Dan Haren Rumors

NL East Notes: Taylor, Marlins, Haren, Tulo, Gattis

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.

Rosenthal On Padres, Upton, Smith, Nats, Haren

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has updates on a number of situations around the league in his latest pair of columns. Here are some highlights from his most recent work…

  • The Padres are interested in a wide array of hitters, but they’re “all over” Justin Upton, Rosenthal hears. However, now that they’re set to acquire Matt Kemp, the Padres don’t want to trade Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy or Tyson Ross, which might make a deal difficult to line up. They could possibly follow the Howie Kendrick-for-Andrew Heaney model and offer six years of a top prospect such as Austin Hedges or Matt Wisler.
  • Seth Smith is drawing interest from the Mariners and Orioles, among other clubs. Trading Smith would be an easier route for the team to take than moving one of Carlos Quentin or Cameron Maybin, neither of whom has much (if any) trade value. The Padres, however, gave Smith assurance that he wouldn’t be dealt this offseason when he signed a two-year, $13MM extension in early July. Then again, that assurance came before GM A.J. Preller had been hired.
  • The Nationals recently offered the Mariners both Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond in exchange for right-hander Taijuan Walker and shortstop Brad Miller, according to Rosenthal. However, the Mariners balked at giving up six years of Walker and five of Miller for just one year of Zimmermann and Desmond at a combined total of $27.5MM. Washington also discussed Zimmermann with the Red Sox.
  • The Marlins could look to trade Dan Haren if he doesn’t want to pitch for them in 2015, Rosenthal tweets. Haren made his preference to pitch on the West coast (specifically near his wife and two young children) clear when he signed with the Dodgers. At the end of the 2013 season, he discussed the difficulty of pitching across the country from his family with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, and more recently he said he planned to retire if traded out of the area. Rosenthal notes that the Marlins spoke to Haren the night of the trade, and their preference is for Haren to pitch for their club in 2015. The Angels, who would represent one logical trade partner, given Haren’s geographic preference, have said they won’t be trading for him.

Dodgers, Marlins Make Seven-Player Trade

The Dodgers and Marlins have announced a blockbuster deal that sends middle infielder Dee Gordon, veteran right-hander Dan Haren, infielder Miguel Rojas and a player to be named later or cash to Miami in exchange for left-hander Andrew Heaney, second baseman Enrique Hernandez, righty reliever Chris Hatcher and catching prospect Austin Barnes.  (Heaney has since been traded to the Angels for Howie Kendrick.)

USATSI_8130033_154513410_lowresWith the Dodgers reportedly open to dealing Gordon and the Marlins open to trading from their surplus of young arms, the two made sense as trade partners, especially with Miami rather thin in the middle infield.  Gordon is an upgrade over the Marlins’ current second base options (Donovan Solano and Derek Dietrich), though Gordon could also return to his original shortstop position and supplant Adeiny Hechavarria, who has been a negative fWAR player over the last two seasons.

Gordon broke out with an All-Star campaign in 2014, hitting .289/.326/.378 over 650 plate appearances while leading the league in both steals (64) and triples (12).  He is controlled through the 2018 season, though he’ll start getting expensive this winter as he is arbitration-eligible for the first of four times (as a Super Two player).  MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projects Gordon to earn $2.5MM in 2015.

Haren said last month that he could retire if he was pitching anywhere other than with the Dodgers or Angels.  The righty exercised his $10MM player option for the 2015 season, so now the question seems to be whether Haren will have a change of heart about playing outside of southern California, or if he’ll indeed hang up his glove and walk away from that $10MM.  Haren posted a 4.02 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and a 4.03 K/BB rate over 186 innings last season, so he’d fit the Marlins’ desire for a veteran arm if he did continue to pitch.  ESPN’s Buster Olney did hear that a third team could be involved in the trade talks, which could be a precursor to another Marlins trade that could send Haren to a more preferred destination. The Marlins’ Michael Hill says (via the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin on Twitter) that the Marlins will not receive additional compensation depending on what happens with Haren.

Whether or not Haren retires, the Dodgers will still send $10MM to Miami as part of the trade, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (Twitter links).  L.A. will also cover the projected $2.5MM that Gordon will earn in arbitration.  The Marlins plan to use the money from the Dodgers on a first baseman or a starting pitcher.

Rojas, 25, made his Major League debut in 2014, posting a .464 OPS over 162 PA and mostly playing shortstop.  Rojas also received some significant playing time at second and third during his nine-year minor league career, which saw him post a .238/.305/.297 line over 2639 plate appearances in the Dodgers, Reds and Rays farm systems.

From the Dodgers’ perspective, they’ve overhauled their middle infield in a matter of hours between this deal, the Kendrick swap and the seemingly impending Jimmy Rollins trade. Heaney is already gone, but USA Bob Nightengale points out that L.A. could also use some of these youngsters as trade bait to acquire a top starter such as Cole Hamels.  It’s also possible that some of these players could be going to the Phils to complete the Rollins deal, as per Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Heaney is the biggest name of the four, the ninth overall pick of the 2012 draft and tabbed as both the Marlins’ top prospect and the #30 prospect in the sport by Baseball America in their 2014 preseason rankings.  Heaney has a 2.77 ERA, 9.1 K/9, and 3.85 K/BB rate over 259 2/3 minor league innings, and he threw 29 1/3 innings for Miami this season in his first taste of the bigs.

This is Hernandez’s second trade in less than five months, as he came to the Marlins from the Astros in July as part of the Jarred Cosart deal.  Hernandez also made his MLB debut in 2014, posting a .248/.321/.421 slash line and a 110 wRC+ over 134 PA with Houston and Miami.  He played mostly as a second baseman in the minors and will join Alex Guerrero, Darwin Barney and Justin Turner in battling for a backup role in Los Angeles.  Hernandez also has experience at third, short and all three outfield positions, so he could be a valuable bench piece.

Hatcher enjoyed a breakout season in 2014, posting a 3.38 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and a 5:1 strikeout-to-walk rate over 56 innings last season.  He’s a solid addition to a Dodgers bullpen that was looking to upgrade at a low cost, given the large salaries already committed to the likes of Brandon League, Brian Wilson and J.P. Howell, not to mention Kenley Jansen‘s projected $8.2MM arbitration salary.

Baseball America ranked Barnes as the Marlins’ 20th-best prospect prior to the season.  The 24-year-old catcher has shown some impressive skill at the plate, with .298/.390/.431 slash line over 1855 minor league PA.  Barnes posted a .913 OPS in 348 PA at the Double-A level last season.

Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported the deal had been agreed upon, pending some paperwork.  ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter links) was the first to report that the two sides were having “serious talks” about a Gordon/Heaney trade and Haren’s possible involvement, and Olney described the deal as being “close to done.”  Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter link) added that Hernandez, Barnes and Hatcher were included in the deal. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweeted that Rojas was involved.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Dodgers Notes: Haren, Shields, Santana, Peavy

There has been much speculation about Dan Haren‘s role in the impending six-player trade between the Dodgers and Marlins, as Haren has openly said that he’d rather retire than pitch anywhere but for one of the two Los Angeles teams.  Angels GM Jerry Dipoto shot down speculation that the Marlins could flip Haren to his team, telling reporters (including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register) that his team wasn’t trading for Haren.

As we wait for either of today’s two blockbuster Dodgers trades to be finalized, here’s some more news from Chavez Ravine…

  • There are rumors around the Winter Meetings that the Dodgers are making these big moves to position themselves to sign James Shields, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports (Twitter link).
  • The rumored Andre Ethier-for-Miguel Montero swap with the Diamondbacks fell apart because of how much money the Dodgers would have had to pay, Saxon reports (via Twitter).  Arizona ended up dealing Montero to the Cubs yesterday.
  • Also from Saxon, the Dodgers haven’t made any inquiries about Ervin Santana.
  • The Dodgers have been talking to other free agent pitchers, however, including Jake Peavy, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets.
  • Rumors of a Matt Kemp deal to the Padres “has legs,” a source tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  The two sides have made some progress but nothing is official yet.  Yasmani Grandal would be the main piece coming back from San Diego and Heyman hears the Dodgers have also asked for pitchers Joe Ross and Zach Eflin (though Heyman isn’t sure if both would be included if the deal happened.)

Dodgers, Marlins Talking Dee Gordon Deal

The Dodgers and Marlins are having serious talks about a trade involving Dee Gordon and Andrew Heaney, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter links).  Other teams could be involved in the deal and Dan Haren‘s name has been mentioned.  Olney describes the trade as being “close to done” (Twitter link).


West Notes: Mariners, Cruz, Padres, Haren

The latest out of the game’s western divisions:

  • The Mariners have had conversations with Nelson Cruz and his agent since the start of the offseason, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports. According to Morosi, Seattle does not have a club policy against signing players with past PED suspensions. A recent report stated that the team backed off of Cruz last year because of his recent Biogenesis situation, but it appears that will not be a roadblock this time around.
  • The Padres will listen to trade offers for their top three pitchers (Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross) as well as catchers, Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported yesterday. Presumably it would take quite an offer to part with Cashner or Ross, and Kennedy could be held and reassessed at the trade deadline. Behind the plate, the 26-year-old, former top prospect Grandal has yet to establish himself fully. Though he posted a solid 112 wRC+ last year, he also rated as one of the league’s worst defensive catchers. Rivera, meanwhile, came out of nowhere to post by far his most extensive and productive MLB season in 2014, slashing .252/.319/.432 over 329 plate appearances while grading out as one of the game’s best-fielding backstops.
  • Righty Dan Haren of the Dodgers has come up in trade chatter, but could retire if he is dealt away from Los Angeles, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Haren exercised a $10MM player option to stay on the west coast, and Heyman indicates that he might prefer to hang up his spikes than pitch for any other club but the cross-town Angels.

Dan Haren Exercises Player Option

Dodgers right-hander Dan Haren has exercised his $10MM player option for the 2015 season, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

Haren, who turned 34 in September, signed a one-year, $10MM contract with the Dodgers last offseason that contained a $10MM player option that would vest upon reaching 180 innings. Haren ended up totaling 186 innings in Dodger blue, posting a 4.02 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 41.5 percent ground-ball rate.

Haren could have hit the open market in search of a larger guarantee, perhaps on a two-year deal, but he’s stated in the past that proximity to his family is of the utmost importance to him, so remaining with them in Los Angeles is likely a key component of this decision. He spoke openly and honestly with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post in 2013 about how difficult his year with the Nationals was from a personal standpoint, as he had never previously been so far away from his wife and children.

Barring any sort of trade, Haren will return to a rotation that features Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu. It won’t be a surprise to see them seek further rotation depth via trades and/or free agency this offseason.


Dan Haren’s 2015 Option Vests

7:41am: Haren insisted to reporters last night, including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times (Twitter link), that he wouldn’t make a decision on whether or not to exercise his option until after the Dodgers’ season is over.

10:48pm: Dodgers starter Dan Haren now holds a $10MM player option for next season after notching his 180th inning on the year. By reaching that mark, he also triggered a $500K bonus (on top of $1.5MM in innings-pitched and games-started bonuses already met).

Haren, who just turned 34, joined the Dodgers on a one-year, $10MM deal that was filled with a variety of incentives. He has now achieved most of them, including the most valuable: the $10MM player option for next year. At one point, 180 innings seemed like a long shot, but Haren fought through a mid-season swoon and re-emerged as a much-needed piece of an injury-riddled rotation. Barring a decision to retire, Haren would seem to be fairly likely to take the option to continue throwing in his native California.

Of course, Haren could in theory still be tempted to test the open market. He has had an up-and-down year, but entered the day with a 4.14 ERA on the back of 6.9 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9. That strikeout total would be his lowest since he became a full-time big league starter back in 2005.

But Haren remains a solid innings-eater (at worst) with plenty of value. Though his days of logging well over 200 frames a year in the low-to-mid 3.00 ERA range are probably over, he has still managed to make 30 starts a year going all the way back to that ’05 campaign. And ERA estimators believe Haren to be as good or better than his earned run totals would suggest: this year, he owns a 4.19 FIP, 3.74 xFIP, and 3.80 SIERA.


2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. As we near the end of the season, here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options …

  • Nick Punto, Athletics: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. Though Forst did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, the health route is no longer available. Punto was only activated yesterday — ten days into the September active roster expansion — after going on the DL on August 3rd. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would have needed to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He has just 255 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Weeks will also fall shy of reaching 400 PAs, which would have entitled him to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins’ option vested earlier this year when he reached 1,100 plate appearances over 2013-14. (He has also made 600 trips to bat in 2014, an independent basis for triggering the provision.) That clause, however, also required that he not finish the year on the disabled list, and Rollins left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury. Word is that Rollins should be able to return, but with just three weeks left even a minor setback could well end his season. Nevertheless, Philadelphia would need to go out of its way to place him on the DL at this point, with active rosters expanded. And, in any event, the option would still vest if a mutually agreed-upon doctor deemed Rollins ready to start the 2015 season.
  • Dan Haren, Dodgers: Haren needs 180 innings to trigger a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. Heading into his scheduled outing this evening, he has already notched 162 frames. Haren should be in line for at least three more starts (including tonight’s) before the end of the month, and maybe another depending upon how the club approaches the last few games of the year. Having averaged 5.79 innings per start on the year, it will be incumbent on Haren to pitch his way to the option — especially in the midst of a playoff race and backed by a well-stocked bullpen.
  • Mike Adams, Phillies: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 would have vested with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s obviously not going to get there with just 17 2/3 innings in the tank. Adams has thrown just 42 2/3 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that the team will pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles. He should, however, be an attractive buy-low candidate given his general success when on the field.
  • Rafael Soriano, Nationals: Soriano’s $14MM club option vests with 120 games finished over 2013-14. While that always seemed a longshot, any realistic hope was snuffed out when Soriano lost his closing gig to Drew Storen, the man he replaced when he signed on with Washington. Whether or not Soriano makes it back into the 9th inning role over the next few weeks, he now sits at 104 games finished over the last two seasons, making it all but impossible for him to trigger the vesting provision. With the Nationals all but certain to decline their club option on Soriano, he should make for an interesting free agent to watch.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old has made it back for only 10 1/3 innings in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that (unreported) threshold.
  • Sean Burnett, Angels: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs, White Sox: Downs had a $4MM vesting option that would have vested with 55 appearances, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in June (via Twitter). Though he appeared to be headed in that direction earlier in the year, the White Sox cut bait with Downs and his then-6.08 ERA. He owns a 3.55 mark over 12 2/3 innings with the Royals — who signed him to a separate, minor-league deal — and has now thrown in 53 games, but the vesting clause is now a moot point.

2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. Here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options…

  • Nick Punto: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. He did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, though for the time being, he’s on pace to see his option vest simply due to the fact that he’s avoided the DL entirely. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would need to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He’s being platooned heavily with Scooter Gennett and has just 112 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Should he reach 400 PAs (which only seems likely in the event of Gennett injury), Weeks would be entitled to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins: Rollins’ option vests if he reaches 600 PA in 2014 or if he totals 1,100 options from 2013-14 and finishes the season on the active roster. He’s 141 PA shy of that combined 1,100 number, meaning he’s highly likely to end up with an $11MM guarantee for 2015.
  • Dan Haren: If Haren pitches 180 innings or more in 2014, he triggers a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. He’s averaging just over six innings per start, so he’s on pace to clear that mark given 30-31 starts. However, if he finishes the season anywhere near his current 3.54 ERA, he may prefer to test the open market in search of a multi-year deal.
  • Mike Adams: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 vests with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s once again on the disabled list for the Phillies and has thrown just 17 innings. Adams has thrown 42 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that they would pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles.
  • Rafael Soriano: Soriano’s $14MM club option will vest if he finishes 120 games combined in 2013-14. He’s currently at 81 games finished on the season, meaning he’d need to finish a rather unlikely 39 of his team’s final 92 games (42 percent) this season. Should the option vest, half of his salary will be deferred and paid in annual installments from 2018-25.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that threshold.
  • Sean Burnett: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs: Downs has a $4MM vesting option, and while the specifics haven’t been reported, Ken Rosenthal noted at the time of the deal that it would vest were Downs to pitch “a normal workload.” He’s headed in that direction, as he’s on pace for his highest innings total since 2011. Downs has pitched to a 5.48 ERA in his 23 innings, so the White Sox may not wish to see that option vest. Then again, he has a 3.95 ERA dating back to May 3, so he’s shown some signs of improvement.