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Didi Gregorius Rumors
Pete Rose will join the FOX Sports1 team, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. As you’re well aware, Rose is banned from baseball for gambling on the sport over 26 years ago. FOX is a broadcast partner with MLB, but the commissioner’s office has no say over who FOX does and does not hire. The media outlet did clear the move with MLB and says Rose was hired to provide a compelling, on-air personality. As I see it, this is a smart play for Rose as he continues to seek reinstatement.
- In 2013, the Phillies made a mistake by returning Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte to the Diamondbacks, writes Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly. However, the club is at no risk of repeating the poor decision with Odubel Herrera. The 23-year-old is hitting .308/.372/.513 in 43 plate appearances. He’s temporarily supplanted Ben Revere atop the lineup. Herrera was selected last December from the Rangers – a team that could also use him right around now.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman made a couple trades over the offseason to address shortstop and starting pitcher. Those moves have not shown positive early returns, writes Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Cashman sent pitcher Shane Greene to Detroit in a three-team swap for Didi Gregorius. Greene has pitched excellently in two outings – 16 innings, zero runs, eight strikeouts, and one walk. Meanwhile, Gregorius has hit just .152/.194/.152 and with a couple iffy plays on defense. In a related move, Cashman dealt Martin Prado for hard-throwing Marlins pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. He’s allowed five runs over 10 and one-third innings.
- The Dodgers local TV blackout does not hurt the team’s brand, argues Bill Shaiken of the LA Times. Owner Magic Johnson said the same recently. As you might expect, there was some backlash to the comments. As Shaiken pointed out, the fans returned to the Dodgers after the Frank McCourt era. NFL teams are clamoring to return to the Los Angeles market despite losing a generation of fans. While L.A. residents may be forgiving, the club’s TV plans remain in limbo while federal regulators work through a proposed merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast.
Kevin Pillar was expected to be the Blue Jays‘ fourth outfielder this season and, until Michael Saunders returned from the DL, only a short-term replacement in left field. After a hot start both offensively and defensively (including an incredible homer-robbing catch last night), however, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith notes that Pillar is making a strong bid for regular playing time even after Saunders is back. Given Saunders’ knee injury and recent hamstring issue, I’d guess that he could see some DH time to keep him fresh, opening the door for Pillar to continue playing in left. Switch-hitting center fielder Dalton Pompey has badly struggled against left-handed pitching in his brief career, so Pillar (a right-handed hitter) could also be used in a semi-platoon situation.
Here’s some news from around the AL East…
- The Orioles are dealing with several roster questions, and MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko notes that the club’s decisions involve both making the team better in 2015 and also looking ahead to who might fill some holes on the 2016 roster. Baltimore has 10 players scheduled for free agency this winter, leaving plenty of room to evaluate players for bigger roles, like T.J. McFarland or Mike Wright for a possible rotation spot next year.
- Also from Kubatko’s piece, the Orioles want to keep Rule 5 Draft pick Jason Garcia as a piece for 2016 and beyond, though keeping him on the roster for all of this season could be tricky. Garcia also has some interest from other teams, as “at least one member of the organization is convinced that the Rays would claim” the young righty if he was put on waivers.
- Grantland’s Jonah Keri explores why the Orioles are keeping Kevin Gausman in the bullpen when the promising youngster and former fourth overall pick could be more valuable in the rotation. One theory Keri has heard is that the O’s are giving their five veterans an opportunity to start in order to showcase them for possible trades, which would then open a space for Gausman. Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris are both free agents after the season and the O’s would likely love to rid themselves of Ubaldo Jimenez‘s contract, though it’s worth noting that Gausman has thus far struggled (8.31 ERA and a 1:1 strikeout to walk ratio over four innings) in a relief role.
- The early returns on the Yankees‘ offseason three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Tigers aren’t promising for the Bronx Bombers, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Shane Greene, who went to Detroit from New York, has yet to allow a run in 16 innings for the Tigers, while Didi Gregorius has had an all-around rough start to his Yankees career. While it’s still early, one scout tells Sherman that Greene made some strong adjustments and “was the best pitcher he had seen in March.” Sherman also notes that the Yankees haven’t historically had much success in trades with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski.
Venezuelan players are having trouble living at home in the offseason due to unrest there, Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today writes. Cubs catcher Miguel Montero tried going to Venezuela this winter but was only able to stay five days. “I would go from the place where I was trying to get my passport to the house and back. That’s it,” Montero said. “There are safety concerns anywhere in the world, but you watch the news about Venezuela and more people have been killed there than in Afghanistan.” Many Venezuelan stars, like Felix Hernandez and Miguel Cabrera, have established permanent homes in the U.S., with others trying to become permanent U.S. residents. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Rockies should consider using a sort of starter platoon system, with some starters pitching in Denver as much as possible and some regularly pitching on the road, to help combat the Coors Field effect, FanGraphs’ Mike Petriello writes. To make the plan work, the Rockies might need a sixth starter, and they would have to frequently shuttle pitchers back and forth from Triple-A. The plan would give a starter like Jorge De La Rosa, the rare pitcher who seems to thrive at Coors Field, more chances to pitch there. Petriello looks through the Rockies’ schedule and comes up with a way to allow De La Rosa to make 20 of 34 starts at home. It now appears likely that De La Rosa will begin the season on the disabled list, so he won’t actually be able to make 34 starts, and the Rockies’ rotation probably has enough immediate concerns heading into the season that it can’t try something this experimental right now. But it’s an interesting idea.
- Didi Gregorius is earning over-the-top praise in Yankees camp, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. “[Gregorius] has made plays from the hole, from his back foot, throwing the ball 90 mph across the diamond from his back foot. You don’t see that,” says Alex Rodriguez. “It also makes it a lot easier for your third baseman to play third base.” (The rest of the A-Rod quotes alone make Rosenthal’s article worth reading — Rodriguez talks about Gregorius like a scout, complete with repeated references to a variant of the 20-to-80 scouting scale used to evaluate ballplayers. Also check out the sidebar, in which Rodriguez describes how shifts changed the game just in the year he was suspended.) As Derek Jeter‘s replacement, Gregorius has big shoes to fill, but he’s getting great reviews so far, at least defensively.
For the first time in awhile, the Yankees are showing signs of youth and upside, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Per GM Brian Cashman, the club is deeper, flexible, younger, and more diverse. Rosenthal notes that Cashman is finally operating “from a position of strength,” and “no longer is in a box.” The Yankees have options moving forward besides depending on outspending the competition. Here’s more Yankees notes from Rosenthal’s column.
- The Yankees have the prospect depth to trade for Cole Hamels if they wanted. However, Rosenthal cautions that Cashman may be reluctant to part with the depth he’s so carefully nurtured. A deal for Hamels might also start with newly acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius, which would just create a new problem to solve (arguably a more difficult problem in my opinion). The Yankees had the pieces to add Johan Santana back when the the Twins were shopping him, but they kept their prospects and spent on C.C. Sabathia the following offseason. We could be in for some deja vu, especially with next offseason’s free agent market shaping up to be pitching rich.
- While the club can turn to free agency rather than trade for Hamels, Rosenthal thinks they would have re-signed Robinson Cano last offseason if they wanted to make a $200MM investment. For that reason, a pact with Max Scherzer might be unlikely.
- Cashman has three surprising trades this offseason, so guessing his behavior based on history might be misleading. The club could deal from its minor league catching depth, such as John Ryan Murphy or Gary Sanchez. Others such as Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, David Carpenter, and Brett Gardner are less likely to be offered in trade talks.
Here’s the latest from Mets exec Sandy Alderson, via Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.
- The Mets currently appear slated to head into 2015 with Wilmer Flores at shortstop, Alderson says. The team did not have significant discussions with the Diamondbacks about Didi Gregorius before Gregorius was traded to the Yankees. “We knew Arizona was looking for young pitching,” says Alderson. “There’s some young pitching we weren’t prepared to trade, but I can’t say we had a lot of extensive conversations with Arizona.” The Diamondbacks reportedly asked for Noah Syndergaard in exchange for Gregorius.
- Rubin writes that the team has had talks with the Mariners about Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, but they could wait until January to acquire shortstop (if they do acquire one), whether that’s through a trade or through the signing of someone like Jed Lowrie.
- The Mets are also looking for a left-handed reliever and a right-handed bench bat, but Alderson suggests they could wait until after the Winter Meetings to obtain them.
- Likewise, the Mets could wait to trade one of their starting pitchers — likely Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee — until later this offseason. “[Y]ou look at the free-agent market — not a lot has happened on the pitching side,” says Alderson. “Some of that activity may have to take place before we’re able to really have serious discussions with anyone on a possible trade.”
- Alderson says he is not overly worried about the possibility of trading Niese and being without a lefty in the Mets’ starting rotation.
Here’s the latest from Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta:
- Outfield is the top priority for the Orioles next week, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The team is trying to bring back Delmon Young on a one-year deal, but may be open to including an option. Young is looking for a multi-year deal after playing for five teams in the last four seasons. Justin Upton may not fit since the club already has several starters slated to hit free agency after the 2015 season. In fact, all of the most readily available outfielders come with baggage that could make them unattractive to Baltimore.
- Although the O’s have a full 40 man roster, Connolly thinks they will free up space for a Rule 5 draft pick. GM Dan Duquette has a solid track record, having selected Ryan Flaherty and T.J. McFarland in recent seasons.
- The Rays aren’t worried about newly minted manager Kevin Cash‘s lack of experience, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The existing clubhouse infrastructure should help to ease him into the job. Luminaries such as Terry Francona, David Ortiz, and Chris Gimenez all praised his baseball intelligence.
- The Braves aren’t done make moves, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a series of tweets. The club is looking to add another starting pitcher, second baseman, and backup catcher. Atlanta is still in the mix for former Braves backstop David Ross, which could address one of those concerns. A left-handed reliever and additional bench help are also on the wish list. As for available funds, they can afford to pursue a moderately priced free agent or perhaps make a bigger splash if they move more money.
The Yankees acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius as part of a three team trade yesterday, but he won’t be expected to fill Derek Jeter‘s shoes, writes Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. Gammons explores the experience of similar infielders like Andrelton Simmons, Xander Bogaerts, Jurickson Profar, and Jonathan Schoop. All reached the majors at a young age and stumbled. It’s likely that most of these skilled athletes simply need to adjust to life in the majors. Gregorius may be experiencing the same growing pains.
- The Bombers acquired Gregorius to play a steady shortstop, reports Richard Justice of MLB.com in an evaluation of the trade. Gammons’ piece (linked above), noted the young shortstop’s platoon splits, which could open playing time for Brendan Ryan. Gregorius hit .247/.304/.402 against right-handed pitchers while struggling to a .137/.228/.196 line versus fellow lefties. For development purposes, the Yankees won’t want to completely hide him against southpaws.
- The Mets will be patient with their starting pitching depth, writes Newday’s Marc Carig. Unlike with hitters, the market for pitchers has been slow to develop. Between free agents and a glut of trade targets, teams in need of pitching have a slew of choices. As those go off the board, demand for the Mets’ hurlers should increase. Among those most readily available are Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, and Dillon Gee. GM Sandy Alderson isn’t concerned, saying “there’s always somebody that needs more pitching.”
- The Yankees will promote Marcus Thames to assistant hitting coach, reports Anthony McCarron and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. He spent last season as the hitting coach for Double-A Trenton. The former major leaguer retired after 2011.
- The Yankees also looking to fill the primary hitting coach role. Jody Reed, the Yankees’ minor league field coordinator, is thought to be the favorite. GM Brian Cashman reportedly wanted input from the next hitting coach before hiring an assistant, so the decision to promote Thames may indicate that a move is already being finalized.
The Yankees addressed two major needs earlier today when they completed a three-team deal to land shortstop Didi Gregorius and later signed reliever Andrew Miller to a four-year, $36MM deal. Since the Miller deal came to light, some have wondered whether he will displace free agent David Robertson as the team’s closer. In a conference call earlier today, GM Brian Cashman left the door open for Robertson but also made it clear that he’ll be addressing other needs as well.
“We’ll wait and see. We’re still evaluating all opportunities in this market place,” Cashman said. “We need to address the left side of the infield, the starting rotation, finding a fourth outfielder…we’ll evaluate every opportunity that comes our way and with all the moving pieces that we have going on, we have to take a serious interest in all of those things and I can’t predict how that will go.”
If one thing is for certain in Cashman’s mind, it’s that there is plenty more work to be done this winter. He told reporters that he is in “acquisition mode” this offseason as the Yankees look to take care of their multiple needs. Still, he won’t prioritize one area over another as intends to pounce on whatever opportunities and strong fits come his way.
Of course, he trimmed down the checklist a good amount today with the acquisitions of Miller and Gregorius. As Cashman explained, his pursuit of the young shortstop has been going on for some time.
“He’s a young athletic shortstop and his defense is very good. He’s struggled against left-handed pitching and we believe he hits right-handed pitching well, so I think at the very least, we open up 2015 with him in a platoon with Brendan Ryan until he separates himself. So, the high end projection is that we think there’s more in the tank there as he continues to develop. We think he’s an exciting talent, but honestly he’s not a finished product.
“He’s someone we targeted not just this winter, but in past seasons, both with the old regime and the new regime. I had to go through another club to get my hands on him. We believe we’re in a better place than we were before we had him,” Cashman explained.
Even though Cashman was happy to finally get his man, it was difficult for him to part with right-hander Shane Greene in order to make it happen. In the end, Cashman felt that Greene established himself as a promising talent after last season, but that was the price he had to pay in order to get an up-and-coming player at a premium position.
While today’s acquisitions will be counted on for big performances in 2014, Cashman knows that it’ll be even more crucial for the Bombers to get strong play out of their veterans coming back from injury. Alex Rodriguez‘s name was mentioned alongside the likes of Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, and Brian McCann, but he was noticeably left out when Cashman noted that he has one possibility to play third base (Martin Prado) on the roster. When asked to expand, Cashman explained that he’s only hoping for, not banking on, A-Rod to be a factor at third base.
“I think it’s every color on the rainbow. The extreme hope is that you can get the middle of the lineup bat to play third whenever you want, if not all the time. The worst case scenario is that he’s no longer a third baseman and doesn’t have that bat and you’re looking other places,” said the GM.
Ultimately, Prado could wind up being slotted in at second or third base and Cashman sounded like someone who was equally open to either possibility. Figuring out a solution for one of those two positions will be amongst the Bombers’ top priorities going forward, but the crazy nature of the baseball offseason means that Cashman will have to be equal parts proactive and reactive in filling the team’s holes. Whether the Yankees put more resources into the infield or, say, fortifying the starting rotation will hinge on what opportunities present themselves in the coming weeks.
“I will gravitate faster to whatever presents itself as the most interesting option. I will have to act accordingly because there are many teams with the same needs as us,” Cashman said.
The Yankees, Diamondbacks and Tigers have officially announced a three-team trade sending shortstop Didi Gregorius from the D-Backs to the Yankees, right-hander Shane Greene from the Yankees to the Tigers, and left-hander Robbie Ray and infield prospect Domingo Leyba to the Diamondbacks.
Gregorius, who turns 25 in February, has a good defensive reputation but comes with some question marks regarding his bat. In his age-24 season with the D-Backs, Gregorius batted .226/.290/.363 with six homers and three steals in 299 plate appearances. Overall, he’s compiled a .243/.313/.366 batting line over parts of three seasons in the Majors, showing stretches of offensive potential at times. For instance, Gregorius batted .275/.341/.403 in the first half of the 2013 season with a reasonable .313 BABIP, suggesting that his production wasn’t inflated heavily by luck. However, he followed that up with a .207/.314/.314 second half. He’ll obviously have large shoes to fill in New York as the Yankees hope that he can be a long-term replacement to Derek Jeter. Gregorius is controlled through the 2019 season, giving the Yankees at least five full seasons of his services if he proves that he can handle the job.
Greene is a candidate to immediately fill the fifth slot in the Tigers’ rotation behind David Price, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello. The 26-year-old had an impressive debut with the Yankees in 2014, making 15 appearances (14 starts) and posting a 3.78 ERA (3.73 FIP, 3.40 xFIP, 3.41 SIERA) with 9.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 50.2 percent ground-ball rate in 78 2/3 innings. Greene averaged a solid 93.1 mph on his fastball last year and gives the Tigers a piece they can potentially control in the long-term, with Price and Porcello set to hit free agency next winter. Greene is controllable through the 2020 season.
The Diamondbacks are dealing from a position of depth, as they had a number of shortstop options in 2015, with Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed all representing controllable possibilities, and the veteran Cliff Pennington serving as a one-year option before hitting the open market next winter. With this move, Owings will presumably be penciled in as the everyday shortstop and will team with Aaron Hill to form the Diamondbacks’ double-play tandem.
Arizona is known to be seeking rotation options for the 2015 season this winter, and in landing Ray, they’d be acquiring an arm that has a bit of MLB experience and could soon step into the rotation. Ray, who turned 23 in October, made nine appearances in Detroit this season but allowed 26 runs in 28 2/3 innings. He also struggled, to an extent, in Triple-A last year, pitching to a 4.22 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. However, he’s one year removed from being regarded highly enough by the Tigers to serve as the centerpiece in their trade of Doug Fister to the Nationals.
Leyba was recently ranked fifth among Detroit farmhands by Baseball America. The 19-year-old switch-hitter played both shortstop and second base between short-season Class-A in the New York Penn League and Class-A in the Midwest League, batting .323/.360/.423 with a pair of homers and a pair of steals in 278 plate appearances. In BA’s scouting report, Ben Badler writes that while Leyba doesn’t have any “dynamic” tools, he’s a fundamentally sound infielder with good bat control and a line-drive stroke that can barrel up against good velocity. Badler noted that he’s probably better suited at second base, but the Tigers did give him a look at short in the season’s final two weeks. MLB.com ranked him eighth among Tigers prospects on its midseason Top 20 list, noting that he has double-digit homer potential once he matures and possesses good strike zone knowledge.
For the Yankees, this places an even larger need on acquiring starting pitching, either via free agency or trade, this offseason. Greene’s departure leaves New York with Masahiro Tanaka (whose elbow health is up in the air), CC Sabathia (coming off knee surgery), Ivan Nova (coming off Tommy John surgery), Michael Pineda (who has been plagued by shoulder problems) and David Phelps as potential rotation pieces. The decision to move Greene in order to address shortstop isn’t necessarily the result of a faulty thought process, however. The free agent and trade markets are both stacked with starting pitching options this winter, while there’s little in the way of shortstop talent available (particularly if one feels that Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie are better equipped to play second base). Gregorius will team with Martin Prado either up the middle or on the left side of the infield (depending on how New York’s pursuit of Chase Headley ultimately concludes), with Mark Teixeira hoping to return to health at first base. If they elect to use Prado at third and give Rob Refsnyder a shot at second base, as the Post’s George A. King III and others have speculated, then it stands to reason that the primary focus from this point forth will be pitching upgrades, both in the rotation and in the bullpen.
WFAN’s Sweeny Murti first reported a framework that was being discussed. The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro then tweeted that Ray was likely one of the names headed to the D-Backs, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports pushed the report across the finish line, noting that a deal with those parameters had indeed been agreed upon (Twitter links). Rosenthal’s colleague, Jon Morosi reported that Leyba was the second prospect in the deal (on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
While Andre Ethier took his transition to a bench role in 2014 in stride and without complaint, he told Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times that he’s communicated to the Dodgers, through his agent, that he wants to start in 2015, even if it means moving to another club. “It didn’t work,” said Ethier. “Let’s do something different. That’s the way I look at it. And I think a lot of people probably look at it that way, too.” Ethier explained to Dilbeck that he felt the 2014 Dodgers were well-positioned to win the World Series, and he didn’t want to “add another wrench” and complicate matters for the team by griping about playing time. Ethier continued, “I’d rather play every day and help this team win — or whatever team it is — to the best of my ability. I feel I can, if given a role. As I stand here today, I’m preparing every day to be a starting outfielder for the Dodgers, until I’m told otherwise.” Ethier is still owed $56MM over the next three seasons, so the Dodgers would likely have to include a significant amount of cash to offset that commitment for an acquiring club.
Here’s more on the National League West…
- Yasmani Grandal may have more trade value than any Padres player at this point, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. As Lin notes, the market is flooded with pitching options but thin on quality catchers, and the Padres have a capable alternative in Rene Rivera, whom the coaching staff and pitchers love. In a second tweet, however, Lin quotes a Major League talent evaluator who feels it’s “quite a risk” to move the 26-year-0ld switch-hitter given his age, position and upside. Grandal is not yet arbitration eligible (he will be next winter) and has four years of team control remaining.
- Didi Gregorius is headed to the Yankees following this morning’s three-team trade with the Tigers, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that the Yankees first tried to engage the D-Backs directly by offering Shane Greene (who is headed to Detroit in the that three-team deal) for Gregorius. However, the D-Backs weren’t interested in that swap, prompting the Yankees to reach out to the Tigers to help facilitate the move.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Diamondbacks have narrowed the search for a new scouting director down to two names: Nationals special assistant Deric Ladnier and Reds national crosschecker Mark Snipp. Ladnier, who has previously served as a scouting director for the Royals, is expected to get the job, according to Heyman.