Chase Utley Rumors

Martino On Phillies, Papelbon, Nolasco, Dodgers

The first big move of trade season went down yesterday when the Orioles acquired starter Scott Feldman from the Cubs, along with catcher Steve Clevenger, for starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, reliever Pedro Strop and international bonus pool money.  The move will obviously have an impact on the O's, but more broadly, it means that we've entered the period when trade talk becomes more than just talk, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.  Here's more from today's column..

  • Scouts that have spoken with Martino expect the Phillies to be active sellers, but hold onto Cliff Lee since they want to contend next year.  However, rival scouts and execs anticipate that, in addition to Michael Young and Chase UtleyJonathan Papelbon will be dealt or at least heavily shopped.  We've heard previously that the Phillies are expected to ask for an astronomical haul to part with Papelbon.
  • Papelbon also fits the bill as someone who could be kept for next year, but rivals that have spoken with Martino see too much of a need for bullpen help amongst contenders like the Red Sox and Tigers and they expect GM Ruben Amaro to get a strong offer for the closer.
  • One executive involved in the talks for the MarlinsRicky Nolasco predicts that he will land with the Dodgers, with the Giants a possibility and the Padres still somewhat interested.  Last night it was reported that the RangersRockies, and Dodgers are in "heavy pursuit" of the Miami hurler.  
  • A major league source told Martino that the Twins will likely shop Mike Pelfrey later this month, if he makes a strong few starts.  While the 29-year-old hasn't exactly been a world-beater this year – he has a 6.11 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 – he could perhaps get better as he moves further from last year's Tommy John surgery and appeal to a contender willing to throw starters against the wall like the Orioles.

Sherman On Utley, Cano, Dodgers, Marlins

Joel Sherman of the New York Post has some interesting items in today's column so let's dive in..

  • The Dodgers reportedly have interest in acquiring the PhilliesChase Utley and one NL executive sees it happening, just not necessarily this month.  “I know everyone has [Robinson Cano] going to the Dodgers as a free agent if the [Yankees] don’t get him signed up, but I would put it at 90 percent that Utley ends up there,” said the exec.  He reasoned that the Dodgers, who have to sign Clayton Kershaw to a $200MM+ deal soon, may not be all that bullish about Cano since they aren't as flush with cash as people believe and they have learned that collecting mismatched expensive star players isn't necessarily the way to go.  The exec went on to predict that the Dodgers will offer Utley something like a three-year, $45MM deal this winter.  As for the Dodgers and Cano, we learned yesterday that the club doesn't want to do long-term contracts beyond age 36, which could limit Cano to a six-year offer if they decide to get involved.
  • The Marlins fire sale appears to be panning out well for the club, even if it was done for the wrong reasons.  Miami now looks better not just from a financial standpoint, but also when it comes to talent.  The Hanley Ramirez deal brought them Nathan Eovaldi and the blockbuster with Toronto imported Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, and well-regarded minor leaguers Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino. The Marlins’ rebuilding might be going quicker and better that the Mets' rebuilding.  As one AL source told Sherman, ignore who made the deals and just realize, “they made good baseball trades.”
  • After the Indians gave Michael Bourn a four-year, $48MM deal and the Nationals dealt one of their top prospects for Denard Span, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Sherman that Brett Gardner was in their class, if not better.  Right now, Gardner is outperforming both players in OPS and has a significant lead in WAR (2.8).

Heyman On Nolasco, Dodgers, Utley, Young

Here's a look at the latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com..

  • A person familiar with the Ricky Nolasco talks says the Dodgers, Orioles, Giants, Rangers, and Rockies are among the teams in the mix, Heyman writes.  The Dodgers have been considered a favorite since they might be willing to absorb the $5.75MM remaining on Nolasco's $11.5-million 2013 salary, but the source suggested late Monday afternoon that there's isn't a deal out there yet that is good enough to jump on.  Colorado is said to have offered two decent prospects for the hurler but they are skittish about paying the salary.  While some have suggested that the Marlins are anxious to trade Nolasco before his scheduled start on Wednesday, they are still holding out for a quality offer.
  • Heyman hears that the word around baseball is that the Dodgers could have interest in Chase Utley. It isn't known if the Dodgers have gone so far as to contact Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, but he doesn't seem anxious to trade the second baseman despite the fact he is headed towards free agency.  If the Phillies do decide to sell, they are said to be more willing to part with Michael Young, who's interested the Dodgers before. 
  • With the deadline just weeks away, Heyman laid out the market as it stands today.  The piece starts by highlighting the six biggest sellers in the Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, Twins, Marlins, and Astros.


NL East Notes: Utley, Phillies, Beinfest, Braves

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said yesterday that he hoped Chase Utley would retire as a Phillie, but though Utley will be a free agent this winter, there have been no extension talks between the club and the veteran second baseman, WPVI-TV's Jeff Skversky reports (Twitter link).  It's probably no surprise that the Phils were hesitant about a new contract given Utley's injury problems over the last few seasons, and Utley has already spent a month on the DL with an oblique injury this season.

Here's the latest from around the NL East…

  • As much as the Phillies hate to part with the veterans that helped them to so much success over the last several seasons, Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown thinks the team is on the verge of at least a partial rebuild. "Where this leaves the Phillies is at the start of a month that could redirect the franchise. That probably should redirect the franchise," Brown writes.
  • The Phillies will stick to their usual strategy of not spending big on international signings as the July 2 signing period approaches, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.  Brookover also talks to Joe Jordan, the Phils' director of player development, about some of the international prospects currently in the farm system.
  • Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest discusses the Ricky Nolasco trade rumors, Jose Fernandez's innings limit and Giancarlo Stanton's future in Miami with Jim Bowden and Jeff Joyce on The Front Office program on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link).
  • The Braves are likely to seek depth for the bullpen and bench before the trade deadline, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.

Cafardo On Utley, Gonzalez, Crain, Yankees

As impressive as young players like Manny MachadoMiguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Yasiel Puig have been, no one was more spectacular than young Alex Rodriguez, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  However, A-Rod has since tarnished his legacy by being linked to performance enhancing drugs.  It all comes back to Rodriguez's love of baseball, because for him, being the best was never good enough.  Now he finds himself rehabbing from injury in Tampa, Florida and no one knows how it will play out.  Rodriguez could retire because of a physical disability and collect the remaining $114MM on his contract or he return to the Yankees after the All-Star break and provide the righthanded bat they sorely need.  Here's more from today's column..

  • One team that has at least discussed acquiring the PhilliesChase Utley is the Royals.  Kansas City would love to stabilize their lineup and/or second base situation with someone of Utley’s caliber.  Meanwhile, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that he wants the second baseman to retire in a Phillies uniform, if possible.
  • The Red Sox are one of the teams extremely interested in Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, but they won’t break the bank for him, according to a team source.  The Sox were certainly burned by the Daisuke Matsuzaka signing and don’t want to get burned again on a deal for the 26-year-old righthander. Even though Gonzalez seems to be the real deal, past injuries seem to be giving some teams pause. 
  • White Sox reliever Jesse Crain will draw interest and Cafardo warns not to rule out the Red Sox. Pitching coach Juan NIeves coached him in Chicago and he’s a stable force at the end of games.  Meanwhile, there will be others vying for Crain, including the Orioles and Yankees.  Our own Charlie Wilmoth recently examined Crain as a trade candidate.
  • FIrst baseman Chris Carter is an interesting righthanded bat the Astros would move for the right package of young players. The Yankees are a possibility since they need a righthanded hitter who can play first base and the outfield.  Even though he strikes out a lot, the 26-year-old Carter could be an intriguing option for clubs. 
  • The Cubs have a lot of desirable trade pieces, starting of course with Matt Garza, who could be dealt sooner rather than later – maybe even sooner than the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco.  Besides Garza, there’s been a lot of interest in outfielder Nate Schierholtz and veteran righthander Scott Feldman, who Cafardo sees as a match for the Orioles.  Outfielders Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus along with relievers Kevin Gregg and James Russell could be moved as well.
  • While the Twins say that Glen Perkins is not available, they should expect some club – possibly the Tigers - to offer a substantial package.

NL Notes: Dodgers, Phillies, Zambrano, Marmol

If you're looking for some good reading over your Saturday morning coffee, here are a few nice leftovers from yesterday: Writing for Fangraphs, MLBTR contributor Marc Hulet broke down the position players who will participate in the MLB Futures Game. MLB.com's Corey Brock had the story of former third-overall pick Donavan Tate's attempt to revive his injury- and addiction-plagued career. Writing for the Biz of Baseball, Maury Brown discussed the decline in MLB and MiLB PED suspensions thus far in 2013. And as the Washington Post's Dave Sheinin reports, youth baseball is experiencing what could be an inner-city renaissance in Washington, D.C. On to some National League notes:

  • Dodgers fans are probably still reeling from last night's beating, the team's worst home loss (Twitter link) since the franchise played in Brooklyn. But with the club's offense pointing upwards of late and with just six games to make up in a scuffling NL West, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes that L.A. still could be looking to buy pitching. He says that the Dodgers cannot depend on a mix of Chris Capuano, Stephen Fife, Ted Lilly, and Matt Magill at the back of the rotation, and would be even more foolish to place their faith in Brandon League, Peter Moylan, and Matt Guerrier with late-inning pen roles. 
  • While the Phillies continue to hang around just under .500, speculation has focused on whether the club might deal top arms Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com wonders whether the club might be more likely to look to deal infielders Chase Utley or Michael Young, in spite of the no-trade protection that both enjoy. With Utley and Young set to become free agents after the season, a clear fall away from contention would make it difficult to pass up a youth infusion. On the other hand, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that his "intention would be to keep [Utley] in our uniform for the rest of his career, if possible." Should the Phils look to deal, Knobler suggests that the Yankees could be in on both players, with the Royals potentially interested in Utley. 
  • One player that Philadelphia was hoping might provide a boost was mid-season signee Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano's inconsistent performance in minor league action had already dampened any real enthusiasm for his ascension to the bigs, but he took the Triple-A mound last night hoping to convince Amaro that a call-up was warranted in advance of his July 1 opt-out date. Instead, Zambrano left the game with what Amaro called "serious pain" in his shoulder. As Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports via Twitter, the injury means that Zambrano's already-uncertain big league return will now definitely not occur for the foreseeable future.
  • Embattled Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol, who currently sits in DFA limbo, may be able to draw some kind of trade return after all. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweeted yesterday that three unnamed teams have shown some interest in Marmol. 

Deadline Notes: Starters, Astros, Utley, Braves, Perkins

Let's have a look at the latest talk surrounding the approaching trade deadline season:

  • Starting pitching is an active priority for the Orioles, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Hurlers that the club is reportedly looking at include Ricky Nolasco (Marlins), Edinson Volquez and Andrew Cashner (Padres), Matt Garza and Scott Feldman (Cubs), Jake Peavy (White Sox), Bud Norris (Astros), and recent Oriole Joe Saunders (currently with the Mariners). The trouble for the O's, according to Connolly, will be coming up with enough prospects that the team can stomach dealing.
  • The Giants are most interested in acquiring a starter that the team can control for more than this year, tweets FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi. In spite of that preference, Morosi says that San Francisco is interested in popular trade subject Matt Garza. 
  • The Cubs' Garza is generating a lot of attention given his evident availability and intriguing return from a long DL stint. Paul Swydan of Fangraphs wonders, however, whether the oft-injured Garza is really worth the hype. Swydan says that Garza's overall track record as a solid middle or back-of-the-rotation starter is what teams should expect to be buying, especially since his recent starts have come against some of baseball's weaker-hitting clubs.
  • Trade talks are "ongoing" for two prominent members of the Astros, starter Bud Norris and closer Jose Veras, tweets Morosi. Both were recent subjects of MLBTR trade candidate analysis, as Mark Polishuk took a look at Norris and Steve Adams analyzed Veras.
  • The most obvious trade in baseball, according to Fangraphs' Dave Cameron, is a deal sending Chase Utley from the Phillies to the Athletics. Cameron argues that Utley is still a highly productive second bagger, and would be a huge upgrade at the spot that the A's most need one.
  • With the Braves losing key bench bat Ramiro Pena to season-ending shoulder surgery, MLB.com's Mark Bowman wonders whether the team will be more inclined to seek a third baseman before the trade deadline. While Chris Johnson has hit the ball fantastically, he has been a problem on the defensive side. Meanwhile, the team designated and then traded Johnson's early-season platoon partner, Juan Francisco, earlier in the year.
  • The Twins face a difficult choice with 30-year-old closer Glen Perkins, writes ESPN's Buster Olney (on Insider). (Olney expanded upon his tweet yesterday addressing the Perkins situation.) With Perkins' value trending way up — he sports a 2.12 ERA, has registered 12.4 K/9 against just 2.1 BB/9, and is inked to a very reasonable three-year deal (plus option) — Minnesota could reap a major return. 

NL Notes: Utley, Pagan, Garza, Schierholtz

Let's have a look at a few notes on National League players who seem likely to figure in how the trade deadline market plays out:

  • With his return to big league action, Phillies' second baseman Chase Utley quickly drew a flock of top scouts, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Salisbury noted the attendance at last night's game of scouts from the Yankees and Giants.
  • Giants center fielder Angel Pagan could be headed for surgery on his injured left hamstring, report MLB.com's Chris Haft and Andrew Owens. According to manager Bruce Bochy, there is "no question [surgery] is an option." Today, we learned that an operation to repair the tear in his hammy would likely keep Pagan out for six weeks or so. (Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman, on Twitter.) As ESPN.com's Jim Bowden explained recently (on Insider), Pagan's injury could force San Francisco onto the market for an outfielder.
  • The Cubs' Matt Garza continues to build his value on the trade and free agent markets after going eight strong innings last night against the Astros. As ESPNChicago.com's Doug Padilla noted last night, the length and quality of Garza's recent outings promise to enhance his candidacy as one of the best available arms.
  • Meanwhile, with reports that the Cubs are prepared to sell players, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron took a look at the value of Chicago outfielder Nate Schierholtz. Noting that Schierholtz comes with an additional year of control and has undervalued but nevertheless highly useful skills, Cameron says that he could appeal to a wide variety of teams.

NL East Notes: Utley, Amaro, Rizzo, Braves

The Phillies received some more bad injury luck today when the team announced that Chase Utley was going to the 15-day DL with a Grade 1 oblique strain.  While the injury isn't considered particularly serious, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro told media (including CSNPhilly.com) that the team was going to be cautious in order to keep Utley's oblique from bothering him throughout the season.  Utley has battled a number of injuries over the last few seasons and going on the DL yet again is likely to hurt his free agent stock this winter — at the very least, it will drop him a few spots in the next edition of Tim Dierkes' 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings

Here are some items from around the NL East…

  • On Wednesday, before Utley's DL stint, Amaro said he saw his team as buyers leading up to the trade deadline since he felt his team was still in the race, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports.  Amaro did warn that the decision to buy or sell at the deadline was coming soon.  "The real question is: How long can you wait? Right now, we're willing to wait, because no one is crazy and running away with it. We're willing to wait, and how long we'll wait is a decision I'll have to make," Amaro said.
  • Amaro also commented on manager Charlie Manuel, reiterating that the team wouldn't look at Manuel's status until after the season.  This is the 69-year-old Manuel's last year under contract as the Phillies skipper.
  • Philadelphia's numerous injury problems give the Phillies the look of a seller at the deadline, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal opines in his latest Hot Corner video.  Rosenthal notes that the team would at least listen on offers for "virtually any Phillie" on the roster in order to clear money off the payroll and obtain young talent.
  • The Nationals aren't living up to their status as World Series favorites, but GM Mike Rizzo said the team isn't planning any major roster shake-ups to get on track during the season, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports.  "I think we put together a roster that we feel is going to contend….We feel we have the roster in place to win a lot of games," Rizzo said.  "We felt that in Spring Training, we felt that in the winter, and I still have all the confidence in the world that this is the team that’s going to play deep into the season.”
  • Eric O'Flaherty is the seventh Braves pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery in the last five years, leading David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to wonder if the team needs to re-examine their methods of using and developing their pitchers.
  • In other NL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, the Marlins designated Jon Rauch for assignment, the Nationals could be interested in hiring Don Mattingly as Davey Johnson's successor, and we shared a collection of notes about the Mets.

Quick Hits: Injuries, Comebacks, Qualifying Offers

Major league baseball has made strides in increasing racial diversity but has yet to increase its hiring of females in the sport's upper echelons, reports Ronald Blum of the Associated Press. Changes in the number of African-American and Latino players since last year reportedly fell within the range of regular fluctuation. Elsewhere around baseball: