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Danny Hultzen Rumors
Mariners prospect Danny Hultzen, once considered one of the game’s best pitching prospects, made his first competitive outing today since early 2013. Hultzen has struggled with shoulder issues, but obviously remains a talented and potentially quite valuable player for Seattle. He walked the first batter he faced — understandably so, as it was Troy Tulowitzki — but worked out of the inning without incident.
More from the AL West:
- The Angels have no interest in making use of their rights over retired NFL quarterback Jake Locker, as MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. Los Angeles signed Locker for $300K back in 2009 despite knowing he was destined for a career in football, and he is still only 26 years old. But GM Jerry Dipoto indicated that the club has “enough going on” as it is, noting that he is generally not inclined to pursue players who prefer another sport.
- Rule 5 pick Taylor Featherston has a good chance of breaking camp with the Angels, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Dipoto says that he thinks another club would take a shot on Featherston were he to hit the waiver wire, and fully acknowledged that the Rule 5 status gives him a leg up in earning a utility role.
- ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider link) provides an interesting look at Athletics GM Billy Beane, explaining that the longtime head baseball man in Oakland is consis.tantly “selling high and trading quality in exchange for quantity that he hopes will turn into quality.” That was never more evident than in the last year, of course. While some of that “quantity” may not pan out, of course, Beane is often first able to deal it away for other useful pieces.
Every NL West team has undergone significant front office changes in the last few months except the Giants, whose GM, Brian Sabean, has been on the job since 1996, writes ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. New Rockies GM Jeff Bridich and Padres GM A.J. Preller were college freshmen when Sabean was hired. Bridich, Preller, Dave Stewart of the Diamondbacks, and Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi of the Dodgers will now attempt to build franchises that work as smoothly as the Giants’ has lately. “Our goal starting now is to have continuity as far as we can see out,” says Friedman. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- The Angels‘ pact with Cuban infield prospect Roberto Baldoquin was surprising, but MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes that it made sense in part because, since trading Jean Segura, the Angels didn’t have a young infielder to take over once Howie Kendrick, David Freese or Erick Aybar departed. Also, the Angels won’t be able to sign any player subject to international bonus pools for more than $300K in the next two signing periods, but that isn’t a huge factor for them, since they rarely do that anyway.
- The Mariners have been granted an extra option on pitcher Danny Hultzen, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Hultzen missed the 2014 season after having shoulder surgery. Hultzen exhausted his option seasons early because the Mariners signed him to a big-league contract after selecting him second overall in the 2011 draft. He has pitched sparingly since 2012, his first pro season. He should be healthy in 2015, although Dutton notes that the Mariners are likely to carefully monitor his workload.
As expected, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker both won't be ready for Opening Day, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told reporters (including MLB.com's Greg Johns) yesterday. Iwakuma is dealing with a strained tendon on his right middle finger and will be sidelined until mid-to-late April, while Walker has been shut down for a week with shoulder inflammation. With Seattle's rotation thinned, it will only increase speculation that the M's could increase their interest in Ervin Santana. Here's some more from the M's…
- While the Mariners could still use a pitcher and a right-handed bat, two sources tell CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that the team has "little or no loot left to spend," which GM Jack Zudriencik wouldn't confirm. A lack of payroll space could explain why the Mariners haven't extended offers to Santana or Kendrys Morales, and didn't make an offer to Nelson Cruz (before he signed with the Orioles) despite interest in all three players.
- Missing Iwakuma and Walker early in the season could particularly hurt the Mariners since they play the A's 10 times before May 7. "If Walker and Iwakuma miss the month of April, with our schedule that month it could get ugly," a Mariners source tells Heyman. Robinson Cano and at least one other M's player expressed the opinion that Santana would be a great fit, while Cano would also like to see the switch-hitting Morales brought back. "I'm not going to lie. We need an extra bat, especially a right-handed bat," Cano said. "We have many left-handed hitters. We need at least one more righty. You don't want to face a lefty pitcher with a lineup of seven left-handed hitters."
- The Mariners have sent scouts to watch young Rays pitchers, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The two clubs recently came close on a trade that would've sent Nick Franklin to Tampa, though Topkin believes that the M's can find a better fit elsewhere for the young infielder.
- Danny Hultzen will miss the entire 2014 season as he recovers from major left shoulder surgery, but the highly-regarded prospect tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that he's optimistic about his recovery and resuming his pro career.
The Cardinals rolled to a 9-1 win over the Pirates in Game One of their NLDS series today, as A.J. Burnett allowed seven runs in just two innings while Adam Wainwright allowed a run on three hits over seven innings. Pittsburgh has had to deal with Wainwright as a division rival for years yet MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter) points out that Wainwright could've been a Pirate 13 years ago. The Bucs were preparing to take Wainwright as an outfielder in the second round (with the 59th overall pick) of the 2000 draft, but the Braves took Wainwright 29th overall and the rest is history.
Here are some more news items as we look ahead to Friday's ALDS series openers…
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said his team will look for a left-handed bat this offseason, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports, and that next hitter will likely come in a trade. "We're going to look at free agents, but I think this is one of the weaker free-agent markets I've seen in some time, so that might lead us toward looking at trade partners more," Towers said.
- Mariners southpaw Danny Hultzen underwent left shoulder labrum and rotator-cuff surgery on Tuesday and could miss the entire 2014 season while recovering, Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times reports. MLB.com ranked Hultzen as the 18th-best prospect in the sport in the site's preseason rankings, while Baseball America (#29) and ESPN's Keith Law (#66) also thought highly of the 23-year-old lefty. Hultzen was the second overall pick of the 2011 draft and was quickly moving up the Seattle farm system, posting a 2.05 ERA, 4.86 K/BB and 10.0 K/9 in six Triple-A starts last season.
- Some of the flaws of the new collective bargaining agreement can be seen in the case of the Royals, ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required) argues, as small-market teams who finish just shy of the postseason are somewhat "punished" by the system.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News looks at which players in the postseason could be targets for the Yankees or Mets in free agency or the trade market this winter. Some players could fit on either club, such as Ricky Nolasco. Martino says the Mets "tossed around" Nolasco's name when discussing a Giancarlo Stanton trade with the Marlins last spring.
10:50pm: Taijuan Walker would have been the fourth player in the trade package to the D'Backs, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Walker, a 20-year-old right-hander, was ranked as the 20th-best prospect in the sport by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season, though he struggled pitching at the Double-A level last year.
7:40pm: The Mariners offered a four-player package to the D'Backs, according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Arizona would have received Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor and one of Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen or James Paxton.
6:06 pm: Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton invoked his limited no-trade clause to reject an agreed-upon deal between the D'Backs and Mariners that would have sent Upton to Seattle, reports Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The M's were prepared to give up "a package of young talent" in the trade, a return that Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has heard was "substantial" (Twitter link).
Though several teams have been linked to Upton over the last two seasons, the Mariners seem to be the first to propose a deal that has gotten the D'Backs to agree to move the 25-year-old outfielder. As Rosenthal/Morosi note, the trade rejection could be gamesmanship by either Upton or the D'Backs — Upton could be trying to control where he ends up, or the Snakes are sending the message that if Upton wants to leave Arizona, his only option is Seattle. The Mariners, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Cubs are the four teams on Upton's current no-trade list, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
Rival teams say the Mariners have made many players untouchable in trades, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. However, a Seattle official tells Rosenthal the team is “wide open” on possible deals.
The list of untouchable players includes Felix Hernandez, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, and prospects Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Nick Franklin, Rosenthal reports. Some executives question whether Ackley and Seager should be off-limits at this stage in their careers.
Mariners such as Jason Vargas, Kevin Millwood, Brandon League, Miguel Olivo and Brendan Ryan could draw interest this summer. GM Jack Zduriencik will be expected to consider trade offers for some veterans given Seattle's 36-51 record.
The deadline for signing draft picks has passed, but there’s still lots of news about 2011 draftees. The latest:
- Padres draftee Brett Austin turned down $1.5MM from San Diego to play for North Carolina State, according to Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres (Twitter link). San Diego selected the catcher with the 54th overall pick in the draft.
- As Jim Callis of Baseball America shows, the Pirates, Nationals and Royals lead all MLB teams in bonus expenditures from 2007-11. Four AL East teams – everyone but the Yankees – are next on the list.
- Callis also details this year's expenditures, with the Pirates, Nationals and Royals again leading the way.
- 2011 draftees Gerrit Cole, Bubba Starling and Danny Hultzen obtained three of the top five bonuses in draft history, according to Callis.
- Commissioner Bud Selig singled out the Pirates and Nationals for overspending in the draft and is more determined than ever to add slotting for draft bonuses, according to Heyman.
- Union people suggest to Heyman that current Major Leaguers oppose the idea of capping bonuses for amateur players, however.
- Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail admitted that pitchers like Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz have disappointed this year. "The starting pitching has really gone backward." he said. "We've got to get these guys back to where they were before."
- Suggestions that Mark Buehrle may retire after the season are off-base, Heyman reports. The left-hander’s contract expires after the season.
- The Mariners assured top pick Danny Hultzen that he’ll arrive in Spring Training 2012 with the chance to make the team, according to Heyman.
Earlier today we compiled draft reactions, now it's time to round up some miscellaneous links…
- Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune wrote about Shawon Dunston Jr., who signed with the Cubs for $1.275MM as an 11th round pick yesterday. Junior said he came to the decision to sign on Sunday night, without being pushed his father.
- Larry Stone of The Seattle Times spoke to Brodie Van Wagenen, advisor to second overall pick Danny Hultzen. Van Wagenen discussed the compromises made by both his side and the Mariners during the negotiations, which were impacted by both Trevor Bauer (the third overall pick) and Dustin Ackley (the second overall pick two years ago).
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier broke down the Red Sox's draft spending, which totalled over $10MM.
The Mariners have signed second overall pick Danny Hultzen, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times (on Twitter). It's a five-year deal worth at least $8.5MM and up to $10.6MM, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times (on Twitter). The contract includes a $6.35MM bonus, according to Stone. CAA represents the left-hander.
Earlier in the year, I spoke to Hultzen about his batting and which left-handed pitchers he admires. Here's the transcript.
You can keep track of which top picks have signed with MLBTR's list.