Eddie Butler Rumors

NL West Notes: Diamondbacks, Gray, Padres, Giants

The Diamondbacks mismanaged their draft pool, tweets Jim Callis of MLB.com. The club took Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick and inked him at the last possible moment. In doing so, they spent $1.7MM less than their pool allowed. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweeted, the club could have spent up to $2.328MM more without losing a future draft pick. While a franchise shouldn’t spend that money just to spend it, they should have a few over-slot picks in the early rounds in order to make the most of limited resources.

  • The Rockies originally planned to promote top prospect Jon Gray for Sunday’s start, but they’ve backed off that decision, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post. His last outing at Triple-A was a three-inning stinker in which he allowed four runs and six hits. The club will wait for a future opportunity to call upon their top pitching prospect. Eddie Butler will take tomorrow’s start.
  • Former Padres GM Josh Byrnes steadily built the farm system during his tenure with the club, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Now current GM A.J. Preller is being second guessed for his bold decision to dismantle the farm for win-now talent. The club could be one year closer to a more organic revitalization, but now the farm system is shallow. Massive offseason overhauls have a bad track record – ask the Marlins and Blue Jays (and the White Sox). It’s also worth noting that Preller may have wanted to reshape the farm system to his preferences.
  • The Giants have built one of the best infields in the sport, notes Jonah Keri of Grantland. The home grown crew includes several surprising contributors. Brandon Belt was a well-regarded prospect – especially among sabermetric circles. However, Brandon Crawford‘s offensive emergence was unexpected. Joe Panik is deceptively well-rounded. Matt Duffy was supposed to back up Casey McGehee. Instead, he’s arguably the best rookie in the National League, a class that includes Kris Bryant and Maikel Franco among others.

Rockies Notes: Bridich, Butler, Gray

GM Jeff Bridich won’t say what his plan is at this month’s trade deadline, but it certainly doesn’t sound like the last-place Rockies will be buyers in the conventional sense, based on a lengthy interview with Nick Groke of the Denver Post. “I don’t think we’ll acquire a bunch of guys like LaTroy Hawkins or Rafael Betancourt who are close to or at the end of their careers and on one-year, short-term deals,” Bridich says, also noting that he’s unlikely to trade controllable players like Charlie Blackmon or DJ LeMahieu. Bridich adds that, with the addition of the second Wild Card, many teams are still trying to assess what direction they want to go this month.

Finally, Bridich says that his advocacy of Eddie Butler‘s promotion from the minors last season has made him cautious about promoting 2013 No. 3 overall pick Jon Gray this year. Butler has a 5.25 ERA, 4.1 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 70 1/. big-league innings so far, poor numbers even in the thin air in Denver. “Honestly, I was the guy who pushed for Eddie Butler to come up last year,” says Bridich. “I felt like he was ready. In hindsight, maybe not the best recommendation in the world.” Here’s more on the Rockies.

  • The Rockies’ moves earlier today, in which they promoted Rex Brothers (who was already on their 40-man roster) and designated Aaron Laffey for assignment, could clear roster space for Gray, Groke writes. Groke suggests that Gray could make his big-league debut against the Padres next Friday. The 23-year-old has a 4.58 ERA, 7.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 at Albuquerque — not inspiring numbers, but not bad, given how tough it is to pitch there. Gray could replace Gonzalez Germen (a reliever who made a start earlier this week) in the Rockies rotation, and the Rockies will presumably hope for him to provide some innings — they’ve gotten only 12 1/3 innings total from their starters in the past four games.
  • Hall of Famer and Colorado native Goose Gossage thinks the Rockies need to completely change their front office, Benjamin Hochman of the Post writes. “I don’t know why they fired Dan O’Dowd and then hired the guy that was under Dan,” says Gossage, referring to Bridich. “When (famed Yankees owner) George Steinbrenner cleaned house, George cleaned house. I think they need a new fresh start, I think it’s stagnant, I think they need an infusion of new blood.”

NL West Notes: Padres, Bradley, Rockies, Sabean

The Padres have “sort of banned the word ‘small-market’ ” in regards to how they both perceive themselves and how they wish to be seen around the league, team co-owner Peter Seidler tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  The Padres’ busy offseason and second straight year with a payroll in the $100MM range were made possible by increased revenues from Petco Park and national and local TV contracts.  Team president/CEO Mike Dee notes that the Padres’ recent spending “should not be looked upon as an aberration.  This should not be looked upon as ownership is going for broke. This should be looked upon as ownership is doing what they said they were going to when they bought the team, which is trying to make this a franchise that operates at a very high level.”

Here’s the latest from around the NL West…

  • Archie Bradley‘s promotion to the Major Leagues and to the Diamondbacks‘ starting rotation is all but official, Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes.  Bradley’s strong performance during Spring Training gave the Snakes reason to explore trading Trevor Cahill, eventually sending the veteran righty to the Braves.  “If [Bradley] had needed more work, Cahill would still be here,” Tony La Russa said.  “Trevor got the attention of a number of clubs, so we started getting calls from different clubs.  It wasn’t a question of let’s trade him at some point. It came to a decision of Archie versus Trevor.”
  • Speaking of highly-touted young arms in the NL West, Eddie Butler still has a chance to earn a place in the Rockies‘ rotation after his start today, Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes.  Jon Gray, the Rockies’ top prospect and one of the top-ranked prospects in all of baseball, will not be starting his MLB career quite yet, as Groke notes in another piece that Gray will begin the season at Triple-A.
  • Brian Sabean’s promotion from Giants general manager to VP of baseball operations will allow Sabean to personally scout new talent, he tells reporters (including The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea).  This includes players currently in MLB and also international prospects who could become more available thanks to the expanding Cuban market and the possibility of an international draft being instituted.  “The international schedule is moving fast. I don’t see enough of our minor-league teams to draw my own conclusions,” Sabean said.  “I hardly see any games before the June draft, which I used to do. Selfishly, I’d like to see some guys who could be in play trade-wise and free agents to be. This allows me to be more places.”


Rockies Notes: Payroll, Anderson, Cuddyer, Rotation

The Rockies’ payroll will likely remain near its Opening Day mark of $94MM, a team spokesperson tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. This is problematic for the Rockies, Saunders writes, given that Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Jorge De La Rosa will combine to earn $48.5MM of that figure next season. Season-ending injuries to Tulowitzki and Gonzalez will make it difficult to extract full prospect value for either star in a potentially cost-saving trade, meaning that the team is likely to have 51.8 percent of its payroll tied up in three players. That, in turn, would make it difficult to adequately address the rotation, bullpen and catching situation this offseason — all of which are areas of need in Denver. Geivett recently reiterated to Saunders that the team has had no discussions about trading either Tulowitzki or Gonzalez

Here’s more from Saunders and more on the Rockies…

  • Saunders spoke to senior VP of Major League operations Bill Geivett about the team’s $12MM option on Brett Anderson. Geivett said that the Rockies “really think he’s an impact starter when healthy,” but that the option would be discussed following the season. Given the team’s payroll constraints, it seems almost impossible to imagine Colorado paying Anderson $12MM after starting just 32 games over the past four seasons.
  • Saunders also notes that Michael Cuddyer is a favorite of owner Dick Monfort and manager Walt Weiss, both of whom want the veteran back. However, Saunders feels it’s difficult to imagine the Rockies paying even $4-6MM for Cuddyer next season, and I’d wager that he’s looking for more than that despite an injury plagued 2014. Cuddyer, 36 next March, has batted .328/.382/.530 in 170 games over the past two seasons.
  • Twenty-eight-year-old lefty Yohan Flande will get a couple of starts before season’s end in an audition for 2015, writes Saunders’ colleague, Nick Groke. Weiss said the organization feels Flande can transition to the bullpen if needed, but they’ve yet to give up on him as a starting pitcher. MLB.com’s Thomas Harding notes that top prospect Eddie Butler, too, will receive a look in the final two weeks. While it seems Colorado is evaluating its internal options,  I have to think they’ll at least attempt to lure in a veteran starter to complement De La Rosa alongside younger arms such as Butler, Jordan Lyles, Tyler Matzek and, eventually, Jon Gray. Jhoulys Chacin also figures to be in the mix, though he’s battled shoulder injuries this season.
  • A look at Cot’s Contracts reveals that the Rockies currently have about $61.4MM on the books in 2015. That doesn’t include arbitration raises for Chacin, Drew Stubbs, Juan Nicasio, Rex Brothers, Tyler Chatwood, Wilin Rosario and Adam Ottavino. Wilton Lopez and Nicasio seem like clear non-tender candidates, and it’s possible that a few others could meet that fate as well. Nonetheless, Colorado’s glut of forthcoming arbitration raises doesn’t seem to leave the team with much wiggle room, if payroll truly is to remain in the $94MM range.

Rockies To Promote Eddie Butler

The Rockies will promote one of their two top pitching prospects, righty Eddie Butler, reports MLB.com’s Thomas Harding (via Twitter). Butler will take the ball against the Dodgers on Friday.

MLB: Colorado Rockies-Photo Day

Butler is a 23-year-old who was taken 46th overall in the 2012 draft out of Radford. Though he is perhaps less widely known (and much smaller physically) than fellow high-end righty Jonathan Gray, Butler is every bit the prospect. Keith Law of ESPN.com is most bullish (Insider links), ranking Butler among the game’s twenty best prospects entering the season and keeping him there in a recent update. A big sinker and hard slider were his calling cards entering the draft, says Law, but an excellent, more recently developed change has advanced his value significantly.

As Law noted, Butler has not generated the strikeout numbers that might have been expected this season. Indeed, he is only striking out 5.2 batters per nine (against 2.5 BB/9) to support his 2.49 ERA in 68 2/3 Triple-A innings on the year, though Law notes that Butler’s stuff is likely to produce strong groundball results. Baseball America listed him as the game’s 24th-best pre-MLB talent, echoing Law’s assessment. MLB.com, meanwhile, places Butler at the 33rd overall slot, noting that Butler had answered some concerns with his lack of size and command.

If Butler’s service clock starts on Friday and he remains in the bigs for the rest of the season, he would stand to tally 115 days on his clock this year. That would not be enough to set him up for Super Two qualification in most years; the cutoff has hovered between 2.122 and 2.146 days of service in recent years.

It appears that Butler will take the rotation spot of the struggling Franklin Morales, who had initially stepped in for the injured Brett Anderson. With the Rockies standing at an even .500, Butler’s performance could have an important role in determining the club’s fate — and, relatedly, shaping how the team views its chances this year and in the future.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.