- While domestic violence charges against Mets closer Jeurys Familia may soon be dropped, that doesn’t mean he won’t face league discipline. That possibility must be considered by the organization as it charts its offseason, GM Sandy Alderson says, as ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin reports. Of course, it still seems unlikely that the club will be motivated to spend big on a new late-inning arm, particularly with Addison Reed capable of filling in for the ninth inning after an excellent 2016 season. It’s possible that a reliever, or perhaps some array of young talent, could end up moving to New York if (or, more likely, when) the team deals one of its left-handed-hitting corner outfielders, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports. The Mets’ strong preference is still to trade Jay Bruce rather than Curtis Granderson; it seems that the latter player may be expected to share time in center with Juan Lagares.
- Alderson also said in an appearance on MLB Network Radio today (Twitter link) that he’d be “surprised” if the Mets got involved with a top-level center fielder in free agency due not only to the draft pick they’d have to forfeit (referring to Dexter Fowler and Ian Desmond) and also due to the fact that the team has other needs on the roster. Following the re-signing of Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets are looking to move an outfielder, with reports indicating that Jay Bruce is the name they hope to shed. However, Curtis Granderson is reportedly drawing more interest, and FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports that the Orioles are among the teams with interest in Granderson (Twitter link). Baltimore doesn’t appear to have much interest in Bruce, however, he adds.
- The Braves put in a strong pursuit of righty Edinson Volquez before he went to the Marlins, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted yesterday. The team’s interest in Volquez came after it had already landed both R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon, but the Braves have been said to be focused on acquiring short-term assets in the rotation or front-of-the-rotation arms that would require enormous trade packages. As such, it’s possible that Atlanta only had interest in Volquez on a one-year deal, but he received two years and $22MM from the Marlins. Atlanta acted quickly to grab another short-term rotation commodity with tonight’s Garcia trade.
- The Marlins, too, still appear to be shopping for arms, as Heyman reports that they have potential interest in free-agent right-handers Jason Hammel and Doug Fister. The Fish are also looking for bullpen help, Heyman notes, which has been a priority in Miami for much of the offseason. Tim Healey of the Miami Sun-Sentinel writes that Miami is hoping to keep right-hander David Phelps in the bullpen following his dominance in that role in 2016. “Ideally, if we can keep a deep bullpen, we can keep him as that multi-inning effective bridge to the back-end guys,” said president of baseball ops Michael Hill to Healey. “He impacts more games for us that way. But we know he has the versatility if he has to move into the rotation to do that seamlessly and not miss a beat.”
- The Nationals are still looking for a closer, tweets Heyman, but it’s likely that they consider Aroldis Chapman to be too expensive. The Nats are interested in a reunion with Mark Melancon, however, he notes, adding that Washington “loved” Melancon’s clubhouse presence in his short stint with the team following a trade-deadline rental this past summer.
Adding rotation depth has been a known priority for the Marlins this offseason, and on Thursday they announced the signing of one of the most durable arms on the free agent market, Edinson Volquez, to a two-year deal. Volquez, a Wasserman client, will reportedly receive a $22MM guarantee — $9MM in 2017 and $13MM in 2018 — with his new team.
Volquez hit the open market when he declined his end of a $10MM mutual option with the Royals. Reports had at various times suggested that Kansas City might make him a $17.2MM qualifying offer, and alternatively that they’d pay a $3MM buyout rather than picking up their side of the option. Neither of those outcomes came to pass, however, as Volquez saw better opportunities on the open market.
[RELATED: Updated Marlins Depth Chart]
Indeed, he now seems justified in his confidence. With Jeremy Hellickson taking a QO to stay with the Phillies, especially, the market was starved for innings. That set the stage for another solid payday for Volquez, who’ll earn slightly more this time around than he did in his prior two-year pact with the Royals (in which he was promised $20MM, though he forewent the final $3MM of that.)
The 33-year-old Volquez didn’t turn in a terribly productive 2016 season, as he ended up with a 5.37 ERA after struggling through the final four months of the year. But he did rack up 189 1/3 innings and made more than thirty starts for the fifth consecutive campaign.
Durability was clearly the biggest feather in Volquez’s oft-changing hat. He has provided an average of 187 frames annually to the Padres, Dodgers, Pirates, and Royals since the start of 2012. Despite nearing his mid-thirties, the Dominican native has also continued to show good velocity, averaging better than 93 mph with his fastball last year.
While the overall platform campaign was hardly promising, Volquez did largely maintain his typical peripherals. He doesn’t strike out batters at the same pace he did earlier in his career, but with 6.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 he managed about the same results in the strikeout and walk departments as he did in the prior two seasons, when he carried a cumulative 3.30 ERA. And Volquez continues to generate groundballs at a solid rate, inducing grounders on 51.2% of the balls put in play against him in 2016.
For Miami, adding useful innings was a key pursuit this winter. Volquez certainly meets that need, though it remains to be seen whether the organization will continue to look into higher-upside arms on the trade market. Notably, Marlins pitching guru Jim Benedict was with the Pirates when Volquez put up a strong bounceback year in 2014, so perhaps Miami has reason to believe that pairing will pay dividends.
Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported the two-year deal on Twitter, with his colleague Barry Jackson providing financial details (Twitter link). SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweeted that the agreement was in place and added the annual breakdown on Twitter.
With their payroll flexibility increasing, their farm system among the majors’ elite and their attendance down, the Yankees could be in position to make major splashes, observes FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Even if New York signs closer Aroldis Chapman and designated hitter/outfielder Carlos Beltran, which it’s interested in doing, general manager Brian Cashman might not stop there. Picking up another reliever to team with Chapman and Dellin Betances would become possible, writes Rosenthal, who adds that the Yankees could also improve their pitching by using their prospect pool to acquire a top-tier starter via trade. The Yankees do have Tyler Clippard on hand as an accomplished option capable of setting up Betances and Chapman, though, and Rosenthal concedes that the Bombers could decide this offseason is too early to surrender a haul for a starter.
More from Rosenthal:
- The Cubs have done background work on Kenley Jansen, arguably the top free agent closer, but it doesn’t appear they’re seriously pursuing him, major league sources told Rosenthal. The World Series champions don’t want to overspend on a closer because it could preclude them from making a big signing in the near future (Japanese superstar Shohei Otani, for instance), notes Rosenthal. That would seemingly rule out the Cubs re-signing Chapman, who joins Jansen as one of the two best relievers available. MLBTR projects record contracts for both Jansen and Chapman, and Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer has already indicated that the team isn’t necessarily looking to splurge on a reliever.
- The Rays are primed to base their 2017 approach on which starting pitcher they trade, writes Rosenthal. If the Rays deal right-hander Alex Cobb or southpaw Drew Smyly, both of whom have two or fewer years of team control remaining, they’re likely to make an attempt at competing next season. On the other hand, shipping righties Chris Archer (five years of team control) or Jake Odorizzi (three) out would signal a rebuild. Even if Tampa Bay chooses the latter route, it’s still unlikely to move third baseman Evan Longoria, the longtime face of the franchise. Longoria has demonstrated remarkable durability since 2013, missing just six games, and has Rays officials convinced he could be part of winning Tampa Bay teams down the line. The 31-year-old is controllable through the 2023 season.
- The Padres are high on first baseman Wil Myers and won’t trade him unless they’re “blown away” by an offer, sources informed Rosenthal. San Diego and Myers are in the early stages of long-term extension talks, so the plan is to retain the soon-to-be 26-year-old for the long haul. Myers, a 2016 All-Star who slashed .259/.336/.461 with 28 home runs and 28 steals in 676 plate appearances, is set to make his first of as many as three arbitration trips.
- The Cardinals have floated right-hander Michael Wacha’s name in trade talks, according to Rosenthal, who’s skeptical that the club would receive much in return for the 25-year-old because of his injury issues. Wacha threw 181 1/3 innings in 2015, but he missed significant time each of the two seasons in between because of shoulder troubles. He was terrific from 2013-15, recording a 3.21 ERA, 7.95 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 in 353 frames, though he posted a bloated ERA (5.09) in 138 innings this past season. While Wacha’s strikeout and walk rates of 7.43 and 2.93 per nine were close to previous norms (he also registered a career-high ground-ball rate of 46.6 percent), it’s possible the Cardinals will move him to the bullpen next season in his first of three arb-eligible campaigns.
- The Rangers had interest in right-hander Edinson Volquez before reaching an agreement Friday with fellow righty Andrew Cashner, per Rosenthal. Volquez began his career with the Rangers, who signed him as an international free agent in 2001, and went to Cincinnati in 2007 in the trade that brought outfielder and eventual five-time All-Star/2010 American League MVP Josh Hamilton to Texas.
The Marlins hadn’t made an offer to free agent righty Edinson Volquez as of the middle of last week, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reports. Volquez makes sense as a target for the Fish — an innings-eating veteran with a fairly solid recent track record, yet whose price tag may be limited thanks to a rough 2016 season. Volquez posted a 5.37 ERA, 6.61 K/9 and 51.2% grounder rate over 189 1/3 innings with the Royals last year, with ERA indicators showing that his ERA was at least somewhat inflated by a .319 BABIP and only a 65.7% strand rate. Jackson notes that the Marlins have been “linked” to Volquez, so it seems like there could still be a chance of something more substantive happening between the two sides.
Here’s more on Miami’s search for arms in another piece from Jackson…
- Travis Wood is drawing interest from the Marlins, who see him as a starting pitcher. The lefty pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2016, though Wood has a previous history as a durable starter, even cracking 200 innings with Chicago in 2013. Wood posted a 2.95 ERA last year but was helped by a .215 BABIP and an above-average strand rate; ERA indicators such as FIP (4.54), xFIP (4.83) and SIERA (4.46) were less impressed by his performance.
- Miami had some interest in Charlie Morton before the free agent signed a two-year deal with Houston earlier this week.
- “Discussions are ongoing” between the Marlins and Mike Dunn about a reunion. The veteran southpaw has posted solid numbers over six years in Miami’s bullpen, though he did miss time with a forearm strain last season and saw both his fastball velocity and strikeout rate drop. That said, Dunn also posted the lowest walk rate of his career and he held left-handed hitters to a .702 OPS.
- The Marlins haven’t been pursuing another of their free agent relievers, Bryan Morris. The righty is coming off a rough 2016 season that saw him limited to just 24 games due to back surgery and outrighted off of Miami’s 40-man roster in late September.
- The Marlins have already been rumored to have interest in Kenley Jansen as the team looks to focus on the back end of its bullpen, though Aroldis Chapman (the other top-tier closer on the market) doesn’t look like an option. An associate of Chapman tells Jackson that it would be “highly unlikely” if the closer signed with Miami.
- Jeff Mathis has received interest from several clubs but the Marlins aren’t yet one of them. Jackson feels the Fish may yet still look to bring back the veteran catcher, noting that the team didn’t re-sign him until mid-December last offseason.
The Royals will not make a qualifying offer to DH Kendrys Morales, according to reports from Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter) and Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). Likewise, the team won’t extend the QO to righty Edinson Volquez.
Morales, 33, will return to the free agent market without any draft pick compensation required to sign him. The slugging veteran hit his way into contention for the $17.2MM offer, but will not have to make a tough call whether to accept it after declining his end of a mutual option with the team. Instead, he’ll have a shot at securing another multi-year guarantee without having to take a hit to account for the loss of future value any team would’ve otherwise had to account for. (The QO played a major factor in harming Morales’s free agent case after the 2013 season.)
Morales didn’t end the year with the kind of numbers that he posted in 2015, his first of two campaigns in Kansas City, in which he slashed .290/.362/.485 and swatted 22 long balls. But the switch hitter did manage thirty total long balls and finished the 2016 on a lengthy run. Over his final 404 trips to the plate, Morales slashed a robust .302/.364/.547 and launched 24 round-trippers.
There’s plenty of competition in the DH market, which certainly reduces expectations for Morales’s earning capacity. But he commanded two years and a $17MM guarantee the last time he reached free agency, and has a much stronger platform to work from this time around. That he’s capable of hitting from both sides of the plate certainly helps his cause, though his inability to play much (if at all) in the field will constitute a demerit in the eyes of suitors. It seems quite clear that Morales is headed for an American League club after spending the entirety of his career to date in the AL.
Volquez’s own case was all the more clear, though there were rumblings at one point that K.C. would possibly make him a qualifying offer. The fellow 33-year-old, who also turned down his end of a mutual option, still has plenty of velocity. And remains a reliable innings-eater with reliable groundball results in the 50% range. But Volquez ended the 2016 campaign with a 5.37 ERA and just 6.6 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9, so he’ll likely be valued as a back-of-the-rotation option on the market.
The Royals announced today that designated hitter Kendrys Morales and right-hander Edinson Volquez have declined their halves of their 2017 mutual options. Additionally, the team has declined its half of the mutual option on right-hander Kris Medlen. All three players will enter the free-agent market. It’s still possible that the Royals could make a $17.2MM qualifying offer to either Volquez or Morales, though Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star tweets that neither is likely. (That’s no surprise in the case of Volquez, though there was a bit more of a possibility in Morales’ case.)
Morales, 33, will enter the offseason with the strongest free-agent case. After an ice-cold start to the season, the switch-hitting slugger caught fire in June and finished out the year with a torrid .302/.364/.547 batting line and 24 homers in his final 404 trips to the plate. While that endpoint is admittedly arbitrary, Morales’ scorching summer demonstrated that he’s still capable of performing at a high level. That he’ll hit the market without being burdened by a qualifying offer should allow him to find at least a healthy two-year deal this winter — likely to serve as a DH and occasional first baseman elsewhere in the American League.
The Royals will have a hole at DH, of course, bur a reunion doesn’t seem to be in the cards given GM Dayton Moore’s statements about the team’s payroll regressing in 2017. The Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, White Sox and Rangers are among the American League clubs that could have a first base/DH opening in 2017.
Volquez, also 33, had a strong first season in Kansas City (3.55 ERA in 200 1/3 innings) but was unable to replicate that success in the second season of his two-year, $20MM pact with Kansas City. The 2016 campaign, Volquez’s worst since 2013, saw the veteran right-hander limp to a 5.37 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 51.2 percent ground-ball rate. His year was in some ways the inverse of Morales’ 2016 season. The righty got off to a nice start (3.74 ERA through May 29) but saw his season completely collapse from that point forth. Volquez was tattooed for a 6.27 ERA over his final 122 innings, yielding 85 earned runs on 147 hits and 53 walks (plus six hit batsmen) in that time.
Given that dreadful skid, it’s at least somewhat surprising that Volquez was the one who declined his end of a $10MM mutual option, but given the dearth of quality rotation options on the open market this winter, he could still come away with a nice contract. He’s one season removed from a two-year stretch in which he posted a collective 3.30 ERA in 393 innings, and even in a dreadful 2016 season, Volquez logged 189 1/3 frames. Durability pays on the open market, and Volquez’s camp can pitch him as the most reliable source of 190+ innings available in free agency in an offseason market where the headliners include Rich Hill, Jeremy Hellickson and Ivan Nova.
Medlen, meanwhile, was signed prior to the 2015 season as a reclamation project on the heels of his second career Tommy John surgery, but his two-year deal ultimately provided little to return on Kansas City’s $8.5MM investment. After tossing just 58 1/3 innings in 2015, Medlen was slowed by a pair of shoulder injuries in 2016 and managed to take the hill for just 24 1/3 frames of 7.77 ERA ball. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Medlen looked to be blossoming into a potential front-of-the-rotation starter with the Braves, but the 2.47 ERA he posted in 335 innings over a two-year span came all the way back in 2012-13. It’s now been three full seasons since Medlen was an effective Major League pitcher, and while some teams figure to look at him as a low-cost roll of the proverbial dice this winter, he may have to earn his roster spot and earn a significant portion of his 2017 salary via performance incentives.
The Royals are planning to decline their $10MM mutual option on right-hander Edinson Volquez in favor of a $3MM buyout, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The decision on Volquez is at least partially driven by a desire to decrease payroll from the 2016 season’s franchise-record mark of $144MM, he writes. Not surprisingly, the Royals are planning to exercise their $10MM option on closer Wade Davis and their $6.5MM club option on shortstop Alcides Escobar, Heyman adds.
There was a point at which some pundits pegged the 33-year-old Volquez as a potential qualifying offer candidate, but that always seemed like something of a long shot, and the veteran’s poor performance down the stretch likely eliminated any such notion on the Royals’ part. Volquez finished up the season with a 5.37 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 51.9 percent ground-ball rate in 189 1/3 innings, but his performance over the final three and a half months was notably worse than that ultimate ERA would indicate. Volquez’s ERA sat at 3.90 after a solid two-and-a-half-month stretch to open the year, but he labored to a 6.58 ERA over his final 104 innings. In that stretch, he surrendered 76 earned runs on 134 hits and 43 walks with just 72 strikeouts.
Ups and downs are nothing new for Volquez, who burst onto the scene as an All-Star and Rookie of the Year candidate in 2008 before trailing off to a roughly league-average starter in the two subsequent seasons and eventually dropping to the point where he was released by the Padres in 2013. Volquez, like many others, had a career renaissance in Pittsburgh in 2014, earning him a two-year, $20MM contract with the Royals that spanned the 2015-16 campaigns. While he delivered in the first season of that deal — 3.55 ERA in 200 1/3 innings — the second season was, clearly, not as successful. He’ll now hit a woefully thin free-agent market for pitchers and seek another resurgence — likely on a one-year deal.
As for Davis, Heyman writes that there’s a belief the Royals will at least entertain trade scenarios for the All-Star this offseason. That’s not a shocking development, as Davis’ name came up in trade rumors for much of the month of July before a forearm strain landed him on the disabled list through the non-waiver deadline. Trading Davis, of course, would be difficult, as the Royals would want to extract full value while other clubs may be wary about a pitcher that battled forearm issues on multiple occasions in 2016. Dealing Ian Kennedy would be an alternative means of shedding payroll, he notes, but from where I sit it’s difficult to envision dealing Kennedy even after a strong finish to the season. Kennedy’s contract is teeming with downside, as any acquiring club would likely would be faced with the risk of Kennedy opting out after just one season if he performs well but would be stuck with him at four years and a total of $62.5MM by virtue of his backloaded contract.
The Royals “aren’t anxious” to trade any of Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas or Escobar, Heyman adds, so Dayton Moore and his lieutenants will need to come up with some creative means in which they can trim some payroll. Kansas City does have Volquez, Kendrys Morales and Luke Hochevar coming off the books, but those subtractions will be canceled out by what figure to be substantial arbitration raises for Hosmer and Danny Duffy as well as built-in contractual raises for Kennedy, Cain, Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Joakim Soria, Yordano Ventura, Mike Minor, Chris Young and Salvador Perez.
Royals righty Edinson Volquez says that he hopes to stay with the Royals past the present season, Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports (Twitter links). The veteran hurler suggested that he is tempted to exercise his end of a $10MM mutual option, though he said he’ll need to assess the market and discuss the matter with his agent after the season.
It would be fairly surprising if Volquez does elect to trigger the mutual option, which would force K.C. to decide whether to pay him a hefty $3MM buyout or take on the full $10MM obligation. We’ve heard suggestions, after all, that the club is weighing whether to issue Volquez a $16.7MM qualifying offer — which would certainly presume that he has already passed on the option.
Both of those possibilities tee up the question of how to value the 33-year-old, who is fresh off of a solid outing yesterday but has otherwise been dreadful for quite some time now. Volquez’s earned run average last sat under 4.00 when the calendar flipped from May to June, and it has steadily risen ever since as he has coughed up 78 earned runs and allowed a .294/.360/.472 batting line over his last 114 1/3 innings. As things stand, Volquez owns a 5.25 ERA over 181 2/3 total frames on the season, with 6.6 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 to go with a 52.1% groundball rate.
That’s not exactly a sterling platform for free agency, but there are some silver linings. First and foremost, Volquez has been a rock, making over 30 starts in each of the last five seasons. And his average fastball velocity is holding firm at over 93 mph. ERA estimators have never really been in love with him, even when he was posting strong results in each of the last two seasons, but they largely view his current season as a continuation — with variances in strand rate, BABIP, and home run susceptibility largely explaining the different bottom-line marks.
It also bears note that the coming market lacks for rotation talent, not just at the top but also in the depth department. Clubs in search of solid innings will be lining up for arms like Volquez, who seems rather likely to find guaranteed money that exceeds the value of his mutual option. That being said, the qualifying offer could prove tempting, if issued, particularly since declining it would mean entering the market with draft compensation. It remains to be seen whether the Royals will be willing to risk that large a chunk of the organization’s payroll.
The Mets felt comfortable in letting Daniel Murphy go in free agency for several reasons, a decision that ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin notes is certainly worth second-guessing given Murphy’s huge season with the Nationals. Perhaps the biggest factor for the Mets was their belief that Murphy could deliver a good average but little else. Murphy, of course, has contributed 25 homers and a .340/.383/.593 slash line, pretty resounding the Mets’ criticisms about his lack of power or plate discipline. (He has also been above average on the basepaths, as per Fangraphs’ baserunning metric.) Murphy is looking like a bargain signing for the Nats while second base is a question mark for the Mets heading into 2017.
Here’s some more from around baseball…
- For now, “the most logical scenario” between the Royals and Edinson Volquez is that the club will issue Volquez a qualifying offer that the righty will decline in search of a multi-year contract elsewhere, Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star writes as part of a reader mailbag piece. It may seem odd that the Royals would risk issuing a one-year, $16.7MM deal to a 33-year-old with a 5.02 ERA through 166 2/3 innings, though the starting pitching market is so thin that Volquez may indeed be able to find a longer-term commitment. If Volquez leaves, Dodd figures K.C. will pursue inexpensive free agent starters, or possibly look for a higher-caliber arm by trading one of its core roster players.
- The Yankees heavily reloaded on blue chip minor leaguers with their deadline trades, and John Harper of the New York Daily News wonders if the club will try to deal from this newfound prospect depth to acquire a frontline starter this winter. Jose Fernandez may be the most available ace on the market, given that the Marlins may not have the money to keep him before he hits free agency after the 2018 season. Landing Fernandez would likely cost the Yankees Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, one of Jorge Mateo or Gleyber Torres and probably one more pitching prospect. It might take an even biggest prospect package than that to acquire Chris Sale given Sale’s club-friendly contract, while the Athletics’ Sonny Gray or the Rays’ Chris Archer are coming off down years and may be too risky for the Yankees given the prospect cost it would take to acquire them.
- Cuban second baseman Jose Miguel Fernandez and righty Norge Ruiz will play for Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican League this winter, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. It will present both players with a valuable opportunity to perform in front of MLB scouts, particularly Fernandez since the infielder hasn’t in competitive games for almost two full years. That long layoff may have contributed to Fernandez still being unsigned despite being declared a free agent in April, though Badler notes other factors like teams being pretty set at second base and scouts having questions about Fernandez’s power, fielding and speed. Ruiz left Cuba in May 2015 but has yet to be officially declared a free agent, which Badler finds curious given how several Cuban players have been cleared by the league in far less time.
- Justin Morneau hopes to play some first base if he plays in 2017, CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes writes. Morneau has only served as a DH since joining the White Sox, thanks to his rehab from elbow surgery and his lack of a Spring Training. With a proper spring under his belt next season, Morneau feels he can return to his old position at least a couple of times per week. It should also be noted that Morneau’s free agent value will obviously increase if he is able to play a position rather than be limited to a designated hitter role.
Indians right-hander Danny Salazar is headed for what the club is calling a precautionary MRI due to discomfort in his right elbow, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian writes. “There’s something in my elbow,” said Salazar following a rough outing against the Twins on Monday. “I don’t know what it is. We don’t know. I think we’re going to find out tomorrow.” Manager Terry Francona said that Salazar’s elbow has been bothering him for at least a couple of weeks. Salazar had Tommy John surgery prior to making his big league debut and said the discomfort he feels in his elbow feels “totally different” than the pain he felt when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament. Nonetheless, there’s clearly some cause for concern, especially due to a recent decline in Salazar’s velocity (as Bastian highlights in his column).
A few more notes from the game’s Central divisions…
- The Royals’ decision to stand pat at yesterday’s trade deadline was a surprise to some, considering the fact that Kansas City has fallen to 50-55 and has at best a narrow window to make the postseason. General manager Dayton Moore spoke about the team’s lack of trades with Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, stating that he wants to give his players a chance to “dig back out of this mess we’re in.” More interesting, perhaps, was his take on righty Edinson Volquez, who has a mutual option on his contract for the 2017 season that figures to be declined one way or another. While he wouldn’t firmly commit to the notion, Moore suggested that the team could very well make Volquez a qualifying offer at season’s end, which is projected to be worth $16.7MM, as ESPN’s Buster Olney recently reported. Said Moore of Volquez: “We’ll see. Obviously we have to evaluate that, but that’s certainly a part of our thinking.”
- The Pirates had a tough decision when determining whether the club was better-served by betting on Francisco Liriano returning to form or acquiring multiple years of Drew Hutchison and creating some financial flexibility, GM Neal Huntington explained to MLB.com’s Adam Berry. As Berry notes, the financial flexibility the Pirates gained by shedding the remaining money on Liriano’s contract will be significant in 2017 when Gerrit Cole and Tony Watson, among others, are due arbitration raises and other players signed to extensions see their salaries naturally escalate. Huntington said that the Pirates have liked Hutchison and right-hander Ivan Nova (also acquired at yesterday’s non-waiver deadline) for quite some time, adding that while it was difficult to part with outfield prospect Harold Ramirez and catching prospect Reese McGuire, the team dealt from positions of depth. Berry adds that the Bucs talked with the Rays about their starters at length but were asked for a minimum of two of their top five prospects in return — too lofty a price for Huntington’s liking.
- Reds president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty spoke with the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans about the difficulty of trading away a homegrown slugger like Jay Bruce even in the midst of a rebuild. “It was extremely tough to make the deal,” said Jocketty. “We’ve talked about it for some time, but until it actually happens, it doesn’t set in. …It was tough to say goodbye to him.” Reports on Monday indicated that medical concerns over one of the minor leaguers that was said to be in the initial iteration of the Bruce deal — said to be centered around outfielder Brandon Nimmo — slowed the deal. Rosecrans,though, hears that multiple prospects that would’ve come to the Reds failed to live up to the Reds’ medical standards, leading to further discussion. Jocketty also spoke a bit about Zack Cozart, who was reportedly nearly traded to Seattle, stating that Cozart isn’t someone the team is actively looking to move. Rosecrans adds that talks with the Mariners did take place but fell apart over the course of the day.