Dustin Ackley Rumors

Nightengale On Cubs, Upton, Mariners

Arizona GM Kevin Towers told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he expects a “lightning round” of trades during the 48-hour period leading up to the July 31st trade deadline. “That's when things really are going to pick up," Towers predicts. Until then, here are Nightengale’s latest rumors:

Some Mariners Players Off-Limits In Trades

Rival teams say the Mariners have made many players untouchable in trades, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. However, a Seattle official tells Rosenthal the team is “wide open” on possible deals.

The list of untouchable players includes Felix Hernandez, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, and prospects Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Nick Franklin, Rosenthal reports. Some executives question whether Ackley and Seager should be off-limits at this stage in their careers.

Mariners such as Jason Vargas, Kevin Millwood, Brandon League, Miguel Olivo and Brendan Ryan could draw interest this summer. GM Jack Zduriencik will be expected to consider trade offers for some veterans given Seattle's 36-51 record.

Olney On Diamondbacks, Ackley, Cardinals

Some GMs believe the White Sox have set an extraordinarily high asking price for right-hander Gavin Floyd, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported last night. Olney passes on more rumors in today’s Insider-only column; here they are:

  • Stephen Drew will likely miss Opening Day as he recovers from last summer’s ankle injury, and the Diamondbacks have started evaluating other long-term solutions at short. They’ve scouted Ian Desmond of the Nationals and could have interest in Cliff Pennington of the Athletics. Drew’s contract includes a $10MM mutual option for 2013, so replacing him isn’t a top priority just yet.
  • Scouts say Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley looks “exceptional” this spring.
  • The Cardinals could pursue free agent right-hander Roy Oswalt aggressively if Chris Carpenter isn’t ready for Opening Day.

Quick Hits: Mariners, Slowey, Phillies

Here are some late night links as Thursday turns into Friday…

Dustin Ackley Gets The Call

Mariners top prospect Dustin Ackley will make his big league debut tomorrow against the Phillies.  The second baseman has a .303/.421/.487 line at Triple-A this year.  He was the second overall pick in the 2009 draft. 

No 40-man roster move was necessary; Luis Rodriguez was optioned to open a spot on the 25-man.  It appears that Ackley will accrue a maximum of 104 days of service this year, so he's unlikely to qualify as a Super Two player after the 2013 season should the criteria remain the same.  He'll be arbitration eligible after the 2014 season and under team control through 2017.

The Ackley call-up prompts the Seattle Times' Geoff Baker to think about the possibility of trading infielder Jack Wilson.  Baker thinks the team may keep the veteran, as the current focus is the pennant race.

Rosenthal On Rodriguez, Tejada, Brewers

MLB executives tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the struggles of large market teams such as the Mets and Dodgers have helped build competitive balance in baseball this year. Here are Rosenthal’s notes from around the league:

  • Though Francisco Rodriguez has 15 saves (16 chances) and a sparkling 0.76 ERA, his fastball velocity (90.4 mph) continues to drop and two scouts say his stuff is diminished. That perception could affect the right-hander’s trade value this summer.
  • D’Backs GM Kevin Towers told Rosenthal that righty Josh Collmenter’s arm angle almost makes him look left-handed and helps create deception.
  • While Miguel Tejada has struggled this year, he’s heating up at the plate and the Giants aren’t about to quit on him, according to Rosenthal.
  • The Brewers are pleasantly surprised by Yuniesky Betancourt’s defensive work this season. If you haven’t seen these plays, you’re in for a pleasant surprise yourself.
  • Rosenthal confirms that the Mariners figure to call top prospect Dustin Ackley up before long.

AL West Notes: Ackley, Braden, Weaver

It's still a little early to be thinking about trades, but the Mariners are contemplating a big mid-season addition nonetheless. Here's the latest…

  • Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times hears that the Mariners aren't in a rush to promote Dustin Ackley, though they like what they've seen from him at the plate. Baker says the Mariners don't want to risk paying Ackley for four years of arbitration when his glove isn't ready. Despite Ackley's hitting, they don't feel he's ready defensively.
  • Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner hears that the Mariners could call on Ackley as soon as tomorrow. The hot-hitting prospect homered today and the Mariners aren't worried about the possibility that Ackley will qualify for super two status, according to Cameron. Ackley would have a good chance at qualifying for arbitration four times if he gets the call tomorrow and stays in the Majors.
  • Dallas Braden underwent successful surgery to repair a torn capsule in his left shoulder, the A’s announced. The left-hander is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
  • As Tom Verducci of SI.com explains, Angels ace Jered Weaver has become a strikeout pitcher in spite of his "pipe cleaner legs" and 90 mph fastball. Weaver could double his $7.365MM salary in 2012 thanks to those strikeout numbers, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained in detail earlier this month.

Heyman On Wheeler, Reyes, Martin, Reds

Now that top prospects Eric Hosmer and Jose Iglesias are in the majors, Jon Heyman of SI.com examines the minors’ top prospects. Mariners infield prospect Dustin Ackley, the second overall pick behind Stephen Strasburg two years ago, is "over-rated'' and without a clear defensive position in the opinion on one NL executive. Here’s Heyman’s latest from around the league:

  • The Giants and Mets don’t appear to be talking about Jose Reyes at the moment, but the rumors won’t stop until the calendar flips to August or another team acquires the shortstop. Heyman hears from one person who believes the Mets would “have to” send Reyes to San Francisco if they could get pitching prospect Zack Wheeler in return.
  • MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes suggested Wheeler as a possible target for the Mets last week.
  • In off-field news, Heyman reports that the Mets are getting more interest than expected from buyers interested in a minority stake in the team.
  • The Rangers hope Cuban outfield prospect Leonys Martin, who signed last week, can help them in 2011. 
  • The Reds were among the teams that bid on Martin, according to Heyman.

Update On The Timing Of Top Prospects’ Debuts

Teams like saving money and extending their control over top young players. Why wouldn't they? Having impact players on affordable contracts simplifies a GM's job. As a result, teams call top young players up strategically every season to control their service time and, in doing so, delay their free agency and/or limit their earnings.

Though service time is a consideration all season long, it's most evident at two times: in April and again midseason, around early June. If teams wait until a few weeks after the season has begun to call a prospect up for his MLB debut, the player doesn't collect a full year of service time, which delays his free agency by a year.

The precise date until which teams must wait before calling prospects up varies each year and according to whether players are on the 40-man roster. Now that we're nearly three weeks into the season, even prospects on the 40-man roster can be called up, since they have spent the requisite 20-day period in the minor leagues. 

None of the following prospects have big league service time, which means that their teams can call them up at any point and keep them through the 2017 season, if not longer: Dustin Ackley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas, Jesus Montero, Eric Hosmer, Julio Teheran, Manny Banuelos, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles.

On the other hand, Michael Pineda, Zach Britton and Brandon Belt are now in the majors, picking up service time. Because those players are now on MLB rosters, they're currently on track to hit free agency after the 2016 season. However, if their respective teams option them to the minors for 20 days or more, their path to free agency could be slowed as well (that's an immediate possibility for Belt and a long-term one for the pair of impressive rookie hurlers).

That may sounds complicated, but it's the easy part. Later this spring, in late May and early June, the guessing game begins. Teams do not (and can not) know exactly when future cutoffs for super two status will be, so if they want to play it safe and ensure that prospects like Montero and Ackley only go to arbitration three times, they'll want to wait until at least the middle of June before calling them up.

Heyman On Castillo, Beltre, Belisario, Ackley

Carlos Silva looks like he has earned a release based on his spring performance, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Like Oliver Perez, Silva is set to earn $12MM in 2011. Here are the rest of Heyman’s rumors, including the latest on another candidate to be released…

  • Heyman hears that Luis Castillo has looked better than the others in competition for the Mets second base job. Castillo's performance and the lack of a standout alternative may reduce the chances that the Mets release him.
  • When Rangers GM Jon Daniels asked Adrian Beltre why two of his best seasons came in contract years, Beltre’s response was succinct: “I wish I [expletive] knew.”
  • Ronald Belisario is having trouble getting a visa, so the Dodgers aren’t counting on him this year.
  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says Dustin Ackley, the second overall pick in 2009, has “a shot” to make the team out of Spring Training.