Chad Qualls Rumors

West Notes: Tulo, Kemp, Kennedy, Qualls, Appel

Troy Tulowitzki, one day after his name was misspelled on a Rockies’ T-shirt giveaway, was at Yankee Stadium watching New York play Toronto. Tulowitzki flew to Philadelphia yesterday for a second opinion on his left hip flexor strain, which landed him on the disabled list, reports MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. The doctor’s visit (Harding tweets it’s for a dry needling procedure to promote healing) is in of itself routine, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes Tulowitzki being at Yankees Stadium is no accident after the spelling snafu adding the Rockies cannot be happy he is attending another team’s game while on the DL and this sort of thing can lead to an eventual trade (Twitter links). Last Sunday, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post theorized a trade would only be possible if Tulowitzki was willing to wear the label of a disloyal, bad guy. The All-Star shortstop defended his decision to go to the Yankees’ game telling the Denver Post, “I’m with my family. I wanted to see (Derek) Jeter play one more time. 

Here’s the latest out of the game’s western divisions:

  • Though he constitutes a “backup plan” for the club, the Mariners have real interest in Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, tweets Passan. Seattle envisions shifting Kemp to the DH role eventually.
  • The Yankees, meanwhile, are currently “not in” on Kemp, tweets Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. We heard earlier today the club is seeking a bat, including several potential options that profile similarly to Kemp (right-handed, power bats). Of course, those players do not come with Kemp’s $107MM in future commitments.
  • The Padres have announced right-hander Ian Kennedy, a popular name on the MLBTR pages of late, will not make his start tomorrow because of left oblique soreness, but will throw a side session either Tuesday or Wednesday, per the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow reiterated he is not going to trade closer Chad Qualls, tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM. But, Luhnow said the team would consider dealing a starter from its MLB or Triple-A roster.
  • Last year’s number one overall draft pick, Mark Appel of the Astros, has been moved up to Double-A, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The righty struggled mightily at the High-A level, throwing in a notoriously hitter-friendly environment, but had perhaps his best outing on Thursday. “All along the plan has been to get him to Corpus Christi and have him pitch there this summer,” said Luhnow. “And we wanted to build off of some positive momentum to make that happen. We have a lot of pitchers at High-A that are deserving of opportunities higher up. I think there were things that we wanted him to accomplish at Lancaster.”
  • Appel’s promotion, as well as being rewarded with a bullpen session earlier today at Minute Maid Park, has been met with displeasure within the Astros‘ clubhouse. Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle tweets players have approached several reporters to vent and the comments have been laced with expletives (Twitter links).
  • Astros manager Bo Porter addressed the Appel uproar by telling reporters, including Ortiz, “Any time something affects your clubhouse, I think as the manager you have to handle it. I will handle it internally. It’s unfortunate that they have been put in that position.
  • Ortiz opines, via Twitter, Appel’s promotion and bullpen session add fuel to the clubhouse perception the 23-year-old is being babied. Baseball America’s Ben Badler agrees the Astros are sending the wrong message to their players, but their discontent should be over the promotion to Double-A, not the bullpen session (Twitter links).
  • The Pirates are believed to have interest in Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Astros Unlikely To Deal Chad Qualls

Though he could hold appeal as a setup option to a contender, Astros closer Chad Qualls appears unlikely to change hands at the trade deadline,MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports. Qualls, 35, has been lights out this year with a 1.78 ERA and 7.9 K/9 against just 1.0 BB/9.

GM Jeff Luhnow indicated that he has little interest in moving Qualls, who is playing out the first season of a two-year, $6MM deal that includes a $3MM option for 2016. Said Luhnow:

“I hesitate to use the word ‘untouchable,’ but he likes it here, he’s comfortable here, and he’s pitching well. To have a guy who’s capable of pitching late in the game, in close games, we’re going to have opportunity going forward. This is a team that’s improving, and as the team improves, you have more save opportunities, more opportunities to pitch at the end of close games. We need more Chad Qualls. We don’t need less.”

Qualls, likewise, says he hopes to finish out his career in Houston.

While it is always tantalizing to consider the possibility of adding young talent, it should be noted that Qualls’s contract does look fairly reasonable at this point. And neither would he figure to bring back a significant haul. Instead of rolling the dice on another veteran next year, Houston may well be best served by holding onto him for the time being.


West Notes: Aiken, Qualls, Sipp, Kemp, Padres, D’backs

Nick J. Faleris of Baseball Prospectus provides a thorough account of the Brady Aiken failed signing from both his perspective and that of the Astros. Anyone with interest will want to give it a full read; I’m still working through the lengthy (but entirely worthwhile) piece myself.

Here’s the latest from the game’s western divisions:

  • The Astros are unlikely to deal away any of the club’s young starting pitching but are definitely listening on relievers Chad Qualls and Tony Sipp, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. In particular, the Tigers have asked about Qualls, who has served as the Houston closer of late, according to Heyman. Meanwhile, there has not been much discussion of other Astros veterans such as Scott Feldman, Dexter Fowler, and Jason Castro.
  • Though some around the league believe the Dodgers are highly motivated to deal former star Matt Kemp, the Red Sox were not left with that impression after making an inquiry, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. At least three other American League teams have also asked about Kemp’s availability, including the IndiansMariners, and Rangers, but Rosenthal says that none have made trade proposals. Cleveland and Texas both appear unlikely partners, while Seattle could have an outside chance of adding him. Though moving Kemp poses many difficult questions for the Dodgers, Rosenthal says that the veteran is “at odds” with manager Don Mattingly.
  • Taking a look at a Padres club that has already dealt away several veterans, Rosenthal writes that the team should also move outfielder Chris Denorfia. But key pitchers Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit are under control for 2015, and Rosenthal opines that the team’s new GM ought to make the call on them.
  • A new GM is, of course, at or near the Padres‘ priority list, and the club is indeed nearing a conclusion of its search. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that the club will finish up its second round of interviews on Thursday and hopes to have a new GM installed within two to three weeks.
  • The Diamondbacks have exhibited a startling tendency, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic: former pitchers have succeeded elsewhere while newly-acquired arms have struggled. Piecoro lists Brandon McCarthy, Kennedy, Tyler Skaggs, and Trevor Bauer as examples of the former phenomenon, with Trevor Cahill, Randall Delgado, and Addison Reed representing the latter. For his part, GM Kevin Towers says it is not a result of anything the organization is doing differently: “It’s not anything that we’re doing in the minor leagues or development or up here that prevents guys from having success,” he said. “Especially young guys, they usually get better with time and experience in the big leagues. The reason why guys get better [elsewhere] isn’t because we don’t have good instructors here. I believe in our staff and in our farm system and the people we have down there.”


Cafardo On Price, Cardinals, Hamels, Benoit

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if the Red Sox will succumb to fan pressure and re-sign Jon Lester.   Lester turned down a four-year, $70MM offer from the Red Sox in spring training and other clubs will almost certainly offer six- or seven-year deals if he reaches the open market.  Boston, of course, doesn’t want to go that far.  “If that’s your philosophy you can’t make exceptions or it will be viewed as a joke,” said one American League general manager. “If you vary from it, that sends a weak message to the baseball community, agents etc., when it comes with dealing with other players. I think the players themselves need to know where you stand as an organization, and if you keep deviating that sends the wrong message.”  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • The Mariners don’t mind dealing for Rays ace David Price without an agreement in place for a long-term deal, but that’s not the case for everyone. The Cardinals are interested in Price but would want a financial commitment, a major league source tells Cafardo.   Cafardo cautions not to rule out the Giants, who also have had interest in Ben Zobrist.
  • The Phillies have been discouraged by what they’re hearing from other teams on Cole Hamels.  The Phillies consider him their biggest trade chip, but will hold on to him if they don’t get what they consider a fair deal. The Red Sox sent their top pitching scout to watch the hurler before the break and the Phillies have scouted Boston’s major and minor league teams all season. One major league source said if the Phillies get a taker on the full contract and they get three top prospects, he’s gone, and Hamels, according to another major league source, wouldn’t mind.
  • Joaquin Benoit is one of the most sought after relievers on the market but a Padres official tells Cafardo that they won’t just give him away.
  • Chad Qualls has resurrected his career with the Astros and teams are calling on him, according to a major league source.  Houston left-hander Tony Sipp has also drawn interest.
  • A.J. Pierzynski, who cleared waivers Friday, has told agent Steve Hilliard that he would like to continue playing.

Astros Notes: Luhnow, Fowler, Castro, Rule 5

This trade deadline could be a quiet but a fascinating one for the Astros, as the team may still willing to move veteran players but not only for prospects, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes.  “We’re going to do anything that presents itself that will improve our club,” GM Jeff Luhnow said. “We’re not going to focus only on the next two months. We’re also not going to focus only on 2017 and beyond. We’re going to focus on any moves that we think can help in both the short term and the long term. That may be nothing; it may be several things.”

Here’s some more from Drellich’s broad overview of what the Astros could explore over the next two months…

  • Dexter Fowler and Jason Castro would’ve likely been trade candidates in past years given the Astros’ veteran-dealing strategy since Luhnow took over.  Now, however,  the GM says he wants both players to be Astros “for a while.  And they’re still under team control, and there are opportunities to keep them beyond team control.”
  • Fowler told Drellich that he hadn’t had any extension talks to keep him in Houston beyond the end of the 2015 season, when his current contract expires.
  • Castro’s trade value has dropped thanks to a poor season, though Houston is known to have explored dealing the catcher thanks to the team’s recently-leaked trade notes.  Castro is under team control through 2016 and the Astros have catching prospect Max Stassi at Triple-A.
  • Drellich thinks every member of the bullpen “feels moveable.”  Once some injured relievers return, Luhnow said “we would probably have surplus in the bullpen, and bullpen is one of those areas that clubs that feel like they’re in contention for a division or wild card oftentimes need some depth.  Something could happen there, but there’s nothing right now that seems obvious.”
  • Tony Sipp and Chad Qualls both figure to draw interest from other teams, though Drellich isn’t sure the Astros would trade Chad Qualls so soon after he signed a two-year deal with the club last winter.  Dealing a player relatively soon after a multiyear commitment could harm the team’s standing with future free agents.
  • On the minor league front, Houston has so many quality prospects that they can’t protect them all via the Rule 5 draft.  Some prospects may have to be traded if the organization doesn’t truly see them as long-term pieces.

Stark On Yankees, Brown, Astros, Papelbon, Dodgers

ESPN’s Jayson Stark hosted a chat with readers today and touched on a number of hot stove topics with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline roughly a month away. Here are some highlights, though the entire thing is worth a read-through for those interested in next month’s deadline…

  • Stark has received no indications that the Yankees are shopping for a third baseman. He hears that they’re prioritizing the rotation over everything else at this time.
  • Domonic Brown‘s trade value is dropping by the day, says Stark. Scouts have been watching Brown (and the Phillies in general) over the past couple of weeks, and Philadelphia is trying to bill Brown as “a guy who did it once before so he can do it again.” However, Stark has a hard time seeing Brown fetching anything more than another change-of-scenery candidate.
  • Jeff Luhnow and the Astros view most relievers as interchangeable parts, making it likely that they’ll be very willing to move names like Chad Qualls and Tony Sipp next month.
  • Right-hander Ken Giles has impressed so much that Stark expects the Phillies to ratchet up their efforts to trade Jonathan Papelbon, and with Papelbon pitching better than he has in years, this is the perfect time to do it, he opines. Giles has thrown just seven innings for the Phils, but he’s averaged 97.1 mph on his heater with a 12-to-3 K/BB ratio and a ground-ball rate north of 55 percent.
  • The Dodgers have been telling teams that they won’t move Joc Pederson or Corey Seager this summer, according to Stark. If that’s indeed the case, that should take them out of the running for David Price (in my opinion).
  • Stark doesn’t get the sense that the Tigers are shopping for a closer, which meshes with yesterday’s comments from GM Dave Dombrowski. Detroit doesn’t think Joe Nathan is finished yet.

Astros Sign Chad Qualls

The Astros have brought reliever Chad Qualls back to Houston with a two-year deal with a club option for 2016, the team announced in a press release.  The vet gets $6MM over the first two years with a potential $3.5MM for the option season, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

Qualls, 35, was drafted by the Astros in the second round in 2000 and was a quality set-up man for the team from 2005-07.  After the '07 season he was traded to the Diamondbacks in the Jose Valverde trade, and the righty went on to pitch for the Rays, Padres, Phillies, Yankees, Pirates, and Marlins.

Qualls pitched to a 2.61 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 66 outings last season for the Marlins.  The well-traveled veteran hasn't spent two consecutive seasons in the same city since 2008/09, but the multi-year pact might keep him in one place for a little while longer.

The Astros have shown a willingness to take a step forward early on in the offseason, striking a three-year, $30MM deal with Scott Feldman and trading for Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler earlier this week.

For his career, Qualls owns a 3.79 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 across ten big league seasons.  Qualls is represented by Jim Murray of Excel Sports Management, according to the MLBTR Agency Database.


Marlins Links: Morrison, Qualls, Cishek, Hill, Abreu

Yesterday, MLBTR's Matt Swartz detailed why he projects Giancarlo Stanton will earn $4.8MM in arbitration this offseason.  It's a number that could fluctuate, as Swartz notes that Stanton's salary could range between $4-6MM and that he could earn more from a new team if he's traded, as his new club would likely want to avoid "breaking rapport with an ugly negotiation."  Here's some more on the team from South Beach…

  • Logan Morrison is receiving a lot of trade interest, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi report (Twitter links).  Morrison was Miami's most asked-about player at the GM Meetings besides Stanton, and while no deal is close, the Marlins are listening to offers.  Morrison is projected to earn a modest $1.7MM in his first time through the arbitration process and hit .242/.333/.375 in 333 PA last season.
  • The Marlins are interested in re-signing right-hander Chad Qualls, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports.  Qualls posted a 2.61 ERA, 2.58 K/BB, and 7.1 K/9 in 62 relief innings last season, and the veteran reliever "is weighing all of his options" in free agency.
  • Also from Frisaro, closer Steve Cishek is "not available as a trade piece."  The Marlins were adamant about keeping Cishek last summer and it appears their stance has not changed, even though Cishek will get expensive as a Super Two player.  Cishek is projected to earn $3.2MM as a first-time arbitration eligible player this offseason.
  • Michael Hill, the Marlins' president of baseball operations, told The Miami Herald's Clark Spencer that his club would prefer to acquire experienced players who still have three or more years of team control remaining.  That Major League experience is key, Hill said: "We want talent, but we’ve done our prospect deals. We’re trying to get better and acquire players that help us now, and in the future."
  • Hill also seemed to hint that Justin Ruggiano could be a trade chip this offseason.
  • The Marlins weren't very close to signing Jose Dariel Abreu, Spencer reports.  Miami "dropped out of the bidding early" after they "made a legitimate initial offer" for the Cuban slugger.  Abreu eventually signed a six-year, $68MM deal with the White Sox.

Quick Hits: Lee, A’s, Rays, Yankees

In reality, the Red Sox were a "non factor" for Cliff Lee before they landed Jake Peavy, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Will he get moved today to another club?  Baseball people are highly doubtful anyone would meet the supposed Phillies' asking price of three top prospects for a pitcher who has $70MM left on his deal through 2015.  "I don't know of a team in baseball that would [do] that. Taking on that much money and giving up three legit prospects seems like a stretch for anyone," one exec said.  Here's more from around baseball as we approach the 3pm central deadline..

  • The A's are still pursuing bullpen depth, tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN.
  • Teams that have spoken with the Phillies say they're not upbeat about making any deals today, tweets ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.  Michael Young is still in play, but there's no clear destination for the third baseman.
  • The Cardinals are leaning towards standing pat at the deadline unless there is a last minute drastic change, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times writes that the Rays have been looking into at least one more potential deal, presumably to add a bat.  Tampa Bay made a splash earlier this week when they landed Jesse Crain in a swap with the White Sox.
  • The Yankees were mainly working on smaller acquisitions like Alberto Callaspo this week and didn't have any interest in Alex Rios once they landed Alfonso Sorianotweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Callaspo wound up going from the Halos to the A's.
  • The Marlins don't expect to do much today and plan to keep Chad Qualls, Justin Ruggiano, and other trade chips if they can't get good value in return, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • Meanwhile, the Marlins are gauging interest in Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com
  • The Royals' search for a second baseman continues, but they don't appear to be close on anything at the moment, writes Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.  “Anything’s possible,” one club official said. “We looking at a lot of things, but I doubt anything get done unless things change in the last few hours.
  • The Indians got the left-handed reliever they needed yesterday in Marc Rzepczynski and would still be open to a rotation upgrade, but they don't like the price so far, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).  For now, the Tribe is prepared to stand pat.
  • There are a lot of present and veteran Braves who think the club is making a serious mistake by allowing Brian McCann hit the open market at the end of the season, writes Peter Gammons at GammonsDaily.com. "Only the people around the team understand what he means to that pitching staff. He’s a star player in the team concept,” said David Ross of McCann, who also leads the team with a .884 OPS.
  • Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com spoke with Nationals players to get their take on the trade deadline.  Scott Hairston and Adam LaRoche have both been involved in multiple deadline deals.

Marlins Unlikely To Make Major Trades

The Marlins have improved greatly over the course of the season, as evidenced by their 22-17 record since May 31. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes that the team attributes the success to a young core coming together and isn't likely to sell significant pieces to jeopardize that core.

According to Frisaro, Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn are all considered building blocks and are likely to stay put with the Fish. All of that could change if the Marlins are overwhelmed by a team willing to overpay, but even a package for Cishek would have to start with a team's No. 1 prospect, according to Frisaro. As it stands, the 27-year-old closer is not available.

Ryan Webb and Chad Qualls may still be dealt, as could position players Placido Polanco, Greg Dobbs and Justin Ruggiano. That quintet of veterans has less team control than the untouchables listed by Frisaro, and those players likely aren't seen as core members of the team going forward. It's likely that the Marlins' biggest July trade has already occurred in the form of the Ricky Nolasco trade. The Marlins, according to Frisaro, may be more active on the August waiver trade front than before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

While a deal sounds unlikely, the team has still received plenty of hits on Stanton as well as its many bullpen arms. Ruggiano has also drawn some interest from teams like the Rangers and Yankees, although he's another player the team isn't in a rush to trade.