Chris Withrow Rumors

NL East Notes: Gordon, Hech, Stanton, Nats, Phils, Braves

The Marlins‘ top two extension priorities over the offseason are middle infielders Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports. It remains to be seen whether Miami will be able to gain traction in talks with the pair, which it already controls through the 2018 campaign. But, per Frisaro, the club is more concerned with striking new deals with Gordon and/or Hechavarria than it is with acquiring any particular player on the open market. A deal with Jose Fernandez still seems unlikely, he writes, and the same holds true of Marcell Ozuna.

More from Miami and the rest of the NL East:

  • While it remains unclear whether Fernandez will make it back to the Marlins this year, slugger Giancarlo Stanton appears to be on track to return to action at some point, as the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com). Stanton began hitting yesterday, though his precise timetable remains unclear. The club will surely be cautious given its place in the standings and massive commitment to the 25-year-old.
  • Nationals ownership is “unhappy” with the team’s performance this year, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It would be hard to imagine any other general reaction to a club that suddenly finds itself below the .500 mark despite a big payroll and high expectations, of course, and it’s not at all clear whether that sentiment will manifest itself in any modification in the decisionmaking structure. Rosenthal goes on to discuss the team’s front office situation, but it all seems to boil down to one key point: change is unlikely unless the Lerner family no longer wishes to place its trust in GM and president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo. (For what it’s worth, from my perspective, it seems difficult to blame him for the sudden fall-off of numerous key contributors, and the organization appears well-prepared for a coming offseason that will feature roster turnover at multiple key positions.)
  • The insurance policy on Matt Harrison‘s contract — which was acquired by the Phillies in the Cole Hamels deal — could still pay out to Philadelphia, Rosenthal suggests, though there is plenty of uncertainty. As he notes, too, the Phils would need to use at least some of any savings to fill in innings that might otherwise be occupied by the veteran lefty.
  • The future for the Phillies, of course, will depend less on freeing some extra cash than it will on the development of the team’s best young players. Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News profiles one if the organization’s most important assets: 20-year-old shortstop J.P. Crawford.
  • Braves reliever Chris Withrow, who was acquired along with Juan Uribe earlier this year, is progressing but likely won’t pitch this year, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Withrow is still working back from Tommy John and back surgeries. Meanwhile, another Atlanta upside grab — Rule 5 pick Daniel Winkler — is on track to take the bump in fall or winter league action, O’Brien adds on Twitter. Once activated from the DL, Winkler will need to stick on the active roster next year for the club to retain his rights.

Braves, Dodgers Swap Callaspo, Uribe In Six-Player Deal; Dodgers Designate Stults

WEDNESDAY, 3:30pm: The deal is official, with both teams announcing it. Stults has been acquired and designated in one fell swoop, indicating that he was included in large part to offset Uribe’s salary. With more than three but less than five years of service, Stults will have the right to elect free agency if he clears outright waivers, but would have to give up his guaranteed salary to do so.

On the Los Angeles side of the deal, only Callaspo will head to the club’s active roster. Jaime will look to work into form at extended spring training, while Thomas will take a job at Triple-A.

2:55pm: The Braves paid Callaspo $100K to waive his no-trade rights, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

8:41am: Callaspo received a “stipend” as inducement to agree the trade, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweets.

TUESDAY: Trade talks between the Dodgers and Braves regarding Alberto Callaspo and Juan Uribe fell apart Tuesday morning after Callaspo vetoed the transaction, but talks rekindled just hours later after Callaspo had a change of heart, and the two sides have reportedly reached a deal, pending approval from the commissioner’s office. The Braves will acquire Uribe and right-hander Chris Withrow from the Dodgers in exchange for Callaspo, right-hander Juan Jaime and left-handers Ian Thomas and Eric Stults.

"<strong

As a player that signed as a free agent just this offseason, Callaspo was ineligible to be traded prior to June 15 without his consent. After news of the revitalized deal broke, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that Callaspo reconsidered after his initial decision to stay with a team that wanted him traded weighed on him further.

Though the Dodgers are surrendering talent to acquire him, it’s worth wondering how long Callaspo will be retained by his new team. The Dodgers, earlier this season, were content to acquire Ryan Webb and release him almost immediately in order to acquire a Competitive Balance draft pick from the Orioles. The Dodgers may view this as a means of shedding a bit of payroll and unclogging their logjam at third base, though that’s still purely speculative at this point.

The Dodgers have Alex Guerrero, Justin Turner, Hector Olivera and, eventually Corey Seager as potential in-house options at the hot corner, making both Uribe and Callaspo seem somewhat expendable. Callaspo has batted just .206/.293/.252 for the Braves this season, so his on-field production isn’t necessarily something the Dodgers would view as an upgrade, even though he has a superior track record to that output. Callaspo is capable of handling multiple infield positions, but while that versatility is appealing, the same could be said of Turner, who has experience at more positions and superior numbers at the plate.

From the Braves’ standpoint, the team likely views Uribe as an upgrade over Callaspo and, quite possibly, the injured Chris Johnson (who will be activated from the DL later this week). Uribe has posted consistently excellent defensive marks at third base over the past three seasons, and he batted .295/.334/.439 while playing half his games at the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium from 2013-14. He’s off to a slow start in 2015 — .247/.287/.309 in 87 PAs — but he’s also been slowed by a hamstring injury.

Financially speaking, the Braves are actually taking on some money in this deal, assuming there’s none changing hands (and there has not been, to this point). Uribe is earning $6.5MM in 2015 — the final season of a three-year contract. That means he has about $4.69MM remaining on his contract, which is more than double the $2.16MM remaining on the one-year, $3MM contract signed by Callaspo with Atlanta this offseason. Stults’ minor league contract came with a $2MM base upon making the roster, meaning about $1.44MM is left on his commitment. In total, then, the Braves are taking on just over $1MM in additional salary in order to add Uribe and Withrow.

Withrow, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery at this time, is slated to return from his operation in the second half of the season after undergoing surgery 51 weeks ago, on June 3, 2014. A hard-throwing reliever and former first-round pick of the Dodgers (2007), Withrow spent parts of the 2013-14 seasons pitching in relief for L.A., and doing so quite effectively.

The 56 innings he accumulated in those two seasons are the only Major League work on his resume, but he made quite the impression, registering a 2.73 ERA with 11.4 K/9, 5.0 BB/9, a 39.7 percent ground-ball rate and a fastball that averaged 95.7 mph. It should be noted that while Withrow’s BB/9 rate looks a bit troubling, eight of his 31 Major League walks came over his final 8 2/3 innings prior to Tommy John; his control looked markedly better in 2013, and Baseball America noted prior to the 2014 season that he’d significantly improved upon his ability to locate his fastball.

The 28-year-old Thomas has worked to a 3.94 ERA with 18 strikeouts against 11 walks in 16 innings of relief for the Braves over the past two seasons. Thomas primarily throws a fastball, curveball and changeup, and he posted generally strong marks over the course of his minor league tenure after being signed out of indy ball. The Dodgers aren’t particularly short on left-handed relief, with J.P. Howell, Adam Liberatore and Paco Rodriguez all serving as MLB-caliber options, but Thomas will further give them some depth in that regard.

Stults, 35, was actually drafted by the Dodgers in 2002 and spent parts of four seasons with the team from 2006-09. Of course, that was under different ownership and a different front office. Since that time, Stults bounced around the league a bit before settling into the Padres’ rotation from 2012-14. Over those three seasons, the southpaw worked to a 3.87 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 472 innings. Despite that relatively solid production, Stults was non-tendered this offseason and signed a minor league contract with the Braves, beating out Wandy Rodriguez for the fifth spot in Atlanta’s rotation. The results for Stults haven’t been particularly appealing, however, as he’s posted a 6.34 ERA with a 30-to-13 K/BB ratio in 44 innings out of the Braves’ rotation. The Dodgers may feel that a move back to the NL West will allow him to rediscover some success, and the team clearly is in need of some rotation depth after losing Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu for the season due to Tommy John and shoulder surgeries, respectively.

Jaime, the fourth piece headed to the Dodgers, is a hard-throwing right-hander that found himself designated for assignment earlier this season. He broke camp in the Braves’ bullpen but made just two appearances before being designated for assignment. The 27-year-old cleared waivers and remained with the organization at the time, but his 96 mph average fastball will now be property of the Dodgers. Jaime has just 13 2/3 innings of experience in the big leagues, but he’s posted a lifetime 3.12 ERA with 12.9 K/9 in the minors. However, Jaime has also walked 6.3 hitters per nine in his career, including an alarming 42 walks in 44 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the re-kindled talks, the completion of the trade, and the inclusion of Withrow and Stults (All links to Twitter). MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that Thomas and Jaime were in the trade (Twitter links). Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez first told reporters, including Bowman, that Callaspo was being discussed in trades last night (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL West Notes: Padres, Greinke, Withrow

The Padres are baseball’s most improved team, opines Jim Duquette of MLB.com. The additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Derek Norris should revive an offense that has slumbered for years. GM A.J. Preller managed to overhaul the offense without dipping into his starting pitching depth nor by trading the team’s best prospects. For what it’s worth, I’m more impressed by the efforts of the Cubs, who Duquette lists as the fifth most improved club.

  • Dodgers starter Zack Greinke has not decided if he will opt out of his contract following the 2015 season, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The 31-year-old signed a six-year, $147MM contract prior to the 2013 season, but he can opt out following next season. He’s averaged a 2.67 ERA over the last two seasons, which could set him up for another big, multi-year contract in free agency. In the past, we’ve seen CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez leverage opt outs with the Yankees to gain more guaranteed dollars and years. Greinke may take the same approach with the Dodgers. Per his comments, he seems comfortable in Los Angeles.
  • Greinke doesn’t believe the Dodgers improved via “addition by subtraction” this offseason. Outgoing players like Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Dee Gordon, and Brian Wilson weren’t distractions in the clubhouse per Greinke. President Andrew Friedman has admitted the club might lose a little on offense, but the goal is to replace the runs scored with better defense and depth.
  • Reliever Chris Withrow may be a long shot to help the Dodgers this season, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles (via Twitter). The righty has pitched well in parts of two seasons with Los Angeles, with a 2.73 ERA, 11.41 K/9, and 4.98 BB/9 in 56 innings. He’s currently recovering from Tommy John and back surgeries. The back issue has slowed the timetable for his Tommy John rehab.


NL West Notes: Withrow, Black, Billingsley, Romak, Rockies

Yet another name can be added to the long list of Tommy John victims this season, as Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times tweets that Dodgers right-hander Chris Withrow has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, and Tommy John is, unsurprisingly, the recommended treatment. The 25-year-old Withrow had a 2.95 ERA in 21 1/3 innings for the Dodgers this season, averaging 11.8 K/9 but also an unsightly 7.6 BB/9. His loss only further depletes a Dodger bullpen that entered Thursday with just the 22nd-ranked bullpen ERA in the Majors at 4.03. More from the NL West…

  • MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom looks at what a stabilizing force manager Bud Black has been on the Padres since assuming the role in 2007. Bloom asked Black if his team being in a constant state of rebuilding or recovering from overwhelming injuries is taxing, to which Black replied: It makes it tough in the short term. You hope you have some players who do find their way and become successful Major Leaguers. I mean, all of us want to win whether you’re in New York, L.A., Detroit or Texas.” As Bloom notes, Black has been a constant through three ownership groups, three GMs and multiple club presidents.
  • Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley is on the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery and took a positive step in his recovery by throwing a 30-pitch simulated game today, writes MLB.com’s Earl Bloom. Manager Don Mattingly said Billingsley could either have one more simulated game or head right to a minor league rehab assignment, depending on how his arm reacts to today’s work. Billingsley’s rehab is worth keeping an eye on, as he has a $14MM club option ($3MM buyout) and could be an interesting free agent if that option isn’t exercised.
  • It’s been a long road to the Majors for Dodgers outfielder Jamie Romak, writes Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. Romak, who is in his 12th minor league season since being drafted in the eighth round by the Braves back in 2003, was called up to replace Carl Crawford on the active roster when Crawford hit the DL. He called the promotion a “dream come true.”
  • Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post wrote earlier in the week that the Rockies need to take action by promoting some of their highly touted Double-A Tulsa right-handers. Saunders wrote that the “Tulsa Trio” — Eddie Butler, Jon Gray and Daniel Winkler — are all near-MLB-ready and should be leveraged to give the Rox a shot at their first NL West title. He opines that the offense is good enough to win the division if the team can improve its 4.09 rotation ERA. Manager Walt Weiss told Saunders that when it comes to Butler “the development is behind him,” and he doesn’t have much to prove in the minor leagues.