David Phelps Rumors

Injury Notes: Pressly, Perkins, Pence, Phelps, Greene, Hultzen

There’s been quite a bit of news on the injury front today, with Maikel Franco landing on the disabled list due to a fractured left wrist, and Michael Saunders being shut down for the season by the Blue Jays. That’s only the tip of the iceberg today, though, as a number of players have either been shut down or are heading for MRIs today. Here’s a look around the league…

  • Twins right-hander Ryan Pressly has been shut down for the season after suffering a setback in his recovery from a lat strain, GM Terry Ryan told reporters, including MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link). The 26-year-old Pressly, a former Rule 5 pick by the Twins, was a bright spot in the ‘pen for Minnesota this season when healthy. In 27 2/3 innings, he notched a 2.93 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate to go along with a career-best 94.2 mph average fastball. He’ll accrue enough service time to clear two years of service but will fall shy of Super Two status.
  • That’s not the only potential blow facing the Twins‘ bullpen, as the team announced after tonight’s loss that Glen Perkins will return to the Twin Cities to undergo an MRI on his ailing neck. As Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes, Perkins’ symptoms are similar to the ones he experienced late in 2014 when a nerve injury ended his season prematurely. La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that Perkins will receive a cortisone shot as well. The Twins, who have one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball, can scarcely afford to lose their best reliever for an extended period of time. Perkins has followed up a 1.21 first-half ERA with an 8.10 mark since the All-Star break.
  • Hunter Pence underwent an MRI on his left oblique, per Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area (all Twitter links). Pence will miss a least a few games, and the Giants hope to have his results in the near future. As Pavlovic points out, Pence appeared to suffer an injury in his final swing of last night’s game, as he clutched his side following the plate appearance.
  • The Marlins announced that right-hander David Phelps is out for the season with a stress fracture in the radius of his right forearm. Injuries have caused the Fish to lean on Phelps perhaps more than they’d expected, but in 23 appearances (19 starts) he’s posted a 4.50 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 across 112 innings — just one shy of his career-high.
  • Shane Greene has hit the minor league disabled list with the Tigers, per John Wagner of the Toledo Blade (Twitter link). Greene is getting checked out by team doctors after reportedly experiencing numbness in his fingers — a potential indicator of nerve damage, among other injuries.
  • There’s continued bad news on the injury front for former Mariners top prospect Danny Hultzen, who will be shut down until Spring Training, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. As Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune points out (via Twitter), Hultzen will be out of minor league options next season, meaning the former No. 2 overall pick will need to either make the club or be exposed to waivers. Injuries have completely derailed Hultzen’s career thus far, as the Virginia product has thrown just 43 2/3 innings over the past three seasons combined.

A Look At The Marlins’ Trade Chips

As others have noted today, the news that Giancarlo Stanton will miss four to six weeks with a broken hamate bone increases the likelihood that the Marlins will reach a conclusion that they might have reached anyway: 2015 doesn’t appear to be their year. Under owner Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins have never been shy about change — they’ve traded players, replaced managers and changed organizational directions far more rapidly than other franchises might. Their 31-45 start already seemed likely to lead them to sell, even before Stanton’s injury.

In fact, this year’s Marlins team bears certain similarities to their 2012 club. The 2012 team headed into the offseason intending to make a splash. Instead, they flopped, and in July, they dealt Carlos Lee, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica and Gaby Sanchez.

What do the 2015 Marlins have to sell, though? This year’s team doesn’t appear to be primed for a complete rebuild, and thus it doesn’t have many top-quality trade chips like Ramirez or Anibal Sanchez. The Marlins still have Stanton and Christian Yelich signed to long-term deals, and Jose Fernandez is cost-controlled and is clearly an elite pitcher when healthy. The Marlins seem highly likely to keep those players, even though Yelich is having a disappointing season and Fernandez is only on the verge of returning from Tommy John surgery. Here’s a look at who the Marlins could consider trading.

  • Dan Haren and Mat Latos are eligible for free agency after the season, so they seem like obvious trade candidates. The question is what the Marlins will be able to get back. Haren is having a solid season, but he seemed mostly unwanted as of last winter, and his age (34) and stuff (Haren’s admirably self-effacing “Ithrow88″ Twitter handle isn’t even accurate anymore, since his fastball has averaged 86 MPH this season) suggest he won’t fetch much now, either. Still, useful starting pitching is useful starting pitching, and the Marlins might try convincing a team in a homer-suppressing ballpark to give up a prospect or two for Haren. The Phillies got two fairly good lottery tickets in Victor Arano and Jesmuel Valentin for Roberto Hernandez last year — that might provide a good template, even though the stock of both players has slipped in 2015. The Marlins might also have to convince Haren to play for the team they trade him to if it’s not a West Coast team, given that he considered retiring last offseason rather than heading to Miami.
  • Latos currently has a 5.49 ERA and missed time due to a knee injury, so his trade value would appear very limited. Since he would only be a rental, there would be little point in a contending team taking him on as a project, even though his peripherals suggest he should be somewhat better than that ERA. The curse of struggling teams trying to become deadline sellers is that they typically mostly have disappointing players to sell, and Latos is a case in point. It’s not impossible, though, that Latos could raise his trade value by pitching well over the next month.
  • As the New York Post’s Joel Sherman pointed out today, Martin Prado‘s versatility could make him an interesting trade chip next month, since he can play third base, second base and both outfield corners. First, though, he’ll have to show he’s healthy — he’s currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. He’s owed $11MM both this year and next, although the Yankees are paying $3MM in each of those years.
  • Pitchers Tom Koehler and Brad Hand were both recently the subject of rumors. Koehler missed a start last week with neck and back pain, but his successful return today should help the Marlins’ cause if they choose to trade him. The problem is that neither Koehler nor Hand are the kinds of difference-makers most appealing to contenders — a contending team likely wouldn’t want either one of them starting a playoff game. And since they’re also cheap and capable of eating innings, they could have value to the Marlins as they retool. David Phelps, who has been solid but not outstanding in his first season in Miami, falls into the same category.
  • Mike Dunn isn’t having a good season by traditional measures, with a 4.68 ERA, but his strikeout rate (9.0 K/9 in 2015) and velocity remain intact, so a contender might view him as a sneaky way to upgrade the left side of its bullpen, especially since his contract is reasonable. He’s signed through next season, though, so the Marlins could also decide the better route might be to keep him around for another year and hope he rebounds.
  • Like Dunn, Steve Cishek has a poor ERA this year. Unlike Dunn, though, Cishek isn’t cheap, at $6.65MM, and his control issues are a key reason for his downturn in performance. It would likely be hard for the Marlins to deal Cishek without taking on salary, despite his closer pedigree.
  • Infielder Jeff Baker is a career .297/.352/.513 hitter against lefties, so he could conceivably help a contender in need of a right-handed bat. He’s mostly limited to first base at this point, however, so his utility is limited.

Other Marlins veterans, like Michael Morse and Ichiro Suzuki, probably have even less trade value than most of the players mentioned above. The Marlins could, of course, make outside-the-box trades involving some of their better, younger players (Dee Gordon, Adeiny Hechavarria, Marcell Ozuna), and given the Marlins’ history, it would be unwise to discount that possibility. (Relievers A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps would make very interesting trade pieces if the Marlins were to make them available.) Unlike the 2012 team, though, the 2015 Marlins don’t have many veteran trade candidates who appear likely to command a significant return.


Players Win Six Of 14 Arbitration Hearings

The Mariners’ defeat of reliever Tom Wilhelmsen today ended this offseason’s arbitration season. This year, 14 players went to arbitration hearings, with the players winning six times and teams winning eight. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, here are the results.

Player Team Player Amt. Team Amt. Player won?
Pedro Alvarez Pirates $5.750MM $5.250MM Yes
Jerry Blevins Nationals $2.400MM $2.200MM Yes
Alejandro De Aza Orioles $5.650MM $5.000MM No
Josh Donaldson Blue Jays $5.750MM $4.300MM No
Mat Latos Marlins $10.400MM $9.400MM No
Mike Minor Braves $5.600MM $5.100MM Yes
Jarrod Parker Athletics $1.700MM $0.850MM No
David Phelps Marlins $1.875MM $1.400MM No
Wilin Rosario Rockies $3.300MM $2.800MM No
Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks $6.900MM $5.300MM Yes
Danny Valencia Blue Jays $1.675MM $1.250MM Yes
Neil Walker Pirates $9.000MM $8.000MM No
Tom Wilhelmsen Mariners $2.200MM $1.400MM No
Vance Worley Pirates $2.450MM $2.000MM Yes

A few notes:

  • Via MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker, only three players (Andrew Cashner, Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin) had hearings last year, so 14 hearings this year marks a dramatic spike. No players had hearings in the 2012-2013 offseason, and seven players did in 2011-2012. The number of hearings this offseason was the most since 2001, although not everyone is convinced this is the start of a trend, according to the Associated Press. ”Just as I didn’t think [2012-2013] was the start of a trend when we had no hearings, I do not think any conclusions can be drawn at this point from the increased number of hearings this year,” says MLB chief legal officer Don Halem.
  • The Pirates alone took three players to arbitration, as many as all teams combined in the previous two offseasons.
  • Teams will pay the 14 players who went to arbitration $57.925MM next season, saving a total of about $1.5MM versus the midpoints between those 14 players’ proposed figures and those of their teams.
  • There appears to be no obvious pattern in which players won and which lost (which isn’t necessarily surprising, since the terms of each arbitration hearing are set ahead of time by the teams and agents who determine the figures, and not by the arbitrators). As CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman notes (via Twitter), better established players (like Josh Donaldson, Neil Walker and Mat Latos) mostly lost their hearings, while players coming off mediocre or poor seasons, like Pedro Alvarez, Mark Trumbo and Mike Minor, won theirs.
  • In terms of overall dollar value, Donaldson might be the player most affected by the result of his hearing, which he lost. There was a fairly large gap (over $1.4MM) between his proposed figure and that of the Blue Jays. Donaldson is also a Super Two player in the midst of his first year of arbitration eligibility, and his salary for 2015 could impact his salary in the next three seasons after that.


Marlins Win Arbitration Hearing Against David Phelps

The Marlins have won an arbitration hearing against right-hander David Phelps, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter). As MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker shows, Phelps had filed at $1.875MM, while the team countered with $1.4MM. Phelps will earn $1.4MM in 2014, which is still slightly higher than the $1.3MM projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.

Acquired alongside Martin Prado in the trade that sent Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Jones to the Yankees, Phelps soaked up 113 innings for an injury-riddled Yankees pitching staff in 2014. The 28-year-old totaled a 4.38 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 41.2 percent ground-ball rate. Phelps appeared in 32 games — 17 of them starts — resulting in a career-high in terms of innings pitched. This was his first trip through the arbitration process and, as a Super Two player, he’ll be eligible three more times before hitting the open market upon completion of the 2018 season.

Phelps was the final of Miami’s seven arbitration cases to be resolved and the second to reach a hearing. The Marlins won their other hearing this winter — the case of fellow newcomer Mat Latos, who will now earn $9.4MM as opposed to $10.4MM.


Marlins Acquire Martin Prado From Yankees

3:15pm: GM Brian Cashman told reporters that the Yankees are including $6MM in the deal – $3MM this year and $3MM next year – to help cover Prado’s salary, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter).

1:33pm: The Yankees have issued a press release announcing the completion of the deal.

12:51pm: It’s a done deal, according a source that spoke with Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter).  The Marlins will receive Prado, Phelps, and cash in exchange for Eovaldi, Jones, and German.

12:31pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Yankees will also receive right-hander Domingo German in the trade.

12:15pm: The Yankees and Marlins are on the verge of a deal that would sent Martin Prado to Miami, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network (on Twitter).  Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (on Twitter) hears that the deal would have Garrett Jones and Eovaldi going to New York for Prado and pitcher David Phelps.

Prado, 31, is owed $11MM in both 2015 and 2016.  If the deal is finalized, the veteran would replace Casey McGehee at third base, according to Jackson (Twitter link).  Prado hit a combined .282/.321/.412 for the Diamondbacks and Yankees in 2014 with an exceptionally strong .316/.336/.541 during his 37 games in pinstripes.  The deal would mark the second time Prado has been traded in the calendar year as the Bombers acquired Prado back in July.

Eovaldi, who turns 25 in February, has been a rumored trade candidate for some time thanks to the additions of Mat Latos and Dan Haren.  He has averaged a blistering 96 mph as a starter over the past two seasons, garnering the attention of many throughout baseball.  Though he struggled a bit with a 4.34 ERA in 2014, FIP (3.37), xFIP (3.76) and SIERA (3.91) all feel he was better than that ERA would suggest.  Eovaldi going through arbitration for the first time in his career and is projected to earn $3.1MM, according to the model developed by Matt Swartz.

Jones, 33, was displaced from first base when the Marlins signed Michael Morse.  Jones signed a two-year, $7.75MM deal with Miami in December of last year and the pact was heavily backloaded.  The Marlins paid Jones $2.75MM in 2014 but the Bombers will be paying him $5MM in ’15.  Jones slashed .246/.309/.411 in 2014, numbers that are below his career line and well below his strong 2012 showing.  Jones could be called upon to provide depth at first base, in right field, and as a DH.

Phelps will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason and is slated to earn $1.3MM, according to Matt Swartz.  The 28-year-old pitched to a 4.38 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 17 starts and 15 relief appearances for the Yankees last season.

German, 22, pitched to a 2.48 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 25 starts for the Marlins’ Single-A affiliate last season.  Scouts have different opinions on German, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter).  Some believe that he has the stuff to be a legitimate starting pitcher while others think of him more as a late-inning guy.  All of the scouts he spoke with, however, like German’s arm.

As of right now, the Yankees’ plan is to have their internal second base options – Rob Refsnyder, Jose Pirela, Cole Figueroa, and Nick Noonan – fight it out to see who will be the starter in 2015, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).  If the Bombers go out of house, a free agent such as Asdrubal Cabrera could make some sense for them.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Cards, Yanks, Phelps, Asche, Turner

In his latest notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports quotes one rival executive that said Cardinals GM John Mozeliak realizes he has more talent than anyone else — and he’s reluctant to get rid of it.” (That reluctance is illustrated by Mozeliak’s comments to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as the GM told him that external changes aren’t much of a consideration at this time.) Rosenthal looks at some of the recent improvements in the Cardinals’ offense and echoes Goold’s initial report that patience seems the likely route for St. Louis at this point.

More trade-, draft- and prospect-related highlights from a lengthy piece that also looks at slow starts in the AL East and a surprising start from the Twins…

  • The Yankees have better pitching depth than many realize, Rosenthal opines, noting that Adam Warren could be moved into the rotation when Shawn Kelley is healthy again. He also points to a quartet of hard-throwing relievers at Triple-A — Diego Moreno, Jose Ramirez, Danny Burawa and Branden Pinder. A trade is still something the Yanks will likely explore, but despite the aforementioned depth, the team likely doesn’t have the firepower to land someone like Cliff Lee, in Rosenthal’s eyes. They have little more to offer than relief help and high-end catching talent and could be competing with at least two other AL East teams in the Orioles and Blue Jays.
  • David Phelps wasn’t the Yankees‘ priority when scouting director Damon Oppenheimer went to see Notre Dame play prior to the 2008 draft. Oppenheimer was scouting Phelps’ teammate Kyle Weiland, but Phelps impressed him with his competitiveness, prompting Oppenheimer to push for him in the 14th round, which looks to be a nice bargain pickup six years later.
  • The Phillies are having internal discussions about moving Cody Asche to the outfield in 2015 in order to clear room on the 25-man roster for top prospect Maikel Franco at third base.  Though Rosenthal doesn’t mention this, that does raise the question of what will become of Domonic Brown, the team’s left fielder who is once again struggling after what looked to be a breakout 2013 season.
  • Rosenthal hears that NC State shortstop Trea Turner is drawing interest from teams in the No. 6-10 range of the upcoming draft. The fleet-footed shortstop also has pop in his bat (he’s second in the ACC in homers), but some scouts wonder if he can stick at shortstop. Rosenthal points out that both the Mariners (No. 6) and the Mets (No. 10) have needs at shortstop heading into a draft that is light on college shortstops.
  • Analysts from the Pirates and Marlins made the same comment to Rosenthal in the past week: the most useful data regarding defensive shifts comes from where hitters put the ball in play against a team’s own pitchers. The Marlins aren’t particularly focused where batters hit the ball against soft-tossers, due to the flamethrowing nature of their rotation. Likewise, the Pirates’ shifts are based largely on batted ball data against Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton.

Teams Scouting David Phelps, Yankee Catchers

The Mariners sent a scout to watch David Phelps' recent Spring Training outing, George A. King III of the New York Post reports, while the White Sox and Brewers also had scouts on hand to watch the Yankees' catchers.  King previously reported last week that the White Sox had their eyes on the Yankees' catching surplus and that the Yankees were scouting Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks.

With the Yankees known to be looking for infielders, King speculates that Nick Franklin could be a target for the club, especially since Seattle is known to be exploring trades for the young second baseman.  The M's are looknig to upgrade their pitching depth thanks to injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, though as King notes, it would take more than just Phelps to acquire Franklin. 

It would be somewhat surprising to see the Yankees move Phelps given the club's lack of starting pitching depth.  Phelps is competing with Michael Pineda and Adam Warren to be New York's fifth starter, and since Pineda hasn't pitched in a Major League game since 2011 and Warren has only three career starts over his two MLB seasons, the Yankees would have to be confident in both pitchers' development to send Phelps elsewhere.  Phelps' advanced metrics (3.81 FIP, 4.03 xFIP, 3.91 SIERA) indicate that he pitched much better last season than his 4.98 ERA over 86 2/3 IP would indicate.

The Yankees have Francisco Cervelli, J.R. Murphy and Austin Romine competing to be Brian McCann's backup, and all could fit into reserve roles in Chicago or Milwaukee.  The Sox could offer more regular time, as their catching mix of Josh Phegley, Tyler Flowers, Hector Gimenez and Rule 5 Draft pick Adrian Nieto isn't at all settled.  

With Jonathan Lucroy firmly locked into the starting job in Milwaukee, the Brewers are only looking for a backup.  If Weeks is a target, it's only a matter of how much of his $11MM salary the Crew will agree to absorb (King also suggests Aramis Ramirez as a trade possibility, but I doubt the Brewers would think to trade him unless they struggle during the season and fall out of the race).