Darwin Barney Rumors
Tigers executive Scott Reid is scouting Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz and infielder Darwin Barney, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. The Cubs would be looking for pitching in return. The Tigers have lost outfielder Andy Dirks and shortstop Jose Iglesias to serious injuries. Dirks was slated to form the left-handed side of a left-field platoon with Rajai Davis. The left-handed Scherholtz would seem to fit the bill as his replacement, even though he has mostly played right field in recent years.
Barney has played shortstop only sparingly since 2010, and the Tigers have no real need at second base, with Ian Kinsler in tow. Barney is a strong defensive second baseman, however, and he has played a bit of shortstop this spring with Starlin Castro dealing with a hamstring injury. Barney recently told the Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales that he would be fine playing shortstop. "Shortstop is my natural position," he said. "I feel very comfortable over there. The past three years at second base I've still taken balls at short almost every day as part of my workout to stretch my arm out. So I don't look at it as a transition." Barney hit poorly in 2013, with a line of .208/.266/.303 in 555 plate appearances, but he produced enough value with his defense to be above replacement level.
Barney, a client of CAA Sports' Joe Urbon, filed for a $2.8MM salary last month, with the Cubs countering at $1.8MM. The $2.3MM settled upon by the two sides is the midpoint between those two figures and is just slightly north of the $2.1MM salary projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
Barney further established himself as an elite defensive second baseman in his age-27 season last year, posting a +15.5 UZR/150 and a +11 mark per The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs Saved metric. However, his stellar glove is the more or less the sole source of his value to the team. Barney has batted .232/.283/.330 over the past two seasons with the Cubs, including a .208/.266/.303 line in 2013. He did walk at a career-high clip (6.5 percent) in addition to tying his career-best in homers (seven) and providing some value on the basepaths last season.
With Barney's case resolved, the Cubs' lone candidate for a hearing is ace Jeff Samardzija, as shown in MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker. Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago wrote last week that it wouldn't be a surprise to see the two sides head to a hearing.
While the Yankees have spent big to bring Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran into the fold, the club continues to carry major holes in its infield and rotation, Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi writes. That the Yankees will need to acquire an impact free-agent starter to contend is a consequence of their failure to develop their own superstars, he says. Morosi ranks the Bombers' rotation as the AL East's third-best as things currently stand. Here's more out of the division:
- Alex Rodriguez says he's confident he'll be manning third base for the Yankees next season, ESPN reports. "I'm preparing as always, working hard," Rodriguez told reporters in Spanish. The Bombers would be off the hook for A-Rod's $25MM salary in 2014 if his suspension is upheld, but the 37-year-old still has impact potential. If he's allowed to play, Rodriguez will relieve GM Brian Cashman of the need to find a third baseman in a free agent market that just saw the Dodgers give two years and $15MM to Juan Uribe.
- The Yankees' interest in Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney could pick up following the Royals' four-year, $30.25MM deal with Omar Infante, Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com tweets. Levine says the two teams have previously discussed Barney, who's considered a strong defender but hit just .208/.266/.303 in 2013.
- Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway is aware of talks to eliminate home-plate collisions, but he'd prefer the rule to remain as it is, Tim Healey writes for MLB.com. "I've talked to a few of the other catchers, and I think that in general we all want to see [the rule] the way it is," Lavarnway said. "We think that [home-plate collisions are] a part of the game."
- The A.J. Pierzynski signing appears to call Lavarnway's role with the 2014 Red Sox into question, Healey says. Pierzynski and David Ross are expected to handle Boston's catching duties next season.
- The Orioles will struggle to keep Rule 5 draft selection Michael Almanzar on the 25-man roster for the entirety of 2014, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Like fellow Oriole Danny Valencia, Almanzar is limited to the infield corners and hits right handed. Almanzar has a .250/.302/.373 line in six minor-league seasons.
The Dodgers have a thrown a wrench into the free agent outfield market by listening to trade offers for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio in an Insider post (subscription required). Scott Boras is also a complicating factor, according to Bowden, because he represents the two top free agent outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo (#2 and #3, respectively, on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list). Bowden theorizes the other top-tier free agent outfielders may wait to sign in order to see how Boras sets the market for Ellsbury and Choo. In today's news and notes from the National League:
- Rockies owner Dick Monfort provided Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post with a detailed line-by-line budget for his franchise. Monfort explains how revenue from the new national TV contract is absorbed by payments on the club's MLB credit line, player raises, and projected revenue losses for not having home dates with the Yankees and Red Sox. Monfort estimates being able to reinvest only $4-5MM of the new TV money into the on-the-field product.
- Renck, via Sulia, agrees with the assessment of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes that the Ricky Nolasco contract resembles Edwin Jackson's. Renck believes the Rockies would have been paralyzed under their self-imposed budget constraints had they signed Nolasco, so their best option for a rotation upgrade is through a trade.
- The Mets will have interest in catcher Tyler Flowers, if he is non-tendered by the White Sox, tweets the New York Post's Mike Puma. Mets executives have liked Flowers in the past and see him as a potential backup to Travis d'Arnaud. Flowers, however, told Scott Merkin of MLB.com "(t)here have been a couple of conversations" with the White Sox about reaching an agreement to avoid arbitration. "I put it at 51-49 in favor of staying because of the contractual conversation we've had before," Flowers said. "They've reached out to me to try to see where each other is at. If they didn't care at all, they would have done nothing and non-tendered me."
- It would be a surprise if the Diamondbacks non-tender left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher because free agent bullpen arms aren't cheap, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Thatcher struggled after Arizona acquired him from San Diego in the Ian Kennedy trade to the tune of a 6.75 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, and 11.6 H/9 in 9 1/3 innings (22 appearances).
- The Cubs will likely tender second baseman Darwin Barney, despite a career-worst season at the plate (.208/.266/.303 in 501 plate appearances), because the only realistic in-house replacement is Luis Valbuena, reasons MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $2.1MM arbitration salary for Barney and $1.5MM for Valbuena, who is playing second base in the Venezuelan Winter League.
- The Cardinals made the right move in signing Jhonny Peralta because they were able to upgrade a position of need while retaining their prized young arms, opines MLB.com's Richard Justice.
Earlier today, Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer, manager Dale Sveum, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein all spoke with the Chicago media. Here's a look at some highlights with all links going to Twitter..
- Sveum told reporters, including Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, that the club expects to finalize a deal with Carlos Villanueva today. The hang up, he said, was over clearing a roster spot for the right-hander.
- However, Bruce Miles of ESPNChicago.com hears that the deal won't be inked today.
- The deal that would have sent Dan Haren to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol was never a completed deal and Hoyer doesn't understand why the word "botched" was used to describe it, Miles tweets. The trade, which was discussed before the Angels' deadline to exercise Haren's option, was initally reported to be agreed upon but was never finalized.
- Hoyer said that second baseman Darwin Barney is a part of their long term plans "for sure", tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. The Tigers inquired on the youngster last summer.
- Epstein said that if the club sees a can't miss position player available at the No. 2 spot in the draft, they may go that route and stockpile pitching later, tweets Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.
Here's the latest from around the league, courtesy of ESPN's Jim Bowden...
- The Padres have fielded offers for both Huston Street and Carlos Quentin, but they've yet to seriously debate any of them internally.
- The Tigers are seeking a second base upgrade and would like to acquire Darwin Barney from the Cubs for a mid-level prospect.
- The Indians are looking all over to acquire an outfield bat, but they are unable to take back a significant contract and are unwilling to move their best prospects.
- Meanwhile, the Royals are trying to convince the Indians or Reds to take Jeff Francoeur so they can promote Wil Myers from Triple-A.
- The Pirates are aggressively trying to land a middle of the order bat while the Orioles are seeking starting pitching and a third base upgrade.
- There have been rumors of a Mike Morse for B.J. Upton trade, according to Bowden. The Nationals are also looking to add a starter with Stephen Strasburg's innings limit approaching.
- The Giants have no plans of making a deal similar to the one they made last year, when they traded Zack Wheeler for a rental (Carlos Beltran). They are looking for a bat or two, however.
Pitching amid trade rumors yet again, 28-year-old Cubs righty Matt Garza blanked the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field this afternoon, lowering his ERA to 4.02 while being scouted by the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rangers, Tigers, Dodgers, and Pirates, according to ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla. With just over two weeks remaining until the trade deadline, Garza may have only a handful of starts remaining as a Cub. The latest on the club:
- "The rumor mill can wait," Garza told reporters, because his wife is due in less than a month. Garza knows he can't control the trade rumors, but noted that he is open to an extension.
- According to Padilla, the Tigers have asked about Garza, second baseman Darwin Barney, and starter Ryan Dempster. Padilla says the Tigers' interest in Barney began over a month ago. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported on that situation on July 6th, adding that "talks didn't progress."
- "It's nice to know people are interested but I want to be here," Barney told reporters including Padilla after powering the Cubs' victory today with his fourth home run.
- Fan favorite Kerry Wood visited the Cubs' clubhouse today, telling MLB.com's Rowan Kavner and other reporters he's enjoying his first summer off in 25-plus years. Wood says his kids are still too young for him to ponder a coaching career. The former strikeout artist hung up his cleats in May this year.
- Third baseman Ian Stewart also made an appearance, expressing relief to reporters that a surgeon finally found the cause of his persistent wrist problems. The solution involved removing a bone from Stewart's wrist, and he currently has no timetable for his return. The 27-year-old's salary would likely remain in the $2.2MM range if the Cubs decide to tender him this winter and try again in 2013. Including Stewart, Cubs third basemen have tallied a dismal .223/.297/.374 so far in the post-Aramis era.
- It "wouldn't be cool" to see rotation-mate and mentor Dempster traded, Jeff Samardzija told Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times yesterday. The Cubs are best-served trading Dempster now to clear a path for a Garza deal later this month, opined ESPN's Buster Olney earlier today.
Tigers second basemen have combined for a .198/.272/.266 batting line, so it's no surprise that Dave Dombrowski's front office is looking into potentially available trade targets. No team in baseball has a worse OPS from the second base position in 2012.
Rival teams have asked about Barney, who has a .262/.307/.369 batting line in 302 plate appearances for the Cubs. The 26-year-old won't be arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season. The Tigers are also interested in Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, Morosi reported today.
Many baseball people expect the Padres to trade Carlos Quentin, but the team is in a fluid situation, so that assumption is not safe, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Padres should have some payroll flexibility this offseason, so they could keep the outfielder despite their modest budget. Here are Rosenthal’s latest rumors:
- Jeff Francoeur has played through ailments and injuries this year and the Royals like his leadership, so they aren’t necessarily looking to trade him.
- Last August the Royals offered Melky Cabrera the same two-year, $13.5MM contract Francoeur eventually signed, but Cabrera declined the offer and the Royals traded him a few months later.
- Rosenthal suggests the A’s aren’t eager to trade veterans for marginal returns. The team is hovering around .500 and plays 18 of its next 28 games at home. The A’s would probably love to trade Kurt Suzuki, Rosenthal writes.
- One exec predicts the Phillies don’t have enough confidence in their outfield depth to trade Hunter Pence this summer.
- An agent predicts Cole Hamels will sign a monster free agent contract this coming offseason and Rosenthal says the Phillies won’t go near $150MM for six years or $175MM for seven years.
- Rival teams frequently ask about Darwin Barney and it’s possible the Cubs will trade the second baseman.
- The Orioles seem to have the most interest in trading for Diamondbacks left-hander Joe Saunders, Rosenthal reports.
- The Orioles’ Triple-A team, which includes Miguel Tejada, Jamie Moyer and Dontrelle Willis, tops the Orioles’ MLB team in career earnings, Rosenthal notes.
- One executive suggested a growing number of teams could request 72-hour windows to negotiate extensions with trade targets this summer because of the provision in the new collective bargaining agreement that prevents teams from obtaining draft pick compensation for players acquired midseason. However, players wouldn’t necessarily be interested in signing and it’d cost teams time and leverage.