Chase Utley Rumors

NL East Notes: Soriano, Utley, Kendrick, Eveland

Today is the bicentennial of The Star-Spangled BannerMLB.com’s Doug Miller chronicles the link between our country’s national anthem and its national pastime from the first time it was sung before a baseball game (May 15, 1862) to the great and not-so-great renditions. From the national anthem to the National League East, here are today’s notes from the division:

  • Rafael Soriano is making progress after working on his mechanics, but there is no timetable to reinstall him as the Nationals‘ closer, according to James Wagner of the Washington PostMLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted recently Soriano’s $14MM club option for 2015 will not vest and the Nationals are all but certain to decline the option making him an interesting free agent to watch.
  • Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg won’t speak ill of Ryan Howard or suggest a trade would make sense, but he admits a move to first base could be beneficial for Chase Utley, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. “I think playing first base would eliminate a little wear and tear at that position,” Sandberg said. “Whether that’s a consideration or not has yet to be seen.” Gelb suggests a plan for 2015 where Utley is slated to play about 130 games with 100 of them at first base.
  • Kyle Kendrick isn’t sure if he made his final home start in a Phillies‘ uniform last night, but it sounds like he’d like to stay put in Philadelphia, if possible. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s out of my control. But if I’m somewhere else, I’ll miss it,” Kendrick told reporters, including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
  • The Mets have shut down left-hander Dana Eveland for the remainder of the season because of elbow inflammation, reports MLB.com’s Tim Healey. The 30-year-old, who will become a free agent at the end of the season, has had a career year with the Mets posting a 2.63 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 30 relief outings (27 1/3 innings).

Quick Hits: Diamondbacks, Utley, Rodon

The fate of Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson will likely be decided by the next GM, writes Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. Five candidates have already been confirmed and Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa expects to personally interview about ten before narrowing the list. La Russa “tried to put together a list that has a nice cross-section of talents.” It will be interesting to see which skill set Arizona chooses to complement La Russa.

  • Also from Piecoro’s piece, the Diamondbacks hope to retain former GM Kevin Towers to oversee their scouting department. La Russa wishes to bolster both facets of the organization. He mentioned the possibility of hiring either an entry level or established analyst.
  • Much has been made of the Phillies aging roster, although Chase Utley has done his part to contribute. Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders how long Utley can withstand the daily grind of the season. The 35-year-old has contributed a fine season including a .277/.346/.419 line. With Utley possibly under contract through 2018 (he has three vesting options), his presence could be an important stabilizing component of the club’s rebuilding effort.
  • Many speculated that the White Sox would call up first round draft pick Carlos Rodon this September, but the club decided to forego promoting the youngster. Chicago pitching coordinator Curt Hasler says Rodon has all the stuff necessary to succeed, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Hasler cites a plus fastball, slider, and change. Rodon does need to work on his command, as evidenced by his 4.7 BB/9 in 24 and 2/3 minor league innings.

Placed On Revocable Waivers: Monday

Now that we’re beyond the July 31st trade deadline, players must pass through revocable trade waivers in order to be dealt to another team.  MLBTR’s Jeff Todd broke down the August trade rules and what it means when you see several major names placed on waivers over the next few weeks.

Here are today’s notable players who have reportedly been placed on revocable waivers…

  • Also going on revocable waivers today were Jason Hammel of the Athletics and Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks, Rosenthal tweets. As Rosenthal notes, it seems likely that clubs will claim Miley, but that he will be pulled back by Arizona. As for Hammel, a deal still seems rather unlikely since Oakland dealt away some important rotation depth in Tommy Milone.
  • Hitting the wire today from the Phillies were Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Carlos Ruiz, Rosenthal tweets. They will be on waivers until Wednesday.
  • The Phillies placed Antonio Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Howard and Kyle Kendrick on revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  The moves all took place on Saturday, so since the waiver period lasts 47 hours, we could know by today if any of the players were claimed.  I’d expect Bastardo and Burnett to be claimed given that both drew significant interest before the July 31st deadline, and there is virtually no chance any team would claim Howard and risk being stuck with the roughly $68MM remaining on his contract.


A’s Interested In Nick Franklin

Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin is “a top target” of the Athletics as they explore upgrades at the keystone, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.  Franklin’s name has been a fixture in trade rumors ever since the M’s signed Robinson Cano, with the Royals and Rays among the clubs most recently connected to the 23-year-old infielder.

As Slusser notes, there are some obstacles in the way of an Oakland/Seattle trade match on Franklin, mainly that the Mariners may not be interested in helping a division rival.  The Mariners are also known to be asking for a high price for Franklin, and the A’s may not have enough young talent left in the system following their recent major trade with the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Franklin played 104 games for Seattle in 2013 and was seemingly being groomed as the Mariners’ second baseman of the future before Cano signed.  Franklin has appeared in only 17 games with the M’s this season and has spent most of the year dominating minor league pitching — he owns a .300/.394/.481 slash line in 283 PA at Triple-A Tacoma.  With experience at both second and shortstop, Franklin could be a fit for the A’s at either position; Oakland’s long-term shortstop plans are somewhat in flux with Addison Russell traded and Jed Lowrie set for free agency this winter, though 2012 first-rounder Daniel Robertson is enjoying a big year at high-A ball.

Among more experienced second base targets, Ben Zobrist may not be a fit for the Athletics since the Rays want a big return for the utilityman, and he may not be available anyway since Tampa remains on the fringes of the AL East race.  The Phillies had one of their top scouts at Sunday’s A’s/Orioles game, which could hint at a connection with Chase Utley, though Slusser notes that Baltimore could be looking for second base help as well.


Utley Not Planning On Waiving No-Trade Rights

Given the Phillies’ sub-par performance this season and their aging core, second baseman Chase Utley has seen his name pop up in trade talks fairly frequently. However, the lifetime Phillie tells Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that he has little interest in waiving his 10-and-5 rights (10 years of Major League service and five with his current team) that allow him to veto any trade to another team.

Asked about the possibility of waiving those rights in the event of a lengthy Phillies rebuild, Utley replied: “Well, you’re creating situations that aren’t necessarily going to happen. I guess we’d have to see at that point, but I don’t plan on going anywhere.”

A lengthy rebuild appears unlikely for the Phillies so long as Ruben Amaro Jr. is at the helm, as the GM himself told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports less than one month ago: “I don’t know if we’ll completely ‘sell’ ever. We can revamp, but we can’t completely sell out. We have to have a contending team in 2015 or ’16 — or at least a competitive team.”

Utley recognizes that the Phillies need to make improvements to win, though he also noted that every team in MLB could stand to make improvements in some capacity. He feels the Phillies can win in the future, and tells Zolecki that belief is one of the reasons he elected to sign a two-year, $27MM extension with a trio of vesting options that could make the deal worth $75MM.

The 35-year-old Utley is in the midst of yet another a fine season at the plate, slashing .295/.357/.456 with five homers in 314 plate appearances. He’s remained healthy this season, which is good news for his financial future; Utley has a clause in his contract that boosts his 2015 salary from $10MM to $15MM if he spends 15 days or less on the DL with a knee injury in 2014.


Stark On Rays, Zobrist, Utley, Cubs, Padres

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and while things figure to get exciting over the next month and change, not everyone is drooling over what might be available.  “To be honest, I don’t see much out there,” an official of one contender told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. “Who’s even selling? And what are they selling? I know there will be guys to trade for. But where’s the quality?”  The whole column is worth a read, but here are some of the highlights from Stark’s latest..

  • The Rays front office believed that they had the talent to win it all this year and that optimism could play into how they approach the deadline.  The Rays aren’t selling and Stark writes that if they believe what they have can power them to a championship next season, they might stand pat and keep the band together.  Teams that have spoken with Tampa Bay see a fire sale as unlikely.
  • The Rays might listen on Ben Zobrist, but one exec who has spoken with the club gets the sense that it would be “really, really difficult” for them to part with him.  The exception to all of this, of course, is David Price.
  • The Phillies are expected to be open for business between now and the deadline, but they might not like the offers that come in.  “Look at their trade chips,” said an NL executive. “Even if they blow it up, dangle [Cole] Hamels and dangle all these other guys, each one of those guys has some reason it will be hard for them to get back what they want.
  • Meanwhile, one exec flatly said a Chase Utley trade is “not happening.”  The sticker price might not be met on Phillies like Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jimmy Rollins, but teams see Domonic Brown as someone whom the Phillies would like to swap for a different young change-of-scenery candidate.
  • Teams that have spoken with the Cubs expect them to move pitcher Jason Hammel in the next two weeks.  That could just be the warm up for Jeff Samardzija, but they continue to tell teams that they’d like to hammer out a new contract with him.  This week we learned that the Cubs ace rejected a five-year, $85MM+ offer.
  • While some teams are beating around the bush, the Padres are aggressively letting teams know that they want to sell.  All of their outfielders, except Cameron Maybin, are available, and that includes Seth Smith, Chris Denorfia, and Will Venable.
  • Several teams report the Dodgers are telling them they’ll listen right now on every one of their outfielders except Yasiel Puig.
  • The Yankees have been asking almost exclusively about starting pitching in their preliminary conversations.
  • Teams that have talked with the Tigers say they’re focused on bullpen upgrades, not shortstop.
  • The Angels are in the bullpen market, but they’re looking hard at left-handed-relief options, not closers.
  • Things are murky around the D’Backs since no one really knows who is in charge their or what their goals are.
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore has indicated that the Royals can add payroll, but clubs believe that he won’t get to go-ahead to spend until mid-July.  When and if KC starts buying, they are expected to target right fielders and bullpen arms since that is what they’ve been asking about in conversations.

Deadline Notes: Utley, Rollins, Mayberry, Royals, Yankees, Mets

There’s been quite a bit of chatter regarding Jeff Samardzija and the rest of the Cubs’ pitchers over the past few days, due largely to the fact that everyone is aware the Cubs will be sellers at this summer’s non-waiver trade deadline. For other clubs, the trade picture isn’t so clear. Here are some notes on players that are potential trade targets and on which clubs should buy and which should sell…

  • Phillies president David Montgomery tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the club can’t be stubborn and close itself off from trading certain players if it’s the best thing for the team — and that includes longtime cornerstones Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. Referring to Utley, Montgomery noted that he’d like his second baseman to remain with the club beyond his playing days. Of course, both players have 10-and-5 rights and can veto any trade.
  • For his part, Rollins softened his stance on waiving his no-trade rights after surpassing Mike Schmidt for the franchise hits lead this weekend, Gelb notes. Said Rollins: “It really depends if everything is blown up. Then, you take that into consideration. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that right now. But if that time does come, and it’s time to go … people move on.”
  • Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Red Sox and Yankees have some interest in John Mayberry Jr. as outfield depth. Boston has scouted several recent Phillies games, and one “plugged-in Major League source” tells Salisbury that the Yankees are a team to watch in regards to Mayberry as well.
  • In an ESPN Insider piece, Dan Szymborski opines that the Royals need to make a bold acquisition in an attempt to take the AL Central. Szymborski’s ZiPS projection system has the Royals as a 50-50 chance to make the playoffs and a 29 percent chance to win the division right now. With five regular position players ranking at or below replacement level (per Baseball-Reference), the team needs to make a splash, as the Tigers are far more vulnerable than most expected. He suggests that third base and right field are the two most viable spots, listing Aaron Hill, Ben Zobrist and Chase Headley as possible targets.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman expects to make a trade or multiple trades this July, writes Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com“I feel that we need to get better from within, and I think I can speed up the process if I run into something outside at the same time,” said Cashman. “We usually make moves every year, so I expect to make moves again.” Bloom runs down a list of trade targets and notes that the stock of Dellin Betances has skyrocketed this season, though he wonders if Cashman would be willing to include a potential future closer for a short-term fix. Cashman said he didn’t want to wait to make a move but added that prices are often highest early on in trade season.
  • Though Joel Sherman of the New York Post said not long ago that the Mets should act boldly as buyers, the team’s recent woes have him convinced that the opposite may now be true. After a 4-11 skid, he writes that the Mets should deal two of Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee this summer and also make Daniel Murphy available in trades. Doing so will bring back valuable offensive prospects and position the Mets well for a high draft pick in 2015. He notes that Sandy Alderson’s regime has done well in trades, bringing in Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Vic Black and Dilson Herrera by trading veteran pieces.

Cafardo On Lee, Papelbon, Giants, Hammel, Black

In his Sunday Baseball Notes column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reminisces about a pitchers’ duel between the Red Sox’s Luis Tiant and the Angels’ Nolan Ryan 40 years ago, the likes of which we may never see again in today’s game. Tiant threw 195 pitches and was still on the hill when the Angels scored the game-winner with one out in the bottom of the 15th inning. Ryan, meanwhile, tossed 235 pitches in a meager 13 innings of work. “When you took the baseball, you wanted to finish what you started,” Tiant told Cafardo. “I didn’t even feel tired. I could have gone as long as I had to go. They beat me on a ground ball that went through the second baseman’s legs. It was the 15th inning and I was OK.” The last pitcher to pitch more than nine innings in a MLB game was Cliff Lee, who lasted ten innings in April 2012.

Here’s more from Cafardo’s column:

  • Speaking of Lee, the Phillies left-hander will likely have to be a post-waiver deadline deal since he won’t have enough time between now and July 31st to rehab his strained elbow. Lee should be able to clear waivers because he has two years left on his deal at $25MM each.
  • Jonathan Papelbon is pitching a lot better and there’s an expectation he could be one of the first Phillies to go once they decide to sell. One AL scout who has watched Papelbon’s outings said, “I’ll give him credit. I think he’s learning to pitch with what he’s got left. He’s not 96-98 [miles per hour], but he’s getting back up to 92-93 and making a lot of good adjustments.” Cafardo wonders if he could be a future member of the Tigers or Orioles.
  • When Marco Scutaro returns from his back injury, he will likely become the Giants‘ utilityman and GM Brian Sabean is trying to add a second baseman by the trading deadline. Chase Utley would be a great fit, but Cafardo wonders if the Phillies will actually deal him, whether the veteran would waive his ten-and-five rights, and whether the Giants would give up the necessary bounty to acquire him.  Ultimately, SF could set its sights lower.
  • Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel is having a good season, but the scouting community is mixed on what impact he’d have on a contending team.  Some question whether he can keep up this pace or whether he’ll be more of a back-of-the-rotation starter. Even positive comments Cafardo has heard have been tagged with the caveat you wouldn’t give up the farm for him.
  • Despite the harsh assessment of the Padres‘ season by club CEO Mike Dee recently, Cafardo finds it hard to imagine Bud Black losing his job and opines firing him would be a mistake because he is seen as one of the game’s best managers in the eyes of a lot of baseball executives.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


NL Notes: Cole, Roark, Phillies

Pirates ace Gerrit Cole has landed on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue, but the team doesn’t believe the shoulder has any structural damage, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. That could be great news for the Bucs, who will need Cole if they hope to make noise in the playoff race this summer. The injury, which came to light almost three years to the day after Cole was selected first overall in the 2011 draft, is a reminder of the uncertainty of drafting pitchers in a season that’s been full of such reminders. Here are more notes from around the National League.

  • The career trajectory of Tanner Roark of the Nationals is perhaps a more pleasant story about the uncertainty of pitching — the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore describes Roark as “a potential rotation piece that fell out of the sky.” The Rangers drafted Roark in the 25th round in 2008, then shipped him to Washington with another minor-leaguer for Cristian Guzman in 2010. Even in 2013, the Nationals used him as a reliever in Triple-A. But he pitched brilliantly down the stretch for the Nats in 2013 and has been nearly as good this season, posting a 2.91 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 as a key part of Washington’s rotation.
  • Chase Utley of the Phillies tops the list of the best bats who might be available in trade this summer, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. It’s unclear whether the Phillies will commit to trading veterans, but even if they do, some of them (like Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee) would be difficult to trade anyway. Utley, who is signed to a reasonable contract and is still very productive, is a different story. Utley has the right to veto any trade, however, since he has 10-and-5 rights, and the Phillies have shown no interest in trading Utley.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Royals, Collins, Padres, Rangers, Hardy, Amaro

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal wonders just how long the Royals can stand behind GM Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost given the team’s struggles to this point in the season. Moore called Yost a “consistent leader” when he spoke with Rosenthal and added that the team is only a hot streak or two away from a turnaround. Rosenthal writes that the entire team seems “too comfortable, waiting for a surge that might never come.” More from his column below…

  • On the other hand, Rosenthal doesn’t feel it’d be justified for the Mets to fire manager Terry Collins. Collins hasn’t been afforded the same talent that Yost has, he opines, and his front office has made some questionable decisions behind him regarding the bullpen and the underperforming crop of free agents the team brought in. He notes the team’s sparse spending despite their market, adding that it seems unlikely that Bud Selig would ever confront owner Fred Wilpon, with whom he is close friends.
  • Similarly, the Padres should hang onto skipper Bud Black, Rosenthal proclaims. Recent reports have indicated that he may be on the hot seat. Padres ownership too often has worried about alienating fans with personnel decisions, as they did when they neglected to trade Chase Headley after his 2012 season. Black is a highly regarded manager who has seen six of his pitchers hit the disabled list this season, though even Rosenthal admits that the offense’s follies have been virtually inexplicable.
  • The Rangers‘ glut of middle infield depth could lead them to field trade offers for Elvis Andrus this summer. With Jurickson Profar, Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas all representing possible starting-caliber infielders, Texas does appear to have a surplus. I, personally, would imagine that each of those players could hear his name circulating on the rumor mill in two months’ time.
  • One agent who isn’t affiliated with J.J. Hardy or Derek Jeter suggested to Rosenthal recently that he thought the former would be the latter’s successor with the Yankees. Hardy has a low-maintenance personality, steady glove and experience in the AL East.
  • As has been reported previously, the Astros tried to acquire Collin McHugh last summer when the Mets dealt him to the Rockies, but Rosenthal adds more light on the situation. The team’s scouting department felt McHugh was little more than a long reliever, but the team’s statistical analysts pushed hard for McHugh based on trends they’d seen dating all the way back to his minor league days in 2011. The Astros, of course, claimed McHugh off waivers from Colorado, and he’s cemented himself in their rotation. GM Jeff Luhnow said over the weekend he has no plans to trade McHugh or breakout lefty Dallas Keuchel.
  • Though Kendrys Morales could be a perfect fit for the Mariners‘ offensive woes, rival executives say that the team is still showing the same payroll concerns that caused them to largely shut down spending after the signing of Robinson Cano this winter.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. called the possibility of trading Chase Utley a “moot point,” noting Utley’s no-trade protection and desire to remain in Philadelphia. Perhaps of greater interest (and perhaps to the dismay) of Phillies fans, is the following quote from Amaro: I don’t know if we’ll completely ‘sell’ ever. We can revamp, but we can’t completely sell out. We have to have a contending team in 2015 or ’16 — or at least a competitive team.”