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Didi Gregorius Rumors
The Giants are weighing whether or not to continue with beleaguered right-hander Tim Lincecum in their rotation, writes John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Lincecum himself offered a frank, expletive-laced assessment of his recent performance and sounded aware that he may not make his next start. Shea spoke with manager Bruce Bochy about rotation candidate Yusmeiro Petit‘s struggles as a starter and excellence in the bullpen this year, with Bochy calling Petit’s rotation work too small of sample to judge. Petit’s recent bullpen work, however, has been nothing short of incredible, if not historic. He’s retired 38 consecutive batters, striking out 16. As Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com points out (on Twitter), Petit is seven batters shy of matching the Major League record for most consecutive hitters retired. Lincecum, who is in the first season of a two-year, $35MM extension, has a 9.49 ERA over his past six starts and has totaled just 24 2/3 innings in that time. Baggarly tweets that for now, the team’s Thursday starter is listed as “TBA.”
Here’s more from the NL West…
- While the most commonly linked team to Bartolo Colon (who is currently on revocable waivers) has been the Angels, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his daily blog that the injury-plagued Dodgers are a candidate to place a claim as well (ESPN Insider required). Olney points out that Colon’s start against the Dodgers tonight could serve as an audition.
- Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa feels that his team can post a winning record in 2015, he tells Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. La Russa feels that the D’Backs can make improvements with their current roster solely by improving their approach at the plate and improving their baserunning, but he also cites the desire to make “two or three impactful moves” in the offseason, including the addition of at least one hitter and at least one pitcher.
- Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes that the D’Backs are in evaluation mode with middle infielders Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius, and Nick Ahmed. Additionally, the club is trying to determine how to mix in veterans Aaron Hill and Cliff Pennington. For the time being, GM Kevin Towers tells Buchanan that Owings will see more time at second base with Gregorius getting a look at short, but that doesn’t mean Owings is being converted to a second baseman full-time. Hill, meanwhile, will see action at third, though a full-time transition there would block prospect Jake Lamb, Buchanan notes. In my view, Pennington is a non-tender candidate following the season and Ahmed could use more work at Triple-A, leaving three infielders for two spots. Hill is guaranteed $12MM in 2015 and again in 2016, making him difficult to trade, but any number of clubs would likely be interested in Owings, Gregorius or Ahmed in trades.
- The Rockies are further away from contending now than they were at the beginning of the season, opines Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Saunders looks at Colorado’s pitching predicament, noting that Tyler Chatwood will miss the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery and Jhoulys Chacin‘s shoulder cannot be relied upon. Brett Anderson‘s injuries make it difficult to exercise his $12MM option, and Jorge De La Rosa could end up pitching elsewhere, as several sources with whom Saunders has conversed feel that there’s only a 50-50 chance he returns. Add in the persistent trade rumors regarding Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez — Saunders feels the latter is more likely to go — and the offseason is rife with question marks and uncertainty.
The Reds had yet to place any of their starting pitchers on waivers as of Saturday morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports in his weekly “Full Count” video. As Rosenthal notes, their waiver status may be a moot point, as each would likely be claimed and subsequently pulled back. More highlights regarding the Reds and the rest of the league below…
- The real drama surrounding the Reds‘ rotation could come this offseason, as Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon will all be entering their final year of team control. The Reds will have to decide which, if any, they want to sign to a long-term deal, and Rosenthal notes that they will likely trade “at least” one. Latos is perhaps the likeliest candidate to be dealt, according to Rosenthal, who notes that both Latos and Cueto would command more than Homer Bailey‘s six-year, $105MM contract.
- Rusney Castillo‘s six-year, $72.5MM contract with the Red Sox might not stand as the largest deal for a Cuban free agent very long. Yasmani Tomas is expected to be cleared as a free agent this offseason, and his huge raw power will be highly appealing, even if he is limited to left field, defensively speaking. As Rosenthal points out, Tomas is four years younger than Castillo and is against a crop of weak free agent bats. One executive that spoke with Rosenthal said the only flaw he sees in Castillo is his propensity to swing and miss.
- Rosenthal points back to a report of his prior to the trade deadline in which he had learned that the Nationals were looking for a young shortstop on the trade market. He’s now learned that Didi Gregorius of the Diamondbacks was one of their targets. Washington had planned on playing Gregorius at second base in the near-term and moving him back over to shortstop if Ian Desmond could not be retained. Of course, the club still wants to extend Desmond, who is a free agent following the 2015 season.
With Michael Cuddyer and Troy Tulowitzki both now stuck on the DL through the trade deadline, it would appear that neither has much chance of being dealt at this point by the Rockies. Of course, it is conceivable that Cuddyer could be moved in the revocable waiver period, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports that a mid-August return is possible. But Cuddyer would probably not generate much of a return given his long layoff, and the Rockies have given signals that they do not intend to deal him.
Here’s more out of Colorado and the rest of the NL West:
- The Rockies are approaching a breaking point with their decisionmaking structure, opines Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who reports that senior VP of major league operations Bill Geivett and manager Walt Weiss have not been on the same page in terms of the roster. Geivett operates alongside GM Dan O’Dowd to jointly perform the roles normally assigned to one person, and his “major league operations” role includes keeping an office in the clubhouse.
- The Giants are “intensifying” their efforts to add a starter, reports Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. With Matt Cain‘s elbow issues creating significant uncertainty, it appears that San Francisco could have a real need to add depth. While complicating factors make the Giants a tough buyer to line up, Baggarly says that Jake Peavy of the Red Sox appears to make a good deal of sense on paper. Meanwhile, San Francisco continues to look at right-handed hitting corner outfield and second base options, with Chris Denorfia (Padres) and Emilio Bonifacio (Cubs) seeming possibilities.
- For the Diamondbacks, a measured sell-off appears to be the club’s preferred tack, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Even after the more obvious keepers, the club seems inclined to hold onto veterans like Brad Ziegler and Martin Prado who come with significant future control. Of course, the remaining trade options tend to be players who would be expected to draw less back in return. Heyman notes that Arizona “would listen” on closer Addison Reed and may prefer to wait until the offseason to shop Didi Gregorius.
- The Padres have prioritized international scouting in their search for a new GM, tweets Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. That is one factor that has led some to suggest that Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller could be in the lead for the position.
Though his ERA and win-loss record aren’t much to look at (5.38 and 1-10), Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy is drawing trade interest, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). A free agent at season’s end, McCarthy has about $4.72MM remaining on this year’s $9MM salary — the second year of a two-year, $15.5MM pact he inked in the 2012-13 offseason. Rosenthal notes that Arizona is likely to make multiple trades before this year’s deadline.
While McCarthy’s season looks rough on the surface, there are a lot of factors suggesting that he could quickly turn things around. McCarthy’s .339 batting average on balls in play is 44 points higher than the league average, and he’s sporting the best ground-ball and K/9 rates of his career (55.9 percent and 7.4, respectively). His fastball velocity has soared from an average of 90.8 mph over the past two seasons to 93 mph, and he’s sporting his best swinging-strike rate since 2006 as a result. McCarthy has mostly been plagued by home runs this season, but his fluky 21.7 percent homer-to-flyball ratio figures to come down.
There’s not much question that McCarthy will be available in trades. As Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports, the Snakes are said to be preparing to put a “for sale” sign on their roster and are weighing trades of multiple veteran players. GM Kevin Towers — who, despite the hiring of Tony La Russa, calls this July business as usual — told Piecoro: “[W]e have to look at being more open-minded of moving some contracts and some veteran players for younger players.”
A fire sale may not be as easy for the D’Backs as it would for most teams, however, Piecoro cautions. McCarthy and fellow veterans Cody Ross and Aaron Hill are underperforming this season, which will hurt Arizona’s potential return in trades. Other movable veterans such as Eric Chavez, Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo are all currently on the disabled list.
One scout told Piecoro that the left-handers in Arizona’s bullpen — Joe Thatcher and Oliver Perez — figure to be of interest to other clubs. Both have enjoyed strong seasons to this point. Thatcher is a free agent at season’s end, while Perez, who signed a two-year deal this winter, is controlled through 2015. That same scout said he is intrigued by Gerardo Parra, but noted that the outfielder’s declining speed is a concern.
Towers noted to Piecoro that he would be reluctant to move young, controllable players such as Didi Gregorius and Triple-A shortstop Nick Ahmed (presumably, Chris Owings falls into that category as well).
Though they were never that interested in Stephen Drew, finding a solution at shortstop remains a priority for the Mets, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. While the upcoming free agent class features prominent names such as Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie, Martino hears that the team isn’t looking at that market yet. Rather, the Mets are focused on adding a young, controllable shortstop on the trade market this summer.
Martino lists Brad Miller and Nick Franklin of the Mariners as possibilities, though one source tells him that the two sides haven’t been in contact recently. Arizona’s Didi Gregorius is hitting very well at Triple-A Reno, and Martino says the Mets are continually monitoring him, but the front office shakeup in Arizona makes trading with them a bit confusing at this time, he adds. Martino writes that other teams, at this point, aren’t even sure whether to contact GM Kevin Towers or new Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa regarding trades, though Mets GM Sandy Alderson has a good relationship with both.
He continues by stating that the Mets were only interested in Drew on a one-year deal, as they didn’t want to be responsible for 2015 and beyond if he struggled this season. The team currently wants to see if Wilmer Flores can handle the position, but his defensive question marks have been well-documented.
From this point on, I’m purely speculating, but I wonder if a name like Hak-Ju Lee could be available on the trade market now that the Rays have extended Yunel Escobar‘s contract through at least 2016. Lee is struggling thus far in his return from multiple ligament tears in his knee last season, but he’s a former Top 100 prospect that could be blocked on the big league roster.
The Rangers also have some middle infield depth with Luis Sardinas likely blocked from a starting role due to the presence of Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. The pitching-hungry Twins also have a solid shortstop prospect in Danny Santana, though their own lack of a quality long-term option at short might make them hesitant to deal the 23-year-old.
The Mets possess enviable pitching depth with Matt Harvey on the mend from Tommy John surgery and a group of young starters including Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom and top prospect Noah Syndergaard. With such a wide range of arms under team control, the Mets could conceivably use that depth to entice a rival club to part with a controllable shortstop.
The Pirates have had trade talks with the Diamondbacks about shortstop Didi Gregorius, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Last Wednesday, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reported the D'Backs were making Gregorius available in trade, after Chris Owings won the team's starting shortstop job. Rubin wrote that the Diamondbacks seek an MLB-ready starting pitcher to offset the loss of Patrick Corbin.
Rubin implied potential interest from the Mets, and now we have another possible suitor in the Pirates. The Pirates enter the season with Jordy Mercer atop their shortstop depth chart, with top prospect Alen Hanson likely ticketed to return to Double-A. Though he's not Major League ready, the Pirates have a pitching prospect who's fairly close in Nick Kingham. Easier to acquire would be Jeff Locke, who will begin the season back at Triple-A, with, as he tells Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "a bit of a chip on my shoulder."
Aside from the Mets and Pirates, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports lists the Reds, Tigers, and Yankees as teams the D'Backs "have thought of as possibilities" for Gregorius.
It's already been a busy day for shortstop news as we've heard that the Diamondbacks are looking to trade Didi Gregorius for pitching, the Cardinals are shopping Pete Kozma, and the Tigers have been asking teams about available shortstops, even scouting such options as Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney. Here are some more shortstop-related rumors…
- The Tigers aren't likely "to make a serious push" for Kozma, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports opines (Twitter link), because they have a similar player in Danny Worth.
- There haven't been any reports linking the Tigers to the Mariners' Nick Franklin, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Franklin is perhaps better suited as a second baseman and may not have the glove to handle short, Heyman suggests.
- One scout suggested that Adeiny Hechavarria might be the sort of defensive specialist that Detroit would want at short. A Marlins source, however, tells Heyman that the Fish have yet to be contacted about Hechavarria.
- Several executives around baseball believe that signing Drew would be the best solution to the Mets' shortstop problem, Heyman reports. A multiyear deal for Drew would give the Mets an answer at short for 2015, when the team could look to contend once Matt Harvey is healthy.
- The Mets would be interested in Drew on a one-year, $9MM contract or possibly a two-year, $20MM deal, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. There haven't been any signs that Scott Boras, Drew's agent, would settle for either price.
- Also from Martino, the view on current Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada from opposing scouts is that he's "a solid player, who appears spooked by the pressures of playing in the New York market, and hearing criticism from his own front office." One scout believes that Tejada “could be OK, but he needs to get out of New York. [He's] a classic change-of-scenery guy.”
- A source not connected to either the Mets or Diamondbacks tells Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (Twitter link) that the rumor of Gregorius going to New York "has legs" and is a situation to watch.
Following the loss of Patrick Corbin to a torn ulnar collateral ligament, the Diamondbacks are looking to acquire an MLB-ready starting pitcher as they dangle shortstop Didi Gregorius in trade talks, according to ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin. That Gregorius is on the trading block isn't entirely surprising, as recent reports have indicated that Arizona will name Chris Owings its everyday shortstop. Previously, Arizona had been seeking a catcher in exchange for Owings or Gregorius, but Corbin's injury seems to have changed that line of thinking.
The 24-year-old Gregorius posted fairly decent overall numbers in his first significant taste of big league action in 2013, batting .252/.332/.373 with seven homers and roughly average defense at shortstop (per Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved). Gregorius projects to be a better defender than that going forward, but his bat is suspect, as evidenced by the rapid decline in his production last season after a hot start. Gregorius homered in two of his first three games with the Diamondbacks and batted .322/.386/.497 through his first 38 contests, but he mustered just a .202/.294/.284 line in his final 65 games.
Rubin writes that three D'Backs scouts were on-hand to watch an intrasquad game between the Mets' Double-A and Triple-A club yesterday. Noah Syndergaard, Logan Verrett and Jacob deGrom all pitched in that game, though as Rubin notes, Syndergaard is essentially untouchable in trade talks. Arizona currently projects for a rotation of Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy, Bronson Arroyo and one of Randall Delgado or Archie Bradley.
Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks has suffered "damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow," the club announced today. Tommy John surgery is the initial recommended course of action for Corbin, a source tells the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro (Twitter). The 24-year-old, however, will seek a second opinion and will not be with the team to start the year. Needless to say, the injury could have wide-ranging implications for the club, which has spent big to win and has top prospect Archie Bradley waiting in the wings. Corbin is the most recent in a sudden run of young pitchers facing arm issues, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote earlier this morning, discussing the state of pitching injuries in the game. Here are some more notes from the division, as it gets ready to kick-start the season in Australia:
- The Diamondbacks plan to give Chris Owings the starting shortstop job, reports ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Insider link). Preferring his bat to the glove of fellow youngster Didi Gregorius, Arizona could now be in a position to trade the latter. Gregorius had a solid rookie debut last year, putting up average defensive marks and a .252/.332/.373 triple-slash (along with seven home runs) in 404 plate appearances. Some believe he will have greater defensive value moving forward, making him a fairly attractive piece for teams in need of shortstop help, though Arizona appears determined to command a big return in a trade.
- The Rockies are looking at the trade market for a right-handed setup option, Bowden reports in the same piece. Of course, he also adds that LaTroy Hawkins is likely to cede the closer role to lefty Rex Brothers at some point, which would make Hawkins available (along with Matt Belisle) as a late-inning righty.
- Meanwhile, Colorado "remain[s] concerned with their leadoff spot and center field," both of which were vacated when the team decided to trade Dexter Fowler to the Astros to create payroll flexibility. This report caps off a confusing round of musical chairs for the Rockies. After trading away Dexter Fowler and his $7.35MM salary (along with whatever he'll earn through arbitration next year), the team added an aging Justin Morneau for nearly as much (two years, $12.5MM) and gave situational lefty Boone Logan the third-largest guarantee of any reliever this offseason (three years, $18.5MM). The team then dealt serviceable southpaw Josh Outman for Drew Stubbs, who is now part of a three-man group (including Brandon Barnes, who came in the Fowler deal, and Charlie Blackmon) that will probably form some kind of platoon in center, according to Bowden.
- Of course, Bowden adds, the Rockies also took on salary in adding starter Brett Anderson via trade. He has reportedly been very impressive, looking healthy and throwing like he did before his string of injury issues.
- The Rockies face a number of roster battles that are still too close to call, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The team is not inclined at present to trade away Blackmon or fellow left-handed-swinging Corey Dickerson, though that may become an option at some point.
- We learned earlier this morning that Dodgers catcher Miguel Olivo is seeking his release to pursue opportunities with another club.
Ruben Tejada is penciled in as the Mets' Opening Day shortstop, yet rumors continue to persist that the Mets are looking to upgrade the position. The latest…
- The Mets are keeping an eye on the Diamondbacks' shortstop competition and a source tells John Harper of the New York Daily News that the Mets "could jump in" to obtain Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings before Opening Day. When last we heard of the Mets/D'Backs shortstop talks, New York catching prospect Kevin Plawecki wasn't considered enough for either Gregorius or Owings, and Harper believes the Mets would have to move Plawecki and a minor league pitcher to make a deal work.
- Also from Harper, the Mets are still scouting Nick Franklin, and trying to decide if he can handle the shortstop job on a regular basis. Ninety of Franklin's 92 starts for the Mariners last season came as a second baseman, and while Franklin played more short than second in the minors, Seattle considered Brad Miller to be a better option than Franklin at shortstop.
- Stephen Drew, of course, remains available as a free agent, though GM Sandy Alderson again told reporters (including ESPN New York's Adam Rubin) that Drew's continued availability and the Braves' signing of Ervin Santana hasn't changed his club's stance. “I’m not interpreting it in terms of ‘our situation,’” Alderson said. “I don’t know that we have a situation here.” Alderson doesn't think Drew will hold out until June to escape the draft pick compensation hanging over his head, though the Mets GM believes Drew could wait to sign after Opening Day to ensure he wouldn't receive another qualifying offer next winter.
- Though Tejada hasn't gotten off to a good start in Grapefruit League action, Alderson said “it won’t be a judgment based on one game or two games or three games. We’ve got a lot of spring training left. In the meantime, we’ll continue to look at our other options.”