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Gilbert Lara Rumors
The Cubs announced their finalized coaching staff for the 2015 season today, which included a pair of new additions: hitting coach John Mallee and first base/outfield coach Doug Dascenzo. Mallee spent the 2010-11 seasons as the Marlins’ hitting coach and the 2013-14 seasons as the hitting coach for the Astros. He also spent eight seasons with the Marlins as a minor league hitting instructor and brings to the table 19 overall years of pro baseball experience. Dascenzo spent the 2014 season as Atlanta’s third base coach and has previously spent 13 seasons in the Padres’ minor league system as a manager or coach. The rest of the coaching staff will return, though first base coach Eric Hinske will shift from first base coach to assistant hitting coach.
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- Reds lefty Sean Marshall tells MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that he’s progressing well in his rehab from June shoulder surgery. While he still has some range of motion work to do, Marshall says that he feels like he “has a whole new shoulder” and is aiming a return in Spring Training of next year. The 32-year-old has been limited to just 31 appearances over the past two seasons and is entering the final season of a three-year, $16.5MM contract.
- In a second piece, Sheldon also spoke with Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto, who has a $10MM club option this offseason that the team is a lock to exercise. Cueto said that despite the small nature of Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, he enjoys pitching there and wants to remain with the Reds. As manager Bryan Price noted to Sheldon, however, it’s unlikely that the team can afford to retain Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon, all of whom are free agents following the 2015 season. As Sheldon points out, Cueto is by far the most attractive trade chip of the bunch, and the Reds may not be able to afford his price tag if they look to go the extension route. They could, of course, also take another shot at contending next season and either trade Cueto in July if they fall out of the race or make a qualifying offer at season’s end if they do contend.
- Top international prospect Gilbert Lara, signed by the Brewers for a $3.2MM bonus this summer, has selected Len Strelitz and Nick Chanock of the Wasserman Media Group as his agents, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
The Athletics announced that they have acquired minor league right-hander Rodolfo Fernandez from the Brewers for the No. 57 international bonus slot, which carries a value of $339K.
The Brewers have been rumored to be on the hunt for some additional bonus money, as they’ve agreed to terms with Dominican shortstop Gilbert Lara on a $3.2MM bonus but have an international bonus pool of just over $2.6MM. This new move boosts their overall bonus pool $2,950,800, which is still $249,200 short of Lara’s reported bonus. That means that their agreement with Lara would still result in an overage of 8.4 percent, which would be enough to prevent them from signing a player in next year’s signing period for any more than $500K.
While MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez has since listed Lara’s signing bonus, even that $149,200 overage would still result in a 5.05 percent overage. The Brew Crew needs to keep the overage under five percent in order to avoid restrictions on their spending next season, so it seems likely that the team will pursue further bonus slots in order to come in under that number. Further trades will have to be completed before Lara’s signing is officially announced, as teams cannot acquire additional bonus money once they have already exceeded their signing pool.
Fernandez, a 24-year-old Cuban right-hander, has a 2.87 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings at Low Class A this season. He didn’t rank among Milwaukee’s Top 30 prospects, per Baseball America or the team’s Top 20 prospects, per MLB.com. The trade serves as another example of teams moving international bonus money for relatively marginal returns.
The Brewers won’t announce their signing of Dominican shortstop Gilbert Lara yet due to the fact that they’re expecting a change to their international bonus pool, reports Dionisio Soldevila of ESPN Deportes (Twitter link). Teams can acquire additional bonus money as long as they’ve yet to exceed their bonus pool, so it appears they’ll try to land some additional slots before making the Lara deal official. The two sides reportedly agreed to terms on a $3.2MM signing bonus yesterday, but the team has made no statement. Milwaukee has a bonus pool just north of $2.6MM, per Baseball America.
Here’s more out of the NL Central…
- Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes that the Pirates have some interest in Brandon McCarthy and wonders if the team could sell high on Vance Worley by flipping him to the Diamondbacks as part of a McCarthy deal. He notes that sabermetric ERA estimators such as xFIP love McCarthy despite an unsightly ERA, while Worley’s strong ERA isn’t sustainable. Sawchik opines that even if the two can’t be traded directly for one another, acquiring McCarthy and slotting him into Worley’s spot would improve the team’s roster.
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer offered high praise for top prospect Arismendy Alcantara to Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. Hoyer wouldn’t comment on whether or not Alcantara would see the Majors this season but noted that he’s underappreciated due to the big reputations of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Albert Almora. Alcantara is hitting .310/.350/.546 with 10 homers, 11 triples, 22 doubles and 20 steals, and that strong play has “opened [the Cubs’] eyes,” in Hoyer’s words.
- Rooftop owners in Chicago have agreed not to sue the Cubs if the team adds just one video board and one advertising sign in the outfield, according to a report from Ameet Sachdev, Jared Hopkins and Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune. The team’s most recent vision for the upgrades had a video board and five signs as well as other renovations to Wrigley Field.
The Brewers have agreed to sign international prospect Gilbert Lara, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (via Twitter). Lara will receive a $3.2MM bonus, according to colleague Dionisio Soldevila (via Twitter).
Milwaukee has long been expected to land Lara, a Dominican shortstop who is expected to move to third base but could ultimately shift across the diamond or into the corner outfield. He is big and strong, and has shown good power in game action. MLB.com liked him as the fourth-best available prospect, with Baseball America slotting him at number five.
That bonus alone would exceed the Brewer’s available international money of $2,611,800 by 22.5%. If that holds, Milwaukee would not only pay a 100% tax on the overage, but would sacrifice the right to sign any player for more than $300K in the next two signing periods. On the other hand, the club could always acquire additional slots (up to 50% of its original total pool) to offset the difference.
We’re less than two weeks away from the July 2 international signing deadline, and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez has published his ranking of the Top 30 International prospects for the 2014-15 class. Most of these amateur players are still just teenagers, including a number of 15- and 16-year-olds. Players that are 15 years of age currently — such as No. 3 ranked prospect Adrian Rondon – will be eligible to officially sign when they turn 16 (July 7, in Rondon’s case). Sanchez’s list is topped by Dominican shortstop Dermis Garcia and includes free video, scouting reports and rankings of each players’ tools on the 20-80 scouting scale. It’s a must-read for all that are interested in the international market and an indispensable tool that will be referenced heavily on MLBTR in the coming months.
Here’s more in the international prospect front…
- Sanchez tweets that the Padres have signed 21-year-old Dominican right-hander Dinelson Lamet for a $100K bonus. While teams are currently not allowed to sign any more players from the 2013-14 crop of July 2 prospects, Sanchez adds in a followup tweet that the Friars squeezed this one in just under the wire, finalizing the deal last week.
- Nationals scouting director Johnny DiPuglia tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that the Nats will be targeting quantity as opposed to spending their budget on two or three high-priced assets. Washington is hoping to add 12 to 15 players to its ranks, says DiPuglia, adding that the areas of focus for the Nats were left-handers with potential for high velocity, speedy up-the-middle players and bats with raw power.
- Baseball America’s Ben Badler posted an update of his projected Top 10 signing bonuses this week, with the Yankees projected to issue four of the 10 (including a near-$3MM bonus for the previously mentioned Garcia). However, the Bronx Bombers don’t occupy the top spot on the list; that goes to the Brewers, who are expected to give Dominican shortstop Gilbert Lara (Sanchez’s No. 4 prospect) a bonus north of $3MM. Badler’s piece requires a BA subscription which is highly recommended to international prospect aficionados, as BA will be producing loads of scouting reports and projections on the July 2 class in the coming weeks.
As expected, recently signed Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew has cleared waivers and appeared in his first minor league game for the organization, reports Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). The procedural move of placing Drew on revocable outright waivers — a mechanism through which claims are rarely made — was needed since he inked a big league deal. Here’s the latest from around the game:
- The Brewers will call up top pitching prospect Jimmy Nelson to start Sunday to take the rotation turn of Yovani Gallardo, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. At this point, at least, it seems that Nelson may only get one start, as Gallardo is not expected to miss significant time. As I explained back in April, Nelson already has 27 days of service to his credit. Accordingly, if he did stay in the bigs from this point forward, he would accrue enough service time to set himself up to become eligible for an additional year of arbitration as a Super Two player, though he will not be able to pass the one-year service mark by the end of the year.
- Milwaukee’s decision to deal for reliever Will Smith (in exchange for outfielder Norichika Aoki) has been a key element in the team’s success this year, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The team’s pro scouting staff gave Smith high marks, leading GM Doug Melvin to pull the trigger on the trade. He has allowed just one earned run in 21 2/3 innings of work, posting 12.9 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9.
- Pitcher Jason Marquis was scheduled to throw for scouts today, Rosenthal reports in the same piece. The 35-year-old had Tommy John surgery last summer after tossing 117 2/3 innings of 4.05 ball for the Padres.
- Another former big leaguer looking to make a return is infielder Bill Hall, who tweets that he is on the comeback trail. The 34-year-old has spent time at third, short, second, and all over the outfield in his 11 seasons of MLB action, and owns a career .248/.308/.436 line. He spent last year with the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate, putting up a .225/.321/.407 mark with 17 home runs in 452 plate appearances.
- Ben Badler of Baseball America has the latest updates on the July 2 market. Yesterday, Badler ticked through the top ten expected bonuses among players eligible to sign for the 2014-15 period, along with the clubs expected to land them. Leading the way is infielder Gilbert Lara, who has been linked to the Brewers and could earn $3MM. Four of the players are expected to go to the Yankees, with the Rays, Red Sox, and Blue Jays also said to be set up for some large outlays among AL East clubs. (The American League could also be in line to pick up the other two players on that list, with the Mariners potentially in position to sign outfielder Brayan Hernandez and the White Sox predicted to land righty Huascar Ynoa.) And today, he profiles a set of field position prospects who figure to be among the best available players, headlined by Venezuelan shortstop Kenny Hernandez, who Badler says could get a nine-figure bonus.
- Meanwhile, the Yankees are reportedly prepared to ink Korean shortstop Hyo-Jun Park for a $1.1MM bonus, according to a report from Korean outlet Naver (Korean language link; translated article; hat tip to River Ave. Blues ). Jason Cohen of Pinstripe Alley recently compiled the available information on Park, who is said to be a solid all-around player.
The Brewers will have a record payroll in 2014, COO Rick Schlesinger tells MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "No matter how you measure it, and there are a lot of different ways to measure it, I can tell you that it's going to be north of $100 million," Schlesinger said. The COO went on to add:
"The way I look at it, you look at the growth of the industry in general, and how we're doing in revenues locally, and it makes sense. … The fans over the year have supported us, the national television dollars are increasing, the health of the game from a revenue perspective has never been greater, so it's only natural and fitting that we use those monies to invest in our product."
Here some more Brewer-centric notes for your Thursday afternoon…
- General manager Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that reports of the team's record $3.2MM agreement with Dominican prospect Yirver Gilbert Lara are premature. Haudricourt acknowledges that Melvin could simply be denying the agreement because MLB prohibits formal agreements until July 2 (teams frequently have pre-arranged deals in place), but Melvin also flatly denied reports that Lara was traveling to the U.S. for a physical. "There's nothing to that," the GM said.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers were among the teams to watch Ryan Madson's most recent throwing session. Melvin characterized the Brewers' presence as a matter of due diligence, noting that he hasn't contacted Madson's agent since the showcase. He did, however, say that it sounds like Madson threw fairly well.
- More from Haudricourt, who hosted a lengthy chat with readers of the Journal-Sentinel today. Among the topics discussed are the Brewers' bench and glut of first base options — Haudricourt cannot see Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay and Juan Francisco all making the club — as well as Milwaukee's farm system, manager Ron Roenicke's job security and Tyler Thornburg's role in the wake of the Matt Garza signing.