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Daniel Bard Rumors
Twins GM Terry Ryan says he has no qualms about blocking potential August trades by making waiver claims, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes (via Twitter). Ryan says he was surprised that Marlon Byrd — who's having a strong season and makes a paltry $700K — made it all the way through waivers until the Pirates claimed him. The Reds, for example, had waiver priority on the Pirates and might well have chosen to claim Byrd, both because Byrd would have cheaply improved their own team and also to prevent the rival Pirates from getting him. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- The Cardinals are the first big-league team that will have to figure out how to stop Billy Hamilton of the Reds, Max Schmetzer of MLB.com writes. Of course, that means that the basestealing phenom will have to battle against Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. "We have film on [Hamilton]," says Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "We're not going to ask the pitchers to be quicker on him or the catchers to throw quicker." Before the season, Hamilton was ranked the No. 20 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and No. 30 by ESPN's Keith Law. Even in a disappointing 2013 season, Hamilton managed to swipe 75 bases for Triple-A Louisville.
- Reliever Michael Blazek spent several days in "limbo" before being shipped from the Cardinals to the Brewers in the John Axford deal, Adam McCalvy and Kevin Massoth of MLB.com write. The Cards technically optioned Blazek to Triple-A Memphis on Thursday, but he was actually just waiting in his hotel in St. Louis, presumably to be called up when rosters expanded on Sunday. Instead, in his third day away from the team, he learned he was headed to Milwaukee.
- Daniel Bard was recently designated for assignment by the Red Sox, but claiming him on waivers could be a tricky proposition, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. That's because the claiming team would have to decide by early December whether to take Bard to arbitration, where he would receive a minimum of about $1.5MM next year. That might be a lot to pay a player who appears to be nowhere near the pitcher he was in 2009 through 2011, when he was a solid relief option.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
As he moves from Baseball America to MLB.com, Jim Callis spoke with WEEI.com's Alex Speier about his two decades covering the Red Sox farm system. Anyone interested in the Sox system or prospect rankings more generally should listen in as Callis effectively passes the baton to Speier. Here's some more Red Sox chatter …
- When Boston acquired John McDonald just before the August 31st post-season roster deadline, it became the infielder's eighth major league team in his career and his fourth club this season, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com notes. “I’ve been getting closer to home, going from Arizona, to Pittsburgh, to Cleveland to Philly to Boston,” said the 38-year-old, who was drafted out of Rhode Island's Providence College in 1996. "It might be baseball's way of telling me something. But I’m not ready to listen."
- The implosion of Daniel Bard — designated for assignment yesterday by the Sox — resulted from the "worst misstep" of GM Ben Cherington's early tenure at the helm, writes the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber. Switching Bard to the rotation, rather than making him the team's closer, not only aligned with the onset of Bard's various issues but triggered a series of ill-fated trades involving late-inning relievers.
- While the team had hoped that new manager John Farrell would help turn Bard around, he does not sound sanguine about that possibility at this point, and leaves the impression that the team is moving on. While a change of scenery "can help," said Farrell, "to say that that’s the sole reason, that would be wishful thinking.” So what went wrong? “It was a combination of delivery issues that were being ironed out and certainly confidence issues,” Farrell said. “That’s where the question was, which comes first. We felt like performance was going to lead to confidence. It looked like he was on his way, and unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
- For another look at Bard's downfall, the Providence Journal's Tim Britton provides an interesting timeline of quotes from Bard and others.
- In spite of the rocky history of the Red Sox closers of late, Koji Uehara has brought clarity to the situation. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford argues that he could be the most important player in the entire American League because of the way he settled down a potentially disastrous situation. Even as Uehara creeps closer to guaranteeing himself a $5MM payday next year through his contract's vesting option – he is just five games finished away – Boston will surely be glad to pay up.
- Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has done everything he could to set himself up for a big contract when he reaches free agency this off-season as a 28-year-old, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. As the Sox decide whether and how much to bid on Salty, one important and hard-to-quantify question is the extent to which the team values his handling of the team's pitching staff. MacPherson suggests that his rapport with the club's arms could make him more valuable to Boston than other organizations. Of course, this is an area where the Sox have an information advantage on the rest of the market.
The former top-100 prospect established himself as a dominating late-inning reliever in 2010, but melted down when the team attempted to convert him back into a starter last season. This season, his control issues have reached (and exceeded) Rick Ankiel levels. In an injury-shortened campaign, Bard is allowing 15.8 BB/9 in 15 1/3 minor league innings.
Bard's 2013 salary is $1.8625, and he remains arbitration-eligible for 2014-15. As Speier notes, Bard does still have an option remaining, making it plausible that a team would roll the dice on him with a 40-man roster spot. For a further read on Bard's struggles, check out this excellent piece from Matthew Kory of Sports on Earth.
NIck Cafardo of the Boston Globe asked 30 people from around baseball who they would build their team around, regardless of age or experience. The leading vote-getter was Yadier Molina, with Buster Posey in second place. Here's more from today's column..
- There's a lot of uncertainty in the Twins' organization surrounding Justin Morneau. People wonder what happened to his power, which hurts his trade value. The Twins are a very loyal organization so they certainly won't give him away. If a deal for a prospect comes up, however, they would likely let him go.
- When closer Chris Perez is back in action he may be a piece the Indians would look to move. Despite his troubles, he would draw interest considering the shortage of available closers out there. “If a team can get him and he’s amped up because of a change of scenery, that’s all they’re looking for,” said one special assistant to an American League GM. “It’s all about getting bang for your buck during those two months-plus after you acquire him, if you don’t have to give up a lot of inventory to get him.”
- Speaking of closers, the Marlins' Steve Cishek is garnering attention and the Red Sox seem to have interest. However, clubs will have to consider whether he can handle the adjustment of going to a bigger market like Boston or Detroit.
- One National League GM believes that the Red Sox will have to give up on Daniel Bard at some point if things don't turn around. Because of his natural talent, a lot of teams would line up to trade for him in hopes that a change of scenery would turn him around.
- The Phillies declared last week that Jonathan Papelbon was not available, but Cafardo cautions not to believe it, especially in the wake of his public criticism of teammates.
- Nationals right-hander Drew Storen is an interesting alternative for a team looking for a closer. Storen was the Nationals’ closer two years ago but hasn't been as sharp in 2013 as he was in years past.
- Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco could be the first pitcher dealt as we near the deadline, even ahead of Bud Norris. Cafardo says not to be shocked if teams like the Orioles or Giants make a move on him sooner rather than later.
- One scout who saw Manny Ramirez in Taiwan said, “He can still hit with the best of them.” That doesn't mean that a team will be bold enough to sign him, however.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Chris Perez | Cleveland Indians | Daniel Bard | Drew Storen | Jonathan Papelbon | Justin Morneau | Manny Ramirez | Miami Marlins | Minnesota Twins | Philadelphia Phillies | Ricky Nolasco | San Francisco Giants | Steve Cishek | Washington Nationals
Dozens of players will agree to terms with their respective teams today and avoid arbitration. We'll have detailed posts on the top earners around MLB, and we'll track more modest agreements — those worth less than $4MM — right here. MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will have all of the details.
Teams had until 12pm CDT today to exchange filing numbers with their arbitration eligible players. Generally speaking the deadline creates lots of discussion and leads to early deals. Plus, for ‘file and trial’ teams this marks the final chance for negotiations in advance of a hearing. Here are the latest agreements from around MLB…
- The Padres announced that they have avoided arbitration with Edinson Volquez. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- The Red Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Andrew Bailey ($4.1MM), Daniel Bard ($1.8625MM), Andrew Miller ($1.475MM), and Franklin Morales ($1.4875MM). Terms courtesy of WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
- The Mets and Bobby Parnell avoided arb with a $1.7MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Alfredo Aceves, agreeing to a deal worth $2.65MM plus incentives, according to O'Connell Sports Management, Aceves' agency (on Twitter via Jon Heyman).
- The Cubs avoided arbitration with James Russell and Jeff Samardzija, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Samardzija obtains $2.64MM while Russell gets $1.075MM, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Diamondbacks announced that they avoided arbitration with Chris Johnson ($2.2875MM). The team also avoided arbitration with Brad Ziegler ($3.15MM), agreeing to a one-year deal, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports (on Twitter). Terms courtesy of Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).
- The Nationals announced that they agreed to terms with Tyler Clippard, avoiding arbitration (via Amanda Comak on Twitter). The Nationals avoided arbitration with Ian Desmond, agreeing to a one-year, $3.8MM deal, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports (on Twitter). The Nationals also avoided arb with Roger Bernadina according to the outfielder's agent, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). The Nationals and Ross Detwiler agreed to a one-year, $2.3375MM contract, according to CAA (via Twitter).
- Brennan Boesch and Phil Coke avoided arbitration, agreeing to one-year deals with the Tigers, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Boesch will earn $2.3MM while Coke will earn $1.85MM. The Tigers also avoided arbitration with Alex Avila, agreeing to a one-year, $2.95MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (all Twitter links). Austin Jackson agreed to a deal worth $3.5MM for 2013, Heyman reports. Doug Fister obtained a one-year, $4MM deal from Detroit, Heyman reports.
- The Dodgers and A.J. Ellis avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $2MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ronald Belisario agreed to a one-year, $1.45MM deal, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports (on Twitter).
- The Mariners announced that they avoided arbitration with Kendrys Morales and Brendan Ryan on one-year agreements for 2013. Morales will obtain $5.25MM plus performance bonuses, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ryan obtained $3.25MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
- The Rockies avoided arb with Tyler Colvin, agreeing to a one-year deal, the team announced (on Twitter). Colvin will earn $2.275MM, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes (on Twitter).
- The Braves avoided arbitration with Cristhian Martinez, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports (on Twitter). The Braves avoided arb with Kris Medlen, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports (on Twitter). Medlen will earn $2.6MM in 2013. They also avoided arb with Jason Heyward, agreeing to a one-year, $3.65MM deal, Bowman reports (onTwitter). The Braves agreed with another young player, avoiding arb with Jonny Venters, O'Brien reports (on Twitter). It's a $1.625MM deal. Earlier today the Braves agreed to a one-year deal with Eric O'Flaherty, avoiding arbitration, Bowman reported (on Twitter). He'll earn $4.32MM plus awards bonuses, Bowman adds.
- The Athletics announced they avoided arb with Jerry Blevins and Brandon Moss, agreeing to one-year deals for 2013.
- The Cardinals avoided arb with Mitchell Boggs and Edward Mujica, B.J. Rains of FOX Sports MidWest reports (on Twitter).
- The Indians announced that they avoided arb with Matt Albers and Justin Masterson. Albers will earn $1.75MM in 2013, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (on Twitter). Masterson will earn $5.6875MM according to Bastian (on Twitter). The Indians and Joe Smith avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.15MM deal, Bastian reported earlier today (on Twitter). The Indians also avoided arbitration with Lou Marson, Bastian reports (Twitter links). The catcher will earn $1MM on a one-year deal in 2013.
- The Astros avoided arb with Wesley Wright, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports (on Twitter). Wright will earn $1.025MM, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Earlier today the Astros and Bud Norris avoided arb with a one-year, $3MM deal, McTaggart reports (on Twitter). The Astros and Jed Lowrie avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.4MM deal with awards bonuses, according to his representatives at CAA Baseball (on Twitter).
- The White Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Alejandro De Aza, agreeing to a $2.075MM deal for 2013. The White Sox also avoided arb with Gordon Beckham, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2.925MM for 2013, MLBTR has learned.
- The Orioles announced that they avoided arb with Chris Davis and Brian Matusz (Twitter link). Matusz gets a base salary of $1.6MM while Davis gets $3.3MM, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter links). The Orioles also avoided arbitration with Troy Patton. The sides agreed to a one-year, $815K deal, his agency, CAA Sports, announced on Twitter.
- The Brewers avoided arb with right-hander Marco Estrada and reliever Burke Badenhop, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter links). Estrada will earn $1.955MM while Badenhop will earn $1.55MM, Haudricourt reports.
- The Rays avoided arbitration with Matthew Joyce and Ryan Roberts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (on Twitter). Joyce will earn $2.45MM and Roberts will earn $2.95MM plus incentives, the Rays announced. The Rays also avoided arbitration with Sam Fuld, agreeing to a one-year, $725K deal, Topkin reported (on Twitter). Earlier today the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeff Niemann. The sides agreed to a one-year, $3MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Royals announced that they avoided arbitration with Luke Hochevar, agreeing to a one-year deal for 2013. Hochevar will earn $4.56MM plus performance bonuses, Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star reports (on Twitter).
- The Yankees avoided arb with Boone Logan, agreeing to a one-year, $3.15MM deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Padres avoided arb with John Baker, agreeing to a $930K deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Twins and Brian Duensing avoided arb with a $1.3MM deal for 2013 (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Marlins avoided arbitration with Ryan Webb, agreeing to a $975K deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (on Twitter).
- The Blue Jays announced that they avoided arbitration with Emilio Bonifacio by agreeing to a one-year, $2.6MM deal. The Blue Jays also announced that they avoided arbitration with J.A. Happ, agreeing to a one-year, $3.7MM deal for 2013.
- The Angels and Tommy Hanson avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.725MM deal, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.
- The Giants avoided arb with Gregor Blanco, agreeing to a one-year, $1.35MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Phillies announced that they avoided arbitration with Antonio Bastardo with a $1.4MM contract for 2013.
- Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have reached agreement on a one-year, $1.75MM deal plus bonuses to avoid arbitration, according to the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter).
Full Story | Comments | Categories: A.J. Ellis | Alejandro De Aza | Alex Avila | Alfredo Aceves | Andrew Bailey | Andrew Miller | Antonio Bastardo | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Austin Jackson | Baltimore Orioles | Bobby Parnell | Boone Logan | Boston Red Sox | Brad Ziegler | Brandon Moss | Brennan Boesch | Brian Duensing | Brian Matusz | Bud Norris | Burke Badenhop | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Davis | Chris Johnson | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Cristhian Martinez | Daniel Bard | Detroit Tigers | Doug Fister | Edinson Volquez | Edward Mujica | Emilio Bonifacio | Eric O'Flaherty | Franklin Morales | Gaby Sanchez | Gordon Beckham | Gregor Blanco | Houston Astros | Ian Desmond | J.A. Happ | Jason Heyward | Jed Lowrie | Jeff Niemann | Jeff Samardzija | Jerry Blevins | Joe Smith | Josh Thole | Justin Masterson | Kansas City Royals | Kendrys Morales | Kris Medlen | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Lou Marson | Luke Hochevar | Matt Albers | Matt Joyce | Miami Marlins | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | Mitchell Boggs | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Oakland Athletics | Phil Coke | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | Roger Bernadina | Ronald Belisario | Ross Detwiler | Ryan Roberts | Sam Fuld | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Tommy Hanson | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Troy Patton | Tyler Clippard | Tyler Colvin | Washington Nationals
The Red Sox have placed Daniel Bard, Mark Melancon and Clayton Mortensen on revocable waivers, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter). The Red Sox have placed many players on waivers since the current waiver period opened at the beginning of August; this is by no means an indication that they intend to trade more players.
If the right-handers go unclaimed, the Red Sox would be able to trade them to any team (the players wouldn’t be eligible for postseason rosters). If a team claims one of the players, the Red Sox will have three choices. They can let the player (and his contract) go to the claiming team, they can complete a trade with the claiming team, or they can pull the player back off of waivers. American League teams will have claiming priority on the three Red Sox pitchers.
Building a rotation through free agency can be expensive and frustrating, so teams are understandably open to alternatives. One way for teams to avoid free agent salaries and long-term commitments is to move relief pitchers to the starting rotation. Yet few relievers have the repertoire and durability to succeed in the rotation, so it's not uncommon for converted relievers to flop as starters.
Here’s a mid-season update on four pitchers who jumped from the ‘pen to the rotation this year. None of the pitchers below had started more than three MLB games in a season before 2012 and all of them were big league relievers last year:
- Daniel Bard – Bard walked more batters than he struck out and posted a career-high ERA as a starting pitcher before being optioned to the minor leagues in early June. The right-hander saw his fastball velocity (93.1 mph) and swinging strike rate (7.9%) dip as a starter. He's now pitching out of the bullpen at Triple-A, and the results have been mixed. This attempted transition has been a disappointment.
- Neftali Feliz – The Rangers have successfully converted C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando to starting roles under Ron Washington and Mike Maddux in recent years, but Feliz's conversion didn't go nearly as well. He will miss the rest of the season and much of 2013 to undergo and recover from Tommy John surgery. Feliz's injury may be unrelated to his change in roles, but it doesn't make the reality of his elbow issues any more pleasant for the Rangers. The 24-year-old started just seven games before hitting the disabled list, and the results were acceptable, if not overwhelmingly positive: a 3.16 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9.
- Jeff Samardzija – Credit the Cubs for putting Samardzija in the rotation this spring. He's enjoying a breakout season with a 4.19 ERA, 9.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 120 1/3 innings (he recovered from an ugly month of June to string together some strong starts in July). The 27-year-old has maintained his fastball velocity, averaging 95 mph with his heater. Among MLB starters only Cole Hamels and Tim Lincecum generate a greater percentage of swings and misses (12.0%).
- Chris Sale – Sale has pitched to a 2.61 ERA through 124 innings with a 114K/31BB ratio and impressive hit and home run rates. The 2012 All-Star has lost some zip on his fastball (now 92.1 mph), but he continues to generate lots of swings and misses. A major success for rookie manager Robin Ventura, pitching coach Don Cooper and the White Sox.
Note: Though Lance Lynn, Anthony Bass and Felix Doubront pitched in relief last year, they also started in the minors for much of the 2011 season, so I don’t consider them converted relievers. Advanced stats via FanGraphs.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman discussed how baseball reporting is evolving in the age of social media and a 24/7 news cycle (while giving MLB Trade Rumors a tip of the cap), joked about the infamous "mystery teams" that often dominate the rumor mill and also shared some hot stove chatter during his appearance on Jonah Keri's Grantland podcast. Here are some of the highlights…
- The Yankees have mostly stayed away from major trade deadline moves under Brian Cashman and Heyman suspects the team will largely stand pat this month. There are no glaring needs on the roster plus the first-place Yankees will get a boost from Brett Gardner's return from the DL.
- If the Yankees did make a move for pitching, Matt Garza would be at the top of their list. The Red Sox and Blue Jays are also interested in Garza, not to mention the Dodgers and Tigers, among other clubs.
- When the Diamondbacks toyed with putting Justin Upton on the trade market two years ago, they discussed a deal with the Red Sox that would have sent Upton to Boston in exchange for Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Bard.
- The Red Sox and Blue Jays have the same record but the Sox are "more fully invested" in contending this season, while Heyman thinks the Jays' pitching injuries may prevent from making a true push at the deadline.
- Heyman thinks Zack Greinke is a "longshot" to re-sign with the Brewers but the club will at least make him a long-term offer before exploring possible trades before the deadline. The Angels and Braves are two of the teams expected to be in on Greinke should Milwaukee make him available.
- Surprise contenders like the Mets, Orioles and Pirates will look to upgrade themselves for a pennant race, though Heyman thinks these teams are "probably all realistic about their chances" and won't sacrifice their rebuilding process by trading any of their blue chip prospects. The Mets are looking for a veteran bullpen arm, the Orioles a veteran starter and the Pirates a corner outfielder, such as Carlos Quentin or Josh Willingham if the Twins were to make him available.
- Beyond Greinke, Josh Hamilton, Cole Hamels and a few other notables like Michael Bourn or Melky Cabrera, Heyman feels this year's free agent crop is "not a star-studded class." The free agent market has been dimmed by the preponderance of teams who lock their young stars up to multiyear contracts early in their careers.
The Red Sox head into the All-Star break 2.5 games out of the Wild Card race with a 43-43 record. Here are the latest notes and rumors surrounding the team:
- Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald hears the Red Sox could be discussing a deal involving Ryan Sweeney. The Cubs are one possible destination, Silverman writes. Boston GM Ben Cherington may consider deals for Sweeney once Jacoby Ellsbury returns from the disabled list.
- Longtime Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that Daniel Bard will rebound from his early-season struggles. “He’s going to be fine. I really do think he’s going to be fine,” Papelbon said. “He’s taking some bumps and bruises right now but who doesn’t."
- The Red Sox should be sellers this month, John Tomase of the Herald writes. Cherington should strongly consider trading players such as Mike Aviles, Cody Ross and Kelly Shoppach, Tomase suggests.
- The Red Sox sent just one All-Star to Kansas City (David Ortiz) and until their best players start performing at an elite level, it's hard to imagine the team emerging from its current state of mediocrity, Alex Speier of WEEI.com writes.
There's been lots of draft chatter these past few days, but that's not all that's going on around the Major Leagues. Here are some more notes from around MLB…
- The Red Sox optioned Daniel Bard to Triple-A, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter). Bard has struggled with his command in the rotation and, as Dave Cameron of FanGraphs notes, his velocity is down as well. Bard still figures to go to arbitration for the second time this coming offseason.
- The Royals don’t intend to rush Wil Myers to the Major Leagues despite the top prospect’s minor league successes, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Royals could reduce the chances that Myers qualifies for super two status following the 2014 season by waiting another few weeks to call him up.
- Diamondbacks pitching prospect Trevor Bauer has pitched well enough in the minors to deserve a promotion, but "nothing has been decided" regarding the right-hander's timeline, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports (Twitter links). Bauer and Myers are in similar situations; they probably won't qualify as super twos if their teams keep them in the minors for a few weeks.