Didi Gregorius Rumors
The Diamondbacks have a good deal of depth at shortstop, as they feel that both Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings are capable Major League shortstops. In addition, three more names on Baseball America's list of Top 30 Diamonsbacks prospects -- Nick Ahmed, Sergio Alcantara and Jose Munoz -- are shortstops. This has led to some speculation that the Diamondbacks could trade a shortstop in order to address other needs in the organization, and Marc Carig of Newsday now reports (via Twitter) that the Diamondbacks have targeted young catchers in discussing shortstop trades with the Mets.
However, Carig adds that the Mets aren't a good fit for a trade with the D-Backs. Arizona is said to be seeking a Travis d'Arnaud type of talent in exchange for one of their shortstops and doesn't deem fellow catcher Kevin Plawecki a good enough return. As such, the Mets and D-Backs haven't had recent trade discussions about Arizona's shorstops (Twitter links).
For some context, Plawecki ranked fifth on BA's Top 30 Mets prospects heading into the 2014 season. BA calls him a safe bet to bat around .280 and hit somewhere in the range of a dozen homers at his peak level, and his bat is good enough to profile as a starting catcher, according to their scouting report. He has an average arm and is solid when it comes to blocking pitches, per BA.
The Diamondbacks currently have Miguel Montero installed as their everyday catcher, but the 30-year-old's offense slipped in 2013. After batting .283/.361/.457 from 2009-12, Montero slashed just .230/.318/.344 in 475 plate appearances last season. The decline was rapid and clearly unexpected, as it came in the first season of a five-year, $60MM extension that Montero inked in May 2012. He's set to earn $10MM this coming season, $12MM in 2015 and $14MM in 2016-17.
With Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kendrys Morales and Ervin Santana all in seeming free agent limbo after rejecting qualifying offers, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan argues that the current free agent compensation system has proven to be too limiting. While teams will give up draft picks to sign bigger stars like Robinson Cano, the so-called second tier of free agents are finding it much harder to get work. "Last offseason, there were a number of guys affected in ways different than we expected compared to a freer market to pursue jobs. It appears that's happening again, " MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said. One club executive suggested to Passan that teams could make qualifying offers to more free agents next winter given the evidence about how it pushes prices down for some players.
Here's some more from around baseball...
- The Tigers have recently made several important moves in the post-Christmas offseason period, and 2014's big early-year move could be laying the groundwork for a Max Scherzer extension, MLB.com's Jason Beck opines. Beck thinks GM Dave Dombrowski will look to a one-year deal for 2014 to avoid going to arbitration with Scherzer, and those talks could lead to negotiations with agent Scott Boras over a longer-term extension.
- Also from Beck, he wonders if the Tigers could discuss a new contract with Miguel Cabrera (signed through 2015) or possibly add another reliever to the bullpen. Detroit has already addressed its main bullpen need by signing closer Joe Nathan, and also acquired Ian Krol and Joba Chamberlain for the relief corps.
- Jonathan Papelbon discussed his name surfacing in recent trade rumors, the differences between the Phillies' and Red Sox clubhouse atmospheres and his joy at seeing his ex-Boston teammates win the World Series last October in a frank radio interview with Rob Bradford and John McDonald on WEEI's Hot Stove Show. A partial transcript of the interview is available at WEEI.com.
- The Phillies were interested in Mark Mulder before the veteran signed with the Angels, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).
- Forbes Magazine's Maury Brown discusses Major League Baseball's growing revenues and the effect on player salaries and acquisitions in a podcast with BostInno's Alex Reimer, who has a partial transcript of the interview here.
- MLB.com's Anthony DiComo covers a number of Mets-related topics as part of a reader mailbag, including how he doesn't see Dee Gordon or Didi Gregorius as logical trade targets for the team.
It's been a busy day for baseball's Western divisions, with the Mariners agreeing to sign Corey Hart and acquiring Logan Morrison as well as the A's trading Jerry Blevins to the Nationals. Here's more out of each division...
- Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes has switched agencies, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweeted last night. Formerly a client of Excel Sports Management, Hoes will now be represented by the MVP Sports Group.
- The Nationals asked the Athletics about Sean Doolittle before acquiring Blevins, but Oakland didn't want to part with Doolittle, according to MLB.com's Jane Lee (on Twitter).
- The A's are excited about Drew Pomeranz as a potential replacement for Blevins, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal adds that Oakland's interest was piqued by a handful of strong relief appearances by Pomeranz at the end of the season.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies still want to add another bat, but relief help appears to be their priority. Colorado's prefernce is to add a left-handed arm, which is why they were so interested in Sean Marshall earlier in the week (Twitter links).
- Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius has drawn some interest from the Yankees, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The D-Backs reportedly could use their shortstop surplus to land a starting pitcher, but the Yankees are in the market for starters themselves and don't seem to be a good fit in that regard.
GM Kevin Towers could include a current starter such as Trevor Cahill or Randall Delgado along with one of his shortstops in order to land a more established pitcher, Rosenthal adds. The Snakes have the depth to make that work, with Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy, Cahill and Delgado projected to fill out their 2014 rotation as it stands right now.
TUESDAY: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke to a source who said the Diamondbacks are out on Shin-Soo Choo after acquiring Mark Trumbo and have now turned their focus to adding a front-line starting pitcher (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks have been in touch with Matt Garza's agent but notes that he also wouldn't rule out a trade centering around one of Arizona's young shortstops (Twitter links). Arizona is hesitant to sign pitchers to long-term deals, Piecoro adds.
Save for a report that he's willing to return to the Twins, t's been pretty quiet on the Garza front to this point. Many pundits believe that to be a result of the uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka's availability. The 30-year-old Garza posted his seventh straight season of a sub-4.00 ERA in 2013, posting a 3.82 mark in 155 1/3 innings between the Cubs and Rangers. Though he began the year on the disabled list, Garza made all of his starts upon returning and posted solid rates of 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.
The trade market offers David Price and Jeff Samardzija, both of whom have been oft-connected to the Diamondbacks. The Phillies are also said to be willing to move both Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, although their unwillingness to eat any salary in order to facilitate a deal makes the D-Backs a tough fit for the Philly aces.
3:30pm: The Diamondbacks may also be looking to the trade market for power bats, according to a recent series of tweets from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal reports that the D-Backs and A's recently discussed a trade that would send Yoenis Cespedes to Arizona in exchange for Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pollock and others. Both sides have cooled on the idea and backed off the trade at this time, however, and the A's would only trade Cespedes for a "monster" return, according to Rosenthal. Still, as he points out, it serves as an example that the Diamondbacks will be aggressive and creative in their search for a power bat in the outfield.
1:54pm: The Diamondbacks are motivated to swing a trade for an ace-caliber pitcher, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick spoke with Arizona GM Kevin Towers, president/CEO Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick in an excellent, in-depth breakdown of the situation. While Towers was quick to say that no player is untouchable, he sounded loath to part with prized pitching prospect Archie Bradley, a consensus Top 10 MLB prospect. Asked about the possiblity of trading Bradley, he replied:
"I don't see that happening. Not that anybody is untouchable, but we're hoping he's our David Price, and we can control him [for several years]. He's gonna get every opportunity to crack our rotation this spring ... He's not looking to make our rotation as the fifth guy -- he's looking to make it as the ace."
Hall pointed to the Diamondbacks' success in 2011 when Ian Kennedy finished fourth in the Cy Young race, noting how impactful having a "No. 1 type starter" was to that year's team. Hall expects activity to pick up: "We're getting a lot of calls and making a lot of calls, and we can see the interest is there. We're probably a good fit for a lot of clubs."
In addition to enviable pitching depth, the Diamondbacks also have several intriguing shortstops in the form of Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed. Martin Prado's presence means that Arizona could also be inclined to include Matt Davidson in potential trades, and the presence of both A.J. Pollock could mean that Adam Eaton is attainable as well, notes Crasnick.
Crasnick lists familiar trade targets Price and Jeff Samardzija for the Diamondbacks, though Price has had multiple ace-caliber seasons while Samardzija has more so flashed ace potential. Crasnick adds that Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado, each of whom is still younger than 24, may be more likely to be included in potential trades.
The Diamondbacks are also looking to add an impact bat to the outfield, though that addition may be more likely to come via free agency, reports Crasnick. Big-name items like Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson may not fit into Arizona's payroll, which could lead to pursuits of names like Corey Hart and Michael Morse, though there are many who don't consider either one to be capable of handling the outfield at this point.
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