Miami Marlins Rumors
ESPN's Jim Bowden, a former GM of both the Reds and Expos/Nationals, recently took a look at Frank Wren's rise to general manager of the Braves. Within his ESPN Insider piece, Bowden identifies three front office executives who, like Wren, are being groomed as successors to their current GMs. He also identifies three candidates who will likely become GMs in other organizations. Here are some highlights from the piece and other GM news...
- Bowden feels that Rockies senior VP Bill Geivett, Tigers VP/assistant GM Al Avila and Athletics assistant GM David Forst are all next in line to become the GM of their respective franchises. Geivett, in particular, is already handling the day-to-day operations, and Bowden feels it's just a matter of time before he's given the official title of general manager.
- Bowden asked present GMs around the game who the top GM candidates outside of their own organizations were. The results, in order, were Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine, Cubs VP of scouting and player development Jason McLeod and Marlins assistant GM Dan Jennings. Bowden notes that each is blocked for one reason or another but would have plenty of interest from other clubs seeking a new GM.
- Jack Zduriencik's time as GM of the Mariners may be running out, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Mariners once again find themselves last in the American League in runs scored -- the same place they've been for the previous four years under Zduriencik's watch. Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero have yet to establish themselves as big leaguers, and the trades of Cliff Lee and Doug Fister look poor in hindsight. Rosenthal notes that Hisashi Iwakuma is a coup for Zduriencik, and that help is close with Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, James Paxton and Danny Hultzen at Triple-A. A breakthrough is needed soon, however, and Zduriencik conceded that he knows it.
From 2011-12, the 27-year-old totaled 75 1/3 innings at the Major League level, posting a 4.06 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, and a 43.4% groundball rate. Below has also spent parts of three seasons at the Triple-A level, posting a 3.30 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 26 starts. Prior to the 2012 season, Baseball America wrote, "Below's stuff is average at best, but he throws strikes and has good feel for pitching." BA noted, "He fits best as a No. 5 starter or swingman."
Today's minor moves...
- Former Pirates pitcher Chris Leroux signed with Japan's Yakult Swallows, tweeted Chris Cotillo last night. The signing has since been confirmed by Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, who spoke to Leroux's agent, Fred Wray of Octagon. Leroux received a $500K contract for 2013 that includes incentives and a 2014 vesting option, reports Nicholson-Smith. The 29-year-old righty had been designated for assignment by the Pirates earlier this month, after which point he elected free agency. He's never exceeded 25 big league innings in a season, tallying 63 2/3 Triple-A frames in 2012.
- Infielder Alberto Gonzalez and righty John Maine have been outrighted to Triple-A by the Cubs and Marlins, respectively, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Both players had been designated for assignment on Friday, Gonzalez for Julio Borbon and Maine for Tom Koehler.
- Three players currently reside in DFA limbo: the Indians' Fernando Nieve, the Mets' Aaron Laffey, and the Astros' Xavier Cedeno.
Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo has been hit by an incredible nine pitches already, which, combined with a very discerning eye at the plate, has lead to an MLB-best .523 OBP. SB Nation's Rob Neyer opines that the Reds correctly assessed that the gap between Choo's offense and Drew Stubbs' offense would outweigh the defensive downgrade. While Choo won't keep this pace up, Neyer points out that Reds leadoff men combined for a .254 OBP last season, making the addition of Choo a worthwhile move.
Choo currently ranks third on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, and a career-year in terms of OBP would certainly help keep him near the top of that list. Here's more from around the league...
- MLB.com's Lyle Spencer writes that Miguel Cabrera was nearly traded to the Angels prior to the 2007 trade that sent him to the Tigers. Cabrera himself told Spencer that he thought he was being traded to Anaheim. The Angels and Marlins discussed Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders in the deal as well as young infielders Howie Kendrick and Brandon Wood. Ultimately, Cabrera said that he thinks he wound up in Detroit because the Tigers were more willing to take on Dontrelle Willis and his $7MM salary.
- Former Athletics left-hander Dallas Braden implied via Twitter that he could be entertaining a comeback attempt. Braden, now 29 years old, made just three starts in the 2011 season and hasn't pitched since thanks to a pair of shoulder surgeries. Braden famously threw a perfect game against the Rays on May 9, 2010 with his grandmother in attendance.
- The Mariners' offensive woes present the "biggest crisis of the Jack Zduriencik era," writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. While he concedes that it's a small sample, Zduriencik made several moves to bolster the lineup this offseason but the Mariners find themselves in 29th place in nearly every offensive category. The collapse of Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero -- who were supposed to be the team's young core -- is a major setback in Zduriencik's blueprint.
The struggles of Jackie Bradley Jr. serve as a reminder that Spring Training stats are a mere "snapshot in time," writes SB Nation's Rob Neyer. He adds that Spring Training stats "describe the random nature of raw performance statistics as much as they describe fundamental abilities." Here are some links from around the league...
- The excellent play of Endy Chavez is going to force the Mariners to make a roster decision, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. With Michael Saunders coming off the DL next week, the team will have to make a move or carry six outfielders. Jason Bay seems like the most logical candidate as the odd man out, in my personal opinion.
- There was a point this offseason where Brian Grieper, Mike Napoli's agent and friend, thought Napoli's career in baseball was over, writes WEEI.com's Alex Speier. Napoli was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both hips this offseason but has been healthy through the early portion of the season.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is comfortable with the relievers he has despite the bullpen's struggles thus far, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As Strauss notes, it's difficult to find help from outside the organization at this point in the season.
- The Marlins were never interested in Francisco Rodriguez, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel. K-Rod signed a minor league deal with the Brewers yesterday.
- Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times writes that Padres president Tom Garfinkel apologized for the behind-closed-doors comments he made about Zack Greinke which were linked to the public. Garfinkel said flatly that Greinke threw at Carlos Quentin on purpose and also made comments which hinted at Greinke's previous battles with social anxiety disorder.
The 31-year-old Maine tallied 7 1/3 innings for the Fish over the course of four appearances, but the results weren't pretty. The right-hander allowed 10 runs on 15 hits and five walks, leading to a 12.27 ERA. This was Maine's first big league action since 2010 with the Mets. Maine underwent shoulder surgery in May of 2010 and hasn't been able to get his career back on track since. From 2006-08 with the Mets, Maine totaled a 3.93 ERA in 421 innings for the Mets.
The day after he was rocked for six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, the Phillies placed lefty John Lannan on the DL with a strained quadriceps in his left knee. There's no word yet on who will replace him in the rotation, but he could be out six-to-eight weeks. Tonight, the fourth-place Phillies and Cole Hamels host Adam Wainwright and the first-place Cardinals. Elsewhere in the NL East:
- "Let's just say if this continues, certainly we've gotta start visiting that here pretty soon," Mets manager Terry Collins told Mike Francesa of WFAN in regard to a question about quality reinforcements including top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. The Mets' rotation has struggled beyond Matt Harvey and Jon Niese. GM Sandy Alderson was noncommittal, telling Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, "It was always a case that it would be Zack’s sufficiency and the major-league team’s need. If those two things merge, the need and the performance converge, then it is a possibility. That could happen sooner or it could happen later." Ackert hears that people within the organization privately do not feel Wheeler is ready, plus the Mets would like to avoid the pitcher achieving Super Two status after the 2015 season (necessitating a promotion in mid-June or later).
- Meanwhile, another top Mets prospect won't be seeing Citi Field anytime soon. Catcher Travis D'Arnaud, acquired from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade, fractured a bone in his left foot yesterday in a Triple-A game.
- The Nationals' depth is on display, explains James Wagner of the Washington Post, with Kurt Suzuki seamlessly taking over as the starting catcher after Wilson Ramos suffered a hamstring injury.
- Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons is now represented by SFX, MLBTR has learned. He'd previously been with The Sparta Group, up until the August switch. A few new additions to our agency database include Jonathan Gray (advised by Jay Franklin of BBI Sports Group), Oswaldo Arcia (Martin Arburua), and Tony Cingrani (Curtis Dishman).
- "He's decent for a club that needs a starter. There are worse No. 5 starters in the big leagues right now, but he's not the pitcher he used to be," a scout told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in reference to the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco, Miami's highest-paid player by a long-shot at $11.5MM, is a strong candidate to be traded this summer.
Though the Marlins are baseball's worst team at 2-11, their rotation has hung in pretty well with a collective 3.52 ERA. Kevin Slowey, Ricky Nolasco, and rookie Jose Fernandez have led the way. Tonight, they have Alex Sanabia facing the Nationals at Marlins Park. The latest on Miami's team:
- Giancarlo Stanton probably has more trade value than the Rays' David Price currently, ESPN's Buster Olney writes based on conversations with about a half-dozen team officials. That seems a given, with Stanton under team control for an extra year. Olney's early "educated guess" at the front-runners for Stanton: the Rangers, Mariners, Tigers, and Cardinals. Stanton, 23, has missed several games with a bruised shoulder, which he will test today with a few swings according to Craig Davis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. As of Sunday, the Marlins were not interested in trading Stanton, tweeted Peter Gammons of MLB Network. In a poll of over 13,000 MLBTR readers last Thursday, 40% felt Stanton would be traded during this season, while about 31% expected the Marlins to wait until the offseason.
- "There's more downside than upside" in the Marlins' decision to promote Fernandez to the big league club to start the season, writes Jim Callis of Baseball America (subscription required). Callis feels Fernandez is subject to increased injury risk, and finds the team's failure to wait 12 days before promoting him to be short-sighted. Fernandez only made one start prior to April 12th, at which point the Marlins could have purchased his contract and controlled him through 2019 instead of 2018. Even if you feel the Marlins will just trade Fernandez once he gets expensive, he would've had more trade value with an extra year of control.
- "The Marlins made a strong financial offer, and more important, they had a plan for me," reliever David Aardsma told Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal, adding, "They made that clear to me, that if I pitch well, I have an opportunity to claim a role." Barbarisi's article is a good read, as he followed Aardsma through the process of being released by the Yankees and landing with Miami. The Marlins' bullpen has been one of the league's worst, with five relievers sporting ERAs over 5.00.
Sixty-six years ago today, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier when he made his Major League debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After an 0-for-3 debut, Robinson went on to hit .297/.383/.427 with 12 home runs, a league-leading 29 stolen bases and won Rookie of the Year honors. As MLB.com's Richard Justice writes, the movie "42" introduces Robinson to a new generation of Americans and helps to immortalize the legacy of one of America's most courageous figures: "Robinson paid an incomprehensible price in the pain he endured and the responsibility he carried," writes Justice.
Baseball as we know it would not be the same were it not for Robinson's courage, talent and perseverance. Here's a look at some news from around the league on Jackie Robinson day...
- In his latest MLB.com mailbag, T.R. Sullivan writes that the Elvis Andrus extension, while risky for the Rangers, is still beneficial to the team. He credits Scott Boras for "astutely putting risk" on Texas.
- Within that same piece, Sullivan writes that the Rangers would trade a package of prospects highlighted by Jurickson Profar "in the blink of an eye" if it meant landing David Price from the Rays or Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America feels that Mark Appel has plenty of leverage in the upcoming draft and will likely sign a bonus in the $6MM neighborhood. As Callis notes, teams can't risk offering something like a $5MM "take it or leave it" offer and signing the rest of their picks. Doing so could ultimately lead to paying over slot to sign Appel, costing them future picks. It's in the best interest of whoever drafts Appel to sign him first, and doing so could prove highly expensive.
- Callis also notes that Appel and Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray have established themselves as the clear-cut top two prospects in the draft.
- Major League Baseball is making progress on its investigation of the Biogenesis scandal, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, it appears MLB is looking for "a smoking gun" before taking what could be its only chance to question players such as Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun who have been connected to the Miami clinic. Heyman confirms that MLB has purchased Biogenesis documentation, but notes that the MLBPA will be sure to question documents that were produced after a cash transaction.
Teams that have inquired about Giancarlo Stanton have been told by the Marlins they are "not interested" in dealing their star outfielder, tweets Peter Gammons of MLB Network. Gammons specifically lists the Red Sox, Mets, and Rangers as teams who have checked in with Miami.
Yesterday, we learned the Rangers are reportedly doing early reconnaissance and prep work for what it would take to land Stanton while Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he hasn't had any conversations with the Marlins since early spring. Stanton has become the hottest name on the pages of MLBTR and more than 70% of our readers feel the Marlins will trade the 22-year-old sometime before Spring Training opens next year.