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Colorado Rockies Rumors
Martin, a towering 28-year-old, reached the big leagues with Colorado despite not pitching in the minors until age 25. He had signed with the Red Sox after a successful independent ball stint, and came to the Rockies in last winter’s Jonathan Herrera trade.
Though Martin did not put up an impressive ERA (6.89) in his 15 2/3 innings of MLB work, ERA estimators were much more impressed with Martin’s ability to generate grounders (60.8%) and strike out big league hitters (8.0 per nine). And his work at Triple-A with Colorado was rather promising, as he struck out 12.2 and walked 3.0 batters per nine over 26 2/3 frames. While Martin posted only a 4.39 ERA, he was pitching at a hitter-friendly park and in a hitter-friendly league.
Here are highlights from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal‘s latest:
- The Braves‘ offseason has been quietly criticized throughout the industry, with other teams wondering about Atlanta’s signing of Nick Markakis and about its trades, including getting injured pitching prospect Max Fried as the co-headliner (along with Mallex Smith) in the Justin Upton deal.
- The Phillies, meanwhile, did well in getting Ben Lively in return for Marlon Byrd and cash. The Phillies didn’t get marquee names for Byrd, Jimmy Rollins or Antonio Bastardo, but they weren’t expected to. A Cole Hamels deal would clearly be a different story, and Rosenthal names the Red Sox and Cardinals as interesting potential trade partners.
- Ben Zobrist is likely to receive a qualifying offer next winter if the Rays deal him this offseason, and the possibility of getting a draft pick would likely make him even more valuable to some interested teams.
- The Orioles are interested in Colby Rasmus despite his perceived makeup issues because Buck Showalter believes Rasmus can adjust to the Orioles’ clubhouse, just as Delmon Young did. The Orioles also already possess plenty of good clubhouse players who can set strong examples. The Orioles have yet to sign Rasmus, though, and it’s not yet certain they will — Nori Aoki is also available, along with a variety of outfield trade possibilities. (Showalter met with Rasmus yesterday.)
- Wil Myers is excited about the possibility of playing center field for the Padres, Rosenthal writes. Myers has only played a handful of games at center in the Majors.
- Other teams aren’t willing to give the Rockies much for Wilin Rosario right now, so the team’s best course might be to allow Rosario to play some first base and outfield this season and hope he improves his stock after declining offensively in each of the last two seasons.
The Angels are likely to trade Josh Hamilton before his contract expires, but not before letting him play out at least part of the 2015 season, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. Given Hamilton’s production (.263/.331/.414 last year) and contract, his value can’t slip much further, so the Angels might as well wait to see if they can recoup some of that value with a rebound season, Gonzalez suggests. And then, of course, there’s the fact that Hamilton has a full no-trade clause. The Angels reportedly discussed potential Hamilton deals with the Rangers and Padres this offseason, although those talks did not appear particularly likely to result in a trade. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- After reaching a deal with Nick Hundley last week, the Rockies could trade Wilin Rosario, or they could keep him and go with three catchers (Hundley, Rosario and Michael McKenry), MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. Many teams have two catchers but are reluctant to use the backup to pinch-hit, so having three would allow the Rockies to use their spare catchers more liberally. Also, they could have Rosario pick up playing time at first base or in the outfield. Harding adds that the Rockies have “checked in with” Max Scherzer and James Shields this offseason, although, unsurprisingly, they’re not likely to sign either one, and they’ll likely acquire a veteran to eat innings instead.
- Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith should form a solid platoon for the Mariners, David Golebiewski writes for GammonsDaily.com. Neither one projects to be anything special if he plays every day, but Ruggiano has a .925 OPS against lefties in the last three seasons, while Smith has an .825 OPS against righties. Those are very strong numbers (even though we should probably expect regression for Ruggiano, and it’s impossible to completely hide any batter from same-handed pitching), and the Mariners should get effective production from right field while they wait for a long-term starter to come along.
The Yankees have quietly shed salary in a series of recent transactions, like the Shawn Kelley, Martin Prado and Francisco Cervelli deals, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues writes. Those small savings could add up to something bigger, like a fraction of the money needed to sign Max Scherzer or James Shields. But Axisa feels it’s more likely the Yankees aren’t saving for any particular move, just working to make certain spots on their roster a bit younger. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- The Rockies‘ resistance to legitimate change is holding them back, Mark Townsend of Yahoo! Sports writes. They have two superstars (Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez) who haven’t stayed healthy lately, and not much else, and they haven’t been a serious contender since 2009. Meanwhile, their biggest move so far this offseason was yesterday’s pact with Nick Hundley, a decent catcher but not a difference-maker. They’ll likely make a couple more small moves (trading Wilin Rosario, adding some starting pitching), but nothing that will make them competitive now or in the future, Townsend argues.
- Former White Sox and Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen would be open to returning to baseball, Scott Merkin of MLB.com writes. “Am I waiting, sitting by the phone, waiting for a phone call? No,” Guillen says. “If somebody [thinks] I can help, of course I want to do it. If that comes, that would be awesome. But if not, my life right now is pretty healthy.” Merkin mentions the possibility that Guillen’s lack of filter might be too much risk in an era of social media. If Guillen wants to return to baseball, he might have to take a position as a base coach or minor-league manager to prove he won’t be a distraction.
Grant Brisbee of SB Nation lists 13 of the biggest holes facing MLB clubs. Since the article was published, the Reds added a left fielder and the Phillies became even weaker. My favorite is Diamondbacks catcher. Currently, that’s Tuffy Gosewisch with Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez serving as the backup. Despite learning earlier tonight that the Orioles are seeking to add more catching depth, they do have five on the active roster. I’d be willing to bet somebody like Steve Clevenger, Ryan Lavarnway, or a cast-off from another organization will filter into Phoenix before the end of spring training.
- Personal connections between players and evaluators can affect transactions, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Knowing an individual can create a comfort level because so much of baseball is based on character and competitive drive. One NL scout said: “If you just look around, there’s normally a connection there with somebody who is acquiring, they know the guy and sometimes it helps the trade develop.” The article is chock full of good quotes and observations on the topic. The opening is especially pertinent to fans of the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Padres.
- The Seth Smith trade worked out nicely for San Diego, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. They get out from under $12MM owed to Smith while acquisition Brandon Maurer remains club controlled for five seasons. The Friars may give Maurer a chance to start, but he could also be groomed for late inning relief.
- The Padres have overhauled their roster, but there’s still no clear leadoff hitter, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com. It’s possible that could be the next target for GM A.J. Preller. Internal candidates like Will Venable and Yangervis Solarte were discussed for the role prior to the flurry of trades. Both appear to be backups now. Catcher Derek Norris has the on base percentage for the job, if not the classic speed associated with batting first.
- As the Rockies enter the new year, the attention is on newly signed catcher Nick Hundley, writes Thomas Harding of MLB.com. It’s presumed that the move will make it easier to send bat-first catcher Wilin Rosario to the American League. While the Rockies claim they need to be blown away for Rosario, this type of move often presages a transaction.
The Dodgers are about to sign Taiwanese righty Chin-hui Tsao, who hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2007 and hasn’t pitched professionally since 2009, when he was banned from Taiwan’s top league amidst allegations that he tried to help fix games. MLB has looked into Tsao’s case and allowed the Dodgers to pursue him, and that might be a mistake, Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown writes. Major League Baseball is typically very strict about the appearance of game-fixing (as Pete Rose’s situation suggests), and allowing Tsao to play, even on a minor-league deal, would set a strange precedent. Here are more notes from the NL West.
- Before today, there were already rumors about the possibility that the Rockies could trade Wilin Rosario, possibly to an American League team. After Colorado agreed to terms with fellow catcher Nick Hundley today, those rumors seemed ever more likely. But ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Rockies are telling interested parties that they will keep Rosario unless they’re blown away. Obviously, that could simply be a negotiating stance on the Rockies’ part. It seems unlikely that the Rockies would begin the season with Rosario, Hundley and Michael McKenry all on their active roster.
- Of all the extra outfielders in San Diego, it’s not surprising that the Padres traded Seth Smith first, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Unlike some of San Diego’s other surplus outfielders, Smith had value in a trade (as the Padres’ acquisition of a power arm in Brandon Maurer suggests). Also, he was owed $13MM for the next two years despite having no clear role with the team.
The Rockies have signed outfielder Roger Bernadina to a minor league contract, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. Bernadina, a client of the All Bases Covered agency, elected free agency from the Dodgers following the 2014 season.
Since posting a .291/.372/.405 slash line in 261 plate appearances with the Nationals in 2012, the veteran has since managed only a .550 OPS over 330 PA, going from the Nats to the Phillies in 2013 and then picking up only 80 PA while playing for both the Dodgers and Reds last season. Colorado’s crowded outfield picture (Carlos Gonzalez, Corey Dickerson, Drew Stubbs, Brandon Barnes, Charlie Blackmon) doesn’t seem to hint at an obvious Major League opportunity for Bernadina, though several Rockies outfielders have been mentioned in trade rumors this winter.
The Dodgers‘ $32MM payment to the Padres in the Matt Kemp deal will include $18MM spread over 2015, the Associated Press reports (via the Boston Herald). After getting most of its salary relief up front, San Diego will receive $3.5MM annually for the rest of the deal. As Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune explains, that means that the Padres currently project to open the year with less than $90MM on the books. That could mean the team has more capacity to add, and indeed chairman Ron Fowler has indicated that there are more moves in the works while not committing to a payroll target.
Here’s more from the National League:
- MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby takes a look at the Rockies‘ inaction to this point. “I am constantly reminding myself and other people are reminding me that when we had health last year, we had a good team,” said GM Jeff Bridich. “It is not our intention from the get-go to give the roster a radical facelift. We are going to stick to our plan.” Injuries, of course, are not the only reason that the club was unable to stay in contention into the summer last year. But Colorado certainly has more talent than its record last year would indicate, and holding pat is an intriguingly bold strategy in its own right.
- Another team that has been quiet in terms of addition is the Reds, though of course Cincinnati was proactive in dealing away two starters. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon breaks down the remaining options for the club in left field, noting that Nori Aoki is still available and positing that the Padres could be a good match for a trade.
- Reds ace Johnny Cueto will give the team until the start of the season to discuss an extension, agent Bryce Dixon tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Dixon also told Heyman that he views Jon Lester and, especially, Max Scherzer as viable comps for what Cueto will be able to land in free agency. The 28-year-old certainly has posted true-ace numbers, when healthy, dating back to 2011, though ERA estimators are not quite as enamored with his work. The Reds started a conversation with Cueto’s camp at the Winter Meetings, but have expressed a lack of confidence in getting something done.
- Alan Nero, the agent for Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang, said yesterday that his client is excited that the Pirates won the rights to negotiate with him — even if the club does not have a direct route to a starting shortstop job. (Via Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, in a series of tweets.) Of course, Kang has little choice in the matter, since the high bidder gets exclusive bargaining. While he may have hoped that a team would add him with intentions of installing him directly into its regular lineup, Kang will certainly have at least some chance to unseat Jordy Mercer and should have other avenues to playing time for an adaptable Pittsburgh organization.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo tells Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post that he was comfortable trading Steven Souza to the Rays because top outfield prospect Michael A. Taylor is only about a half a year behind Souza in terms of development. Taylor’s development has taken on greater importance now that Souza is gone, Janes notes, as he’s now the most big-league ready of their outfield prospects. Director of player development Mark Scialabba tells Janes that the team was happy with Taylor’s progress in 2014 and believes he can help in the Majors in 2015, but he also acknowledged that Taylor’s plate discipline is a work in progress. Taylor’s development is of particular importance, in my mind, due to his ability to handle center field; Denard Span is a free agent in one year’s time, and the Nats may not be able to retain him, Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Tyler Clippard — each of whom is in their final year of team control.
More from the NL East…
- Though the Marlins have an exceptional young outfield in Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton, the club is still on the lookout for a fourth outfielder, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Ideally, Morosi notes, they’d acquire someone who can handle center field to back up Ozuna. The free agent market has little to offer in terms of center fielders who saw significant time in the Majors last year, though the trade market has some options. The Padres have a number of outfielders that can play center field (Will Venable, Abraham Almonte and Cameron Maybin), Oakland’s Craig Gentry is an excellent defender, and the Cardinals’ Peter Bourjos is elite with the glove as well. One buy-low option on the free agent market could be Franklin Gutierrez, though his health issues are significant and he didn’t take the field in 2014. All of those names are my own speculation.
- Dan Haren is said to be holding out hope that the Marlins will trade him to either the Angels or the Padres, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The veteran Haren, acquired in the trade that also sent Dee Gordon to Miami, has a very strong, well-known desire to be on the West coast near his wife and children in Los Angeles.
- Meeting the Rockies’ asking price for Troy Tulowitzki doesn’t make sense for the Mets given Tulo’s health concerns, writes Newsday’s David Lennon. The Rox are set on multiple pitching prospects in return and haven’t shown any indication that they’re willing to eat a significant amount of cash. Lennon assumes the Rockies would need to eat a similar a percentage of the contract as the Dodgers did when moving Matt Kemp, which would come out to roughly $36MM.
- MLB.com’s Mark Bowman feels that if the Braves do still move Evan Gattis in a trade, they’ll attempt to land a starting pitcher or outfielder that can step into the Majors in short order and has a good deal of team control remaining. Of course, Gattis himself fits the description of an outfield option with team control remaining, though it’s certainly possible the Braves would prefer a better defender with a different skill set. As Bowman notes, the Braves have made a conscious effort to infuse their system with more speed- and contact-oriented players. Bowman also touches on the Braves’ bullpen and the money they’ve saved this offseason in his latest Braves Inbox.
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki tells The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders he hears the trade rumors, but that isn’t his focus this winter. “I have been talking to the Rockies throughout the process,” Tulowitzki said. “We have respect for each other. But my concentration right now is just on getting healthy.” Tulowitzki, recovering from August hip surgery, has yet to start baseball activites but has begun light running and is continuing a program to increase flexibility in his hips. Here’s the latest from MLB’s West divisions:
- It cannot be a good sign the Giants‘ training staff is preparing an update this week on Marco Scutaro, opines John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Because of a back injury, Scutaro, who is due $6MM in the final year of his contract, appeared in only five games in 2014 with 13 trips to the plate.
- In the same article, Shea reports there are no current talks between the Giants and free agent starter Ryan Vogelsong.
- GM Billy Beane made the A’s better now and in the future with the returns he achieved in the Jeff Samardzija and Derek Norris trades, according to SB Nation’s Alex Hall.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle compares the Astros‘ methodical rebuilding plan with that of the Padres, who reshaped their franchise by making five trades with six teams in a span of two days.