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Clayton Kershaw Rumors
Credit Dodgers' scouting director Logan White for ensuring that Clayton Kershaw's big league successes have come in a Dodger uniform, says Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The club had targeted Kershaw and Evan Longoria in the 2006 draft, but were worried that neither would last until the team's seventh overall pick. Several pieces had to fall into place: Luke Hochevar failed to sign in 2005, leading to his being taken first overall the next year. Meanwhile, with many scouts on hand for the last pre-draft starts of Kershaw and Brad Lincoln, the former struggled while the latter dominated. Lincoln went fourth overall to the Pirates. According to White, with Longoria already off the board to the Rays, the Dodgers "were hoping and praying Clayton would get to us." That's just what happened: consensus top arm Andrew Miller fell, perhaps owing to signabilty concerns, and was nabbed by the Tigers at number six, leaving Kershaw for L.A. The decision to take Kershaw caused some initial consternation when Tim Lincecum, taken with the tenth pick by the rival Giants, began his career with a bang. Now, of course, the Dodgers (and their fans) could not be more pleased with their selection. Here are a few more notes from the leagues' western divisions:
- With the Rockies off to an up-and-down start, the Denver Post's Woody Paige has some harsh words for the team's ownership and management. He says that, with a top-12 attendance but a bottom-7 payroll, the club appears "content to produce a .500 team." Among the decisions Paige disagrees with are the team's apparent intention to rely on veteran pitchers like Roy Oswalt and Jon Garland while former top prospect Drew Pomeranz toils in Triple-A and Tyler Chatwood bounces between the minors and the big club. He also faults the club for going with the now-departed Chris Nelson and Reid Brignac instead of bringing up Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu to start the season. He warns that the Rockies could be in danger of losing the affections of stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Unhappy superstars can always cause problems by demanding a trade, of course, but it is worth noting that Colorado has no immediate need to sell its shortstop and left fielder on staying in town. Tulowitzki is inked through at least 2020 (with a 2021 club option), while Gonzalez is under contract through 2017.
- Despite four starters on the disabled list, the Rangers lead the American League in ERA (3.38). Richard Justice of MLB.com writes that the success of the pitching staff is attributable to GM Jon Daniels's efforts to create a deep, talented organization. Likewise, Justice praises Daniels's confidence to enter the season without prior stalwarts Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams, and Koji Uehara, and to bring in veterans Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski on one-year deals. The 37-year-old Berkman, in particular, has hit .299/.422/.465 in 154 plate appearances as the club's primary DH.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow says it is still too early for the club to narrow down its likely pick with the first choice in the upcoming amateur draft, tweets Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. The club will likely have more clarity when it conducts staff meetings in early June, Smith further tweets.
- As the Astros gear up for an important draft, the club is holding a series of four regional player workouts, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. According to scouting director Mike Elias, the workouts will allow the club to "get up close and personal with the process and see some guys further down the list." He further notes that the process was utilized with success by the Cardinals: "It really helps those players get drafted and helps us make better decisions in the draft."
- Meanwhile, Houston is beginning to see returns from its efforts to develop a pipeline of talent from the Dominican Republic. According to another tweet from Smith, Luhnow is excited about the first Dominican prospect that the club's efforts produced. Jose Cisnero, a right-hander that was originally signed in 2007, checked in at fifteenth on Baseball America's ranking of the club's prospects and has been pitching from the club's bullpen this year.
Earlier today, Tim Dierkes took a look at the Rockies' offseason as one of the final entries in MLBTR's Offseason In Review series. Here's a look around the rest of the division…
- One baseball official tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that talks between Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers have already surpassed the $200MM mark. Kershaw has "everything going for him" in the negotiations, writes Heyman.
- Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that formerly promising Padres Chris Young, Jason Bay and Kevin Kouzmanoff are now simply fighting to save their Major League careers.
- Within that same piece, Jenkins notes that Josh Rutledge is the 13th different Opening Day second baseman for the Rockies in 13 seasons. Not since Mike Lansing in 1999-2000 have the Rox had a second baseman open two straight seasons with the club.
- In his most recent Minor League report, Baseball America's Matt Eddy notes that the Rockies have signed GM Dan O'Dowd's son, Chris O'Dowd. The younger O'Dowd was released by the Padres in March after being a 23rd-round selection in the 2012 Draft.
Pitcher Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers are discussing a contract extension, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The news that Kershaw and the Dodgers are talking about a deal comes on the heels of big new contract extensions for Justin Verlander and Buster Posey.
Heyman notes that Kershaw could be in an even better negotiating position than Verlander was, given that he is only 25 and the Dodgers have shown a willingness to spend freely. Kershaw is slated to become a free agent after the 2014 season. The only downside for Kershaw, Heyman notes, is that he is slated to make $11MM this year and is arbitration-eligible in 2014, whereas Verlander was already under contract for $40MM through 2014 before his extension. Verlander's deal made him the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history. Depending on the length of the extension, Kershaw would be likely to exceed Verlander's $180MM deal.
Commissioner Bud Selig weighed in on the Houston Astros' strategy and payroll, saying that the organization has "chosen the path with some very qualfied people" and that he "think[s] they're doing it the right way." ESPN's Buster Olney writes (Insider sub. req'd) that baseball should be more cautious in endorsing what he characterizes as a "strategy to lose." Of course, it remains to be seen how the major league club will compete this season in what figures to be a tough AL West.
- With today's news of a big extension for Adam Wainwright, attention could turn to another ace who could be extended: the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, however, Kershaw does not want to keep negotiations open past spring training and is staying quiet as to whether there has been any progress. Hernandez also notes that Kershaw's agents, Casey Close and J.D. Smart, visited Dodger camp a week ago but were not not actively discussing a Kershaw extension.
- The time is now for the Dodgers to decide what to do with their excess starting pitching, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles TImes. Aaron Harang, for one, may have thrown his last pitch in Dodger blue. While Harang's tepid spring is a deterrent, Dilbeck notes that the righty threw well last season and should draw suitors.
- Chris Young could sign with the Angels, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, who also notes that the Mets are highly unlikely to sign him. The righty is back on the market after opting out of his contract with the Nationals.
- Mariners manager Eric Wedge says a decision between outfielders Casper Wells and Jason Bay will be made soon, leading Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times to posit that Wells could already have been put on waivers. If Wells is indeed put on waivers, he would be an option for the Phillies, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- The Diamondbacks have released Josh Booty, who earned a non-roster invite as the winner of "The Next Knuckler," the team announced on Twitter. The former QB was originally drafted by the Marlins fifth overall back in 1994 before he retired to pursue football, which meant that he was still technically under Marlins control when he joined Arizona for the spring.
Free agent infielder Ryan Theriot is interested in playing this season, but only if he's likely to get substantial playing time, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. If Theriot doesn't find a job he likes as a player, he is open to retiring, or becoming an agent. "I’ve had some stuff come up, no doubt. It’s not really exactly what I’m looking for playing-time-wise," Theriot says. Theriot collected 384 plate appearances for the Giants in 2012, and the Giants are currently looking for infield help. But after the signing of Marco Scutaro, they appear unable to provide Theriot with as much playing time as he'd like. Here are more notes from the NL West.
- Clayton Kershaw's agents, Casey Close and J.D. Smart, were at the Dodgers' training site Wednesday, which could mean that Kershaw and the Dodgers are negotiating a contract extension, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick suggests. Close and Smart also represent Zack Greinke, however, and the pair watched Greinke pitch a minor-league game Wednesday. (10:15: Kershaw's agents were on hand at the Dodgers' training facility to watch Greinke pitch, and not to negotiate an extension for Kershaw, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports.)
- The Padres have released pitcher Eddie Kunz, MLB.com's Corey Brock reports (on Twitter). The Mets made Kunz the No. 42 overall pick in the 2007 draft. He pitched in 2012 for Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson, posting a 5.77 ERA in 87 1/3 innings. He made four appearances in the big leagues with the Mets in 2008.
With Spring Training in full swing, wonderful stories from present and past are always emerging. Take Rays starter Chris Archer, who is not just fighting for a spot on Tampa Bay’s opening-day roster, but is on a quest for self-discovery. (As told by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.) Or today's matchup between former and current Padres workhorses Jake Peavy and Clayton Richard, who were traded for one another back at the 2009 trade deadline. (Courtesy of Corey Brock of MLB.com.) Or, going back further still, recall Roberto Clemente, whose presence was felt strongly in Fort Myers, FL during his playing days and lives on vividly today. (From David Dorsey of News-Press.com.) On to some National League notes …
- While there was never a question who would cover the right-field grass for Pittsburgh when Clemente was roaming Forbes Field, the team must find someone to man that role in 2013. Jose Tabata has shown hustle and power this spring that have exceeded the Pirates' expectations, Tom Singer of MLB.com writes. Still just 24 years old, Tabata’s strong showing thus far has only further complicated Pittsburgh’s right field situation. As Singer explains, in addition to Tabata and trade-deadline acquisition Travis Snider (who the team hopes will lay claim to the position), the Pirates are considering options like Clint Robinson, Jerry Sands, Alex Presley, Garrett Jones, Felix Pie, Darren Ford, and Brad Hawpe.
- Also making a surprising impression in Pirates camp is right-handed reliever Brooks Brown, who Singer says has emerged as an unexpected favorite to earn a spot in the Bucs' bullpen. Brown was selected by Arizona in the first round back in 2006, but has yet to make a big league appearance.
- Another darkhorse bullpen candidate who appears to be making strong moves towards a roster spot is the Nationals' Fernando Abad. As reported by The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, with fellow left-handed relievers Bill Bray, Will Ohman, and Brandon Mann being sent to minor league camp, the 27-year-old minor-league-invitee Abad now stands as the most likely candidate to round out the Washington bullpen should the Nationals decide to keep another lefty alongside Zach Duke. (Ohman was apparently cut during today's game, just after his poor outing, according to Mark Townsend of Yahoo.)
- The Nationals also welcomed back catcher Wilson Ramos, who made his first appearance in a game since tearing his ACL early in the 2012 season, reports James Wagner of The Washington Post. Ramos will likely split time with Kurt Suzuki as soon as he is able to catch regularly.
- With Rafael Furcal being shut down indefinitely after a setback in his recovery from the elbow injury he suffered late last season, the Cardinals are planning what GM John Mozeliak is calling “an open competition” at shortstop, reports Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. After emerging last season when Furcal went down, Pete Kozma will battle with veteran Ronny Cedeno for the starting job out of camp.
- The Dodgers' outstanding young starting pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, says that he is not thinking about whether or not he can top the Felix Hernandez contract, Tracy Ringolsby or MLB.com writes. Kershaw explains that he'll "play the game the same way" regardless of salary because "it's the best job you could have. … I talk to my buddies all the time. They are putting on suits and ties, and going to the office every day. I put on a uniform and play a game."
One American League executive told Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com that he'd be talking to Mike Trout about a "crazy-long deal" if he were running the Angels. Castrovince considers some possible comparables for extension talks, concluding that it probably makes sense for the Angels to wait before extending Trout. His leverage is high right now, even though he's arguably the best bargain in MLB.
Here are some more notes from the AL West…
- The Rangers announced that Jon Daniels has been promoted to president of baseball operations/general manager. Daniels, who became the club's GM in 2005, will still report to CEO Nolan Ryan.
- Daniels told Scott Miller of CBSSports.com that he's intent on being more than "the team that used to be good.” The Rangers lost Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Dempster to free agency, but Daniels isn't worried about the transition. “You've got to keep moving forward and not be afraid of change,” Daniels said. The GM explained the importance of depth and noted that being the best team on paper doesn’t guarantee success.
- The Rangers are among the teams still interested in free agent infielder Ryan Theriot, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). However, Theriot continues looking for more playing time.
- Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez recently established a new record for starting pitchers, signing a seven-year, $175MM contract. Hernandez told Heyman that he expects Clayton Kershaw will be the one to break the record because "he's a little younger" than other top pitchers. Hernandez suggested that Justin Verlander "might get the money, but less years.'' The Mariners ace said he helped other pitchers a bit, adding that he won't mind when another pitcher breaks his record.
No National League division has produced more pennant winners over the last 15 seasons than the NL West. The Giants have own three of those pennants (plus two World Series titles to boot) and the Padres, Rockies and Diamondbacks all have one each over that span. The Dodgers are the odd team out but they're sparing no expense to get back to the World Series as soon as possible. Here's the latest from around the division…
- The Diamondbacks are looking to re-open extension talks with Paul Goldschmidt before Opening Day, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Goldschmidt turned down the club's initial attempt to negotiate a few weeks ago, telling GM Kevin Towers that he wanted more time to establish value.
- The Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw haven't yet begun serious negotiations about a long-term contract, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (via CBS Sports' Dayn Perry). The two sides hadn't even begun talking by mid-February and there is an unofficial deadline of Opening Day, as Kershaw says he doesn't want negotiations to drag into the season.
- If the Dodgers trade one of their extra starting pitchers, they could look to obtain a right-handed hitting outfielder in return to provide a backup plan if Carl Crawford struggles or isn't healthy, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times opines.
- Brock Bond went from being an "accidental" draft pick in 2007 to reaching his first Major League Spring Training camp after six years in the Giants system, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly writes.
- Over at Roto Authority, Steve Adams recently judged whether three NL West outfielders would be fantasy sleepers or busts in the coming season.
Jered Weaver isn't worried that he might have lost out on a bigger contract when he signed a five-year, $85MM extension with the Angels in 2011, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles times writes. "I don't give a [expletive]," says Weaver. "You can quote me on that." If not for the extension, Weaver would have been a free agent this past offseason, in which Zack Greinke received a $147MM contract from the Dodgers. Here are more notes from around the majors…
- Giants president Larry Baer is discussing long-term contract extensions with general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Sabean and Bochy are signed through 2014, but, after having won World Series in 2010 and 2012, Baer appears to be planning to keep them in San Francisco much longer, saying their extensions "won't be for one year."
- The Dodgers have discussed an extension with manager Don Mattingly, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times notes. "I think you might see something come up before the end of the year," says Dodgers chairman Mark Walter. Mattingly is in the last year of a three-year deal. Walter also says that the Dodgers, who already have a $230MM payroll in 2013, still have the financial flexibility to add substantial talent at this year's trade deadline, should the need arise. "I think in terms of who the players are, what we need and what our options are, rather than a total budget," Walter says. An extension for Clayton Kershaw could also be on the horizon.
- The Pirates and second baseman Neil Walker avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal in late January, but "it could be a matter of when, not if" the two parties reconvene talks on an extension, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Walker will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, at which point he will be 31 years old.
After an offseason of aggressive spending, it's time for the Dodgers to start working toward their first postseason appearance since 2009. Here's the latest from Camelback Ranch…
- Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers haven’t started extension talks, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times reports. The left-hander, who’s expected to discuss a long-term deal with the team this spring, said he doesn’t want to negotiate during the season. Kershaw added that he's not distracted by speculation that his next contract could surpass $200MM. “It’s people talking. It really doesn’t bother me."
- Andres Torres told reporters the Dodgers pursued him during the offseason, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Mets and Reds also had interest in Torres after New York non-tendered him in November. However, he wanted to return to the Giants if at all possible. “My heart is in San Francisco,” he said.