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David Price Rumors
ESPN’s Jayson Stark took a look at the Cole Hamels trade market and spoke to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about the possibility of trading the ace. Amaro took a familiar stance, stating that he’s not under any pressure to move Hamels, whom he rightly deemed one of baseball’s best starters. Rival execs tell Stark that Amaro is still asking for two premium prospects plus another piece or two in addition to the acquiring club taking on Hamels’ entire contract. As Stark notes, it’s unfortunate that a rebuilding club’s best chip is an ace in an offseason where free agency and the trade market are both pitching-rich. With next season shaping up to be a buyer’s market for pitching as well, Stark wonders if July will be the best time for Amaro to move Hamels, as few aces are ever available at the deadline. Multiple clubs have told Stark that Amaro is holding out for “the deal of the century,” as Stark terms it.
Two items of particular note from Stark are that the Blue Jays are said to have very strong interest in Hamels and that reports of Hamels’ no-trade clause are not entirely accurate. Hamels can indeed block trades to eight clubs, but previous reports listed the Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Nats, Braves, Padres, Yankees and Rangers as teams to which Hamels cannot veto a deal. Stark hears that list is outdated, and at least one club has been changed since season’s end.
Some other late-night NL East notes…
- Reports have indicated that the Marlins are serious about adding pieces to contend in 2015 this offseason, and while the focus has been more on bats for the lineup, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Fish have reached out to the Tigers to inquire on David Price and Rick Porcello. Talks aren’t serious at this time, he adds, but the fact that the Marlins are even kicking the tires on a pair of high-priced arms (Price and Porcello project to earn $18.9MM and $12.2MM next year, respectively) suggests that they’re willing to take on some significant payroll.
- The Braves are interested in a reunion with backstop David Ross, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien reported yesterday (Twitter link). Ross spent four seasons as Brian McCann‘s backup in Atlanta from 2009-12, enjoying some of the most productive seasons of his career as a Brave. He could serve as an excellent mentor to Christian Bethancourt, who figures to take the reins as Atlanta’s everyday catcher with Evan Gattis moving to the outfield full time.
- MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports another potential catching target for the Braves, tweeting that they have interest in A.J. Pierzynski. The soon-to-be 38-year-old Pierzynski has never had Ross’ defensive chops, though he’d give the Braves a left-handed bat to insert in the lineup when they prefer to rest Bethancourt against tough right-handers.
- The Mets are interested in lefty reliever Craig Breslow, tweets Morosi. The Mets are thin on left-handed relief, and Breslow should represent a low-cost option. The 34-year-old picked a poor time to have a career-worst season, pitching to a 5.96 ERA this past season in a contract year. However, he entered the 2014 campaign with a career 2.82 ERA in 402 innings. Breslow doesn’t dominate lefties the way many specialists do (.671 OPS), but he’s also more effective against right-handed hitters than a number of his southpaw brethren (.680 OPS).
To the surprise of no one, star free agents Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez turned down qualifying offers from the Tigers yesterday. Re-signing Martinez seems to be a priority for GM Dave Dombrowski. More on the Tigers…
- The door is not closed on a new deal with free agent reliever Joba Chamberlain, says Dombrowski, but it’s not a priority right now.
- Dombrowski said he has not talked about an extension with lefty David Price, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Dombrowski said he knows both sides will want to see free agent prices first. That’s a reference to the current free agent class, says Rosenthal. Price is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
- Dombrowski has four prominent starting pitchers under control for 2015 in Price, Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, and Anibal Sanchez. According to Rosenthal, the GM says he is happy with his starters and not looking to move anyone, but will always listen as he has in the past.
- The Tigers announced they have named former big leaguer David Newhan assistant hitting coach to Wally Joyner, replacing the departed Darnell Coles.
In the wake of another postseason disappointment for the Tigers, “there’s the underlying question whether this could be the end of an era,” MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes. Several key members of the roster will hit free agency, including Max Scherzer, though the 2013 Cy Young Award winner said “I do hope I’m back. I love this clubhouse, love everybody in here, been to battle with these guys for five years. It would mean a lot to me.”
Here’s the latest from the Motor City…
- If Scherzer doesn’t return, the natural next step for the Tigers would be to pursue an extension with David Price, though the southpaw naturally wasn’t concerned with his contract in the wake of the painful ALDS sweep. “That’s out of my control. That’s the last thing that’s on my mind right now. I’m not worried about that,” Price told reporters, including Mlive.com’s Chris Iott. Price has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining before hitting the free agent market after the 2015 season.
- The Tigers’ failure to acquire Andrew Miller at the trade deadline may have been the turning point of their season, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes. Miller could’ve been prevented the bullpen meltdowns that plagued the Tigers in the ALDS, but instead, he ended up stifling Detroit in two late-game appearances for the Orioles. The Tigers came very close to closing a deal Miller at the deadline but the Red Sox instead sent the lefty to Baltimore in exchange for top pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez.
- A rival official recently told ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) that he thinks the Tigers will do whatever it takes to re-sign Victor Martinez, as “considering the Tigers’ win-at-all-costs approach and Martinez’s importance in the Detroit lineup, he cannot see them being outbid.” Olney lists five other teams as possible fits for Martinez in free agency, and three are from the AL Central.
- Also from Olney’s piece, he lists the Tigers as a potential suitor for Russell Martin. The free agent catcher could be “a plan B” if the Tigers are concerned about Alex Avila‘s concussion history and want a change behind the plate.
Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan believes there’s too much pressure on prospects today, Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “People didn’t even know who was in Triple-A 10 years ago,” says the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year winner. “People didn’t know your name. Now ‘prospects’ are at an all-time high. … I feel bad for the young kids now because people are putting so much pressure on them.” Ten years ago, there was comparatively little information available about prospects, and all but the highest-profile of them were left to learn their craft in peace. The newfound scrutiny prospects face — partially, obviously, from websites like this one — is surely now a factor in their development, and it’s led to waves of hype for the big-league debuts of top talents like Javier Baez. Here’s more from around baseball.
- Contrary to an earlier report, there weren’t any directives preventing the Rays from trading David Price to the Yankees, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “We don’t have a no-fly list,” says Rays president Matt Silverman. “We have 29 potential trading partners, and we have explored trades with each and every one of them.” Topkin adds that the remaining Rays don’t believe Price’s departure from their clubhouse is a factor in how they’ve performed since he left. After winning their last three games, the Rays are now 4-4 since the deal.
- Teams from overseas have offered the Twins $1MM-$1.5MM to purchase the contract of pitcher Kris Johnson, but the Twins have declined, 1500ESPN.com’s Darren Wolfson tweets. Johnson has made just three big-league starts this season, instead spending most of the season with Triple-A Rochester, where he’s posted a 3.12 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 109 2/3 innings.
- ESPN’s Keith Law (audio link) spoke this afternoon to Hoffman & Sandler on ESPN 103.3 FM in Dallas about various Rangers topics. Law says that the Rangers aren’t likely to get more than a fringe prospect in return for Alex Rios (which seems reasonable, as Rios has already cleared waivers), although they might do better if they package him with another player, the way the Mets did last August when they sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black. (Rios suffered an ankle injury today, which might render any trade talk moot if it turns out to be serious.) Law also says that although Joey Gallo is a top talent, promoting him to the big leagues right now would be “a horrendous idea,” and that Gallo would strike out about 45% of the time if he were in the big leagues today.
In his latest Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Buster Olney reports that he’s spoken to executives around the league who assume that the Red Sox will target James Shields in free agency this offseason. Shields would be a good fit for a Boston team that is suddenly light on veteran pitching after Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy were all traded within the last week. I wonder how high the Sox would be willing to bid on Shields, however, since the team’s concerns about paying big money to a pitcher throughout his 30’s kept them from working out an extension with Lester. While Shields would come at a lower price and probably a shorter-term deal, Shields will also be 33 on Opening Day.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- A clause in Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract will allow him to become a free agent after the 2015 season, and according to Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron (Twitter link), it means the Red Sox would have to non-tender their newly-acquired outfielder. This would make Cespedes ineligible to receive a qualifying offer, and thus Boston wouldn’t get any draft pick compensation if Cespedes signed elsewhere.
- The Athletics released Jim Johnson today, and there has been speculation that the Orioles will offer their former closer a minor league contract, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes. Manager Buck Showalter spoke highly of Johnson to reporters today, though he was careful with his words due to uncertainty about whether Johnson was free of any ties to Oakland.
- The Rays plan to contend in 2015, which is why Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan (writing for FOXSports.com) feels the team felt comfortable trading David Price for a package highlighted by players — Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin — with Major League experience. It’s unclear if any of the blue-chip prospects often cited in trade rumors were actually available for Price and such prospects might not pan out anyway, whereas Smyly and Franklin have already shown they can contribute at the big-league level.
- Had the Rays waited until the offseason to trade Price, they might’ve had trouble finding a better return. As one executive noted to ESPN’s Jayson Stark (Twitter link), Tampa would’ve been shopping Price in a crowded marketplace for ace pitchers given that Lester, Shields and Max Scherzer are all slated to be available in free agency.
Here are some notes from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal as he looks back on an incredibly busy Deadline Day…
- Several Cardinals players were unhappy that Allen Craig and Joe Kelly were traded away, which didn’t necessarily surprise St. Louis GM John Mozeliak. “We’ve had a tight clubhouse for many years, a lot of homegrown players who have been together a long time….When you have a young team, sometimes you don’t see these types of trades happening while you’re competing,” Mozeliak told Rosenthal. “It caught some people off-guard. But time will heal all wounds.” Rosenthal wonders if this trade and the recent signing of “notorious irritant” A.J. Pierzynski could’ve been made in order to shake up a clubhouse that had “perhaps grown too comfortable.”
- The Brewers and Tigers were the other finalists for Andrew Miller‘s services before the Red Sox decided to trade the southpaw to the Orioles. Boston received inquiries from between 10-12 teams about Miller’s services. Jon Morosi, Rosenthal’s FOX Sports colleague, reported yesterday that Detroit was close to a deal for Miller about 2.5 hours before the trade with Baltimore was finalized.
- Some pundits have argued that the Rays should’ve gotten more from the Tigers and Mariners in the David Price trade, but Rosenthal is withholding judgement given how difficult the circumstances were for Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman. The return could’ve been even less had Friedman waited until the offseason to move his ace.
- In a tweet, Rosenthal notes that the Athletics decided against pursuing a Price trade in part because GM Billy Beane was worried that it would be tough to deal the southpaw this winter. Price could earn up to $20MM on his 2015 contract in his last year of arbitration eligibility, so as good as the left-hander is, the salary and only the one year of control would limit Price’s trade value.
Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson will go to the Mariners, with Nick Franklin (from Seattle) and Drew Smyly (from Detroit) heading to Tampa in the blockbuster. Minor league shortstop Willy Adames is also going to Tampa from Detroit in the deal, per a tweet from Rosenthal.
The move brings and end to near-ceaseless speculation regarding the now-former Rays lefty, who has been one of the game’s best pitchers in recent seasons. Still only 28, Price is under control for one more season through arbitration, though he will certainly not come cheap.
Playing this year on a $14MM salary, Price will be in line for a big raise next year. Of course, one key element of his value lies in the fact that his new club will have an opportunity to explore an extension. The reason that Price figures to draw a big salary next year is obvious: he has continued to be outstanding. At present, he owns a 3.11 ERA with a remarkable 10.0 K/9 against just 1.2 BB/9 over 170 2/3 innings.
The return for the Rays is not particularly splashy, but delivers obvious value. Smyly, 25, was outstanding last year as a reliever and has since converted into a solid starting option. He carries a 3.77 ERA through 100 1/3 innings, with 7.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 and a 36.9% groundball rate. While his strikeout numbers are down since moving to the rotation, he can be controlled through 2018.
The 23-year-old Franklin, meanwhile, seemed without a future in Seattle after the club added Robinson Cano. Though he has spent time at both short and second, many observers believe he is better suited for the keystone going forward. He had a solid 2013 at the MLB level (.225/.303/.382 in 412 plate appearances), and though his numbers were off this year in limited action, Franklin has continued to swing a big stick against Triple-A pitchers.
Then, there is Adames, who could be something of a wild card in the deal. Just 18, he has a promising .269/.346/.428 slash line through 400 plate appearances at the low-A level this year. He entered the year as Baseball America’s 30th-ranked Tigers prospect, but appears to be raising eyebrows around the game.
That brings us to Seattle, which quietly managed to address its center field need without giving up an indispensable piece of the future. In fact, the 27-year-old Jackson will be at least a mid-term piece for Seattle. He is playing on a $6MM salary this year before hitting arbitration for the final time. He currently sports a .270/.330/.397 line that is approximately league average (as it was last year). With solid contributions in the field and on the bases, he is certainly an above-average big league regular.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that Jackson and Smyly were part of the deal (via Twitter). Mike Salk of 710 ESPN tweeted that Jackson would head to Seattle. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune first reported Franklin’s inclusion (via Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
2:42pm: A three-team deal involving Price could well be in the works, with Price being the only piece moving from Tampa, tweets Topkin.
2:31pm: A three-team mix could be in the offing, according to reports. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that there were discussions of such a deal involving Price and the Tigers and Mariners. And Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that a three-team arrangement is under discussion now.
2:14pm: The Tigers appear to be the front-runner on Price at the moment, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
2:13pm: The Yankees are unlikely to get Price, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
2:04pm: The Yankees are also involved in discussions, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
1:33pm: The Cardinals may also still be involved on Price, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). His source indicates that the Cards, along with the Tigers and Mariners, are the final possible suitors.
1:28pm: The Rays are nearing a deal involving Price, tweets ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. Where, however, remains unclear.
1:11pm: The Dodgers are “not back in” on Price, tweets Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com.
12:47pm: The Dodgers and Mariners are the leading contenders to acquire Price, if he is dealt, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.
While Price has long been a subject of trade speculation, it seemed less and less likely he would be moved as Tampa reeled off an extensive winning streak. But in spite of the club’s solid play, it remains largely on the fringes of contention at this point.
David Price didn’t have his best start for the Rays yesterday, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and a pair of walks with six strikeouts in seven innings, but that won’t curb any trade interest in the Cy Young candidate. Price may have thought that he dodged a bullet yesterday, as he admitted to reporters that he thought the trade deadline was Wednesday afternoon. As we well know around these parts, that’s not the case, and the Tampa Bay ace could find himself on the move before 3pm CT today. Indications have been that the Rays will hang onto Price, but we’ll keep track of the final developments right here…
- The Rays are actively seeking to make a deal on Price, though that does not mean that the team is lowering its asking price, reports Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Conversations remain open with multiple teams, Stark adds.
- Talks on Price have picked up some steam since Jon Lester was dealt, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. A deal now appears more likely than it did last night.
- The Rays entered deadline day expecting to hold, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But the team will continue listening on Price, waiting to see if a big offer comes through the door at the last minute.
- A source familiar with conversations says it is “doubtful” that the Dodgers will land Price, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has long been said to be one of the possible landing spots for the outstanding lefty, though GM Ned Colletti said last night that he has no interest in dealing away his team’s three blue chip prospects (to say nothing of more than one of them) in any trade.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Jon Lester has been scratched from his scheduled start tonight — a clear indicator that the Red Sox are looking to deal their ace. It briefly looked like the Orioles were close to a deal, but while those talks are serious, the deal isn’t close yet. Here’s the latest…
- The Cardinals and Pirates are making the strongest bids for Lester at the moment, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports report (Twitter link). The Dodgers also remain involved.
- In a full article, Heyman writes that the A’s are the mystery team that has stepped into the Lester bidding. Nothing is close between the two sides at the moment, however.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that a mystery team is becoming more involved.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio reports that the Athletics are in on Lester.
- Via WEEI’s Alex Speier (on Twitter), manager John Farrell expects Lester to be in uniform with the Red Sox today.
- The Cardinals‘ acquisition of Justin Masterson doesn’t necessarily take them out of the running for Lester, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The Cards could still acquire Lester, though it may cost them Shelby Miller, Morosi adds in a second tweet.
- The Marlins aren’t entirely out of the Lester sweepstakes, an AL executive familiar with the negotiations tells Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel. However, the Marlins won’t part with top prospect Andrew Heaney in a Lester deal (or a deal for any rental player).
- The Cardinals and Dodgers are the two teams that are most aggressively competing for Lester’s services, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. They’re also the most aggressive clubs on David Price, though it’s far from a given that the Rays will move their own left-handed ace. Heyman hears similar things to yesterday’s reports regarding the Brewers and Orioles and says neither is in the mix at this point.
- An NL GM told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he thinks the Cardinals, Pirates, Dodgers and Mariners are the primary suitors for Lester heading into Wednesday (Twitter link).