- Red Sox manager John Farrell, who is battling lymphoma, has completed the first of three rounds of chemotherapy. He’s visiting the Sox each day they’re at Fenway and holding video chats with interim manager Torey Lovullo and his coaching staff when the team is away. New Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has not said whether Farrell will return next season, however, regardless of his health.
- Following what’s been a tumultuous month in many team front offices, the Phillies and Reds could be among the next teams to make GM changes, Rosenthal says. There could be up to ten manager changes as well.
- Rosenthal also interviews Mets third baseman David Wright, who recently returned to the lineup after missing almost four months due to a hamstring injury and an ongoing back issue. Wright discusses what it’s like to deal with a lingering condition. Some days are better than others, he says, and a player needs to be honest, because if he tries to play on a bad day, he’ll be hurting his team.
- The Dodgers‘ massive $300MM payroll may be a one shot deal. They’re paying a large chunk of change for players who aren’t even on the roster like Matt Kemp, but they were able to acquire additional talent by doing so. This year, they’re paying a 40 percent tax on overages beyond the roughly $189MM soft cap. Next season, the penalty will increase to 50 percent. However, prospects like Corey Seager and Julio Urias are expected to be on hand to reduce the luxury burden.
- Marlins manager Dan Jennings is a potential candidate for the Mariners open GM job. He has past experience working for Seattle as a scout and crosschecker. Most teams allow their employees to interview for promotions with other clubs, but the situation is tricky with Jennings. He’s the Miami manager, but he’s also currently under contract as a GM. As such, it’s not clear if Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria would allow Jennings to interview.
- Sources have told Rosenthal that Padres ownership is “frustrated” with GM A.J. Preller. However, chairman Ron Fowler insists the only frustration is related to the club’s 2015 performance. He believes Preller will be the GM for a long time to come. Preller was originally hired to improve the farm system via the draft and international scouting. Obviously, the club used most of their minor league ammunition in a bold bid for contention this year, but the original plan remains intact.
- Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Paul Morosi hears that the Reds may wish to replace GM Walt Jocketty. His contract expires after the 2016 season. It’s Rosenthal’s opinion that owner Bob Castellini is unlikely to fire Jocketty outright. Instead, they may move him into a consultative role like the Brewers did with Doug Melvin. That would allow the club to then hire a new GM in time for 2016.
An update some some notable players who will be joining or leaving the disabled list…
- C.C. Sabathia lasted just 2 2/3 innings in today’s start before leaving due to pain in his right knee. The veteran lefty will at least be shut down for a while, though Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including MLB.com’s Grace Raynor) that he presumed Sabathia will need a DL stint “just because he walked off the field without even throwing another pitch.” Sabathia underwent surgery on that same knee in 2014 and has been bothered by pain for much of this season, which could partially explain his rough 5.24 ERA over 135 2/3 innings. The Yankees had planned to expand to a six-man rotation upon Michael Pineda‘s impending return from the DL, though those plans are on hold with Sabathia sidelined.
- The Orioles announced that shortstop J.J. Hardy has been placed on the 15-day DL with a left groin injury, and he’ll undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury. Hardy, who also missed all of April with a strained shoulder, has hit only .220/.251/.313 in 353 plate appearances this season, his first under a three-year, $40MM extension signed last October. Ryan Flaherty will likely handle shortstop duties while Hardy is out, though the O’s also have Paul Janish at Triple-A.
- The Mets plan to activate David Wright from the disabled list prior to Monday’s game against the Phillies. Southpaw Dario Alvarez has been optioned to Triple-A to make room for Wright on the active roster, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports. Wright was originally placed on the DL in April with a strained hamstring but he was discovered to have the much more serious condition known as spinal stenosis.
Here’s the latest on the Mets, who currently enjoy a healthy 4.5-game cushion over the fading Nationals in the NL East:
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson says that he does not “foresee” the team pulling off a deal to bolster its bullpen, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). While New York has had some uneven results out of its pen, Alderson said that the players who have cleared waivers would not seem to offer much of an upgrade. He did indicate that righty Vic Black could be brought back up to add another arm.
- One player who won’t be able to provide support from inside the organization is righty Rafael Montero. Alderson said that Montero has suffered a setback that may well see him shelved the rest of the season, as Puma reports (Twitter links). The New York GM said that the promising 24-year-old, who has dealt with shoulder issues for much of the year, is now back to “square one” in the recovery process.
- In more promising injury news, the Mets seem to be lining up a big league return next week for third baseman David Wright, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. Wright, who has been out for an extended stretch with potentially serious back problems, could be activated for the team’s series at the Phillies. The Mets are obviously eager to welcome back their highest-paid player and will hope that he can provide a boost at the plate. While trade deadline infield additions Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson have boosted the club’s depth, neither has hit particularly well since coming to New York.
Recent Mets trade acquisition Yoenis Cespedes says that he likes the idea of staying in Queens for more than just the rest of this year, as Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports. Of course, the free agent-to-be also notes that matter “is something I can’t control.” Indeed, he is effectively precluded from re-signing with New York as a free agent because of the contractual requirement that the team release him at the end of the year. (An MLB rule provides that teams may not re-sign released players until after the start of the following regular season.)
More on the Mets:
- In that same piece, GM Sandy Alderson indicated that his team’s deadline acquisitions were not made with any particular hope that the new players would sign long-term. “We’ll deal with next season later,” Alderson said. “That’s not to be cavalier about our longer-term view, but … I don’t think there’s any grave concern about the fact that these players may not be here next year. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t want them to be here next year, but that’s something we’ll deal with over the course of the offseason.”
- While a late-year extension for Cespedes is theoretically possible, it doesn’t seem terribly likely, as Marc Carig of Newsday also explains. New York has been quite cautious in handing out massive, multi-year deals, and Cespedes has positioned himself nicely for the upcoming free agent market. Sources tell Carig that they expect his representatives to seek a deal in the $120MM to $150MM range. There is precedent for that kind of cash, of course, though Cespedes will have to contend with the presence of Justin Upton and Jason Heyward alongside him on the market. Shin-soo Choo landed a $130MM deal back in 2013, while Josh Hamilton got $125MM the year prior.
- Before acquiring Eric O’Flaherty from the A’s, the Mets staff chatted about him with recent teammate Tyler Clippard, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. Clippard, of course, was also just traded from Oakland to New York, and told the media that he saw O’Flaherty (a recent Tommy John patient) rounding into form over the last few weeks. With the move, Clippard, a long-time Nationals reliever, and O’Flaherty, once a staple of the Braves pen, have now congregated with the division-rival Mets.
- Mets assistant GM John Ricco explained that the club added O’Flaherty because it wanted a weapon against opposing left-handed hitters, also via Rubin. “We feel like a lefty reliever was something that we could use — a guy that was more of a strict left-on-left guy,” Ricco explained. “And that’s what Eric really is. So we had our eye on a number of different options and this one came together pretty quickly today. It gave us an opportunity to get a veteran left-on-left guy.”
- Third baseman David Wright is ramping up baseball activities and may be nearing a rehab assignment, as Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes. Wright earned rave reviews for his workout at Citi Field yesterday, and indicated that he’s currently able to focus more on getting ready to play than worrying about his back. “It’s been a long process and I like the fact we’re finally talking about baseball and not rehab and doctors,’’ Wright said. “You put in all this work to finally get to the point where you are now. For two months you are having trouble standing for a while or walking. To be able now to go through a normal pregame routine, that makes you feel good about the process. You can see the finish line. It feels good.’’
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe backed Commissioner Rob Manfred’s optimism about possibly expanding. The last time baseball expanded was in 1998 with the additions of the Rays and D’Backs and Cafardo feels that MLB is due. Manfred recently acknowledged there’s been interest from a few cities, including Montreal (former home of the Expos), Charlotte, and Portland. Cafardo goes on to list other potential spots for expansion franchises, including Vancouver, Las Vegas, Nashville, northern New Jersey, and Brooklyn. Of course, with those last two, there are obvious territorial issues to consider. Here’s more from today’s column..
- If third baseman David Wright doesn’t look like himself when he comes back or if he doesn’t come back at all in 2015, the Mets will give some thoughts to acquiring a pair of hitters. One of those players, Cafardo writes, would likely be a shortstop. There’s currently a feeling in the organization that the Mets will make a move for a hitter in the coming days with pitcher Jon Niese being the outgoing asset.
- There is more and more talk of Yasiel Puig losing popularity with his Dodgers teammates, a major league source tells Cafardo. Puig was once viewed an untouchable player because of his talent, but the new regime does not feel that way at this time. Cafardo wonders aloud if they would move the slugger for a pitcher and pondered him as a match in a Cole Hamels deal with the Phillies.
- There’s “a buzz in the ownership/management community” that chairman Tom Werner could be more involved in the Red Sox‘s day-to-day operations, with president and CEO Larry Lucchino being less involved. Werner’s pace-of-play ideas have worked out well so far and he is being viewed as a more influential figure both in Boston and throughout the game. There have been rumblings of Lucchino losing power in Boston for some time now.
- Former Padres skipper Bud Black has a great relationship with owner Arte Moreno and manager Mike Scioscia and Cafardo feels that talk of him becoming the Angels‘ GM bears watching.
- Meanwhile, Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak, he writes, may get strong consideration from both the Angels and the Phillies. He worked for Andy MacPhail in baseball’s Labor Relations Department, so he has an in with Philly. MLBTR wrote that Klentak was a strong GM candidate all the way back in 2011.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his weekly Inside Baseball column by reporting that the Dodgers have “quietly continued having dialogue with the Phillies” regarding Cole Hamels. The Dodgers are also giving serious consideration to the rental market and prioritizing Johnny Cueto over others among such targets. The Dodgers “appear determined” to land a top-of-the-rotation arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, writes Heyman, but most executives think they’ll hold onto top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias. The Dodgers have a deep farm system beyond that pairing (righty Jose De Leon has recently been ranked a Top 25 prospect by Baseball America and ESPN), and one exec tells Heyman that the Phillies’ asking price on Hamels has become “more reasonable” recently. The Dodgers feel that Greinke is a lock to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and while they could possibly re-sign him by adding a year or two to the deal and upping his $24.5MM AAV, Hamels would provide insurance should Greinke sign elsewhere. Jeff Samardzija is also a consideration for the Dodgers, but while they like him, they consider him more of a No. 2/3 starter and don’t love him.
Some more highlights from Heyman’s article, though the synopsis won’t cover everything within the piece, so I’d highly recommend reading it in its entirety…
- The Braves will be deadline sellers, Heyman hears, with Jim Johnson, Juan Uribe and Cameron Maybin among the players that will be available to interested teams. Chris Johnson, too, continues to be available, but there are no takers for his contract, which Atlanta has aggressively tried to move in the past.
- With the Reds expected to trade so many veterans to other clubs, many in the industry expect the team to make a run at extending Todd Frazier beyond his current two-year deal, Heyman writes. (Frazier has one more year of arbitration following his current pact.) Jeff Todd and I have discussed Frazier’s situation on the MLBTR Podcast in the past (and will do so again this afternoon), and I’ve personally taken the stance that given the significant commitments to Joey Votto and Homer Bailey, the Reds could have a difficult time affording Frazier, whose 2014-15 breakout has hugely inflated his price tag. Given the lack of impact bats on the trade market, Frazier would net a king’s ransom and could rapidly expedite the rebuilding process, though the PR hit of trading him with so much control and on the heels of a Home Run Derby victory would of course be significant.
- In other Reds news, Heyman hears Mike Leake‘s ground-ball tendencies are appealing to AL East clubs, and he’s drawn interest from the Blue Jays, Orioles and Red Sox in addition to the Royals, Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs and Giants. Manny Parra and Marlon Byrd are both “likely to go” as well.
- Asked about the possibility of signing with the Cubs this offseason due to his relationship with skipper Joe Maddon, Tigers ace David Price replied, “Wherever I play baseball next year it’s not going to be because of a manager.”
- The Astros are interested in both Cueto and Leake, and Houston seems willing to deal from its glut of MLB-ready outfield prospects, including Domingo Santana and Preston Tucker. (Previous reports have indicated they’re reluctant to part with Brett Phillips, however, who may be the best among the outfield bunch.)
- The Brewers are now showing a willingness to trade both Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, Heyman hears. Though it was previously believed they were reluctant to move Segura, the emergence of Orlando Arcia (the younger brother of the Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia) may have changed Milwaukee’s thinking. However, Arcia himself is also drawing a huge amount of trade interest, and the Padres have called to express interest. One NL exec called him the best player he’s seen in the minors this year, while another comped him to Francisco Lindor, but said Arcia is better. Regarding Segura, Heyman hears that the Mets dislike his free-swinging approach.
- The Twins aren’t closed off to the idea of re-acquiring Gomez from the Brewers, but their primary focus at this point is bullpen help.
- The Mets are aiming high in their pursuit of an outfield bat and have both Gomez and Justin Upton on their radar. They’re not likely to add Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers unless they receive bad news on the prognosis of David Wright. They also have little interest in swinging a deal for Uribe.
- Padres officials insist that they haven’t determined their course of action heading into the deadline, but Heyman writes that free-agents-to-be such as Upton, Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit and Will Venable could be traded regardless. James Shields‘ backloaded contract limits his value, but one GM felt Benoit has “big value” and Heyman notes that Craig Kimbrel would be in huge demand as well, should the Padres try to recoup some value from that deal.
- Cueto, Samardzija and Leake are atop the Blue Jays‘ wish list, and the team was also in talks with the Braves regarding Jason Grilli prior to his season-ending injury. A top starting pitcher is Toronto’s top priority at this point, says Heyman. He also adds that there’s no evidence to suggest that manager John Gibbons is on the hot seat.
There has still been “no change” in the status of Mets third baseman David Wright, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. While both team and player had indicated some optimism recently, Wright has still not been cleared to resume baseball activities. As Puma notes, with at least a three week delay between the point of clearance and a return to the big leagues, Wright’s window for a return this year is rather narrow.
Here are a few more quick notes from the NL East:
- Soon-to-be Phillies president Andy MacPhail ought to make it his first order of business to find a modern baseball mind to join him in Philadelphia, argues David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News. As the piece puts it, the Phils have ended up in their current state not because they’ve been unable to identify talented players, but rather due to a “blind spot [in] the macro-valuation of that talent, within the context of both sheer market appraisal and the impact of opportunity cost on the organization.” For MacPhail to succeed, says Murphy, he’ll need to find a top subordinate who can get a handle on these concepts — particularly given that Philadelphia’s advantages in total spending capacity appear likely to be reduced in importance over time.
- While the Braves seemingly continue to take many positive steps, the stunted development of backstop Christian Bethancourt has been a significant disappointment, Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Schultz indicates that there was more at play in the decision to send Bethancourt down than his anemic .508 OPS, citing “weaknesses in defense and handling a pitching staff” and hinting that the 23-year-old may have maturity and/or commitment issues. Bethancourt has hit well since taking up residence at Triple-A, but we’ve heard recently that Atlanta is looking outside the organization for young talent behind the dish.
The Mets’ inaction this season has been “inexplicable,” ESPN’s Buster Olney writes. The Mets have failed to address an injury-ravaged lineup, thus leaving Lucas Duda and an excellent rotation hanging out to dry. As a result, the Mets have scored only 25 runs total since June 16. As Olney points out, of course, there isn’t much happening on the trade market right now, with several weeks to go before the deadline and not many teams yet willing to pull the plugs on their seasons. But Olney suggests the Mets could at least find a depth-type player who might help, much as the Blue Jays did with Chris Colabello. They could also find help by being willing to take on a chunk of a bad contract. The team’s problem isn’t manager Terry Collins, Olney writes — it’s complacency. Here’s more from the Mets.
- The Mets have decided not to promote top prospect Michael Conforto despite their need for offense, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo writes. “At this point, he’s still in Binghamton and I would expect him to be over the near-term,” says GM Sandy Alderson. The Mets might be right not to see Conforto as a short-term fix for their sagging offense — he’s hitting .333/.414/.521 with Double-A Binghamton, but in only 133 plate appearances, and those represent his only experience in the high minors.
- Injured star David Wright (spinal stenosis) is hopeful he’ll be able to return to action this season, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York writes. “We’re getting down to the second half of the season now, and I feel like I’ve got one shot to get this thing right,” Wright says. Standing upright no longer causes him discomfort, although he has not yet begun running, and he will probably need several weeks to get back into baseball activities before he can return.
Though he admitted that he’s not privy to the front office’s discussions, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he expects ace Cole Hamels to be traded. “We’re not involved on the field,” said Mackanin. “But the whole point of this year basically is to see young guys, help us get ready for next year and beyond. If we can get good deals for Hamels and good deals for whomever else there might be out there, (Jonathan) Papelbon.” Hamels recently told Salisbury that he’s open to a trade to any club, including the Blue Jays and Astros. Previous reports had indicated that Hamels would block a deal to either club.
Here’s more from the NL East…
- The Tigers are scouting the Marlins‘ starting pitchers, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). There could be very little to read into here, as multiple teams are likely scouting the Marlins, and the Tigers of course are scouting other clubs. Nonetheless, a pitching matchup, at least on paper, does seem to exist between the two sides. The Tigers have seen Shane Greene lose his spot in the rotation and received little from Justin Verlander to this point. A solid addition to the rotation would make some sense, and the Marlins have a surplus now that Jose Fernandez is healthy. Fernandez joins Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart in the rotation. Latos and Haren, though, are free agents at season’s end, and the team has internal replacements capable of slotting into the rotation in the event of a trade.
- Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears that the Marlins are indeed willing to listen to offers on Latos and Haren. He adds Steve Cishek to that list as well and unsurprisingly says that the fallen closer likely will be non-tendered this offseason. Jackson, like other reporters, hears that the team isn’t entertaining the idea of moving Martin Prado at this point.
- Mets captain David Wright is “extremely optimistic” that he can begin baseball activities next week, tweets ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Wright won’t begin hitting in that time, however. Previously, the Mets have expressed hope to have the third baseman back by the All-Star break, though that timeline is fast approaching and Wright is still quite a ways from a rehab assignment.
Earlier this morning, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that the Braves would option struggling catcher Christian Bethancourt to Triple-A Gwinnett (Twitter link). While the corresponding move was not reported at the time, Atlanta has since announced that it will select the contract of Ryan Lavarnway to take Bethancourt’s place. Bethancourt, 23, has batted just .208/.231/.297 in 2014 plate appearances this season. While his elite arm behind the plate would be enough to outweigh a reasonable amount of offensive struggles, that batting line translates to the seventh-worst wRC+ in all of baseball among players with 100 PAs. Via David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, president of baseball ops John Hart likened the Bethancourt demotion to the 2014 demotions of Kolten Wong and Mike Moustakas. Each, like Bethancourt, was a former Top 100 prospect that had struggled in the Majors but has taken a step toward stardom since returning to the bigs. The Braves will hope that’s the outcome for Bethancourt, but in the meantime, they’ll hand his role to Lavarnway. The 27-year-old Lavarnway is a former Top 100 prospect himself, but he’s never replicated the promise he showed in a 2013 cup of coffee when he batted .299/.329/.429 in 84 PAs with Boston.
Here’s more from the NL East…
- Via the Record’s Matt Ehalt, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said today that a realistic target date for David Wright‘s return will be the All-Star break (Twitter link). The Mets captain has missed all but eight games this season, most of which has been due to a recent diagnosis of spinal stenosis. New York has been said to be looking to acquire a versatile bat that can play third base in the short-term and then move elsewhere once Wright is again healthy.
- The Mets recently discussed a scenario in which Noah Syndergaard would switch to a relief role in an effort to aid what has been a fragile bullpen, report Mike Puma and Zach Braziller of the New York Post. In that scenario, Steven Matz would have been recalled to take Syndergaard’s spot in the rotation. However, the team has decided against that decision and will remain committed to using Syndergaard as a starter. The story does seem to lend further credence to recent reports that the Mets are itching to get Matz to the Majors. They’ve reportedly discussed Jon Niese and Dillon Gee with other teams, though neither has generated much interest.
- While many Phillies fans have given up hope on Domonic Brown, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News feels the organization is doing the right thing by giving him a perhaps final shot at proving he’s been anything more than he has shown to this point. Brown, 27, has scarcely hit in the Majors, save for a blistering two-month stretch in 2013, but he still has more growth potential than alternative Phillies options such as Jeff Francoeur and Ben Revere. Brown explained to Murphy his offensive struggles in the minors this season — specifically feeling a lack of strength in his legs early on after returning from an Achilles injury. Brown’s production improved as the strength returned, and he’ll now get some opportunities to force his way into the lineup with regularity, manager Ryne Sandberg implied. Still, Brown is out of options after this season, so Murphy rightly points out that this could effectively be Brown’s last legitimate chance in Philadelphia.