Chase Headley Rumors

Quick Hits: Headley, Braves, Uehara, Peavy

The results of today’s Giants-Reds and Dodgers-Cardinals games look like the crest of a sea change that has reshaped the NL playoff race. Homer Bailey took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against the Giants, and the Reds emerged with a 4-0 win. Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw struck out 13 Cardinals in seven innings as the Dodgers cruised to a 6-0 victory. The Dodgers, 9 1/2 games out of first in the NL West three weeks ago, are now even with the Giants, and the Reds are now tied with St. Louis for second place in the Central. With two teams near the top in the NL East as well, and a wide-open Wild Card picture, there could be plenty of competition for veteran talent at the trade deadline. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Third baseman Chase Headley says he doesn’t feel the Padres are the reason he’s inconsistent, and doesn’t think a change of scenery will help him, Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. “Even when things are going full-on crappy, like now, I’m confident that sometime in the near future, I’m going to get healthy, stay healthy and start playing the way I know I’m capable of,” says Headley. “I don’t look at it like, ‘Man, I gotta get out of here to be me again.’ I’m going to be me again, whether it’s here or somewhere else.” Headley is currently hitting .207/.294/.332 while dealing with a herniated disk in his back, but his banner 2012 season likely ensures there will be plenty of interest in him, both at the trade deadline and when he becomes a free agent this offseason.
  • The Braves‘ constant stream of young talent helps keep them consistently competitive and prevents them from having to rebuild, Marc Narducci of Philly.com writes.  “What they have done in our organization is pretty special,” says Freddie Freeman. “They have great development people and it seems like when a guy is ready, they don’t let him sit there and they give him at-bats – and that is what they did with me.” Narducci contrasts the Braves’ approach with that of the Phillies, who seem to keep older players longer and often lack interesting young players to plug into their lineup when playing time finally becomes available.
  • The Red Sox should consider trading Koji Uehara, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. Tomase points to the Rangers’ 2003 trade of Ugueth Urbina to the Marlins for Adrian Gonzalez and two other players as evidence of the good things that can happen when a team deals an experienced closer. As Tomase himself notes, of course, it’s very rare to receive a player of Gonzalez’s caliber in return for a reliever. And of course, first the Red Sox need to figure out if they’re buyers or sellers. “Here’s how I view it from the outside. The first thing you have to do is cross that bridge and say, ‘Is it even worth it for us to go out and try to fill two or three holes?‘” says John Hart, the former Rangers GM who pulled off the Gonzalez deal.
  • Sox starter Jake Peavy will be a free agent this winter, and the emergence of Rubby De La Rosa has led to speculation about the possibility Peavy could be traded. But Peavy says he’s not concerned about trade rumors, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier writes. “I have a great relationship with my pitching coach (Juan Nieves), my manager (John Farrell) and my general manager (Ben Cherington). We’re all very open with each other. I don’t need any clarity on any situation involving anything,” says Peavy. “If you start worrying about stuff like that, your focus is off where it needs to be and it’s going to affect things.”

Blue Jays Interested In Chase Headley

Reports have noted that the Blue Jays are looking for upgrades at second base or third base for the past few days, and Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that multiple baseball sources have confirmed that Chase Headley is among Toronto’s targets. San Diego appears willing to move the struggling third baseman, as one source tells Sanders that the Friars are “open for business” on talks involving anyone except ace Andrew Cashner.

Headley’s trade value is a bit tough to determine for a number of reasons. He’s earning $10.25MM this season in his final year before free agency, but he hasn’t played up to his standards, having produced just a .199/.286/.328 line with six homers and a pair of steals. Beyond his somewhat high salary is the fact that he underwent an epidural injection in an attempt to alleviate pain in his back caused by a herniated disc. He missed four games following the epidural and is back on the field, but as Sanders notes, interested parties seem likely to wait a bit to see how Headley responds to the treatment.

Lastly, the Padres may simply not wish to sell low on Headley, who in 2012 was a legitimate MVP candidate but has been bothered by injuries since. Headley rode a monstrous second-half surge that season to a fifth-place finish in the MVP voting, batting .308/.386/.592 after the All-Star break. Knowing that his diminished performance will lead to a lesser return in terms of prospects, San Diego may prefer to hope that Headley finishes with a strong performance. That could lead the Padres to make a qualifying offer and receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere, though that scenario is my own speculation and not something included in Sanders’ report.

The Blue Jays have relied heavily on Brett Lawrie and Juan Francisco at the hot corner this season. Francisco has seen a good deal of playing time against right-handed pitching, with Lawrie shifting to second base on those days. When the Jays face a lefty starter, Lawrie has shifted back to third with one of Steven Tolleson or Munenori Kawasaki handling second base. However, Lawrie is currently on the DL and Francisco’s bat has cooled, even against right-handed pitching. Francisco is hitting just .164/.215/.377 in the month of June, and that slide, coupled with his poor defense at third, have likely played into Toronto’s motivation to search for upgrades.


Padres Notes: Headley, GM Search

Here’s the latest out of San Diego:

  • Third baseman Chase Headley will be coping with a herniated disc for the rest of the season, reports Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune (via Twitter). Sanders says it will take six to eight weeks to know whether the issue will resolve itself. It remains to be seen what impact the news will have on efforts to trade Headley, if he is shopped. In my view, to bring back anything close to the value he once seemed to hold, the veteran will need to turn around his lagging play and show that his back is not a problem. (An earlier version of this bullet incorrectly suggested that Sanders had reported that surgery was a possibility.)
  • San Diego is moving ahead with interviews for its newly-created GM opening, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports in a series of tweets (123; 4). Among the candidates are current Padres front office members A.J. Hinch and Omar Minaya, as well as former Marlins president Larry Beinfest. The Friars have asked permission to interview candidates from other clubs, including Billy Eppler (Yankees), Mike Hazen (Red Sox), Thad Levine (Rangers), Jason McLeod (Cubs), David Forst (Athletics), and Michael Girsch (Cardinals). It is highly unlikely, says Rosenthal, that the club will have a new GM installed before the trade deadline, though it is possible that the new top baseball decisionmaker will have been chosen at that point.
  • Club president Mike Dee created the list of candidates by “talking to people the last two months to identify the bright general managers, assistant general managers and directors of player personnel and others,” club executive chairman Ron Fowler tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock. The club has already received permission to meet with at least two of the candidates noted above, says Brock, and could consider other candidates like John Coppolella of the Braves and Damon Oppenheimer of the Yankees.
  • Longtime executive Andy MacPhail is hoping to make a return to the game, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, and would have interest in the Padres GM role.


Cafardo’s Latest: Morales, D’Backs, Kemp

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has lots of hot stove information to share in his latest Sunday Notes column

  • Kendrys Morales has already become a positive clubhouse figure in his short time with the Twins and Cafardo wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota try to extend the slugger.  It’s also possible the Twins could deal Morales before the deadline and then re-sign him as a free agent this winter.
  • The Diamondbacks seem willing to listen about trade offers for any player except Paul Goldschmidt, Cafardo notes.  Martin Prado could be an attractive trade chip, though possible trade candidates like Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo might not have enough time before the deadline to show that they’re healthy.  “We’re meeting on it.  Figures we are sellers, not buyers,” D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said.
  • The Red Sox “spent significant time watching Matt Kemp last week,” though Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo that Kemp isn’t being traded.  Kemp’s recent hot streak has “reinforced” his value to Colletti given the dearth of right-handed power options around the game.
  • The Nationals could make Danny Espinosa available to second base-needy teams like the Giants or Blue Jays once Bryce Harper returns from the DL.  With Harper back in the outfield, Washington would use Ryan Zimmerman at third and Anthony Rendon at second, leaving Espinosa without a regular job.  Given Zimmerman’s shoulder problems and questionable future as a third baseman, however, I’d tend to think that the Nats would keep Espinosa as a valuable depth piece.
  • Phillies outfielders Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere appear to be available, as Cafardo adds them to the long list of notable Philadelphia players who could be trade targets before the deadline.
  • Red Sox catching prospect Christian Vazquez would be the top ask for any team looking to make a major trade with Boston.  “That would be across the board, even for a major hitter. He’s major league-ready right now offensively and defensively,” a scout tells Cafardo.  “We also think he’ll hit for some power in the majors. Because they have Blake Swihart, who a lot of teams will ask for as well, they probably would reluctantly give up Vazquez.”  This same scout, however, says that between the two young catchers, he would keep Swihart.
  • While Nate Schierholtz has only hit .207/.261/.313 in 249 PA this season, the Cubs will likely still trade the outfielder.  Schierholtz is only signed through the end of the season and he is owed approximately $2.78MM in remaining salary.
  • The Padres “would like to conduct a fire sale” and Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Seth Smith could all be available.  Cafardo notes that Smith would be a good fit in the Red Sox outfield.
  • Several teams are interested in Grady Sizemore, who one scout feels will perform better now that he has had time to get re-accustomed to playing.  “Whoever gets him next will probably get a better player than what Boston had. He needed more time, and with that problem offensively up there they [the Red Sox] couldn’t wait,” the scout said.
  • The Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Phillies and Rangers have been the teams who have been most aggressively scouting the major and minor league rosters of other clubs, Cafardo reports.

Padres GM Josh Byrnes Could Be On Hot Seat

GM Josh Byrnes’ relationship with the Padres’ ownership has “deteriorated,FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes, and one scenario is that the team could fire Byrnes and replace him with fellow Padres exec A.J. Hinch on an interim basis. Tony Gwynn’s recent passing could prevent the Padres from making such a move immediately, but Rosenthal suggests that they’ll need to make a decision soon, with the trade deadline on the horizon. Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin (who could waive his no-trade clause), Ian Kennedy and Huston Street could all wind up on the trade market, and the team could also get plenty of talent if it traded Andrew Cashner.

Reports last week indicated that there could soon be a shakeup within the Padres organization, with hitting coach Phil Plantier and manager Bud Black possibly among the most vulnerable, though Rosenthal reports that it’s Byrnes whose situation is most uncertain. At 32-42, the Padres are in the midst of what could be their fourth straight losing season, despite a payroll increase last winter.


Padres Notes: Gyorko, Headley, Cashner

Here are a few notes on the Padres, who opened the day a full three games back of the division-leading Dodgers and Giants in the National League West:

  • The Pads have been one of the few MLB teams to have been burned by early-career extensions in recent years, notes Dave Cameron in a piece for FOX Sports. One issue — putting aside the injury and performance issues that have cropped up — is that San Diego has made several of its bets on players whose expected future market value (through arbitration and free agency) was simply not that high. That, in turn, limited the amount of upside (in terms of cost savings) that the team could realize through those contracts. The team's recent extension of Jedd Gyorko, Cameron argues, is of the same ilk: he is not a high-average hitter or stolen base threat, and his power is less impressive if he plays at third in the future. Cameron opines that, while the deal is not necessarily a bad contract, the team still took on significant risk without getting a real chance at landing a "huge bargain."  
  • Current third baseman Chase Headley, meanwhile, reportedly turned down his chance at a new deal, and looks destined for the open market at the end of the season. MLB.com's Corey Brock noted that Headley had told him late in the spring that he "just [didn't] think it was ever the right time" to strike an extension. "There's enough ground in between us to where it wasn't going to work out right now," Headley said. "We just couldn't find that common ground." As Brock explains, the likely options now for San Diego look to be a trade, qualifying offer after the year, or another run at a contract. Headley addressed the QO himself with Brock: "We weighed that [in discussions with the team] and it's not a great system for the player. You have to play six full seasons just to get to free agency. … When you get to that point in your career, I don't think it's necessarily fair to have this one shot at free agency affected by that. At some point, someone is going to take one of those." Of course, Headley added that accepting the QO is "not a bad way to go" because "that's a pretty big number for one year."
  • Staff ace Andrew Cashner is showing signs that he could be developing into a true ace, writes Scott Miller for FOX Sports San Diego. Acquired from the Cubs in exchange for young slugger Anthony Rizzo, in what was a bold trade for both clubs, the 27-year-old has made clear that he wants and expects to be a dominant force. "I definitely want a no-hitter," said Cashner, calling it "one of my goals." Indeed, he has looked capable of that recently. Cashner has allowed just 10 hits and three earned runs through his first 21 innings (over three starts) in 2014, striking out 9.4 against 3.0 free passes per nine while holding opposing hitters to a .363 OPS. After re-discovering his slider last year, Cashner worked to a 2.14 ERA in the second half. As he plays out his first arb-eligible season, the big righty looks like a prime extension candidate in his own right.

Padres Offered Headley Three Years, $33-39MM In Offseason

The Padres extended one infielder yesterday when they locked up Jedd Gyorko through the 2019 season for a total of $35MM, and today, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports shines some light on San Diego's efforts to do the same with another of their infielders this past offseason. According to Heyman, the Padres offered third baseman Chase Headley a three-year extension worth $33-39MM. The deal would have gone into effect beginning in 2015, bringing Headley's four-year guarantee to a maximum of $49.525MM (Headley is earning $10.525MM in 2014).

The two sides are said to be nowhere close to finding a middle ground, writes Heyman, which isn't particularly surprising considering the fact that just one year ago, the Padres were prepared to make Headley an offer that would make him the highest-paid player in franchise history (topping Jake Peavy's $52MM guarantee). Headley, however, responded by stating that he didn't wish to dicuss contractual matters during the season.

At the time of the report, I speculated on Headley's chances at earning $100MM or more. Coming off a .286/.376/.498 season in which he belted 31 homers with 17 steals and elite defense, there seemed to be a case. Headley regressed to a still-solid batting line of .250/.347/.400 this past season (116 OPS+, 113 wRC+) and played his typically strong defense, but that platform year is far less enticing for a club than his MVP-caliber 2012 season. Headley and his agents at Excel Sports Management likely want to be compensated based on something closer to his ceiling (i.e. 2012), while the Padres look to be trying to leverage his decreased production into financial savings — a logical and understandable stance for each side.

A big year for Headley could persuade the Padres to up their offer, but they'd be doing so with Headley's first run through free agency nigh, and other, deeper-pocketed teams may be willing to outspend to secure the switch-hitter's service. Headley said earlier in Spring Training that he wasn't planning on discussing his contract until after the season. He's said in the past that his preference is to remain in San Diego, but the prospect of free agency may alter that thinking when the time comes in six months. Even without a return to his 2012 peak, Headley figures to be one of the most sought-after free agents on next year's open market.


Quick Hits: 2014 Draft, Smith, Headley, Abreu

Left-hander Brady Aiken and righty Tyler Kolek sit atop Baseball America's list of the top 2014 draft prospects, BA's John Manuel writes.  The two high schoolers have supplanted NC State southpaw Carlos Rodon, who was long considered to be the favorite as the first overall pick but hasn't looked great this spring.  Six of the top seven prospects on BA's list (and 11 of the top 15) are pitchers, as several young arms have improved their draft stock this spring while several of the most-regarded hitters haven't fared as well. 

Here's some more from around baseball as we head into the weekend…

  • High-ranking executives from the Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Cubs and Phillies have all recently scouted Kolek's starts, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reports.  These clubs hold the top four overall picks in June's draft, while the Phillies pick seventh overall.  According to Manuel, "Kolek has hit 100 mph repeatedly and has the best pure arm in the draft."
  • Joe Smith tells ESPN New York's Adam Rubin (Twitter link) that the Mets were interested in signing him last winter, and "floated" a contract offer similar to the three-year, $15.75MM deal that Smith received from the Angels.  Rubin was surprised that the Mets were willing to commit that much to a setup man, though Smith would've added some quality depth to a Mets bullpen that is already hurting thanks to the absence of Bobby Parnell.
  • Both Chase Headley and the Padres are off to slow starts, which only further complicates the difficult contract-year situation for the third baseman, MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince writes.  With an extension unlikely, Headley could be a midseason trade candidate if the Friars fall out of the race, though if Headley continues to struggle, the Padres could conceivably see him leave for free agency and get nothing in return.
  • The Padres parting ways with Headley is "looking [like] the most realistic option," Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune said during an online chat with readers.  "Players don't get better with age so much anymore, so regardless of what Headley does this year, it doesn't make financial sense to pay for past production," Sanders writes.
  • The Astros made a strong bid for Jose Abreu before the slugger signed with the White Sox, and Houston GM Jeff Luhnow discussed his club's pursuit with MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.  "We stretched ourselves further than we intended to and we came pretty close.  When you factor in the tax advantages of Texas vs. other markets, the gap was really only a couple of million dollars at the end of the day," Luhnow said.  "It's one of those things, should we have pushed a little harder? Possibly. When you're in negotiations like that and you're in a bidding war like that, you have to have limits or you'll be the one that overpays. That's one I do think we came close. He's going to be a good player, and that's why we put all that effort into it."
  • The Tigers have been extraordinarily successful in trades since Dave Dombrowski joined the organization in 2001, Grantland's Rany Jazayerli writes.  Given Dombrowski's impressive with not only the Tigers, but also the Marlins and Expos over his long career, Jazayerli thinks it's too early to write off the much-maligned Doug Fister trade as a mistake for Detroit.

NL West Notes: Hernandez, Headley, Byrnes

The Diamondbacks lost yet another arm to Tommy John surgery yesterday, as Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reported (via Twitter) that right-hander David Hernandez will miss the 2014 season and undergo the operation. The 28-year-old Hernandez, acquired from the Orioles in the Mark Reynolds trade, emerged as one of the NL's best setup men from 2011-12 before stumbling in 2013. However, though he finished with a pedestrian 4.48 ERA last season, Hernandez had seemingly righted the ship in September, as he allowed just one run with 16 strikeouts against four walks in 14 innings in the season's final month. Arizona has also seen starters Patrick Corbin and Daniel Hudson fall to Tommy John surgery recently (twice, in Hudson's case).

Here's more out of the NL West…

  • Chase Headley admits to MLB.com's Corey Brock that this could be his final season with the Padres, but says he's trying not to think about that at this point. Headley tells Brock that later on in the season, it will probably begin to set in, but he's learned not to worry about trade rumors either, should those arise. Headley recalls the 2012 trade deadline: "It wasn't if you're getting traded, it's when and where. I did my best to try and block that. I think I've learned from it and am better for it now."
  • From that same piece, Brock spoke with Padres GM Josh Byrnes and former Padres GM Kevin Towers (now the GM of the division-rival Diamondbacks) about the 2005 draft. in which San Diego selected Headley 66th overall. Headley thought he might end up with the Red Sox, where Byrnes was an assistant GM, as the two sides had a good deal of contact prior to the draft. Byrnes said there was "a lot of debate" about Headley, and he met with him several times, coming away impressed. However, Towers and the Padres liked what they saw. "Before then, we were having a hard time developing position players, and Chase was sort of the poster child for what we wanted," Towers tells Brock. "Chase had the great pitch recognition, a sweet spot for contact on his bat and he was a switch-hitter."
  • Byrnes also spoke with the San Diego Union-Tribune's Kevin Acee about his time as the Padres' GM and stated that he actually prefers the challenge of building a team creatively than having seemingly unlimited funds as the Dodgers do: "Honestly, I prefer to do it this way. There are a lot of things that go into how we put it together and how we need to succeed." Byrnes went on to discuss scouting, player development and trades for players like Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross. Asked if he thought it would be more satisfying to reach the playoffs with a team built through those means than through a large payroll, Byrnes did not hesitate to say yes.

Chase Headley Extension Remains Unlikely

It still appears unlikely that the Padres will sign Chase Headley to an extension, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. "This has been a topic for a couple years. There's been dialogue. Both sides have tried. We just haven't been able to agree to the essential deal parameters," says GM Josh Byrnes. "There are no active discussions. But the door's always open."

Heyman notes that both Headley and the Padres agree that they aren't likely to find common ground on an extension. Last month, Headley told reporters that it would be "not fair" to his teammates if extension talks distracted the team from its goals, and that it seemed likely that the two sides would hold off on extension talks until after the season, at which point Headley will be a free agent. 

Headley hit .250/.347/.400 in 600 plate appearances in 2013, significantly worse than his banner 2012 season. Headley noted last month that the large difference between the two seasons made it tough to negotiate a deal. Headley is represented by Excel Sports Management.