The Marlins are known to be exploring the relief pitching market, and they’ve had internal discussions about both the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman and the Padres’ Fernando Rodney, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney (in his latest subscription-only column). It isn’t known if these discussions reflect genuine interest, as teams routinely go over many options in the leadup to the trade deadline.
There has been quite a bit of speculation about the Yankees trading at least one of Chapman, Andrew Miller or Dellin Betances should the team fall out of contention. Chapman is a free agent this winter and moving Miller would free up some payroll room, though the controllable Betances would probably bring back the biggest return of the trio. Some have argued that New York could deal from their uber-bullpen even if they’re still in the race, as they would still have a powerful end-game answer with just two of those excellent relievers, and trading the third would address needs in the rotation or lineup. Still, it’s rather hard to see a contending Yankees team breaking up their dominant relief trio given how the rest of their bullpen has been unimpressive.
It’s much more likely that the Padres would explore deals for Rodney, given how San Diego is currently in the NL West basement. Rodney has a microscopic 0.31 ERA through 28 2/3 innings, with 10.4 K/9 and a 2.75 K/BB rate. Obviously some good fortune is involved in Rodney’s near-perfect season (such as a .210 BABIP and a 92.6% strand rate) but he is still posting fine numbers even by ERA-indicator standards: 2.29 FIP, 3.22 xFIP, 3.04 SIERA. Rodney has generally been a good-to-great reliever since 2012 except for last season, when his early-season struggles led to a midseason release from the Mariners, though he regained some of his form against signing on with the Cubs late in the year.
The Marlins had some interest in Rodney last winter before he signed with the Padres, so it’s no surprise that they’re looking at him again in the wake of his successful year. It’s also not hard to believe that Miami is discussing Chapman, as any team in need of a bullpen upgrade would given his excellent track record.
With a thin farm system and a lack of interest in dealing Major League parts, the Marlins could offer to take on salary to facilitate a trade, though neither Chapman or Rodney represent a big payroll outlay. Chapman is owed approximately $5.75MM over the rest of the year while Rodney has only around $850K in base salary this year and at least $400K to buy out a $2MM club option for 2017 (though these numbers can rise rather significantly based on incentives). I’d guess it unlikely that Jeffrey Loria approves enough of a payroll boost to absorb one of several albatross contracts cluttering both the New York and San Diego rosters, so there might not a trade fit unless the Marlins have a prospect or two that the Yankees or Padres particularly like.
Jon Heyman of todaysknuckleball.com has another lengthy report full of trade rumors and rumblings. Among the highlights:
- Closer Arodys Vizcaino is drawing “intense” interest and is receiving more attention on the trade market than any other Braves player, according to Heyman. A high level of interest in Vizcaino should come as no surprise; the 25-year-old boasts a 1.83 ERA dating back to Opening Day 2015 and is earning just $897,500 this season after avoiding arbitration for the first time as a Super Two player this past winter. He can be controlled through the 2019 season, so the Braves would assuredly have a considerable asking price for three and a half years of Vizcaino.
- The Indians continue to monitor the market for outfield help, and they’re also in the market for some bullpen reinforcements, though they have competition on that front. The health of Michael Brantley will impact how aggressive Cleveland is in its search for outfielders, though there’s yet to be any definitive word on how long Brantley will be sidelined.
- The Royals, too, are on the lookout for outfield help, and Heyman lists Jon Jay and Melvin Upton Jr. as possibilities, though he does so in a fairly speculative manner. Heyman further splashes some cold water on the Yordano Ventura trade rumors from earlier this month, quoting an anonymous Royals exec: “With starting pitching at a premium, of course we aren’t trading him.”
- Aroldis Chapman’s name continues to come up in speculation, but Heyman writes that the Yankees haven’t ruled out signing the lefty to an extension as opposed to entertaining trade offers. Heyman adds that the Yankees have yet to even have internal discussions about selling off parts of their MLB roster.
- If the Athletics end up selling — which they aren’t yet prepared to do — the team will consider anything, per Heyman. But GM Billy Beane is least interested in parting with Sonny Gray and Sean Doolittle, both of whom come with extended, cheap control.
- Across the bay, the Giants are still willing to consider acquiring a starting-level outfielder even though Hunter Pence appears on track to return before the end of August. The idea would be to move Angel Pagan into a reserve role, it seems.
- Derek Norris is available on the trade market, but the Padres players receiving the most interest at this time are Jon Jay and Fernando Rodney, per Heyman. He adds that the Padres are open to trading anyone, but an early deal for Wil Myers shouldn’t be expected due to the fact that he’s the team’s official All-Star Game ambassador in San Diego this season. Beyond that, a “Padres-connected” source told Heyman the team would expect four top-tier prospects to part with the controllable Myers, who is having a breakout season at the plate.
- The Mariners are set to shop for starting pitching this summer, per Heyman, though they could also aim for relief help. It’s not unusual for depth issues to creep up in a pitching staff, but Seattle is probably less than enthused with the fact that Felix Hernandez is now in the midst of an extended DL stint after a less-than-promising start to the season (despite his strong results).
- Multiple clubs are trying to buy low on Francisco Liriano, but the Pirates aren’t inclined to sell at this time. The Orioles, it appears, are one such team, as MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported yesterday that Baltimore has interest in the underperforming southpaw.
- The Angels “are officially out” on Cuban third baseman Yulieski Gurriel, according to Heyman. The 32-year-old figures to command a significant multi-year deal, and adding another eight-figure average annual salary to the ledger would severely impede the Halos’ ability to avoid continual luxury tax penalization. Heyman also notes that Tim Lincecum could eventually become trade bait for the Angels if the team continue to struggle and if Lincecum performs well.
While the Cubs have plenty of trade chips at their disposal due to farm system that is deep in position players, infielder Javier Baez is not among the candidates to be moved, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Cubs value Baez’s versatility and power upside enough that they wouldn’t part with him even if the Yankees were to make Andrew Miller available, per Rosenthal. Rather, the FOX scribe lists players such as Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, Ian Happ, Jeimer Candelario and Mark Zagunis as more realistic trade options for Chicago, who is loath to part with Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora or Willson Contreras in summer trades. A power lefty for the bullpen is the team’s top priority as the Aug. 1 deadline inches closer, per Rosenthal.
More from the Senior Circuit…
- Fernando Rodney’s brilliant season with the Padres is “not going unnoticed by contenders” in the market for bullpen help, tweets MLB Network’s Peter Gammons. Rodney has, incredibly, yet to allow an earned run through 25 1/3 innings with San Diego this season. He’s still averaging a solid 94.3 mph on his fastball and has made improvements over last season in both K/9 (9.6) and BB/9 (3.6). Beyond that, he’s also inducing grounders at a career-best 60 percent clip. While Rodney is an obvious regression candidate due to that 0.00 ERA, metrics such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA all feel that an ERA in the low 3.00s or upper 2.00s would be a reasonable expectation moving forward. On top of that, he’s affordable, as he’s earning just a $1.6MM base salary with a $2MM option for the 2017 season. Rodney can also earn up to $5MM worth of incentives, and any incentives he does reach are tacked onto the value of that option.
- Phillies skipper Pete Mackanin sounded frustrated with his team’s lack of success at the plate following yesterday’s loss to the D-backs, as the Inquirer’s Matt Gelb writes. “We need some professional at-bats,” said Mackanin. “The guys are all not the type of hitters who are established.” Mackanin has tried various lineup alterations and motivational tactics for his position players, but the production hasn’t been there, resulting in a team that is presently on pace to finish with the second-worst team OBP in Major League history. As Gelb points out, a number of the team’s top prospects getting closer to the Majors. With a number of placeholders currently in the lineup, it stands to reason that the Phils could dip into their farm if the MLB stopgaps continue to underwhelm.
- Similarly, the struggling Mets “may shake things up,” manager Terry Collins said after suffering a sweep at the hands of the last-place Braves, which was capped off by a one-hit Julio Teheran shutout. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post was among those to speak to Collins, and Davidoff opines that the shakeup should begin with the reinstatement of Travis d’Arnaud from his rehab assignment and the promotion of outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo. The arrival of Nimmo, he adds, should come at the expense of either designating Alejandro De Aza or optioning Michael Conforto. As Davidoff notes, meaningful upgrades on the trade market (e.g. Danny Valencia, Yunel Escobar, Yangervis Solarte) aren’t likely to be moved until mid-July, and early asking prices tend to be exorbitant in nature. As such, internal maneuverings should be considered to help right the ship. The Mets are 7-10 in June and have lost six of their past eight games
It’s been a month since the Dodgers reportedly struck an agreement with Cuban right-hander Yaisel Sierra, but the team has yet to announce the move. While Dodgers fans may be apprehensive about that silence, given what happened with Hisahshi Iwakuma earlier this offseason, Jon Heyman tweets that the Dodgers’ deal with Sierra remains “on track” with “only paperwork remaining.” Sierra was reportedly guaranteed between $30-35MM over a six-year term at the time of the agreement, and Heyman narrows the scope a bit, saying the final number will fall in the $30-31MM range.
Here’s more from the NL West…
- The Padres announced yesterday that they’ve hired former Major League right-hander Hideo Nomo as an advisor to their baseball operations staff. “We are proud to welcome Hideo to the Padres organization,” general manager A.J. Preller said in a statement announcing the move. “His career as a Major League pitcher speaks for itself. His expertise and passion for baseball will be a significant asset to the Padres and I look forward to having his input going forward.” Nomo will assist in the club’s player development process but also in expanding the Padres’ reach in the Pacific Rim, per the release. Nomo joins Moises Alou, Trevor Hoffman and Mark Loretta as former big leaguers that are now working with the Friars’ baseball ops department in some capacity.
- Padres ninth-inning hopeful Fernando Rodney has been dealing with a hamstring strain of late, but Preller believes that he’ll be a full go for Spring Training, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Padres gave Rodney a $2MM guarantee, and he’s perhaps the favorite to win their closer’s role following the trades of Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, plus the move of Brandon Maurer back to the rotation.
- Another somewhat minor but potentially impactful Padres note comes from MLB.com’s Corey Brock (on Twitter), who notes that new manager Andy Green has asked right-hander Andrew Cashner to make some mechanical fixes, which Cashner has embraced. The goal of the tweaks is to regain some sink on Cashner’s two-seam fastball, per Brock. Cashner still maintained a very solid ground-ball rate in 2015 (47.4 percent), but that number is down from the 52.5 percent mark he registered in 2013. How well Cashner incorporates those fixes will be worth keeping an eye on, as the 29-year-old stands to enter next year’s free agent class as one of the most appealing arms on the market.
- Tyler Clippard told the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro that he was somewhat surprised by the lack of interest he received on the free-agent market this offseason but is happy to have landed with the D-backs, whom he identified as a team on the rise earlier this offseason. “I felt like I would have gotten more offers,” Clippard said. “I thought there was going to be a little more activity early on in the offseason.” Clippard voiced excitement over joining a team that has “[taken] the steps in the direction of becoming a championship organization,” referencing the club’s additions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller.
The Orioles and Padres are in agreement on a trade that will send right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne to Baltimore in exchange for minor league right-hander Jean Cosme, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com had first reported that Cosme was headed to the O’s in exchange for a pitcher off San Diego’s Major League roster.
Despaigne, 28, is coming off a tough season with the Padres in which he posted a sky-high 5.80 ERA with 4.9 K/9, 2.3 BB.9 and a 50.5 percent ground-ball rate in 125 1/3 innings. While the ERA is certainly uninspiring, metrics such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA all pegged Despaigne more in the mid-4.00 range, with some of the ERA spike being attributed to an abnormally low number of runners stranded and a spike in his homer-to-flyball ratio. A year prior, Despaigne tossed 96 1/3 innings in his rookie season, compiling a considerably better 3.36 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 52.5 percent ground-ball rate. Despaigne has experience both in the rotation and the bullpen and will give Baltimore another arm for its rotation mix or serve as a candidate to compete for a swingman job out of the bullpen. As Kubatko noted, Despaigne also has minor league options remaining (three of them, to be exact), so he can be sent down to Triple-A and stored at Norfolk as a depth piece in the event that an injury arises.
From the Padres’ vantage point, Despaigne probably became expendable when the team added Carlos Villanueva to serve as a swingman/long reliever. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune points out (on Twitter) that the trade also frees up a spot on the 40-man roster for Fernando Rodney, whose one-year deal with San Diego has yet to be announced. Cosme is a 19-year-old out of Puerto Rico that Baltimore selected in the 17th round of the 2014 draft. He’s posted a 4.73 ERA with 8.7 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 in 72 1/3 professional innings but did not rank among Baltimore’s Top 10 prospects this offseason, per Baseball America.
Of course, the broader move also ties in with the Rodney signing. He’ll join the Pads on an incentive-laden deal and look to rebound from a tough 2015 season. Soon to turn 39, Rodney’s ratios and results suffered last year. But he may have been somewhat unlucky in the volume of home runs he surrendered, and still brings a 95+ mph heater.
Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez has made enough progress in his return from Tommy John surgery that he’s comfortable he’ll be ready for Spring Training, he told reporters, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, as the Sox’s Winter Weekend today. Red Sox lefty Brian Johnson also sounds convinced that Vazquez is back to normal — Johnson, who can reach the low 90s, saw Vazquez throw from 150 feet last week and says he thinks Vazquez was throwing harder than he himself could. Mastrodonato suggests it’s likely the Red Sox will have Vazquez start the season in the minors (which isn’t surprising, since Vazquez is optionable and didn’t play at all last year), and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski describes Blake Swihart as the team’s No. 1 catcher. Mastrodonato notes, though, that Swihart could eventually move to another position, with Vazquez, the better defender, ultimately taking over behind the plate. Here’s more from the East divisions.
- The Orioles have more on their to-do list even after re-signing Chris Davis, Rich Dubroff of CSNmidatlantic.com writes. They can still use an outfielder and starting pitcher (maybe Yovani Gallardo, although top Orioles exec Dan Duquette has said he doesn’t want to part with the No. 14 overall pick by signing a free agent who rejected a qualifying offer). Dubroff also notes (perhaps somewhat speculatively) that they could also pursue a Manny Machado extension. An extension for Machado would surely be hugely expensive, since he’ll already be making $5MM this season in his first year of arbitration eligibility and already has one elite season under his belt, which he posted at the tender age of 22. Machado is currently scheduled to hit free agency following the 2018 season, by which point he’ll only be 26; if he can continue at anything resembling his current pace, his mid- to late-20s seasons will be incredibly valuable on the open market.
- The Marlins were interested in Fernando Rodney before Rodney’s signing with the Padres, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes (scroll down). With Rodney off the board, Marlins executive Michael Hill says the team will have an open competition for the closer’s job, with Carter Capps (he of the ridiculous 98-MPH fastball and 16.8 K/9 in 2015) facing off against A.J. Ramos (who himself had a strong season while recording 32 saves in 2015).
The Padres have agreed to a major league contract with right-handed reliever Fernando Rodney, Jon Heyman reports on Twitter. Rodney and the Friars had been said to be nearing agreement in recent days.
The deal includes a $2MM guarantee for the Octagon Sports client, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter links). He’ll receive a $1.6MM base salary, with a floating-value club option that comes with a $400K buyout.
The deal includes a complicated set of provisions for incentives and the option year, according to Lin (Twitter links). Rodney can earn $5MM annually in incentives. And the 2017 option price tag will be $2MM plus whatever incentive value Rodney reaches in 2016. For instance, if Rodney were to hit all incentives in the coming season, the option value would be $7MM (and his maximum earnings for 2017 would be $12MM, because that year’s incentives could still be reached as well).
Rodney, who’ll join San Diego for his age-39 campaign, seems in line for a chance at taking the save opportunities for the club. After dealing away quality arms in Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, and watching Shawn Kelley depart via free agency, there’s a ton of uncertainty in the Padres’ pen.
The talented-but-unpredictable Rodney probably isn’t best characterized as a stabilizing presence, but he’ll certainly infuse some punch into the late-inning mix. If nothing else, he’s still delivering a blazing mid-90s fastball despite his age.
It’s hard to know what to expect out of the man with the big right arm and the tilted brim. He had one of the most dominating seasons in recent memory back in 2012; followed that up with two more strong overall campaigns (though he occasionally left fans on edge with his escape feats); and then imploded early last year in Seattle.
Certainly, 2015 presents two possible versions of Rodney at this stage of his career. With the Mariners, he put up 50 2/3 frames of 5.68 ERA pitching. A declining swinging strike rate (just 9.6% last year) left him with a relatively meager 7.6 K/9 to go with 4.4 BB/9 for the M’s. But he turned it on after joining the Cubs late in the year. In twelve innings, he allowed just one earned run while striking out 15 batters and issuing only four free passes. And it bears noting, too, that Rodney still generates groundballs on about half of the balls put in play against him.
The Padres and right-hander Fernando Rodney are closing in on a contract, according to Jon Heyman (links to Twitter). Rodney, who turns 39 this spring, is expected to enter camp as the favorite to close games in San Diego, per Heyman. Recently, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres were still in the mix for Rodney and could offer ninth-inning time as a means of enticing him. Rodney is represented by Octagon.
Rodney spent most of the past two seasons in Seattle, although his second season as the Mariners’ closer didn’t go nearly as well as the first. After recording a 2.85 ERA with 10.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 48.6 percent ground-ball rate in 2014, the “Fernando Rodney Experience” turned sour in Seattle when he struggled to a 5.68 ERA and lost the grip on the closer’s role in 2015. Rodney would go on to rebound following a DFA and a trade to the Cubs, however, as he surrendered just one earned run with a 15-to-4 K/BB ratio in 12 innings with the Cubs and made the team’s postseason roster.
While Rodney’s career has been somewhat of a roller coaster, the veteran has posted a cumulative 2.80 ERA over the past four seasons and still averaged a very healthy 94.7 mph on his fastball between time with Seattle and Chicago last season. If a deal is finalized and Rodney does indeed land ninth-inning duties for the Friars. he’ll be supported by a cast of setup men including Kevin Quackenbush, Drew Pomeranz and Nick Vincent, as right-hander Brandon Maurer is slated to re-enter the rotation in Spring Training.
The Padres haven’t yet shut the door on free agent right-hander Fernando Rodney, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link). The Friars may, in fact, try to lure Rodney to San Diego by offering him the opportunity to close games. San Diego has been connected to Rodney on and off for the past couple of weeks. While the 38-year-old Rodney had disastrous results in Seattle last season — he logged a 5.68 ERA with 7.6 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 and lost the closer’s role before being designated for assignment — he had a nice turnaround following a trade to the Cubs. While it was only a sample of a dozen innings, Rodney yielded just one earned run and recorded a 15-to-4 K/BB ratio in that time. Although the “Fernando Rodney Experience” certainly wore out its welcome in Seattle, the right-hander has drawn interest from the Blue Jays and Cubs as of late (though the Toronto connections pre-dated their acquisition of Drew Storen).
A couple more notes on the Padres…
- Specifics of Alexei Ramirez’s reported one-year deal with the Padres have yet to emerge, but Lin reports that the contract allows San Diego to at least consider making further free-agent upgrades. While the Padres are reluctant to pursue players with draft pick compensation attached, according to Lin, the club could look for upgrades in the bullpen or in the outfield. Lin also notes that GM A.J. Preller has long been a fan of Ramirez and was dispatching scouts to keep an eye on him as early as April of this past season.
- Right-hander Brandon Maurer will report to Spring Training with the opportunity to win a job in the starting rotation, Preller told MLB.com’s Corey Brock earlier this week. “One of the things is he wants to do it,” Preller explained. “You put a lot of stock in that.” Maurer, of course, came up through the Mariners’ system as a starting pitcher but struggled in multiple big league auditions before dominating upon a transition to the bullpen. While Maurer is striving for a starting role, offseason pickup Drew Pomeranz will probably work in relief, according to Brock.