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The Angels had interest in A.J. Burnett of the Phillies, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes, confirming a report by Peter Gammons (all Twitter links). The Angels, though, wanted Burnett to waive his player option for next season, perhaps to get them under the luxury tax threshold. It wouldn’t be surprising if Burnett hadn’t wanted to do that, given that he prefers playing near the East Coast, and that his option guarantees him $10MM or more in 2015. The Angels, then, will continue to hunt for a starting pitcher to replace the injured Garrett Richards. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki would rather retire than change positions, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. “No. It’s just who I am, it’s what I do, it’s what I have dreamed of as a kid,” Tulowitzki says. “So I guess when you have a dream and you accomplish it and someone tries to take it away from you … it wouldn’t be worth it for me to try and move somewhere else.” Tulowitzki is just 29 and is still a plus defensive shortstop when healthy, but he continues to have issues with injuries, and it’s not difficult to see how he might need to change positions before the end of his contract, which runs through 2020. Saunders notes that Tulowitzki is currently on crutches after surgery to fix a torn labrum in his hip.
- The Astros‘ “extreme Moneyball” approach is still controversial throughout the game, Joshua Green of Bloomberg BusinessWeek writes in a profile of the Astros since Jeff Luhnow’s hiring in 2011. The Astros’ poor results the past few years, and their relentless questioning of conventional wisdom (leading to, for example, their aggressive approach to shifting and to their tandem minor league rotations), have predictably been divisive. Luhnow gives Green a look at the Astros’ “Ground Control” database (notes from which were leaked in June), which uses an algorithm to tell the team’s management when players ought to be promoted.
Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa was claimed off waivers by an unknown team who made the move in order to block the southpaw from being dealt elsewhere, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. The claim was made long enough ago that Colorado has since pulled De La Rosa back from revocable trade waivers and he’ll finish the rest of the 2014 season in the purple pinstripes.
De La Rosa has a 4.19 ERA, 2.11 K/BB rate and 6.6 K/9 over 154 2/3 innings with the Rockies this season, and combined with his strong 2013 campaign, the 33-year-old looks to score a healthy contract as a free agent this winter. The Rockies, of course, hope that they can keep him from reaching the open market. They are known to be eager to retain one of the few pitchers who has had success at Coors Field (De La Rosa has a 3.19 ERA in 13 home starts) so even if the southpaw had been claimed by a team looking to make a trade, Colorado would’ve asked for a lot to move him. The Royals and Orioles were linked to De La Rosa before the July 31 trade deadline, and the Rockies asked Baltimore for no less than their top pitching prospect (Kevin Gausman) in return.
It’s no surprise that De La Rosa failed to clear waivers, given that he’s only owed a little under $2MM for the remainder of the season and could’ve been helped a number of contending rotations. The lefty would’ve had to go unclaimed past every NL team and then every AL team in order to clear the August trade waivers.
Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau was claimed off revocable waivers by the Brewers, but pulled back by Colorado when the sides could not reach a deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. An unknown offer from Milwaukee was apparently insufficient to pry Morneau free.
Morneau, 33, has enjoyed a career renaissance since joining the Rockies over the offseason, posting his finest season since his injury-shortened 2010 campaign. Leading the league with a .317 batting average, Morneau has reached base at a .360 clip while slugging an even .500 and swatting 14 home runs in 453 plate appearances. Of course, the lefty has continued to struggle against southpaws, putting up rather sizeable platoon splits (.930 OPS against righties; .655 OPS versus same-handed pitchers).
He does come with an increasingly attractive contract: earning just $5MM this year, Morneau is guaranteed $6.75MM next season along with a $750K buyout on a $9MM mutual option for 2016. (His 2015 salary is likely to rise by $500K based on a plate appearance escalator.) While it would have made little sense for Colorado to give Morneau away for a meager return, it is also fair to wonder whether the cellar-dwelling club should have dealt (and, looking forward, should deal) the veteran while his value is trending upwards.
With his defense and baserunning factored in, Morneau still profiles as less than a 3-WAR player, ranking in the middle of the league’s regular first baggers when his numbers are adjusted to account for playing at Coors Field. But that would have represented a nice upgrade for the Brewers, whose combined first base output stands at 1.5 fWAR and a 92 wRC+.
25 years ago today, Bart Giamatti banned Pete Rose from Major League Baseball for life for gambling on the game. As Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller points out, the next year could be a turning point for Rose, as Rob Manfred replaces Bud Selig as commissioner and MLB prepares to host the All-Star Game in Cincinnati next July. Miller suggests it’s time for baseball to give its all-time hits leader a second chance. Here’s more from around the game.
- The Athletics recently claimed Yunel Escobar from the Rays on revocable waivers, but Escobar does not want to play for Oakland, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. “I am very concerned with Yunel having been selected on waivers by Oakland,” says Escobar’s agent, Alex Esteban. “While I believe Oakland is an excellent organization, I don’t feel that it is the best organization for him.” Esteban adds that Escobar has a good relationship with Rays manager Joe Maddon. Of course, Escobar does not have a no-trade clause and cannot block a trade to the A’s, but his disinterest in playing for them is one variable to keep in mind as the situation develops. Escobar has stayed out of trouble in Tampa, but he did not get along with Bobby Cox in Atlanta and received a suspension for a homophobic slur while playing for Toronto.
- White Sox top prospect Carlos Rodon dominated Sunday in his second career start for Triple-A Charlotte. Rodon pitched four innings and struck out eight batters, including five of the last six he faced. Less than two months after signing as the third overall pick in the draft, Rodon is already pitching well at the highest level of the minor leagues.
- Martin Prado and Brandon McCarthy have played well since the Yankees traded for them this summer, writes Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com. Prado played mostly third base with the Diamondbacks, but since being traded he’s played there sparingly, instead appearing more often in right field and at second base. That’s not surprising, given that the Yankees had acquired Chase Headley the previous week. “They talked to me about that the first day before I even stepped out on the field,” says Prado. “I had this experience in the past with the Braves. It’s not like I haven’t done it.”
- The most likely destination for Bartolo Colon is either the Angels or Dodgers, one executive tells Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (via Twitter). The Tigers don’t have the money for him, Rubin writes. The Mets placed Colon on revocable waivers on Saturday. Rubin tweets that he does not think the Mets will get rid of Colon simply to avoid paying him his $11MM salary next year.
- Wilin Rosario is dealing with a wrist injury just as he might be coming to a fork in the road with the Rockies, Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes. Rosario is eligible for arbitration after the season and he hasn’t made an overwhelming case to start next season, hitting .248/.289/.399 while concentrating on improving his defense. One element possibly in Rosario’s favor, though, is that there won’t be many good catchers available on the free agent market — Russell Martin is the only obvious starting-caliber catcher.
The Giants are weighing whether or not to continue with beleaguered right-hander Tim Lincecum in their rotation, writes John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Lincecum himself offered a frank, expletive-laced assessment of his recent performance and sounded aware that he may not make his next start. Shea spoke with manager Bruce Bochy about rotation candidate Yusmeiro Petit‘s struggles as a starter and excellence in the bullpen this year, with Bochy calling Petit’s rotation work too small of sample to judge. Petit’s recent bullpen work, however, has been nothing short of incredible, if not historic. He’s retired 38 consecutive batters, striking out 16. As Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com points out (on Twitter), Petit is seven batters shy of matching the Major League record for most consecutive hitters retired. Lincecum, who is in the first season of a two-year, $35MM extension, has a 9.49 ERA over his past six starts and has totaled just 24 2/3 innings in that time. Baggarly tweets that for now, the team’s Thursday starter is listed as “TBA.”
Here’s more from the NL West…
- While the most commonly linked team to Bartolo Colon (who is currently on revocable waivers) has been the Angels, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his daily blog that the injury-plagued Dodgers are a candidate to place a claim as well (ESPN Insider required). Olney points out that Colon’s start against the Dodgers tonight could serve as an audition.
- Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa feels that his team can post a winning record in 2015, he tells Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. La Russa feels that the D’Backs can make improvements with their current roster solely by improving their approach at the plate and improving their baserunning, but he also cites the desire to make “two or three impactful moves” in the offseason, including the addition of at least one hitter and at least one pitcher.
- Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes that the D’Backs are in evaluation mode with middle infielders Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius, and Nick Ahmed. Additionally, the club is trying to determine how to mix in veterans Aaron Hill and Cliff Pennington. For the time being, GM Kevin Towers tells Buchanan that Owings will see more time at second base with Gregorius getting a look at short, but that doesn’t mean Owings is being converted to a second baseman full-time. Hill, meanwhile, will see action at third, though a full-time transition there would block prospect Jake Lamb, Buchanan notes. In my view, Pennington is a non-tender candidate following the season and Ahmed could use more work at Triple-A, leaving three infielders for two spots. Hill is guaranteed $12MM in 2015 and again in 2016, making him difficult to trade, but any number of clubs would likely be interested in Owings, Gregorius or Ahmed in trades.
- The Rockies are further away from contending now than they were at the beginning of the season, opines Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Saunders looks at Colorado’s pitching predicament, noting that Tyler Chatwood will miss the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery and Jhoulys Chacin‘s shoulder cannot be relied upon. Brett Anderson‘s injuries make it difficult to exercise his $12MM option, and Jorge De La Rosa could end up pitching elsewhere, as several sources with whom Saunders has conversed feel that there’s only a 50-50 chance he returns. Add in the persistent trade rumors regarding Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez — Saunders feels the latter is more likely to go — and the offseason is rife with question marks and uncertainty.
The Rockies placed first baseman/outfielder Michael Cuddyer on revocable waivers on Sunday, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but Colorado revoked the waivers after he experienced hamstring discomfort this week (Twitter link).
The injury for Cuddyer, however minor, clearly came at a poor time. It’s unclear whether or not the Rockies would have traded the 2013 NL batting champion even if he had not been injured, but they now won’t have the opportunity to do so prior to the expiration of his three-year, $31.5MM contract at the end of the season.
A team in need of offense certainly could have benefited from the addition of Cuddyer, who is hitting .331/.386/.533 dating back to the beginning of the 2013 campaign. The 35-year-old, however, is no stranger to the injury bug. He’s had four separate DL stints over the course of his current three-year pact and has tallied just 141 plate appearances this season after missing much of the year with a fractured shoulder. (Cuddyer suffered the injury playing third base for the first time since 2010 while filling in for then-injured Nolan Arenado.)
It’s not clear at this time which club claimed Cuddyer, but it’s unlikely that he’d have escaped the National League on waivers. The Pirates, Braves, Cardinals and Giants are all contending clubs that could use an additional bat and find room for Cuddyer in their lineup. An acquiring club would’ve had to pay Cuddyer roughly $2.35MM through season’s end, had a trade been worked out.
The Rockies could technically place Cuddyer on waivers a second time, but the waivers would no longer be revocable at that point, and Colorado doesn’t seem likely to run him through waivers solely to shed his remaining salary.
Earlier today, we learned that the Dodgers are interested in adding a reliever, as well as a bench bat. The club has already added two right-handed starters this month, acquiring Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia. Now, comes word Zack Greinke has skipped his between-starts side session with what manager Don Mattingly called “some soreness and things like that,” reports ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon. The Dodgers, who have lost starters Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu to the disabled list, are hopeful Greinke will make his next start Thursday. Here’s more out of the NL West..
- Giants GM Brian Sabean said he is skeptical making of any roster additions in August, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Heading into tonight’s slate of games, the Giants trail the Dodgers by 3.5 games in the NL West and hold a thin lead on the second Wild Card spot.
- New Padres GM A.J. Preller has successfully pried veteran executive Don Welke away from the Rangers, two sources tell Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. The Padres have confirmed the hiring announcing Welke will serve as their vice president of scouting operations. The Rangers had the right to refuse but chose not to get in Welke’s way of taking a job with San Diego. Welke, a long-time scout under Pat Gillick in Toronto, was in his eighth season with the Rangers after coming over from the Dodgers.
- Earlier today, the Padres optioned right-hander Jesse Hahn to Double-A San Antonio as a way to taper his workload, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The 25-year-old has tossed 110 1/3 innings this season between San Diego and San Antonio and is expected to rejoin the parent club when rosters expand in September.
- The Dodgers are having bullpen problems, but acquiring a quality reliever at this point of the season is downright impossible, writes MLB.com’s Sarah D. Morris. The Dodgers’ bullpen has been performing below expectations all season long, but losing both Paul Maholm and Chris Perez weakened it even further.
- Carlos Gonzalez underwent left knee surgery today (his third different operation this year) and says “everything went perfect,” reports Nick Groke of the Denver Post. The rehab, however, is expected to extend into Spring Training as the Rockies outfielder will be in a walking brace for three months and a determination on his status won’t be made for another two months after that.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Rob Manfred will make a fine commissioner, notes Peter Gammons of Gammonsdaily.com. Among the many reasons are his familiarity with the issues of the game. Those include upcoming PED news, growing dissent between small and large market clubs, and the upcoming legal battle between the Orioles and Nationals over MASN revenues. Gammons concludes that the game would benefit most if the owners put some effort into helping Manfred settle into the job.
- The Marlins have a seriously bad reputation when it comes to dealing away their stars in fire sales. According to Gammons, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria knows that a big brand can go a long way to improving attendance. With Lebron James back in Cleveland, Giancarlo Stanton is the top name in Miami sports. This is the reason why the Marlins have rebuffed all offers for Stanton.
- The Rockies are on the hook for a combined $167MM between Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. This trade deadline included rumors that the club would consider dealing one or both of their stars, but their season ending injuries will probably prevent any offseason deals. Gammons notes that the rarefied air in Colorado can make recovery difficult.
- One talent evaluator compares Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a center field capable Ron Gant. The Yankees are among the biggest players for Castillo, but they have to contend with a hefty luxury tax penalty. Because Alex Rodriguez will be back on the books, the Yankees will pay a tax in the range of 40% to 50% if they add Castillo. As Gammons notes, a $50MM contract would come with a $20MM to $25MM tax.
- The league is concerned about two things related to Cuban imports. The defection process is morally troubling, as it supports human trafficking. The other issue is the diet of Cuban players. The stress fractures that have sidelined Jorge Soler and Jose Iglesias could be related to calcium deficiency. According to one insider, his team will be monitoring the “bone structure and diet” of their Cuban acquisitions.
The Brewers will go the rest of the way without righties Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson, according to a tweet from MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Thornburg will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection in a bid to avoid surgery on his elbow, while Henderson may need shoulder surgery. Thornburg, 25, tossed 29 2/3 innings before being shut down, while the 31-year-old Henderson (who saved 28 games last season) scuffled through just 11 1/3 frames.
Here’s more out of the National League …
- Braves hurler Kris Medlen is just two and a half weeks away from beginning to throw again after his second Tommy John surgery, and feels confident that he’ll be back on the hill “at some point next season,” David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. But it remains to be seen whether he’ll work his way back with Atlanta, as his current $5.8MM salary and status as a two-time TJ patient makes him a non-tender possibility. “I’m a little nervous about it, just because it’s not in my hands,” said Medlen. “… It’s exciting to be able to pick up a ball in a couple of weeks, but I’m not going to lie, the contract stuff and wanting to come back — I mean, that’s somewhat up in the air this time, so it’s a little nerve-racking, but all I can do is get healthy.” In spite of his uncertain future, the 28-year-old righty should draw plenty of interest around the league if the Braves allow him to hit the open market.
- Were it not for Jonathan Papelbon‘s continued presence at the back of the Phillies‘ bullpen, young righty Ken Giles would likely have moved into the closer’s role, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes. Commenting on the story, Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider link) argues that the club should move Papelbon back into a setup role to give Giles an audition as a 9th-inning option and to prevent Papelbon from finishing enough games for his 2016 option to vest at $13MM. While this approach has some facial appeal, I would note that allowing Giles to begin racking up saves now will ultimately raise his price significantly when he ultimately reaches arbitration. (And, of course, there is the question of how to handle Papelbon’s insistence that he continues to close.)
- Yesterday, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. again discussed his organization’s future, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Declining to give many specifics, Amaro said that the “biggest plan is to make sure we improve offensively and with our pitching overall,” saying he will look to address those (rather broadly-framed) needs “in a variety of ways.” Sitting 14 games back in the division and 11 out of the wild card, the Phillies are nonetheless not entirely ready to give up hope this year. “Right now, we’re trying to win as many games as possible,” said Amaro. “At the same time, at some point, we’re going to have to start looking to the future. … And at some point, we may be looking more at what we have to do for 2015 as far as what’s going on, on the field. … We’re not quite there yet.”
- Though Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies continues to play shortstop at a very high level, it is time he considered moving to first base, argues Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. Tulowitzki’s bat is obviously good enough to make the move — he led the league in all three triple-slash categories (.340/.432/.603) when he suffered his season-ending hip injury — but switching to first would obviously sap a good portion of his immense bottom-line value. On the other hand, of course, it is fair to wonder whether playing the least-demanding spot on the diamond might not only help keep Tulowitzki on the field but might also enable him to hit at a top-end level even further into the six years (and $118MM) left on his contract.
The latest from MLB.com’s Corey Brock is an outstanding background on A.J. Preller’s rise from a college intern with the Phillies and an unpaid Arizona Fall League worker to the general manager of the Padres. Brock spoke not only with Preller, but with some of his biggest influences, including Rangers GM Jon Daniels, former big league manager Jim Tracy, Rangers senior special assistant Jim Welke and Rangers director of pro scouting Josh Boyd. The article goes in depth on Preller’s love of international scouting and the great lengths to which he went to build the Rangers’ scouting presence in Latin America. Padres fans looking to learn more about their new GM should consider the piece a must-read, but it’s well worth the time of any baseball fan. Tracy, who worked with Preller back in 2001, tells Brock: “The Padres have hired themselves an absolute jewel. No one will outwork him. It’s impossible to do. I find it hard to believe that he will be outsmarted.”
Here’s more from the NL West…
- On a more somber note for Padres fans, the team announced today that top prospect Max Fried will require Tommy John surgery that will sideline him for most, if not all of the 2015 campaign. Fried, who was drafted seventh overall in 2012, has had a lost season, as he opened the year on the shelf with a flexor strain and only returned to the mound in January. The 20-year-old totaled just 10 2/3 innings of work this season before being shut down. Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus all ranked him inside of the game’s Top 55 prospects heading into the season.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News looks at the poor timing of Troy Tulowitzki‘s season-ending hip surgery. Martino recalls that just a few weeks ago, one source told him that if the Rockies were ever going to trade their star shortstop, “this is the winter.” Major League sources told Martino that they saw the Mets, Yankees, Cardinals and Red Sox as possible fits for Tulowitzki, but health concerns — which already existed due to his lengthy injury history — will now be magnified and might make it tough to get a strong enough return. Tulo is guaranteed $118MM from 2015-20.
- With Tim Lincecum again struggling on the mound — he has an 8.39 ERA since the All-Star break — Grant Brisbee of SB Nation’s McCovey Chronicles asks if Lincecum is still a better rotation option than teammate Yusmeiro Petit. Brisbee notes that from a peripheral standpoint, Petit is similar to Lincecum but with markedly better command, making him a potentially safer bet through season’s end. While he notes that the Giants would never bounce Lincecum from the rotation in favor of Petit, doing so might give them a better chance at making a push for the playoffs.