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Jacoby Ellsbury clubbed two homers today as the Red Sox beat the Orioles 4-0. All eyes will be on Jonathan Papelbon and David Ortiz this winter, but it'll also be interesting to see what happens to Ellsbury, who's arbitration eligible for the second time after the season. He has a career-high 15 homers with 28 stolen bases and a .316/.375/.509 line so far in 2011. In other words, he's getting a big raise from his current $2.4MM salary. Here's the latest on the AL East…
- The Rays are reluctant to tear down their roster to the point where they’re no longer competitive, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal suggests the Rays have no compelling reason to deal James Shields now and that an offseason move is more likely.
- The Orioles appear to be open for business, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Many teams are interested in Jim Johnson and the Tigers are among the clubs interested in Jeremy Guthrie.
- Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that he has had “periodic conversations” with Dylan Bundy, the high school right-hander the Orioles selected fourth overall in this year’s draft. Jordan, who has offers out to just about all Baltimore’s draftees, expects dialogue with Bundy to pick up before the August 15th deadline for teams to sign their picks.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Newsday’s Ken Davidoff that he isn’t looking for offense, but will consider anything that will make the club better.
Congratulations to Derek Jeter on career hit No. 3,000. Here are some Quick Hits for Saturday afternoon..
- ESPN's Buster Olney says that rumors are swirling about a managerial change for the White Sox, but a high-ranking source says a change is not being considered and Ozzie Guillen is safe (Twitter link). The ChiSox won today, but had lost four in a row and five of six before that.
- Alex Rodriguez may need knee surgery that could keep him out a month, and Joel Sherman of The New York Post hears that the Yankees will consider outside options to fill in at third base (Twitter link). Their first choice is to use in-house candidates Eduardo Nunez and Brandon Laird.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports that Jim Riggleman has a job interview for an unknown position with the Giants next week. Riggleman resigned as Nationals manager last month.
- The Marlins are not close to signing first-round pick Jose Fernandez, writes Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post. The 14th overall selection is seeking a deal close to $4MM while the Fish offered just $1.6MM.
- The Orioles are confident that they will be able to sign top pick pitcher Dylan Bundy, but they also expect that negotiations will go down to the mid-August deadline, writes Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com.
- The Cubs are likely to pass on requests for starting pitchers Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- We learned yesterday that Brian Gordon is Korea-bound, and now there are rumblings that Chris Bootcheck is as well, tweets Patrick Newman of NPBTracker.com.
Rival executives have wondered whether the Nationals will eventually shift top pick Anthony Rendon to second base, so ESPN.com’s Buster Olney constructs an impressive-looking 2013 Nationals lineup with Rendon at second and prospective free agent Prince Fielder at first base. Here are the rest of Olney’s rumors:
- The Mariners wondered whether Safeco Field would limit Rendon’s offense, but they’re confident that their second overall selection, left-hander Danny Hultzen, will be a good fit in their home ballpark.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin confirmed to Olney that it’s possible (though not likely) that top pick Taylor Jungmann could help them this year.
- Some executives tell Olney that top Orioles pick Dylan Bundy is the greatest pure talent in the draft. He's certainly looking to get paid like an elite talent.
- Olney wonders if Grant Balfour could be dealt to the Rangers, who could use relief help.
- Teams like the Braves and Phillies are looking for offense, so Josh Willingham could become a target if the 27-34 Athletics do become sellers.
- ESPN.com's Keith Law lists the Rays, Twins and D'Backs among his day one winners while questioning moves by the Braves, Rockies and others. High school outfielder Josh Bell heads Law's list of best remaining players.
- Bell, Daniel Norris and Dillon Howard are the best players remaining according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
- Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer and Brian Goodwin, Washington's first three picks, are all Scott Boras clients, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The Nationals have a history of selecting Boras clients, going back to first overall picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.
- Rendon plays the same position as Nationals cornerstone Ryan Zimmerman, but "the point of the draft is to take the best player available" regardless of the big league roster, Zimmerman told Ladson.
- Top Orioles pick Dylan Bundy may be an especially difficult player to sign, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. “The numbers that were thrown out were true," Bundy said, without saying explicitly that he's looking for a $30MM bonus.
- Cardinals scouting director Jeff Luhnow sounds confident that he'll be able to sign first rounder Kolten Wong before the August deadline for deals, according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach.
- Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and scouting director Amiel Sawdaye broke down Boston's top four picks and Alex Speier of WEEI.com has the details. Epstein says he thought some things broke Boston's way.
- Stephen Goff of the Houston Astros Examiner gets the sense that Astros' amateur scouting director Bobby Heck will take a pitcher with the 69th overall selection (Twitter link).
The first and supplemental rounds are over and teams are reaching out to their top picks and setting up media conference calls with them. Here’s the latest on the draft from the players and teams themselves…
- Archie Bradley (selected seventh overall by the D’Backs) says fellow Oklahoma high schooler Dylan Bundy (selected fourth overall by the Orioles) pushes him to be a better player. “With his workout and the way he goes about the game, it puts some weight on my shoulders to try to equal that or better that” Bradley said.
- High school infielder Jake Hager (selected 32nd overall by the Rays) wants to start his pro career soon. Though he sees himself as a shortstop, he remains flexible to playing elsewhere on infield if that’s where the Rays want him to play. Hager describes himself as a hard worker who’s coachable. The Nevada native “had a feeling” the Rays would take him, since they were scouting him hard most weeks.
- High school outfielder Bubba Starling (selected fifth overall by the Royals) describes himself as an equally good football and baseball player. The Kansas native admits to being a Royals fan, though he says he didn’t have time to see tons of games, since he plays so many sports. Starling says he felt stronger later in the season, after returning from a tweaked quad muscle.
- Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken explained the selection of Javier Baez (ninth overall). “Javier has a tremendously live bat, is versatile in the field and we are happy to welcome him to the Cubs organization,” Wilken said in a team statement. “He has a great arm and is a smart baserunner in tune with the game.
Keith Law of ESPN.com has written up his final projections for tonight's draft. Here are some of the latest highlights (Insider subscription needed):
- The D'Backs select UCLA righty Trevor Bauer with the No. 3 pick, meaning two of the first three picks will be Bruins after the Pirates take Gerrit Cole at No. 1 overall.
- The Orioles, turned off by Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen's hefty contract demands, take prep righty Archie Bradley out of Oklahoma at No. 4. Dylan Bundy then falls to the Royals at No. 5, which Law says would be a steal, and Hultzen slides back to the D'Backs at No. 7, a "dream scenario" for Arizona. That could lead to tricky negotiations considering Hultzen's demands and the fact that the pick is unprotected after Barret Loux didn't sign last year, but Bauer and Hultzen would represent quite a boon to the D'Backs' rotation in the near future.
- The Mets meet their organizational mandate to take a pitcher at No. 13, selecting UConn righty Matt Barnes.
- The Brewers, with an unprotected pick at No. 15, need to take a signable player, and may be looking at Vanderbilt righty Sonny Gray or Oregon lefty Tyler Anderson.
- The Red Sox probably won't spend too wildly at No. 19 and could focus on a high-probability player like Alex Meyer of Kentucky as they did a year ago with Kolbrin Vitek.
The day of the First-Year Player Draft is finally upon us. Here's the latest news and rumors as tonight's event draws nearer …
- The Pirates, as has been speculated for several days, will take UCLA righty Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 overall pick, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.
- The Orioles have long been linked to prep pitcher Dylan Bundy out of Oklahoma with the No. 4 pick, but they may be shifting focus to Archie Bradley, another prep pitcher, writes Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com.
- Ed Barkowitz of Philly.com identifies TCU lefty Matt Purke as a possibility for the Phillies with their first pick, No. 39. Purke, who was a first-round pick of the Rangers in 2009 but didn't sign, has seen his stock tumble as a result of shoulder troubles.
- Because the Cardinals have only one pick on Day 1 of the draft and only two in the top 100, they're less likely to take risky players, writes Nathan Hart of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The Redbirds are tentatively planning to take a position player, though that is not definite.
- The Rangers are looking at Massachusetts prep righty Tyler Beede, writes Jamey Newberg of the Newberg Report, noting how difficult it can be to accurately predict draft picks.
- The Rockies are still on Utah first baseman C.J. Cron at No. 20, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter).
- It's never too late to draft a superstar, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo!, who runs down some of the best steals in draft history.
- The Dodgers worked out Trevor Gretzky, Wayne's son, and Ryan Garvey, Steve's son, on Sunday, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, though both players have committed to college.
- Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald has had a strange journey through the minors, which is why drafting two-sport stars is tricky, writes Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com. Ryan Hannable, also of WEEI.com, has tallied up the experts' projections for the Red Sox's draft picks.
- Owning the first overall pick in the draft does not guarantee future success, writes Rob Neyer of SBNation.com.
Here's the latest as we close in on Monday's First-Year Player Draft …
- The Royals will be tempted to take prep outfielder Bubba Starling from Kansas with the No. 5 overall pick, writes Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. The Royals are thought to covet a polished pitcher so that he can help the big league team sooner than later, according to Dodd, but they've smarted over missing out on local products Albert Pujols and Logan Morrison in the recent past, and GM Dayton Moore has discussed the importance of snatching up local talent.
- The Pirates' indecision about which pricey college player to take select at No. 1 overall — Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon are represented by Scott Boras, while Danny Hultzen is reportedly seeking $13MM — has some baseball people wondering whether they'll take a prep player like Starling or Dylan Bundy in order to preserve their draft budget and overpay for tough-to-sign players at later picks, writes Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. Also within that piece, Rogers examines some of the crucial selections of the past 10 drafts.
- The Phillies are charged with restocking their farm despite making their first pick at No. 39, writes Bob Brookover of Philly.com. The fact that many of the Phils' core players are homegrown and others were acquired with prospects is a testament to the scouting and development departments, according to Brookover.
- The Royals could also select UConn right-hander Matt Barnes with the fifth overall pick, writes Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner. Within that piece, Goff explains Barners' unforeseen ascent to likely top-10 selection.
- The Astros were once interested in Texas A&M righty John Stilson at No. 11, according to Goff, but the hurler has generally slipped out of first-round consideration due to a shoulder injury. As a result, Stilson is now a deep sleeper, writes Goff.
- Jonathan May of MLB.com published his latest mock draft today, with Cole, Rendon and Hultzen going at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 to the Pirates, Mariners and D'Backs, respectively.
- Four of six industry experts polled said they prefer Cole to Trevor Bauer of the two UCLA Bruins, but it's closer than you think, writes Tom Krasovic.
It appears that the Diamondbacks will be among the most aggressive teams on the trade market this summer. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney has an update on another team preparing to make deals and other notes from around the league…
- The Marlins will also be among the most aggressive teams on the trade market, Olney reports. President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said this week that he believes in his team’s prospects and doesn’t see glaring holes on the Marlins.
- Olney points out that talent evaluators love high schooler Dylan Bundy and suggests the right-hander will be selected early on in Monday’s draft.
- It’s a reasonable guess that Daisuke Matsuzaka’s Red Sox career is over, according to Olney. The Red Sox probably didn’t get their money’s worth on their $103MM investment, but it's not like Matsuzaka's career numbers are bad (4.25 ERA, 622 2/3 innings, 8.2 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 10.4 WAR). The right-hander will undergo Tommy John surgery.
- As Olney pointed out yesterday, the Mariners will have to monitor Michael Pineda’s workload this summer. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says they’ll watch Pineda’s pitch count and innings count with a common-sense approach, rather than a “hard and fast rule.”
This year’s draft is deep, particularly in terms of power pitchers. Here are the details on some draft-eligible players and the teams that are eyeing them…
- Texas A&M righty Josh Stilson received a second opinion on his injured shoulder from Dr. James Andrews, who believes surgery can be avoided with a six-week rehab program according to Baseball America's Jim Callis. Stilson, a projected first round pick, suffered a SLAP tear in his throwing shoulder and will miss the rest of the season.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick wrote about Rocco Baldelli's front office job with the Rays, which involves evaluating amateur position players for the draft.
- Astros assistant GM and scouting director Bobby Heck told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that he has been impressed with the crop of power arms in this year's draft.
- Odds are the Astros will take a pitcher with the 11th overall pick, according to Stephen Goff of the Houston Astros Examiner (Twitter links). High school pitcher Archie Bradley told Goff that "the Astros have been in pretty good contact" with him.
- High school right-hander Dylan Bundy is a fitness freak who is mature beyond his years, as Nick Piecoro shows at the Arizona Republic. Bundy's pre-season goals? "To hit 100 mph, have a zero ERA and not walk anybody." His fastball touched 100 and he posted a 0.25 ERA with a 158K/5BB ratio.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson hears that the Nationals, who select sixth overall, are looking at Bundy, Danny Hultzen, Bubba Starling, Jed Bradley, Trevor Bauer and Alex Meyer.
- The Royals entered the season with the best farm system in the game, yet GM Dayton Moore told MLB.com's Dick Kaegel that there are many areas in which the organization's prospect depth can improve.
- The Rays have 12 of the first 89 selections this year and executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says those selections boost the team's odds of finding elite talent. "The more arrows you have, the more likely you are to hit the bulls-eye," Friedman told Bill Chastain of MLB.com.
- The Padres, who have five of the first 58 picks in the draft, are looking forward to their selections with equal enthusiasm, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock. GM Jed Hoyer says the Padres need to get their picks right.
- The Red Sox, Hoyer's former team, also have extra picks, something that GM Theo Epstein is looking forward to. “I think it energizes the scouting staff the whole year because they know going in and seeing players, there’s a much better chance you can actually get a guy," he told Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com.
- The Twins will look to add pitching early on, according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger.
- Mets executives Paul DePodesta and Sandy Alderson agree with the consensus that the draft is deep in pitching, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo.