Chris Davis Rumors

Quick Hits: Hart, Phillies, Davis

CJ Nitkowski of FOX Sports takes a look at the upcoming generation of MLB managerial candidates. He provides some interesting notes on five names to watch: D’Backs scout and special assistant Todd Greene, White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing, Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler, and Alex Cora and Raul Ibanez, each of whom currently work in the media.

Here are some more scattered notes from around the league:

  • The Pirates announced today that first baseman Corey Hart is finished playing this year. Hart, who signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal with Pittsburgh over the offseason, had been attempting to make a late-season return, but his health and productivity have been lacking all year. He’ll return to the free agent market after the season, but he hasn’t been a significant contributor since 2012 and his future looks murky.
  • While the Phillies possess an ugly win-loss record, as had been expected, the organization has shown real progress this year, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes. Rival scouts have looked favorably upon the young players acquired in Philadelphia’s numerous recent trades, says Salisbury, and the team’s best higher-level talent has transitioned well thus far to the majors. There’s more to be done, of course, but it isn’t hard to see a promising path forward — especially given that the big-budget Phils now have less than $100MM in total future commitments on their books.
  • Slugger Chris Davis means more to the Orioles than his home run tallies, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Of course, bringing him back in free agency will require a sizable commitment, particularly now that Davis — who has yet to turn 30 — is closing in on 40 home runs with a 138 wRC+. It doesn’t hurt that Davis has shown the ability to play a serviceable corner outfield (UZR views him as a slight positive, DRS as a slight negative) in addition to a solid first base. He’ll hold appeal to a variety of teams this winter.

Heyman’s Latest: Castro, Shapiro, Davis, Anderson, Brewers, Phils

Within his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that displaced Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has joined Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez as struggling former stars that have cleared waivers. (The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo first reported that Ramirez and Sandoval cleared waivers.) The Cubs had a few trade discussions pertaining to Castro prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, per Heyman, and they’ll likely revisit trade talks this winter. As for Sandoval, Heyman hears that there are not active discussions at the moment, although one can easily imagine new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski exploring ways to shed that sizable commitment this offseason.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest column…

  • Indians president Mark Shapiro has been given permission to meet with the Blue Jays about their opening, per the report. The veteran Cleveland executive is “believed” to sit atop Toronto’s wish list, and Heyman says there’s an increasing expectation that he’ll end up moving over to the Jays.
  • Chris Davis is in line for a significant payday this offseason, but the Orioles aren’t likely to be the ones writing the check. Heyman hears that two years ago, following Davis’ brilliant 53-homer campaign, agent Scott Boras was eyeing Joey Votto’s 10-year, $225MM contract as a comp. Granted, Davis’ reduced production since that time has almost certainly lowered the asking price, but I personally agree with the assessment of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes in his latest Free Agent Power Rankings: Davis is in line for a nine-figure contract, which seems beyond Baltimore’s traditional comfort levels.
  • Though some were surprised to see Brett Anderson land a $10MM guarantee from the Dodgers due to his injury history, Heyman hears that the Dodgers may be considering an even more surprising move: extending a qualifying offer to the injury-prone hurler. Anderson, in my eyes, would be a risky candidate for such an offer, but there’s reason enough that the Dodgers could make that call. For one, the team can afford a $16MM investment in an injury-prone pitcher, and Anderson’s worth close to that kind of cash when healthy. Secondly, Anderson’s coming off one of the lone healthy seasons of his career and may see this as his best chance to cash in on a multi-year deal. He could see the only downside as another one-year deal worth $10MM+, meaning he’d be risking around $6MM for a chance at quite a bit more.
  • The Brewers are expected to take “well into next month” in their search for a new general manager and are interested in pursuing non-traditional candidates. We’ve heard several possibilities batted around, and Heyman says he’s heard at least some chatter about Athletics assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz and Red Sox special assistant Jerry Dipoto.
  • While the Phillies could have their own front office changes to make, Heyman says it’s still possible that Ruben Amaro Jr. could not only stay in the organization in some capacity, but keep the GM chair.
  • In a separate piece, Heyman also takes an interesting look at the thirty best deals made over the last year. There’s certainly a good case to be made for his top choice: the Blue Jays’ acquisition of Josh Donaldson.

Orioles Hope To Re-Sign Davis

The Orioles plan to re-sign at least some of their impending free agents, GM Dan Duquette told fans and reporters at an annual event including Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore. Duquette highlighted one power hitter by name, saying “we do want to sign some of our key players for the future, and Chris Davis is one of them.” In addition to Davis, Baltimore currently has seven impending free agents including Matt Wieters, Wei-Yin Chen, Gerardo Parra, Darren O’Day, Steve Pearce, and Nolan Reimold. The club probably can’t sign them all, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.

Specifically regarding Davis, the Orioles may have to compete in a thin market for first baseman. Our free agent tracker lists just eight potential free agents at the position. Of those, Edwin Encarnacion will be retained unless he sustains a major injury. Justin Morneau also has an affordable $9MM option although he has missed most of the 2015 season with injury. Mike Napoli and Pearce are probably the next biggest names at the position.

The lack of free agent first basemen could push Davis’ value north of $100MM, according to Mike Petriello of FanGraphs. The 29-year-old is in the midst of his second best season, slashing .257/.341/.541 with 32 home runs. However, Davis showed last year that there is some downside to his power happy approach. The club may have to weigh whether it makes better sense to commit to Davis or sign multiple other players.

Among the other free agents, Wieters, Chen, and O’Day will be the most difficult to replace. Wieters, 29, missed the early portion of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s battled a few nagging injuries since his return. He appeared to be breaking out in 2014 prior to sustaining the elbow injury. This season, his strikeout rate has spiked to 24.6 percent – up from a career average of 18.7 percent. It’s worth wondering if that number will regress with full health.

MLBTR’s Jeff Todd wrote about Chen recently in a free agent profile, comparing his potential earnings to Bronson Arroyo, Jason Vargas, and Ricky Nolasco. Including inflation, that would seem to peg him for a two to four year deal worth about $12MM to $14MM per season. The Orioles plan to make Chen a qualifying offer, per CBS’ Jon Heyman. That may affect the market for his services.



AL East Notes: Wieters, Davis, Rays, Kelly

Matt Wieters left the third inning of last night’s Orioles loss to the Mariners with a right hamstring strain, and he’ll be re-evaluated on Friday when the club is back in Baltimore.  All parties are hopeful that Wieters can avoid the DL, and the catcher told reporters (including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun) that “I think we caught it before it became a severe strain. The hamstring got tight and it was getting tighter. I think we stopped before we did any serious damage to it.”  Losing Wieters would obviously be a blow to the Orioles’ postseason chances, and another DL stint also wouldn’t do any favors to Wieters’ free agent stock this offseason.  The catcher already missed the first two months of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery but had been hitting well (.278/.305/.449 with five homers) in 167 PA since his return.

Some more from around the division…

  • Chris Davis has rebounded from a miserable 2014 to have a big 2015 season, with improved health and better performance against fastballs as two major reasons for his resurgence, MLB.com’s Mike Petriello writes.  With a thin market of free agent first basemen this winter, Petriello thinks Davis could make a big cash-in on the open market this offseason, perhaps even a contract topping the $100MM mark.
  • Desmond Jennings and Drew Smyly are both slated to return from DL stints to the Rays this week, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes.  Smyly’s return is the more tenuous of the two, as he didn’t pitch well in a recent rehab start.  He’ll throw a bullpen session on Thursday to determine whether he’ll make his scheduled start against the Rangers on Sunday.
  • With Koji Uehara done for the season, Joe Kelly could be the Red Sox answer at closer both for the rest of 2015 and maybe in the future, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  Kelly, for his part, tells The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato that he has no interest in switching to a bullpen role.
  • Has the Jacoby Ellsbury signing already been a bust for the YankeesBrendan Kuty of the Star-Ledger poses the questions and breaks down both sides of the argument, concluding that it’s still too early to judge the seven-year, $153MM contract before even two full seasons have passed.  Ellsbury’s underachieving, injury-plagued 2015 season, however, is a cause for concern for the Yankees, especially since Ellsbury was still expected to perform like a top-level player for at least the first few years of the deal.

Stark’s Latest: Giants, Hamels, Price, Orioles, Gallardo, Alvarez

The latest deadline rumblings from Jayson Stark of ESPN.com

  • The Giants are still searching for starting pitching, but they’re only looking at top-of-the-rotation arms to pair with Madison Bumgarner in a playoff rotation, Stark hears. San Francisco has checked in on both David Price and Cole Hamels, but they’re not considered a favorite to land Hamels from the Phillies, and there’s still no definitive sense that Price has been made available by the Tigers. Yesterday, Stark reported that the Dodgers and Rangers were emerging as the favorites in the Hamels market.
  • The Orioles are speaking with other clubs to get a feel for what kind of return they could get if they market Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, Tommy Hunter and Bud Norris, Stark hears. However, rival clubs feel the O’s will only sell if they slide to six or more games back in the Wild Card race — and they’re 3.5 games out with four to play before the deadline at this time. If they make up a bit of ground, they could add a bat, but Stark says it’d likely be a bench piece as opposed to a bigger name. Baltimore GM Dan Duquette said last week he would be a buyer regardless of the team’s play, though others have suggested that the Orioles could still end up selling if they struggle enough.
  • Adding help that can be controlled beyond 2015 is the priority for the Rangers, which is why they’re targeting Hamels, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner while also listening to offers on Yovani Gallardo. However, according to Stark, those moves aren’t linked, and Texas could acquire a rotation piece for 2016 but also hang onto Gallardo. Personally, I think Gallardo’s pitched well enough to warrant a qualifying offer. A draft pick and improved odds of making a late run (especially if they do add another rotation arm) present enough value that the Rangers shouldn’t feel obligated to simply take the best offer for Gallardo if the proposed packages aren’t all that impressive.
  • The Pirates are now likely to hang onto Pedro Alvarez after shopping him without success for several weeks. They’ve asked the Brewers, White Sox and Rays about Adam Lind, Adam LaRoche and James Loney, respectively, but with Alvarez in the fold, they’re not likely to make a move at first. Stark adds that multiple sources downplayed the recent reports connecting Pittsburgh to the Red SoxMike Napoli.

Orioles Will Not Trade Chris Davis While In Contention

After internal consideration of the idea of trading slugger Chris Davis, the Orioles front office decided that it will not look to move the first baseman/right fielder, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. The club has said as much publicly, but it’s particularly interesting to note that the concept was at least explored.

That stance could change if the team takes a significant dive over the next few weeks, Connolly adds. But he stresses that Davis will likely remain in the fold unless the O’s truly feel they have slipped out of contention.

Of course, as Connolly rightly explains, the club’s math necessarily factors in the strong possibility that it will make Davis a qualifying offer after the season. Though he’s been something of an enigmatic hitter in recent campaigns, ranging from putting up the slash line of a mediocre power bat to that of a legitimate superstar, Davis is still just 29 and seems a good bet to decline the one-year offer if it is extended.

A declined qualifying offer would put Baltimore in line for a draft compensation, so the team already has a strong expectation of getting future value out of the pending free agent. The gap between what it can achieve for him at the trade deadline and the value of the compensatory pick is not, presumably, significant enough to warrant sacrificing the ability to field Davis in the lineup the rest of the way.


AL East Notes: Kelly, Cueto, Whitley, Harvey

Red Sox righty Joe Kelly had the luxury of having Yadier Molina call his games with the Cardinals, yet Kelly is now having to manage his own games, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.  Kelly has gotten off to a rough start in Boston, and he admits “my stats don’t show, but I feel like I’m better at” reading situations and recognizing what pitches to throw at the right times.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Twenty scouts were in Cincinnati to watch Johnny Cueto‘s start tonight, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News reports.  The group included high-ranking evaluators from the Blue Jays and Padres.  Cueto delivered another impressive start (7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 9 K) for his audience in a no-decision in the Reds‘ 4-3 victory over the Giants.
  • Yankees right-hander Chase Whitley left tonight’s game after just 1 2/3 innings due to an elbow injury.  Whitley will undergo an MRI tomorrow and he told reporters (including Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog) that he has been coping with the injury for a while but hadn’t told the club about it until tonight.
  • Orioles prospect Hunter Harvey will visit Dr. James Andrews next week in regards to his injured right elbow, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.  Harvey underwent an MRI yesterday and O’s executive VP Dan Duquette said the club believes the injury is a flexor mass strain in Harvey’s right forearm.  Duquette is hopeful the injury won’t require surgery and Harvey can return to action this season after a rest period, though these plans will likely change if Andrews disagrees with the initial diagnosis.  Harvey, the 22nd overall pick of the 2013 draft, drew high placements in preseason prospect rankings from ESPN’s Keith Law (16th), MLB.com (41st) and Baseball America (68th).
  • The Orioles have ten players scheduled for free agency this winter, and if MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko were to set an over/under of three players re-signed by the team, he would “take the under if pressed to wager today.”  The free agent trio represented by Scott Boras (Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters) may potentially be the likeliest to depart, and Kubatko says “you’ll find plenty of people in the industry, and at least a few in the Orioles organization, who are making that assumption.”  Kubatko does stress that it’s still far too early to guess with any certainty about who could be leaving or staying, however — in Wieters’ case, for instance, he has yet to even hit the field this season.

Possible Qualifying Offer Players Who Could Be Dealt

Next year’s free agent market contains plenty of players who could receive qualifying offers — David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Heyward, and others. Here’s a look at potential qualifying offer recipients who have the best chance of being traded this season, thus preventing them from receiving that designation.

At issue, of course, is draft pick compensation and forfeiture. A team extending a qualifying offer to a player receives a draft pick in return if the player signs elsewhere. The signing team also gives up a draft pick. But a player who has been traded in the season before he becomes a free agent can’t be extended a qualifying offer and thus isn’t attached to draft picks. That can be an important consideration for teams shopping for free agents, as we’ve seen in recent years in the cases of Kyle Lohse, Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, whose markets have all shrunk in part because of the qualifying offer.

Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, Reds. The Reds are off to a 4-0 start but still aren’t that likely to contend, which means that Cueto and Leake could hit the free agent market this summer. Trading Cueto, in particular, would be a great way for the Reds to add to their collection of young talent. Leake might be somewhat trickier to trade, since the Reds’ return might not be worth that much more than the draft pick and negotiating leverage they would forgo by dealing him.

Ben Zobrist and Scott Kazmir, Athletics. Billy Beane’s trade for Zobrist this offseason was a somewhat surprising one to begin with. The Athletics could easily contend, but if they don’t, Beane seems unlikely to sit still, and finding a new home for Zobrist wouldn’t be difficult given his versatility. Kazmir is another possibility — if he performs at his 2014 levels, he could receive a qualifying offer if the A’s contend or be traded if they don’t.

Alex Gordon, Royals. The Royals haven’t discussed an extension with Gordon, who would undoubtedly be an attractive trade target if the Royals were to fall out of contention in the AL Central. They’re currently 4-0, however, and there’s still the matter of Gordon’s $12.5MM option. Exercising it would likely not be an optimal financial decision from Gordon’s perspective, but he’s expressed interest in doing so before. If he were to make clear to the Royals that he planned to do so, he almost certainly wouldn’t be a trade candidate.

Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, Padres. San Diego gambled heavily this offseason on the Padres’ ability to win in 2015. If they don’t, A.J. Preller doesn’t seem like the sort of GM to hang onto two key players who are due to become free agents. One possibility if the Padres were to trade Kennedy or especially Upton would be to acquire big-league talent in return, much like the Red Sox did when they dealt Jon Lester last summer. That would enable the Padres to re-tool for 2016, when they’ll still control most of the players they acquired over the winter.

Yovani Gallardo, Rangers. The Brewers exercised what was effectively a $12.4MM 2015 option ($13MM minus a $600K buyout) before trading Gallardo to Texas. His market value likely is somewhere near the value of a qualifying offer, and extending him one wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Rangers if he performs well this season. They could easily trade him rather than doing that, although that might be somewhat difficult given all the higher-impact starters who might be available and the value that would disappear if the ability to extend Gallardo a qualifying offer were to vanish.

Jeff Samardzija, White Sox. The new-look White Sox are 0-4, and GM Rick Hahn has said he will be “nimble” in turning his attention to the future if the organization’s moves to contend this summer don’t work out. That might mean Samardzija could be traded for the third time in a year. He would likely command significant value on the trade market.

Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, Orioles. Davis and Wieters are worth watching, although it’s somewhat unlikely that they’re valuable enough to receive qualifying offers and that they become trade candidates. Davis had a down season in 2014, while Wieters continues to struggle with health problems (and there’s currently no timetable for his return from an elbow injury). If Davis and Wieters are productive and healthy, the Orioles could well contend, and thus it’s unlikely they’ll be traded. If they aren’t, they might not be qualifying offer candidates.


AL East Notes: Orioles, Swihart, Rays, Yankees

After covering five postseason games in St. Petersburg, Florida and two exhibition games at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com is convinced there is a greater passion for the game in Montreal than in Tampa Bay. The Rays aren’t heading north of the border anytime soon; but, in Morosi’s view, this weekend’s big turnout in the Expos’ former home showed that Montrealers feel a greater connection to the team they lost than Tampa Bay fans do for the team they still have.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • The Orioles are still trying to make a trade to give them some flexibility, writes Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com. Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette confirmed to reporters, including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko (via Twitter), submitting the Opening Day roster does not prevent him from making moves. “Once you submit your roster it’s like the regular season,” said Duquette. “You can make moves anytime after you get your roster submitted.” Baltimore will need to make a roster move after its first contest, as Chris Davis will have completed his 25-game suspension for Adderall use.
  • The Red Sox didn’t trade Lars Anderson or Ryan Lavarnway at the peak of their value and they have rebuffed whatever advances the Phillies have made toward Blake Swihart in a Cole Hamels deal. Despite outside pressure from some fans, GM Ben Cherington has always erred on the side of patience, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. “The reason that you fight back against trading a young player you believe in,” Cherington said, “is that, when it does happen, when it works the way you hope it works and the way you think it might work at the major-league level, it’s really impactful. If we think a guy has a good shot to be successful in Boston, we are going to have a presumption to try to keep them.”
  • The Rays appeared to be in learn-now, win-later mode early in the offseason, but they also made several present-day improvements to put themselves in position to win in 2014, opines Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays now believe they have put together a team that is deeper offensively, more athletic, and improved defensively. The pitching situation also appeared to be improved, though the Rays currently have three starters on the shelf.
  • The New York Post’s Joel Sherman posits the Yankees coud miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season and finish with a losing record for the first time since 1992, but their long-term future looks more encouraging that it has in a decade.

Orioles Notes: Howard, Davis, Joseph

Let’s take a look at the latest out of Baltimore:

  • The Orioles are “keeping an eye” on Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. Baltimore is one of nine teams as to which Howard does not enjoy no-trade protection. The Orioles’ level of interest is far from clear, of course, especially since there is no indication that the team has seriously pursued Howard to this point.
  • One player whose present and future would presumably weigh on the addition of someone with Howard’s profile is slugger Chris Davis, who is entering his final year of team control (along with ten other current Orioles). As Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun reports, Davis is keeping a close eye on how Baltimore proceeds in considering his future. You’ll want to give this piece a full read, as it has several interesting quotes from Davis, who expressed how much he likes playing for the O’s while also making clear that he thinks the team will need to make new investments to keep pace in the AL East.
  • Baltimore has obviously achieved significant value from its lower-profile acquisitions in recent years, with Davis himself being perhaps the prime example. One player who has been a surprising contributor is backstop Caleb Joseph, as Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. Before breaking in at the big league level last year, the 28-year-old spent every offseason as a wage laborer. Joseph is not alone in that, of course, and Encina discusses the hard work put in by several other Orioles in an interesting look at that side of the game.