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- Week In Review: 4/18/15 – 4/24/15
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Everth Cabrera Rumors
In an interview with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (audio link), Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said his team will scout Yoan Moncada as they would any prospect of “great intrigue,” but “given our financial situation, I wouldn’t expect us to be the winners of an auction.” Silverman feels this is another example of how difficult it is for successful small-market teams to replenish their systems, as “all of the [player acquisition] structures, whether it’s the draft or international, put us at a disadvantage.”
Here’s some more from around baseball…
- A group of South Korean investors are talking with the Dodgers about buying a minority stake of the franchise, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. The news was originally reported by two South Korean newspapers, one of which (the Korea Joongang Daily) reports that the discussed terms were $370MM for 20 percent of the team. A source with knowledge of the talks told Shaikin there is a “zero” chance the Dodgers’ ownership group would give up control of the team in these negotiations.
- The Phillies face a tough road back to respectability but they can get there within two to four years if they augment their financial resources with good young talent, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan opines. The worst-case scenario would be if they make the wrong moves and revenues decline, thus putting the club in a long streak of losing seasons, a la the Orioles prior to their 2012 playoff appearance.
- Peter Greenberg, Johan Santana‘s agent, said his client doesn’t have any structural damage in his shoulder, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets. Santana was recently scratched from a Venezuelan Winter League start due to his shoulder, though Greenberg said Santana might return to pitch in the league playoffs.
- Cuban outfielder Dayron Varona receives a scouting report from ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider subscription required), who praises Varona’s running and plus arm but has some questions about his hitting. The current popularity of Cuban players could inflate Varona’s market, Law feels, though he thinks Varona will sign for “close to eight figures as a potential big league backup.”
- The Blue Jays could consider Everth Cabrera as an option at second base, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Presumably the Jays’ interest would hinge on the outcome of Cabrera’s ongoing legal case, which may not take place until April. Heyman also notes that Rickie Weeks “seems to be further down [Toronto’s] list.”
- ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield lists the five teams he felt improved the most and least this winter.
The free agent market for Max Scherzer has been anything but traditional, writes MLB.com’s Mike Bauman. As Bauman notes, the dearth of clubs that have acknowledged interest in Scherzer is particularly peculiar, as is the fact that there have been little to no leaks of serious interest. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Insider required) spoke to a number of GMs, assistant GMs, managers, players and agents trying to pin down Scherzer’s market. As Bowden writes, while he often came up empty, that doesn’t necessarily mean much, as Scherzer is an ownership-level decision, and not all owners don’t always keep the front office in the loop. Beyond that, many owners consider Scherzer’s exorbitant price tag a final option of sorts and will only relent once it becomes clear that a potentially more affordable alternative — e.g. a trade for Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann or Johnny Cueto — is not possible. Bowden lists the Tigers, Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, Nationals, Marlins, Giants and Blue Jays as theoretical fits, noting that he doesn’t expect the latter two would make an offer. The Tigers are still the favorites in Bowden’s eyes, while multiple Yankees officials would “love” to have Scherzer (despite the club’s public and private denials). He adds that the Nationals could conceivably sign Scherzer if they move Zimmermann and/or Ian Desmond for younger pieces, knowing each has just one remaining year on his contract and has rebuffed the team’s previous efforts at working out a long-term deal.
Some more free agent notes from around the league…
- In addition to the Braves and Orioles, the Giants are also a potential fit for outfielder Nori Aoki, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. To this point, the Giants have yet to address their left field hole and have had a largely quiet offseason — though not for lack of trying. The Giants made serious pursuits of both Pablo Sandoval and Jon Lester, but after missing out on each have acquired Casey McGehee via trade and re-signed Jake Peavy.
- Speaking of the Giants‘ quiet offseason, MLB.com’s Chris Haft points out that history has shown the team is capable of adding help even as late in the offseason as mid-January. As Haft points out, both Aubrey Huff and Bengie Molina were mid-January signs back in 2010. He opines that a reunion with Ryan Vogelsong — whom Haft notes very much wants to return to San Francisco — makes so much sense that it’s surprising it hasn’t happened at this point. Though there’s some understandable frustration from Giants fans, Haft notes, there’s plenty of time for an addition or two.
- The Athletics will be among the clubs to watch Hector Olivera‘s upcoming showcase in the Dominican Republic, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who finds a matchup between the two sides very plausible. Adding Olivera to the fold would allow the team to play Ben Zobrist in the outfield, with Marcus Semien manning shortstop and Olivera at second. Olivera, 29, still needs clearance from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and Major League Baseball before he can sign.
- Everth Cabrera was scheduled for a readiness hearing Wednesday of this week, but his attorney has requested a continuance until March 23 due to pending trial matters in another case, reports Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. As such, Cabrera’s jury trial is now set for April 13 (depending on the outcome of the readiness hearing). Cabrera faces up to a year in jail time if he is convicted with a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. The delay in the hearing is particularly poor news for Cabrera, who had hoped to ink a big league deal at some point this offseason.
- Lastly, a pair of minor free agent notes: Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that the Twins never made an effort to re-sign Anthony Swarzak before he signed with Cleveland today, while MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers did make Andy Dirks an offer after he was non-tendered by Toronto. However, Detroit’s acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes led Dirks to return to the Blue Jays, where he felt he had a better opportunity to make the team and pick up more at-bats.
Nick Markakis underwent fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck yesterday, but the Braves expect their new right fielder to be 100 percent by Opening Day, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. President of baseball operations John Hart spoke with surgeon Steve Wray, who performed the procedure, and came away with the impression that aside from some possible disruption of his pre-Spring Training routine, Markakis would be fine. He’s expected to be cleared for physical activity within a month’s time and to be fully agile in six weeks.
Some more notes from the Senior Circuit to kick off your Thursday morning…
- The Rockies are interested in right-hander Kyle Kendrick as a potential back-of-the-rotation option, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The 30-year-old Kendrick pitched a career-high 199 innings last season, and Crasnick notes that his career 46.1 percent ground-ball rate is of interest to Colorado. That mark isn’t too far above the league average, but it’s an improvement over Franklin Morales and Christian Bergman, each of whom logged significant innings in Colorado’s rotation last year. Kendrick’s upside is limited, but he’d be a relatively low-cost option to soak up some innings in a shaky rotation.
- Wilmer Flores is still likely to open next season as the Mets‘ shortstop, writes Marc Carig of Newsday, but a source tells Carig that the team does have interest in Stephen Drew and Everth Cabrera on low-risk, one-year deals. Previous reports have indicated that the Mets weren’t interested in Cabrera. The team hasn’t ruled out bidding on Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang, but they’re likely to pass due to concerns over his defense. Those same concerns have halted their interest in Asdrubal Cabrera from progressing beyond internal discussions.
- In a video blog, ESPN’s Buster Olney opines that the Padres are in perfect position to try to squeeze some extra money out of the Dodgers in their deal for Matt Kemp. While the deal is expected to be completed, Olney notes that Kemp’s medicals are “ugly,” and the Dodgers need the trade more than the Padres do. The Dodgers are reportedly set to send $32MM to the Padres as it is.
- The Padres aren’t done making moves even after striking deals to acquire Kemp and Wil Myers, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. One possible minor addition, he reports, is veteran catcher David Ross, who is still “considering” the Padres.
28-year-old shortstop Everth Cabrera became a free agent earlier this month, as the Padres elected not to tender him a contract for 2015. Cabrera had been arrested in September for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. In November, the San Diego County district attorney’s office charged him with resisting arrest during that traffic stop. He plead not guilty on that charge last week, and a readiness hearing will happen in mid-January.
How does agent Scott Boras market Cabrera to MLB teams, given the looming situation? “With every negotiation you have complete disclosure, you walk through the factual situations,” Boras told me today at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Boras explained, “I think we all know that players get involved in situations where they might have made a mistake and done things. You talk to teams about the player’s history, his character, where he’s going in the future. So it’s really a due diligence dynamic with Everth.” Boras feels that the public’s perception of the incident differs from reality.
Certainly, there’s great risk in signing a free agent who could potentially face jail time if found guilty. A team will have to buy into Cabrera’s upside despite that concern. Boras made his pitch: “Everth Cabrera is a very talented player, so there’s that tweak in there [that makes you say] ‘Hey, if this guy could give you All-Star talent and I’m able to get him at a shorter term and a very young age, this guy could really have a big season.'”
Cabrera made the All-Star team with a strong first half in 2013.
Since Cabrera has four years and 144 days of Major League service time, a team that signs him this winter could potentially control him for 2016 through the arbitration process. The teams currently showing interest may have some kind of familiarity with Cabrera, as Boras said, “The people that are coming after him know him well, so they have to have the comfort level. They know this is an isolated issue, and they know his talent too.”
Cabrera was initially signed out of Nicaragua by Rockies scouts Rolando Fernandez and Francisco Cartaya. Fernandez is still employed by the Rockies, while Cartaya is with the Dodgers. The Dodgers also employ Josh Byrnes, who was in charge when Cabrera earned his All-Star nod. Kevin Towers, now with the Reds, was Padres GM when the team signed Cabrera, while current Cubs GM Jed Hoyer succeeded Towers.
Cabrera may not be in a position to demand more than $2-4MM, nor a starting shortstop job. He’s spent little time outside of shortstop in the Majors, but did log some games at second early in his pro career. Of the teams linked above, the Rockies could consider Cabrera to back up Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu if they trade Josh Rutledge. The Dodgers turned over their middle infield today, acquiring shortstop Jimmy Rollins and sending starting second baseman Dee Gordon to the Marlins. The Cubs aren’t hurting for middle infield options, while the Reds have Zack Cozart, Brandon Phillips, and Kristopher Negron and could do some middle infield shuffling.
Cabrera has not actually been linked to any teams so far, except for Adam Rubin’s note for ESPNNewYork.com ruling out the Mets. It should be noted, too, that Cabrera missed significant time with hamstring injuries in the last few years and missed significant time prior to 2012 with other injuries. On top of that, he served a 50-game PED suspension in 2013. Clearly the teams that mine this well for talent have many issues to consider, but that’s also what will keep Cabrera’s price down.
With the Winter Meetings nearly upon us, ESPN’s Jayson Stark spoke to nine baseball executives regarding the “Big Three” starting pitchers on this year’s free agent market — Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields — and asked when and where they will sign. While answers as to when Scherzer will sign varied, there was a much tighter window on Lester, with all nine believing he will sign between Dec. 8 and Dec. 13. The execs polled by Stark feel that Shields’ market is tied so closely to Lester that he will sign within two weeks of Lester and perhaps even as soon as next week’s Winter Meetings. Many identified Shields as a fallback for teams that miss on Lester. Execs picked Lester to sign with the usual suspects at this point: the Red Sox, Cubs, Giants or Dodgers. Interestingly, Scherzer’s landing spot was predicted to be the Yankees, Nationals, Cubs or Tigers, by the five who were willing to wager a guess on that outcome.
A few more notes pertaining to free agency…
- The Mariners, Royals, and Indians have all checked in on Alex Rios, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rios, who joined the Boras Corporation earlier this offseason, has had a fairly quiet market to this point, though one would expect interest to pick up now that Nelson Cruz, Torii Hunter and Yasmany Tomas are off the market.
- The Royals are looking for a right fielder and a starting pitcher but likely only have the available funds to make a “significant” investment in one of the two areas, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Royals may have to bargain shop for the other, he notes. Kansas City has invested a modest amount of its available funds to the bullpen in the past week, re-signing righties Jason Frasor and Luke Hochevar. However, it’s at least worth noting that Hochevar’s contract reportedly contains performance incentives tied to starting (though it also contains relief incentives).
- Though the Mets are in need of a shortstop, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes that recently non-tendered Padres speedster Everth Cabrera is not a consideration. Though he’s talented and has twice led the NL in stolen bases, Cabrera has a good deal of off-field issues on his record, including a 50-game PED suspension and more recent legal issues, as he’s been charged with resisting arrest after being stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. (Cabrera plead not guilty to those charges today, per the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jeff Sanders.)
- Lefty reliever Craig Breslow is drawing significant interest, but his timetable to sign is currently dependent on the rest of the relief market, tweets WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Breslow is coming off a down season but has a strong track record. Interest in Breslow and other relievers could intensify now that Andrew Miller is off the board, I would think.
- Though the Astros missed out on Miller even after offering him more money than the Yankees did, they’re still on the hunt for relievers, tweets Heyman. Houston remains interested in David Robertson, Sergio Romo and others.
The Padres have non-tendered shortstop Everth Cabrera, the team announced. He was the only roster casualty of the evening, per the team’s release.
Cabrera was projected by MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz to earn $2.9MM through arbitration. The 28-year-old took home $2.45MM last year, when he was named to the All-Star team before seeing his season unravel with a Biogenesis suspension and, later, DUI arrest.
Cabrera remains an intriguing talent in spite of his issues off and on the field (.572 OPS through 391 plate appearances last year). In 2013, by far his best season as a pro, Cabrera slashed .283/.355/.381 while swiping 37 bases and delivering solid defensive play.
While San Diego’s position is certainly understandable, it is certainly a disappointing result for a player who looked like a potential franchise building block not long ago. Certainly, there should be several teams interested in taking a shot on his upside.
The Padres have announced that Mark Kotsay will join the team’s uniformed staff as the hitting coach. Kotsay, 39 tomorrow, saw action in 17 MLB campaigns — including two stints with the Friars. He hung up his spikes before the 2014 season, which he spent with the organization as a special assistant.
Here’s more out of San Diego:
- GM A.J. Preller is “aggressively” seeking to acquire bats that would position the team as a near-term division contender, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The team has already been a significant factor in several early signings, though it has yet to land a major target this offseason.
- We already took a look at a recent piece from MLB.com’s Corey Brock addressing the Padres’ offseason efforts, but another of his notes bears mention. Recently-dealt third baseman Chase Headley, now a free agent, is not believed to be a fit for his old club, a source tells Brock. A reunion had at least seemed hypothetically plausible, especially after the team dangled big money at Pablo Sandoval.
- Like other clubs around the game, the Pads are preparing to make some difficult non-tender decisions tomorrow evening. As Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes, the decision on shortstop Everth Cabrera is complicated by his recent PED suspension, arrest for driving under the influence of marijuana, and related charge for resisting arrest. Sources tell Lin that Cabrera was “not entirely forthcoming” with the club in the aftermath of the DUI, which may play a role in the team’s decision. Of course, the 28-year-old’s .232/.272/.300 slash last year does not help his cause either.
- Free agent starter Josh Johnson is still weighing offers from multiple teams, agent Matt Sosnick told MLBTR in last week’s podcast (around the 18:00 mark). “He’s a pretty loyal guy,” said Sosnick, such that “the chances are he probably goes back to San Diego.” Johnson’s representative explained that the righty was drawing “a ton of interest” from other clubs, but valued many things about his relationship with the Padres. As he rehabs back from Tommy John surgery, the 30-year-old hopes to start throwing from a mound in the middle of February.
MLBTR would like to send its deepest condolences to the friends and family of former Major League left-hander Brad Halsey, who died tragically in a climbing accident near his Texas home, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes. Halsey, just 33, spent three seasons in the Majors with the Yankees, Diamondbacks and A’s from 2004-06. He was one of three players traded from the Yankees to Arizona to acquire the legendary Randy Johnson.
As we keep the family and loved ones of Brad in our thoughts, here are a few notes from around the game…
- Hiroki Kuroda has yet to decide whether he wants to return for the 2015 season, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. At this point, Kuroda is weighing one more season in the Majors, one more season in Nippon Professional Baseball or retirement.
- Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has recovered from knee surgery and will pitch in a winter league this year as he gears up for a comeback, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rodriguez, who turns 36 in January, pitched just 26 2/3 innings for the Pirates this season before being released. He underwent knee surgery roughly a month later and said at the time that he had received some interest from other clubs. However, he preferred to correct a lingering issue in his knee that had been hindering him, in an effort to be as best-prepared as possible for the 2015 season.
- The Associated Press reports that Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera was charged with resisting arrest after police stopped him for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. While DUI charges are not planned, according to the report, Cabrera was cited for possession of marijuana in the car and could face up to a year in jail if convicted of a misdemeanor.
- The Phillies have no plans to move Cody Asche off of third base at this time, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. While the idea of trying Asche in the outfield has been kicked around within the organization, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team decided at last week’s organizational meetings that Asche will remain at the hot corner. The plan next season is to platoon Asche and Maikel Franco if the team cannot move Ryan Howard this offseason. It seems that at some point, Asche or Franco will have to move off the position, but Amaro told Zolecki the team views both as third basemen right now. “Maikel Franco is a third baseman who plays some first base,” said Amaro.
Cabrera, 27, came within nine steals of leading the National League despite playing just 95 games due to a PED-related suspension. The switch-hitter batted .283/.355/.381 in 435 plate appearances. Over the past two seasons, only Mike Trout and Rajai Davis have stolen more bases than the 81 tallied by Cabrera. He topped Swartz's projection by $250K.
In more Padres-related arb news, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Tyson Ross has avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $1.98MM salary (Twitter link). Ross broke out with the Padres in 2013, posting a 3.17 ERA in a career-high 125 innings. The 26-year-old saw his fastball velocity jump nearly two miles per hour, as he averaged 94.2 mph on his heater. That helped him up his K/9 rate to a career-high 8.6, and he posted career-bests in BB/9 rate (3.2) and ground-ball rate (54.9 percent) as well. Ross' agents at the Wasserman Media Group did well to secure a $1.9MM payday. Swartz had projected a $1.3MM salary.
9:53pm: The Padres and right-hander Ian Kennedy have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.1MM contract for the 2014 season, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Kennedy is a client of the Boras Corporation. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had pegged Kennedy to earn $5.8MM.
The 29-year-old Kennedy was acquired from the Diamondbacks in a rare intra-division trade this past July. San Diego sent lefty Joe Thatcher, relief prospect Matt Stites and a 2014 competitve balance draft pick to Arizona in order to land the 2011 Cy Young candidate. Since finishing fourth in that Cy Young voting, however, Kennedy has seen his results tumble, leading to the D-Backs' decision that he was no longer vital to the organization's success.
Over the past two seasons, Kennedy has posted a 4.43 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. He's also posted a fly-ball rate of just 37.7 percent, indicating that the move to the spacious Petco Park from the cozy Chase Field should be beneficial to him. That wasn't the case in 2013, as Kennedy's HR/9 rate actually increased with the Padres, but that trend doesn't seem likely to continue once the sample size is expanded beyond 57 1/3 innings.
Kennedy will join a crowded rotation mix that also figures to include Josh Johnson, Andrew Cashner, Eric Stults and Tyson Ross with rehabbing starters Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland also in the mix in addition to youngsters Robbie Erlin and Burch Smith.
The red-hot Dodgers suffered just their third loss of the second half last night and have expanded their lead on the NL West to five games over the second-place Diamondbacks. Here's the latest out of the division…
- It's easy to forget what a dreadful situation the Dodgers were in just two short months ago, but manager Don Mattingly offered a reminder when speaking to reporters, including Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. Mattingly said that team president Stan Kasten approached him and told him that they would have to let him go if things didn't turn around. There was plenty of speculation back in May regarding Mattingly's job security, but this is the first that either side has acknowledged how close he may have come to getting fired.
- Suspended Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera gave an emotional, bilingual speech to his teammates, apologizing to them behind closed doors prior to Monday's game, writes MLB.com's Jamal Collier. Collier adds that Cabrera took a banned substance in the spring of 2012 to help heal a shoulder injury at the advice of former ACES employee Juan Nunez – the same employee who was reportedly behind Melky Cabrera's web site scandal.
- Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes that former Rockies outfielder Eric Young Jr. has no ill feelings towards Colorado after being traded to the Mets earlier this season. "I’m more appreciative they made the move they did, because I wouldn’t be in this situation if they didn’t," Young told reporters on Tuesday. Young has been outstanding with the Mets, hitting .270/.350/.362 with a home run (of the walk-off variety) and 15 steals in 19 attempts.