Chris Owings Rumors
Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks has suffered "damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow," the club announced today. Tommy John surgery is the initial recommended course of action for Corbin, a source tells the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro (Twitter). The 24-year-old, however, will seek a second opinion and will not be with the team to start the year. Needless to say, the injury could have wide-ranging implications for the club, which has spent big to win and has top prospect Archie Bradley waiting in the wings. Corbin is the most recent in a sudden run of young pitchers facing arm issues, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote earlier this morning, discussing the state of pitching injuries in the game. Here are some more notes from the division, as it gets ready to kick-start the season in Australia:
- The Diamondbacks plan to give Chris Owings the starting shortstop job, reports ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Insider link). Preferring his bat to the glove of fellow youngster Didi Gregorius, Arizona could now be in a position to trade the latter. Gregorius had a solid rookie debut last year, putting up average defensive marks and a .252/.332/.373 triple-slash (along with seven home runs) in 404 plate appearances. Some believe he will have greater defensive value moving forward, making him a fairly attractive piece for teams in need of shortstop help, though Arizona appears determined to command a big return in a trade.
- The Rockies are looking at the trade market for a right-handed setup option, Bowden reports in the same piece. Of course, he also adds that LaTroy Hawkins is likely to cede the closer role to lefty Rex Brothers at some point, which would make Hawkins available (along with Matt Belisle) as a late-inning righty.
- Meanwhile, Colorado "remain[s] concerned with their leadoff spot and center field," both of which were vacated when the team decided to trade Dexter Fowler to the Astros to create payroll flexibility. This report caps off a confusing round of musical chairs for the Rockies. After trading away Dexter Fowler and his $7.35MM salary (along with whatever he'll earn through arbitration next year), the team added an aging Justin Morneau for nearly as much (two years, $12.5MM) and gave situational lefty Boone Logan the third-largest guarantee of any reliever this offseason (three years, $18.5MM). The team then dealt serviceable southpaw Josh Outman for Drew Stubbs, who is now part of a three-man group (including Brandon Barnes, who came in the Fowler deal, and Charlie Blackmon) that will probably form some kind of platoon in center, according to Bowden.
- Of course, Bowden adds, the Rockies also took on salary in adding starter Brett Anderson via trade. He has reportedly been very impressive, looking healthy and throwing like he did before his string of injury issues.
- The Rockies face a number of roster battles that are still too close to call, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The team is not inclined at present to trade away Blackmon or fellow left-handed-swinging Corey Dickerson, though that may become an option at some point.
- We learned earlier this morning that Dodgers catcher Miguel Olivo is seeking his release to pursue opportunities with another club.
Ruben Tejada is penciled in as the Mets' Opening Day shortstop, yet rumors continue to persist that the Mets are looking to upgrade the position. The latest...
- The Mets are keeping an eye on the Diamondbacks' shortstop competition and a source tells John Harper of the New York Daily News that the Mets "could jump in" to obtain Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings before Opening Day. When last we heard of the Mets/D'Backs shortstop talks, New York catching prospect Kevin Plawecki wasn't considered enough for either Gregorius or Owings, and Harper believes the Mets would have to move Plawecki and a minor league pitcher to make a deal work.
- Also from Harper, the Mets are still scouting Nick Franklin, and trying to decide if he can handle the shortstop job on a regular basis. Ninety of Franklin's 92 starts for the Mariners last season came as a second baseman, and while Franklin played more short than second in the minors, Seattle considered Brad Miller to be a better option than Franklin at shortstop.
- Stephen Drew, of course, remains available as a free agent, though GM Sandy Alderson again told reporters (including ESPN New York's Adam Rubin) that Drew's continued availability and the Braves' signing of Ervin Santana hasn't changed his club's stance. “I’m not interpreting it in terms of ‘our situation,’” Alderson said. “I don’t know that we have a situation here.” Alderson doesn't think Drew will hold out until June to escape the draft pick compensation hanging over his head, though the Mets GM believes Drew could wait to sign after Opening Day to ensure he wouldn't receive another qualifying offer next winter.
- Though Tejada hasn't gotten off to a good start in Grapefruit League action, Alderson said “it won’t be a judgment based on one game or two games or three games. We’ve got a lot of spring training left. In the meantime, we’ll continue to look at our other options.”
The Diamondbacks have a good deal of depth at shortstop, as they feel that both Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings are capable Major League shortstops. In addition, three more names on Baseball America's list of Top 30 Diamonsbacks prospects -- Nick Ahmed, Sergio Alcantara and Jose Munoz -- are shortstops. This has led to some speculation that the Diamondbacks could trade a shortstop in order to address other needs in the organization, and Marc Carig of Newsday now reports (via Twitter) that the Diamondbacks have targeted young catchers in discussing shortstop trades with the Mets.
However, Carig adds that the Mets aren't a good fit for a trade with the D-Backs. Arizona is said to be seeking a Travis d'Arnaud type of talent in exchange for one of their shortstops and doesn't deem fellow catcher Kevin Plawecki a good enough return. As such, the Mets and D-Backs haven't had recent trade discussions about Arizona's shorstops (Twitter links).
For some context, Plawecki ranked fifth on BA's Top 30 Mets prospects heading into the 2014 season. BA calls him a safe bet to bat around .280 and hit somewhere in the range of a dozen homers at his peak level, and his bat is good enough to profile as a starting catcher, according to their scouting report. He has an average arm and is solid when it comes to blocking pitches, per BA.
The Diamondbacks currently have Miguel Montero installed as their everyday catcher, but the 30-year-old's offense slipped in 2013. After batting .283/.361/.457 from 2009-12, Montero slashed just .230/.318/.344 in 475 plate appearances last season. The decline was rapid and clearly unexpected, as it came in the first season of a five-year, $60MM extension that Montero inked in May 2012. He's set to earn $10MM this coming season, $12MM in 2015 and $14MM in 2016-17.
GM Kevin Towers could include a current starter such as Trevor Cahill or Randall Delgado along with one of his shortstops in order to land a more established pitcher, Rosenthal adds. The Snakes have the depth to make that work, with Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy, Cahill and Delgado projected to fill out their 2014 rotation as it stands right now.
TUESDAY: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke to a source who said the Diamondbacks are out on Shin-Soo Choo after acquiring Mark Trumbo and have now turned their focus to adding a front-line starting pitcher (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks have been in touch with Matt Garza's agent but notes that he also wouldn't rule out a trade centering around one of Arizona's young shortstops (Twitter links). Arizona is hesitant to sign pitchers to long-term deals, Piecoro adds.
Save for a report that he's willing to return to the Twins, t's been pretty quiet on the Garza front to this point. Many pundits believe that to be a result of the uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka's availability. The 30-year-old Garza posted his seventh straight season of a sub-4.00 ERA in 2013, posting a 3.82 mark in 155 1/3 innings between the Cubs and Rangers. Though he began the year on the disabled list, Garza made all of his starts upon returning and posted solid rates of 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.
The trade market offers David Price and Jeff Samardzija, both of whom have been oft-connected to the Diamondbacks. The Phillies are also said to be willing to move both Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, although their unwillingness to eat any salary in order to facilitate a deal makes the D-Backs a tough fit for the Philly aces.
3:30pm: The Diamondbacks may also be looking to the trade market for power bats, according to a recent series of tweets from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal reports that the D-Backs and A's recently discussed a trade that would send Yoenis Cespedes to Arizona in exchange for Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pollock and others. Both sides have cooled on the idea and backed off the trade at this time, however, and the A's would only trade Cespedes for a "monster" return, according to Rosenthal. Still, as he points out, it serves as an example that the Diamondbacks will be aggressive and creative in their search for a power bat in the outfield.
1:54pm: The Diamondbacks are motivated to swing a trade for an ace-caliber pitcher, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick spoke with Arizona GM Kevin Towers, president/CEO Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick in an excellent, in-depth breakdown of the situation. While Towers was quick to say that no player is untouchable, he sounded loath to part with prized pitching prospect Archie Bradley, a consensus Top 10 MLB prospect. Asked about the possiblity of trading Bradley, he replied:
"I don't see that happening. Not that anybody is untouchable, but we're hoping he's our David Price, and we can control him [for several years]. He's gonna get every opportunity to crack our rotation this spring ... He's not looking to make our rotation as the fifth guy -- he's looking to make it as the ace."
Hall pointed to the Diamondbacks' success in 2011 when Ian Kennedy finished fourth in the Cy Young race, noting how impactful having a "No. 1 type starter" was to that year's team. Hall expects activity to pick up: "We're getting a lot of calls and making a lot of calls, and we can see the interest is there. We're probably a good fit for a lot of clubs."
In addition to enviable pitching depth, the Diamondbacks also have several intriguing shortstops in the form of Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed. Martin Prado's presence means that Arizona could also be inclined to include Matt Davidson in potential trades, and the presence of both A.J. Pollock could mean that Adam Eaton is attainable as well, notes Crasnick.
Crasnick lists familiar trade targets Price and Jeff Samardzija for the Diamondbacks, though Price has had multiple ace-caliber seasons while Samardzija has more so flashed ace potential. Crasnick adds that Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado, each of whom is still younger than 24, may be more likely to be included in potential trades.
The Diamondbacks are also looking to add an impact bat to the outfield, though that addition may be more likely to come via free agency, reports Crasnick. Big-name items like Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson may not fit into Arizona's payroll, which could lead to pursuits of names like Corey Hart and Michael Morse, though there are many who don't consider either one to be capable of handling the outfield at this point.
Earlier today, it was reported that the Dodgers are nearing a deal with Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero, who has officially been cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control to sign with a Major League team. Here's more out of the NL West...
- Padres GM Josh Byrnes isn't sure what this offseason will hold, but he told MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom that he's certain that the team's payroll will go up again. Byrnes also spoke about his feelings on the Mat Latos trade in hindsight. Since the swap, Yasmani Grandal was hit with a 50-game suspension and has missed time with injury, Yonder Alonso has been hurt, and Edinson Volquez was released after a disappointing 2013 season.
- The Diamondbacks will take a long look at Chris Owings over the final weeks of the season as they try to evaluate their shortstop position in the long-term, manager Kirk Gibson tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Owings won Pacific Coast League MVP honors this season by hitting .330/.359/.482 with 12 homers and 20 steals. Gibson praised his positive attitude in the face of last offseasons acquisitions of Didi Gregorius, Nick Ahmed and Cliff Pennington. Gregorius, who started out the season on a hot streak, has hit just .208/.288/.277 over his past 55 games, opening the door for Owings to make an impression.
- Wilton Lopez's disappointing season and Matt Belisle's regression will likely force the Rockies to rebuild their bullpen this offseason, even if it means overpaying for arms, opines Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Sulia link). The Rockies will also be without Rafael Betancourt, who elected to undergo Tommy John surgery and could retire due to the injury.