Chase Headley Rumors

NL West Notes: Jobe, Maybin, Headley, Betancourt

Dr. Frank Jobe, the man who performed the first — or, perhaps more accurately, the – Tommy John surgery, has passed away at the age of 88. As MLB.com's Ken Gurnick writes, the longtime Dodgers medical director was instrumental in pioneering that now-commonplace, immensely impactful procedure: "it was Jobe who invented it, performed it, refined it and taught it to hundreds of training orthopedic surgeons." Needless to say, Jobe's contributions to the game will continue to have impact for generations to come, and MLBTR joins the rest of the baseball world in saluting him in passing. If you're interested in learning more about his remarkable life, see this excellent bio piece from MLB.com's Doug Miller. 

More from the NL West:

  • Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin suffered an arm issue of his own, rupturing his left biceps tendon, but will not need surgery at this point, MLB.com's Corey Brock reports. GM Josh Byrnes said he feared the worst — a season-ending injury — but that after consulting the medical staff "the strong consensus was no surgery." Though a timeline has not yet been set, Maybin could return within four to six weeks. San Diego should have plenty of depth to cover in Maybin's absence, though the club will certainly hope for a positive resolution of this latest setback for the 26-year-old, who signed a five-year, $25MM deal before the 2012 season.
  • Meanwhile, the Padres have let third baseman Chase Headley know that they fully intend to make him a qualifying offer at the end of the year, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com via Twitter. While this does not come as a surprise, it indicates that San Diego — like the Indians with Justin Masterson — views the QO as a card to be played in extension talks.
  • Former Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt will work out with the club for a ten-day stretch as he seeks another shot at a MLB job, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The club previously declined to exercise its half of a mutual option on the 38-year-old after he underwent — you guessed it — Tommy John surgery late last year. It is surely worth it for Colorado to take a look, as Betancourt has largely been an outstanding reliever since breaking into the bigs at the late age of 28 back in 2003.

Quick Hits: Buxton, Heyward, Padres, Saunders

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).

Headley Unlikely To Talk Contract Until After Season

Though there have been several extensions inked of late — including Freddie Freeman, Michael Brantley, Julio Teheran and Craig Kimbrel, with Homer Bailey reportedly nearing a deal — it doesn't sound like the Padres and Chase Headley will be reaching a middle ground on a multi-year pact in the near future. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune was among the reporters that spoke with Headley regarding his contract today, and the third baseman offered the following: 

"It’s not fair to the guys in this clubhouse to have anybody’s attention focused on anything but trying to win and trying to do your best for the team. I don’t want to put my foot down and say nothing’s gonna happen, but at this point it certainly seems that we’ll table these until the end of the season."

Headley, who turns 30 on May 9th, admitted that his own struggles have made it difficult to find a common ground in extension talks. The switch-hitter finished fifth in the NL MVP voting in 2012 after batting .286/.376/.498, but he "slumped" to a .250/.347/.400 batting line in 2013 (still good for a 116 OPS+). "That’s part of what makes this so tricky, is you’ve had such a big variation in the last two seasons," he said. 

Clearly, Headley would prefer to be compensated based on his 2012 form, while the Padres have some reservations after last season's decline. However, Headley said that the gap in contractual discussions hasn't strained his relationship with the organization:

"Both sides understand where the other party’s coming from and, frankly, respects where the other side is coming from. … We’re hoping at some point that we can come to common ground."

Last May, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler told the press that the team was planning on making Headley an offer that would make him the highest-paid player in franchise history. Headley was caught off-guard by the news and said he preferred not to discuss extensions midseason.

Now, it appears that he'll be presented with the opportunity to test an open market in which he will be one of the top names available. Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Colby Rasmus, J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Brett Gardner are among the top free-agent position players available. Ramirez, who is probably the top name set to hit the market, recently expressed his desire to remain with the Dodgers and is in talks about an extension of his own, however.



Free Agent Notes: Angels, Phillies, Yankees

Draft pick compensation is hanging over the market for several prominent, unsigned free agents — namely, Ervin SantanaUbaldo JimenezStephen DrewNelson Cruz, and Kendrys Morales. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at the draft pick situations of some of the clubs that might consider adding one of those names. As we finish a quiet Monday, let's round up some notes on free agent rumors from around the league:

  • The Angels do not seem to be operating with much urgency to add a free agent pitcher, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. If the club does add to its rotation with an open-market contract, says DiGiovanna, it is more likely to go after Jason Hammel or Chris Capuano than Bronson Arroyo or Paul Maholm.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said today that the club does not have any outstanding offers for guaranteed MLB deals, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Tracker shows, Philadelphia has not entered such a pact since inking Roberto Hernandez on December 18.
  • After committing a cool half-billion dollars through free agency (if you count Masahiro Tanaka and his release fee), the Yankees appear to be done adding significant salaries for the offseason, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. New York seems to be following through on GM Brian Cashman's statements that the club would not pursue Drew, says Martino, and the team is not currently trying to work out a deal to bring Chase Headley over from the Padres.

Padres, Chase Headley Avoid Arbitration

The Padres have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal with third baseman Chase Headley, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Excel Sports Management client will earn a $10.525MM salary in his final season prior to free agency, Sherman reports.

Consistently considered to be a trade candidate due to his looming free agency, the Padres' tight budget and the Padres' sub-.500 finishes in each of the past two seasons, the 29-year-old Headley has seen his name circulate on the rumor mill more than nearly any player in the past 18 to 24 months. However, San Diego GM Josh Byrnes told me back in November that the team was comfortable doing a one-year deal with Headley and entering 2014 with him as the third baseman, even without an extension.

The Padres reportedly wanted to offer Headley an extension that would make him the highest-paid player in franchise history early in the 2013 campaign. The news caught Headley off guard, as he'd informed the team that he did not want extension talks to spill beyond Opening Day.

Headley turned in a solid season in 2013, batting .250/.347/.400 with 13 homers, eight steals and excellent third-base defense, but that production was a far cry from his 2012 season. In 2012, Headley broke out with a .286/.376/.498 batting line, 31 homers and a career-best 17 steals to go along with his great glove-work. Headley likely didn't want to sign an extension after seeing his stock tumble, especially when a fractured thumb and a balky knee that required offseason surgery likely contributed to his 2013 decline.

Headley's $10.525MM salary is $525K higher than MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected. With Headley taken care of, San Diego has only Andrew Cashner remaining as an unsettled arb case, as shown in our Arbitration Tracker.


AL East Notes: Red Sox, Headley, Yankees

The Red Sox are faced with a problem unique to big-market teams, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. That question is how to spend all their money. Baseball has clamped down on spending on amateur talent, and the Angels' recent example shows the problems inherent in free-agent spending sprees. The Red Sox will have plenty of money coming off the books next offseason, perhaps giving them $50MM with which to spend. The Red Sox haven't spent heavily on top free agents recently, letting Jacoby Ellsbury depart and not signing Brian McCann. But Tomase suggests they'll continue to spend to add depth and build a "strong middle class." They could also look to extend their own stars, perhaps including Jon Lester and/or David Ortiz. Here are more notes from the AL East.

  • The Yankees have not made any recent attempts to trade for Padres third baseman Chase Headley, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets. Yesterday's news confirmed that Alex Rodriguez will be out for the entire 2014 season, but the Yankees could well go with their existing options at third.
  • Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez could receive significant innings at third base this year, Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler tells Martino. "We’ll look left, we’ll look right, we’ll look under rocks and see if something can work itself out and makes sense," says Eppler. "But with Kelly Johnson, who we spoke to earlier in the season … before we came to an agreement with him, we talked to him about playing third base … as well as second base and there’s outfield."

Padres Comfortable As Headley Enters Walk Year

Padres GM Josh Byrnes says his club is prepared to enter 2014 with third baseman Chase Headley on a one-year contract, Bill Center of U-T San Deigo reports. Headley enters his final year of arbitration in 2014 and will become a free agent after the end of the season unless he's signed to an extension. He's projected to earn $10MM through the arbitration process by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.

Speaking with Center on Saturday, Headley said he's still open to discussing a long-term deal with the Padres, the only Major League organization he's ever known. "I don’t want to draw a line in the sand," he said. "We have time. I’m not saying something will get done, but I’m saying it can happen." While the subject has been broached between player and team, Headley reports that talks "haven’t gone very far."

Headley, 29, appeared to establish himself as one of the game's premier players in 2012, compiling a .286/.376/.498 line despite half of his plate appearances coming in one of baseball's most pitching-friendly parks. However, he reverted to a .250/.347/.400 triple-slash in 2013, numbers that are largely in line with his career performance. Agents who spoke with CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman all the way back in May suggested Ryan Zimmerman's six-year, $100MM contract with the Nationals was a starting point for Headley extension discussions. The benchmark has presumably fallen after the third baseman's disappointing 2013, however.

If the Padres can't agree to terms with Headley, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reported last month that the team won't consider trading him until June at the earliest. The White Sox have been linked with Headley recently, and the Yankees, among other clubs, have been cited as a potential suitor in the past.


NL West Rumors: D-Backs, Padres, Giants

It remains to be seen whether or not Masahiro Tanaka will be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles, but if he is and the Diamondbacks have yet to address their starting pitching needs, expect Arizona to place a bid on the Japanese right-hander, tweets Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Here's more on the D-Backs and a pair of their NL West rivals:

  • Kevin Towers and the D-Backs don't mind waiting on Eric Chavez, who is deciding where he wants to play and monitoring Arizona's moves, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link).
  • Asked about the possibility of trading Archie Bradley, Towers suggested today that it would be "very, very tough" for the D-Backs to do so, tweets Gilbert.
  • The Padres have interest in Scott Downs, among other southpaw relievers, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. San Diego's Josh Byrnes confirmed that the team is casting a wide net for bullpen help, indicating that he has touched base with "most" available left-handed relievers (Twitter link via Adam Berry of MLB.com).
  • According to Berry (Twitter links), Byrnes said the Padres have weighed "six or eight ideas" and have meetings set up to discuss free agents and trades. Byrnes also shot down the latest round of Chase Headley rumors, stating that the team views the third baseman as part of its 2014 plans.
  • Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area has some details on the Giants' search for an outfielder, tweeting that the Giants called three times on Norichika Aoki before the Brewers decided to send Aoki to the Royals. In a second tweet, Baggarly says the Giants are interested in Michael Morse and Corey Hart, but probably not at the years and dollars those players will command.
  • John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle provides a couple more Giants updates, reporting that no teams have inquired on San Francisco's five starters, but that the club's young pitching has drawn some interest. Shea adds that the team appears unlikely to bring back Chad Gaudin (Twitter links).

Padres, Sox Have Talked Headley, Quintana In Past

Recent reports have linked Padres third baseman Chase Headley to the White Sox, and Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago adds some more details to that story, noting that the two sides have discussed the switch-hitting Headley numerous times. However, Chicago GM Rick Hahn is loath to meet counterpart Josh Byrnes' request of including Jose Quintana as part of the package.

As Hayes notes, Quintana can be controlled for another five seasons, and the Sox like the pairing of him and Chris Sale at the front of their rotation for the foreseeable future. The Sox are more amenable to trading fellow lefty Hector Santiago, according to Hayes, and they've likely offered him in potential deals for Headley. However, one big league evaluator told Hayes that Santiago's value has been negatively impacted by pitching in the same rotation as Quintana, as teams are frequently more interested in talking about Quintana, who is more consistent.

Though Headley figures to be one of the most oft-discussed players at this week's Winter Meetings, the Padres don't expect to trade their third baseman, sources tell Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. As for the White Sox, previous reports have indicated that the White Sox consider Quintana, Sale and Avisail Garcia to be untouchable in trades.


Central Notes: Pirates, Royals, White Sox

The idea that the Pirates would trade for David Price is "pure nonsense," writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook. The Pirates would have to pay about $30MM for two seasons of Price, and would have to give up lots of value in prospects as well. "There are a lot fewer clubs that can play at the top of the market than clubs that can't," Pirates GM Neal Huntington says. "We just can't afford to do 'X.' Well, we could, but then how would we build a championship-caliber club around that one player?" Huntington also says the single biggest improvement the Bucs can make is re-signing A.J. Burnett, who continues to consider whether to play for one more year or to retire. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.

  • The Pirates could look for a first baseman, starting pitcher, shortstop and/or right fielder this week, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Biertempfel notes that the Pirates "checked in on" starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. If so, that might indicate that they're not hopeful that Burnett will be back next year.
  • The Royals offered Carlos Beltran three years and over $40MM, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. Beltran ended up going to the Yankees for three years and $45MM. Heyman also notes that the Royals will also be bidding against the Yankees for infielder Omar Infante.
  • The White Sox have demonstrated interest in Chase Headley of the Padres, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. As Van Schouwen notes, that's a little odd, unless the White Sox think they can sign Headley to an extension — the White Sox aren't expected to contend in 2014, and Headley is a free agent after the season.