Corey Seager Rumors

Dodgers Prioritizing Cole Hamels In Search For Pitching

The Dodgers are prioritizing Cole Hamels in their search for rotation upgrades, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Los Angeles “wants to exhaust” the option of acquiring Hamels before moving onto a “Plan B” like Yovani Gallardo. Per Sherman, the Dodgers continue to insist that they will not part with top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias, however.

Refusal to move either Seager or Urias will certainly work against the Dodgers, who face steep competition in the market for Hamels. The Giants are said to be making a “strong push,” and the Astros are also pushing for the Philadelphia ace. The Rangers have been discussing prospects with the Phillies recently, and the Diamondbacks have emerged as somewhat of a surprise candidate in the Hamels sweepstakes as well. The Cubs are said to merely be “on the periphery” of the Hamels market.

The Phillies have asked that teams make their best offers for Hamels by tomorrow, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark, and his previously scheduled Thursday start has been pushed back to Friday — after the trade deadline — so as not to risk an injury and to potentially make him immediately available to start for an acquiring team. Over the weekend, Stark characterized the Dodgers as one of the favorites for Hamels.


Prospect Notes: Lee, Hultzen, Giolito

The Dodgers have announced that Zach Lee has been promoted and will make his big-league debut tonight in a start against the Mets. The Dodgers will announce a corresponding move later today. The 23-year-old Lee, a first-round pick in 2010, was a top prospect list staple before a rough season with Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014. He’s bounced back nicely with the Dodgers’ new Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City this season, though, posting a 2.36 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 68 2/3 innings. He’ll become the 14th pitcher to start for the Dodgers in a season that’s featured tons of rotation injuries. Here are a couple more notes on pitching prospects, both of them former first-rounders.

  • Mariners pitcher Danny Hultzen, the second overall pick in the 2011 draft, has been shut down with shoulder fatigue and is unlikely to pitch the rest of the season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports (Twitter links). The Mariners hope he’ll be able to pitch in the Arizona Fall League or in instructs. It’s been a very rough ride for the 25-year-old Hultzen, who has missed most of the last three seasons due to shoulder troubles, including a torn rotator cuff and labrum.
  • The Nationals have promoted top prospect Lucas Giolito to Double-A Harrisburg, James Wagner of the Washington Post tweets. Giolito, who turned 21 earlier this month, dominated at Class A+ Potomac, posting a 2.71 ERA, 11.1 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 69 2/3 innings there, displaying excellent velocity and a great curveball. MLB.com, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and ESPN’s Keith Law all ranked Giolito among baseball’s top ten prospects heading into the season, and he’s done nothing to diminish that status since then. Law (Insider-only) ranked Giolito the third-best prospect in baseball, behind only the Dodgers’ Corey Seager and the Phillies’ J.P. Crawford, in a recent update to his list.

Pitching Notes: Hamels, Cueto, Kazmir, Haren

While some have speculated that Cole Hamels is pitching with an injury following a disastrous pair of starts (14 runs in 6 2/3 innings), ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets that other clubs don’t believe there to be a physical issue with the Phillies‘ ace. One NL exec told Stark that he didn’t buy it. “If he was iffy, they wouldn’t put him out there. He’s too valuable,” Stark was told. Here’s a look at the latest pertaining to Hamels and the rest of the trade market for starting pitchers…

  • The newest column from Joel Sherman of the New York Post follows up on a pair of tweets from last Friday in which he stated that it was surprising how many execs feel that Hamels won’t be traded at all this season. Many feel that Phillies president-to-be Andy MacPhail will want to hire a more robust analytics department to weigh in on the trade and wouldn’t want a “lame-duck GM” to have final say on such a franchise-altering trade. According to Sherman, if there’s one team that’s considered the in-season front-runner for Hamels, though, it’s the Dodgers. Other clubs are wary of taking on Hamels’ entire deal and parting with prospects, but the deep-pocketed Dodgers don’t have as great a concern. (Hamels’ remaining money following the 2015 season, in fact, is nearly identical to the remaining amount on the contract of Zack Greinke, who is a lock to opt out of his deal.) The Dodgers, however, aren’t willing to part with top prospects Corey Seager or Julio Urias. Sherman also discusses Johnny Cueto in his column, noting that one AL exec told him, “Cueto is getting traded. That’s a fact.”
  • Rob Bradford of WEEI.com hears that despite the Red Sox‘ desire to acquire young arms that are cost-controlled beyond 2015, the team does still have some degree of interest in both Cueto and Hamels. The Sox would likely only be interested in Cueto, a rental, if the Reds were more attracted to the prospects that Boston would offer than the Yankees, says Bradford. They’d have to feel the price was right, and as he notes, that’s unlikely. As for Hamels, Bradford characterizes a deal as a “long shot” but notes that other teams are highly unwilling to part with the type of arms that the Sox presently covet. For what it’s worth, Bradford writes that despite Hamels’ recent struggles, he isn’t injured.
  • Scott Kazmir turned in a dominant effort against the Twins on Saturday, easing a good deal of the worry that stemmed from a previous exit to a start after three innings. As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, one AL scout told her: “I saw what I needed to see. He did everything. He worked out of trouble. He worked deep into the game.” Perhaps more interestingly, Slusser hears that the Athletics would prefer to acquire Triple-A prospects in exchange for Kazmir. It would seem that GM Billy Beane, then, is hoping to acquire players that can contribute to his club immediately, or at least in the near-term, as he has so often done in the past. (Jeff Todd and I have previously discussed that very trend in Beane’s trades on the MLBTR Podcast.)
  • Marlins manager Dan Jennings said in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM today that Dan Haren has been drawing interest (Twitter links). Jenning said he fully expects Haren’s next start to be heavily scouted and added that Haren is “certainly someone teams have been asking about.” A full-scale fire sale seems unlikely in Miami, however, as Jennings also said, “if there are moves to be made, it will not be a total reset.”
  • Earlier today, it was reported that the White Sox are now in “listening mode,” with Jeff Samardzija being the most likely member of the club to depart via trade.


Heyman’s Latest: Dodgers/Hamels, Braves, Frazier, Price, Brewers, Upton

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his weekly Inside Baseball column by reporting that the Dodgers have “quietly continued having dialogue with the Phillies” regarding Cole Hamels. The Dodgers are also giving serious consideration to the rental market and prioritizing Johnny Cueto over others among such targets. The Dodgers “appear determined” to land a top-of-the-rotation arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, writes Heyman, but most executives think they’ll hold onto top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias. The Dodgers have a deep farm system beyond that pairing (righty Jose De Leon has recently been ranked a Top 25 prospect by Baseball America and ESPN), and one exec tells Heyman that the Phillies’ asking price on Hamels has become “more reasonable” recently. The Dodgers feel that Greinke is a lock to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and while they could possibly re-sign him by adding a year or two to the deal and upping his $24.5MM AAV, Hamels would provide insurance should Greinke sign elsewhere. Jeff Samardzija is also a consideration for the Dodgers, but while they like him, they consider him more of a No. 2/3 starter and don’t love him.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s article, though the synopsis won’t cover everything within the piece, so I’d highly recommend reading it in its entirety…

  • The Braves will be deadline sellers, Heyman hears, with Jim Johnson, Juan Uribe and Cameron Maybin among the players that will be available to interested teams. Chris Johnson, too, continues to be available, but there are no takers for his contract, which Atlanta has aggressively tried to move in the past.
  • With the Reds expected to trade so many veterans to other clubs, many in the industry expect the team to make a run at extending Todd Frazier beyond his current two-year deal, Heyman writes. (Frazier has one more year of arbitration following his current pact.) Jeff Todd and I have discussed Frazier’s situation on the MLBTR Podcast in the past (and will do so again this afternoon), and I’ve personally taken the stance that given the significant commitments to Joey Votto and Homer Bailey, the Reds could have a difficult time affording Frazier, whose 2014-15 breakout has hugely inflated his price tag. Given the lack of impact bats on the trade market, Frazier would net a king’s ransom and could rapidly expedite the rebuilding process, though the PR hit of trading him with so much control and on the heels of a Home Run Derby victory would of course be significant.
  • In other Reds news, Heyman hears Mike Leake‘s ground-ball tendencies are appealing to AL East clubs, and he’s drawn interest from the Blue Jays, Orioles and Red Sox in addition to the Royals, Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs and Giants. Manny Parra and Marlon Byrd are both “likely to go” as well.
  • Asked about the possibility of signing with the Cubs this offseason due to his relationship with skipper Joe Maddon, Tigers ace David Price replied, “Wherever I play baseball next year it’s not going to be because of a manager.”
  • The Astros are interested in both Cueto and Leake, and Houston seems willing to deal from its glut of MLB-ready outfield prospects, including Domingo Santana and Preston Tucker. (Previous reports have indicated they’re reluctant to part with Brett Phillips, however, who may be the best among the outfield bunch.)
  • The Brewers are now showing a willingness to trade both Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, Heyman hears. Though it was previously believed they were reluctant to move Segura, the emergence of Orlando Arcia (the younger brother of the Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia) may have changed Milwaukee’s thinking. However, Arcia himself is also drawing a huge amount of trade interest, and the Padres have called to express interest. One NL exec called him the best player he’s seen in the minors this year, while another comped him to Francisco Lindor, but said Arcia is better. Regarding Segura, Heyman hears that the Mets dislike his free-swinging approach.
  • The Twins aren’t closed off to the idea of re-acquiring Gomez from the Brewers, but their primary focus at this point is bullpen help.
  • The Mets are aiming high in their pursuit of an outfield bat and have both Gomez and Justin Upton on their radar. They’re not likely to add Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers unless they receive bad news on the prognosis of David Wright. They also have little interest in swinging a deal for Uribe.
  • Padres officials insist that they haven’t determined their course of action heading into the deadline, but Heyman writes that free-agents-to-be such as Upton, Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit and Will Venable could be traded regardless. James Shields‘ backloaded contract limits his value, but one GM felt Benoit has “big value” and Heyman notes that Craig Kimbrel would be in huge demand as well, should the Padres try to recoup some value from that deal.
  • Cueto, Samardzija and Leake are atop the Blue Jays‘ wish list, and the team was also in talks with the Braves regarding Jason Grilli prior to his season-ending injury. A top starting pitcher is Toronto’s top priority at this point, says Heyman. He also adds that there’s no evidence to suggest that manager John Gibbons is on the hot seat.

NL West Notes: Seager, Pederson, Upton, Preller, CarGo

Dodgers shortstop/third base prospect Corey Seager sits atop the midseason top fifty prospect list of ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link). After a flurry of top prospect graduations early in the season, it seems fairly clear that observers have settled on Seager as the new number one overall pre-big league player in baseball.

Here’s more from the NL West:

  • Another key young Dodgers player, center fielder Joc Pederson, landed in a virtual tie alongside Mookie Betts of the Red Sox as the most valuable trade piece not to make the top ten list of Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron. The pair of outstanding and controllable assets are the last two members of Cameron’s top dozen. As he explains, preferring one to the other is largely a matter of slight preferences in valuation.
  • We don’t yet know what direction A.J. Preller will take the Padres at the deadline. But major offseason acquisition (and pending free agent/possible trade chip) Justin Upton said at the All-Star Game that he hopes to stay with San Diego, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports“At this point, I haven’t given up on the team,” said Upton. “I really like the guys, and I like the clubhouse. We still have some time to change the minds of the front office. In a perfect world, we play well over the next two or three weeks and A.J. pumps the brakes on dismantling the team.” That certainly seems like a tall order, but the rookie GM has managed to surprise the baseball world plenty in his short tenure.
  • Over at Grantland, Rany Jazayerli has some rather harsh words for the performance of Preller. Not only is the dramatically-compiled big league roster a bust, says Jazayerli, but the players moved to make that possible have almost universally looked great in their new organizations. It’s certainly an interesting read, which makes some compelling points. But risk is inherent to any action, in baseball and in life, and part of the equation in assessing risk (and whether it’s worth taking it on) involves dealing with the downside. With the deadline approaching, we may have an opportunity to see what kind of bailout plan Preller has in mind for the shorter-term assets he acquired.
  • Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has swung a hot bat at an opportune time, Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes“Finally, I’m getting my timing back, which is the biggest key for me,” said Gonzalez. “I’m able to sit back on my back leg. It was something I wasn’t able to do that last two years. But I knew at some point I’d get there. I’m still confident.” The question, of course, is whether this recent uptick will be enough to drive significant trade interest. As GM Jeff Bridich recently said of Gonzalez: “His stats aren’t as good as Tulo’s or some of the other guys on our team, so if a team is just going off that, I don’t know. But we’ll certainly know more in 10 days to two weeks.”

Rosenthal On Padres, Rockies, Rollins, Rangers

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:

  • The Cubs and Astros would make sense as teams who could pursue the Padres‘ starting pitching, Rosenthal suggests. The Padres would likely have interest in the Cubs’ collection of young middle infielders, and Astros manager A.J. Hinch used to work for the Padres.
  • The Rockies are open to trading Troy Tulowitzki but haven’t been aggressive in trying to do so, Rosenthal says. Nonetheless, the Rockies could have a huge impact as sellers if they chose, given that they have Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, John Axford and LaTroy Hawkins.
  • The Dodgers plan to give Jimmy Rollinsa long leash.” Rollins hasn’t hit well this year, but he’s been better this month (.286/.333/.464). Top prospect Corey Seager isn’t exceptional defensively, and if they went with him as a full-time starter, they’d likely feel they had to deal or release Rollins out of respect. That would leave them in a tough spot if Seager didn’t play well.
  • The Rangers could both sell and buy at the deadline, perhaps dealing Yovani Gallardo but acquiring fellow veteran starting pitcher Cole Hamels, who could then join Texas’ rotation for the next several years. They could also pursue less of a headline-grabbing route by simply pursuing relievers, as well as a hitter they could use against left-handed pitching.

Heyman On Grilli, D-backs, Marlins, Dodgers

Here are the highlights from Jon Heyman’s massive new Inside Baseball article for CBS Sports. Be sure to check out Heyman on the latest edition of the MLBTR Podcast.

  • The Braves have had “serious talks” about dealing closer Jason Grilli to a contender, Heyman writes, with the Blue Jays and Dodgers among the teams that make the most sense.
  • The Diamondbacks have made infielder Aaron Hill and pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Addison Reed available in trades, and all three players have attracted at least some interest.
  • The Marlins could trade starter Dan Haren for the right return. On paper, the Dodgers would seem to make sense, but that seems unlikely, since the Dodgers treated Haren basically as a throw-in in the Dee Gordon trade in the offseason. The Dodgers would also prefer to find a starter they could use in the playoffs, and Haren likely doesn’t qualify.
  • Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins could become available in a trade as top prospect Corey Seager continues to demonstrate he’s ready for the big leagues.
  • The Dodgers, Blue Jays, Nationals and perhaps other teams had scouts on hand as Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma returned from a lat injury this week. Iwakuma could be a trade candidate, but Heyman notes that giving up four homers to the Tigers probably didn’t exactly increase his value.
  • Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez still seems set on retiring after the season, despite agent Paul Kinzer’s efforts to get him to continue.
  • The Padres have been scouting the Mets lately, leading to speculation that the Mets could be trying to trade for Justin Upton.
  • The Phillies are “not bending” in their demands for Cole Hamels, and his limited no-trade clause remains an obstacle.
  • The Giants have had talks with free agent infielder Everth Cabrera. The Orioles released Cabrera last month. He would provide depth for San Francisco.

Dodgers Notes: Seager, Rollins, Greinke

While some Yankees fans are licking their chops over the prospect of Bryce Harper coming to the Bronx after the 2018 season,  Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times believes that the Dodgers have a better chance to sign the outfielder.  Of course, other teams, including the incumbent Nationals, will have something to say about all of that.  Here’s today’s look at the Dodgers..

  • Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins is struggling at the plate but that doesn’t mean that we’ll be seeing top prospect Corey Seager right away, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes.  Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team will promote Seager when he is ready, not because Rollins is underperforming.  “We feel like he’s in a really good place to be a really good major league player for a long time, but when that is will be determined by when he’s ready to do it, when we feel like it will put him in the best position to be as good as he can be as quickly as he can be,” Friedman said.   Seager was rated as the No. 5 prospect in the country heading into the 2015 season by Baseball America.  All of the other prospects ranked ahead of Seager have been promoted already.
  • The Dodgers aren’t doing much to entice Zack Greinke to stay, Mark Saxon of ESPN.com writes.  Greinke has been vocal about his lack of run support this season as he continues to lose despite strong pitching.  Greinke, of course, has the right to opt out of his contract following this season.  If he doesn’t opt out, Greinke will be in line to earn $78MM over the remaining three years. Through 13 starts this season, the 31-year-old owns a 1.95 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.
  • The Dodgers are eschewing traditional batting statistics to try and ascertain the true value of hitters, as Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register writes.   For example, outfielder Scott Schebler appeared to be struggling early on in the year with Triple-A Oklahoma.  However, new Dodgers director of player development Gabe  Kapler presented Schebler a pack of data showing him that he wasn’t so much struggling as he was getting unlucky.  Several other players who spoke with Moura confirmed that the Dodgers aren’t getting hung up on batting average as they’re focusing more on the “real indicators” of performance.

NL West Notes: Ellis, Rollins, Freeland, Dahl

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis is the top game caller in the league, writes Harry Pavlidis for ESPN. In recent years, new data and techniques have allowed analysts to measure catcher framing skills. Pavlidis evaluated the various factors controlled by a catcher’s game calling and converted them into a runs saves statistic. Ellis draws negative reviews for the other aspects of his defensive game, but he’s credited with 38 game calling runs saved from 2012-2014. Rounding out the top five are Alex Avila, Yadier Molina, Derek Norris, and Ryan Hanigan.

  • Shortstop Jimmy Rollins is taking a pragmatic approach to the possibility that he could be supplanted by top prospect Corey Seager, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rollins is under contract for the remainder of the 2015 season, and he’s hitting a tepid .210/.278/.352 with five home runs and five stolen bases. The club moved him down to eighth in the lineup this evening, signaling impatience with his slow start to the season. Seager recently had a 13-for-18 stretch at Triple-A, but Dodgers officials haven’t indicated any plans to promote him. Rollins understands that his role is to help the Dodgers bridge the gap until Seager is ready for major league action.
  • Rockies 2014 first round draft pick Kyle Freeland has yet to pitch this season, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post. The left-handed pitcher was selected eighth overall last June. He is currently recovering from shoulder fatigue and surgery to remove bone chips. He began a throwing program within the last week. Freeland had a positive debut for the Rockies, throwing 39 innings with a 1.15 ERA, 7.6 K/9, and 1.4 BB/9.
  • Another Rockies prospect, outfielder David Dahl, required emergency surgery after colliding with a teammate, reports Thomas Harding or MLB.com. Dahl had surgery to repair his spleen but did not suffer a concussion or a broken rib as was originally feared. The 2012 first round pick is ranked as the second best Rockies prospect by MLB.com. Dahl is hitting .269/.296/.379 in 189 plate appearances at Double-A.

Phillies Willing To Pay Some Of Hamels’ Contract In Trade

An incalculable amount of ink has been dedicated to the Cole Hamels saga and whether or not Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is asking too much in trade talks, but the GM himself added another layer to the story Tuesday in telling USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that the Phillies would pay down some of Hamels’ contract in a trade.

“We are very open-minded,” Amaro told Nightengale. “We’re not afraid to subsidize contracts. We never told a club that we would not absolutely subsidize his contract. That is not a realistic way to do business. If there’s a deal to be made, and we have to subsidize part of it, we’ll do it.”

As recently as Spring Training, reports indicated that the Phillies were looking to add multiple top prospects and get an acquiring club to take on the entirety of Hamels’ four years and $96MM. (His contract also has a $20MM club option that can vest at $24MM based on innings pitched.)

Amaro again took a patient approach when discussing the Hamels situation, noting that it’s understandable if teams want to assess their internal options before making a more drastic move to acquire someone from another organization. “It’s no secret that one team lost an ace and two or three teams have lost very important starters,” said Amaro. “Some teams want to move quickly. Other teams want to ride things out. I think all of us would rather do deals only after exhausting their own internal possibilities and go from there.”

The Cardinals’ recent loss of Adam Wainwright has fueled quite a bit of Hamels-to-St. Louis speculation, and Nightengale also touched base with Cards GM John Mozeliak to discuss Hamels. Mozeliak noted that the team will certainly do its due diligence on trade candidates. Asked if the team could make a deal without including Carlos Martinez, a key member of the 2015 rotation, Mozeliak replied, “There’s probably always a deal worth making.”

Nightengale lists the Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers and Blue Jays as teams that could desperately use Hamels in their rotation. The Blue Jays wouldn’t seem to have the payroll capacity to add Hamels’ contract, but perhaps with enough money being paid down, something could be worked out. And for what it’s worth, Amaro did mention Toronto GM when making a tongue-in-cheek comment about his stress levels regarding the Hamels negotiations, stating: “I guarantee I’ll get more grey hairs from my daughter [taking her driving test] than any trade talks with Mozeliak, Anthopoulos and Cherington.” Nightengale adds that Amaro had talks regarding Hamels with a team as recently as Tuesday morning, and “some desperation” began to creep into those talks.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports took a lengthy look at the market for Hamels earlier today, noting that the Phillies do indeed covet Martinez, though it’s unclear if they’ve formally asked for Martinez in trade negotiations with the Redbirds. Per Heyman, the Phillies are also taken with Jorge Alfaro and Nomar Mazara of the Rangers as well as Luis Severino and Aaron Judge of the Yankees. Despite a brutal month for the Red Sox’ rotation, there’s been no change to their refusal to part with Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart, and the Dodgers similarly won’t part with any of Joc Pederson, Corey Seager or Julio Urias, even with injuries ravaging their own rotation.

One rival exec noted to Heyman that, “A few things have lined up in the Phillies’ favor. There’s a little bit of a crescendo. And now is the time to act.” However, a GM explained to Heyman that he’d be more inclined to part with significant pieces to add someone controllable like Seattle’s Taijuan Walker than an aging star like Hamels. (That comment, for what it’s worth, was made prior to Amaro’s comments to Nightengale about absorbing some of the money on Hamels’ contract.)

It strikes me as unlikely that a deal would come together in the near future, but the early rash of pitching injuries, which grew with tonight’s news that Masahiro Tanaka is lost for at least a month, has likely increased the demand for Hamels. Though Amaro’s refusal to budge has drawn a great deal of criticism, it’s certainly easy to make the claim that he’s in a better spot to trade Hamels than he was late in the offseason.