Freddie Freeman Rumors
Commissioner Bud Selig says he wants his stewardship of the game to be judged by the value of MLB's franchises, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. He called the Dodgers' sale "stunning," and said that "every franchise is worth a lot more today ... because the game is healthy." Selig also weighed in on the DH, saying that "some cataclysmic event" would be needed to keep the bat out of National League pitchers' hands. Here are some more notes from around the National League:
- Padres GM Josh Byrnes is taking a hard look at the club's farm system to find a solution to the team's pitching woes, writes Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. According to Fangraphs, the Padres' rotation has put up negative 1.4 WAR thus far, a full .5 WAR worse than the second-to-last Astros staff. Jenkins says that the front office's "unwillingness or failure" to supplement the team's less-than-promising rotation over the offseason is to blame for the club's present difficulties.
- Two in-house options for San Diego are minor league arms Tim Stauffer and Sean O'Sullivan, both of whom possess similar out clauses in their contracts, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Center says that both pitchers can opt out around June 1 if they have not been elevated to the Padres' big league roster.
- The emergence of catcher Evan Gattis could ultimately have an impact on the Braves' plans behind the dish, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman. The team has benefitted enormously from his performance as stalwart Brian McCann works his way back from injury. But as Bowman says, the first-place Braves have every reason to try and work McCann back into his starting role, and still have Gerald Laird locked up for this year and next. On the other hand, with the Braves already unlikely to re-sign McCann after this season, Gattis's continued performance could make that decision much easier for the team.
- Meanwhile, Bowman says the Braves were interested in locking up outfielder Jason Heyward and first baseman Freddie Freeman during the offseason. Despite the team's efforts to initiate talks, however, they were rebuffed by the young stars. Heyward currently stands to reach free agency in 2016, with Freeman following him in 2017.
- Cubs starter Matt Garza suffered yet another setback, failing to make his first rehab start after suffering from what Cubs manager Dale Sveum called a "dead arm," writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribute. Garza is, however, scheduled for long toss tomorrow and should be set up for a comeback start soon, David Furones writes for MLB.com. Of course, the Cubs would like not only to benefit from Garza's work on the mound, but to begin his audition for teams looking for rotation help at the trade deadline. In addition to the already-noted Chase Utley, Garza is one of several players that ESPN's Buster Olney says (on Insider) to keep an eye on as trade season approaches. Others include Mets catcher John Buck and Indians reliever Chris Perez.
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- The Braves haven't talked to Jason Heyward about a long-term extension, MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports. Heyward was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and agreed to a one-year, $3.65MM deal for 2013. Heyward is under team control through the 2015 season. Bowman thinks the Braves could also talk to Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman about multiyear deals before the season begins.
- Also from Bowman's story, Braves CEO and chairman Terry McGuirk said the organization is willing to spend to keep the team in contention for years to come. "Money is not going to stand between us and getting it done at this point because we are that close," McGuirk said. "I'm talking about [the] long term and short term. I'm talking about talent that is here and talent that isn't here."
- Carlos Marmol said he "was a little sad" when the Cubs tried to deal him to the Angels earlier this offseason, ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine writes. Marmol's contract expires after this season and the reliever said he wants to stay with the Cubs. Levine speculates that the Angels could revisit a Marmol deal since Ryan Madson will likely start the year on the disabled list.
- Bronson Arroyo is entering the final year of his Reds contract and the veteran realizes it could be his last year in Cincinnati, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports. "When you have a team as we do, where everyone is coming into their own kind of at the same time, and add the fact we have a couple of monster deals already in place, it's going to be tough for me to stick around here if I have [a] successful season," Arroyo said.
- Given the time Reds GM Walt Jocketty is spending on Homer Bailey's contract, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer figures Bailey could be in line for a multiyear deal. The Reds have already signed two other arbitration-eligible pitchers (Mat Latos and Logan Ondrusek) to two-year extensions this offseason. Bailey is in his second year of arb eligibility.
- Kyle Lohse's landing spot is debated by Jeff Sullivan and Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Lohse is expected to find a contact soon, though a number of teams linked to the right-hander are seemingly distancing themselves. Sullivan and Cameron suggest the Rangers, Mariners, Padres and Indians could all be fits for Lohse and the two weigh the costs of Lohse's projected value against the value of the draft pick that most teams would have to give up to sign him.
- Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch lists John Mozeliak's 10 best moves as Cardinals general manager. Mozeliak signed a new extension with the Cards today that will keep him with the team through the 2016 season.
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- The Orioles will almost certainly be the first team to fire their manager this season, and both Bob Melvin and Bobby Valentine came up in past internal discussions. Bigger jobs are in store for Valentine, but Buck Showalter might also be a candidate. Rosenthal reminds us that the team doesn't have anyone in-house with prior big league managing experience.
- The Mariners expect Cliff Lee back on Friday and Erik Bedard back in four weeks, but the focus will remain on the offense and Ken Griffey Jr.'s .238/.289/.262 performance. Rosenthal says not to expect anything to happen with him anytime soon; Seattle has five Griffey-centric promotions scheduled for the first half.
- The Braves are a logical landing spot for Adrian Gonzalez, but they're also very high on first base prospect Freddie Freeman. The last time they traded for a first baseman with a year-plus left on his contract, they basically rebuilt the Texas Rangers.
- The Nationals made a run at Jermaine Dye and had more than one conversation with Gary Sheffield's agent, but GM Mike Rizzo said those talks were just to gauge interest. For now, they're happy with the a platoon of Willie Harris and Justin Maxwell because of their defensive abilities, and Rizzo says that will remain a point of emphasis as the team moves forward.
- Rosenthal expects the Nats to get better as the season progresses. They'll be adding Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Chien-Ming Wang, Ross Detwiler, and Jordan Zimmermann to their pitching staff at various points this year.
We've been hearing the Adrian Gonzalez-to-Boston rumors for months now, though there have been whispers that Boston may not have the minor league package necessary to extract Gonzalez from San Diego, the Padres might just keep Gonzalez if they don't find a deal to their liking, and that other teams will be taking just as hard a look at the slugging first baseman.
FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi suggests that Atlanta may be one of those other teams. Morosi spoke to an unnamed scout who said that the Braves "may have the greatest need" for a hitter of Gonzalez's caliber given Atlanta's team-wide struggles at the plate. The Braves entered Friday's action with a .229 team batting average, tied with the Mets for sixth-lowest in baseball.
Going into the offseason, Atlanta's greatest need was to add a big bat to give more support to one of baseball's strongest starting rotations. The Braves instead made several small moves to add the likes of Eric Hinske, Melky Cabrera and Troy Glaus rather than splurging on a high-priced free agent. While it's still too early in the season to fully judge how these moves will pan out, Glaus (as Morosi points out) has particularly struggled at first base, posting a .524 OPS in 58 plate appearances. Given that Glaus is on a one-year, $1.75MM contract, the Braves would have no hesitations about benching, trading or even releasing Glaus if the right opportunity at Gonzalez came along.
In picking up Gonzalez, Morosi notes that the Braves would be blocking the progress of slugging first base prospect Freddie Freeman. However, since this is Bobby Cox's final season, could the team be in an all-out "win now" mode? If the Braves find themselves fighting for a playoff spot in July, Freeman's future promise might be considered a necessary sacrifice for Cox's last postseason push. Also, Freeman would be a logical addition to the hypothetical package to San Diego.
Of course, adding a star first baseman is no golden ticket to the playoffs. The Braves know this all too well --- they sent Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Beau Jones to Texas at the 2007 trade deadline for Mark Teixeira. While Teixeira hit well for Atlanta, the Braves only finished third in the NL East in 2007 and wound up trading Teixeira themselves the next July. No doubt this recent deal will make the Braves think twice before offering up another big group of prospects for what might end up being a short-term rental of a player.
We've been hearing for a while that the Braves may trade from starting pitching depth to free up money, but what other moves might we see? MLB.com's Mark Bowman has some answers:
- Braves GM Frank Wren says there are "a lot of trade conversations going on" around the league.
- The Braves don't seem concerned about finding another outfielder, because they will consider letting top prospect Jason Heyward start the season in the majors. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Braves sign an affordable outfielder, in case they decide to keep Heyward in the minors for a couple months.
- The Braves are interested in Billy Wagner.
- Free agent Adam LaRoche would be a good fit, but the Braves, who have prospect Freddie Freeman in the system, may hesitate to offer LaRoche a multi-year deal.
- Frankie Piliere of AOL FanHouse hears that the Braves will deal Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez.
- Piliere adds that the market for Rafael Soriano should be strong.