Cody Ross Rumors

Cafardo’s Latest: Lester, Giants, Ross, Tulo, Soriano

The Cubs aren’t concerned with Jon Lester‘s issues throwing to first base, writes the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo in his weekly Sunday Notes column. “I think it’s being a little overplayed right now, quite frankly,” said manager Joe Maddon to Cafardo. “…I’d much prefer he worries more about getting his fastball where he wants and his cutter where he wants and all the normal pitching things. … I don’t want to make this an issue, because it’s not for me at all.” Still, Cafardo notes, it is an issue that the Red Sox worked to correct for years with little success. The Cardinals exploited the issue in Lester’s first outing by swiping four bases against him, but as Cafardo notes, not every team will go that route. One AL scout told Cafardo: “I always included in my reports about the throwing, but our team chose not to do anything about it.”

Here’s more from Cafardo’s column…

  • Newly minted Giants GM Bobby Evans tells Cafardo that he doesn’t envision his team pursuing another starting pitcher despite early injuries to Matt Cain and Jake Peavy. The Giants feel that Peavy, who avoided the DL and is slated to pitch today, is healthy. The team is also not anticipating that Cain’s elbow injury, which did require a trip to the 15-day DL, will be a major issue.
  • Cody Ross was recently released by the D-Backs and signed with the A’s, and Cafardo looks back on Ross’ best season — his 2012 campaign with the Red Sox — and notes that Boston offered Ross a two-year deal to remain with the team. Ross, however, found a three-year, $26MM contract in Arizona. Injuries turned that deal into a bust for the Snakes, but Ross will hope to reestablish himself in green and gold.
  • The Rockies will likely have plenty of suitors for Troy Tulowitzki this summer if they slide to the cellar of the NL West, but one AL GM tells Cafardo that it’s difficult to envision a trade: “There would be a lot of work to get that done. The money remaining on his salary [$110 million] and the player acquisition cost. Not as easy as it seems. The Rockies need to get a ton for him and I doubt they’ll pick up the money.”
  • Earlier this week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Tigers have been monitoring Rafael Soriano‘s workouts, and Cafardo hears the same, adding that it “wouldn’t be shocking” if Detroit pulled the trigger on a deal.
  • Much like the Giants, the Twins have taken a hit to their rotation early in the year following Ervin Santana‘s suspension and Ricky Nolasco‘s injury, but after talking with their front office personnel, Cafardo gets the impression that they’ll give opportunities to young starters rather than pursue an established upgrade. Trevor May gets the first crack, but Cafardo lists Alex Meyer and Jose Berrios as other candidates.
  • The Dodgers are still “all ears” about potential Andre Ethier trades and are willing to eat some of the $56MM on the three years remaining on his contract, but there have been no bites to this point.

Heyman’s Latest: Kimbrel, Howard, Perez, Salty, Soriano, Cueto

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has penned a lengthy column that’s chock full of Hot Stove related items as the season gets underway. First and foremost, he chronicles the Braves‘ trade of Craig Kimbrel at length. Heyman spoke to president of baseball ops John Hart, who candidly told Heyman that the team took a hard line of refusing to trade Kimbrel unless Melvin Upton Jr. was involved in the deal. “We were not going to separate Kimbrel and trade him by himself,” Hart told Heyman. Atlanta reached out to the Cubs, Astros, Dodgers and Padres, among others, this winter in an effort to move Upton, and despite the Dodgers’ bullpen needs, they weren’t willing to add Upton’s contract to that of Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, having already shed Matt Kemp‘s contract. The Padres trade didn’t heat up until about four days before it was agreed upon, Heyman writes, with Hart even remaining in Orlando to finish negotiations rather than fly with the team to Miami at the end of Spring Training. Hart credited assistant GM John Coppolella for doing much of the legwork and his creativity in getting the trade finalized.

More highlights from Heyman’s article (though the entire piece is well worth your time)…

  • While some reports late in Spring Training indicated that the Phillies would be willing to eat up to $50MM of the remaining $60MM on Ryan Howard‘s contract, two GMs tell Heyman they hadn’t heard that figure. One of those GMs was of the belief that the Phillies’ top offer was to pay about $35MM, which, Heyman speculates, may have been a large reason that the Royals opted to sign Kendrys Morales for two years and $17MM rather than pursue a Howard trade.
  • Speaking of the Royals, Heyman hears that the team is open to pursuing a second extension with catcher Salvador Perez and would be happy to make him a Royal for life. Heyman notes that some in the organization even have some sympathy for Perez, whose five-year, $7MM contract is widely considered the most team-friendly deal in all of baseball. Perez’s deal contains three startlingly low club options valued at $3.75MM, $5MM and $6MM for the 2017-19 seasons — two of which would have been free-agent seasons beginning at the age of 28.
  • The Marlins tried to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter after the catcher’s first season on a three-year, $21MM pact was a struggle, but his salary was too great a deterrent. The Marlins presumably feel that top prospect J.T. Realmuto could step into the catcher’s role in the not-too-distant future.
  • The Tigers are believed to be at least monitoring Rafael Soriano‘s workouts at the Boras Sports Training Institute in Miami, per Heyman. However, Soriano has seen his stock suffer not only due to ineffective innings late int he 2014 season but also due to perceptions about his personality and negative clubhouse impact. At least one club that was taking a hard look at late-inning relievers ruled out Soriano entirely due to that perception, Heyman reports.
  • The Reds felt the odds of extending Johnny Cueto prior to Opening Day were so slim that it’s not even clear if they made a formal offer, writes Heyman. Cueto is seeking a figure in the range of $200MM following Max Scherzer‘s mammoth contract this offseason, he adds. Heyman also opines that David Price would probably be selling himself short if he took much less than $200MM from the Tigers at this point as well.
  • Anecdotally, Heyman tells the story of how Cody Ross‘ career began when he was sold to the Marlins from the Reds in exchange for “cash considerations” of precisely one dollar. Former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky spoke to Heyman about the deal, explaining that they didn’t have room on the Cincinnati roster back in ’06 but genuinely wanted to get Ross into the best possible position to have a chance at a Major League roster spot. Ross has gone on to earn more than $52MM in the game of baseball.

California Notes: Ross, A’s, Padres, Shortstops

The Giants and Padres engaged in an extreme pitchers’ duel on Thursday night, needing a full 12 innings to decide a 1-0 Giants victory.  Pinch-hitter Justin Maxwell‘s RBI single in the top of the 12th proved to be the difference in a game that saw both clubs combine for only 13 total hits.  Here’s some more news from teams from the Golden State…

  • Newly-acquired Athletics outfielder Cody Ross told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jane Lee) that A’s were one of multiple teams who got in touch with him almost immediately after the Diamondbacks released the veteran over the weekend.  Ross saw Oakland as an ideal fit since he wants to play for a contender, and he now sees his release as a positive after he initially felt “blindsided,” “upset” and “bitter” about being let go so suddenly by the D’Backs.
  • Ross also noted that the Giants were one of the teams who had a “little bit” of interest in signing him, and The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea confirms that this was the case, but the team didn’t have an available roster spot.  Ross, of course, played for the Giants from August 2010 through the 2011 season and played a big role in the club’s 2010 World Series title with an MVP performance in the NLCS.
  • With the Padres looking for shortstop help, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron sees the Brewers’ Jean Segura as a realistic trade target.  Cameron speculates that a deal of Segura for Odrisamer Despaigne, Brandon Maurer and one of Alexi Amarista/Clint Barmes could give both teams an overall roster upgrade.  Beyond Segura, Cameron doesn’t see the likes of Troy Tulowitzki, Elvis Andrus, Starlin Castro or Jose Ramirez as plausible San Diego trade targets for a variety of reasons.
  • For the 20th straight season, the Padres have signed Matt LaChappa to a minor league contract, a move that gives the southpaw a regular income and access to health insurance, USA Today’s Ted Berg reports.  Steve Bischeff of the Orange County Register first wrote about LaChappa in 2005, detailing the second-round pick in the 1993 draft suffered a heart attack while warming up before a minor league game in 1996.  A virus around his heart led to a second attack and LaChappa is now confined to a wheelchair, but the Padres have continually renewed his minor league deal every year since the incident.
  • In news from earlier today, the Dodgers acquired Ryan Webb in a trade with the Orioles, while the A’s lost Alex Hassan to the Rangers on a waiver claim.


Athletics To Sign Cody Ross

The Athletics will sign outfielder Cody Ross once he officially clears release waivers tomorrow, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Oakland will be responsible for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum in terms of Ross’ salary, while the D-Backs, who released him this weekend, will be on the hook for the remainder of his $8.5MM salary and $1MM option buyout.

Cody Ross

Last night, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the A’s were on the hunt for veteran outfielders in the wake of surgery that will sideline Coco Crisp for up to two months, and Oakland clearly acted quickly upon that interest, reaching an agreement with Ross’ agents at Relativity Baseball.

Ross, 34, signed a three-year, $26MM contract with the D-Backs in the 2012-13 offseason that proved to be a bust, due largely to injuries. A .267/.326/.481 batting line and 22 homers with the 2012 Red Sox earned him that sizable deal, but Ross batted just .268/.322/.378 in 177 games (570 plate appearances) over the past two years in Arizona. Calf injuries and hip surgery limited his ability to stay on the field, and the presence of A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, Ender Inciarte, Mark Trumbo and Yasmany Tomas in the D-Backs organization left Ross without a spot on the roster.

Oakland figures to deploy Ross primarily in left field, as a platoon of Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld will handle center field, and Josh Reddick will be the primary right fielder once he is activated from the disabled list. Speedster Billy Burns and Rule 5 pick Mark Canha seem to be the likeliest candidates to be squeezed out of playing time, but the A’s regularly rotate a mix of players throughout various positions on the diamond, with many players serving in more of a part-time role than in true full-time capacities.

Ross is particularly effective against left-handed pitching, having authored a .294/.360/.557 batting line when holding the platoon advantage over the duration of his 11-year Major League career. From a defensive standpoint, he’s experienced at all three positions, but he hasn’t seen significant time in center field since 2010. He’s graded out as a plus corner outfielder in his career, per Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating, though his marks in the eyes of those metrics have been skewed by the aforementioned injuries to his lower half in recent years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Athletics Looking At Veteran Outfielders

The Athletics are looking outside the organization for outfield options to fill in while Coco Crisp is down, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Crisp is not expected to be out longer than two months to start the year, making a significant acquisition seem somewhat unlikely. Recent roster casualties may offer some value in the interim at no cost other than a league-minimum roster spot.

Among the possibilities, per Slusser, are Cody Ross, who was just released by the Diamondbacks, and recently-designated Padres-turned-Braves veteran Carlos Quentin. Both of those players would appear to be bat-first options — Ross struggled defensively last year after returning from hip surgery while Quentin has always been regarded as a poor defender — but the club has several good gloves in the mix already.

Of course, Ross and Quentin also face significant questions beyond their limitations in the field (and would not otherwise be freely available). The pair owned matching offensive production last year (75 OPS+) that hardly inspires confidence, though of course their longer-term track records show much greater ability at the plate if their bodies are still willing.


Diamondbacks Release Cody Ross

The Diamondbacks have released outfielder Cody Ross the team announced via Twitter. The club owes him $8.5MM for this season and a $1MM buyout for his 2016 option, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Any team that acquires him will not be responsible for any amount above the major league minimum.

Ross has fallen into a reserve role over the last few years, mostly due to various injuries. Last year was one of his worst with a .252/.306/.322 line in 219 plate appearances. The right-handed hitter has always possessed notable platoon splits. He’s below average at the dish against fellow righties, but he’s hit .294/.360/.557 in 1,109 plate appearances against southpaws. He’s a reasonable target for any team looking for an inexpensive, Jonny Gomes-type talent.


The D-Backs’ Veteran Trade Candidates

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted this morning that the Diamondbacks have let other clubs know they’re willing to move Trevor Cahill, Cody Ross or Aaron Hill in trades, although that tweet prompted a denial from GM Dave Stewart that he’s had any actual conversations on that trio of veterans (Twitter link).

We can debate the semantics here, but conventional wisdom would seem to suggest that three expensive veterans that have underperformed for a last place team whose president/CEO has previously stated that his club may get “creative” to trim payroll are certainly candidates to be moved. The D-Backs showing a willingness to move them would hardly be a surprise, nor would it be surprising were Stewart’s comments genuine as well. However, the reason for the lack of conversations would likely be a lack of interest, and Stewart or the D-Backs may ultimately prefer to spin it in a different fashion.

What the D-Backs have on their hands are three formerly productive players that are compensated at levels which don’t reflect their recent performance. That’s not to say that none of the three has value, however, should Arizona show a willingness to absorb some salary to grease the wheels on a potential trade. Let’s look at each player and try to determine a few fits.

Trevor Cahill: Somewhat surprisingly, Cahill is still just 27 years old (he turned 27 yesterday, in fact). The right-hander is owed $12.3MM before he’s eligible for free agency next offseason, but his contract does contain a pair of club options at $13MM and $13.5MM. Cahill, until the 2014 season, was generally accepted as a ground-ball inducing machine and a perfectly serviceable mid-rotation arm. From 2010-13, he pitched to a 3.72 ERA (4.09 FIP) in 751 innings, and he’d settled in as a 200-inning horse before injuries struck in 2013. Cahill was struck in the hip by a line-drive that season and missed about six weeks, and a shoulder strain ended his season shortly after.

If he looks healthy and at all like his old self in Spring Training, a team with a need in the rotation could do worse than gambling on him, should the D-Backs kick in some of the remaining guarantee. There’s always the chance that he could regain his form in 2015 and give an acquiring club a rotation piece that can be controlled for another two seasons. Would a team with questionable pitching depth like the Phillies or Rockies be willing to take that kind of risk? The Phillies are rebuilding, but Cahill’s still young, and they have the financial wherewithal to make it happen. The Rangers’ back-of-the-rotation options are questionable (but also plentiful), and the Tigers lack depth beyond their currently projected five starters.

Cody Ross: The 34-year-old Ross is owed $9.5MM in 2015 and has a $1MM buyout on an option of the same value for the 2016 season. Hip surgery and a calf strain kept Ross off the field for much of last season, but he’s always handled left-handed pitching well, as evidenced by a career .294/.360/.557 batting line against them.

The Blue Jays just added Dayan Viciedo on a minor league deal, but if he struggles in Spring Training and Ross looks healthy, perhaps they’d prefer Ross in the event that the Snakes take on half of his remaining salary or so. The Indians were also interested in Viciedo on a minor league deal, so it stands to reason that a healthy Ross may have some appeal as well, if the price was right. The same could be said for the Reds. Again, the D-Backs may need to eat $5MM+ to make any of these scenarios realistic.

Aaron Hill: Hill will turn 33 later this month and is one season removed from an excellent .291/.356/.492 batting line in a half season’s work. Hill showed no ill effects of the broken hand he suffered early in 2013 upon returning from the disabled list, but that only makes his 2014 drop-off even more puzzling; Hill stayed healthy for most of the season but still mustered just a .244/.287/.367 line in 137 games. And, he dislocated a finger on his other hand at the end of the year.

Hill is the toughest to move because his remaining $24MM over two years is the largest commitment. I don’t know that Arizona would want to eat the type of salary that would be necessary to move him, so it might be in the team’s best interest to, rather than absorb $12MM to move him, just pay him for the first half and hope for a rebound. Multiple teams have been connected to second base upgrades this winter without pulling the trigger on a deal, and there figure to be additional teams in need this summer. The A’s, Orioles, Angels and White Sox could all conceivably find themselves with needs as the season progresses, and one injury to a currently healthy player could open the door for a summer trading partner, if Hill is able to demonstrate production closer to his previous heights than his 2014 decline.


NL Notes: Nats, D’Backs, Rockies

Former Nationals minor leaguer Justin Bloxom transitioned quickly from a stalled playing career to re-joining the organization as a scout, Chelsea James of the Washington Post writes. The eleventh-rounder was part of a productive 2009 draft for the team, which will now hope to extract value from him in a somewhat different manner.

  • The Diamondbacks are comfortable with their budget sitting in the low-$90MM range, GM Dave Stewart tells MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. Arizona is open to moving more salary but will not sacrifice on-field performance to do so, per Stewart. The most likely avenue to savings, says Gilbert, would be shedding some portion of the large tabs owed righty Trevor Cahill and outfielder Cody Ross.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says that it is “highly, highly unlikely” that the team will make a deal involving either of the club’s two biggest stars (Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez), Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. That is no surprise, of course: there have always been multiple, significant barriers to a deal this offseason, and any earlier momentum seems to have died in recent weeks.

D’Backs Links: Levine, Ross, Prospects, McKay

Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine has withdrawn himself from consideration for the Diamondbacks’ GM vacancy, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter). Levine tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he had a good talk over the phone with Arizona chief baseball officer Tony La Russa prior to his decision (Twitter link). As of this weekend, it was reported that Dave Stewart, former pitcher and current agent to Matt Kemp (among others), is considered the favorite for the job.

Here’s more on the D’Backs…

  • Cody Ross understood the reason that the Diamondbacks sat him in favor of impressive rookie David Peralta upon his activation from the disabled list, writes Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. However, now, with Peralta out due to a back injury, Ross is trying to prove himself once again and prove that he belongs on the team in 2015. Ross tells Buchanan that he hopes to remain in Arizona. Given his $8.5MM salary next season and lack of production over the past two seasons, it’d be tough for a new GM to move him anyhow, Buchanan notes.
  • “It took a full-scale collapse to force the necessary organizational reboot, but change is definitely coming in Arizona,” writes Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron in an intro to a colleague Kiley McDaniel’s excellent rundown of the Snakes’ farm system. Cameron feels that there’s far more than one offseason’s worth of work to fix the D’Backs, while McDaniel runs down a list of prospects topped by Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, Aaron Blair, Brandon Drury and Touki Toussaint.
  • In a second piece, Buchanan writes that last offseason’s hiring of first base coach Dave McKay away from the Cubs has paid significant dividends for the D’Backs. McKay has placed a strong emphasis on improving the club’s baserunning, and the results show in baserunning metrics on both Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus, Buchanan notes. The D’Backs jumped from respective marks of -10.5 runs and -9.7 runs in 2013 to +0.4 runs and -0.5 runs in 2014.

NL West Notes: Hanley, Kemp, Ross, Rosario

It was on this day in 1890 that the Dodgers (then playing in Brooklyn and using the rather non-intimidating “Bridegrooms” nickname) swept a triple-header over the Pirates.  This was one of the season’s many highlights for the Dod..er, Bridegrooms as they went on to win the franchise’s first National League pennant.

Here’s some news from around the NL West…

  • If Hanley Ramirez leaves the Dodgers in free agency, it could be for an American League team that could give him the occasional rest day at DH, Peter Gammons writes.  Ramirez could also go to a team in need of third base help if he’s willing to switch positions.  As recently reported, the Dodgers are wary of giving Ramirez a long-term contract due to concerns about his durability and defense.
  • Ramirez’s departure would also make it very unlikely that the Dodgers would trade Matt Kemp, Gammons adds.  Without Ramirez, the Dodgers will need Kemp to help balance a lineup that would have only one other notable right-handed bat in Yasiel Puig.
  • Cody Ross knows he’ll be fighting for playing time with the Diamondbacks next season, but the veteran outfielder tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he plans to be fully recovered from the career-threatening hip fracture he suffered in August 2013.
  • The Rockies could use an upgrade at catcher next season, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines.  Wilin Rosario has struggled with injuries and performance this season, plus his defense is still a work in progress; Saunders thinks that Rosario’s focus on his glovework may have also been a reason for his dropoff at the plate.  Rosario will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason.