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- Week In Review: 6/27/15 – 7/3/15
- Miguel Cabrera To Miss Six Weeks
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- Yankees, A-Rod Settle Home Run Milestone Dispute
- Rangers Designate Neftali Feliz, Activate Matt Harrison
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- Jocketty: Reds “Prepared To Go Either Way” At Deadline
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- Trade Candidate: Mat Latos
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David Price Rumors
If the Super Two threshold was ever a factor keeping top Indians prospect Francisco Lindor out of the big leagues, it does not seem to be anymore, Zack Meisel of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. The threshold has likely passed, and teams have promoted top prospects like Carlos Correa and Joey Gallo in recent weeks, but Lindor remains with Triple-A Columbus. Lindor is hitting .279/.346/.398, including .400/.429/.600 in June. The Indians, meanwhile, have undergone upheaval at the shortstop position, with Mike Aviles replacing the struggling Jose Ramirez. Here are more quick notes from the Central divisions.
- David Price and the Cubs will be great fits for one another when Price becomes a free agent next winter, Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago writes. Price’s former manager Joe Maddon is now in Chicago, and Price says he finds a young team like the Cubs appealing. “They have a lot of guys they can control for a long time,” he says. “It’s very similar to when I first came up in Tampa. Just a bunch of young guys out there having fun. That’s what it’s about. You have to be able to have fun. I don’t want to win and not have fun.”
- Cardinals starter Lance Lynn has headed to the disabled list with a forearm strain, and the team has promoted Tyler Lyons to take his place, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. GM John Mozeliak says Lynn should be able to return after the minimum 15 days, as Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. “A little forearm strain, as it looks right now, should be a normal 15 days and make sure we get everything calmed down — make sure it’s not something that flares up as the year goes on and I don’t try to pitch through something and make it worse,” Lynn says. Lynn’s injury is, however, another blow to a franchise that also has Adam Wainwright, Matt Adams, Matt Holliday and Jordan Walden on the disabled list.
Dave Cameron of Fangraphs opines that we may be headed for the “most extreme sellers’ market in years” given the unprecedented parity in the American League and a lack of sellers in the National League. Only 8.5 games separate the best team in the AL and the second-worst, Cameron notes, and the worst club (the Athletics) can be reasonably expected to turn things around if one believes in the estimation of a context-neutral system like BaseRuns (of course, Oakland’s hole may be too deep to escape even if their luck turns). In the NL, only the Phillies and Brewers are clear sellers, and even potential sellers like the Diamondbacks and Marlins are loaded with young, controllable players as opposed to appealing veteran assets. The Reds and Rockies may eventually sell also, but they’re close enough to .500 at this time that they may wait until late in trade season to market their players. Cameron adds that if the Rox “really won’t trade Tulowitzki in this market, where there might not be another significant power hitter available, then they should just never trade him.” I’m inclined to agree that it’s difficult to imagine a better market for Colorado to move Tulowitzki, particularly if he continues a torrid hot streak that is silencing any previous concerns about his health.
A few more trade-related notes as we begin to get the time of year when teams will shift their focus to improving the 25-man roster…
- It’s no secret that the Dodgers could use a quality starter, and Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes that the club is looking at the very top of the market. The top Dodgers target is Nationals righty Jordan Zimmermann. Other preferred names include Johnny Cueto of the Reds and David Price of the Tigers. Of course, it’s far from clear what kind of deal would interest contenders like Washington and Detroit, and Saxon notes that Los Angeles has no reason to believe at this point that Zimmermann could be had via trade. While Cueto is obviously expected to be available, it’s hard to imagine the other two arms being dealt barring some significant change (e.g., loss of a major player to injury or a rather dramatic slide in the standings) or serious creativity in structuring a deal.
- Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has seen his name in the news today, and ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark adds to the reports indicating that Philadelphia is increasingly interested in moving the veteran. Rivals think that the Phils may be looking to deal Papelbon sooner rather than later in order to get out ahead of other clubs that might sell off late-inning arms — namely, the Athletics (Tyler Clippard) and Reds (Aroldis Chapman).
- It remains to be seen what kind of return the Phillies can achieve on Papelbon, but the club’s apparent willingness to keep some of the salary obligations will obviously help on the prospect side of the equation. Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com attempts to gauge Papelbon’s value by looking at recent deals involving late-inning arms, indicating that the club might be interested in bolstering its organization depth with multiple prospects if it can’t pry loose a single player that it really likes.
- The Blue Jays undeniably have a need at the back of the pen, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, but the club does not seem any closer to reaching agreement on Papelbon. While the teams have indeed chatted recently, Davidi says that Philly is still not willing to take on enough of Papelbon’s salary to make an agreement palatable. And Toronto is not looking to part with its better minor league talent, perhaps buoyed by the fact that there is not a ton of demand for Papelbon. The Jays are definitely constrained by financial limitations, says Davidi, who sums it up thusly: “in all likelihood they have one, maybe two moves in them, so they can ill-afford a costly roll of the dice.”
- Twins GM Terry Ryan says that the failure of last year’s mid-season Kendrys Morales signing will not cause the team to pause in pursuing an upgrade this summer, as Derek Wetmore of 1500ESPN.com writes. “I would do it again if I had an opportunity,” Ryan said of the Morales move. “It just didn’t work.” He went on to say that the club is looking to see what it can do to take advantage of its nice start: “We’re doing pretty good and we certainly have to have our eyes open,” Ryan said. “We’re in contention, there’s no secret here. We have an opportunity to do some things and hopefully we’ll be able to.”
In an interview with Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (video link), Tigers ace David Price discussed his lasting connection with the Vanderbilt baseball program, the absence of Victor Martinez in his team’s lineup, his early picks for the AL Cy Young and, perhaps most interestingly to MLBTR readers, his upcoming free agency. Price says that free agency hasn’t been on his mind very often throughout the year to this point, as he tries to focus on the season at hand. Price adds that winning “takes precedent over everything else” when thinking about where he will play after 2015, but he feels the culture of the team will be important as well. “I want to have fun,” said Price. “There are some teams that are just a no-fun zone. I don’t care how much money I’m making. To me, I couldn’t imagine waking up and [not wanting to go to the field]. I couldn’t handle that. I’ll quit before that happens.” The 2012 Cy Young winner also reiterated that he wants a chance to win both immediately and long-term.
More from the AL Central…
- Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com looks at the Indians’ recent decision to option Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez in favor of Zach Walters and Giovanny Urshela. Ramirez’s demotion was long overdue, says Meisel, but a lack of alternatives in the Majors delayed the decision. Meisel notes that the clock is ticking on a promotion for top prospect Francisco Lindor, and he also wonders if Chisenhall might’ve “burned through his last chance” with the Indians after another demotion.
- Via MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link), Indians GM Chris Antonetti said that Lindor was, in fact, a consideration to join the big league roster. However, Lindor has been bothered by some minor hand and core issues and is not currently at 100 percent. As Meisel noted in his piece, Lindor is slashing .295/.363/.446 over the past month after a slow start, so it’s fair to wonder just how much longer it will be before the consensus Top 10 prospect joins Cleveland’s big league roster. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets that he gets the sense that the team wants to see Lindor consistently perform at the Triple-A level before a promotion.
- The Twins have optioned struggling shortstop Danny Santana to Triple-A Rochester and recalled DH Kennys Vargas in his place. Both switch-hitters were in Minnesota’s Opening Day lineup, but each endured struggles. Santana received a longer leash than Vargas, who was optioned in early May, but the team seems to have run out of patience for the time being. Santana batted just .218/.235/.291 just one year after hitting .319/.353/.472 as a rookie. He’ll work on rediscovering his stroke and also cutting down on the errors at shortstop, but I’d imagine that with Jorge Polanco performing well at Double-A and being a more well-regarded defender, there’s a chance that Polanco could leapfrog Santana. As for Vargas, the hulking slugger hit .308/.403/.519 with three homers in 16 Triple-A games. He should get another chance to hold down Minnesota’s DH spot for the duration of the season. However, Twins DHs are hitting just .249/.308/.328, so if Vargas struggles, that may be an area they consider short-term upgrades this summer. In fact, I could envision the Twins looking for help at either of those positions in July, if they hang in near the top of the division.
The Mets appear to be keeping tabs on Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez and shortstop Jean Segura, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest video. Of the two, Ramirez is the more practical target for New York. He is expected to retire after the season and does not have a no-trade clause. The Mets are also interested in Ben Zobrist, but they believe other teams will outbid them.
- The Tigers may not need to buy at the trade deadline due to the impending returns of Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez, Bruce Rondon, and Alex Avila. The lineup has struggled to push runs across the plate, but they lead the AL in OBP. When asked by Rosenthal, GM Dave Dombrowski said there are no scenarios under which the club could become deadline sellers. That means David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and Alfredo Simon are unlikely to be traded.
- The Yankees rotation may not be a priority at the trade deadline if the current starters remain healthy. In addition to the current options, Ivan Nova will begin a rehab assignment soon. Prospects Luis Severino and Bryan Mitchell provide further depth. The club could still acquire a star like Cole Hamels, but GM Brian Cashman says some of their top prospects are untouchable.
- The easiest position for the Cubs to upgrade is left field. Chris Coghlan is hitting just .224/.298/.421 on the season. An unusually low .245 BABIP explains his low average. The club could hope for BABIP regression or replace him in one of several ways. They could trade for somebody like Zobrist. Alternatively, Javier Baez could be promoted to man third base with Kris Bryant moving to the outfield.
Full Story | 68 Comments | Categories: Alex Avila | Alfredo Simon | Aramis Ramirez | Ben Zobrist | Bruce Rondon | Bryan Mitchell | Chicago Cubs | Chris Coghlan | Cole Hamels | David Price | Detroit Tigers | Ivan Nova | Javier Baez | Jean Segura | Justin Verlander | Kris Bryant | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Victor Martinez | Yoenis Cespedes
In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off by discussing Ryan Howard‘s increased trade value. Howard is hitting .256/.298/.519 with 10 homers this season, and while the OBP is lackluster, he’s performed particularly well of late, hitting .307/.340/.602 with six homers this month (a .389 BABIP on the month, though, is heavily influencing those numbers). The Phils were willing to pay down $35MM or so of Howard’s remaining contract this offseason, and doing so would make him a roughly $10MM player this season and next. While Heyman notes that might be seen as a fair price, he adds that some scouts and executives will want to see more sustained production before considering a move, which strikes me as more than reasonable; I doubt three weeks of hot hitting have transformed him from albatross into hot commodity. The Orioles, Royals and Rays all discussed Howard with the Phillies this offseason but went different directions, and Heyman looks at those three teams as well as five others in determining if there’s a fit to be made. Howard received 10-and-5 rights on May 2, however, allowing him to veto any deal. And while many reports have indicated it won’t get in the way of a trade, Heyman hears that Howard is happier in Philadelphia now than he was over the winter and wonders if he might require some kind of incentive to waive those rights.
Some more highlights from a lengthy column …
- The Orioles never really came close to reaching an extension with starter Chris Tillman this spring, and talks are on hold at present. The 27-year-old has scuffled early this year with a 5.59 ERA over 48 1/3 innings.
- David Robertson could have taken home even more than the $46MM promised to him by the White Sox, says Heyman, as an unnamed team offered him more this winter. That provides yet more reason to believe that plenty of teams are still willing to pay top dollar for premium relievers.
- While the Tigers are very interested in attempting to retain Yoenis Cespedes beyond the current year, Heyman says that all signs point to him reaching free agency. Detroit can, of course, pursue him on the open market, but sources tell Heyman that Cespedes is unlikely to agree to an extension.
- Likewise, the Tigers don’t appear to have much hope of an extension with ace David Price, and Heyman says they “aren’t overwhelmingly confident” that he’ll be back. Detroit’s front office believes that Price will look to top Max Scherzer‘s contract.
- The Astros are sorting through many pitching acquisition possibilities, and Aaron Harang of the Phillies has “at least been discussed” by the club. Fellow Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels may come with too much contract for Houston, but Heyman reports that the club does see Reds free agent-to-be Johnny Cueto as a possibility.
- While Brewers GM Doug Melvin has given signals that he’s ready to sell early, owner Mark Attanasio may prefer the club hold off until at least the upcoming draft. While PR considerations seem to be a factor, that may be the best strategy anyway; the team could still get out ahead of the market, while allowing it to mature somewhat before acting.
- Be sure to check out the piece for more interesting items around the league.
Full Story | 100 Comments | Categories: Aaron Harang | Baltimore Orioles | Chicago White Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Cole Hamels | David Price | David Robertson | Detroit Tigers | Doug Melvin | Houston Astros | Johnny Cueto | Kansas City Royals | Max Scherzer | Milwaukee Brewers | Philadelphia Phillies | Relievers | Ryan Howard | Tampa Bay Rays | Yoenis Cespedes
Chris Young‘s career turned on a 1,168-word email the Royals right-hander wrote to a St. Louis surgeon in 2013 where he diagnosed himself as suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome, writes Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star. Dr. Robert Thompson, director of the Washington University Center for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome concurred, and performed a decompression procedure to free the nerves in Young’s shoulder. “I feel better now at 35 than I did when I was in my late 20s, early 30s, because I was dealing with so much pain,” Young said. “I forgot what it was like to be healthy. Now I try to make up for lost time.” And that he has. Nearly two years after undergoing the career-saving operation, Young, the reigning AL Comeback Player of the Year, has been a relevation for the Royals pitching to a 1.06 ERA in seven games (including one start) with a 8.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 17 innings of work.
Elsewhere in the American League:
- The next start for Tigers ace David Price will be pushed back from Thursday to Saturday to give his mild hamstring strain extra time to heal, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). Price says he could have pitched on normal rest, so the move is simply precautionary.
- The Tigers have a need for a left-handed power bat off the bench, but risk losing out-of-options infielder Hernan Perez to waivers if they attempt such an move, according to MLive.com’s Chris Iott.
- After throwing 108 pitches in winning his MLB debut as a starter, the White Sox remain coy on whether Carlos Rodon will remain in the rotation or return to the bullpen, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. “You’re also somewhat protecting the amount of usage you’re going to get out of him over the course of the year, so there’s some factors that go into it for him and his learning curve and things like that,” said manager Robin Ventura. “There’s more to it than he’s just ready to go.” If Rodon remains in the rotation for the rest of the season, Merkin calculates the left-hander will approach the team’s unofficial innings limit of 160.
- The Red Sox‘s July 2014 trade of John Lackey for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly is looking worse and worse, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines. Craig performed poorly down the stretch in 2014 for the Red Sox and has been just as bad this year, and while Kelly’s radar gun readings have been impressive, his performance hasn’t (although his peripherals this season have been much better than his 5.72 ERA). Meanwhile, Lackey has pitched well for the Cardinals while making the league minimum salary.
29-year-old rookie Mitch Harris‘ long path to the big leagues went through the Naval Academy and military service in the Middle East, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. The Cardinals drafted Harris all the way back in 2008, but he did not actually pitch in the minors until 2013, after serving nearly five years in the Navy. “The early returns were not positive,” says GM John Mozeliak. “When we got him, he was throwing 80 miles an hour. He was in good condition, but not baseball condition.” Nonetheless, Harris made quick work of the minor leagues, getting up to 97 MPH this spring. The Cardinals promoted him two weeks ago, and he hasn’t yet allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings pitched. Here are more quick notes from the Central divisions.
- The Indians will replace former Triple-A Columbus pitching coach Carl Willis with Tim Belcher for the next two days, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. After that, lower-level pitching coordinator Julio Rangel will take over in what sounds like an interim basis. Willis, of course, recently took over as the Red Sox’ new pitching coach.
- Tigers ace David Price‘s MRI this morning showed he had a mild hamstring strain, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. The Tigers won’t place him on the disabled list, so he will make his next start Thursday against Minnesota. Price left Friday’s game after stepping on a bat while backing up home plate, but it appears he doesn’t have a significant injury.
In the wake of Josh Hamilton‘s departure from the Angels, his five-year, $125MM deal with the club may be the worst free agent signing of all time, ESPN’s Jayson Stark opines. The Hamilton deal tops Stark’s list of the five worst signings ever, which also includes another ongoing contract in Melvin Upton Jr.‘s five-year, $72.25MM pact with the Braves. Two other current deals receive dishonorable mentions: Shin-Soo Choo‘s seven year, $130MM contract with the Rangers is cited as a “disaster in the making,” while Alex Rodriguez‘s ten-year, $275MM contract with the Yankees is a “category unto himself.”
Here’s more from around the baseball world…
- The Angels seem likely to make a trade for left field help, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, though such a move isn’t likely to happen for at least another month. Acquiring a new left fielder to replace Hamilton would allow the Halos to shift Matt Joyce and C.J. Cron into a platoon at DH.
- David Price said he hasn’t “heard anything” new about extension talks with the Tigers, the southpaw told Mlive.com’s Chris Iott (Twitter link).
- Teams are looking at the Brewers as the first team who could start selling, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. One executive speculated that Milwaukee could make everyone available except Jonathan Lucroy and Jimmy Nelson. Sherman thinks Carlos Gomez could be a big trade chip if the Brewers decide on a full rebuild and don’t think they can sign Gomez to an extension.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman is satisfied with Stephen Drew and isn’t looking for any internal replacements at second base, he tells ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand. Drew is hitting .177/.274/.419 with four homers in 74 plate appearances and has posted below-average defensive numbers as a second baseman. Despite Drew’s numbers, Jose Pirela‘s concussion recovery and Rob Refsnyder‘s defensive issues have left the Yankees without a ready replacement for the veteran.
- In his latest Insider-only piece, ESPN’s Jim Bowden gives his opinion on how five struggling teams can solve their problems. One suggested fix, for the Nationals, is simply to do nothing; Bowden thinks the front office should wait until everyone is healthy before deciding if changes need to be made.
Earlier today, we learned the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright could miss the rest of the season after suffering an Achilles injury in last night’s game against the Brewers. GM John Mozeliak has said he will wait to determine Wainwright’s status until the right-hander has been examined by team doctors tomorrow. However, that hasn’t stopped the speculation from bubbling as to how the Cardinals will replace their ace.
Here’s the latest on those rumors and the rest of the news from the National League:
- With the Cardinals set to host the Phillies for four games beginning tomorrow, Cole Hamels tops the list of external options to fill Wainwright’s void. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets the Cardinals do not have the prospects to satisfy the Phillies, but the Dodgers and Red Sox are lurking.
- Besides Hamels, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz opines the Cardinals could puruse a high-caliber starter entering their walk year like David Price, Jordan Zimmermann or Jeff Samardzija. Miklasz, who does examine the Cardinals’ internal candidates, also suggests signing Paul Maholm or acquiring an under-the-radar pitcher like the Phillies‘ Aaron Harang.
- Hamels trade talks could accelerate in the wake of injuries to Wainwright, the Dodgers‘ Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu, and the struggles of the Red Sox‘s staff, writes Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Speaking of the Dodgers, the new front office’s philosophy of adding depth with low profile transactions was put into place to weather a rash of injuries and those acquisitions will now become more relevant, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon.
- One by-product of Wainwright’s injury could be a renewed push for the NL to adopt the DH, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. “I wouldn’t be opposed,” Max Scherzer told Heyman. “If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people rather see hit — Big Papi or me? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules. We keep searching for offense. This would be the easiest way to add offense.” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, as quoted by MLive.com’s Aaron McMann, puts it more bluntly, “When a pitcher goes down with an injury when he’s hitting, you make people second guess the National League’s style of play.“
Scott Boras, Rafael Soriano‘s agent, tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he’s getting an increasing number of calls about his client. It’s not surprising that interest in Soriano is picking up now that the season has begun and teams are dealing with injuries or ineffective relievers in their bullpens. The Twins, Tigers and Blue Jays have all been linked to Soriano at various points over the winter, though it’s unknown as to whether any of those teams still have any interest in the veteran.
Here’s some more from around baseball…
- Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters (hat tip to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle) that he would like draft prospects’ “medical information to be made available to all clubs before the draft,” but the MLBPA hasn’t accepted this proposed change to the collective bargaining agreement. Drellich explains the stances of both the league and the union on this issue, which most notably cropped up when the Astros didn’t sign first overall pick Brady Aiken due to concerns about his left UCL last summer.
- David Price could be more inclined to sign with an NL team next winter since “he loves to hit,” a source tells George A. King III of the New York Post. While this will likely be a minor factor in what could be a $200MM free agent decision for Price, maybe the desire for more plate appearances could end up being a tiebreaker if he gets otherwise similar offers from an AL and an NL team. For what it’s worth, Price has an .071/.133/.071 slash line through 30 career PA.
- With Edward Mujica struggling and his velocity down, CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam wonders if the Red Sox might eventually release Mujica and eat the roughly $4MM remaining on his contract rather than let the righty continue in an important relief role. In my opinion, releasing Mujica would be a hasty move this early in the season since his xFIP (2.78) and SIERA (2.50) hint that he isn’t that badly, and his 4.70 ERA or 6.90 FIP are due to a couple of wildly inflated peripherals (most notably, 3.52 HR/9).
- Several of baseball’s top pitchers were acquired by their current teams before they became so-called “aces,” and Alex Speier of the Boston Globe notes that the Red Sox attempted this strategy by acquiring two pitchers with great stuff (Joe Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez) in the hopes that one or both would develop into a rotation headliner. This isn’t to say that the Sox might still not try to trade for an established ace in the near future, yet trying to find one in the early stages of his development is sometimes a better strategy than paying a big price to land a proven starter who might already have passed his prime.