- Homer Bailey On DL With Potentially Serious Elbow Injury
- Nationals To Promote A.J. Cole
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- Brandon McCarthy Has Torn UCL
- Adam Wainwright Out For Season With Achilles Tear
- Marlins Have Discussed Saltalamacchia With Five Teams
- Marlins Designate Jarrod Saltalamacchia For Assignment
- Rangers, Angels Reach Agreement On Hamilton Deal
- Blue Jays Release Ricky Romero
- Ben Zobrist To Have Knee Surgery
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- Homer Bailey On DL With Potentially Serious Elbow Injury
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- Rangers Acquire Josh Hamilton
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Evan Gattis Rumors
Each offseason, teams and fans alike spend the winter projecting a 25-man roster on paper in an attempt to plot out as accurately as possible the way in which a season will progress. Oftentimes, a roster is more or less set from an early standpoint. Those expectations fluctuate based not only on player movement — trades and free agency, of course, have a strong impact on roster construction — but also on elements such as spring performances, injuries and early season success/struggles. Rarely do rosters, and the roles occupied by the players on that roster, shake out the way in which most pundits expected.
In many cases, the changes within a roster can come with significant financial implications for the players who find themselves in a more prominent role. Those who find themselves receiving the short end of the stick, of course, can see their future fortunes diminished.
It’s early in the 2015 season, but already we’ve seen some shifts in role and/or playing time that will make some players considerably wealthier in arbitration, as well as some that figure to severely damage a player’s arbitration case.
Rising Earning Power
Adam Ottavino: Typically, players like Ottavino are the ones that the Cardinals find rather than let go, but St. Louis tried to get the now-29-year-old Ottavino through waivers in 2012 and lost him to the Rockies. Ottavino has been a revelation in the Colorado bullpen, boosting his velocity and ditching his changeup for a devastating slider that has turned him into a late-inning weapon. Ottavino was recently named the new closer by manager Walt Weiss, and he’ll have a chance to head into his second trip through arbitration with a bucket of saves under his arm. The difference between entering arb as a setup man and entering as a closer could be worth millions.
Jeurys Familia: The same role change that benefits Ottavino will do the same for Familia, who entered the season setting up for Jenrry Mejia. However, an 80-game suspension for Mejia and Bobby Parnell‘s recovery from Tommy John surgery have opened the door for Familia to take the reins in the ninth inning. He’s notched a 6-to-1 K/BB ratio in his first 4 2/3 innings this season, and while he hasn’t necessarily secured the job through season’s end — Parnell or Mejia could reclaim the job later in the year — a season resembling last year’s 2.21 ERA in the ninth inning would yield a significant arbitration payday. Zach Britton, for example, parlayed one elite season as a closer into a $3.2MM payday this year, though the two aren’t perfect comparables. (Britton was a Super Two and didn’t have multiple strong seasons under his belt, as Familia theoretically will.) Ottavino landed a $1.3MM salary his first time through arb after a strong season of setup work, however, giving a rough idea of the potential gap between the two roles.
Lorenzo Cain: Entering last season, Cain was the Royals’ No. 8 hitter and didn’t get into the lineup on an everyday basis, as he split time with Jarrod Dyson in center field. Cain didn’t hit higher in the batting order than sixth until June 17 last season, but he’s batted third every day and started in center each game for the Royals this year. Cain doesn’t have the power one would typically expect from a No. 3 hitter, but his preposterous defense will keep him in the lineup every day, and hitting in the heart of the order will lead to plenty of RBI opportunities. A Gold Glove and a career-high in RBIs (which wouldn’t be hard to come by, as it currently stands at 53) will go a long way toward bolstering his $2.725MM salary.
Evan Gattis: The transition from catcher/outfielder in the National League to DH/outfielder in the American League should afford Gattis with the opportunity to see more playing time and therefore accumulate more counting stats to pad his first arbitration case this winter. While it’s true that he probably has more value behind the plate — that type of offense from a catcher is indeed quite rare — defense isn’t as highly rewarded via the arbitration process as good old fashioned homers and RBIs. Gattis has struggled to open the year, but career-highs in home runs, RBIs and most other counting stats wouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Leonys Martin: Martin’s role may not appear different on the surface, as he still figures to man center field on an everyday basis if healthy. However, Martin received just 40 games in the leadoff spot in 2014, spending the bulk of his time occupying the 7th and 8th slots in the Rangers lineup. Manager Jeff Banister declared Martin his leadoff hitter and voiced confidence in his ability to handle the role, even after struggling out of the gate in 2015. Martin’s dropped to eighth in each of the past two games, but Banister said that decision was “tinkering” to give the lineup “a different look,” rather than anything permanent. Martin averaged 3.76 plate appearances per game in 2014 but has averaged 4.4 per game in 2015. Over the course of 150 games, that comes out to an extra 150 to 155 games, that’d be an extra 96 to 100 plate appearances for Martin — a valuable increase in opportunities to boost his counting stats as he wraps up a five-year, $15.5MM contract and heads into arbitration for the first time.
Jordan Schafer: The former top prospect broke camp with the Braves as a reserve outfielder in 2014 and started just 13 games all season before the Twins claimed him on waivers in early August. Schafer impressed the Twins enough that there was never any real thought to non-tendering him (despite a marginal track record), and he outplayed Aaron Hicks in Spring Training to earn a regular role in center field to begin the season. Schafer is in a platoon with Shane Robinson, and he’ll have to hold off Hicks, Eddie Rosario and perhaps even Byron Buxton to keep his playing time, but he’s unquestionably been presented with a better financial opportunity than he was in Atlanta.
Declining Earning Power
Wilin Rosario: After spending the bulk of the past three seasons as Colorado’s everyday catcher, Rosario will now transition to a part-time role in which he’ll be used as an occasional first baseman against left-handed pitching. Rosario will also make sporadic appearances in the outfield and behind the plate. Rosario’s power has never been in question, but he’s regarded as one of the game’s worst defensive backstops and will be without a regular role of which to speak. The decrease in playing time is a critical blow to his earning potential, as his $2.8MM salary won’t be increasing by much if the early stages of the season are any indication of his playing time. Rosario has seven plate appearances in six games thus far.
Welington Castillo: Manager Joe Maddon can refer to the Cubs’ combination of Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo as his “three-headed catcher,” but Castillo, formerly Chicago’s starting catcher, and his agent would likely describe the situation much more colorfully behind closed doors. Castillo took home a $2.1MM payday in his first trip through the arb cycle this winter, but like Rosario, he’s seen virtually no plate appearances in 2015. Castillo has appeared in four games and picked up seven PAs. Now that they’ve been through the arb process once, the raises awarded to Rosario and Castillo will be based almost solely upon their 2015 results, so their pay bumps figure to be rather paltry in nature.
Brett Cecil: Cecil was tabbed to as the Blue Jays’ closer to enter the season, but he relinquished those duties to 20-year-old Miguel Castro almost instantly. Cecil’s diminished velocity played a role in that decision, and while he may work his way back into the ninth inning, he looks like he’s tabbed for a setup role in the immediate future. A full season of saves would be a boon for next winter’s arbitration case, but that looks unlikely now.
Ruben Tejada: The Mets have had a hole at shortstop since Jose Reyes departed, and while Tejada got the chance to fill the void last year, it’s Wilmer Flores getting that opportunity this year. Tejada started 105 games in 2014, but it seems highly unlikely that he’ll come anywhere near that number in 2015, barring injuries around the diamond. Tejada’s light bat limited his earning power in the first place, but a lack of regular at-bats will further limit the raise he’ll receive on this year’s $1.88MM salary.
Peter Bourjos: Lights-out center field defense gave Bourjos a chance to pick up quite a few plate appearances early in his Cardinals tenure, but the club quickly departed from the notion of giving him more regular at-bats in 2014, promoting Randal Grichuk and giving more playing time back to Jon Jay. To this point, Bourjos has had just two plate appearances, though his glove has gotten him into five games. The complete evaporation of playing time makes a significant raise on his $1.65MM salary difficult to envision. Bourjos’ elite glove is strong enough that he could start for a number of teams, but it’s also a luxury and a late-inning weapon for St. Louis, so it’s difficult to envision them moving him into a more financially favorable situation.
Jesse Chavez: Despite the fact that he excelled in the rotation for Oakland last year, Chavez lost his starting spot midseason after the acquisitions of Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and, eventually, Jon Lester. Many, myself included, believed he had a strong case for the rotation heading into 2015, but the final three spots behind holdovers Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir went to Jesse Hahn, Drew Pomeranz and Kendall Graveman. Chavez’s 2014 breakout should indicate that he’ll be a perfectly useful reliever in 2015, but 20-30 starts would’ve done quite a bit more for his earning power.
Everth Cabrera: Cabrera’s fall in San Diego was somewhat remarkable, as he went from leading the NL in steals in 2012 and earning a 2013 All-Star nod to a 50-game suspension for PEDs, a dismal 2014 season and an eventual non-tender. He’s latched on in Baltimore and has been starting at shortstop with J.J. Hardy rehabbing from injury, but a reserve role is in the cards for E-Cab, making it difficult to envision a substantial raise on his $2.4MM salary, which was a slight decline from last year’s $2.45MM in the first place.
Note: This post isn’t including role changes for players who will not be arbitration eligible following the 2015 season. Players such as Carlos Martinez and Tony Cingrani, for example, will certainly see their future arbitration outlooks impacted if their recent role changes are permanent, but it’s difficult enough to know whether or not all of these changes will hold throughout the current season, let alone through the 2016-17 seasons.
Even after watching the Braves ship out key players such as Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis wasn’t expecting to be the next one to go. In January, after weeks of rumors and speculation, Atlanta struck a deal with the upstart Astros to continue their massive overhaul. Gattis was caught off guard, but it didn’t take him long to come to terms with the move and get comfortable with his new club.
“I wasn’t really actually bummed about the trade, I was just more surprised than anything. I just didn’t think it would happen,” Gattis told MLBTR prior to Wednesday’s game against the Phillies. “Other than that, its been a good camp and there’s a really good group of guys here. I’m just excited and looking forward to the season.”
Gattis understood that major change was coming to the Braves, but he figured that he would be immune to it all since he’s still pre-arbitration eligible for one more season and playing near the league minimum. Eventually, when it became clear that the Braves were listening on offers for him, he still didn’t panic or personally reach out to anyone in the Atlanta front office. “I’m always the type to focus on my own business and I just worry about what I need to do to play,” Gattis explained.
With the Braves eyeing 2017 as their year to get back to contention, Gattis sounds legitimately enthused to be with a team that has advanced their own timeline considerably. In fact, he says he’s okay with being flexible with regards to his exact role this season and isn’t fretting the split he might have between left field, the DH spot, or occasional time behind the plate. Gattis hasn’t gotten a ton of balls hit his way in left during spring training, but he’s confident that he’ll get comfortable there in time, just as he did with his new club.
The Astros have listened to trade ideas regarding their surplus of position players, but are not actively looking to deal, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. There’s currently no way to get Jason Castro, Evan Gattis, Jon Singleton, George Springer, Colby Rasmus, Jake Marisnick and Chris Carter in the lineup all at the same time, Drellich points out. But their depth gives them options in case players get hurt or struggle. In particular, Gattis and Rasmus have significant injury histories, while Singleton and Marisnick are unproven. The team could also platoon Gattis and Rasmus in left field. Here’s more from Drellich on the Astros.
- If the Astros were to make a trade this Spring, it might involve a depth player like Alex Presley rather than one of the more regular players mentioned above. Robbie Grossman could beat out Presley for the last outfield spot. Presley is out of options, and there’s at least some possibility the Astros could lose him if they expose him to waivers. From this vantage point, the risk seems minimal, given that Presley didn’t hit well last year and is making above the league minimum (at $1MM). But given the depth he represents, that possibility is at least worth considering.
- Hank Conger has struggled this spring, but he’s still penciled in as Castro’s backup at catcher.
- Three players whose situations are unresolved are minor-league free agent pitchers Joe Thatcher, Roberto Hernandez and first baseman Dan Johnson, Drellich says. Thatcher and Hernandez are Article XX(B) free agents, so before Opening Day, the Astros must decide whether to add them to the active roster, release them, or pay them $100K retention bonuses (and give them June 1 opt-out date). Thatcher is likely to make the team as the Astros’ second bullpen lefty. Johnson, who is not an Article XX(B) free agent, also has an opt-out date, although not until after the start of the regular season.
The Rangers have an insurance policy on Yu Darvish and could recoup more than half of his $10MM salary if he undergoes Tommy John surgery and misses the year, reports Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. The Rangers could use the insurance proceeds to add payroll. The policy’s total value to the club, however, is dependent on when the clock begins on the deductible. Grant notes the Rangers could make a case that this injury is a recurrence of the elbow problems Darvish suffered last year sidelining him for the final 50 days of the 2014 season.
Elsewhere in the American League:
- Darvish’s injury is not just a blow to the Rangers, but to all of baseball, opines CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman.
- Rick Porcello told reporters, including Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (via Twitter), he has not had extension talks with the Red Sox this spring and does not expect to have any.
- The Indians and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber have not made any progress in negotiating a contract extension, writes Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Kluber is a pre-arbitration eligible player and Wednesday is the deadline for signing such players. If a deal cannot be reached, teams can renew the contracts of those players at their discretion, usually for a fraction above the MLB minimum of $507.5K. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently provided a primer on understanding pre-arbitration salaries.
- In a separate article, Hoynes chronicles how the Indians have re-built their farm system through the draft (especially their willingness to select high-upside high schoolers rather than college players), trades, and international free agent signings.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan right-hander Chris Young, who the club signed yesterday, will make the team and pitch out of the bullpen. Flanagan notes, in a second article, the Royals have discussed keeping eight relievers and, if so, will have several contenders battling for just one spot.
- Evan Gattis has had two months to reflect upon his trade to Astros and still has mixed feelings, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The negative is that there’s a good fan base in Atlanta, I felt loved there,” Gattis said. “The positives are that I’m in the American League, I might be a little more durable; I’m going to try to have a healthy season. And I’m in Texas, stoked about that. So yeah, positives and negatives.“
You can add the Marlins to the long list of teams interested in Yoan Moncada, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports that the Fish are monitoring the Cuban phenom’s market. Frisaro raises the possibility that the Marlins could see the versatile Moncada as a long-term answer in center field if Marcell Ozuna gets expensive through his arbitration years. Given the bigger-spending teams also in the hunt for Moncada, however, Frisaro describes Miami as “probably a long shot” to sign him. Here’s some more from around the NL East…
- Frisaro also wonders if investing in Moncada makes more sense for the Marlins than signing James Shields. While the Fish are still interested in Shields, Frisaro flatly denies that the Marlins are in on Max Scherzer, saying “there is zero chance” of that happening.
- The Rangers have kept in contract with the Phillies about a trade for Cole Hamels, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports, but the biggest obstacle seems to be money. Texas wants the Phillies to cover some of the $96MM still owed on Hamels’ contract.
- The Phillies are “unrealistic in their expectations” in what they hope to receive in a Hamels trade, a source tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. As was reported earlier today, the Phillies have a firm price tag in mind for Hamels and are in no rush to deal the ace left-hander.
- The Braves are no longer candidates to sign Brandon Beachy, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link). Atlanta non-tendered Beachy last month but were hopeful of reaching a new deal with the right-hander, who missed all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Beachy was reportedly considering between six offers from interested teams.
- When the Astros had some late concerns about Evan Gattis‘ back and knee, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link) that during those last few hours, the Braves re-opened talks with the Rangers. The details with Houston were worked out, of course, and Gattis is now an Astro.
- The Mets‘ refusal to include Noah Syndergaard as part of a rumored three-team deal was a good call, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post opines, even though the trade would’ve brought Ian Desmond to Citi Field. Dealing six years of control over Syndergaard for one year of Desmond wouldn’t have made sense, and if the Mets were willing to overpay on the type of extension it would take for Desmond to forego free agency, Davidoff argues that the team should just offer him that big contract next winter when he’s available.
- Also from Davidoff, he hears from Rockies owner Charlie Monfort that a deal that would bring Troy Tulowitzki to the Mets is “not happening.”
- In other NL East news from earlier today, the Braves have no intention of trading Craig Kimbrel, we shared some Nationals notes, MLBTR’s Zach Links spoke to Gattis about his trade to the Astros as part of a media conference call.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Brandon Beachy | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | Evan Gattis | Houston Astros | Ian Desmond | Max Scherzer | Miami Marlins | New York Mets | Noah Syndergaard | Philadelphia Phillies | Texas Rangers | Troy Tulowitzki | Washington Nationals | Yoan Moncada
After months of rumblings, the Braves finally found a deal they liked for catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis. The veteran is now the newest member of the Astros, who now appear determined to make an impact in 2015.
Gattis, a Dallas-area native, sheepishly admitted to reporters today that he grew up as a fan of the Rangers, and not his current ball club. Interestingly, before Gattis was sent to Houston for a trio of prospects, he was picking up trade interest from other clubs, including the nearby Rangers. I asked the 28-year-old if the Braves or his agent gave him a sense of how close he was to being traded to his favorite childhood team.
“All I’ve heard along the way is about as much as you’ve heard… or, maybe less than you’ve heard,” Gattis said on today’s conference call.
Gattis was certainly aware of the trade rumors surrounding him, and inquiring family members amplified things by asking him about the Rangers on a constant basis. Still, the veteran believed that he would still be in Atlanta come April.
“I didn’t think I was going to get traded, believe it or not. I think with four more years under club control, I think that was kind of big [for the Braves], so that kind of surprised me until I found out about the deal,” Gattis explained. “Even though I heard all the rumors, I figured if something was going to happen, it would have gotten done a lot earlier. That’s what I kind of chalked it up to, just being a lot of rumors. It didn’t really sink in until it happened yesterday.”
Now, Gattis has gone from a clear rebuild in Atlanta to Houston, where the timeline to contend has been advanced considerably. While heaping praise on the way the Braves organization treated him over the years, he spoke glowingly of what awaits him with the Astros.
“We are on the rise. They’re trying to push this team and get guys in the direction of winning. We won 19 more games last year and more games than in however many years, so I think the potential is there. The difference is so small between a really good team and a .500 team over the course of 162 games, it’s small situations and little stuff. It’s all about how you can carry it out and put it together.”
“We have a bunch of young guys who are eager to compete and win jobs, I think it’s a good environment here in Houston.”
The Astros have added more right-handed power to their lineup, acquiring catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis and minor league right-hander James Hoyt from the Braves, the teams announced. In return, Atlanta will acquire a trio of prospects: right-handers Michael Foltynewicz and Andrew Thurman as well as third baseman Rio Ruiz.
With the DH role likely going to Chris Carter and four catchers on the 40-man roster, the Astros will use Gattis primarily in left field, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets. He’ll also be used sparingly at catcher and first base, per McTaggart.
By adding Gattis, the Astros are adding another big right-handed bat to a lineup that already features two of them in Carter and George Springer. As I wrote in a profile of Gattis as a trade candidate, the bat-first backstop has limited defensive value (whether behind the dish or in the outfield) but has established himself as a legitimate contributor on offense. After posting a .243/.291/.480 slash with 21 home runs over 382 plate appearances in 2013, Gattis stepped things up with a .263/.317/.493 line and 22 long balls last year in 401 turns at bat.
Of course, Gattis also comes with an attractive contractual situation. He will play at league minimum for the final time this year before qualifying for arbitration in 2016. Though his power numbers should inflate his earnings, Gattis will nevertheless remain an affordable piece for some time.
The 28-year-old Hoyt, meanwhile, is an interesting story. After going undrafted out of Centenary College of Louisiana, he began working on sailboats for a living before an independent league tryout got him back into baseball (via Baseball America’s most recent scouting report on Hoyt [subscription required]). Eventually, he was picked up by Atlanta at age 25. Hoyt rose through Atlanta’s ranks, compiling particularly impressive marks at the Double-A level in 2013 (1.82 ERA, 11.5 K/9, 4.2 BB/9). That earned him the No. 30 ranking on BA’s list of top Braves prospects, with BA praising his 94-96 mph fastball and a slider that could develop into a plus pitch.
Another fact that becomes all the more obvious with this move is that the Braves are not playing for 2015. Atlanta has undergone a significant amount of roster turnover this offseason, with new president of baseball operations John Hart driving the change. The club already dealt away its two star corner outfielders, Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, and replaced their expiring contracts with a four-year deal for free agent Nick Markakis.
Without Gattis to plug in left, current options are few. The club could strike a deal for a younger player, make an upside play for someone like Colby Rasmus, or make a run at Nori Aoki — a solid, high-OBP veteran in the general Markakis mold.
The Rangers also expressed heavy interest in Gattis and were even next in line to acquire him, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets. The deal took awhile to get across the finish line, as there was some significant concern as to how Gattis’ back and right knee would look when examined by doctors, per Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Those concerns ultimately failed to derail the deal.
As with the Braves’ other moves, young pitching will come in return. Foltynewicz, who briefly reached the bigs last year as a reliever, sat at number three on Baseball America’s list of the best ‘Stros prospects and at fourth on the MLB.com version. He will likely be given a chance to continue his development as a starter, and could even have a shot at a MLB rotation spot this year. Thurman, 23, was taken in the second round in 2013 but has struggled to adapt to pro ball. Last season, pitching at the Class A level, he threw 115 1/3 innings of 5.38 ball with 8.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
Ruiz was set to jockey with trade deadline addition Colin Moran to be Houston’s third baseman of the future, and was ranked by BA right aside Moran at eighth amongst the team’s minor leaguers, with MLB.com placing him ninth. The 20-year-old slashed .293/.387/.436 with 11 home runs in 602 plate appearances at High-A last year. Ruiz fills a gap in the club’s corner infield pipeline created by the recent trade of Kyle Kubitza.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today first reported on Twitter that Gattis was slated for a physical and that there were advanced negotiations with the Astros. Braves blogger Martin Gandy was first to tweet that something might be in the works between the clubs. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution first tweeted that the deal was in place, pending the physical. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the return for Gattis (Twitter links). MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported the deal’s completion and Hoyte’s inclusion (Twitter links).
The Blue Jays and Orioles have reached the point of discussing compensation if current Baltimore executive VP Dan Duquette were to head to Toronto as the club’s new president, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (links to Twitter). The Orioles are “open to his departure,” says Rosenthal, whose sources tell him that some in the organization want him to leave to resolve what has become an uncomfortable situation. No deal is close at present, per the report.
Here are a few more quick notes from the east:
- The Braves are still talking with clubs regarding catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets. Nothing appears to be imminent, however, according to the report. As things stand, Gattis appears slated to open the season as Atlanta’s left fielder, though the right offer could presumably change that quickly.
- Among the teams interested in veteran southpaw Johan Santana is the Yankees, according to Dan Martin of the New York Post. New York had eyes on Santana in his recent Venezuelan winter league outing and pursued him last year before he launched an unsuccessful comeback bid with the Orioles.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo tells Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post that he was comfortable trading Steven Souza to the Rays because top outfield prospect Michael A. Taylor is only about a half a year behind Souza in terms of development. Taylor’s development has taken on greater importance now that Souza is gone, Janes notes, as he’s now the most big-league ready of their outfield prospects. Director of player development Mark Scialabba tells Janes that the team was happy with Taylor’s progress in 2014 and believes he can help in the Majors in 2015, but he also acknowledged that Taylor’s plate discipline is a work in progress. Taylor’s development is of particular importance, in my mind, due to his ability to handle center field; Denard Span is a free agent in one year’s time, and the Nats may not be able to retain him, Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Tyler Clippard — each of whom is in their final year of team control.
More from the NL East…
- Though the Marlins have an exceptional young outfield in Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton, the club is still on the lookout for a fourth outfielder, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Ideally, Morosi notes, they’d acquire someone who can handle center field to back up Ozuna. The free agent market has little to offer in terms of center fielders who saw significant time in the Majors last year, though the trade market has some options. The Padres have a number of outfielders that can play center field (Will Venable, Abraham Almonte and Cameron Maybin), Oakland’s Craig Gentry is an excellent defender, and the Cardinals’ Peter Bourjos is elite with the glove as well. One buy-low option on the free agent market could be Franklin Gutierrez, though his health issues are significant and he didn’t take the field in 2014. All of those names are my own speculation.
- Dan Haren is said to be holding out hope that the Marlins will trade him to either the Angels or the Padres, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The veteran Haren, acquired in the trade that also sent Dee Gordon to Miami, has a very strong, well-known desire to be on the West coast near his wife and children in Los Angeles.
- Meeting the Rockies’ asking price for Troy Tulowitzki doesn’t make sense for the Mets given Tulo’s health concerns, writes Newsday’s David Lennon. The Rox are set on multiple pitching prospects in return and haven’t shown any indication that they’re willing to eat a significant amount of cash. Lennon assumes the Rockies would need to eat a similar a percentage of the contract as the Dodgers did when moving Matt Kemp, which would come out to roughly $36MM.
- MLB.com’s Mark Bowman feels that if the Braves do still move Evan Gattis in a trade, they’ll attempt to land a starting pitcher or outfielder that can step into the Majors in short order and has a good deal of team control remaining. Of course, Gattis himself fits the description of an outfield option with team control remaining, though it’s certainly possible the Braves would prefer a better defender with a different skill set. As Bowman notes, the Braves have made a conscious effort to infuse their system with more speed- and contact-oriented players. Bowman also touches on the Braves’ bullpen and the money they’ve saved this offseason in his latest Braves Inbox.
Discussing his wide-ranging moves since taking over as the Dodgers president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman said today that he sees the club as a “highly functional baseball team, instead of a collection of talent.” As MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports, Friedman says the club will remain “open-minded” about dealing away from its stock of outfielders.
- Looking ahead after the Jimmy Rollins trade, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the team will continue to try to “get younger and more athletic,” as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. In addition to discussing various trade scenarios, the Phils have “had some dialogue with some free agents to try to increase some of our depth pitching-wise,” said Amaro. As for Chase Utley, though, Amaro said he has not had any discussions with Rollins’s long-time double-play partner about a change of scenery. “I haven’t had enough of a discussion with Chase,” said Amaro. “The only discussions I’ve had with Chase and his agent about any of that is that Chase wants to be in Philadelphia.” While Amaro did not close the door on a deal, neither did he indicate it was particularly likely. He concluded: “[Utley] has no desire to go anywhere. … [H]e wants to honor his contract and that’s how we have to perceive it.”
- The agent for reportedly soon-to-be Nationals shortstop prospect Trea Turner, Jeff Berry of CAA, expressed his frustration with the fact that Turner will be required to stay in the Padres system for six months until he is technically eligible to be named as the PTBNL in the recent three-team swap, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. Expressing concern with Turner playing in an organization that lacks a direct interest in his future well-being, Berry said that he “will vigorously pursue all available courses of action to remedy this situation,” up to and potentially including the filing of a grievance action.
- The Braves are still listening on Evan Gattis, but expect to deploy him in left field unless a big offer comes through the door, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter.
- The Mets did not place a bid on Jung-ho Kang, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted earlier today. That would, of course, appear to eliminate the Mets as the possible mystery team that has won the posting.
- The Phillies are taking a look at veteran middle infielder Rafael Furcal as he plays in the Venezuelan winter league, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. Furcal signed last year with the Marlins, but was never really able to get healthy. He could potentially fill a hole for the Phils at short.