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Cody Ross Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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.
Red Sox owner John Henry has apparently agreed to purchase the storied Boston Globe for less than his team spent to acquire pitcher John Lackey, the Wall Street Journal's Brian Costa observes on Twitter. It is definitely an interesting point to ponder. A few other notes out of Boston …
- Last year, the Red Sox swung perhaps the biggest deal of the trade season after the deadline. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca recently listed ten players who could swap teams during the coming month. Among them are former Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon and rumored trade target Cliff Lee of the Phillies, as well as several veteran relievers that could interest contenders such as Boston.
- Former Sox outfielder Cody Ross returned to Fenway with a vengeance last night, banging out four hits (including a tie-breaking home run and two doubles), scoring twice, driving in three, and swiping a bag for good measure. After his impressive performance, he said that he harbors "no hard feelings toward anybody in [the Red Sox] organization."
- Before the contest, however, Ross spoke candidly about his negotiations with Boston last year both before and during his free agency. As WEEI.com's Jerry Spar reports, Ross says that the team "basically lied to [his] face" by telling him that it was unwilling to sign long-term deals and then doing so for other players. Ross explained that he told the team candidly that he wanted to return, which he felt may have tipped his hand in negotiations. With the sides unable to agree on years or value, and Ross left feeling betrayed, he felt it was time to move on.
Within the latest entry in MLBTR's Why I Chose My Agency series, Arizona outfielder Cody Ross talks about his relationship with SFX and his primary agents Mike Milchin and Mark Pieper. Ross signed a three-year, $26MM deal with the Diamondbacks this past offseason.
How did you come in contact with your agent Mike Milchin?
“I was with an agent right out of high school after I got drafted and I did my own deal but I ended up having to fire him. The guy who drafted me, Jim Olander, was good friends with Mike Milchin and he ended up calling me and Mike and Mark Pieper came out and sat down with me and basically told me what they were all about. I was in low-A ball and going into my second full year of professional baseball. That’s a time where you can really get taken in and smoothed by agents promising you equipment deals and wining and dining you and for some reason I had the ability to look past that and go with what was most important and that’s what can an agent do for you in arbitration and free agency.
“As a young player obviously you want to hear, ‘I’m going to be able to get you this bat deal and be able to get you this glove deal and this equipment deal’ but at the end of the day that’s not what’s important. What’s important and what sold me on them is they didn’t make any promises like that with me. What they talked about mostly was arbitrations and free agency contracts that they’ve signed and the way they go about it. They had a very good reputation as far as arbitration goes and I actually ended up going to a hearing with them and we ended up winning so I got to see it first-hand. The work and preparation that they do for each one of their clients, there’s a lot of good agents out there, but they put in the time and the work needed to be prepared to go to a hearing and that was huge. A lot of guys don’t do that."
What was it that impressed you about SFX?
“I actually sat down and interviewed quite a few agents and ultimately ended up picking SFX and couldn’t be happier. I’ve built a relationship with these guys that’s going to last not only through my playing career but throughout the rest of my life. I’ve built those kinds of friendships and that’s what you really want. That’s what the game is about, friendships and being able to call somebody your friend when the game is over. Obviously it’s a business and you want the best out of your agent. I’m not sitting here saying you should hire your friend as your agent. Not at all. You want to go out as a young player and interview multiple agents and ask them what they do in arbitration and what they do as a free agent and look at their rap sheet and their history and that was big for me.
“Here’s my thing. With my agent, Mike is always available, no matter what. I can call him at two in the morning or at noon on a Sunday and he’ll always be available and if he’s not he gets back to me ASAP. He makes me feel like I’m his only client and at the end of the day that’s what you want. You want to feel like your agent is almost like the movie Jerry Maguire, where your agent will do everything for you no matter what. That’s the feeling I get from my guy.”
How did SFX and Mike help get you what you wanted in your recent free agent experience this past offseason?
“Free agency is definitely an interesting process because it’s finally the time where you put in all that hard work and you get to choose where you want to play but sometimes choosing where you want to play doesn’t always end up being where you want to be. Fortunately for me it did and it worked out. A lot of times you go into free agency and teams you would like to play for don’t really have that sort of need.
“At the beginning of the offseason you know I was getting calls here and there and some feelers but it was kind of quiet and Mike just kept telling me to be patient and I was, and I believed in him that he was going to get the job done, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times where we would go a few days without hearing anything. But he always called me every night no matter what to kind of go over everything and some guys like that some guys might not. Some guys might not want to be called until they have an offer but I wanted to be in the process and know what was going on.
“I wasn’t picky although I did tell him I definitely wanted to try and get back over to the west coast because my family was from Arizona and I have two kids who are in school so those are things that we talked about, what’s important, location, length of contract, the AAV, those were the types of things we went over and like I said, luckily I got the best of both worlds. I basically got what I wanted and to be where I wanted to be. That was a lot to do with him being patient, us both being patient, but him really trying to look at every opportunity that was out there.”
In an ESPN Insider piece (subscription required), Buster Olney lists the Angels renewing Mike Trout's contract for $510K as one of the biggest issues facing baseball today. Craig Landis, the agent for the AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up, said the renewal "falls well short of a 'fair' contract." Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register agrees considering Joe Blanton will receive a $500K bonus from the Angels if he throws 200 innings and the team gave a $250K signing bonus to free agent reliever Sean Burnett. Olney, however, writes it makes almost no sense for Trout to refuse to sign his contract tender and have a negotiation flare-up so early in his career because he will reap millions from the system later on. For his part, the 21-year-old is quoted by Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter) as saying, "I've got to keep putting up numbers. My time will come." Elsewhere from MLB's West Divisions:
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports the Angels don't expect any of this will ruffle enough feathers to sour Trout's desire to sign an extension and cites similar situations involving Adam Jones, Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, David Wright, and Jered Weaver.
- The Diamondbacks renewed Wade Miley's contract for $500,500, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. The left-hander earned All-Star honors last year while finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio the team has not closed the door on former closer Brian Wilson (Twitter link).
- The Dodgers will have questions to answer in left field and the leadoff spot because Carl Crawford will likely not be ready to open the season, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Manager Don Mattingly will use a variety of in-house options including Cuban import Yasel Puig.
- If non-roster invitee third baseman Nolan Arenado continues his torrid play during camp and shows he's ready, it could allow the Rockies to use their depth at third base to acquire more pitching, tweets the Denver Post's Troy Renck.
- Cody Ross was disappointed by the lack of interest from West Coast teams during his free agency this offseason until the Diamondbacks called "out of nowhere," reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "My wife and I were jumping up and down," said Ross, a Phoenix resident. "We were so excited to live at home and play at home and be around a good bunch of guys and great coaches, and a front office that’s committed to winning."
- Earlier today, we learned Hunter Pence would rather sign a long-term contract with the Giants rather than test free agency.
- Happ is “mired in a grey zone” in Toronto, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Despite solid credentials, Happ may not even earn a roster spot as a reliever with the new-look Jays. With another potential lefty long-reliever (Brett Cecil) out of options, Toronto manager John Gibbons admits that Happ is not only “the odd man out” of the rotation, but could find himself “back down in Triple-A.”
- Justin Verlander was merely stating the obvious when he said he hoped to become the first $200MM pitcher, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports. Verlander explained: “The question was posed to me: ‘Do you want to be the first $200MM pitcher?’ Well, yeah. What kind of question is that? Of course I do.”
- Cody Ross revealed today that “Texas was wanting to move pretty quick” towards a deal before the outfielder signed with the Diamondbacks, Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com writes. While it was previously reported that the Rangers had met with Ross, the Arizona-dwelling Ross explained the "crazy timing" that occurred. Ross sat down with Texas right after learning that Arizona was interested, and by the end of the next day had “basically agreed” to sign with the Diamondbacks.
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino talked with the media (including WEEI.com's Alex Speier) today about a number of topics, with the focus on how the franchise had adjusted in the wake of its disappointing 2012 season. Lucchino declared that the Red Sox were underdogs going into 2013, with the Blue Jays lined up as the new favorites in the AL East. Some of the highlights of Lucchino's talk….
- Management is as willing as ever to spend to make the Sox competitive. Lucchino pointed to the team's track record over the last 11 years of spending in all facets of the baseball operations as evidence that "we are in it to win."
- In part due to its recent unsuccessful forays into the free agent market, the Red Sox will have a renewed focus on developing homegrown prospects. Lucchino is excited about this development: "…most organizations tend to overvalue their own prospects, and you’ve got to be very diligent about making sure that your assessments are realistic. But I do think there are some talented young players who are going to have an impact. Some may even have an impact, I think, this year.”
- As noted earlier today, Lucchino is open to signing Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term contract and the outfielder is similarly interested in working out an extension.
- The Red Sox only managed a .315 team OBP in 2012, which both owner John Henry and Lucchino noted ran counter to the club's franchise-wide philosophy. "We used to have incentives in contracts relating to on-base percentage to show you how important we thought it was. I think there was kind of a deviation from that, somewhere along the way," Lucchino said. "I think it kind of grew gradually, and if you’re not ever-vigilant, that can happen to the organization…Perception that everybody now gets it, everybody now understands it, and don’t we have to look for some new metric or approach? And we in some ways outsmarted ourselves.”
- Lucchino admitted he had hoped the Red Sox would re-sign outfielder Cody Ross (who left Boston to sign a free agent contract with the Diamondbacks this offseason) but likes the other new outfielders in the fold, such as Jonny Gomes.
The Diamondbacks signed Cody Ross to a three-year, $26MM contract earlier today, and GM Kevin Towers told reporters (including MLB.com's Steve Gilbert) the two sides didn't start talking until this past Monday (Twitter link). Arizona is already working to move one of their extra outfielders in the wake of the signing. Here are some notes and reactions to the deal…
- Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic has the contract breakdown (on Twitter). Ross will earn $5MM in 2013, $8.5MM in both 2014 and 2015, and a $3MM signing bonus. The $9.5MM club option has a $1MM buyout.
- Towers told Gilbert and others that his phone "blew up" with teams calling about his spare outfielders today (all Twitter links). Ownership has given him the okay to open the season with all of their current outfielders, which would mean an Opening Day payroll in the $95MM range.
- Ross told reporters (including Gilbert) that he did not take give the Red Sox a chance to match Arizona's offer (Twitter link). He told the D'Backs he would not shop it around.
- Jason Kubel is much more likely to be traded than Justin Upton, says Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). ESPN's Buster Olney speculates that the Rangers, Yankees, Mariners, and Rays could be fits for Kubel (all Twitter links).
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said he wanted to find more playing time for Gerardo Parra earlier this offseason, and Piecoro points out that the Ross addition complicates that plan even if they make a trade (Twitter link).
- Adam Rubin of ESPN New York asked Scott Hairston if he's any closer to signing following the Ross deal, and the free agent outfielder said it's still unclear (Twitter link).