executive joined the Cubs just over three years ago on a five-year deal. Here’s more from around the big leagues.
- The Royals are not ruling out the possibility of bringing back DH Billy Butler, reports Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star. While Kansas City obviously did not value him at his $12.5MM option, and had hoped to give some DH time to Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez, Mellinger says that Butler’s play down the stretch and in the postseason has changed the club’s thinking. Of course, his .770 OPS over the season’s last 62 games was hardly world-beating production for a bat-only player, but it did hint that his previous excellence at the plate may still be found. Mellinger theorizes that Kansas City could be willing to guarantee Butler eight figures on a two-year deal, though the lifetime Royal would probably need to forego better offers to stay — which he did say was a possibility earlier in the year.
- Free agent righty Chad Billingsley has changed his representation to Octagon’s Steve Hilliard, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). He had been a client of Dave Stewart, who of course has given up the business as part of his new career move. Billingsley, still only 30, has missed virtually all of the past two seasons with multiple elbow surgeries. In spite of his health struggles, Billingsley should draw plenty of interest as a buy-low candidate.
The Dodgers have declined their option on starting pitcher Chad Billingsley, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Given the cost of the option ($14MM minus a $3MM buyout) and Billingsley’s struggles to stay healthy, the move comes as no surprise. Billingsley was once among baseball’s more promising young arms, but he’s pitched only 12 big league innings since September 2012 after a series of elbow injuries and setbacks. He had Tommy John surgery in April 2013, then another elbow surgery in June of this year.
For his career, Billingsley has a 3.65 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in parts of eight seasons in the Majors, but he’s now very far removed from his last productive stretch. The Dodgers took Billingsley in the first round in 2003, and he’s spent his entire career with Los Angeles, but now, at age 30, he’s a free agent.
Here’s the latest out of the National League …
- The Reds are interested in Cuban free agent pitcher Raisel Iglesias, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America (via Twitter). A team official told Badler that a deal was not in place at this time, however. Badler recently reported that the righty was granted an extended signing window by MLB, and will be free to sign through July 1 without being subject to international spending limitations.
- Brewers righty Brad Mills has an opt-out provision in his minor league deal that was triggered on Sunday, but can only be exercised if he has an offer from a team that would put him on its 25-man roster, reports Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mills, 29, has impressed at Triple-A, with a 1.56 ERA and 9.2 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 through 75 innings (including 12 starts). As Rosiak notes, however, Milwaukee seems relatively uninterested in using him at the big league level at present.
- If the Pirates decide to open extension talks with catcher Russell Martin, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review estimates that it could take a three-year, $39MM offer to make a deal. Martin, who signed a two-year, $17MM pact to come to Pittsburgh, has posted a strong .275/.409/.400 line this year, which is the best pace he’s carried since his excellent 2006-08 seasons with the Dodgers. In the intervening five years, Martin has averaged a .234/.332/.370 triple-slash, though he has consistently earned stellar defensive ratings. After Martin, pickings are fairly slim on next year’s free agent market for backstops, with players like Kurt Suzuki, A.J. Pierzynski, Geovany Soto, and Nick Hundley leading the way.
- The Mets have no intention of releasing struggling outfielder Chris Young, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. Young has posted a meager .196/.283/.313 line in 185 plate appearances since joining the club on a one-year, $7.25MM pact. While the team would like to be able to deal him, presumably eating some salary to make that happen, a team official tells Rubin that New York does not expect to find much of a market for his services.
- As expected, Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley will undergo season-ending surgery on his right elbow, reports Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. It seems all but certain that the club will opt to pay Billingsley a $3MM buyout rather than picking up his $14MM option for 2015. The veteran hurler tells Saxon that the rehab is expected to be “about six months,” and that surgery offered him the “best chance to pitch next year.”
Here’s the latest out of the National League …
- The Diamondbacks are close to reaching agreement with first-round pick Touki Toussaint, reports MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. “Touki I think is very close right now,” said GM Kevin Towers. “… Pretty optimistic we’ll get something done here shortly.” Toussaint, who was taken 16th overall (with a $2,338,200 slot bonus), was rated between the eighth (MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo) and thirteenth (ESPN.com’s Keith Law) best player available, with Law saying he could have the most upside of any of the draft-eligible high school righties.
- Even if the Phillies decide to sell, it may prove difficult, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In particular, many of the team’s veteran players have not only no-trade protection but also vesting options (some of which appear more achievable than others) at the back ends of their already-sizeable contracts. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated, however, that those contracts should not be a major hindrance if the team shops its best players. “[W]e have taken money back on deals before and will do it again if we have to,” says Amaro.
- The Pirates rotation is looking increasingly thin, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Injuries have accumulated on top of an already poor start to the year, and unlike last year the club lacks obvious internal replacements to step in and provide a boost. Though some attractive arms figure to be made available at the trade deadline, Biertempfel indicates that Pittsburgh seems unlikely to pay the price (in dollars and in prospects) to add an impact starter.
- Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley says he is exceedingly unlikely to throw again this year, as Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports. Billingsley has been diagnosed with a partially torn flexor tendon. “If I do the rehab I would have a chance,” he said, “but the risk would be … tendon fails, that’s a six-month rehab after surgery. Doing three years’ rehab would be a grind.” As that quote indicates, it has already been a long road for Billingsley and his troubled right arm. He is in the last year of a three-year, $35MM pact that includes a $14MM club option for 2015. It seems highly likely at this point, of course, that Los Angeles will instead pay a $3MM buyout and let Billingsley hit the open market.
- The Cardinals are currently hesitant to go shopping for a starter, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). St. Louis still has internal options for the rotation (such as Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez) and probably will not meet the asking price for top-end arms. One team that could be in the market for rotation help is the Marlins, Rosenthal adds.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says that the club is not looking to deal Denard Span or Adam LaRoche to allow Ryan Zimmerman to stay in left field when Bryce Harper returns, Rosenthal reports. Span remains an interesting name to watch, however, as Rosenthal notes. The outstanding defensive center fielder has failed to reach base reliably from the top of the lineup, but is under control through next season with a fairly reasonable $9MM team option.
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez had a tumor removed from his left index finger Tuesday, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Head athletic trainer Keith Dugger tells Groke that a biopsy will be performed on what they’re hoping is a benign tumor, adding that such a finding isn’t necessarily uncommon. MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes that Gonzalez could miss as much as five weeks after having what Dugger described as a “fatty mass with tentacles” removed. Here’s more on the Rox and their division…
- The Rockies have had injury problems of late, with Michael Cuddyer, Jordan Lyles, Eddie Butler, Boone Logan, Nolan Arenado, Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson all on the DL (in addition to Gonzalez), but they’re not done with bad news on that front. Groke’s colleague Patrick Saunders reported this morning that top pitching prospect Daniel Winkler is heading for Tommy John surgery. The 24-year-old Winkler — a former 20th-round gem in the draft — had posted a 1.41 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 70 innings at Double-A Tulsa this season.
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick spoke with Padres closer Huston Street about the possibility of being traded this summer — a concept that is far from foreign to Street. “I’ll give the same answer I have year after year,” Street told Crasnick. “I have no control over it. I don’t have a no-trade clause, so there’s nothing for me to consider.” Street added that he likes the group in San Diego and doesn’t want to be traded, believing they can win there. Crasnick notes that his $7MM salary and $7MM club option are affordable enough that teams will have interest, but not so steep that the Friars feel they have to move him.
- Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley had another setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and is expected to be reevaluated by the team doctor, reports Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Billingsley recently hit 93 mph in a rehab outing, but he felt weakness in his surgically repaired elbow following a 31-pitch bullpen session yesterday.
Yet another name can be added to the long list of Tommy John victims this season, as Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times tweets that Dodgers right-hander Chris Withrow has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, and Tommy John is, unsurprisingly, the recommended treatment. The 25-year-old Withrow had a 2.95 ERA in 21 1/3 innings for the Dodgers this season, averaging 11.8 K/9 but also an unsightly 7.6 BB/9. His loss only further depletes a Dodger bullpen that entered Thursday with just the 22nd-ranked bullpen ERA in the Majors at 4.03. More from the NL West…
- MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom looks at what a stabilizing force manager Bud Black has been on the Padres since assuming the role in 2007. Bloom asked Black if his team being in a constant state of rebuilding or recovering from overwhelming injuries is taxing, to which Black replied: “It makes it tough in the short term. You hope you have some players who do find their way and become successful Major Leaguers. I mean, all of us want to win whether you’re in New York, L.A., Detroit or Texas.” As Bloom notes, Black has been a constant through three ownership groups, three GMs and multiple club presidents.
- Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley is on the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery and took a positive step in his recovery by throwing a 30-pitch simulated game today, writes MLB.com’s Earl Bloom. Manager Don Mattingly said Billingsley could either have one more simulated game or head right to a minor league rehab assignment, depending on how his arm reacts to today’s work. Billingsley’s rehab is worth keeping an eye on, as he has a $14MM club option ($3MM buyout) and could be an interesting free agent if that option isn’t exercised.
- It’s been a long road to the Majors for Dodgers outfielder Jamie Romak, writes Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. Romak, who is in his 12th minor league season since being drafted in the eighth round by the Braves back in 2003, was called up to replace Carl Crawford on the active roster when Crawford hit the DL. He called the promotion a “dream come true.”
- Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post wrote earlier in the week that the Rockies need to take action by promoting some of their highly touted Double-A Tulsa right-handers. Saunders wrote that the “Tulsa Trio” — Eddie Butler, Jon Gray and Daniel Winkler — are all near-MLB-ready and should be leveraged to give the Rox a shot at their first NL West title. He opines that the offense is good enough to win the division if the team can improve its 4.09 rotation ERA. Manager Walt Weiss told Saunders that when it comes to Butler “the development is behind him,” and he doesn’t have much to prove in the minor leagues.
Baseball America's Matt Eddy's latest piece is a fascinating look back at the history of platoon usage in Major League Baseball and the increasing role of specialized relievers in Major League bullpens. Last season, more pure left-handed relievers (i.e. lefties who made zero starts) appeared in a season than any year in Major League history. Eddy's piece is rife with tables and charts to provide the breakdown on the numbers behind left-on-left matchups as opposed to right-on-right matchups (not surprisingly, the former leans more heavily in the pitcher's favor) and is well worth the read. Here are some more links from around the league for some late-night Thursday reading…
- The Cardinals optioned top prospect Oscar Taveras to Triple-A today, putting an early end to a Spring Training that didn't allow him to fully showcase his talents, writes MLB.com's Jen Langosch. Taveras received just six plate appearances in a pair of games after sitting out the first week due to what Langosch calls "hesitancy to fully trust his surgically repaired right ankle." He also left his second and final Spring Training game with a minor hamstring injury.
- Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley is well ahead of schedule in his rehab from Tommy John surgery and could be ready to pitch in the Majors as soon as late April, reports ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon. Billingsley will face live hitters next week and begin a minor league rehab assignment on April 3. Billingsley's return further crowds the competition for the team's fifth starter. Josh Beckett or Paul Maholm figures to occupy that role to open the season.
- Right-hander Todd Coffey has drawn interest from as many as nine to 10 teams and expects to sign right around Opening Day, according to MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). Coffey is currently throwing 91 to 92 mph in bullpen sessions, he adds. Coffey last pitched in the Majors for the Dodgers in 2012.
- Cotillo also tweets that free agent catcher Kelly Shoppach is looking to play in 2014 "if the right situation/opportunity presents itself." The 33-year-old isn't close to a deal at this time. He slashed just .199/.288/.339 in 127 PAs between the Mariners and Indians last season.
- Lastly, Cotillo tweets that former AL Rookie of the Year Angel Berroa, now 34, is seeking a minor league deal to return to affiliated baseball. Berroa spent 2012 playing independent ball and was in the Mexican League last season, where he slashed .293/.362/.462 in 460 trips to the plate.
MLBPA chief Tony Clark addressed today the situation of Ben Wetzler, the Phillies' draft choice who was recently suspended by the NCAA for having an agent present while he negotiated with the club, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. "What we're doing in the short-term is trying to make sure we understand exactly what happened and what led to what happened with that young man in college," said Clark. "Rest assured it's a concern, it's something that we're paying attention to, but outside what's been bantered about through the media, we don't know much else at this point." For their part, the Phillies have yet to offer any comment other than acknowledging that they "did participate in the NCAA investigation." One agent tells Nicholson-Smith that, if the team did report Wetzler's use of an agent, "it was extremely short-sighted and impulsive on the part of the team."
Here are a few more links to round out the evening:
- The Rockies have recently made contact with free agent starter Ervin Santana, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. The team's interest may be dependent upon the status of Jhoulys Chacin, whose shoulder issues are still being assessed. A Rockies official denied interest in Santana, however, reports MLB.com's Thomas Harding.
- Though the Dodgers needed a roster spot to make room for new signee Erisbel Arruebarrena, the club elected to designate Justin Sellers for assignment rather than putting Chad Billingsley on the 60-day DL, writes Chris Gabel for MLB.com. That constitutes something of a vote of confidence in Billingsley's ability to return from Tommy John rehab in a relatively short time frame. The 29-year-old is entering the final year of a three-year, $35MM pact, with the club holding a $14MM option ($3MM buyout) on his 2015 season.
- While Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada has reportedly shed some pounds, the club is nevertheless reportedly less than happy with his athletic form, reports Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. If that translates to an underwhelming start to camp, Kernan implies, there could be increasing impetus to sign Stephen Drew. "I would not be surprised if we signed Drew," an official said, "but at the same time, I don't expect it to happen."
- Across town, the Yankees are keeping tabs on reliever Joel Hanrahan after inking another rehabbing former closer in Andrew Bailey, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. As Martino explains, interest in arms like Bailey and Hanrahan shows that the club has some concern with its pen depth.
- The Twins are a very unlikely landing spot for Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Diaz is looking to land a deal like the five-year, $25MM contract given Arruebarrena, says Wolfson, but Minnesota does not believe he is as good as his countrymate.