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Cole Hamels Rumors
In recent weeks, the Astros have been connected to Phillies ace Cole Hamels, but it doesn’t sound as though he’s their top pitching target. Instead, it’s Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto that is atop Houston’s wish list, according to sources who spoke with Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.
One of the main reasons for their preference of Cueto over Hamels is that the Astros are seeking out a 2015 rental or possibly someone whose contract runs for one more year. With a hefty contract that runs through 2018, Hamels simply doesn’t fit the bill. Cueto, meanwhile, is only owed the prorated portion of his 2015 salary of $10MM, which is a little over $5MM the rest of the way. Hamels, meanwhile, is set to earn the balance of his $22.5MM salary for the remainder of this season, $22.5MM in the next three seasons, and a $20MM option/$6MM buyout that can vest with good health and a certain number of innings pitched.
For his part, Hamels recently indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team, including the Astros. Instead, it sounds like Houston has their attention focused on the Reds’ pitching, where other suitors include the Dodgers, Yankees, and Blue Jays, a source tells Drellich. All in all, Drellich hears that the Phillies have been pumping up the perception of the Astros’ interest as negotiating leverage in talks about Hamels.
The Astros are casting a wide net in their effort to add a solid starter to their rotation to go with Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Vincent Velasquez, and Lance McCullers. In addition to Cueto and Mike Leake, the Astros are doing their homework on A’s lefty Scott Kazmir, Brewers right-handers Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse, and White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija.
Full Story | 20 Comments | Categories: Chicago White Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Cole Hamels | Houston Astros | Jeff Samardzija | Johnny Cueto | Kyle Lohse | Los Angeles Dodgers | Matt Garza | Mike Leake | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Yankees | Newsstand | Philadelphia Phillies | Scott Kazmir | Toronto Blue Jays
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts against Tigers shorstop Jose Iglesias. Of course, Boston once had both, but Iglesias was shipped out in 2013 in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Fenway. Bogaerts offers more potential as a hitter, but Iglesias clearly has the superior glove. That difference in the field never made Bogaerts doubt himself, however.
“No, that’s just a guy who’s really gifted beyond anyone else,” Bogaerts said. “I just paid attention to trying to get better. I never compared myself to him because you can’t compare anyone to him. He’s a great defensive player and flashy.”
More from today’s column..
- The same teams that are pursuing Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz are going after White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija. That list of teams includes the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers, according to Cafardo. Late last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros are also interested in Samardzija. Meanwhile, at this time, the Red Sox reportedly are not interested in moving Buchholz.
- The Astros are a team to watch in July as they could get very aggressive in their pursuit of a starter. Cafardo hears that the Astros have been evaluating Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake quite a bit. Cole Hamels obviously stands as one of the biggest prizes out there, but Cafardo feels he likely wouldn’t sign off on a trade to Houston. Over the weekend, Hamels indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team.
- Giants GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that his club is out of the starting pitching market for now thanks to the upcoming returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy.
- The Phillies would like to sell off their pieces little by little rather than make a ton of deals right at the deadline. However, Cafardo hears that teams aren’t coming to the table with actual offers yet, leaving the Phillies frustrated.
- Baseball execs who spoke with Cafardo say the Mets are still the best match for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. A package for Tulo could start with left-hander Steven Matz, who makes his big league debut today.
- Even at his advanced age, one NL evaluator feels that Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz is still “a better option than “more than 50 percent of the catchers in the league.”
- Some teams are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance in interleague play while others see it just as a fluky thing. Hamels has a career 4.73 ERA across 31 interleague starts.
Full Story | 22 Comments | Categories: Baltimore Orioles | Bobby Evans | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Ruiz | Chicago White Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Clay Buchholz | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | Detroit Tigers | Houston Astros | Jake Peavy | Jeff Samardzija | Johnny Cueto | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Matt Cain | Mike Leake | Minnesota Twins | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | San Francisco Giants | St. Louis Cardinals | Steven Matz | Toronto Blue Jays | Troy Tulowitzki
Phillies ace Cole Hamels is “open-minded” to being traded to any team, including the Blue Jays and Astros, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. “I have not been approached,” says Hamels. “When I’m approached, then I can make a decision and provide an answer about a team. But I’m open-minded on everybody and everything.”
Hamels’ contract allows him to block trades to all teams except the Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, Padres, Rangers, and Yankees. Previous reports had suggested he would block trades to the Blue Jays and Astros if given the chance, but that apparently isn’t the case.
Hamels adds that he didn’t foresee the Astros’ strong performance this year when he failed to mark them for inclusion on his list of approved teams. “They just didn’t make the nine-team list,” he says. “When I made the list in October –- who knew?”
The Phillies owe Hamels about $86MM guaranteed through 2018, including a $6MM buyout on his vesting/club option for 2019. As Salisbury notes, the absence of certain teams (such as the Red Sox, although it now appears less likely that the Red Sox would acquire him after their underwhelming start) from Hamels’ approved-trade list could give him leverage to ask the team acquiring him to pick up his option. Hamels has lately been connected to the Yankees and Rangers as well as the Blue Jays.
The Yankees will get a first-hand look at Cole Hamels later today when the Phillies’ ace takes the hill for the series finale between the two clubs at Yankee Stadium, and Newsday’s David Lennon writes that they’ll be paying close attention to his performance, as the Yankees haven’t ruled out a pursuit of Hamels on the trade market.
The cost to acquire Hamels, both financially and prospect-wise, would be significant, but Lennon hears that such obstacles don’t necessarily preclude interest on the Yankees’ behalf. The Yankees have a full rotation at the moment, with Ivan Nova coming off the disabled list to join Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi and Adam Warren. Of course, there are persistent injury concerns with both Tanaka and Pineda, and the team will likely want to monitor the workloads of both Nova (one year removed from Tommy John) and Warren, who has thrown a combined 155 2/3 innings over the past two seasons.
Obviously, this report is preliminary in nature, so it’s best not to get too carried away with speculation, but one would imagine that the Phillies would express interest in the list of usual suspects that sit atop the Yankees’ prospect rankings. Right-hander Luis Severino, right fielder Aaron Judge, first baseman Greg Bird and shortstop Jorge Mateo are among the most highly regarded Yankees prospects. Further lending some insight into the possibilities, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote this morning that the Phillies’ preference seems to be to add offensive prospects, preferably ones that are reasonably close to the Majors.
Hamels is guaranteed $86.2MM through the guaranteed portion of his contract, which ends in the 2018 season. He’ll have $12.66MM remaining on this year’s $22.5MM salary following tonight’s start, plus $22.5MM annually from 2016-18. He has a club/vesting option for the 2019 season that is valued at $20MM and comes with a $6MM buyout. While there’s been speculation that Hamels would want that option guaranteed to approve a deal to a club on his no-trade list, that’s not an issue for the Yankees, because they are one of two American League clubs that are not on Hamels’ no-trade list. (The Rangers, who have also been connected to Hamels in the past 24 hours, are also pre-approved by the left-hander.)
The Yankees’ interest in Hamels dates back to the offseason, where one report even indicated that they’d come the closest to acquiring Hamels. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that talks between New York and Philadelphia reached advanced stages. It doesn’t appear that the Phillies came all that close to trading Hamels in general this past winter. But, by waiting until July, Amaro may have upped his leverage, as his ace figures to be far more coveted over the next five weeks than he was at the tail end of the offseason.
5:20pm: A team source tells MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan that a trade for Hamels “is not on the board” at time time (Twitter link).
11:39am: The Rangers and Phillies are “having ongoing dialogue” regarding the possibility of a deal that would send lefty Cole Hamels to Texas, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Hamels cannot block a deal to the Rangers pursuant to the current list of teams covered by his limited no-trade clause, Morosi adds in a later tweet.
Texas has received surprisingly solid results from its rotation. And as Morosi notes (Twitter link) the club still expects to receive contributions from rehabbing starters Martin Perez, Matt Harrison, and Derek Holland.
While those factors might indicate that the Rangers could sit back and rely on its internal options, there are other indicators favoring a move. The current staff has succeeded in spite of rather uninspiring peripherals. And the injured pitchers still have a ways to go to prove they will be durable and effective.
Per Morosi, the real motivating factor on the Texas side of the equation is the fact that the team “view[s] Hamels as [an] elite upgrade.” Given his contract, the Rangers presumably see Hamels as a current and future asset that could not only give the team a shot this year but pair with Yu Darvish atop the staff for seasons to come. It remains to be seen how much staying power this year’s Rangers club has, but adding Hamels certainly would not be solely a “win-now” move.
As of late April, at least, Philadelphia was reportedly asking for a package headlined by catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielder Nomar Mazara. Both of those prospects were rated among the Rangers’ top five heading into the year by Baseball America. While they would look to be great fits for a Philly organization that is looking to add premium talent, it remains to be seen whether Texas has any appetite to pay that kind of price. (Note that Alfaro may not be a movable asset this point, as he is dealing with a significant ankle injury.)
Needless to say, the Phillies will hope that several other bidders enter the fray to drive up the return. Things are shaping up rather nicely for GM Ruben Amaro Jr., as many of the clubs that seem like a fit remain in contention and in need of an arm. Meanwhile, the other presumed top arm available, Johnny Cueto, is a pure rental who now faces at least some potential health questions.
Hamels has been as strong as ever this year, racking up 94 1/3 innings of 2.96 ERA pitching with 9.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. And the 31-year-old seems ready to move past a seemingly minor hamstring injury to make his next start.
The Hamels contract looks more and more appealing every time you check back: he’s owed the balance of a $22.5MM salary this season, and then has three guaranteed years plus an option for a total guarantee of just $73.5MM. (Hamels’ deal also included a $6MM signing bonus, with an unreported payout schedule, which could still factor into the equation.) Essentially, a team dealing for him now would not only have the benefit of adding a top arm for the rest of this year, but would be making a future commitment that is not much greater than the contract signed last year by James Shields (four years, $75MM). At the start of 2016, Hamels will be a full year younger than was Shields at the start of his deal.
Cole Hamels gave a thumbs-up following a bullpen session this morning, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports, so the ace southpaw is on pace to pitch on Wednesday afternoon against the Yankees. Hamels missed his last start due to a tight hamstring, and while the injury wasn’t thought to be serious, any concerns about Hamels’ health would impact his trade value. Here’s some more from the NL East…
- Phillies president Pat Gillick told reporters (including Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer) that the team will “probably” hire a new club president “somewhere in the not-too-distant future.” Gillick wouldn’t immediately step aside for his replacement, as the plan is to let the new president spend the rest of the season evaluating the roster and club personnel before fully taking over in October. The Phillies face an extensive rebuild, and Gillick admitted that it might take longer than 2017 or 2018 to return to contention, as he estimated when he stepped into the interim role.
- The future of GM Ruben Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg are two of the top questions facing the new Phillies president, though Gillick reiterated his support for both men, saying they’re going a “good job” despite the difficulties on the field.
- “Teams weren’t exactly knocking on the door” to acquire Dillon Gee when the Mets designated righty for assignment, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. The Mets put Gee on outright waivers today and plan to send him to Triple-A if he goes unclaimed by Tuesday.
- The Marlins have a logjam brewing in their rotation but president of baseball operations Michael Hill says he won’t be trading from the team’s strength to alleviate it. “We are fortunate we have some players who are flexible, that we can move to the bullpen,” Hill said, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. “We have some young players who may have to go back (to the minors).”
- Hill also shrugged off the notion that the Marlins might look to trade veterans such as Martin Prado and Michael Morse before the deadline. “Any pieces that are under control aren’t even considerations to do anything. We aren’t building this team for 2015. We’re building this for ’15 and ’16 and ’17. We’re trying to build a perennial contender,” Hill said.
- In NL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, the Braves signed first-rounder Mike Soroka, and pundits overwhelmingly felt the Braves got the better of their controversial trade with the Diamondbacks that brought Touki Toussaint and Bronson Arroyo to Atlanta.
In his weekly Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by taking a look at a messy situation in Philadelphia. Heyman hears the same rumblings that were first reported by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury — that Andy MacPhail could very well be in line for an executive role with the Phillies. The hiring of MacPhail would bring into question the status of both GM Ruben Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg. While one exec notes that no one could have had much success with the hand Sandberg has been dealt, his calm demeanor hasn’t motivated the team much, and he may have lost the clubhouse at this point. Heyman notes that partial owner John Middleton, who is believed by some to be calling the shots in Philly, may have extra impetus to get a new decision-maker in the door so that a lame-duck GM (Amaro’s contract expires at season’s end) isn’t the primary decision-maker on what could be a franchise-altering Cole Hamels trade. Speaking of Hamels, Heyman notes that interested teams will want to see him pitch at least twice now that he had a start pushed back due to a hamstring strain, thinning the window of opportunity to trade him. As far as Jonathan Papelbon goes, the belief is that he’d approve any trade that sent him to a contending team, though the Cubs might be his preferred fit at this point if he had a say in the matter.
Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest (though there’s more in the column than we can cover here)…
- The Braves have tried to trade Chris Johnson and even offered to substantially pay down the remaining money on his contract, but there’s been little interest. The Johnson deal was widely questioned from the start, and there’s still about $21MM owed to Johnson through the end of the 2017 season. Johnson’s a viable weapon against lefties, but he’s a sub-par hitter against right-handed pitchers and is not well-regarded from a defensive standpoint.
- Rival teams are beginning to wonder if the Red Sox might sell some pieces this summer, with Mike Napoli, Clay Buchholz and Koji Uehara among the possible names listed by Heyman. Napoli isn’t hitting for average but has shown good power and a nice walk rate. Buchholz has improved after a rocky start and Uehara again has strong numbers in the ‘pen.
- The White Sox are beginning to think about selling, Heyman hears, but they’re not quite ready to move their bigger pieces. Emilio Bonifacio might be the first name they make available, but eventually, Jeff Samardzija‘s name could be out there. Heyman writes that while Samardzija isn’t pitching well in 2015, his big arm is so tantalizing to scouts that there will still be interest in him.
- The Reds aren’t expected to sell until after the All-Star Game and would be very open to shedding Brandon Phillips‘ contract, per Heyman, though I have a difficult time envisioning too many teams lining up to take on the remainder of that deal. Phillips is owed about $34.1MM through the end of the 2017 season and has seen his power more or less vanish. Heyman speculates that Everth Cabrera could be a fit in Cincinnati with Zack Cozart out for the year, and there’s some logic to that scenario, though they may first prefer to see what they have in Eugenio Suarez. The Mets aren’t interested in Cabrera, he adds later.
- The Marlins aren’t selling yet, according to GM-turned-manager Dan Jennings. “We’re in it, we’re not jumping off the ship. No doubt about that,” Jennings told Heyman. If their attitude changes, Heyman thinks they’ll find interest in Martin Prado and Mike Dunn.
- The Astros like Aaron Harang but are said to be aiming higher when looking at potential trade targets to bolster their rotation.
- The Dodgers are on the hunt for a top-tier starting pitcher and a late-inning arm to help bridge the gap to Kenley Jansen. In other Dodgers-related news, Heyman hears that No. 35 pick Kyle Funkhouser is strongly considering returning to Louisville. Funkhouser was once looked at as a potential Top 10 pick, but he fell to a slot with a $1.756MM value. He’d have less leverage in 2016 as a senior sign, of course, but he could certainly improve his draft stock and his bonus with a big senior year.
- Yankees chief international officer/executive vice president Felix Lopez is no longer listed on the team’s web site and some indicate that he’s been gone from the organization for three months, Heyman writes. Lopez was said to have angered Yoan Moncada‘s camp after calling to express displeasure with their decision to sign in Boston over New York. The team hasn’t made a statement on his departure.
- The Rays are looking for first base help with James Loney on the disabled list, but Loney’s said to be returning around the All-Star break. Heyman speculates on the possibility of Ryan Howard ending up in Tampa Bay if the Phillies eat some or all of the contract, but I’d think there’d be something of a logjam there once Loney is activated in that scenario.
Full Story | 27 Comments | Categories: Aaron Harang | Andy MacPhail | Atlanta Braves | Boston Red Sox | Brandon Phillips | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Johnson | Cincinnati Reds | Clay Buchholz | Cole Hamels | Emilio Bonifacio | Everth Cabrera | Houston Astros | Jeff Samardzija | Jonathan Papelbon | Koji Uehara | Los Angeles Dodgers | Martin Prado | Miami Marlins | Mike Dunn | Mike Napoli | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | Ryan Howard | Ryne Sandberg | Tampa Bay Rays
The Nationals and Athletics have matched up on trade deadline rentals (and other deals) with some frequency of late, and the clubs have reportedly discussed both Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard this year. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports, nothing has gained significant traction as of yet. Oakland has expressed interest in young Nats outfielder Michael Taylor, who has found himself playing a significant role on the club this year as a fill-in for Denard Span (to start the year) and Jayson Werth (currently on the DL). The A’s have also asked about the Nats’ young arms, per Rosenthal, who argues that the Taylor ask suggests that Oakland GM Billy Beane could be looking to “operate as both a buyer and seller” this summer. From my perspective, looking to add an unpolished but big-league-ready and controllable piece like Taylor is to be expected, whether or not Beane thinks his club has enough time to get back in contention this season. I’d also add that the Nats seem unlikely to move Taylor with Span set to hit free agency after the season.
Here are some more notes on the trade market:
- The Yankees are getting a good look at Reds starter Johnny Cueto, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. New York has sent a scout to watch both of Cueto’s last two starts, per the report. Of course, they surely are not alone in dedicating attention to the player who could be the best arm available this July.
- Though he doesn’t call for a trade directly, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the flaws in the Cardinals bench alignment. In particular, utility infielder Pete Kozma has struggled badly at the plate for some time. And the team’s resources have been stretched somewhat with Mark Reynolds needed to fill in for the injured Matt Adams. Certainly, as the team looks to fortify itself for a stretch run and hopeful post-season berth, reserve players could be on the wish list.
- The Indians remain in a somewhat uncertain position in a tough AL Central; entering today’s action, the team remains four games under .500 and eight back in the division. In an appearance on MLB Network Radio (Twitter link), Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti certainly sounded more like a buyer. “We’re still learning about our team,” he said. “We’re still trying to find out where we’ll need to supplement.”
- In his own recent MLB Network Radio spot several days ago (via Twitter), Rangers GM Jon Daniels explained that he is preparing to take a hard look at the trade market. “If someone out there can help us, we have to be open-minded,” said Daniels. “We’ll evaluate our own guys first and go from there.” As both of these executive quotes indicate, one somewhat underappreciated factor in the slow onset of serious trades is the fact that many clubs are interested in obtaining an extended look at multiple internal options — all while seeing how other teams’ players are performing — before deciding whether to part with assets.
- The White Sox are in an even tougher spot than their division rivals from Cleveland, but GM Rick Hahn emphasized that the team is still focused on crawling back into contention, as Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. “The organization still absolutely believes in this team,” Hahn said. “The focus on the ballgames and the belief we will win ballgames is there.” Of course, as Levine rightly notes, the best way to get back in the hunt — improved performance — is also the optimal means of building trade value. Hahn went on to explain that he had no interest in giving public insight into the team’s strategic thinking. “Do we have thoughts on potential moves to reinvigorate the 2015 club and put us in a better position to contend going forward? Absolutely,” said Hahn. “As for the timing or the nature of those moves, that is not something that we will lay out in advance.”
- ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark lays out his top ten targets, rating Cole Hamels of the Phillies as the biggest trade piece. One executive tells Stark that Hamels has probably increased his value over the first few months of the season, though of course he is out right now with what is hoped to be a relatively minor hamstring issue. Teams that have had contact with the Phils are indicating that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is still insisting on young players that possible buyers have said they’re not willing to move. One source tells Stark that a “more creative” approach will be needed to get something done. Amaro has obviously taken a lot of heat for his handling of the team’s trade chips, though at this point it is probably best to withhold judgment; after all, Hamels is a somewhat unique trade commodity given his large but manageable contract, and a bidding war remains a plausible scenario.
The Phillies announced today that a “mild” strain of his right hamstring will prevent Cole Hamels from making his scheduled start tomorrow. Right-hander Phillippe Aumont will be promoted from Triple-A to take Hamels’ place, which will necessitate a 40-man and 25-man roster move, per the team. That’s interesting in its own right, as the DFA of Dustin McGowan today should have opened a 40-man spot for Aumont, though perhaps the team has a different player in mind for that spot. (GM Ruben Amaro stated specifically yesterday that Aaron Nola would not join the team this weekend, ruling him out.) On a larger scale, any injury to Hamels is extra noteworthy as the trade deadline approaches. The Philadelphia ace will be among the most coveted trade chips on the market this July, if healthy. The ailment seems relatively minor at this time, but his health will be a situation to monitor in the coming days, as anything more serious could have serious ramifications.
Here’s more from the NL East…
- If the Phillies are serious about adding Andy MacPhail as their new club president, the team needs to make the hire sooner rather than later, opines Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Brookover notes that acting president Pat Gillick was unavailable for comment yesterday when he tried to reach him and calls it “reasonable to believe” that Gillick was in the process of negotiating with MacPhail at the time. Brookover points out that both assistant GM Scott Proefrock and director of player development Joe Jordan worked for MacPhail in Baltimore, so he does have some connections within the current front office. An expedited hiring process would maximize the amount of time for MacPhail or any other new president to evaluate the organization, top to bottom.
- Though a great deal of focus has been directed at the Mets‘ need to add another bat to the lineup, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that the need to acquire a reliable setup man is perhaps just as important. Injuries to Vic Black and Rafael Montero have thinned out the team’s options, and Bobby Parnell‘s velocity is nowhere near its previous heights. Recent discussions about possibly moving Noah Syndergaard to the bullpen for 2015 ended with the conclusion that the promising rookie should remain in the rotation. Jenrry Mejia will soon return from his 80-game suspension, though even he is an imperfect option, because he’ll be ineligible for the postseason, should the Mets make it there. Martino notes that GM Sandy Alderson has been reluctant to trade for short-term upgrades in the past but wonders if the win-now nature of the current club makes someone like Tyler Clippard more realistic than he would have been in previous years.
- Doug Fister will return to the Nationals‘ rotation today, writes Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. While a healthy Fister should be a boon for the club, his return creates some questions in the rotation. Both Tanner Roark and Joe Ross have been in the rotation while Fister and Stephen Strasburg have been shelved, and it’s unclear which will be bumped to accommodate Fister. Skipper Matt Williams called those “good decisions” to have to make and said he couldn’t rule out Ross getting another turn, although Strasburg, too, is said to be nearing a return. A free agent at season’s end, Fister has extra incentive to rediscover his previous success. As Janes notes, his ground-ball rate is down nearly 10 percent from its career mark in 2015, and I’d add that his velocity has been a big concern as well. Fister has averaged just 86.1 mph on his heater this season, which is probably a factor in his rapidly declining strikeout rate (4.1 K/9).
Here’s the latest from the Big Apple…
- The Yankees had a scout watching Johnny Cueto‘s last start, and George A. King III of the New York Post reports that same scout (Jeff Datz) also saw Mike Leake pitch the next day for the Reds. King adds that Cincinnati has also been scouting the Yankees’ farm system, and he speculates that prospects like Mason Williams, Ramon Flores and Bryan Mitchell could interest the Reds as part of a package for one of the two starting pitchers. The Reds are sure to ask about top prospects Luis Severino and Aaron Judge, though King doubts the Yankees would move either for Cueto or Leake since both hurlers are free agents this winter.
- Also from King, the Phillies had scouts watching the Yankees/Orioles game on Sunday. King isn’t sure the Yankees would want to either cover Cole Hamels‘ substantial remaining contract or give up the prospects Philadelphia wants for the ace southpaw. Some in the industry believe Hamels is an ideal fit for the Orioles, who have received some shaky outings from their rotation this season.
- The perception of the Mets around the league is that they won’t be willing to take on salary in midseason trades, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (subscription required). Club ownership also hasn’t given any indication that it’s willing to extend payroll. It “makes no sense” to Olney that the Mets wouldn’t be willing to spend on some needed reinforcements for what looks like a playoff contender.
- The Mets have been rumored to be exploring infield upgrades, though they may have found an internal solution in Dilson Herrera. Manager Terry Collins told reporters (including Adam Rubin of ESPN New York) that Herrera is likely to retain the starting second base job once Daniel Murphy returns from the DL next week. This would mean that Murphy would play third, which would address the Mets’ need at the hot corner with David Wright out of action.