Chris Denorfia Rumors

Orioles Notes: Matusz, Young, Denorfia, Gomes

The Orioles are looking hard for an outfielder, as they’ve been linked to Justin Upton and Marlon Byrd in trade rumors today, though they’re apparently no longer pursuing Matt Kemp.  Here’s some more from Charm City…

  • While the Orioles aren’t shopping Brian Matusz, the lefty reliever is apparently available for the right offer, according to the buzz MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko is hearing around the Winter Meetings.  Matusz, the fourth overall pick of the 2008 draft, struggled as a starter before being converted to relief pitching in 2012 and he’s since posted solid numbers out of the bullpen.  Matusz has two more years of team control and, as Kubatko notes, his value is tied to whether other clubs see him as a starter or a reliever going forward.
  • A rival scout considered the O’s to be the “overwhelming favorite” to sign Delmon Young, Kubatko reports.  Young was reportedly looking for a multiyear deal while the Orioles were looking to re-sign him to a one-year pact, though it has been rumored that the team could compromise by offering a one-year deal with an option.  Dan Duquette met with Young’s agent today.
  • The Orioles have asked about Chris Denorfia and Jonny Gomes, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports via an article and a tweet, respectively.  Denorfia and Gomes check many of the same boxes as Young, as all three are veteran right-handed hitters who can play corner outfield spots, though Gomes is best suited for LF and Young will likely see more time in a DH role.

Reds Notes: Promotions, Free Agents, Frazier, Leake

Earlier this month, the Reds made their front office addition of Kevin Towers official, but that’s far from the only change they made. As MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports, the Reds have also promoted VP of baseball operations Dick Williams to VP/assistant general manager, giving him a larger role in the club’s decision-making process. Presumably, he’ll assume some of the responsibilities of well-regarded veteran AGM Bob Miller, who is now with the Nationals. Promoted to senior director positions were Nick Krall (baseball operations) and Sam Grossman (analytics). As for Towers’ official title, he will be a special assistant to GM Walt Jocketty, as will fellow new hire Jeff Schugel, who worked with Atlanta in a similar capacity last year.

Here are some more Reds notes…

  • In a second column, Sheldon examines some free agent outfield options that are on the Reds’ radar or at least should be, in his eyes. Sheldon lists Nori Aoki, Mike Morse, Torii Hunter, Colby Rasmus, Alex Rios and Chris Denorfia as potential fits, though he notes that sources have indicated to him there’s been no contact with Hunter or Denorfia to this point. Interest in Aoki and Morse has been confirmed by Jocketty, but it’s unclear whether the Reds have touched base with Rasmus or Rios.
  • John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer looks at how the Mariners’ reported extension of Kyle Seager has increased the price of a potential extension for Todd Frazier. Both third basemen are arbitration-eligible for the first time (or Seager was, prior to his extension, at least). Frazier is a year older than Seager but the two posted very similar batting lines in 2014, have good defensive marks and are comparable in terms of WAR. I’d think Frazier’s case is a bit weaker due to a less consistent offensive track record and the age difference, but the two are certainly comparable. Seager’s extension is said to be worth $100MM over seven seasons.
  • In this week’s edition of the MLBTR Podcast, site owner Tim Dierkes chatted with host Jeff Todd about speculation surrounding the Reds and Red Sox as trade partners. The Reds could theoretically benefit from Cespedes’ bat and have comparably priced pitchers to trade, leading some to wonder about a potential deal with Cespedes and Mat Latos. However, Tim posits that Mike Leake could be a safer option for the Red Sox as a centerpiece in a Cespedes trade, given his clean injury history. Leake’s taken a step forward over the past two seasons, pitching to a combined 3.54 ERA in 406 2/3 innings in Cincinnati’s very hitter-friendly stadium. Latos made just 16 starts and lost nearly two mph off his fastball. Tim and I have discussed this scenario as well. We both agree that Leake, who would hit the market at the young age of 28 next offseason, could net his 2015 club a draft pick assuming he isn’t traded midseason and is capable of turning in something in the vicinity of the 104 ERA+ he’s notched over the past two seasons.

Indians Out On Headley, Interested In Morales, Denorfia

Although the Indians were connected to free agent third baseman Chase Headley as recently as last night, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Headley won’t be coming to Cleveland, as he’s considered too expensive. The Indians did indeed reach out to Headley’s camp a few times before making that assertion, Hoynes adds.

Cleveland might not be a significant player on the free agent market at all, Hoynes writes, though they have contacted the agents for Kendrys Morales and Chris Denorfia. Cleveland’s interest in Morales dates back to 2006 when he was a free agent defector from Cuba. The switch-hitting Scott Boras client struggled in 2014, hitting a combined .218/.274/.338 in 401 plate appearances between the Twins and Mariners. However, Morales may have struggled due to sitting out through June 8, and he did enter the 2014 season as a lifetime .280/.333/.480 hitter in eight seasons. As Hoynes notes, Morales would become a more plausible target for the Indians if they’re able to unload Nick Swisher‘s contract, which they’ve reportedly been trying to do.

Denorfia, 34, also struggled in 2014, batting .230/.284/.318 between the Padres and Mariners. While he’s never had Morales’ upside at the plate, Denorfia has a long track record of hitting left-handed pitching and has excellent defensive marks in both outfield corners (plus the ability to play center in a pinch). A career .292/.358/.430 hitter against left-handed pitching, Denorfia could provide the Indians with a solid glove to pair with David Murphy in an outfield platoon, as Murphy hit just .238/.279/.325 against lefties last year and has a history of struggles against same-handed pitching.



Mariners Acquire Chris Denorfia

The Mariners have acquired Chris Denorfia from the Padres in exchange for outfielder Abraham Almonte and minor league right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen, the teams announced.

Chris Denorfia

Denorfia, 34, is hitting just .242/.293/.319 this season, but he’s a proven weapon against left-handed pitching — a clear point of weakness for Seattle. While he hasn’t hit lefties or righties in 2014, Denorfia is a lifetime .301/.367/.447 hitter against southpaws. He’s also a plus defender at either corner outfield spot and can handle center in a pinch, though defensive metrics don’t like his work there.

The Mariners have hit just .244/.298/.371 against left-handed pitching this season, and their outfielders have been even worse against southpaws, hitting a combined .246/.287/.346. Denorfia is a free agent at season’s end.

Almonte, 24, opened the season as Seattle’s leadoff hitter and everyday center fielder, but he struggled offensively, hitting just .198/.248/.292 in 113 plate appearances before being sent down. He’s been markedly better at Triple-A Tacoma, slashing .267/.333/.390 with six homers and seven stolen bases on the season. Baseball America ranked him as Seattle’s No. 17 prospect heading into the season.

As for the 25-year-old Kohlscheen, he was unranked by BA but is enjoying a strong season between Double-A and Triple-A. The Auburn University product, drafted in the 45th round in 2010, has a 2.70 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 56 2/3 innings of relief work this season.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported that Denorfia was going to Seattle (on Twitter), while Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted Abraham’s inclusion, and MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweeted Kohlscheen’s inclusion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


New York Notes: Yanks, Byrd, Murphy, Colon

With the trade deadline less than three hours away, here are some notes out of the Big Apple…

Earlier Updates

  • The Yankees aren’t focusing on any major trades, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. They’re looking for an upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki in right field — Marlon Byrd is still possible, he notes — as well as some help for the bullpen.
  • The Nationals have called the Mets to express interest in Daniel Murphy, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but a trade between the division rivals is unlikely. Rosenthal noted earlier today that Washington also has interest in Asdrubal Cabrera.
  • The Orioles have checked in on Bartolo Colon, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, the Mets aren’t sure whether or not they’ll trade him at this time yet. The Mets have signaled a definite willingness to move Colon, though GM Sandy Alderson isn’t one to simply dump salary in trades, so based on Heyman’s writing, it seems that the O’s probably haven’t made any form of significant offer.
  • There’s no traction between the Royals and the Mets for Colon, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino adds that barring a change, the Mets don’t seem likely to be active today, but he’d be surprised if Colon were with the Mets in 2015.
  • Sherman also hears that the Mets are likely to stand pat today (Twitter link). The Mets feel that a better market will develop for Colon in the offseason, when he’ll have just one year and $11MM remaining on his contract.

Royals And Braves In Lead To Land Padres’ Denorfia

11:44am: The Mariners consider Denorfia a fallback option if they are unable to acquire Alex Rios, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

11:20am: The Mariners also have interest, according to a tweet from Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune.

11:15am: The Padres are very likely to move outfielder Chris Denorfia today, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who says that the Royals and Braves are currently the two likeliest destinations.

A pending free agent, Denorfia has scuffled to a .244/.295/.321 line this year. But the 34-year-old has a .810 career OPS against lefties, and would bring a solid glove (and plenty of experience coming off the bench) to a contender.


Latest On Royals’ Search For Outfielder

The Royals are in the market for a right-handed hitting bat to play right field, but ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the team isn’t in on Boston’s Jonny Gomes or Minnesota’s Josh Willingham (Twitter links). Additionally, Crasnick tweets that he isn’t sure the Royals view Chris Denorfia and Justin Ruggiano as upgrades over Justin Maxwell, who is hitting well in Triple-A.

The Royals don’t feel that Gomes is capable of handling right field, and the same applies to Willingham as well. (As Crasnick notes, Willingham’s July swoon hasn’t helped his value.) Crasnick hears from one AL executive that the Twins would very much like to move Willingham, but they’re simply not getting much interest at this time.

Gomes, Willingham, and Denorfia are all free agents at season’s end, while Ruggiano would remain under team control via arbitration. The Royals were said at one point to have interest in Marlon Byrd, but a report yesterday indicated that they were backing off both Byrd and Alex Rios. The Royals are on Byrd’s limited no-trade clause, and he’d reportedly like the Royals to guarantee his $8MM option for 2016 in order to waive that clause.

If you’re wondering who else could be available, MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently took a look at the trade market for corner outfielders.


Stark’s Latest: Lester, Miller, Byrd, Kemp, Danks, Rios

With roughly three days until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some highlights from the latest Rumblings & Grumblings column by ESPN’s Jayson Stark

  • The Red Sox have contacted every contending team in each league and told them that Jon Lester is available for a two- to three-prospect package fronted by at least one upper-echelon prospect. One executive, however, tells Stark that the Sox simply can’t get as much as the Rays would get if they moved David Price, which isn’t surprising, given Lester’s impending free agency and the remaining year of control that Price has.
  • Lester isn’t the only player being shopped — Boston has firmly planted a “for sale” sign in the ground, and they’re willing to move any impending free agents with the exception of Koji Uehara, whom they hope to re-sign. They’re peddling Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. The price for Miller is also exorbitant at this time, however, as officials from two interested clubs tell Stark that Boston has asked for one of the top prospects plus a lesser prospect.
  • The Giants have asked the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but their main priority is second base. The Reds are reassessing their stance after losing eight of nine games, and the Royals have backed off of Byrd. The Mariners appears to be the most logical option, but Byrd still wants his $8MM 2016 vesting option guaranteed to approve a trade there.
  • Byrd tells Stark that he’d have to think long and hard if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. came to him and asked him to approve a trade to a team on his no-trade clause. While his hope was to retire a Phillie, he  appreciates how aggressive Amaro was in signing him. “[Ruben] made it easy for me this offseason,” he said. Still, given the odds that he’d want some form of perk to approve a trade, it’s no longer certain that he gets dealt.
  • While the Red Sox and Mariners have been connected to Matt Kemp, officials from other clubs tell Stark they feel an offseason trade is much more likely than an in-season deal.
  • The White Sox have had scouts watching the Yankees‘ surplus of minor league catchers in recent weeks, fueling speculation that the Yanks would like to acquire John Danks.
  • Some officials believe the Yankees would like to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner to pair with Ichiro in Suzuki in right field. New York wants an option that doesn’t have commitments beyond 2014, making names like Justin Ruggiano of the Cubs and Chris Denorfia of the Padres as possible targets. Earlier today it was reported that Denorfia could be moved soon.
  • The Royals have decided that Alex Rios isn’t a good fit for their right field need. Because the team is unable to take on much additional salary (if any), they could wait until August to add a bat.
  • While Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has had a lot of buzz around it, club officials from interested teams tell Stark there’s no indication he is available. Rather, the Rockies are open to moving bullpen arms Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Belisle. However, the team would only move Hawkins if they’re overwhelmed. That seems a bit odd, given his age, but Hawkins does have a cheap club option and has drawn praise in Denver for his mentoring of younger talent.
  • The D’Backs are telling clubs that they’d move Addison Reed, but they don’t want to move Brad Ziegler. Arizona is also willing to move Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez. They’ll listen on Martin Prado and Josh Collmenter, although they’re more hesitant to deal them.
  • The chances of Cliff Lee being traded before August are almost nonexistent. Scouts who have seen him don’t think he looks close to healthy, and the money he’s owed is of course problematic.

Stark’s Latest: Price, Phillies, O’s, Royals, Pirates

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has a new Rumblings & Grumblings column posted in which he runs down a plethora of trade-related topics. You’ll need to read the full post to get all the information and analysis, but here are some of the highlights …

  • The Rays are waiting until next week to make any decisions on whether or not to trade ace David Price. However, as Stark points out, it could still be a difficult judgment call as to whether or not the Rays are close enough to go for it or far enough back to sell. Tampa is currently seven games back of the division lead and four and a half games back from a Wild Card berth.
  • One executive tells Stark that he’s convinced the team will move Price if they get a big enough offer. Said the exec, “They’ve really built their team by making these kinds of deals. But if the return they can get now is something they think they can get this winter, they’ll hold him.” Another exec tells Stark that waiting until the winter could reduce the return in a trade by 30 to 40 percent.
  • Stark runs down the possible landing spots for Price, calling the Dodgers the favorite, but noting that L.A. has said it will not part with both Joc Pederson and Corey Seager, even in a Price trade. The Mariners are the second choice, he notes, with the Cardinals listed third followed by the Giants and Blue Jays (both of whom are painted as long shots by Stark).
  • If the Rays do sell Price, they’ll be open for business and listen on a number of other players, including Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce and Yunel Escobar. Their preference is to deal Price and Zobrist in separate trades, if that comes to pass.
  • The Phillies are the next team that everyone is watching, with nine players that could be moved but contractual problems surrounding many of them. Most execs feel the Phillies will eat money to facilitate deals and aren’t looking to just dump players on other clubs. Specifically, the team is in need of position-player prospects, one exec who has spoken with Philadelphia tells Stark.
  • Marlon Byrd is the most likely to be dealt, with the Mariners, Royals and Reds scouting him. The Reds, however, may not be able to take on Byrd’s remaining $3MM in 2014, and the Mariners and Royals are on his no-trade list.
  • Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee aren’t likely to be dealt, executives tell Stark. In Lee’s case, they feel he’s a lock to clear waivers. One exec tells Stark that he’d be more inclined to take a chance on Lee were he a free agent, but his contract is too risky at this point.
  • Cole Hamels isn’t likely to be dealt either. It’s not that the Phillies aren’t willing to move him, it’s just that the prices they’ve specified consist of packages “that no one would possibly give up.”
  • A.J. Burnett‘s preference is indeed to return to the Pirates, but Pittsburgh would need assurances that he’s not going to exercise his player option for 2015. The Orioles‘ interest is said to be lukewarm, while the Phillies asked the Yankees and were told, “No thanks.”
  • At least half a dozen teams are in on Antonio Bastardo, whom Stark concretely says will be traded in the next week.
  • The Orioles aren’t looking for a closer upgrade over Zach Britton, but they’re looking for a rotation upgrade and a lefty reliever that’s more than just a left-on-left specialist. They’ve shown no interest in dealing Hunter Harvey or Dylan Bundy.
  • The Royals have called on virtually every right-handed hitter on the market, but they’re look specifically at right fielders, including Byrd, Alex Rios, Chris Denorfia and Dayan Viciedo. The first two of those options still look most likely.
  • Stark would be surprised if the Pirates didn’t add at least one pitcher, if not two in the next week, but it’d have to be at least a No. 3 option in terms of starters. On the relief front, they’re looking at seventh-inning arms, as they’re content with Tony Watson in the eighth and Mark Melancon in the ninth.

Padres Need To Be Overwhelmed To Trade Kennedy

The Yankees had a scout in Chicago to watch last night’s start by Ian Kennedy, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, but acquiring him might not be an easy task. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Padres would need to be overwhelmed to move the 29-year-old right-hander.

The Padres bought low on Kennedy at least season’s trade deadline — acquiring him for lefty Joe Thatcher, minor league right-hander Matt Stites and a Competitive Balance draft pick (Round B) — and it proved to be a shrewd move. In 135 1/3 innings for the Friars this season, he’s posted a 3.66 ERA (3.10 FIP) with 9.5 K/9, 2.8 BB.9 and a career-best 42.3 percent ground-ball rate. He’s affordable from a financial standpoint, as he’s earning $6.1MM this year after his second trip through arbitration this past offseason.

Kennedy is controlled through the 2015 season, and as such he could also be marketed in trades this offseason (once San Diego has a new GM in place), or the team could look to extend him as well. He serves as part of a nice trio atop the Padres’ rotation, alongside ace Andrew Cashner and breakout righty Tyson Ross. As such, it’s not surprising to hear that San Diego doesn’t feel any real urgency to move him.

The same hesitancy applies to right-hander Joaquin Benoit, Heyman adds, as the Padres “aren’t resigned” to dealing their new closer (since Huston Street was traded). Benoit is owed $8MM both this season and next, and he’s performing exceptionally well. Detroit was linked to Benoit, but they may be out of that market after landing Joakim Soria. The Pirates and Indians have also shown interest in Benoit, Heyman adds (Cleveland showed interest in Benoit this past offseason as well).

The last remaining Padre who appears likely to be traded is outfielder Chris Denorfia, Heyman writes. The 34-year-old is hitting just .238/.292/.319, but he’s displayed solid defense in right field (UZR and DRS have long liked his work on the outfield corners), and he’s a .299/.366/.443 hitter against lefties.