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Didi Gregorius Rumors
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.
The Yankees, Diamondbacks and Tigers are discussing a potential three-team trade that would send shortstop Didi Gregorius to the Yankees, reports WFAN’s Sweeny Murti (on Twitter). According to Murti, right-hander Shane Greene could head to the Tigers, with Detroit potentially sending a pair of arms to Arizona. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic chimes in, tweeting that left-hander Robbie Ray is potentially available for the Diamondbacks in a three-team deal, so it seems that he could be one of the pitchers referenced by Murti.
Of course, there would be other pieces involved in this framework. The reported pieces, as it stands, don’t necessarily explain the Tigers’ primary motivation for being in this deal, unless they’ve soured on Ray and are willing to part with him and another prospect in order to obtain Greene. While the 26-year-old Greene unquestionably had a strong debut for the Yankees in 2014 — 3.78 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 9.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 in 78 2/3 innings — it would seem surprising to think that Detroit would part with Ray and another arm to land Greene alone. Ray, of course, was the centerpiece to last winter’s surprising trade of Doug Fister to the Nationals.
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. 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.
The Diamondbacks have 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. 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.
Free agent lefty Francisco Liriano, most recently of the Pirates, is looking to land a three or four-year deal with a $12MM+ average annual value, according to a report from Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Twitter). That seems like a plenty reasonable starting point given Liriano’s excellent numbers over the past two seasons. While draft compensation will no doubt play a role in his free agency, MLBTR’s Steve Adams still predicts that he will land $40MM over three years.
Here are some notes out of the National League:
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is “increasingly aggressive and unpredictable,” says Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That lends some credence to the notion that St. Louis could pursue a top free agent starter, says Miklasz, who documents the reasons that adding Jon Lester or even Max Scherzer could make sense. In the final analysis, though, the veteran sportswriter says he would still be shocked if the team beats the market for an ace.
- Not only senior VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson but also GM Dave Stewart have been making the rounds internationally, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, who notes that the Diamondbacks are hoping to “make waves” in the international market. On the domestic front, Didi Gregorius is drawing the most interest on the trade market among the team’s middle infielders, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.
- The Padres appear to be leaning toward keeping starters Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. San Diego can and should avoid marking down the price on that pair, in my view, as it ought to provide a cheap source of solid rotation production over the next several years.
- Even if the Dodgers are not internally discussing a deal to bring back Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, as was recently reported, that does not mean that the club is closing the door completely to a reunion, per a tweet from Chris Cotillo of SB Nation.
Not only does new D’Backs GM Dave Stewart have Kevin Towers’ previous job, but the executive tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he’s actually living in Towers’ old house (Twitter link). That anecdote has little to do with the Diamondbacks’ future, however, so here are some more pertinent links…
- The Diamondbacks will definitely tender Cliff Pennington a contract, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (Twitter link). Stewart considers Pennington to be a valuable piece and won’t let him go to save salary. Pennington projects to earn $3.3MM in 2015 and is coming off a .254/.340/.350 batting line with his typically solid defense.
- The Diamondbacks remain interested in Chad Billingsley, Magruder tweets. Billingsley didn’t pitch in 2014 due to a torn flexor tendon that he suffered while rehabbing from 2013 Tommy John surgery. The interest is hardly surprising, as Billingsley is a former client of Stewart’s from his agency days. Billingsley has since signed on with Octagon’s Steve Hilliard, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted last week.
- Stewart went on-record with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News to say that if the D’Backs are to move either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings, it would be to acquire controllable, young pitching (All Twitter links). The Diamondbacks don’t have any interest in names like Jon Niese, Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon, Stewart stated.
TUESDAY: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic spoke to GM Dave Stewart, who characterized talks for Montero as due diligence rather than shopping the catcher. However, Piecoro also spoke with a source from a rival club and got the same sense that Rosenthal did: “They’ve definitely put him out there.”
Stewart stressed to Piecoro that the D’Backs aren’t interested in strictly dumping salary and added that any move the team makes “has to better our rotation.”
Piecoro speculates that the Cubs, White Sox and Rangers could be interested in taking on Montero. The Cubs have previously expressed interest in Montero, he writes, also adding that Cubs president Theo Epstein tried to land Montero back when he was still GM of the Red Sox as well.
SUNDAY: The Diamondbacks are considering trades for catcher Miguel Montero, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. A D’Backs official says the team is in “listening mode” for offers while rival teams say Arizona is openly shopping Montero’s services.
Montero has three years and $40MM remaining on the five-year, $60MM extension he signed with the D’Backs in May 2012. After posting a .798 OPS over the first seven years of his career, Montero’s hitting has dropped off, as the catcher has only posted a .237/.324/.358 slash line in 1035 PA since the start of the 2013 season. You’ll note that large number of plate appearances for a catcher; as Rosenthal mentions, Montero has played more games behind the plate than any other catcher over the last four seasons.
This wear-and-tear could have contributed to Montero’s offensive decline and some teams could therefore be wary of acquiring the 31-year-old, or he could be seen as a rebound candidate if he gets more regular rest, Rosenthal observed. While Montero has posted negative Defensive Runs Saved totals in each of the last three seasons, he is still considered one of baseball’s best pitch-framers.
The Diamondbacks would be looking to create some extra payroll space by moving Montero, though Rosenthal speculates that the team may have to cover some of his remaining salary and the D’Backs would need to find a replacement catcher since they don’t have any Major League-ready catching options in reserve. With a very thin free agent catching market outside of Russell Martin, however, you’d expect Montero to attract some interest from teams looking to upgrade behind the plate.
Also from Rosenthal’s piece, the Diamondbacks have received a lot of calls about Wade Miley and A.J. Pollock, though the team isn’t interested in moving either player. Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius, meanwhile, continue to draw attention from clubs looking for middle infield help.