Didi Gregorius Rumors
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly will soon be fired, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal argues. "My guess is that Mattingly gets this series, and if things don’t go better, that’s it," Rosenthal says. "The Dodgers are off Thursday, then begin a five-game homestand against the Cardinals and Angels. You can look it up — managerial changes often occur on off-days before a homestand." The Dodgers are currently 17-25 after being swept by the Braves. Rosenthal notes that GM Ned Colletti might find himself on the hot seat as well, but that the typical pattern is for the manager to be the first out the door. When asked recently whether Mattingly would remain with the Dodgers through the end of the season, team president Stan Kasten replied, "I assume so," but noted that he expected the team to play better. Here's more from the NL West.
- Despite his hot start, Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt isn't worried about money he might end up losing as a result of his recent extension, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. "You make the best decision at the time," says Goldschmidt. "I love it in Phoenix. I was happy we got a deal done. And I'm happy to get it done in spring training, so it didn't become a distraction." Heyman cites an anonymous agent who says that the extension could cost Goldschmidt $75MM. That seems like an exaggeration, but Goldschmidt could easily make his five year, $32MM deal look like a bargain from the Diamondbacks' perspective if he continues hitting anything resembling his current .335/.418/.645 pace.
- Didi Gregorius' surprising hitting so far in the big leagues is making the Diamondbacks' end of the Shin-Soo Choo / Trevor Bauer deal with the Reds and Indians look better with time. But Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic wonders whether Gregorius' hitting can last. No one in the last ten years has posted a career minor-league OPS below .725 (minimum 1,900 plate appearances) and a career major-league OPS above .741 (minimum 500 plate appearances). Gregorius had a .694 career minor-league OPS; his major-league OPS through 106 plate appearances is .884.
- Rockies pitcher Roy Oswalt will join the Double-A Tulsa Drillers on Tuesday and will make his first start on Friday, ROOT Sports' Tracy Ringolsby notes (on Twitter). Ringolsby projects Oswalt would make his fifth minor-league start June 14. Oswalt can opt out of his contract with the Rockies on either June 18 or June 28 if he has not been added to the big-league roster. Oswalt's command was strong in extended spring training, MLB.com's Thomas Harding notes (on Twitter).
Here are a few notes from the National League:
- The Diamondbacks raised eyebrows with several of their offseason moves, including the decision to part with young arm Trevor Bauer in the deal that brought shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius to Arizona. While it is still far too early to evaluate this deal, ESPN's Buster Olney writes (on Insider) that the most recent scouting returns on Gregorius are positive. Known as an excellent fielder, the glove-first Gregorius has been flashing improved strength and bat speed that could lead to more power than was previously expected. Off to a hot start to his big league career as he fills in for an injury-plagued Dbacks squad, the 23-year-old Gregorius certainly appears to be living up to Arizona GM Kevin Towers' hopes in the early going. Towers said the club not only felt that Gregorius "can really, really play short," but saw excellent bat speed and pitch recognition and believed he was "a tremendous kid" who has "got no fear."
- Soon-to-be free agent hurler Matt Garza of the Cubs ranks seventh on MLBTR's Tim Dierkes's latest 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings despite his prolonged absence from the majors. Garza appears to be set up for a mid-May return, reports Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Much like Roy Halladay, Garza's expected free agent haul could swing wildly based on 2013 results. While that is, of course, the case for any prospective free agent, it is possible to conceive of a wider band of results for a player like Garza. The 29-year-old features a very solid track record and relative youth, but is coming off of a long lull due to multiple injuries. Of course, Garza's play upon his return will also play a big role in whether the last-place Cubs will look to deal the pitcher to a contender (or, in the alternative, look to extend or re-sign him).
- The Phillies' major offseason trade acquisition and now-former leadoff hitter Ben Revere has continued his inability to draw walks since joining the Phils. In comments on Thursday, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro bemoaned the team's inability to earn free passes, as reported by Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. In fact, the club has the third-worst walk rate in baseball (5.9%), well below the league average of 8.1%. The comments have led to some consternation among observers, such as Bill Baer of NBC Sports, who remember Amaro's statement in January: "I don't care about walks. I care about production."
Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Eaton holds the top spot on Keith Law's top 20 list of prospects (ESPN Insider subscription required) who will have the biggest impact in 2013. Eaton is projected as Arizona's leadoff man and everyday center fielder, and Law believes Eaton can be a Rookie Of The Year candidate given how well his game fits Chase Field. D'Backs left-hander Tyler Skaggs is #4 on Law's list and Trevor Bauer (who the Snakes dealt to the Indians this offseason) ranked fifth. Padres righty Casey Kelly also appears in the top 20, while Padres infielder Jedd Gyorko and Giants reliever Heath Hembree are honorable mentions.
Here's the latest from the NL West...
- Derrick Hall, the Diamondbacks' president and CEO, said "our moves are done at this point" during his monthly chat with fans on MLB.com. Hall confirmed that the team would be keeping Jason Kubel, which GM Kevin Towers noted in the wake of the Justin Upton deal last month.
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers said the club didn't require Didi Gregorius to take a physical before they acquired him in December, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. This is significant only because Gregorius is currently suffering from a slightly-strained UCL, as Piecoro notes that it is fairly rare for teams to ask for players to take full physicals before deals unless the player has a particular injury history.
- Yorvit Torrealba is back with the Rockies and some team officials have admitted the club erred in not re-signing the catcher as a free agent after the 2009 season, MLB.com's Thomas Harding writes. Torrealba signed a minor league deal with Colorado last month and is battling Ramon Hernandez for the backup catching job.
- Carl Crawford feels invigorated by his trade to the Dodgers, the outfielder tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Crawford said he was "in kind of a depression stage" during his troubled tenure in Boston, and he described the environment with the Red Sox as "toxic."
- Expectations are high for the free-spending Dodgers but manager Don Mattingly and GM Ned Colletti aren't fazed by the pressure, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes.
- From earlier today, the Rockies acquired utilityman Reid Brignac from the Rays and we covered some more Dodgers items as part of a Los Angeles Notes post.
Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers spoke to David Laurila of FanGraphs just before the holidays, and the interview was published today. The long-time executive discussed his upbringing in the game as well as his team-building philosophies while with the Padres and D'Backs. Here are a few other highlights...
- Theo Epstein, who was with the Padres early in his career, first introduced Towers to park effects. He says they played a role in acquiring both Chris Young (fly ball pitcher moving to Petco Park) and Trevor Cahill (ground ball pitcher moving to Chase Field).
- Towers likes a bullpen with different looks, which contributed to the acquisition of Tony Sipp. "Sipp has a little bit of funkiness and deception to his delivery, and historically he’s had very good numbers against left-handed hitters," said the GM.
- The lack of quality middle infielders, both on the current market and also in the draft and internationally, played an important role in the Didi Gregorius pickup. "Sometimes you have to overpay for [up-the-middle players], because of that lack of inventory," said Towers. Both Sipp and Gregorious were acquired earlier this month in the three-team deal with the Reds and Indians.
- Phil Mickelson will not be part of the Padres' ownership group, reports Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The golf star said he isn't "able to make that kind of long-term commitment to the city and to the team."
- It doesn't seem logical for the Rangers to give Edwin Jackson (what would have to be) a four-year, $50MM contract, opines MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. We heard earlier tonight that the Rangers and Cubs were the final two contenders for Jackson's services.
- Major League Baseball has ruled that the $2MM the Angels will donate to Josh Hamilton's charitable foundation will count towards the team's luxury tax payments and be counted as "noncash compensation," reports The Associated Press. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted the charitable portion of Hamilton's contract earlier today.
- It can be difficult for players to mentally adjust to the "baseball limbo" that is the offseason rumor mill, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick writes.
- Money has been no object for Tigers owner Mike Ilitch as he pursues a World Series title, but ESPN's Buster Olney wonders if the Tigers' next owner will be able to keep the club's payroll in the $150MM range given the limitations of Detroit's market. (An ESPN Insider subscription is required to read Olney's column.)
- Nick Swisher will not be visiting the Giants during his tour of potential destinations, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. With the Giants not having enough payroll space left to pursue Swisher, I think we can finally put this rumor to bed.
- The Twins and Carl Pavano don't appear to be a fit, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger writes. The two sides met during the Winter Meetings and though Pavano has pitched well in Minnesota, he turns 37 in January and missed most of last season with an injured shoulder. I agree with Bollinger that the Twins would probably want a more reliable option than Pavano given that several other projected members of the Twins rotation are also coming back from injuries.
- Baseball people suggest Trevor Bauer has a better chance of becoming an impact player than Didi Gregorius, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. The Diamondbacks sent Bauer to the Indians last week in the three-team deal that brought Gregorius to Arizona. As Piecoro explains in detail, however, there were some questions about Bauer's personality and his ability to be a team player.
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post
One AL GM said the Indians got “incredible value” for Shin-Soo Choo by obtaining Trevor Bauer in last night’s three-team trade, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. While evaluators love Didi Gregorius’ glove, they wonder if the Diamondbacks’ new infielder will hit enough to merit an everyday job. Here's the latest from Olney (some Twitter links)...
- Free agent right-hander Brian Wilson is expected to have opportunities to close, Olney writes. The Giants non-tendered their longtime closer last month, making him a free agent.
- Agents and executives wonder what will happen with free agent center fielder Michael Bourn, Olney reports(on Twitter). In my view the Rangers and Mariners appear to be two possible destinations for the Scott Boras client.
- The Indians could still trade Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson and Vinnie Pestano, as Olney points out (on Twitter). There’s “not much action” on Chris Perez, however.
- Some evaluators say the Red Sox are poised to move on the pitching market as prices drop, according to Olney(on Twitter). GM Ben Cherington figures to add starting pitching depth at some point, as his projected rotation consists of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, John Lackey and Franklin Morales.
- It’s apparent that the Mariners aren’t the top choice of the best free agent hitters. Olney suggests Seattle will end up signing a leftover player, though they’re pressing to land someone of note.
- Phillies officials have privately maintained that they’d be prepared to offer Josh Hamilton a three-year deal.
8:12pm: The Diamondbacks announced that they have acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius, left-handed pitcher Tony Sipp, and first baseman Lars Anderson from the Indians in exchange for right-handed pitchers Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw. The Reds are receiving Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald in the swap and are sending Drew Stubbs to Cleveland as well. The Indians will send the Reds approximately $3.5MM to account for the differences in projected salaries between Choo and Stubbs, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
The Reds will use Choo in center field even though he hasn't played there for the Indians since 2009 and has played just ten MLB games at the position in total. The Reds are banking on the 30-year-old's offensive production being able to make up for whatever they might lose defensively. The veteran owns a .289/.381/.465 slash line across eight major league seasons.
Choo, a Scott Boras client, is set to hit the open market after the 2013 season. The Indians have been said to have him available via trade, albeit with a high price tag. The Reds will plug Choo in as the leadoff hitter, a role they have been working hard to fill. The club spoke with the Twins about Ben Revere before he was traded to the Phillies and also had conversations with the Rockies about Dexter Fowler.
Stubbs, 28, struggled at the plate in 2012 as he posted a .213/.277/.333 batting line with 14 home runs in 544 plate appearances. The former eighth-overall pick in the 2006 draft has a .241/.312/.386 across four big league seasons with the Reds.
It was believed that the initial acquisition of Gregorius by the Indians would pave the way for them to deal fellow shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, but they instead flipped Gregorius and kept Cabrera. The 22-year-old Gregorius won't be arbitration eligible until 2016 and won't see the open market until 2019. The Netherlands native split time between Double-A and Triple-A last season, hitting .265/.324/.393 with seven homers in 561 plate appearances. The 27-year-old Cabrera, meanwhile, is set to earn $6.5MM in 2013 and $10MM in 2014 before hitting free agency. Gregorius entered 2012 as the Reds' sixth-best prospect, according to Baseball America. The publication also had him ranked as the organization’s best defensive infielder and deemed him to have the best throwing arm in the farm system.
Sipp posted a 4.42 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 63 relief appearances last season. The 29-year-old was a fixture in the Indians' bullpen, making 248 relief appearances with Cleveland from 2009-12.
The Indians acquired Anderson at the trade deadline this year from the Red Sox in exchange for Double-A starter Steven Wright. The 25-year-old posted a .250/.353/.396 slash line in 111 games for Triple-A Pawtucket and Triple-A Columbus. Anderson has also played in 30 big league games for the Red Sox across three seasons.
Bauer, 21, was the third overall selection by Arizona in the 2011 Draft out of UCLA. Baseball America had Bauer as the ninth-best prospect in baseball entering 2012. The hurler spent most of 2012 between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno where he had a combined 2.42 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 22 starts. Bauer became the first member of the 2011 draft to appear in the big leagues when he made four starts for the Diamondbacks in July.
Albers, 29, spent 2012 with the Red Sox and D'Backs, posting a 2.39 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 63 relief appearances. For his career, Albers owns a 4.68 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 across seven big league seasons.
Shaw, 25, spent the bulk of last season in the Arizona bullpen where he had a 3.49 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 64 relief appearances. The right-hander was taken in the second-round of the 2008 draft by the Diamondbacks and has seen time in 97 big league games across the last two seasons.
8:04pm: The portion of the deal involving the Diamondbacks and Indians has not been finalized, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (via Twitter).
7:50pm: The deal sending Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds has been completed, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The Reds will also receive Jason Donald in the trade, Heyman confirms (via Twitter).
The three-team deal that was being worked on had Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald going to the Reds, Didi Gregorius to the Diamondbacks, and Drew Stubbs plus an Arizona pitcher going to the Indians, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Patrick Corbin or Trevor Bauer will likely be the Arizona pitcher going to Cleveland, Rosenthal tweets.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com first reported that the Reds were close to acquiring Choo in a deal with the Indians netting them Stubbs and Gregorius. Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reported that the D'Backs were involved, making it a three-team deal. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the framework of the trade.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty spoke to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer about some of the free agent names connected to his club this winter...
- The Reds' first priority is trying to find a leadoff hitter, though Jocketty said that Michael Bourn is too expensive for his club and the same could be true about Angel Pagan. Jocketty said that the team hasn't contacted Pagan yet and "not that we wouldn’t but I wonder about the money.”
- Jocketty confirmed that the Reds have talked to Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Madson about returning to Cincinnati, while the team has also spoke to free agent Joakim Soria. Broxton is the only one of the trio who would be able to pitch on Opening Day, as Madson and Soria are both recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Reds are likely one of the eight contenders who Soria's agent, Oscar Suarez, says has shown interest in his client.
- The Reds talked to Torii Hunter's agent "but the money was too much," Jocketty said. The general manager doubted that Hunter's two-year, $26MM contract with the Tigers would impact Ryan Ludwick's price since "they're different kind(s) of players." The Reds have had "preliminary" talks with Ludwick about a new deal.
- Jocketty told FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi last week that the Reds could deal one of their shortstops (Zack Cozart and Didi Gregorius) if the right deal came along, but Jocketty said that neither player is being shopped. "We’re not taking offers,” Jocketty said. “That gets out and then we have to call Cozart and call Didi.”
- The Reds have no plans to extend Jay Bruce's contract. "We control him for five more years,” Jocketty said. “It’s so far off. It’s something we haven’t talked about.” Matt Sosnick, Bruce's agent, raised the possibility of an extension beyond 2016 for his client earlier today.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that Cincinnati could move one of their young shortstops (Zack Cozart or Didi Gregorius) if such a deal could bring the Reds a closer or a leadoff-hitting outfielder.
“It depends if we get back what we need,” Jocketty said. “If we don’t, then I won’t mind holding onto them.”
Cozart was the Reds' everyday shortstop in 2012, hitting .246/.288/.399 in an even 600 plate appearances and showing above-average glovework (a +9.0 UZR/150) in his first full Major League season. The 27-year-old Cozart was ranked as the 75th-best prospect in the game by Baseball America before the season, though he may have already been replaced by a newer model, as Jocketty considers the 22-year-old Gregorius to be "an everyday player...It’s just a question of when and how we manage it." Gregorius, a native of Amsterdam, has a .699 OPS in five minor league seasons.
If this surplus of controllable young shortstops wasn't enough, the Reds also have stolen base king Billy Hamilton, who Morosi notes was converted to center field last year. While Hamilton would command a much larger return in a trade than Cozart or Gregorius, I'd imagine Hamilton is next to untouchable.
The Reds are known to be looking for a leadoff hitter and an outfielder (preferably a player who can fill both roles), as well as closing depth in case the team moves Aroldis Chapman to the rotation. Morosi suggests the A's as a trade partner since they have both Coco Crisp and several good relievers, and also notes that the Reds could find a leadoff-hitting outfielder from shortstop-needy teams like the Twins or Diamondbacks.