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Danny Espinosa Rumors
The Yankees have a mess on their hands as they look to assemble their 2015 roster and the presence of Alex Rodriguez complicates matters, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Bombers hope that A-Rod can contribute at third at least on a part-time basis and serve as a solid DH option. If he can do neither, they’re unlikely to cut him due to his three-year, $61MM deal. Not only would it look bad for ownership, but A-Rod needs to fully show he can’t play if there is any chance of recouping some of that money through insurance. More from the AL and NL East..
- If the Dodgers come calling for Rays GM Andrew Friedman, the opportunity will have appeal, but it’s not a given that he’d go, as Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune writes. Friedman enjoys the challenge of competing with the Yankees and Red Sox with fewer resources and is loyal to Tampa Bay owner Stuart Sternberg. By the same token, the challenge may not motivate him the same way forever.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times agrees that Friedman has a comfortable situation with the Rays. When considering his relationships with Sternberg, team president Matt Silverman, and manager Joe Maddon, Friedman has something in Tampa Bay that few other decision makers enjoy.
- Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider looks at the Nationals‘ second base options for 2015. If the Nationals wants to stick with what they know, they can re-sign Asdrubal Cabrera or give Danny Espinosa another shot at earning the job. Otherwise, they’ll have to go out of house. The free agent market is rather thin at the position, especially if the Rays pick up Ben Zobrist‘s $7.5MM option. However, teams like the Rangers, Diamondbacks, and Cubs are deep with middle infielders and could be potential trade partners.
- The time is now for the next wave of the Braves‘ homegrown talent like Christian Bethancourt and pitchers Alex Wood, Shae Simmons, and Chasen Shreve to step up and become bigger contributors in 2015, opines Bill Ballew of Baseball America (subscription required).
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has lots of hot stove information to share in his latest Sunday Notes column…
- Kendrys Morales has already become a positive clubhouse figure in his short time with the Twins and Cafardo wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota try to extend the slugger. It’s also possible the Twins could deal Morales before the deadline and then re-sign him as a free agent this winter.
- The Diamondbacks seem willing to listen about trade offers for any player except Paul Goldschmidt, Cafardo notes. Martin Prado could be an attractive trade chip, though possible trade candidates like Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo might not have enough time before the deadline to show that they’re healthy. “We’re meeting on it. Figures we are sellers, not buyers,” D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said.
- The Red Sox “spent significant time watching Matt Kemp last week,” though Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo that Kemp isn’t being traded. Kemp’s recent hot streak has “reinforced” his value to Colletti given the dearth of right-handed power options around the game.
- The Nationals could make Danny Espinosa available to second base-needy teams like the Giants or Blue Jays once Bryce Harper returns from the DL. With Harper back in the outfield, Washington would use Ryan Zimmerman at third and Anthony Rendon at second, leaving Espinosa without a regular job. Given Zimmerman’s shoulder problems and questionable future as a third baseman, however, I’d tend to think that the Nats would keep Espinosa as a valuable depth piece.
- Phillies outfielders Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere appear to be available, as Cafardo adds them to the long list of notable Philadelphia players who could be trade targets before the deadline.
- Red Sox catching prospect Christian Vazquez would be the top ask for any team looking to make a major trade with Boston. “That would be across the board, even for a major hitter. He’s major league-ready right now offensively and defensively,” a scout tells Cafardo. “We also think he’ll hit for some power in the majors. Because they have Blake Swihart, who a lot of teams will ask for as well, they probably would reluctantly give up Vazquez.” This same scout, however, says that between the two young catchers, he would keep Swihart.
- While Nate Schierholtz has only hit .207/.261/.313 in 249 PA this season, the Cubs will likely still trade the outfielder. Schierholtz is only signed through the end of the season and he is owed approximately $2.78MM in remaining salary.
- The Padres “would like to conduct a fire sale” and Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Seth Smith could all be available. Cafardo notes that Smith would be a good fit in the Red Sox outfield.
- Several teams are interested in Grady Sizemore, who one scout feels will perform better now that he has had time to get re-accustomed to playing. “Whoever gets him next will probably get a better player than what Boston had. He needed more time, and with that problem offensively up there they [the Red Sox] couldn’t wait,” the scout said.
- The Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Phillies and Rangers have been the teams who have been most aggressively scouting the major and minor league rosters of other clubs, Cafardo reports.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Ben Revere | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Quentin | Chase Headley | Chicago Cubs | Chris Denorfia | Christian Vazquez | Danny Espinosa | Grady Sizemore | Kendrys Morales | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Matt Kemp | Miami Marlins | Minnesota Twins | Nate Schierholtz | Newsstand | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Seth Smith | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals
The Reds‘ mostly homegrown rotation prevents them from having to spend big on starting pitching in free agency and gives them a big advantage, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes. Homegrown pitchers like Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani and Homer Bailey (leaving aside Bailey’s large recent extension, at least) have proven to be cost effective, and even Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, both from outside the organization, were acquired without the Reds having to turn to the free agent market. Here are more notes from throughout the big leagues.
- Of the high-impact pitchers who might be available at the trade deadline, the Phillies‘ Cliff Lee makes the most sense for the Yankees, the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand writes. Lee will have an enormous salary in 2015, but the Yankees ignored the luxury-tax threshold last offseason, and there’s little reason to think they couldn’t do it again. Lee’s injury status (he went on the DL with an elbow strain in May) and huge contract might mean the Yankees could acquire him for a lesser cost in prospects.
- Lee threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session Friday, Marc Narducci of the Inquirer reports. He is not yet 100 percent, however. “It is not pain . . . it is not discomfort,” Lee says. “I would say it is there.”
- The Nationals aren’t planning on making any big trades anytime soon, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. They don’t want to trade Danny Espinosa, believing he’s a future All-Star, or Adam LaRoche. They would listen to offers on pitcher Ross Detwiler, but aren’t actively looking to deal him.
Fireballing Brewers prospect Johnny Hellweg, 25, has been diagnosed with a torn UCL and is headed to visit Dr. James Andrews, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Hellweg, the club’s 7th overall prospect in the eyes of MLB.com, has been working at Triple-A after briefly reaching the bigs last year with Milwaukee. He put up a 6.75 ERA in 30 2/3 big league frames in 2013, but had a 3.14 mark in 131 2/3 minor league innings (albeit with 6.4 K/9 against 5.7 BB/9).
Here’s more from the National League:
- Michael Cuddyer and the Rockies are in no rush to consider a new deal, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Cuddyer, 35, is set to complete his three-year, $31.5MM deal this season, and says he hopes to play two or three more seasons. But he is planning to finish out his contract and consider his options down the line.
- The Cubs plan to take the best player available with the fourth overall pick in the upcoming amateur draft, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Though the team is stocked with well-regarded field prospects, and somewhat less flush with young arms, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says they will “take the best player, regardless of position,” explaining that he will look to make “the best investment, the best bet on that player’s career.” The team is hopeful of building pitching depth from this year’s amateur pool, even if that does not come through the first choice. “There’s tremendous depth in this class,” said Epstein. “It’s more depth than elite, per se. But we should be coming out with a good pitching haul when it’s said and done.”
- Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa is in the midst of a bounce-back campaign, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. After struggling mightily last year, and reportedly drawing significant trade interest from teams looking to take a chance on a turnaround for the 26-year-old switch-hitter, Espinosa is off to a .273/.333/.455 start through his first 59 plate appearances. He has taken over as the regular at second, with Anthony Rendon shifting to third while Ryan Zimmerman is on the DL. Espinosa’s rough 2013 was not without its benefits for the Nats, as his demotion allowed the team to pause his service clock: with just 2.113 years entering this season, Espinosa will not be eligible for free agency until 2018.
A number of notable clubs entered Spring Training looking for clear answers at second base, and other teams could face looming questions at the position. Here's a roundup of items about the keystone…
- Multiple talent evaluators tell ESPN's Jim Bowden that Alexander Guerrero needs a lot of time at Triple-A in order to both learn second base and simply to regain his form after not playing last season. In the Insider-only piece, Bowden looks at internal and external second base answers the Dodgers could explore to solidify themselves at the position.
- Early word on Guerrero hasn't been too positive, as one evaluator tells ESPN's Buster Olney (another Insider-only piece) that the Dodgers "could get him through outright waivers right now if they need a roster spot." Olney speculates that the Nationals could generate some interest in Danny Espinosa given the number of teams (including the Dodgers and Yankees) looking for second base help, though Washington wouldn't want to accept a sell-low offer for Espinosa given his poor 2013 season.
- The Royals are lacking in middle infield depth behind Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar, as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star notes may not have the 25-man roster space for a backup infielder. Since Ned Yost plans to carry 12 pitchers, that leaves only four bench spots for Justin Maxwell, Jarrod Dyson, Danny Valencia and the backup catcher. Christian Colon, Pedro Ciriaco and Johnny Giavotella are currently fighting for a roster spot in camp and the team will have Valencia and Mike Moustakas work out at second in case they need to be emergency options. “It’s not ideal not to have a backup middle infielder on the team,” GM Dayton Moore said. “However, I do anticipate Infante and Escobar in the lineup most days.”
- Marco Scutaro is only beginning to take grounders and has yet to swing a bat, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports. The veteran infielder is purposely taking a slow start to Spring Training in order to keep himself healthy and free of hip problems, and Giants GM Brian Sabean admits that the team probably should've shut Scutaro down last year when he was battling multiple nagging injuries. Despite Scutaro's issues, Sabean is confident he'll be ready for Opening Day though he only said "we'll see" when asked if he was comfortable with the team's second base depth.
Here are a few notes out of the National League East:
- Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy says that he would be open to extension talk, but that none have taken place to date, reports MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. Explaining that he would leave his contract situation to his agent, Murphy said that he already feels lucky for his situation. "What is comfort? Is it money?" asked Murphy. "I've made an ungodly amount of money. That's the only way to describe it. … You see an organization heading in the direction that we're heading, it's an exciting time. So you always want to be a part of that. However that looks — one-year deals or whatever that looks like — other than playing well, that is a little bit out of my control as well. But I do want to be a part of the solution."
- The Braves' extension strategy has drawn plenty of recent attention, and the presence of senior advisor John Hart — the former Indians GM who authored the advent of the extension era decades ago — surely played a role. Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus recently engaged Hart in a fascinating interview on the topic of extensions. Hart continued to discuss the moves of his current club with MLB.com's Mark Bowman, focusing in particular on the situation of Jason Heyward, whose two-year deal did not buy out any free agent campaigns. "I never did deals with guys who were arbitration eligible unless I got something back," said Hart. "I didn't want to just take a guy through his arbitration years. But I think in the case of Heyward, it was a phenomenal strategy, and the message was clearly delivered that they really like this guy and they want to keep this guy. Nobody knows where his ceiling is, it hasn't been defined yet because he has had a lot of injuries coming along."
- The Nationals chose to give second baseman Danny Espinosa a raise to $540K (during time spent on the MLB roster) in spite of his tough 2013, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Though Espinosa had been on track to qualify for arbitration this year, his demotion (and lack of a September call-up) left him short. That bought the team an extra year of control and another season at just above the league minimum rate. The 26-year-old has drawn significant trade interest from teams looking for a cheap opportunity to return him to form, but the Nationals appear likely to use him as a bench piece and keep his upside in house.
FEBRUARY 6: At least twelve teams have inquired with the Nationals about Espinosa's availability, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. However, the team remains unlikely at present to deal Espinosa, Ladson says.
Though Anthony Rendon has the inside track at the starting gig at second, Espinosa will have a shot at taking his job back. Alternative outcomes include Espinosa making the club as a reserve or starting out in Triple-A on optional assignment. But Espinosa represents important middle infield depth and still has tantalizing upside at age 26, leaving the Nats uninterested in selling low.
DECEMBER 10: The Nats are balking at moving Espinosa despite interest from the Yankees, among other clubs, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
DECEMBER 9, 6:29pm: One Nationals executive told Kilgore that the Nats aren't shopping Espinosa. Beyond that, GM Mike Rizzo plainly stated that he expects Espinosa to be his team's utility infielder in 2014, noting that despite a lack of experience at the hot corner, Espinosa has the tools to play third base. Kilgore writes that Espinosa has a big proponent in Rizzo, and the Nationals are determined not to sell low on the switch-hitter.
4:25pm: The Nationals are shopping Danny Espinosa in trade talks, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). Passan adds that if the Nats are unable to find a deal they like for Espinosa, the infielder could fill the utility role vacated by Steve Lombardozzi.
After a couple solid seasons in Washington, Espinosa saw his production fall off a cliff in 2013 due in part to injuries. In 2011 and 2012, he was an everyday player for the Nats, hitting 38 homers with a .727 OPS in over 1300 plate appearances.
GM Mike Rizzo told reporters today, including Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link), that the Nats will be "open-minded" and won't be afraid to make a trade. However, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post says (via Twitter) that he'd be surprised if the team moves Espinosa, having already rebuffed teams like the Rays and Cardinals, who have tried to buy low.
- Homer Bailey was cautious in his remarks about signing a multi-year contract with the Reds, according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "There is [interest], but it has to be something that works out for both ends," said Bailey. "That's kind of tough to do. You see a lot of the signings that are going on, so, of course, it's going to raise eyebrows on my behalf. Obviously, with a mid-market team, it's tougher for them, also. We're just going to have to see how everything goes." Bailey, who is represented by Excel Sports Management (the agency which negotiated lucrative long-term deals for Clayton Kershaw and Masahiro Tanaka this offseason), is arbitration eligible asking for $11.6MM while the Reds countered with $8.7MM.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he is not interested in signing free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz (#17 on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list) because he is tied to draft pick compensation, reports Sheldon.
- Danny Espinosa has been told by manager Matt Williams and GM Mike Rizzo he will be given the opportunity to compete with Anthony Rendon to be the Nationals' starting second baseman, writes Chase Hughes of Nats Insider. "That’s all I can ask for," said Espinosa. "I’ve never asked for anything to be handed to me. If I can get a fair opportunity to win my job back, I feel like I can do it." Espinosa struggled in 2013, due in part to injuries, batting .158/.193/.272 in 167 plate appearances before being demoted to Triple-A. The 26-year-old's name has popped up in trade rumors this winter with the Yankees, among other clubs, showing interest.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. needs to decide when the team can realistically contend next and then set them up do so because going all in while simultaneously investing in the future only offsets each other, opines philly.com's Justin Klugh.
Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com writes that last night's loss was "a kick in the gut" for the Nationals because it came after their most reliable reliever, Tyler Clippard, blew a rare lead. As Kolko notes, manager Davey Johnson has long said that he feels 90 wins will get the team to the postseason, but the Nats will need to finish 21-4 to reach that mark. Here's more out of the nation's capitol…
- Danny Espinosa should be among the team's September callups, argues Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The Nats opted not to bring Espinosa to the big leagues again this season, but Kilgore opines that he'd be a valuable defensive replacement and the expanded rosters would allow them to carry Espinosa's glove without exposing the weak bat he's shown this season. Kilgore adds that keeping Espinosa off the Major League roster likely prevents him from becoming arbitration-eligible as a Super Two player, but the $1MM or so in financial savings isn't a good reason to keep him off the roster. Recent reports have indicated that the Nationals are looking to trade the switch-hitting middle infielder.
- Unbeknownst to Johnson, Bryce Harper has been receiving treatment for a hip injury recently, the manager told reporters (including Amanda Comak of the Washington Times). Johnson said that he is "disturbed" by the fact that he was not informed of the issue by Harper or the medical staff, but he plans to continue playing Harper as long as the injury doesn't worsen.
- For those who missed it, MLBTR reported last night that right-hander Mark Lowe has opted out of his minor league contract with Washington and is now a free agent.
SATURDAY, 3:48pm: The Nationals have informed Espinosa that he will not receive a September call-up, reports the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Assuming that holds true, Kilgore notes, Espinosa will likely not be arbitration-eligible next season. Instead, he will earn league minimum and cede an additional year of team control.
Espinosa had 2.033 years of service time coming into the season, and appears to have logged 79 days this year before he was optioned on June 19th. If he accrues no more service time, then, Espinosa will obviously fall short of three years of service. Neither will he have enough service for Super Two status, and would not qualify anyway because he did not stay on the active roster for the requisite 86 days this season.
While a late-season renaissance would have been even better, these service considerations certainly increase Espinosa's trade value. An acquiring team would have ample, low-cost flexibility to allow Espinosa — who still has options – to try and regain his form. And that team would receive additional upside if Espinosa regains his once-promising career arc. Those same factors, of course, increase his value to the Nats as well. Indeed, Kilgore notes that the organization still has not lowered its asking price on Espinosa and seems disinclined to sell him at a discount.
WEDNESDAY, 12:10pm: The Nationals are in the process of deciding whether or not they will include struggling infielder Danny Espinosa in this year's crop of September call-ups, and MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports that the team is looking to trade the 26-year-old.
Ladson's source said he doesn't anticipate that Espinosa will play a Major League game this season and the Nationals' efforts to trade him have been stifled by the switch-hitter's poor performance since being demoted to Triple-A Syracuse. Espinosa played through a fractured wrist for a month this season and batted just .158/.193/.272 in 167 plate appearances. Since his demotion, he's hitting just .208/.271/.283 in 292 plate appearances.
Espinosa's agent, Scott Boras, said that his client has dealt with a lingering thumb injury for several weeks at Syracuse. It's also worth noting that he played through a torn rotator cuff in 2012, which could obviously still have a lingering effect on his production at the plate. Boras told reporters that other teams do have interest in Espinosa:
"Every park that I go into will ask me about Danny. They want to know what he is doing. So the guy has real value."
Interested teams undoubtedly look at Espinosa's 20-homer power and 20-steal speed as well as his plus defense at second base and shortstop. However, those positives also come with the injury concerns and a long-standing problem with strikeouts; Espinosa has whiffed in 27.1 percent of his career plate appearances and has a whopping 96 strikeouts at Syracuse this season after leading the NL with 189 punchouts in 2012.
Espinosa hit .242/.319/.408 with 38 homers and 37 steals as a regular for the Nats from 2011-12, so trading him at this point would unquestionably be selling with his value at an all-time low. However, this is the second time there have been reports regarding a potential trade of Espinosa, as rival evaluators speculated back in June that playing him at shortstop at Triple-A was an attempt to showcase him as a trade chip. Espinosa has played 32 games at shortstop and 39 at second base since his demotion.