Craig Kimbrel Rumors

Heyman’s Latest: Nats, Managers/GMs, Kennedy, Martinez, Beltre, Desmond

While Matt Williams is all but certain to be let go following the season, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in his latest Inside Baseball column, a source close to the situation tells him that Nationals GM/president of baseball ops Mike Rizzo “isn’t going anywhere.” The ill-fated acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon and Rizzo’s backing of Williams has led to some speculation about his job, but Heyman indicates that Washington’s top decision-maker is safe. Heyman focuses on the Nats in a lengthy intro to his column, also notably reporting that the “ship has sailed” on the Cubs‘ interest in Papelbon, making them an unlikely destination in a trade this winter. The Nats will try to unload Papelbon, though finding a trade partner in the wake of recent drama surrounding him will prove exceptionally difficult. Heyman also notes that Tyler Clippard and Gerardo Parra were Rizzo’s top two deadline priorities, but he didn’t have authorization to increase payroll, and thus turned to Papelbon, as the Phillies were willing to include money in the deal.

Some highlights from the rest of the lengthy but informative column…

  • In running down current GM vacancies as well as potential managerial openings, Heyman notes a number of likelihoods. Billy Eppler is expected to be offered the Angels‘ GM position, he hears, but the Halos may go with the increasingly popular two-executive format, meaning Josh Byrnes could be hired as president to work above Eppler. Torey Lovullo’s name could surface as a candidate for the Padres, especially given CEO Mike Dee’s ties to Boston. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto could have a tough time with Lloyd McClendon, whom one Mariners person described as even more old-school than Mike Scioscia, and Heyman hears that former Rangers bench coach/Angels front office assistant Tim Bogar could get a look.
  • The Indians will be looking for third basemen this winter and could seek upgrades in center field and right field as well.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich is said to be a believer in young right-hander Eddie Butler, a former Top 100 prospect that has struggled mightily in the Majors. Others in the organization aren’t as sold on him.
  • The Tigers will be looking for a closer and at least one setup man this winter, and they could show interest in the RedsAroldis Chapman on the trade market (though he strikes me as a questionable fit with just one year until free agency). Detroit will also be seeking rotation upgrades on the free agent market, and a few players of early interest are Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy and Jeff Samardzija. Trades for rotation help are also possible, though Detroit wants to hold onto Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer.
  • Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Julio Martinez recently worked out for the Royals and had an impressive showing. The Dodgers and Giants remain interested as well, he adds. It’s worth also pointing out that each of those three clubs has already spent heavily enough on international free agents to incur maximum penalties, so the only further repercussion they’d face is further luxury taxation.
  • The Brewers will target rotation help this offseason, and Heyman calls Kennedy a “possibility.” To me, that’d seem like more of the same from recent winters, when Milwaukee added Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse — a pair of mid-range upgrades. Unlike those winters, however, they’re not close enough to contention this time around for me to see the logic in offering Kennedy a four-year deal, especially since he’ll probably end up with a qualifying offer attached to his name. On another Brewers’ note, Heyman writes that the team should listen on Jean Segura, given Orlando Arcia‘s emergence in the minors, though I’m not sure Segura is teeming with trade value following another poor season.
  • Samardzija could be a target for the Yankees, who employ former Cubs GM Jim Hendry in their front office. Hendry was Chicago’s general manager when the team initially signed Samardzija and remains a believer in the right-hander.
  • The D-Backs, Nationals, Tigers, Cubs, Rangers, Yankees and maybe the Braves will all show interest if the Padres decide to move Craig Kimbrel this winter.
  • Adrian Beltre will need to undergo surgery to repair a severe thumb sprain through which he’s been playing for quite some time following the Rangers‘ season.
  • There’s “no chance” that Ian Desmond would accept a one-year qualifying offer, writes Heyman, who presumes that the Nationals will make the offer. Though Desmond’s struggled this year, it shouldn’t be expected that any prime-aged player who isn’t coming off a major injury would accept the offer, in my view. Detractors will state that said player can’t find a similar average annual value on a multi-year deal, and while that may be true, locking in a more sizable payday once free agency is an option tends to be a greater priority. Heyman lists the Mariners, White Sox and Mets as speculative possibilities to enter the shortstop market. Desmond won’t top $100MM, like many once expected, but even with a QO in tow, he’ll be able to handily top $16MM, even at a lower AAV. And, if the offers don’t materialize, he can always sign a one-year deal at or near that rate later in the offseason.

Heyman’s Latest: D-Backs, Freeman, O’s, Samardzija

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has published his latest Inside Baseball column and begins by taking a look at his 25 “heroes” of the 2015 season. Here are some highlights from the rest of the piece…

  • Adding a top-tier starting pitcher and a top closer are the main priorities of the Diamondbacks this offseason, Heyman hears. While the D-Backs probably won’t make a run at “the” top starter (presumably David Price), the team does have some money to spend on a starting pitcher. Previous reports have also stated that the Diamondbacks will renew trade talks for Aroldis Chapman this winter, though the asking price on him has, in the past, been said to be exorbitant.
  • The Braves have shown a willingness to listen to trade offers on almost anyone, but sources tell Heyman that Freddie Freeman probably isn’t going anywhere. Atlanta is also said to be open to a return for Craig Kimbrel — the initial trade was made for the purpose of shedding Melvin Upton’s contract — though the ‘pen will receive a boost when Shae Simmons, Jason Grilli and Chris Withrow are healthy.
  • The Orioles will make qualifying offers to Chris Davis and Wei-Yin Chen but are not yet certain whether to extend one to Matt Wieters, who has had somewhat of a rough season in his return from Tommy John.
  • Clay Buchholz has been out since July with an elbow injury and will not return this season, according to Heyman, but the Red Sox will exercise his $13MM option for 2016 if he looks good in a bullpen session Sunday. Whatever happens, the Red Sox will look for additional pitching this winter. (Last night,’s Rob Bradford reported that Buchholz still hopes he can pitch an inning in the Red Sox’ last game of the season.)
  • The White Sox considered offering Jeff Samardzija an extension of around $80MM when they acquired him last season, but Samardzija wanted to test free agency. Heyman reports that Samardzija was disappointed the White Sox didn’t deal him in July, since a deal would have allowed him to pitch for a contender and would have prevented him from being extended a qualifying offer.
  • Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler still looks like the favorite for the Angels GM job, and Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine is another possibility. Heyman also mentions that the name of Padres and Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has also come up.
  • Though Eppler may the favorite in Anaheim, he’s also one of two finalists for the Mariners‘ GM post, with the other being Jerry Dipoto. Each candidate is in line for a second interview, which could be more than Dana Brown of the Blue Jays and interim GM Jeff Kingston get. Each has interviewed once, as have others, per Heyman.
  • Incoming Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro will retain GM Alex Anthopoulos. Of course, as Heyman notes, that’s hardly surprising given how well the Jays have played recently.
  • Nationals ownership, is, perhaps unsurprisingly, very disappointed with the 2015 team. While nothing is certain, however, GM Mike Rizzo seems likely to return for 2016.

Quick Hits: Belt, Mondesi, Padres

Brandon Belt will be out of the Giants‘ lineup for the time being after his second concussion in two seasons, Alex Pavlovic of writes. His current issues stem from a slide against the Reds on Tuesday. He had difficulty concentrating during Friday’s game. “He showed symptoms last night and that’s what we’re treating him for,” says manager Bruce Bochy. Belt also missed about a quarter of last season due to a concussion. Buster Posey will take over for Belt at first base until Belt returns. Here are more quick notes from around the league.

  • Manager Ned Yost says the Royals could promote another middle infielder, according to Jeffrey Flanagan of (Twitter links). Both Alcides Escobar and Omar Infante left Friday’s game with injuries. Escobar’s injury was merely a bruise, as Flanagan notes, but Escobar’s injury (an oblique strain) could be more serious. That could mean the promotion of top prospect Raul Mondesi Jr., Flanagan speculates. Mondesi has only hit .240/.279/.372 in 338 plate appearances for Double-A Northwest Arkansas this season, but he’s a strong defensive player and baserunner, so he could potentially be useful to the Royals in those capacities. He also only recently turned 20 and is about four years younger than the average player in the Texas League. In July, Baseball America ranked Mondesi the No. 25 prospect in the game. currently ranks him 35th.
  • The Padres have a tough task ahead of them this offseason, Jon Heyman says in a video for CBS Sports. They appear likely to lose Justin Upton, who will likely get a large contract elsewhere. Heyman says he hears the Padres will probably extend Ian Kennedy a qualifying offer after a strong second half, and Kennedy will likely refuse it. After a disappointing season, the Padres will have to decide this winter whether to attempt to contend again next year or whether to rebuild, trading players like Craig Kimbrel and Tyson Ross.

NL Notes: Lackey, D’Backs, Kimbrel, Colletti

MLBTR has learned the full details of the incentives clause negotiated last winter between the Cardinals and righty John Lackey. (Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has already reported major elements of the clause.) The provision calls for $400K payouts to Lackey for reaching each of five innings tallies. His first milestone was 100 innings, with successive markers every 25 innings thereafter. When Lackey reached 200 frames last night, he maxed out the bonus at a total of $2MM (on top of the league minimum salary that was already called for in his deal).

Here are some more notes from the National League:

  • The Diamondbacks face several contract questions regarding pitchers even before considering outside additions, as Zach Buchanan of AZCentral Sports writes. Whether to tender Jeremy Hellickson and Jhoulys Chacin, exercise a club option over Josh Collmenter, and pursue a reunion with free agent-to-be David Hernandez are among the matters that Arizona will need to address. Chief baseball officer Tony La Russa discussed all four pitchers with Buchanan. Most interestingly, perhaps, is the situation regarding Chacin. La Russa says that he has “seen enough from Chacin” to know that he’d be “in the competition” for the club next year. The 27-year-old looked good at Triple-A this year and has put together three nice outings for Arizona. Because of his limited MLB time this year, he is arb-eligible. Chacin had agreed to a $5.5MM deal with the Rockies before he was released in the spring before signing successive minor league deals with the Indians and D’Backs. My guess would be that the club will look to work something out with him before the tender deadline.
  • Padres closer Craig Kimbrel says it’s been a frustrating first season in San Diego, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Kimbrel says that he expects the club to improve next year, citing the assembly of new faces as one factor that may have slowed down the Pads this year. Of course, as Lin writes, it’s certainly plausible to imagine a scenario where Kimbrel is dealt elsewhere to address other areas of needs or re-build the farm system.
  • Former Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, who now works with the organization as an adviser, is “right in the middle of everything, but nowhere near anything,” Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times writes. But as Plaschke points out, Colletti — who says it’s been “a different kind of year” — was responsible for bringing in many of the team’s key pieces. That includes not only players like Clayton Kershaw and Zach Grienke, but youngsters such as Joc Pederson and Corey Seager. All said, the piece suggests, Colletti’s nine-year tenure as the head of the organization’s baseball operations department was probably more successful than many have acknowledged.

Padres Pull Kimbrel Back From Waivers

SATURDAY: The Padres have pulled Kimbrel back from revocable waivers, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). That means that, as expected, Kimbrel will not be traded. The Mets are known to be trying to acquire a reliever they claimed on revocable waivers, but it’s not Kimbrel. Rosenthal writes that six teams claimed Kimbrel, but the Mets were not one of the six.

FRIDAY: Padres closer Craig Kimbrel has been claimed on revocable waivers by an unknown club, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). However, a club official tells Rosenthal that the Padres have no intention of trading Kimbrel.

Kimbrel is earning $9MM in 2015 as part of a four-year, $42MM contract extension signed with the Braves, and he’s owed about $1.87MM of that sum through season’s end. He’s owed $25MM on top of that sum through the 2017 season, including a $1MM buyout on a $13MM club option for the 2018 season.

After a rocky start to the season in which Kimbrel posted a 5.93 ERA through his first 15 appearances, Kimbrel has been characteristically outstanding. Since May 16, Kimbrel has a 1.73 ERA with a 49-to-13 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings and collecting 26 saves in 27 opportunities.

Acquired in a stunning blockbuster trade on the eve of Opening Day, Kimbrel came to the Padres alongside Melvin Upton Jr. in exchange for outfield prospect Jordan Paroubeck, right-hander Matt Wisler, a Competitive Balance (Round A) Draft Pick and the contracts of Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin (the latter of whom was immediately designated for assignment and released). Kimbrel drew significant interest prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but GM A.J. Preller elected to hold onto the four-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year.

Reactions To The Padres’ Decision Not To Sell

Despite being 50-53 and an afterthought in the playoff race, the Padres surprisingly opted not to sell at the trade deadline yesterday. Here more on what they did, or didn’t do.

  • One of the most discussed aspects of the Padres’ decision not to sell was that they asked the Diamondbacks for Paul Goldschmidt in return for Craig Kimbrel, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. D-backs GM mentioned the Goldschmidt discussion on KTAR-AM and clarified it later. The Diamondbacks, of course, couldn’t reject the deal fast enough. “[W]e don’t talk about Goldy in any deals and no team has approached me in the almost year that I’ve been here about Goldy, so I was kind of shocked to hear that,” said Stewart. “Like I said, I don’t know if there was sincerity in it, but, yeah, the name did come up.” Piecoro notes that the Padres deny the request was serious, and it surely wasn’t. As FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel tweeted yesterday, it’s not uncommon for GMs to make wild offers. What is perhaps uncommon is for other GMs to reveal them. What the Goldschmidt discussion might suggest, though, is that the Padres were not particularly interested in trading Kimbrel.
  • There are a number of hypotheses as to why A.J. Preller and the Padres decided not to sell, as ESPN’s Jayson Stark writes. “They never knew what they really wanted,” says a rival executive. It would take a brilliant stretch run for the Padres to make the playoffs, and they’ll be in a tough spot — they won’t have gotten anything (except a draft pick) for free agents like Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy and Will Venable, and they’ll still be on the hook for Kimbrel, James Shields, Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton, who will be so expensive collectively that they might have trouble making other moves to get better. They’re putting themselves in a difficult position, and Stark writes that the other teams are mystified by what they’re doing.
  • The Yankees were willing to give up shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo and to take on at least part of the Jedd Gyorko contract in order to acquire Kimbrel, but the Padres declined, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Gyorko is in the midst of a second consecutive disappointing season and has $33MM remaining on his contract beyond 2015, so such a move would likely have helped position the Padres for the future. Mateo, meanwhile, ranks third on’s list of the Yankees’ top prospects, earning praise for his outstanding speed in particular. He has a ridiculous 70 stolen bases and a .271/.341/.379 line at Class A Charleston this season.
  • It might also been seen as strange that, given the Padres’ decision not to sell, they also didn’t really buy, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune points out. They only added Indians reliever Marc Rzepczynski. “You have a lot of teams that are in the hunt,” says Preller. “That makes it harder for teams to really look at moving a lot of their pieces, because I think a lot of people, rightfully so, think they’re in contention.” One might think, though, that such conditions might make the more obvious route of selling even more attractive. “We were working through all different scenarios to try to add the club and other scenarios in which other teams were asking about our guys,” says Preller. “Ultimately, we didn’t feel like we got the value that we wanted to get to.”
  • Unsurprisingly, Padres players and management seem excited the team didn’t move any of its top players, as’s Corey Brock reports. “It’s a relief,” says Justin Upton. “I think just the sense around the clubhouse is that this front office wants this group, so we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that they didn’t make the wrong decision.”

No Traction Between Yankees, Padres On Kimbrel; Astros Out Too

2:48pm: Drellich tweets that the Astros are out on Kimbrel as well.

2:25pm: There have been “zero talks” between the Yankees and Kimbrels in the run-up to the deadline, Sherman tweets.

2:17pm: Rosenthal tweets that there’s no traction between the Yankees and Padres in Kimbrel talks.

12:54pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Yankees believe the Padres to be discussing a larger deal with other teams that involves Kimbrel.

11:39am: Both Rosenthal and Olney (Twitter links) now say there haven’t been any discussions between the Yankees and Padres regarding Kimbrel recently. Olney says there have been none “so far in this work day,” which could suggest that talks have stalled since their overnight discussions.

Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets that multiple teams say GM A.J. Preller has consistently asked for “a ton” in return for Kimbrel.

11:24am: The Yankees are currently the team that is in the hottest pursuit of Kimbrel, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

7:48am: The Yankees and Padres spent much of the night working on a trade to send closer Craig Kimbrel from San Diego to New York, according to Jayson Stark of The Astros, too, are in the mix for Kimbrel. Stark’s colleague, Buster Olney, tweets that he’s hearing the Yankees connected to Kimbrel as well.

Reports last night indicated that the Yankees would be willing to take on all of the $28MM that Kimbrel is guaranteed through the 2017 season. Stark hears the same but adds that the Yankees are continuing to balk at the possibility of including top prospects Luis Severino, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge in a potential swap. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets that the Padres have sought top shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo as well but been denied to this point.

Late last night, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reported that the Padres and Astros were at least discussing something big that involved Kimbrel and possibly one of Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner. Stark adds today that it’s not known how much of Kimbrel’s contract the Astros would be able to take on after absorbing the $12MM remaining on Carlos Gomez‘s deal yesterday.

Latest On Yankees’ Pursuit Of Elite Relief Arms

The Yankees have already been connected to Craig Kimbrel this morning, and it’s becoming apparent that they’re in the mix for most of the top relief arms on the market at this point. We’ll keep track of that pursuit in this post…

  • The Yankees are waiting on the Padres in regards to Kimbrel but could turn to the MarlinsCarter Capps, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Jayson Stark of ESPN takes it a step further, saying that the Yankees are tiring of waiting on San Diego and are already talking to Miami (Twitter link).

Earlier Updates

  • The Yankees are one of five teams that are “aggressively pursuing” a trade for Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). Adding Chapman to the back of a bullpen that already includes Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances would give the Yankees perhaps the best late-inning relief trio in all of baseball. Adding a premium bullpen arm appears to be the focus for the Yankees now that a number of starting pitchers have already landed with other teams. New York, though, has been said to be unwilling to part with top prospects Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Greg Bird and Jorge Mateo in talks for Kimbrel, so it would stand to reason that they’re reluctant to do with Chapman as well, who comes with far less control. He can be a free agent after the 2016 season.

Red Sox Interested In Tyson Ross

The Red Sox like Tyson Ross quite a bit and have been operating “very quietly” in the trade market for starting pitching, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Red Sox have talked to the Padres, with Ross as one possible target, though he notes that they also have the prospect depth to expand a deal to include Craig Kimbrel.

Ross’ name is one of the most popular on the trade market, with many expecting the Padres to aggressively market a number of players today (Ross and Kimbrel included). Boston’s priority has long been said to be to acquire controllable pitching, and Ross, who isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season, would fit that mold to an extent.

The 28-year-old Ross is not yet arbitration eligible and has worked to a 3.07 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate near 60 percent over the past three seasons with the Padres. He’s also drawn interest from the Astros, Cubs and many other teams.

Relief Market Notes: Astros Working Hard, Twins, Lowe

The Astros are “pushing hard” to find an upgrade in the bullpen and have several irons in the fire, according to Jim Bowden of (via Twitter). Given the players under consideration, it looks like Houston is aiming high. We just heard of talks with the Padres that may include Craig Kimbrel, and Bowden says they’ve also discussed Joaquin Benoit. As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweeted earlier, the Rays have spoken with the Astros about pen arms, though he adds nothing seems likely there, and Bowden lists Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee as names that have come up. And Houston has even made inquiries on outstanding Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, he adds.

Here’s more on the relief market, which should be among the most active areas of discussion leading up to tomorrow’s deadline.

  • Though the Twins are in the market for relief help, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter) that they’re not interested in either Junichi Tazawa or Craig Breslow of the Red Sox. Berardino hears that the Twins are turned off by Tazawa’s five-plus years of service (he’ll be a free agent after 2016) and Breslow’s impending free agency.
  • Mariners right-hander Mark Lowe is drawing quite a bit of interest, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The journeyman reliever is in the midst of a breakout season, having pitched to an incredible 1.00 ERA with 11.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 36.5 percent ground-ball rate in 36 innings this season. Lowe’s average fastball velocity of 95 mph is his best since 2011, and because he took a minor league deal in an attempt to revitalize his career (so far, so good), any team could afford him from a financial standpoint.