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The latest installment of Jon Heyman’s weekly Inside Baseball column is up over at CBS Sports, and Heyman begins by addressing the Troy Tulowitzki trade talk that has once again surfaced. Heyman, like many others, feels the time has arrived for the marriage between Tulo and the Rockies to come to an end, but neither Tulowitzki or owner Dick Monfort wants to appear to be the “bad guy” in the situation. Heyman hears that Tulowitzki would prefer to play for the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers or Angels if he is traded, though one person who knows the shortstop well told Heyman that he may ok with the Mets, Cardinals and Red Sox as well. Tulowitzki’s preferred destination is largely a moot point though, as his contract doesn’t have a no-trade clause. Heyman notes that in a year’s time, Tulowitzki will receive 10-and-5 rights, allowing him to veto any deal. That reality only furthers Colorado’s need to move Tulowitzki, Heyman opines. Heyman also lists 11 clubs that he could see making some degree of sense for the face of the Rockies’ franchise.
Some more highlights from a lengthy but always-informative column…
- The Cubs “may consider” Rafael Soriano at some point as a means of lengthening their bullpen, according to Heyman. I’d note that while the team has looked a bit thin beyond Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, the Cubs just got Justin Grimm back from the disabled list and likely won’t be without Neil Ramirez for too much longer.
- Astros top prospect — and arguably the top prospect in all of MLB — Carlos Correa could be up to the Majors within three weeks, one Houston source estimated to Heyman. Also of note on the Astros front, he writes that a pursuit of Cole Hamels would appear to be a long shot, but Scott Kazmir (Houston native) and Clay Buchholz are names to keep an eye on for Houston, should either become available.
- Kyle Lohse seems like a natural candidate to be traded this offseason, but the Brewers are particularly interested in shedding Matt Garza‘s contract. The right-hander is guaranteed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn the same rate in each of the following two seasons. Neither pitcher, however, has been particularly impressive for Milwaukee.
- Jean Segura is one of the players that the Brewers have the least interest in trading, but Heyman hears that the Padres would be interested, should Brewers GM Doug Melvin entertain offers. San Diego likes Alexi Amarista but prefers to use him in a utility role rather than as a starter.
- Rival teams seriously doubt that the Mets would ever consider parting ways with Noah Syndergaard, but there’s “a little hope” that the team could be persuaded to part with highly touted left-hander Steven Matz in a trade. Heyman adds that the Mets are going to remain patient with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop for the time being.
- It’s been reported that Yunel Escobar wanted no part of playing with Oakland, and Heyman hears that the reasoning was as simple as the fact that Escobar is very particular when it comes to geographical preferences and wanted to remain on the East coast. A trade to the Nationals accomplished that goal.
- The clause in Alex Guerrero‘s contract that allows him to opt out of his deal and elect free agency at season’s end, if he is traded, hinders his trade value. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but given the presence of Guerrero and the versatile Justin Turner, Juan Uribe could end up as a summer trade candidate for the Dodgers.
- In some agency news, Heyman reports that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will now be represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management — the agent for Gregorius’ predecessor, Derek Jeter. Gregorius had previously been repped by the Wasserman Media Group.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alexi Amarista | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Correa | Chicago Cubs | Clay Buchholz | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | Didi Gregorius | Hector Rondon | Houston Astros | Jean Segura | Juan Uribe | Kyle Lohse | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Matt Garza | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Noah Syndergaard | Oakland Athletics | Rafael Soriano | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Scott Kazmir | St. Louis Cardinals | Steven Matz | Troy Tulowitzki | Wilmer Flores | Yunel Escobar
We recently look a look at the Boston outfield situation, noting that the logjam still seemed in need of clearance. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in response to a fan that the Red Sox need to trade Allen Craig, Shane Victorino, or both. A healthy Victorino, he continues, would likely either be a regular in the outfield or be traded. Cafardo adds that he does not expect a bench role to suit the veteran, although Boston would likely have to eat some of Victorino’s $13MM salary to trade him.
Here are some more notes out of Boston, all via WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford:
- The Red Sox had “numerous discussions” with Scott Boras about Max Scherzer over the offseason, Bradford reports. Boston valued Scherzer on the level of Jon Lester, and eventually came to realize that it was not going to get him at a price the team was willing to pay. Boras never gave any indication that a cut rate might be had for Scherzer, a source tells Bradford, and it seems clear in retrospect that he had good reason for that stance.
- Boston did end up with another talented righty at a much lower cost in Justin Masterson. As Bradford writes, the former Indian bet on himself last year and lost. But he says he has no regrets about failing to reach an extension with Cleveland and settling for a one-year, make-good deal with the Sox. Of course, at a $9.5MM salary, Masterson is receiving quite a nice guarantee while he tries to work through his troubles.
- Another right-handed starter entering a potential contract year for the Red Sox is Clay Buchholz, who Bradford spoke with recently. Suddenly the veteran of the staff, Buchholz’s guaranteed money runs out after this season. The club controls him for two more years through successive options ($13MM and $13.5MM, respectively), but it is far from certain that they will be picked up. Either way, Buchholz is certainly pitching for his next contract, and tells Bradford that he hopes a normal offseason will contribute to a strong 2015.
- Bradford was also among the reporters to speak with Koji Uehara yesterday as Uehara detailed his thought process when it came to re-signing in Boston. “No doubt at all,” said Uehara. “It was the only team I talked to so I was pretty sure if I was going to sign it was going to be with the Red Sox. Since the Red Sox had offers of multiple years that really erased any doubts going into the offseason as a free agent. … Because of my age, it was very important.”
While Red Sox chairman Tom Werner recently implied that the team is likely to do some significant spending on the free agent market this offseason, a source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com that adding two top-tier pitchers isn’t in the club’s offseason blueprint. The team will likely pursue one ace-caliber pitcher, but the feeling within the organization is that there’s enough talent to fill out a championship-caliber rotation. Joe Kelly and Rubby De La Rosa appear to have spots penciled in, and Clay Buchholz has had a resurgence of late. Beyond those three, the Sox have Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, Henry Owens, Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez all in line to compete for rotation spots. It’s still believed that the team will pursue Jon Lester most aggressively, Speier writes, though he also spoke with Rays manager Joe Maddon about the Tampa skipper’s former right-hander, James Shields.
Here’s more on the 2013 World Series champs and their attempt to get out of the cellar in 2015…
- Webster, Workman and Ranaudo have failed to impress in extended looks at the Major League level this season, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. MacPherson has a hard time envisioning GM Ben Cherington heading into the 2015 campaign with two or three unproven arms in the rotation following the struggles that many of the team’s young prospects endured in 2014. Only De La Rosa has shownthe ability to be a piece of next year’s rotation, he concludes. MacPherson spoke with both manager John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves about the struggles that Boston’s young pitchers have endured thus far.
- In a second piece, Speier writes that Mookie Betts has gone “from blocked to building block,” noting that his versatility and upside may have led to him supplanting Xander Bogaerts as the club’s most untouchable asset in trades. Of course, Dustin Pedroia remains under contract at second base and the team has an enviable outfield logjam, so interest in Betts will likely be high, but Speier opines that Betts should be retained, as his versatility would allow the Red Sox to pursue upgrades at a number of positions in the future, knowing that Betts could be moved around the diamond and still thrive.
- Koji Uehara told reporters, including Speier’s colleague Rob Bradford, that the life on his splitter still isn’t there. As Bradford notes, Uehara has experienced a late-season downturn like this before, as he struggled greatly at an oddly similar juncture near the end of his tenure with the Rangers in 2011. The displaced closer adds that he’s not thinking about where he’ll play in 2015 or regaining the ninth inning, but rather trying to finish the season on a high note before “see[ing] what happens in free agency.”
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington chatted with reporters just minutes ago and it’s no surprise to hear his admission that the club was not expecting Xander Bogaerts to struggle to this extent in 2014 (via Tim Britton of The Providence Journal on Twitter). Still just 21, Bogaerts has slashed .226/.293/.339 in 472 plate appearances this season. Earlier this week, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote that the struggles of Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. have left many around the game wondering how good each player truly is. Here’s more out of Boston..
- Peter Gammons (Twitter links) cautions not to read much into waiver trade bites on Bogaerts, Clay Buchholz, Brock Holt, Joe Kelly, Yoenis Cespedes, Christian Vazquez, Burke Badenhop, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks, Daniel Nava, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara.
- Cherington said that he won’t be resistant to trade prospects this off-season, “for the right guy,” tweets Jason Mastrodonato of The Springfield Republican. He added that the club has never been opposed to dealing prospects, but such decisions are “contextual,” tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- The GM wouldn’t give much on the team’s interest in Rusney Castillo. “We are one of many teams interested. That’s all I’ll say,” the GM said, according to Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews Monday that will help determine Boston's level of interest in trading for a starting pitcher at the deadline, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Buchholz, who has bursitis in his right shoulder, has not pitched since June 8. If Andrews says Buchholz can start throwing again, the Red Sox will be less likely to trade for a starting pitcher like Bud Norris or Jake Peavy this month. Here's more out of Boston.
- Another factor in the Red Sox's decision about whether to add pitching is the "readiness" of younger pitchers Drake Britton, Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Red Sox must weigh their goal of being competitive in the future against their goal of competing in the present, and are unlikely to blow up their farm system, particularly not for a rental. Rosenthal also mentions Peavy, who is under contract through next season, as a possible choice for the Sox.
- The Sox are targeting bullpen help at the trade deadline, although they also could pursue a starter or third baseman, Evan Drellich of MassLive.com reports. The Sox have scouted Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez, but Drellich suggests that the price may be too high.
- Fear of Robinson Cano's next contract could motivate the Red Sox to sign Dustin Pedroia to an extension, Rosenthal reports. Pedroia is under contract for $10MM in 2014, and the Sox have an $11MM option on him for 2015. Cano is, of course, a free agent after this season, and should command a huge contract that could raise the bar for Pedroia. If Pedroia agrees a new deal with the Sox before Cano signs his next contract, Rosenthal says, that will prove that Pedroia "is not all about the money." The Red Sox recently offered Pedroia an extension.
- Tim Britton of the Providence Journal makes a similar argument (that Cano's potentially enormous extension could increase the price on a potential Pedroia contract), and also notes that Pedroia's leadership could further motivate the Red Sox to strike a deal. "Last year, we had a real lesson on what chemistry can do to a club," says Sox principal owner John Henry. "What’s happened this year is further indication. I just don’t think we appreciated how much chemistry can mean to a baseball team." Also, Britton argues that, in addition to a Pedroia deal making sense for the Red Sox, it's also in Pedroia's best interest to do a deal now at age 29, rather than waiting to hit the free agent market when he's 32.
Yesterday, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com heard that a deal that would send Matt Garza from the Cubs to the Rangers could still go "either way". Today, it's a different story. Here's the latest on Chicago's prized right-hander:
- A Major League source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe the Red Sox's interest level in Garza is deepening (Twitter link). This comes in the wake of the news Clay Buchholz will seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews tomorrow. Manager John Farrell, as quoted by WEEI.com's Alex Speier on Twitter, explained the purpose of the visit is for "verification and clarification to get some peace of mind."
- Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (free registration required) calls the Pirates "the team du jour" after GM Neal Huntington's comments earlier today and adds the Orioles, who are scouting the Cubs on their current road trip, are viewed as sleepers for Garza.
- The Cubs have worked to draw competing offers into the Garza bidding in order to create alternatives to Texas, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum told reporters, including the Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer (Twitter link), Garza will "100 percent" make his start tomorrow against the Diamondbacks.
- The Cubs would prefer to deal Garza before his scheduled start tomorrow against Arizona, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- The Rangers and Cubs were set back in talks to the point where the Rangers are now viewed as only one of many teams now in the mix for Garza, Heyman writes. For now it seems that Texas and Chicago made no progress in overcoming the snag that derailed their swap on Friday night, though the Rangers aren't out of it. The deal that fell apart included a package of Rangers prospects, with third baseman Mike Olt and pitchers C.J. Edwards and Neil Ramirez thought to have been on the table.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Clay Buchholz hopes to throw a bullpen session on Thursday at Fenway Park and, if all goes well, the right-hander may try a simulated a game a few days afterwards, Buchholz told reporters (including Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe) during Monday's All-Star festivities in New York. Buchholz said he won't return until the stiffness in his neck has totally subsided, but “if I thought it was a do or die situation in September and we were pushing for the pennant, if it came to that, absolutely I’d be out there," he said. "There’s no risk right now, but I don’t feel comfortable doing it."
Here are some more items about the AL East-leading Red Sox…
- Scott Boras, Jacoby Ellsbury's agent, told reporters (including WEEI.com's Alex Speier) that he wasn't planning to negotiate with GM Ben Cherington about a new contract for his client until after the season. Ellsbury recently claimed the #2 spot on Tim Dierkes' free agent power rankings for the coming offseason. The center fielder is hitting .305/.368/.422 and has stolen a league-leading 36 bases for the Sox this year, a performance that Boras attributes to Ellsbury's gradual recovery from a shoulder injury.
- Alfredo Aceves is no longer represented by agent Tom O'Connell, Nick Cafardo reports (Twitter link). The right-hander is believed to be representing himself for now, according to Rob Bradford and Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Aceves was outrighted to Triple-A earlier today, the latest step in the reliever's tumultuous stint in Boston. You can keep track of who's representing who in the baseball world via MLBTR's Agency Database.
- The move from Boston to small-market Pittsburgh wasn't the reason for Mark Melancon's improvement in 2013, the reliever told media (including Tim Britton of the Providence Journal), saying that the improvement began after working on his mechanics and approach to pitching during a minor league stint last season. Melancon allowed 11 runs in his first two innings with the Red Sox in 2012 but posted a 4.19 ERA over his next 43 innings, though it wasn't enough to keep him from being dealt to the Bucs last December. With the Pirates, Melancon has posted a sterling 0.81 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 44 1/3 IP and earned his first All-Star appearance.
The Blue Jays shouldn’t part with manager John Farrell unless they are confident they can hire a comparable replacement and make the Red Sox pay dearly for their former pitching coach, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Blue Jays could start by asking for Clay Buchholz again, Rosenthal suggests. Here’s more from around MLB, starting with Farrell…
- People who know Farrell find it difficult to believe he’d try to force his way out of Toronto, Rosenthal reports. The Blue Jays appear to value Farrell and don’t want to see him leave.
- Most MLB teams wanted to develop Jurickson Profar as a pitcher when he was an amateur player, Rosenthal reports. The Rangers built a relationship with Profar, who wanted to play shortstop.
- Scouts following the Indians like the team’s up-the-middle talent, but say the body language of manager Manny Acta suggests he’s resigned to losing. The Indians are expected to consider trade offers for Justin Masterson, Shin-Soo Choo and Chris Perez this offseason and rival teams wonder if they’d listen to offers for Asdrubal Cabrera.
- Indians officials are “livid” with Perez for his comments about the team’s ownership and top baseball executives, Rosenthal writes. Perez questioned the Indians’ decision making and spending last week in an interview with Jon Paul Morosi. Some executives viewed those remarks as an attempt to get traded, Rosenthal reports.
- One Orioles person points out that Andy MacPhail traded for many of the Orioles’ key players in a series of successful deals. MacPhail dealt for players such as J.J. Hardy, Pedro Strop, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Robert Andino and Adam Jones before stepping down following the 2011 season.
- Though the Nationals would like to retain Adam LaRoche, they can rely on internal options if the first baseman’s asking price reaches the three-year, $33-36MM range. Similarly, the Nationals might decide not to pursue Michael Bourn despite the long-standing expectation that they will offer him a competitive free agent contract.
- The Brewers will need to sign a starting pitcher and fix their bullpen this coming offseason, Rosenthal writes.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Adam LaRoche | Asdrubal Cabrera | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Chris Perez | Clay Buchholz | Cleveland Indians | John Farrell | Jurickson Profar | Justin Masterson | Michael Bourn | Milwaukee Brewers | Shin-Soo Choo | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals
The Red Sox are on track to finish below .500 for the first time since 1997. Here’s the latest as a disappointing season winds down:
- Manager Bobby Valentine is now fighting a battle that he cannot win, opines Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. Miller writes that Valentine couldn't possibly be back as skipper in 2013 because either the Red Sox will lose patience or he will.
- In a heated interview on WEEI, Valentine characterized the 2012 season as "miserable" but said he'd definitely like to manage the Red Sox again in 2013. "If that's what I'm asked to do, that's what I'm going to get paid to do," Valentine said. He also suggested he would like to punch radio host Glenn Ordway in the face and defended himself when asked about a late arrival to a game earlier this year (highlights via Alex Speier).
- Blue Jays manager John Farrell would be an excellent hire for the Red Sox, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. The Red Sox tried to acquire Farrell from Toronto twice last offseason, including once after the Blue Jays made it clear that Farrell was off-limits to teams seeking managers, Bradford reports. The Blue Jays asked for Clay Buchholz as compensation for Farrell, according to WEEI.com. Red Sox pitchers who worked with Farrell in Boston have a deep respect for their former coach based on both friendship and fear, Bradford adds.
- Farrell said yesterday he’s "unequivocally" focused on the Blue Jays.
- Ivan De Jesus Jr. wanted to get traded from the Dodgers leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. “I wanted a fresh start,’’ said De Jesus, who was sent to Boston in the recent blockbuster trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers.
- The price tag on a potential extension for Jacoby Ellsbury would be “astronomical" should the Red Sox attempt to lock the outfielder up long term, ESPN.com's Buster Olney said on WEEI today (partial transcript via Kirk Minihane of WEEI.com). Olney said he's doubtful rival teams will overwhelm Boston with trade offers for Ellsbury, partly because he's a Scott Boras client.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said that he is not aware of any trade talks involving either the acquisition or trading of a pitcher, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Major league sources also dismissed the idea that Boston would consider trading Josh Beckett in the wake of his golfing controversy.
“I’m sure that Ben’s looking at every conceivable way of improving our team, but I haven’t been in on any trade conversations about pitching, either coming or going,” said the manager.
Speier writes that Beckett's value would be virtually non-existent and points out that he has given the team more quality outings than any other pitcher so far this year. Beckett, 31, is set to earn $15.75MM each year through 2014.
Valentine also said that no real consideration was given to the idea of sending the struggling Clay Buchholz to the minors. Had Boston made that move, they would have exposed the pitcher to optional waivers.