Colorado Rockies Rumors

Colorado Rockies trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Cafardo On Buchholz, Samardzija, Cueto, Hamels

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.

Draft Signings: Lambert, Eshelman, Ferrell, Denton

Let’s wrap up some notable recent draft signings to close out the day. Slot values, as always, are courtesy of Baseball America.

  • We already noted that Rockies second-rounder Peter Lambert had signed, and now Jim Callis of MLB.com tweets that he’ll earn $1,495,000 to forego his commitment to UCLA. That’s just shy of a full $100K above the slot value for the 44th choice. A projectable right-hander, Lambert was rated a top-fifty draft-eligible player by both Baseball America and MLB.com.
  • The Astros have agreed to terms with second-round choice and 46th overall pick Thomas Eshelman, Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston reports on Twitter. The Cal State-Fullerton righty says he’ll formally sign next week. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs had Eshelman as the 54th player on his pre-draft board, while others were somewhat less optimistic. Baseball America rated him 126th, explaining that Eshelman has exceptional command but lacks outstanding pure stuff.
  • The Astros have also announced the signing of TCU righty Riley Ferrell, as Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle first reported on Twitter. He’ll get a $1MM bonus from the club, per Jim Callis of MLB.com (via Twitter). MLB.com liked him as the 45th-best draft prospect, noting that the TCU closer has a big fastball-slider combination that could make him a big league contributor from the pen in short order.
  • The Cardinals are in agreement with second-round pick Bryce Denton, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Denton had been committed to Vanderbilt, but is just a physical away from becoming a professional. ESPN.com’s Keith Law rated Denton 68th coming into the draft, noting that he has enhanced his outlook with improved strength and conditioning. Law says that the Tennessee high schooler is likely to play in the corner outfield as a pro, and could ultimately possess both a high-contact and powerful bat if he develops.
  • Rays third-round second baseman Brandon Lowe has agreed to terms on an unspecified bonus, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports on Twitter. Lowe was taken 87th overall, which came with a $676,900 slot value. The University of Maryland product ranked as high as 92nd in pre-draft rankings, with that tab coming from Law, who profiles him as a very good hitter with below-average power and solid-but-not-spectacular overall defensive ability.
  • The Nationals have agreed to a $500K bonus with 13th-round pick Max Schrock, Callis tweets, That’s the highest bonus yet given to a post-tenth-round selection, Callis adds. As I noted recently, Washington had freed a significant amount of cash with its previously reported signings, and $400K of that will go to add the South Carolina second baseman, who Baseball America rated 282nd overall based on his strong bat.

NL Notes: Turner, Dodgers, Axford, Phillies

Cubs righty Jacob Turner has been shut down after his elbow “flared up,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters, including ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers (Twitter link). Turner had made two promising rehab starts at Double-A, and was looking like a possible rotation or pen option in the near term for Chicago. The club claimed the former top prospect off waivers last year from the Marlins and exercised his $1MM option for 2015.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Despite their recent offensive woes, the Dodgers see the acquisition of bats as a “lower priority” to adding arms to the rotation, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters, including Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Friedman says he sees reason to believe that the club’s run production will get back on track, and also likes that the organization has several relievers advancing back from injuries. The rotation, though, looks somewhat thin at the back end. While the team may still get some innings out of Brandon Beachy, who is working back through a rehab stint, it is currently relying on Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias, both of whom have struggled to continue their surprisingly excellent work from earlier in the year.
  • Rockies righty John Axford has put up strong results for the club, and Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes that he could either become a useful trade piece or be looked at as an asset to be retained. Axford comes with one more year of control via arbitration, effectively providing the club an option year, though he’ll figure to be in line for a nice raise on his $2.6MM salary this year as he continues to rack up saves. Groke notes the possibility of an extension, and club GM Jeff Bridich says that “moving ahead with Axford for future seasons is something we would at least consider.” From my perspective, the smarter play would be to see what Axford will fetch on the trade market and tender him a contract if a strong offer can’t be found. He has been quite good, even if peripherals don’t quite support his 1.31 ERA, with a career-best 60.7% groundball rate that is surely particularly attractive to the club. But extending a reliever is always risky business, particularly when the name in question is 32 years old and has a track record of inconsistent results.
  • When he formally joins the Phillies, reported new executive Andy MacPhail could spend some time evaluating the baseball operations department before deciding whether to make any changes or additions to the front office, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. One possibility, per a source, would be for MacPhail to try to bring on Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak in some capacity. The young executive got his start with the Orioles when MacPhail was in charge there. Klentak was a guest on the MLBTR Podcast’s third episode, back in October.


Draft Signings: Lambert, Hill, Stevenson

Here are the day’s notable draft signings …

  • The Rockies appear to have a deal in place with second-round pick Peter Lambert, who tweeted that he is en route to join the club’s Rookie affiliate. While a bonus remains unreported, Lambert was taken 44th overall, which came with a $1,395,200 slot allocation. The high school righty rated 48th on the board of Baseball America, which credited him with a nice three-pitch mix. Colorado also added fourth-rounder David Hill for a $550K bonus (a slight bump over the slot value of $533K), per MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). The University of San Diego right-hander actually placed even higher than Lambert on BA’s list (44th), based upon his increasing velocity and promising slurve and change (though BA also noted that Hill will need to improve his control and consistency).
  • The Nationals have agreed to terms with their first overall pick, second-rounder Andrew Stevenson, on a below-slot $750K bonus, James Wager of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. Stevenson, an outfielder out of LSU, was taken with the 58th overall choice ($1,058,100 slot value), which was awarded to the Nats for failing to ink last year’s second-rounder. MLB.com was higher on Stevenson than other outlets, ranking him the 79th-best player available and calling him “the best defensive center fielder in college baseball.” Per that review, Stevenson has a useful, if unexciting, offensive profile. Overall, the Nats have racked up quite a bit of savings on those players they have inked to date: $786,800 by my count. Only third-rounder Rhett Wiseman (who is playing for Vanderbilt in the College World Series as we speak) and eighth-round choice Koda Glover (a senior from Oklahoma State) have yet to sign from the first ten rounds, and it’s not immediately clear how (if at all) the team will utilize its extra bonus availability.

Draft Signings: Marshall, Hillman, Blankenhorn, Davila

It’s time to get caught up on some draft signings. Slot values courtesy of Baseball America.

  • The Giants have agreed to a well-above-slot, $750K bonus with fourth-round pick Mac Marshall, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. You might remember that Marshall was taken in the late rounds last year by the Astros, who fell short of a rumored last-minute attempt at a deal with him as they tried to work things out with Brady Aiken. Marshall had been set to play for LSU, but ultimately ended up in Junior College so that he could re-enter the draft.
  • Second-rounder Juan Hillman inked with the Indians, the club announced. The deal is for $825K, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Cleveland also announced several other signings, including third-rounder Mark Mathias and fourth-round pick Tyler Krieger. MLB.com rated Hillman the 52nd-best player available, noting that the prep lefty is the son of long-time big leaguer Tom Gordon and half-brother of Dee Gordon. ESPN.com’s Keith Law had the highest grade on Hillman, ranking him 31st heading into the draft on the basis of his excellent feel and command at a young age.
  • Twins third-rounder Travis Blankenhorn gets a $650K bonus, Callis tweets. The high school third baseman was taken 80th overall, which came with a $754K slot allotment. Baseball America rated Blankenhorn 75th on its board, citing his athleticism, nice swing, and overall solid tools. Minnesota also added fourth-round pick Trey Cabbage for an above-slot $760K bonus, also per a Callis tweet. His signing was previously reported, but not the bonus amount, which lands well above the slot value of $517,900.
  • The Royals went over $300K above slot ($431,100) to sign high school lefty Garrett Davila, Callis tweets. He receives a $746K bonus after entering the draft rated within Law’s top 100 list. His fastball is not a very impressive offerin at present, but he has an above-average curve and still has some growing to do.
  • Javier Medina, the third-round pick of the Rockies, gets $740K to forego his commitment to the University of Arizona, Callis reports on Twitter. The 77th overall pick came with a $789,700 allotment, so Colorado will pick up some savings to add a pitcher who shows more feel than pure stuff, per Baseball America.
  • Pirates third-round selection Casey Hughston lands a $700K bonus that lands $107,300 above the slot value, per Callis (via Twitter). The Alabama outfielder has good all-around tools in addition to plus raw power, MLB.com wrote in raking him 95th among available players. Pittsburgh fourth-rounder Jacob Taylor, a righty from Pearl River Community College, has agreed to a $500K bonus, Callis tweets. That represents a $60.6K bump over the slot value for the 127th overall pick.
  • The third-round pick of the Tigers, Dallas Baptist pitcher Drew Smith, announced that he has signed (h/t to MLB.com’s Jason Beck). Callis reports on Twitter that the live-armed college righty will take home the slot value of $575,800.
  • The Braves have agreed to a $550K deal with third-round pick Anthony Guardado, Callis tweets. That signing saves the club $106,300 against the slot value of the 89th pick. Callis calls the high school righty a true pop-up prospect, and indeed he did not receive much pre-draft attention.
  • Fourth round pick Demi Orimoloye will sign for a $450K bonus, according to Callis (on Twitter), just shy of the $456,600 allotment for the 121st pick. The Canadian outfielder (who was born in Nigeria) drew rave reviews from BA, which rated him 41st heading into the draft based upon his loud tools and tall ceiling. There’s a lot of polishing that needs to be done, it seems, but Orimoloye looks to be a nice risk for the Brewers at this price tag.
  • Phillies fifth-round pick Bailey Falter, a projectable lefty, gets an above-slot $420K bonus, Callis tweets. Philly took him 144th overall, which came with a $373,100 slot value.
  • The 11th-round pick of the Mets, lefty Jake Simon, has agreed to a $400K bonus, Callis tweets. $300K of that money will count against New York’s overall pool, as any amount over $100K does for players taken after the tenth round.

Rockies Sign Mike Nikorak, Tyler Nevin

JUNE 19: Nevin received an even $2MM bonus, tweets Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. That places him about $373K over slot value.

JUNE 18, 2:49pm: Second-round selection Tyler Nevin has also agreed to terms, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. Like his father, veteran big leaguer Phil Nevin, the would-be UCLA commit is a third baseman. MLB.com rated Nevin just inside the top fifty available prospects.

Nevin’s bonus remains unreported at present. The 38th pick came with a $1,626,500 allocation.

2:23pm: The Rockies have announced the signing of righty Mike Nikorak, the 27th overall selection in the draft. He’ll receive a $2.3MM bonus, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter).

The slot value for the comp pick was $2,004,600, meaning that Colorado went nearly $300K over to draw him away from a commitment to the University of Alabama. That eats up a decent portion of the $723K that the team saved in signing its first selection, Brendan Rodgers.

Callis says that Nikorak has the highest ceiling of any prep arm in this year’s draft class, and indeed the MLB.com team rated him the 15th-best player available. His big fastball has lost steam at times, but MLB.com says that it has plenty of movement regardless. While he’ll need to keep developing his secondary offerings, Nikorak is said to have excellent athleticism and still has not filled into his sizable frame.

Baseball America agrees that Nikorak has top-of-the-rotation upside, rating him 16th among draft-eligible players. Meanwhile, ESPN.com’s Keith Law placed Nikorak in his 22nd slot, noting some control issues, and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs put him in the 25th place on his board while pointing out that there were some velocity drops at times this year.


Rockies To Sign Brendan Rodgers

The Rockies and No. 3 overall pick Brendan Rodgers have agreed to terms, reports Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com (via Twitter). Rodgers will receive a $5.5MM signing bonus, which comes in about $723K shy of the No. 3 slot’s value. Rodgers will soon debut with the club’s Rookie-ball affiliate, Mayo adds.

Despite being selected third overall, Rodgers actually ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the draft in the eyes of Baseball America, Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com, and ESPN’s Keith Law. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs rated Rodgers as the No. 2 prospect in the draft, behind top overall pick Dansby Swanson and ahead of No. 2 overall pick Alex Bregman.

A high school shortstop known for his power, Rodgers was one of a handful of players in the mix to go first overall. BA describes Rodgers’ bat speed as “elite” and gives him a chance to hit 25 or more homers in the Majors one day, adding that his arm strength and hands are good enough to remain at short as long as his range does not deteriorate as he matures physically. Callis and Mayo praise his all-fields approach at the plate and liken his skill set to that of Addison Russell. Law calls Rodgers a “true shortstop” that can hit for at least average power down the line, if not more. McDaniel feels that Rodgers has been the best pure bat in the class for a full year, though he notes that Swanson just snuck ahead of him in his rankings due to a better spring.


International Notes: Market, Martinez, Venezuela

The international market continues to be a fairly inefficient arena despite advances in overall talent evaluation resources, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. An advancing timeline for reaching verbal agreement with July 2 prospects has exacerbated the difficulties of scouting young, swiftly changing players, says Badler. Generally, uncertainty and market manipulation are prevalent, creating an environment in which bonuses do not always match talent.

Here’s more from the international scene:

  • The Yankees “made a run” at signing MLB.com’s top-rated international prospect, Eddy Julio Martinez, before the close of the 2014-15 July 2 period, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports on Twitter. A deal did not get done, however, meaning that Martinez will sign elsewhere at some point after July 2 (when the new year’s market open). New York is now just starting out on a two-year ban on international bonuses of over $300K.
  • Broader difficulties are even greater in Venezuela, writes Badler, citing one scout who says “this is as bad as it’s been” to evaluate young players there. But the same large-scale economic issues that have crippled the country and had a trickle-down effect on the baseball industry have also created shifting incentives for ballplaying youngsters. Badler explains that, even as less resources and money have reached Venezuela, there is an increasing trend of teenagers devoting more time to baseball development in hopes of earning a chance at a contract, thereby sacrificing time that might have gone toward other pursuits. That has led to a bump in the overall talent level coming up, though of course it is probably not a positive indicator for the country’s young people.
  • Badler also provides a preview of the best prospects coming up on the July 2 market out of Venezuela. The Rockies are “strong favorites” to sign outfielder Daniel Montano, who is expected to receive the largest bonus from the country (perhaps over $2MM). And the Rangers appear to have the inside track on another well-regarded outfielder, Miguel Aparicio, at a lower price tag.
  • There’s plenty more to learn from the Badler pieces cited above, and you’ll want to give them a full read for all of the details.

Amateur Notes: July 2, Martinez, Sierra, D’Backs, Draft

With the draft in the books, the next July 2 period is just around the corner. Last year saw several teams blow past their spending allocations, incurring two-year bans on $300K+ signings to do so. As the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees go on probation, the Cubs and Rangers are returning to the market. Ben Badler of Baseball America breaks down this year’s market, with the Cubs joined by the Dodgers and Royals as teams that seem quite likely to dole out enough excess bonus cash to incur the highest possible penalties. The Phillies and Blue Jays could follow those clubs, says Badler, though they may yet be able to add their top targets without taking on a signing ban. Badler discusses several clubs that could be buyers or sellers of international space, with the Twins profiling as a major acquirer or spending capacity and the D’backs looking to get some value back for the bonus availability that they cannot take advantage of.

You’ll want to give that piece a full read. Here are some other worthwhile amateur links:

  • Badler discusses the signing situations of BA’s top ten July 2 prospects (non-Cuban edition). He says the Mets are the favorites to land Venezuelan shortstop Andres Gimenez. Though New York probably won’t get Vladimir Guerror Jr., who has long been linked to the Blue Jays, they may instead get Vlad Sr. nephew Gregory Guerrero, another shortstop. Meanwhile, Badler says the Rangers appear set to sign Dominican outfielder Leodys Taveras but now seem likely to lose Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox to the Dodgers.
  • Cuban outfielder Eddie Julio Martinez has drawn a range of reviews, with MLB.com pegging him as the top overall international prospect and Badler expressing considerably more doubt. You can have a look for yourself, at least at some batting practice cuts, with a video courtesy of BA.
  • Well-regarded Cuban right-hander Yaisel Sierra will be represented by Praver-Shapiro Sports Management, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. As Badler recently explained, Sierra will be exempt from international signing restrictions when he becomes eligible to sign, but his Serie Nacional track record has never quite matched his promising pure stuff.
  • The Diamondbacks‘ new regime exhibited a notable change in strategy in this year’s draft, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic notes (Twitter links). After going heavy on high schoolers at the top of last year’s draft, Arizona chose 15 collegiate players in its first 19 picks (including each of its first six selections) this time around. Individual draft dynamics always have an important bearing on a team’s final board, of course, but it is notable that the D’Backs ultimately chose just four high school players out of their forty total draft slots.
  • MLB.com’s Jim Callis lists the five teams that had the best drafts. Like other analysts, he places the AstrosRockies, and Dodgers at the top of that list. Callis also likes what the Rays and Rangers accomplished with their selections.

Draft Notes: Matuella, Rodgers, Harris, Cameron

Scouts do much more than tally stats, of course, but they are not immune from the allure of racking up their own numbers. As MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick writes, Marty Lamb of the Dodgers received credit as the lead scout on three of the team’s top five choices, including first-rounder Walker Buehler, a fairly rare achievement. “Part of it is luck,” explains the veteran scout. “They’ve got to fall to the right places, and we’ve got to like them. … It’s fun, but I’m sure some of my buddies [fellow scouts] aren’t too happy with me right now, but it’s part of the game.”

Here’s more from out west:

  • Rangers scouting director Kip Fagg, likewise, was pleased with how things turned out Monday, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes“I can’t think of a better day that I’ve had in my 24 years of scouting with the Texas Rangers,” he said. “The first four guys we drafted, we had them all in our top 20 on our board. That’s never happened in my career. That made it special.” Texas took righty Dillon Tate with its top pick and also went on to secure the rights to Duke starter Michael Matuella, a high-upside talent who has injury and signability questions. Matuella says he is “very confident” in reaching a deal, with Fagg echoed that sentiment.
  • High school shortstop Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies‘ top selection at third overall, said Monday that he agreed on bonus terms with the club before the draft, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post reported. Ink has not yet been put to paper, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets, but it appears that Rodgers will formally reach a deal in fairly short order.
  • Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are nearing agreement with first-rounder Jon Harris, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. The righty is expected to receive a bonus in line with the slot value of $1,944,800, sources tell Davidi. Toronto has expressed real excitement at having another chance at Harris, who the team failed to sign out of high school after the 2012 draft.
  • Astros second-round choice Daz Cameron, a highly-regarded high school outfielder, is asking “less than” the $5MM he was rumored to be seeking, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. The consensus is that Cameron fell to Houston because it has the overall spending capacity to sign him, but perhaps the team will not need to go quite as high as had been expected to get a deal done. Daz’s father — long-time big leaguer Mike Cameron — offers plenty of interesting thoughts on his son’s draft experience and the useful “business management” lesson he picked up along the way. It’s an interesting piece and well worth a read.