Ervin Santana Rumors
Join me for a quick trip around the American League's Central Division, where the Tigers seem to have finally opened an insurmountable lead over the pesky Indians.
- With the Tigers visiting Fenway for the first time since acquiring Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox, GM Dave Dombrowski left no doubt that the club views the 23-year-old Cuban as its shortstop of the future, reports Jerry Spar of WEEI.com. “He’s an outstanding defensive shortstop," said Dombrowski. "He really changes the middle of the diamond. We have a lot of good pitchers, and some of them live with the ground ball, and so his range helps us appreciably — so quick out there." While defense was never the question with Iglesias, Dombrowski says that he does enough well in the rest of the game to stick as a starter. “He’s also hit well enough. ... He does a lot of little things for us as far as bunting, he can move the ball around, he can steal a base. ... He’s going to be our shortstop for years to come.”
- Of course, as MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth recently explained, the fate of suspended Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta is tied inextricably to that of Iglesias, who was acquired to replace him. Dombrowski's comments certainly seem to indicate that he views Iglesias as a better fit for the short and long term, leaving no apparent role for the free agent-to-be Peralta.
- White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers will undergo exploratory shoulder surgery and be out of commission for about three to six months, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com (via Twitter). The South Siders' catching situation will be interesting to watch over the off-season. Flowers struggled this year with persistent shoulder issues, and 25-year-old Josh Phegley has failed to impress in his first big league showcase (.211/.221/.331 in 147 plate appearances). The club did just call up 22-year-old Miguel Gonzalez, a defense-first backstop who .254/.326/.349 in 190 plate appearances at Double-A and Triple-A this year. Once a top-10 prospect, Gonzalez's star has faded with his bat over the last several seasons. Fortunately for Chicago, all of these players will be making league mnimum next year.
- The Indians will soon face a decision on Ubaldo Jimenez's $8MM mutual 2014 option, notes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Jimenez entered the season with a 5.32 ERA for the Indians since being acquired from the Rockies at the 2011 trade deadline, but appears to have righted the ship somewhat in 2013, posting a 3.95 ERA and career-best 9.1 K/9 in 141 1/3 innings. Pluto speculates that the Indians will pick up their end of the option, but that Jimenez will decline and become a free agent. Back in March, MLBTR's Steve Adams took a look back at the deal that brought Jimenez to Cleveland, when it seemed the 2014 option would be a complete no-brainer for the Indians to exercise.
- The Royals, too, are looking ahead at starting pitching questions over the coming off-season. As Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports, the club figures to stay the course with its young field position players, with GM Dayton Moore explaining that the team's core of "talented young players on the field" place the club "in the beginning stages of a window where this team can win consistently for a period of time." The rotation, on the other hand, will see the surprisingly excellent Ervin Santana and veteran Bruce Chen enter free agency. Dutton says that the club's decisionmaking process on those two starting slots will depend on a variety of factors, such as the organization's view of Danny Duffy and Wade Davis and the timetable for top prospects Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer. It is unlikely, according to Dutton, that the team will outbid the market on Santana. "We want him here, but it’s difficult to predict," said Moore.
Royals pitcher Ervin Santana tops the list of free-agents-to-be who have improved their stock this season, says ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required, and recommended). Santana, who has a 3.19 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in a breakout 2013 season, was No. 7 on Tim Dierkes' 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings last month. On the flip side, Olney argues that Josh Johnson and Mike Morse have seen their stock dip further than any other 2013-14 free agents, although he also lists eight more. Here are some of Olney's thoughts on the past week's trades.
- The Pirates' deals for Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau made sense in part because they aren't sure when left fielder Starling Marte will be able to return from his hand injury. The right-handed Byrd and the left-handed Morneau also give the Pirates plenty of platoon options at the corner positions.
- The Twins' decision to trade longtime star Morneau allows them to avoid questions during the offseason about whether they will re-sign him, Olney says. Dealing Morneau with a month left in the season thus helps Morneau to leave Minnesota gracefully.
- The Cardinals will see if they can help new arrival John Axford improve. If he doesn't, the Cards could non-tender him during the offseason, but if he does, he could be a "tremendous weapon" the St. Louis bullpen in 2014.
Here's Tuesday's list of players who have been placed on revocable trade waivers...
- Ervin Santana -- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Ervin Santana has been placed on waivers. He instantly becomes one of the most desirable pieces on waivers, but the Royals are likely not inclined to move him. Santana, 30, has a 3.21 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in what has been a tremendous rebound campaign with the Royals. He's owed about $2.23MM this season and is a free agent at season's end. However, Kansas City is still within striking distance of a Wild Card spot and will be making Santana a qualifying offer following the season, so a return would likely have to overwhelm them.
- Francisco Rodriguez -- Rosenthal's tweet also reported that K-Rod has been placed on waivers by the Orioles. This is likely nothing more than a procedural move, as he's been solid for the O's, and they're just 2.5 games back from a Wild Card spot.
- Wesley Wright, David DeJesus -- Rosenthal also noted that the Rays have put both of their most recent waiver pickups back on waivers. However, in a second tweet he cautions that DeJesus needn't be worried this time, as the Rays are merely putting all of their players through waivers as a procedural move right now, which explains Wright's placement as well.
- Josh Willingham -- Peter Gammons of the MLB Network tweets that the Twins have placed Willingham on waivers. Minnesota was expecting big things out of Willingham following a 35-homer season in 2012, but knee injuries diminished his production at the plate and he ultimately underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in early July. Since being activated on Aug. 9, he's batting just .177/.316/.371 with a pair of homers and six doubles. Willingham's walk rate (13.4 percent) and power (.179 ISO) remain strong, but his strikeout rate is up (26.7 percent) and his average is down due to a decrease in line drives and an increase in pop-ups. He's owed roughly $1.3MM for the remainder of the season and is owed $7MM in 2014 -- the final season of a three-year, $21MM contract.
- Earlier today, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported that Marlon Byrd, Pedro Feliciano and John Buck of the Mets were all on waivers, and at least one trade is likely. Byrd was claimed by an unknown NL team shortly thereafter.
The Royals' trade for Ervin Santana was the best move of the offseason, ESPN's Buster Olney writes. Santana has posted a 2.97 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in a resurgent season in Kansas City. Right behind the Santana deal, Olney says, was the Braves' deal for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson, followed by the Orioles' signing of Nate McLouth. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Olney's ESPN colleague Jerry Crasnick writes about Francisco Liriano's surprising season with the Pirates. Sure enough, just hours after Crasnick's article was published, Liriano allowed ten runs against the Rockies at Coors Field. But he has still been a big part of the Pirates' stellar year, and for very cheap -- Liriano has a complex contract based on the timing of his return from a broken humerus suffered last offseason, but the deal tops out at $4.75MM for 2013, and includes a reasonable vesting option for 2014. Crasnick also names the Rays' James Loney, the Mets' Marlon Byrd, and others as being among the best cheap signings of the offseason.
- Astros manager Bo Porter isn't planning on returning to Washington to manage the Nationals after Davey Johnson retires at the end of the season, Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire of MLB.com report. "I'm the Houston Astros manager," says Porter. "I'm 100 percent entrenched into getting our situation here to where it is we want to be. The situation in Washington is completely out of my hands and -- I'm going to give you my famous one -- out of my jurisdiction." Porter is in the midst of a multi-year contract with the Astros, McTaggart and Abshire note, and could only leave for the Nats if the Astros decided to trade him or just let him depart. Neither scenario seems likely, however.
- Jeff Samardzija has struggled recently, but the Cubs don't think his contract situation has anything to do with it, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Samardzija allowed nine runs on Thursday against the Phillies, four starts after allowing nine against the Angels. "We’ve had some dialogue at different times, but nothing’s really changed on that front, so I don’t see why he would start pressing now as opposed to other times," says Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. Before the non-waiver trade deadline, Samardzija's name occasionally appeared in trade rumors, but it never looked particularly likely that the Cubs would deal him. The two sides reportedly will discuss a contract extension after the season is over. Samardzija is eligible for free agency after 2015.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that he is surprised to see the Yankees still in the wild card hunt despite all of the chaos they have endured this season. The chaos he refers to, of course, mostly has to do with Alex Rodriguez. The silver lining there is that if they throw the book at A-Rod, then they'll be in position to add to the team via free agency. “The one thing the Yankees don’t have, they don’t have those guys in the minors that can come up and make an impact for them,” said an American League exec. “They won’t have that for a couple of years. So, if they’re going to do a Red Sox-type rebuild, they have a disadvantage. Where Boston has a number of pitchers and positional prospects ready to make an impact, the Yankees don’t. So, they still have to make their impact through free agency and possibly trades.” Here's more from today's column..
- The Twins believe they had enough interest in Justin Morneau that if he continues to hit well and shows power, he could be moved to a contender in a waiver deal. The Blue Jays might claim him but the Rays, Orioles, and Indians might also have some interest.
- Giants righty Tim Lincecum could be a big fish that goes in a waiver deal as some teams like him as a valuable bullpen piece down the stretch. The Giants weren’t offered anything good enough at the deadline, but given his $22MM salary and the fact he’s in the final year of his deal, the Giants may want to free themselves shortly.
- Giants outfielder Hunter Pence will be a free agent but he really wants to stay put and he has expressed that to GM Brian Sabean. However, Sabean told him that if something knocked their socks off they would move him — but nothing materialized. He could be another movable part during August, but the Giants plan to make him a qualifying offer and then try to re-sign him long term.
- Marlins third baseman Placido Polanco is 37 and isn't the strongest fielder, but he remains a possible target for teams such as the Red Sox and Yankees, who need a veteran presence and a guy who can still hit from the right side.
- Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman tried to get Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz from the Phillies. Though neither deal happened, they are both possibilities as waiver deals during the month of August. However, Cafardo notes that Ruiz might not make it past the NL teams in the waiver process.
- Royals right-hander Ervin Santana could theoretically be moved during the waiver period, but it looks like he’s in Kansas City to stay. As one GM said, “He might be the biggest target going in August. Doubt he gets too far, though.”
- When asking General Managers which former GM they miss the most, J.P. Ricciardi got the most responses. Many believe Ricciardi will be a GM again, whether it’s taking over for Sandy Alderson when he wants to step down with the Mets, or with another club. Cafardo runs down Ricciardi's highlights in Toronto and notes that he was working with the club when their wasn't money to work with.
The Royals will not be sellers at the deadline, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan tweets. The Royals are still seven games back in the AL Central, but they've won six games in a row. Passan indicates that if the Royals deal pitchers Ervin Santana or Luke Hochevar, they would want to receive players who can help immediately. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- The removal of Pirates infield prospect Alen Hanson from a game with Class A+ Bradenton Sunday triggered speculation that Hanson had been traded, but Hanson's agency, LA Sports Management, tweets that Hanson had simply been promoted to Double-A Altoona. It does not appear, then, that a trade is imminent.
- Although the Tigers may trade for relief help, they appear happy with Joaquin Benoit at closer and Drew Smyly in their eighth-inning role, MLB.com's Jason Beck writes. "All I can say is that we feel very comfortable in the ninth and eighth innings with Benoit and Smyly. I don’t know where you’re really going to go out and improve that significantly," says GM Dave Dombrowski. The GM also echoes comments from other front office executives who say this year's market is a particularly tough one for buyers, since few teams identify as sellers at this point.
- The Cardinals currently do not appear likely to make big moves at Wednesday's deadline, but ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets that they might actually trade one of their relievers. Stark notes that, in particular, teams have asked about the Cardinals' bullpen lefties. The left-handers currently in the Cards' bullpen are Kevin Siegrist, Randy Choate and Marc Rzepczynski.
Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez resigned today amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Two sources told Spencer the agent for recently-demoted second baseman Derek Dietrich contacted the team several months ago to report an incident where Martinez erupted in anger unjustly and grabbed a player by his neck and neck chain. The MLBPA was notified of the alleged incident, as well as others involving Martinez, and the union then contacted the Commisioner's office and that office was expected to contact the Marlins on Tuesday, Spencer reports. Martinez, who had never been a Major League coach before this season, was owner Jeffrey Loria’s hand-picked selection to become Marlins' hitting coach. The Red Sox also had interest in hiring Martinez before he took the job with the Marlins. In other news and notes coming from the NL East:
- The Phillies are still not acknowledging the signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez as sources say the Cuban right-hander is awaiting visa approval, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gonzalez reportedly agreed to a six-year, $48MM contract with the Phillies, which could be worth as much as $59MM.
- Gelb also tweeted that Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins indicated he is not willing to waive his no-trade clause, if asked.
- There is no indication the Phillies are aggressively taking offers for Chase Utley in the event a contract extension cannot be reached, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- The Braves have not had any conversations with the Royals regarding Ervin Santana, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, he would like to add some more depth before the Trade Deadline. "If we could tweak or improve certain spots on the bench, I think that would be one place that we would attack," Rizzo said. "We’ve got a lot of trade discussions. We’ve received calls, we’ve made calls."
- Manager Terry Collins doesn't expect the Mets to make any moves prior to the Trade Deadline, reports Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Marlon Byrd is the Met name most mentioned in trade rumors and a team source tells Ackert the asking price is a top 10-15 prospect.
The Phillies are clearly in sell mode after dropping five of six since the All-Star break, and should now begin fielding offers for Chase Utley, Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News says. The oft-injured Utley can no longer man second base for a full season in the National League, but would do well in a situation where he could regularly play first and DH for an American League team, while appearing at second only occasionally, Hayes opines. Shipping Utley to another club would clear a spot for prospect Freddy Galvis, who's now in Triple-A. As Hayes notes, Utley too was once a 23-year-old prospect blocked by an aging veteran at the keystone. On to tonight's NL East links:
- Cliff Lee's best asset is his durability, as he's "never hurt" and "always goes out there," an executive tells Jayson Stark of ESPN (Twitter link). Lee, of course, offers other virtues, including a 3.05 ERA in 144 2/3 innings this year. We heard this week that the Phillies will listen to offers for their ace.
- The Braves continue to assess the cost of starting pitchers such as the White Sox's Jake Peavy and the Royals' Ervin Santana, whom they consider to be "legit upgrades," Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. However, their focus is on landing a reliever. In a second tweet, Bowman says Atlanta's deep rotation and the high price tag on starting pitching this year make it more likely that the club will acquire bullpen help and/or a backup infielder.
- Discussing potential trades, Braves GM Frank Wren says payroll isn't an issue for his club, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. "It’s going to be the talent we have to give up," Wren said.
Tonight's AL Central Links..
- The White Sox are shopping right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom along with Alex Rios, Jake Peavy, and Alexei Ramirez, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweets. However, it's unclear how much interest other teams have, Knobler adds. Lindstrom, 33, has a 3.35 ERA in 40 1/3 innings pitched and has yet to allow a home run this year. However, his 6.2 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 could give some teams some pause.
- We've heard the Royals have set a high price for Ervin Santana, and now Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that rival executives believe Luke Hochevar may be more likely to be traded. One executive described the 29-year-old Hochevar as "a hot item," as he's blossomed in the bullpen this season, posting a 1.89 ERA in 38 innings after struggling in the Royals' rotation for years. Some clubs may believe he could return to a starting role, potentially increasing his value. He's expected to draw interest from the Braves and Dodgers, among other teams.
- Meanwhile, Santana may also be a fit in Atlanta, Heyman says. That matches with what we've heard, though the Royals are indicating they'd need to be "overwhelmed" to trade him. Kansas City is targeting right field and second base help, Heyman adds.
- An official familiar with the situation tells Knobler that a trade sending Ramirez from the White Sox to the Cardinals is "not likely," though as Knobler notes, such a deal appears to make sense on paper. Shortstop is the one position in a stacked St. Louis lineup that could use an upgrade, while the Sox are open for business and had a top scout in St. Louis this week. The two teams have discussed Ramirez along with Peavy, according to Knobler, who also reports that the Rangers maintain their interest in Rios. The Pirates may also be involved in Rios talks. Peavy, meanwhile, appears to be drawing the most attention from the Red Sox, but the A's and Braves have also expressed interest in the right-hander.
As we approach the trading deadline, teams like the Royals (along with the Phillies and Mariners) must decide not only what might be in their best long-term baseball interest, but also in their best business interest, ESPN's Buster Olney writes (insider-only). That means considering that, by selling in July, they would effectively be telling their fanbases that the season is over. Olney suggests that for a team like the Royals, who haven't made the playoffs since 1985, that might be difficult to do. Here's more out of Kansas City.
- The Royals should trade not only Ervin Santana, but also one or both of relievers Greg Holland and Luke Hochevar, Rob Neyer of SB Nation writes. The Royals, currently seven games out in the AL Central, have very slim odds of reaching the playoffs, and Neyer points out that top-performing relievers tend not to remain so for long. The way Holland eventually replaced former top closer Joakim Soria demonstrates how relievers are, at least in the long run, replaceable.
- The Royals won't be dealing Santana unless they get "something we can't refuse," a club official tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). As we noted earlier today, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal recently tweeted that the Royals could be shooting for an even better return than the one the Cubs got for Matt Garza. Dutton guesses that the Royals would particularly be interested in a second baseman or right fielder who solidify one of those positions for the next several years. Santana, who becomes a free agent after the season, currently has a 3.06 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 138 1/3 innings.